Friend, writer, officiant, sisterwife, aunt-mom
What did you want to be when you were a little girl?
I remember I always wanted to write, but I didn’t understand that you could do it as a job.
How old were you when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
When I was in first grade, we had an assignment by Mrs. Rosen where she wrote a word in a notebook and we had to go home and find a picture in a magazine to go with the word. I think that got me interested in magazines. I started writing a book when I was ten years old about a talking saxophone named Max. I was learning the saxophone.
What other roles do you want to have someday?
I really want to do healing work. I feel that I’ve been called to do it.
How do you see your life as an older adult?
I have some ideas about getting older. Things will feel calmer. I’m less interested in the opinions of people I don’t respect. I wouldn’t mind living in a smaller space. Half of me wants to be isolated like a hermit and the other half wants to be a grandma in the midst of happy chaos. I love little babies.
What are you passionate about?
Dogs, walking, knitting, meditating, yogurt, my son. I try to remember he’s an adult and has his own life. I love doing good deeds.
What are you afraid of?
I have a fear of outliving my child. I had that fear even when I was pregnant. I have a fear of being involved in a car wreck that would hurt or kill someone. I used to have a lot of fears—phobias actually. But oddly, after my last divorce, I stopped being afraid of flying or going to the dentist. I don’t think I’m fearless but a lot of my phobias have fallen away.
What do you believe to be true?
If ‘Spin the Buddhist Wheel’ were a game show then you could pretty much pick any saying the pointer landed on to answer this. One that comes to mind – ‘the only constant is change’ – I think that’s a truth. I do think we’re all a part of a greater piece. It’s convoluted because we have different perceptions. One truth that’s hard for me to acknowledge is that I’m not always right.
Who influenced you growing up?
Easy – my teachers. Two in particular went away to college, returned to a small town, and they lead by example. They were feminists without ever saying that word or openly proselytizing. They were just really strong, smart women. Louisa May Alcott influenced me greatly. I grew up reading her books over and over, inspired both by her (Alcott) as a writer and her characters. And my crazy Uncle Jack – we grew up being told not to be like him but you know, he was a hippie, he was interesting, he was gay (albeit closeted – this was a long time ago) and he was a great example of marching to one’s own drummer.
Who are your role models?
The dogs come to mind. They’re not sitting around and holding grudges. I love my son so much and have learned so much from him. Whenever he says, “we’ll figure it out” in response to some little fire that pops up, when he makes it clear we’re not going to fall apart over this – which is how I was raised to respond to any little thing – well I admire him so much and I learn from his old soul example.
If you could have a dinner date with anyone, who would it be and why?
I wouldn’t mind if I could go back in time and have a meal with my father’s mother when she was a teenager. Rumor has it she was a difficult person. My whole life I’ve been working to heal from my terrible relationship with my father. I do believe in that chain of events theory that suggests my dad wasn’t operating inside a vacuum, that he had problems, too. I wonder if I could get a glimpse of what drove him to be the way he was if I could have a meal with his mother.
At a party, if someone saw you and wanted to introduce you to someone else, what one sentence would describe you?
The way I’m often introduced, “This is Spike, she’s famous in Austin.” I’d like, “This is my friend, Spike.” “She’s Austin’s number one cheerleader.” “She’s Henry’s mom.”
What five words describe you?
Loud, compassionate, grudge-prone, thoughtful, and introverted.
What is your dream destination?
Any body of salt water. A big bathtub with Epsom salt would be fine.
What are you proud of?
I’m really proud of my son and I’m proud that I got my first book published. That was a lifelong dream come true. I’m proud that I quit drinking, went into therapy, really grateful that I stuck around – by which I mean stayed alive – and got help.
How would you like others to remember you?
Funny and hopefully not too much of a bitch.
What three things do you want to do before you die?
I feel like I’ve done them. I’m at a point in my life where if I die tomorrow, please let everyone know I’ve done everything and I died content. I’ve raised a fine young man; I found something like inner peace. I mean, I’m not always peaceful, I still do get aggravated. But in the big picture, I’m very happy now, which has not always been the case.
Little Women. I’ve reread that many times.
It used to be Italian carbs. Now I do a lot of green smoothies. For a meal with friends, as long as it involves good bread and conversation, that’s fine.
What do you do to relax?
I meditate and I walk and I knit. Not simultaneously.
Favorite holiday and why:
I kind of like Jewish holidays because I’m not Jewish so I don’t have any baggage to go with those occasions. Plus the Jews celebrate everything with fried food. Any holiday involving fried food is good.
What are your strengths?
I’m loyal to the death. I pay attention. I’m hypervigilant. It’s a symptom of my post-traumatic stress syndrome, but I’ve turned it into something useful, a tool to keep an eye on everything around me and hopefully put people at ease.
I do love the Office of Good Deeds, which is my whimsical project. And I love Bread for the Journey, which has a branch in Austin. They give micro grants. They gave my meditation group $1000 and we made a bunch of meditation cushions – a project that brought together a ton of people. We had so much fun and the cushions turned out great.
Lavender – number one. Recently, I bought some peppermint essential oil and I love it.
I think it’s really funny when I’m sitting in bed knitting and my Boston terrier, Rebound, farts. I love the sound of Rufus Wainwright’s voice.
What makes you laugh?
Dressing up the dogs. I could do it every hour of every day for the rest of my life.
What makes you cry?
Not a lot makes me cry. I think I cried for six months after my divorce. Now I don’t cry that much – not like I’m trying to be stoic, but after all that crying, I just sort of stopped with the big crying jags. When I hear a story about someone being nice to someone else, that makes me cry. And I occasionally cry at work, when I’m performing a wedding.
What is your greatest achievement?
Raising a child who is compassionate. I had a lot of help. I cannot take all the credit for how he turned out.
What superhero power would you want for work? Would you have a different one for home?
To unplug easily would be a great superpower for home. At work – perpetual patience.
What advice would you give to your sixteen-year-old self?
Skip the alcohol thing. It’s so overrated. If I could convey to my younger self, “It’s going to be okay,” hold onto that – that’s what I wish I could convey to my younger self.
You’ve been granted one year to do anything you want with your time and energy and all of your current obligations are met. What do you do with your time?
Slack. Go to the beach. Just mediate, read, walk, and be near salt water. Because I would like to take a restorative year to care for myself so I can better care for others.
What are you grateful for?
Everything. Seriously, corny as it sounds. I’m grateful to be alive. I reread Drinking: A Love Story recently and it was a reminder that it’s a miracle I’m alive given my past addiction battles. I am literally grateful for every breath that I take.