C&C: What do you have in your pockets?
Um, I’m in what might be called lounge wear….no pockets.
C&C: You had an interesting car in highschool, yes?
I drove two cars in high school. One was a cute lil’ turquoise Kharman Ghia. The other–the one I suspect you’re thinking of–was a massive ’77 Plymouth Fury. It was a former police car, with a V-8 engine. It had the best heater, and it was built to go fast. My dad bought it at a municipal auction. The county ripped the siren out and spray painted over the ensignia on the side before they let it go. Beyond that, they handed it over. Rock and roll. Drive up to a high school party in that car…the party’ll scatter with one glance at the cop mobile silhouette, but you’ll be warm and ready to peel out.
C&C: Do you dress up when you take your kids trick-or-treating? Do you love Halloween? I assume everyone does..
Sure! Last year I was Sybill Trelawny to my daughter’s Hermione Granger, my husband’s Snape. I went to the Goodwill and found the whole costume, absolutely perfectly, within minutes! And it was cheap! Then I got to a party, and somebody took my picture. I said, Sheesh! I look like I dressed out of the Goodwill! The guy with the camera said, “What did you think you looked like?”
But really, I was Sybill Trelawny and looked exactly like the Harry Potter character as played by Emma Thompson.
C&C:What did you doodle on your notebooks in highschool?
Oh, things. A lot of eyeballs, and the slouch of a body alone, smoking a cigarette and thinking. Some moody teen dreams. I liked that shape, the slouch and a curl of smoke.
C&C: Do you think birds are evil?
Ha! You’re asking a woman who worked as a clown if birds are evil? Now, clown birds, that’d be cool. It’d be a movie, like The Birds meets IT. And you know I collect doll babies, right? They scare a lot of people. Truthfully, I don’t collect them so much as keep them from my own childhood, complete with their milky eyes bleached from time as though clouded with cataracts, and the dirt that never washes away between their carefully poised fingers, and the way their heads bobble, always a little askew. I prop their arms back on when they fall off, and stitch their old velvet bloomers.
Naw. Evil is Scott’s Miracle Gro, and that “bird seed” they sold that was full of poison and caused tens of thousands of song birds to drop dead out of sky in the last year or two.
But lest I grow too serious, let’s just say, plant a garden. Evil is a corporate deal.
C&C: What’s the strangest question/request you’ve gotten from a student?
The strangest question? A guy asking if it was okay that he read Clown Girl, or was it a book for girls only…because it has “girl” in the title. I’m not sure what he thought might happen if he read it without permission, but it’s great he went right to the author! I told him to read it.
C&C: Do you have any tattoos? Why or why not?
Nope. I’m a hold-out on this one. I suppose I make my statements in other ways. But really, you know back when I was younger and the economy was even worse in Portland, Oregon, we saved our cash for books, booze and shows. These days I could afford one I suppose, but I haven’t internalized the value system that says I need one.
C&C: How do you feel about collections? Do you collect anything/have you been privy to any special collections?
I was an archivist at the Smithsonian, in the Traveling Exhibitions program (S.I.T.E.S.) and saw amazing things. I saw the complete Charlie’s Angeles memoralbelia collection–every last scrap of possible Charlie’s Angel’s gear–lunch boxes, T-shirts, TV Guides… I saw one woman’s unopened junk mail collected for a decade, as a sample of Americana. And I saw the hand-written notes accusing artists of being Communist, during the McCarthy era. I saw each letter, saying a particular piece of art was “too heavy to circulate” and so was being returned, because somebody may have participated in a peace march, or asserted an anti-war sentiment.
And I’ve seen extensive car collections. Extensive. Acres.
C&C: Do you wear shoes in the house? I try to wear shoes as little as possible – how do you feel about bare feet in general?
I put shoes on when I try to fake being civilized.
C&C: What females were important to you growing up, both as postive and negative female role models?
Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke knew how to dress, and how to talk back. For a long time, maybe that was enough.