What’s your job?
“I pay my bills by doing my best to help save people from bureaucracy, navigating The System in a cultural studies department at a large academic institution—that means I’m a secretary at the U. I earn enough for a green tea habit to make music: I’m in the band Father You See Queen with Mark McGee where I write and improvise the vocal texture yin to Mark’s beat and noise landscape yang, I’m about to launch my solo project, Mona, with just my voice and a looping pedal, and I have a basement band with Paul D. where he plays drums and I play one note at a time on a guitar repeatedly and pretend I’m Joan Jett with less jumping and pelvic tilts. I’m working on those last parts, but it requires lots of stretching, and I’m pretty busy.”
Other than your job, what are your claims to fame?
“I only need about three teaspoons of coffee to get a buzz. My cat is bigger than your cat. I gave myself my latest haircut because I wanted to spend the money on a small mixer instead—the audio kind, not the Betty Crocker kind. I can make a meal with whatever you have in your fridge right now. Like that thing they used to do on the Splendid Table, but for a new generation.”
What’s your relationship status?
“I’m focusing on myself, my dearest friendships, and partnerships that feed my mind and my art right now. That might change if I meet a real-life 30-ish version of Cliff Huxtable, though. Or if Dave Eggers, Tom Waits, or Spike Lee get a divorce. Or I meet Gael Garcia Bernal, I find him sweet, he finds me breathtakingly fascinating, and we fall madly in love. So, you know, I’ve got options.”
Where are you most likely to be seen?
“The grocery store or co-op or farmers’ market browsing for things I’ve never eaten before, sitting on the floor of an aisle in a bookstore, eating or coffee-ing out or making food at someone’s house, at a show one of my friends is in, outside, at a meditation center, or taking advantage of the free-first-week of any place where I have not already used my free-first-week.”
Where are you least likely to be seen?
“Any place where there’s nothing for me to eat or look at or any place I have to pretend to want to talk at length about the weather, investing, sports, gossip, or what I did at home on Saturday.”
With whom are you most likely to be seen?
“My friends Venora, Pam, and/or Gretta—my loves and my foundation)—Mark McGee and his partner Danielle, or anyone who will talk with me at length about the book How to Cook a Wolf, the many sounds of trains, or curing illness with ragas. Also, my dad.”
Where were you born?
“In an unmade bed in the dark with a sleeping alligator. This is how I remembered that in my last life I was a tiger.”
What neighborhood do you live in now?
“What’s important is that I live by about a dozen of the best tamale and taco places in the cities. Have you ever tasted a fresh-made corn tortilla? If not, you have not truly lived, my friend.”
What’s your ride?
“2002 Honda Civic. It’s silver. Manual transmission. Plastic rims. Rocking Radio K or KMOJ with the bass turned up until that passenger-side mirror jiggles. Yeah.”
What’s the best way for someone to start a conversation with you?
“Tell me something about the background history/theory related to something we’re watching, tell me about your latest project, describe in detail the last meal you ate, the last album you bought in multiple formats, or the last story you read. I’m hopeless at bullshitting and small talk, I’m a total nerd, and I love food.”
Photos courtesy Nicole Tollefson