What It’s Like to Major in Opera and Poetry and Then Decide Not to Be an Opera Singer, Cry on a Balcony in Rome, Try a Bunch of Other Things, and Eventually Find Yourself: an Interview with Rose Truesdale

photo by @linacaro

BEST FRIENDS AND NEMESES ALIKE, WELCOME. Wait—you leave. (Sorry, that was my arch-nemesis Abraham, he’s not welcome here, I’ll tell you about him later.) The following is an interview with the ever-thoughtful Rose Truesdale, wellness writer extraordinaire. Rose and I went to the same university, and the first few years out of school were spent having a lot of “what do I want to do with this creative writing degree”-type talks. (Okay, talks and cries, let’s be honest.) Rose is a hustler who’s not afraid of a good side gig, which is a trait I prize extremely highly in people. 

I recently wrote an article for Vice about what it’s like to give up on an artistic dream or two, and Rose’s interview was so good that I wanted to post the whole thing here. (The cruel reality of most articles is that you have to cut down people’s interview answers SOOOOO MUCH that it’s hard to capture the entire complexity of any one human being in any one article and still make your word count limit without causing your editor to buy a plane ticket to Chicago, make a copy of your apartment key, and murder you in your sleep. This means that, after most of my articles go live, I feel this pit of anxious guilt in my stomach as I email my interviewees, hoping they won’t feel misrepresented and buy a plane ticket to Chicago, make a copy of—well, you get it.) 

Here’s Rose: 

Do you identify as a “failed artist”? 

Not particularly, although I did for a long time. In college, I double majored in opera performance and poetry (… Right?!), and today I operate in the food and wellness writing sphere. My life is still tremendously artful and imbued with creative expression – I have purple hair for God’s sake – but it fits me better than opera ever did.

For me, there’s a tremendous difference between the roles of “creative” (that’s creative as a noun) and “artist”: Simply, creatives are people that gotta create. They like to dabble, and regular creative expression sets them free. They have taste and vision, which makes them bomb entrepreneurs in the sense that many successful creators create their own lives and professions. Of course, it’s not all glamorous. Every creative has a soul-sucking 9-5 at some point in life, so they have to get creative in how they infuse their otherwise unstimulating day to day with creativity. And ideally that’s a wakeup call that sticks.

I would identify as a creative versus an artist. I’ve learned to work music into a life that serves me. I get paid to write and am building a business that represents my interests and aesthetic. And back to the dabbling piece: I write and sing (although I’ve diverged from poetry and opera and mostly write about my feelings on the internet/ concept weird new bands and rehearse three times before deciding I don’t have time to be in a weird new band.), yes, but I also draw, sculpt, develop plant-based recipes, take decent photos on my fancy camera – the trick is to use natural lighting and take ten thousand photos to get one good one – start podcasts that I never finish, interview badass ladies I admire, program arts events… and I started a zine with my boyfriend! But I don’t feel totally comfortable calling myself an artist.

Because artists are different. Artists commit to a craft. Opera, for instance, is a highly specific path that involves a lot of long, lonely hours in a practice room and as much technique as artistic expression. The path, itself, never felt creative to me at all: you audition for colleges with great music schools where you study for four years. You get accepted into music grad school and hopefully enough young artist programs to sustain you until you start getting hired for small stages around the country. And all of a sudden you’re in your mid-thirties and you’re not even a fully-fledged opera singer yet. Like, that is commitment. Plus, to be very honest, constantly worrying about the health of my voice (I couldn’t drink or eat tomato-based foods or speak too loudly in a bar for fear of losing my voice), was zero fun. Zero. Fun. The life of an opera singer made me anxious, insecure – the scrutiny… oh my God— and so, so broke. I hated it. So I chose to figure out a path that was better suited to the vision I had for myself…. which also wasn’t easy. For the bulk of my twenties, after making the decision to essentially start over, I was very lost. We’re talking daily existential crises and sobbing fits about “wasting my gift”. One time I stayed in an AirBnb next to a music school on a vacation to Rome, and I just sat on the balcony listening to budding opera divas sing their arpeggios and crying. But… I have a really good therapist. And today, I’m really proud of myself for ultimately designing a creative life that allows me to express myself better than opera did, and that I actually enjoy.

Why is the idea of a “failed artist” so taboo? Do you think it’s more taboo than the idea of, say, a failed doctor or a failed businessman?

Because artists are rebels! To become any kind of artist, you sort of have to go out on a limb… it’s a very rare case where an artist’s parents are like, “Sure! We’ll pay for you to go to art school and we’re comfortable with the idea that you might never be able to pay us back!” Pursuing any kind of creative life is brave as fuck. So to try to make it as a painter, for example – knowing that it’s not a practical choice, knowing that there’s nothing more personal than spewing your guts on paper – and to fail, by which I mean… to not be able to pay your rent enough times that you have to admit to yourself that it’s a problem. To get sick of the hustle and balancing four side jobs to fund your existence while also making enough time to paint, or to realize that said hustle is depriving you of human contact and you’re not okay. An artist’s life is her art, and if and when it’s ever over (or on pause! That’s a thing, too), it’s devastating. Failing as a doctor or finance person (I don’t even know what an actual title in finance would be) might still be devastating, but at least they can come back to their families and say: “Look, I made a very sensible choice, but it didn’t work out.”

You have a dual degree in opera and poetry. Was there a moment when you were like, “I’m NOT going to be an opera singer” or “I’m NOT going to be a poet”? Or was it a gradual thing? If you could go back, would you change anything about your path? If you could snap your fingers and be a working opera singer, would you do it?  

The decision to quit the opera life was definitely gradual. It was like a bad relationship – I knew it wasn’t working, but I had already put so many eggs into that basket, and like I said before, I didn’t want that all to go to waste. Finally, I admitted to myself that my life sort of sucked: I lived in a one room apartment, my boyfriend at the time dumped me because I was zero fun (that’s a whole ‘nother story. He can suck it, but he had a point.), I had an eating disorder and chronic anxiety that manifested as illness, largely attributed to the pursuit of perfection. Like, clearly, opera didn’t suit me. So it was just a matter of admitting that and then… accepting it. I use what I learned in poetry in most of my writing today, and I never set out to be a poet, really. Studying poetry was probably me attempting to be more well-rounded, so I never felt like I abandoned poetry.

To answer your last question, no way in hell. The arduous process of becoming an opera singer was more than enough to make me realize that I’m not at all cut out to be an opera singer. Because if you ever do become successful, the pressure’s 2000% greater! What if you’re starring in the Met’s opening night of La Bohème and your personal life is in shambles and you didn’t get enough sleep and you get a horrible review that ruins your career? That happens! Going down the opera path taught me that being required to perform on command doesn’t work for me (and was pretty psychologically damaging, tbh), prioritizing opera above everything and everyone else makes for a solitary life, the demand to be in perfect vocal shape at all times shook my confidence in an unhealthy way, and singing a bunch of dead white dudes’ music isn’t even how I best express myself! Traditional opera just didn’t fit me. Side note: I was in a feminist burlesque opera, and that experience ruled. I made $200 total for those four months, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

 

We live in a world where creativity is often accompanied by positivity (the “make art everyday!” mindset, the 100 Days project, etc.). There’s a lot of emphasis on imperfection in art-making, too, and the sort of implication there is that you can’t fail. These attitudes can be really great and liberating. But let’s get really cynical for a moment. Is there a dark side to all of this? Art-making as obligation, perhaps? Sometimes it seems like art-making is almost imbued with this moral quality (like, if you’re not making art everyday…are you being a bad person?). 

Man, perhaps because of my relationship with perfectionism in art, I think this sort of practice is mostly positive. Have you read about Jens Lekman’s Postcards project, where he wrote one song every week for a year? I heard him speak in the fall, and he readily admitted that some of the songs were bad, or at least not up to his standards. But getting into the habit of creating for the sake of creating was ultimately very freeing. When the year was up, he had some really great material to pull from, and some material to forget about.

I do think that if you are a creative person with perfectionistic tendencies, you get attached to the idea of making something every day. You MUST make every day. When I was blogging almost daily and I skipped a day, I know I felt like I’d failed myself. But that’s not the point. The point is to get down and dirty with the process of making and allow yourself to present some truly mediocre work in the hopes that you learned something about yourself or your art form while making it.

Do you have any thoughts on the artist/non artist dichotomy? Like…why does it make people so uncomfortable? Why are people so embarrassed to NOT be an artist? (Maybe this question is a reflection of my own limited circles, because most of the people I know are in creative careers, but…)

Lollll I run in similar circles. Personally and professionally (because those lines get blurry with creatives), I hang with creative entrepreneurial types – freelancers, people that run their own show. Not to get all elitist about that: I have a ton of respect for doctors and engineers, etc., and a lot of my pals, too, have been working in a more corporate setting for years so that they can eventually pursue their dreams of filmmaking or movie scoring or what have you. I think you can be a person in a non-artistic field but have a creative spirit, and I think a lot of people discover that they’re creative later in life. I guess my point here is that everyone’s creative in some capacity, and I think people who do get embarrassed or defensive about not being artistic may actually have some deep-seated, unexplored desire to make art.

How do you see your past artistic studies + projects as helping or hindering your life today? Do you regret any of the artistic paths you’ve taken?

I think I answered this above, but I’ll clarify a bit. I’m not one of those “No regrets!” people. I think those people are full of shit. As noted, the pursuit of opera made me miserable… even though I love wailing onstage in my booming mezzo soprano voice. I love wearing wigs and crazy costumes. I love being the special snowflake, and performing fed that for me. But the lifestyle didn’t feed me at all (literally, you remember how poor I was), and in pursuing opera, I learned what doesn’t work for me. I learned to think for myself and decide what I want out of life. I know that sounds dramatic, but breaking free of a very set artistic path and carving out my own thing – that finely attuned self-awareneness – led me to be able to fully express myself.  So in this one instance, no regrets.

Thank you, Rose! Read more of Rose’s writing right this way and follow her on Instagram here

Really Cool Artist #2: Beth Hoeckel

I gotta say: I’m not a stroll-through-the-Art-Institute-for-hours kind of girl. I like very specific things and I don’t like realism (shocker) and I would rather steal my favorite paintings and bring them home with me then wander past the Degas, if you know what I mean (SORRY DEGAS, YOU CREEPER). The art I like is eerie, art that seems to possess its own surreal, dark will. So I’m obv obsessed with Baltimore-based visual artist Beth Hoeckel’s strange planets, moon-gazing housewives, and beautiful girls with their faces obscured by paint.

There’s something so haunting about her mysterious skies and odd juxtapositions:  she mixes homey objects (afghans, photos of housewives that could be your grandma) with things that are oversized, cosmic, too close, and/or disembodied. She expresses the workings of the imagination in such a literal way–it’s like you’ve gone time-traveling and you’re in a different universe but your mom is still cooking mac-and-cheese in the kitchen.

Were you drawn to art as a young girl? Do you remember some of your earliest creations?

Yes, big time! I still have my sketchbook from preschool: a spiral notebook with a Cabbage Patch kid on the cover. It’s filled with drawings of people swimming and people with moose antlers.

What about the juxtaposition of people gazing into space is so inspiring for you?

When I was younger, if I couldn’t sleep, I would gaze at the moon through my bedroom window. I would sit in the windowsill, moonbathing in its mysterious luminescence.

Is there a reason you avoid faces?  It gives the pieces a very cool, voyeuristic feel.

It’s a personal preference, but I believe it creates an air of mystery. A blatant facial expression has a tendency to make a piece too literal for me.

You spent a decade abroad—how did that influence your art?

Traveling influences our lives in so many ways. I think it’s important to be worldly and informed. Output requires input.

Three things that really inspire you:

This changes frequently! 3 things that really inspired me today were handwriting (penmanship), opaque black, and tumultuous skies.

Word on the street is that you like odd color combinations—what’s a weird one that you’re obsessed with right now?

Right now I’m liking dark rust orange + faded fluorescent pink. Pale mint green + ‘dirty’ mustard yellow. Bright (but light) aqua/turquoise + deep, rich (but not dark) carmine red.

(If you missed it: Really Cool Artist #1: Crowned Bird)

Really Cool Artist: Crowned Bird

One year ago, I wrote an annoying little essay about how I don’t believe in blindly supporting Art with a capital A. I believe in voting with your dollar and supporting art that is truly good, and if that means skipping the occasional night of spoken word in favor of staying home and reading Borges, so be it. But I’ve decided to start practicing what I preach because nature abhors a hypocritical vacuum, know wha’m saying? Welcome to my new series, cleverly titled “Really Cool Artist,” in which I interview (=flatter) an amazing independent artist in an attempt to psychoanalyze their genius, improve my own creative karma, and introduce you all to people who are doing things that are fascinating, beautiful, and very cool.

Priscilla of Crowned Bird may not know this, but she was the inspiration for this series. I found her fashion line through a series of random internet clicks, and I fell in love with the shapes and colors and fabrics of her dreamy, imaginative lookbook. Her visual aesthetic is exquisite, and since she was kind enough to answer my manic questions, you’ll see that her mental aesthetic (is that a thing?) is just as cool. If you’re inspired by her creative swagger, please flit over to her Kickstarter account and dive into your weekly coffee budget to support her dream.

Tell me a little bit about your (gorgeous amazing must-have-it-all) collection.

My launch collection for fall is what I consider my idealized dreamworld. I wanted to design a brand for like-minded ladybirds of my generation, a select group of people who are always looking towards the past in order to relate to our current lifestyles. I designed it for those of us who use our spare time to rummage through vintage stores and flea markets. It’s as though we need nostalgia to feel at home, to feel unique. I enjoy being surrounded by treasures that not everyone can have, but anyone can enjoy. I wanted to design a collection that summed up all those values.

Was there a specific moment when you decided that this was your dream and you had to pursue it now

Honestly, my true moment came very recently, but it was one of those inherent traits that has been with me my whole life. I just woke up one regular Monday and decided this was the day that I was going to change my direction. I had to be my own catalyst. So I put in my two weeks at the interior design house I was working for, subletted my house fully furnished (including my cat), and took off to Dallas to finish my sample run production and set myself up for building a brand. Sometimes in life you have to make that choice to do more for yourself and just run with it, stay true to that decision, and inspire yourself so that you can inspire others. It’s the only way to live and I wasted a lot of time before now. I turned 30 and could literally hear the ticking of the clock. It was just time.

What’s inspiring you right now?

High-waisted separates. I love mixing up the collection with tattered old tees I could never wear before because I cut them too short or a cropped lace top from the thrift store that I can rock with the Hawkers pants. I’ll wear it for days.

What’s a typical day in your life like?

Lately, there are not a lot of typical days. Since I’ve spent so much time traveling to get the lookbook together, shooting videos for the collection, interviewing potential sales reps, emailing bloggers, and busting out my Kickstarter, nothing is typical. Every day is another chance to evolve more. In this process, I am becoming what I am to be. I’m finally prepared for the reality that no day will be the same as the next.

Do you have any rituals when you’re designing?

Some of my friends consider me an ingenue of sorts, like the next Chanel (which of course is a lot to live up to)—but I can relate to her in many ways, as far as her design process. She created things out of a distaste for everything else. For instance, I created the Pygmy Short Shorts because there wasn’t anything out there that had the specific shape I wanted. I was looking for high-wasted elastic with a bottom that covered my butt completely. It just didn’t exist, so I made it. In floral. Chanel never sketched before she created (neither do I), she dressed herself first (as do I), and she draped garments with a cigarette in her mouth (on occasion). I usually get inspired very quickly and don’t spend a lot of time mulling over ideas. I know what I want to make and if it doesn’t turn out that way exactly, it’ll turn out that better than I expected. Like any artist performing organically, it just happens. You know it’s good when you get lost in it and forget to eat, turn on music, or leave the house.

 If you could dress someone famous (alive or dead), who would it be?

Miss Audrey Hepburn. She defined an era that captured my heart. Many hearts.

If someone gave you $20 and set you loose in a thrift store, which section would you head to first?

I LOVE this question! Well, as a thrifting connoisseur and lover of all things old, I’ll give away one of my best kept secrets. I go straight to the suiting section for a good 2-for-1 deal, and I alter anything that doesn’t fit the shape I want. What I love to do is take 80’s wrap dress suits, cut the string, and turn the shape into an oversized jacket. Then I change up the bottom, be it skirt or pant, and make it modern—or at least well fit. I’m usually inspired by the quality of old fabrics, which makes the effort of finding goods timeless in itself.

Lace or neon?

Neon lace, haha! (I like to dye it.)

Heels or flats?

Heels—they perk up the booty.

Pick a color to describe your personality:

Turquoise. I’m a moonchild so it definitely compliments my mood the best. I’m also Turkish, and turquoise actually means “Turkish Stone.”

Can we find your clothes in stores yet? When/where can we get our hands on them?

Crowned Bird Fall 2012 will hit the stores in September. Right now, we have just launched and are preparing for the LA Market FOCUS trade show in June–stay tuned for more info about online stores and your local boutiques carrying the line. But I do have one specific place in mind that you can count on: Nordstrom.

If you had a protégé, what would you tell her?

Don’t bother following trends because the best aesthetic is the one you can only pull off yourself (you’ll know this because people always say, “I could never wear that, but it looks great on you!”).

If you were stranded on a desert island but there was a really cute dude also stranded on the island, which piece from your collection would you choose to be shipwrecked in, in order to make the very best first impression? (Note: you’re also marooned with a chest full of gold and a bottle of rum.)

I’d have to go with the Pygmy Short Shorts. It covers my belly but shows off my legs. Just how I like it.

An Interview With Octomom

Brace thyselves.

NBC, after catching word of my crackshot interviewing skills–most notably with Barack Obama and Myself–offered me $8,000 last week to interview Octomom. I refused. They upped the offer to $80,000. I said no, shut off my cell phone, and locked myself in my apartment. They burst through the door, bound and gagged me, and dragged me in the back of an unmarked white van to an undisclosed location on the Mexican-American border, strapped me into a chair, held a shank to my side, and forced me to interview Octomom. OH, THE HORROR!

Now those sharks are forcing me to publish the transcript on my blog, because they claim that “the look of utter fear and loathing in your eyes won’t translate well through a visual medium.”

–THE INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT, 1.24.2011–

Octomom: Hi!
Me: LET ME OUT OF HERE YOU BASTA–(my yell is cut short via a slap across the face from NBC Executive).
Octomom: What’s your name?
Me: I don’t have to answer that, do I?
NBC Executive (shortly): No. Don’t be a fool, Tori.
Octomom: HI TORI!
Me: THAT’S NOT MY NAME!
Octomom: One of my kids is named Tori, I think.
(I shudder.)
Octomom: What’s that supposed to mean, bitch?
Me: I don’t know, why don’t you go on Oprah to cry about it?
Octomom (to NBC Exec): Are you going to let her talk to me this way?
NBC Exec: Nope. (He tasers me.)
Me: OUCH! THAT REALLY HURT AND IT’S STILL HURTING!
Octomom (evilly): Hehe. He. He.
NBC Exec: You start asking questions now, Tori, or headlines tomorrow are going to read, “Nubile Young Journalist Found Dead While Escaping to Mexico to Save Failing Career.”
Me: Wow, I actually heard the capital letters in your vocal inflections. I guess that’s why you’re a big shot TV person. Wait–did you just call me a journalist?
NBC Exec: What if I did?
Me (shrieking): SCUM OF THE EARTH! I AM A WRITER! A WRIT-ER!
Octomom (tapping her fingers rapidly on the arm of her chair and grinning vacantly into space): I’m publishing a memoir!
Me (bruised and beaten): No…no…this is not happening.
NBC Exec: Hehehe. Hehe. He.
Me (staring at the dirt floor and shaking): So, um, w-what’s the b-best part of being a mom, N-N-Nadya?
Octomom (an evil smile spreading slowly across her face): That sweet baby-smell after their baths. You know, when you’ve just fished them out of the pool and–
Me: You bathe your children in the pool?
Octomom: It’s the only place they all fit.
Me: Ew.
NBC Exec: Keep asking questions. (He is now smoking a cigar and has donned a pair of dark sunglasses.)
Me: Um, how do you maintain your youthful good looks?
Octomom: I love that Henna & Placenta hair conditioner you can buy at CVS.
Me: OH GROSS! GET ME OUT OF HERE!
NBC Exec: One more question, and you’re free to go. Hehe. Hehehe.
Me (frantically swallowing the bile at the back of my throat): Tell me more about this m-m-m…m-m-em…I CAN’T!
(The shank digs into my side, drawing blood.)
Me: TELL ME MORE ABOUT YOUR MEMOIR! OH, SOMEONE, ANYONE, SAVE ME!
Octomom: It’s an in-depth look at the struggle for, achievement of, and ultimate vapidness inherent in the American Dream. Critics are already calling it “a literary tour-de-force” and I haven’t even written Chapter One yet! Tee-hee! Oh, and it’s in second person.

I fall to the floor in a dead faint. I wake, my nostrils filled with ether fumes, on the floor of my apartment. There is a single note pinned to my shirt: Watch your step, young journalist. Sixteen baby-eyes are watching you.

I Am Interviewed

As most everybody knows, I am a creature of mystery. I rarely consent to have my photo taken (unless CatPaint is involved), and I respond vaguely to inquiries such as, “Paper or plastic, ma’am?” I have been known to walk along the shores of Lake Michigan at midnight, shrouded in mist, invoking the spirits of Moon and Darkness to wrap me in their icy embrace.

However, when an intrepid young journalist comes along and begs to interview me, eyes sparkling with hope for the future, pen poised, hair coiffed, I find it hard to say no. After all, I, too, was young once.


Journalist: Good evening, Ms. Tori. Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview.
Me: Not at all. It’s a pleasure.
Journalist: You’re famously enigmatic and hard to pin down. Why do you enjoy living so far from the public eye?
Me: When the world turned its back on me, I turned my back on it.
Journalist: Could you elaborate?
Me: Once, I was great. Once, I had the kisses of a thousand young men at my command. I had only to drop my handkerchief, and the handsomest courtesans in the land would gallop forth on their frothing stallions to do my will.
Journalist: What year are we talking, here?
Me: 1535.
Journalist: OK.
Me: But everything changed when the king took me for his wife.
Journalist: The king?
Me: Yes, the king. The handsomest young man in all of Christendom. Tall, golden-haired, a savvy falconer and the undisputed champion of the joust.
Journalist: Did you love him?
Me: DID I LOVE HIM? (I stand up, my trailing silver gown sweeping the floor, and rush to the window. I lean my aristocratic profile on one slim, wrinkled hand, heavy with scarab rings. My French hood is set far back on my head.) Yes, I loved him. I loved him very much. But he loved…her.
Journalist: Her?
Me: JANE SEYMOUR!
Journalist: Wait. Are you describing the last half of The Other Boleyn Girl?
Me: NO!
Journalist: Yes you are.
Me: NO I AM NOT! HE BEDDED AND BEHEADED ME!
Journalist: Yeah, you’re definitely describing The Other Boleyn Girl.
Me: CURSE YOU, YOU PAPIST! THE HOST IS NOT HIS FLESH AND BLOOD! THE HOST IS NOT HIS FLESH AND BLOOD!
Journalist: What’s your favorite color?
Me: Tudor green, my liege.
Journalist: You are SO describin–
Me: Leave me, fool.

Interview With Barack

Wow, it’s been an exciting week. I had a chance to interview the (arguably) most influential man of the decade, and it was a thrilling experience. NBC, thanks so much for getting me in! Michelle, thanks for letting me steal your man away from the kids for an evening. 411 4eva! Yeah, girl! 😉 (Sorry guys, inside joke.)

I didn’t think I’d be able to reprint the transcript of the interview here before it goes live, but luckily a very special somebody over at NBC was able to get me full rights! THANKS PAUL-O! Love you lots, love your chicken more! HAHA! Oh, I went there! 😉

Anyway, here it is!

Me: Well if it isn’t Barack Obama, the first black president in the history of the United States!
Barack: Haha, hello yourself.
Me: Do you feel awkward, Mr. Obama, when I refer to you as “black?”

Barack: No, not at all.
Me: Great. Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am a white female striving for equality in this crazy world. I work in children’s publishing and am thinking about starting an ebay store with one of my friends. Hmm, what else—oh, I love the color coral, because my grandma says I look pretty in coral.
Barack: Sasha loves coral, too—she even has a coral key chain to go with her coral purse.
Me: Cute! So, first question. What three words would you use to describe me? “Calm, cool, and collected?” “Spunky, sparkling, and spacey?” or “Fun, fabulous, and fly?”
Barack: Well…I’d have to go with the last one.
Me: Holla! I’m as fly as they come. Haha! That’s just a little black lingo for you. Now Barack, I have to say, I really like the tie you’re wearing today. What is your favorite part of my outfit?
Barack: H’m. You’re wearing very nice shoes. Malia would love those. She likes to play dress-up in my wife’s heels.
Me: These old things? Oh dear, I picked these up at—let’s see, where did I get these shoes? I want to say Nordstrom Rack, but I also went on a bit of a shoe bender in Southern California last summer, and I was high on E for most of it, so it’s always a surprise walking into my shoe closet now! Hehe! I’m like, “Huh? Don’t remember buying these!” Does your wife have a shoe closet?
Barack: No, but she has a very big closet. That was one of the caveats she gave me before she’d move into the White House. “Baby,” she said, “I don’t care what the kitchen looks like, but give me a really big closet.”
Me: JUST LIKE CARRIE AND BIG! That is so cute. What tips would you have for, say, a twenty-something girl in the children’s publishing industry, for maximizing closet space?
Barack: Wow, you’d have to ask Michelle about that one. Sorry!
Me: Great, I’ll get her number from you after the break. Do you consider me an attractive person?
Barack: I think you’re very enthusiastic.
Me: What would you say is my best feature?
Barack: Well..
Me: I get a lot of compliments on my eyes. But lately I’ve been crying so much that they’re all puffy. AND I’m getting a wrinkle on my forehead! See this?
Barack: I don’t…see any wrinkle.
Me: Does Michelle have any particularly prominent wrinkles, or does she Botox?
Barack: Michelle is a beautiful woman.
Me: You’re probably wondering why I mentioned crying. I’m a very emotional person, as many white females are. You see—well, I should probably start at the beginning. When I was very young, I suffered a horrible, horrible tragedy.
Barack: I’m sorry to hear that.
Me: Yes. Thank you. My pet goat died.
Barack: That’s terrible. I know my girls would be devastated if anything happened to their puppy.
Me: But you can get a puppy at any pet store. How many times have you seen a goat?
Barack: Actually, in Hawaii—
Me: My point exactly. They don’t have them in America. Anyway, my goat died. That was probably the first night I truly cried my eyes out. Then I was robbed.
Barack: Oh?
Me: Yes, someone came in the middle of the night and took away all my toys. At the time, I thought it was the tooth fairy. Turns out it was my mom, punishing me for putting a scorpion in my little brother’s shoe.
Barack: Wow.
Me: Anyway, things haven’t been easy. So, heard anything new about the oil spill?
Barack: I—the oil spill? Oh! My team has been working round the clock to combat this tragedy. BP will pay.
Me: I know, right? So awful. However, let’s not forget about the many benefits of oil. Did you know jojoba oil is a wonderful facial moisturizer?
Barack: …
Me: I see why you wouldn’t trust me. I mean, I have a wrinkle in my forehead.
Barack: No—I—…
Me: It’s a wrap! Thanks so much, Mr. President!