Interview with Sarah Brown / Que Sera Sera
Right off the bat, I have to tell you this to get it out of the way: Sarah Brown flaunts one of the best written entries about the subject that makes me want to fling my body in front of a fast-moving bus or burn my ears off when my kids tease me about it. I can hardly even type the subject let alone say the words out loud but – she despises roaches as much as me. Her writing is featured here and there and here is a full list. If you live in Brooklyn, she’s the host of your favorite reading series, Cringe. Sarah loves the Dark Crystal (who doesn’t?), has fantastic hair and loves table salt. And, she thinks you’re fantastic.
October 31, 2001
Why do you blog?
I started when I got laid off from my first advertising job. I didn’t tell anyone about it, and intended to make it a daily exercise. I guess I was worried that suddenly not writing bank commercials or print ads for the Long Honker Goose Call everyday anymore was going to make me rusty. I think I keep it up because it’s fun for me to write little snippets in this sort of venue. I don’t update my site as often as I did in the early days, and I try not to post filler, so when I do write on my site, it’s because there’s some idea that’s been in my head for a few days, and I enjoy the process of working it out. I mean, it’s never anything epic; it’s more like I enjoy playing with the wording of sentences in my head while I wash my hair for a few days before I get around to typing them out. I probably do more actual writing in the shower than I do on my computer.
What do you talk about?
Mostly just observations, Funny Things That Happened To Me Today, that sort of thing. Every once in awhile I have a little rant I like to get out, but they’re always about something non-controversial, like Why I Cannot Tolerate Conor Oberst, or I Hate How The Kids Today Have Such Tiny Earphones. Once I wrote something that jokingly but basically said some rape victims are tiresome and annoying at parties. No hate mail. I can’t get arrested in this town.
What don’t you talk about? Why?
Unless I’m making a joke, I almost never write about politics, religion, or my sex life. I’m not interested in writing about politics or religion because it invites tiresome back and forth in the comments, and I’d rather gargle my own urine than get into that online. If I want to discuss those issues, I’ll talk with people in real life. I’m not looking to create a forum or something. My site is more dick jokes, with the occasional heartfelt aside.
I also very rarely talk about my love life, or at least not in terms of “hello, here is what is going on in my love life.” I used to be more open about it, but I don’t feel comfortable doing that anymore. Actually, there’s very little mention of any of my day-to-day personal life at all on my site these days. I may occasionally write about something personal, but I prefer to keep the majority of that stuff private. I don’t like the idea of someone reading three or four posts and being able to tell who I’m dating, where I’m working, what’s going on with my family. No one ever asked me to do this, but I just feel more comfortable this way. I’m sure it makes reading my site a little less fun, though, if you’re into being a voyeur. Which, I mean, I am. That’s mostly why we’re all on the internet, right?
Worst/best experience regarding something you wrote in your blog or put out on the net?
I think the best thing that’s come from writing online is that it’s led me to meet a lot of really great and talented people, both in real life and pen pal-type friends. Really, like 98% of the people I’ve met as a result of something internet-related have been wonderful. The downside is I’ve encountered a few really awful nutjob crazies. But that’s a pretty good ratio. Better than Ivy League.
Favorite/worst thing about living where you live?
My favorite things about New York are Coney Island, Hayden Planetarium, Prospect Park, Grimaldi’s Pizza, and my friends. I like that there’s always something going on, and it’s always something awesome. I like reading on the subway on my way to work. I like how sometimes I hear seagulls near my apartment in the mornings and remember how close I am to the ocean. I love living in Brooklyn. This is a great place for me to be right now, but not forever.
I miss my family. I miss driving down highways. I miss tornado season. I miss thunderstorms. I miss drive-ins and bowling alleys. I miss seeing lots of sky and lots of green grass and trees. You don’t always know you’re missing that until you go someplace else and see it, and then it’s like realizing you were holding your breath. I knew when I moved to New York that I wouldn’t stay here forever, but sometimes lately I want to hurry up and go to the next place already. It just has to be near an ocean, host a decent autumn, and have lots of take out.
Do you believe that the Dark Crystal is a great movie or the greatest movie that was ever made?
I believe that the Dark Crystal is quite possibly the gold standard when it comes to ’80s fantasy movies, the Big Four for me being Willow, DC, The Neverending Story, and Legend. They make up this kind of Venn diagram of Actually Cool/Sort Of Creepy. I don’t care how tired I am or what band is playing or who wants to go out, if you say to me, “Oh, why don’t we just stay in tonight and drink and watch (one of these four movies)?”, I will say yes, always always yes. So far the only people who’ve ever said that to me, though, are my friend Laura and my little brother.
The back of your hair is amazing. What color is that?
I took that picture this summer, before I colored it, so that’s my natural color. I have a lot of gray all of the sudden, so I’ve started buying $9 L’Oreal Color Correction Kit For Mature Matrons. It comes with a pair of gigantic panties and a Readers Digest right there in the box.
Aside from covering gray, I am incredibly low-maintenance when it comes to my hair. I had straight hair for the first 25 years of my life, and then one day, it turned curly. Bam, just like that. I didn’t even have to get pregnant or anything! There are two upsides to this development, one being that men seem to respond much more to curly-haired girls, and two, having curly hair is so easy. I don’t “do” my hair so much as I shampoo, condition, rub my head with a towel, and leave the house. Once a month I use a wide-tooth comb on it. I feel like this is God’s way of giving me back all those hours I spent in high school blowdrying and hot rolling and backcombing and spraying. I choose to spend these hours sleeping.
If you were president of the US:
I’ve read enough presidential biographies to know that I would never, ever want to be president of the US. But if I had to be, I would get America back under the Kyoto Protocol, immediately. Like starting six years ago. If it’s not too precious to name global warming as your pet peeve, that’s mine. Well, actually, it’s people ignoring global warming that upsets me. Nothing makes me more panicked and angry at the same time.
What actor would play you in the movie of your life?
My friends the Byrnes play this game all the time. It was always a great conversation at the bar back in the day, and they were so spot-on with the casting of everyone we knew, but no one could ever cast me for some reason. The only celebrities I’ve ever been told I resemble are Annabeth Gish (wha?), Lauren Graham (total lie, that guy was just trying to sleep with me), and, once, by this mean lady at a place where I interned, Ricki Lake. (That one made me go into the ladies’ room and cry all over my Old Navy cardigan.) I have no idea. I think the problem is that, inherently, I am not a woman. I am equal parts 8 year old girl, 16 year old boy, and 70 year old man. So I guess Liza Minelli.
You know, they canceled Arrested Development.
You know, I had this great idea for a television network that played nothing but awesome shows that got cancelled, like all AD and Freaks & Geeks, and then I read today that there was such a network, called Trio, and the network got cancelled. What is wrong with this country? We have American Idol five days a week, about seventeen shows where people get their homes redecorated, and that fucking eye-herpe Michael Rappaport show “The War at Home” is still on the air, but Arrested Development gets cancelled?!
Red. My favorite book when I was a toddler was “Ann Likes Red.” It’s the gripping tale of a little girl named Ann who goes shopping with her mother, where they delve into such early-reader issues as, “A blue dress, Ann? A tan belt, Ann?” “No, red! I like red!” Then Ann comes home and puts on her new outfit, consisting of a red dress, red hat, red belt, red socks, and red shoes, stands in front of the mirror, puts her hands on her hips and declares to her reflection, “Red, red, red! Ann likes red!”
It’s basically like a preschool version of that scene in Mommie Dearest where wild-eyed Faye Dunaway lounges on the white couch in front of her dressing room mirror, wearing only a robe and turban, slowly massaging lotion onto her elbows. That scene gives me the pulsing dull heat every time.
Tell me about Cringe?
Cringe is one of my favorite things in my life right now. I can’t really convey in writing how freaking hilarious it is. I basically host it just so I can be guaranteed an hour and a half straight of entertainment at least once a month. Also, it’s simultaneously reassuring and depressing to realize that, for the most part, we were all the same adolescent. And, to be completely honest, not all that different from who we are now. I read through my current diary the other night, and since you tend to only write in a diary when you’re upset or working through something, I realized, wow, for the most part, I am worried about the same things I was worried about when I was fifteen. Except now I’m allowed to talk on the phone past 10 pm on weeknights.
When you were 10, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I could answer this question how you probably meant it, by saying “I wanted to be an artist and a mom,” but honestly, when I was 10, I had a very detailed, very tunnel-visioned plan of what I wanted to do with my life when I grew up, and it basically involved having my own apartment, buying chocolate milk in the carton, eating Hostess Old-Fashioned Sour Cream donuts for breakfast every day, and prank calling whomever I wanted, whenever I wanted, without worrying about my parents busting me. Aaaaand that’s pretty much my life now.
What do you hate?
Lip gloss. MySpace. But I’m a hypocrite, because I use both.
I will not tolerate self-important whiners or misused apostrophes.
What do you love?
2 am, three glasses of wine, Chet Baker in the background, coffee brewing.
More than anything, I love talking to people who are really fired up about some part of their life that they love, like a strange hobby or cool job. I am an enthusiast enthusiast. My friend Emily told me once that I was her favorite person to have at parties because I was good at making conversation with strangers, and she didn’t have to worry about hostessing, but that’s not bullshit politeness. I just really like asking questions. Sometimes people get the wrong idea and think I’m hitting on them, because I’m all leaned in on my elbows like a five year old, asking, “Where are you from? Do you miss it? Do you have siblings? Are you more like your mom or your dad?” I remember it all too, which freaks people out a little if we’re just acquaintances and I run into them a year later and am like, “Oh, isn’t your birthday tomorrow?” I don’t know; I just like hearing the backgrounds of people’s lives, and whatever little things they’re passionate about.
Didn’t you have some problems with someone pirating your site?
Yeah, several times now, the last one in this twisted fan-fic manner. I don’t understand it. I’d like to say I just laugh it off, but in all honesty, it really bothers me, both in a defensive, that’s MY idea way, and also in this naïve, disappointed way, in that I just assume a little too often that everyone’s going to be cool.
What do you want to tell other bloggers, if anything?
Just because you have access to a keyboard does not automatically make you a tastemaker or critic or pundit. There are some sites that seem to exist just so people can link to things or events that are cool, no real commentary, like it’s going to make them cool by proxy to say, “I bought this!” or “I am aware of an event that will be happening tonight!” That’s just weird to me. I don’t get it. I also don’t get people who use their sites to do nothing but bitch about how inferior or out of touch everyone else is. All that negativity just makes me bored. If you’re sad and bitter, go get laid or start therapy or something, but don’t be a teenager about it and assume other people want to read that crap. I guess my rules would be: if you’re going to have a site, have something to say, and be funny, but don’t be a douche.
Astounding facts about you:
I can name celebrity voiceovers in television commercials in under two seconds. I see numbers as colors. When I was thirteen, I had an extremely brief career in hand modeling. I have never seen Schindler’s List, Apocalypse Now, or Footloose. I got a B.A. in English without ever having read anything by a Brontë. When I was a kid, I used to eat paper.
I realize these aren’t really “astounding facts” so much as “factoids.” My personality is basically a bathroom book.
Can you please give me a link to your favorite post? Why do you like it so much? Are you going to marry it?
Sometimes I like to read through my old posts, just because it’s a handy way to remember the past few years, but doing that makes me want to edit and delete, and that’s a hard urge to supress, so I don’t re-read a lot. But the only one that still actually makes me laugh is this one about the time I found a roach in my fajitas — just that bit about the shark. That’s some funny shit. It makes me want to high-five 2004 me, but that’s sort of like jerking off to your own photo.
Also, I still like this one because it’s still true.
Are you Windows or Mac? Why?
Mac, just very recently. I had some reservations, but now I wonder why I wasted so many hours of my day rebooting my old Windows machine every time it crashed. It’s like, he hit me because he loved me, but then I met Judith Light and now we’re taking back the night or something. I can’t explain, it’s complicated.
How would your friends describe you?
They would probably say that I’m funny and big-hearted, and that I sleep way too late on the weekends.
I just turned to my roommate and her boyfriend and said, “Hey, how would you describe me?” and they said, “Um… funny? Nice glasses? Great laugh? Sensitive? Well-spoken? Good activity partner? Great ass?” Which is a total lie, because everyone knows I’m all T and no A.
Do you cook?
Not really. I prefer baking to cooking. I make a really good pecan pie. I’m going to come right out and say that I make the best pecan pie I’ve ever had.
Are you a Priestess? I’m asking because you are apparently marrying people.
My friends Jay and Patti asked me to officiate their wedding last summer when they got engaged, so I got ordained online, with the Universal Life Church. As far as I can tell, their required credentials are that you have a name and a few minutes. The wedding was three weeks ago, and I still get nervous in the shower every morning that I somehow ruined their wedding with what I said and they’re too nice to tell me. My hairdresser asked me if I’d do her wedding someday, but I don’t know. I’d hate to jinx myself. You know how it is: always the minister, never the bride.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on two books. I take turns procrastinating with each of them.
What will you being doing next year?
I should be traveling a lot more in the coming year, if things go as planned. I’d also like to get a dog eventually, but I don’t know if that’ll happen just yet.
Tell me a secret?
This is hard for me to say, but I had a sex dream about you last night, and it made me realize I’m in love with you.
Okay, that’s not true at all, but isn’t that really what most people want you to say when you tell them a secret?
What do you wish I had asked you that I didn’t?
I wish you’d ended this conversation by saying, “Who’s the #1 rock band in the world?” And I’d give the traditional response, “Blue Oyster Cult! Put your dad on the phone.”