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I like the Stacey who posts photographs. I do not see any tattoos on your Oscar-holding arms. You have no tats? Hidden tats? What tat would you have if you had a tat? A cat? A bat? A marmosat? Do you have a day job Stacey? What sorts of jobs have you had? What was your worst job? Did you ever forget your billfold and have to wash dishes at the diner? Have you done landscaping or heavy lifting? Your photo indicates arm muscles.]]'']] Thank you Stacey.
Hi Vanya. So many questions! Let's focus on the arms. I think one reason they look so muscular is that those Oscar statues are extremely heavy. Easily they could be used to brain someone on the head until dead. Not that I would (or would not). I don't have any tattoos which is somewhat related to the day job, which I don't have for both happy and unhappy reasons, the unhappy one being that I hurt my back badly and irreparably 19 1/2 years ago. Though I'm not disabled (in part because I've never applied for disability), I did recently get a letter from the county telling me that I am permanently excused from jury duty, which is basically impossible, like being excused from airport security or something, and even more improbably seems to be the result of a very tart note I scrawled on my tenth or eleventh summons that said something like, "You can keep calling me twice a year if you want but I will never, ever be able to serve because my back is destroyed, basically, and I wish you would stop rubbing it in." It was that, or else they just drop you after ten doctor's notes. Anyway, when I told a gal in book club about it I began to cry, which besides being embarrassing seemed to indicate that I believed the jury excuse had bestowed some kind of tiara of disability on me, though maybe I'd just had too much wine. Usually I don't like to go on and on about this but I don't want to be secretive either since pain is a defining fact of my life on a day-to-day basis, which is why I thought that for the 20th anniversary of my injury, I might get a giant, beautiful tattoo all over my back and torso and down the dermatomes of my legs and feet of the life cycle of a plant in the style of a botanical drawing: roots, flowers, seeds; growing, wilting, being reborn--isn't everyone's tattoo about that? Either that or Jackson Pollock loops and splotches running all down me. I'm not sure if this will actually happen.
I have never professionally landscaped but I like to plant plants and dig holes, though that's probably not the best activity for me. I have a small, fur-covered cat who believes my job is to accompany her on her food bowl viewings, which occur every half hour.
Howdy there miss Staceykins, indulge my curiosity but can you tell me about your brushes with fame? Whom did you meet or rub shoulders with? Have you ever made out with a famous celebrity or a group thereof?
Hi Valerie. I've never made out with a group of celebrities--I wish!--but I once had dream-sex with Tom Cruise, in a church, and I'd do it again. Other than that, the most notorious charmer I've met is Ray Evans of the song-writing team Livingston and Evans, who wrote such standards as "Silver Bells," "Bonanza," and the theme to Mr. Ed. That's right, Ray penned the brilliant line, "A horse is a horse/ Of course, of course," which is almost as wonderful as my beloved, "One fish, two fish/Red fish, blue fish." Ray was a mad flirt (sadly, he's passed away) but we never got to make out. He did, however, let me hold his three big, heavy Oscars.
DEAREST STACEY OF THE RICHTER CLAN: WHAT IS THE MOST OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVEST THINGY YOU HAVE EVER DONE DID?
I guess getting out of bed to check the iron, finding it's off, then getting back in bed and deciding I have to get up again and go touch it and be sure it's really off, then getting to the doorway before turning around and checking one more time, then going back to bed and getting up to check all the doors (though in general I am a fire-checker), then thinking I should cry but not crying. In the grand scheme of things, I've decided that isn't really that bad. I only do it now and then, and only because I actually do leave things on and burning and unattended. I don't actually have OCD. Oh sure, I do count everything, all the time, footsteps and so on, but that's just to for amusement purposes.
Good to speak with you, Stacey. I have had an opportunity to read your works. Color me impressed. The wordsmithing, the conceptual slyness, the adroit view of humanity....these comprise your hallmarks as an author. I might know little of the literary world but I know distinction and you embody it. Now, might I add this: Via the magic of Google and Googling of a search on your name, I had occasion to observe your image, Stacey Richter. A lovelier woman I cannot recall having seen. Both gorgeous and adorable. Stacey Richter you are as pretty as the word pretty will allow. The word pretty is filled to bursting and can take it no longer, thanks to Stacey Richter. If there is a God then he was having a good day when he made you. At the end of that day, God said 'Hot damn! I'm on fire!' and did a self-congratulatory fist bump to no one in particular. God is used to that....he has no one to relate to. But he's used to it and has made peace with it. What he hasn't made peace with is is how wholly, perfectly, thoroughly fine a job he did when he built himself a 'Stacey Richter' from scratch. What a beautiful woman you are, Stacey.
Have you a favorite anagram of your name, Stacey Richter?
Create Cry Shit. It's good with commas, evilly placed beside Eat, Pray, Love. Like this: Eat, Pray, Love. Create, Cry, Shit. "Do you have a copy of Eat, Pray, Love?" No, but we have a few Create, Cry, Shits on the sale table."
Stacey, Are you attracted to black men? Thank you.
Howdy. I would like to know your take on "Cloud Atlas," either the movie or the book. Mainly the movie though, because I saw it but did not read the book. I enjoyed the movie very much. Did you see it? Did you like it, and what is your review, if you have one to give. Thank you!
Frobisher! I feel like I've done my time with Cloud Atlas by reading it, though I can imagine it might be a cool movie. As a book I found it uneven (parts are great, parts are tedious), and annoyingly coy about being a fantasy/sci-fi novel (though maybe that was my problem). In general, I'm not a big fan of the recent explosion of the novels-in-stories form because, well, what's wrong with stories? No one called Winesburg, Ohio a novel because it's not; it's fantastic and intricate and interesting and you don't have to read it in order. The topic of fragmentation impresses me less ever since I realized how much easier it is to write a bunch of disparate things on a theme and make the reader tie it together in their brain than to write a unified novel. But as those kinds of books go, Cloud Atlas was better than most. You actually do have to read it in order. You should! Just skip all the parts about the 70's woman snooping around corporate headquarters.
Stacey, you wrote that when you're older you know how to deal with assholes. I would like to learn from your wisdom on this: How do you deal with assholes? Also, how do you prevent becoming an asshole? Where is the divide between asshole and non-asshole, and please do not tell me there taint such a thing. Another question: How do you use your hotness, and is it possible to use too much hotness? But here is another question about getting older: Friends. What becomes of friends? I have friends who have friend-dumped me. I have also had to friend-dump some friends. What happened here? Friends used to be very close and loyal. Now one minute they're on your side, and the next minute they're all, "Why are you calling me?" Then I am left with this feeling in the pit of my stomach like I did something wrong and don't know what, and probably will never find out.
Actually, I wrote that with age you learn what to do when someone is an asshole, which is different than how to deal with them because in my definition, an asshole is someone who can't be dealt with. I, too, used to think there was some supergreat way to dispatch difficult people but I finally realized that there's only the best way for each person, and that adding the painful cherry of right and wrong to the sundae of dealing with assholes makes it taste all the more disgusting. A turning point for me & asshole exposure was when I realized that the most unpleasant people were not the ones I should try to make like me. Now I try to get away as quickly and politely as possible, with a minimum of humiliation. This is not always realistic.
Paradoxically, the only way not to be an asshole yourself (& I'm no expert in this) is to leave the door marked "asshole" cracked. Everyone is a jerk sometimes. It may be by accident, or a misunderstanding, or justified, but does that matter when you're on the receiving end? Probably not. But leaving the asshole door cracked is surprisingly hard. A lot of people, even self-hating ones, have a gentle, downtrodden voice inside them, well-meaning and earnest, that says in a seven year-old girl tone that you cannot ever be truly destructive, or bad, or mean, because you are essentially well-meaning and good. You'll hear this voice when someone tells you you did something to hurt them, and it's very sad and victimized and compelling, but you don't want to feed this part of yourself too many cookies. Let's recall that the most vicious characters of history thought of themselves as victims--Hitler was losing the war because of the Jews, Stalin was being mocked by the peasants he starved, etc., ick. If you have a feeling of being terribly wronged, there's a good chance that someone else thinks you're being a tool. Are you? You know, from their point of view? This is when you might have to tell your victim voice to pipe down for a while and apologize--even though you feel bad too. This is hard, hard, hard. I've done it but usually I don't. It's really hard. But it's possible.
Friends. The thing with friends is that as people get older they have less time in general and want to have fun with their friends rather than long, free-form psychotherapy sessions. When you're young and have recently left home you need intense friendships to cover the loss of your family, but after a while your independence kicks in and you no longer need your friends to tell you who you are. This might not feel quite right or fair if it hasn't been this way all along, but eventually you'll want it too. Pretty much everyone gets more involved with their families and jobs as they get older (vs. their defining tribe of friends), it just happens to people at different rates.
Of course you still need companionship, and friends are still friends: you can still love them and admire them and share life events and ask them how to dress and tell them how you really feel, but as you get older you have to do it just once, not over and over, and it's better if you do it while doing something fun, like rollerskating. There's nothing wrong with feeling needy, but constantly imploring your friends for help is the emotional equivalent of asking to sleep on their couch: it's okay now and then but it might be time to get your own apartment, aka boyfriend or a life-coach or mentor or a support group. Besides, a little lightness can be good for a friendship. It cuts down on the friend-dumping.
Hotness. I am not using my hotness in any practical sense; rather, I am using it for general self-esteem, sucking all the juice I can from moments of inner dialogue such as: "I am pleased & uncomfortable to note that that semi-cute, weird biker-guy writing in his journal is looking at me like he wants to tear off my clothes and fuck me right here on the trash-strewn floor endemic to Starbucks. Why can't they sweep the floors? It's disgusting." As for too much using of the hotness, I'm not sure when that happens--maybe if you're getting paid? Then again I don't have a problem with a little willing prostitution as long as your mother doesn't find out. And why would she? Just don't get so caught up in it that you forget to tend the smart and talented part of yourself, and don't use it against other women or you'll end up using it against yourself someday (see below).
Hello! It's your admirer again! I met someone the other day who is from Tucson, and, of course, thought of you. I told her that one of my favorite authors was from Tucson and mentioned your name. She didn't know who you were. I was flummoxed! You're bigger than life in my head and surely big in Tucson, right? I guess that's just how life goes. Everything is bigger in my head and there are more good writers than you can shake a pack rat at. This is why I try not to get down about getting published. It will happen or it won't. I'll still be me. Anyway, I was wondering how you felt about aging. I feel young. I'm curious when I'll start to feel old. For my 30th birthday I bought a new dress and went out dancing with friends. It felt great! But now, close to 35, I'm starting to LOOK old. I was stretching the other day and my knees looked old. Old! Really! I'm grossed out that this even crossed my mind. It's more than my knees, but I don't want to give you a laundry list. I've never been super concerned with my appearance, but things just seem to be falling apart recently. So, do you worry about aging? I'd really like to stop this worrying nonsense because it's just not my style.
Hi Little S. B. Yes, I worry about aging. My approach is to alternate between panic and denial. I'm worried about death, I'm worried about not writing all the books I want to write or reading everything I'd like to read before I die. I'm worried I'll lose my intelligence and become someone who doesn't understand technology, and I'm worried about losing any hotness I have, because I'm still using it and I'm too insecure not to. The only people who seem to be worse off than me are every other woman I know, practically, chicks in their forties who get a glass of wine in them and are like, "Ugh, I'm such a dried-up old bag." They're usually painfully beautiful, not to mention successful, and I stare at them in shock. Every now and then I'll say, "Really? Is it really so tragic to be hot and 45? What's the problem? Did you really want to fuck everyone? You still could. Go ask that guy! Come on, don't be a pussy."
It's less of a problem if you don't believe, on some crazy-belief level, that getting older is somehow your fault. (Neither is getting fatter, by the way). My advice is to go into aging with a plan that takes into account the fact that it's completely out of your control and will not stop until you die. Once you understand this, you can decide how terrible you really think it is. Do you really want to mourn your disappearing youth, every day, at 35, 36, 37, 47, 57? Or do you want to enjoy what you have? There's an ocean of peer pressure, for lack of a better word, for women to feel bad about themselves. We are self-punishers, we are supposed to be; somewhere in our brains we believe we can have perfect lives if we look perfect, and it's hard to get an exemption from this.
But getting older has perks. You're smarter, you know what to do when people act like assholes, and you have a bed rather than a futon. It's fine and dandy. With the years you do not automatically turn into your mother or some cafeteria lady you looked at with disdain when you were seventeen. Your knees are not revolting--you just thought that once, when you were seventeen and hated your mother and that lady in the weird suit swimming laps in the pool. Back then, you didn't have anything except your youth. You were an idiot, I promise; you had no idea that hating older ladies was going tempt you into hating yourself when you became their age. You had no idea that the bad thoughts of our society had permeated you so thoroughly that you'd started directing them on to other women who would someday be represented by your knees, or that youth itself is full of a howling emptiness that is often really fucking unpleasant. I say wait to mourn losses until you have real losses. Your knees are fine. They're adorable. Someday, if they hurt, they will not be fine. Until then, they are just little and shirleyful. Go take them out to play.
Stacey, you are a genuinely thoughtful person. It is heartening to know such a person is out there and I consider it generous of you to answer these questions. I really enjoy your Q&A pages. I find myself wanting to come up with questions just to ask you to see what you'll say. But a part of me also feels like I shouldn't because it would be like the pesty little brother and probably you have better things to do. I used to be a lonely little brother and my big sister was always on the phone or something and I always felt inadequate and unable to be at her level, and often she would slam the bedroom door shut on me and I was standing there on the shag carpeting staring at a door. I don't blame her because that is what big sisters do, and she had a lot going on in her world. I am sure a pre-teen girl's world is a whole lot more complicated and freaky than a boy's world. At least, on average. Anyway I guess maybe you remind me of my big sister. Always like you know something more than I do, but also in a nice way, like you wouldn't mind helping me learn more too, at least for a while before you need to shut your door. I thank you for that. I think you are nice. I am supposed to ask a question here. My question is, um, what were your favorite children's books? What was the earliest memory you had of reading a book, and what did you like about it? One of my favorites was Harold and the Purple Crayon. I was fascinated how he made worlds out of a crayon and then could climb up onto them, or into them.
No, you're nice! Thanks so much for your complicated compliment, and also for taking the time to construct a mental world in which to put me. I have an older sister too, my only sibling, and I used to curl up outside her door and/or sleep on the foot on her bed when I had night terrors. (She feels bad about that now, but I'm just grateful someone was there at all). Actually, there's nothing I'd love more than a pesky-little-brother-friend, but in real life I'm too annoying (needy & supercilious & mean) for this to ever happen. I will stomp on your dreams, Somebody, and believe I'm doing you a favor, so watch where you put them.
The first book I can remember "reading" was Walt Disney's "Cinderella," a Golden Book, which I couldn't really read but memorized. It remains the dominant myth of my life.