Holy shit, am I excited to share another one of my friends with everyone. I finally wore down my pal Octavia into agreeing to do one of these things and it was anything but a wasted effort. We met back in 2008/2009 on Etsy, of all places! So literally my very first impression of her was getting this well-thought out, flowery Etsy convo from her on my now-defunct photography shop, and thinking, “Who is this woodland creature and how can I trap her into a mason jar, I swear to god I promise to poke holes in the top.” It took many years, but we finally got to meet in person last summer, and again last spring, and it was magic each time!
What I love about Octavia is that even just texting with her is like communicating with someone from another time. She is a fount of wisdom, well-spoken, an artist in every sense, and the personification of a first edition Hans Christian Anderson book. Her fiercely loyal friendship and nurturing personality is a true bastion in my life. I learn something new about her and from her on a daily basis – she keeps life fascinating and full of wonder! And she has cultivated this amazingly creative and whimsical (sorry if you hate that word, pretend like scrapbooking mommy bloggers haven’t ruined it) environment for her adorable daughter Tallulah, who is well on her way to growing into a brilliant, free-thinking, bad-assed mini-Octavia.
I could keep gushing until the end of time, but I’m going to just let the interview speak for itself before anyone starts puking in a boot. Also, I pictured Octavia sitting on a toadstool drinking absinthe from an antique Turkish tea cup while answering these questions….with a tuba by her side.
Dustin is the far and away the music maestro of the house. He’s played guitar for twenty years and can play almost any instrument. I play accordion and violin, which conveniently fill some gaps in Dusty’s repertoire. I can also play Sloop John B on ukulele (yeah, boi!).
Our band is The Junktown Jerky Vendors. The name comes from a magazine in one of my favorite video game series; FallOut. The songs we’re working on are all apocalypse and science fiction themed, and we try to write them as though we’re traveling minstrels in the wasteland. Some songs include “Time Travel Paradox,” “Tunnel Snakes Rule,” and “Wasteland Dog,” which may never get recorded because I wrote it with Garrison Keller’s voice in my head and now it will never sound right to me without him as the vocalist.
Oh how I wish! Over The Garden Wall. It’s a short-run special series Cartoon Network aired over a magical week in 2013 (a week that also included my birthday! Does that mean it was a gift especially for me? Yes. Yes, it does). The art, atmosphere, voice acting, and music are so beautiful that it threatens to break my heart. Watching it was the first time I ever genuinely wished I could crawl inside a show and live there. It’s on Netflix (or Hulu? Now I can’t remember which), and I highly recommend queuing it up as soon as leaves start changing color. I’m so obsessed with it that I only allow myself to watch it September through November to avoid over-doing it and killing the magic.
wind in leaves and growing loam, and clouds
8. Draw a picture of Henry reading your favorite book!
9. OMG he needs to make this his Facebook profile picture, I’m dying! Speaking of Henry, here’s a guest question from him: “Do you ever listen to the Top Gun soundtrack to relive your days in THE SERVICE like I do?” Ok fine, real question–the part about you being in THE SERVICE is true. Can you regale us with a Service story?!
As a kid I totally had a Top Gun single .45 record with “Take My Breath Away,” on one side and “The Dangerzone,” on the other!
Every single person going into the military gets told by some well-meaning person to “not volunteer for anything.” They ask for volunteers a LOT in basic training. The first time our TI’s (drill sergeants) asked my flight (your particular group of around 50 people by dorm room) for a volunteer not a single soul spoke up. As seconds began stretching long I could see the TI’s starting to lose respect for us. With as shitty as they had already been to us, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if they actually hated us. So I volunteered. For everything. I’d raise my hand every time, before they could even finish saying what it was for, and I was literally the only one to ever do so.
One of the things I ended up volunteering for was chow-call. This poop-wrapped nightmare of a job involved marching into the chow hall before every meal, and up to the table full of officers who were coordinating everything to announce in perfect verbiage that your flight was ready to come in. Those officers acted like they hated their lives, their jobs, and us, and would eviscerate you for the slightest mistake in your marching, your verbiage, your uniform. You had to address everyone with “Sir/Ma’am, trainee ____ reports as ordered,” before you could say anything else. The ‘Shark Tank,’ as they were called, loved to all talk at you at once, so you’d go blue in the face trying to spit that shit out a hundred times to answer everyone. After they finally let you leave you had to lead your flight in and direct every single one of them to their seats before you had your own 30 seconds to choke as much food down as possible before you were getting screamed at to GTFO. It was really crappy, but the people in charge actually started being much nicer to me after a while. They’d tell a bunch of terrible shit at everyone, then follow it up with “except you, Clark.” It didn’t win me any friends in my flight, but I wasn’t there to make friends.
The ultimate pay-back for my shitty flight came when I volunteered for kitchen duty. For some reason we had all heard that it was a hot, extremely laborious job, and naturally mine was the only hand that went up. The TI even said to everyone, “Really? You’re going to just let Clark do this shit too?” Silence. She rolled her eyes and led me down to the kitchen where I discovered a magical fact none of us had known: there is no cook position in the Air Force. The kitchen was staffed by very well-fed civilian women who, day in and day out, watched us hapless recruits attempting to stuff entire veal cutlet and burritos into our throats while being read the riot act. Kitchen duty ended up being about 10 minutes of dishwashing and an hour and a half of being fed cakes and sandwiches by clucking mother hens.
There must have been a meeting while I was gone for that first kitchen duty, because when I got back to the dorm room the flight captain apologized on behalf of everyone and offered me a deal; if I kept doing kitchen duty I would no longer be put on the schedule to be awakened in the middle of the night for the hour-long rotating night guard position. It may have been terrible of me, but I excepted their offer without a word otherwise and became the only one in our flight who was well fed, well rested, and in good favor of all of the screaming maniac’s in charge of us.
- “Murder in the Red Barn” – Tom Waits: If I have to pick just one Tom Waits song, this is it.
- “Postcards From Italy” – Beirut: One day I am going to OD on sentimentality.
- “Dead Girl” – Acid Bath: I am not what you would call a fan of Acid Bath. This is literally their only song I like, but this thing is…it’s special.
- “So Come Back, I Am Waiting” – Okkervil River: This is similar to Acid Bath in that I’m not really into OR, but this song is just so sensual and magnetic. I’m 100% certain the band meant it about drugs, but in my head I have an elaborate movie that plays about a young girl running away to the woods to learn dark magics from a legendary beast.
- Scars of Time, opening song to the video game Chrono Cross: I challenge your soul not to feel alive while listening to this masterpiece.
Ugh, whoever said all good things must come to an end was huffing Summer’s Eve—I wanted to ask her 87 more questions! I hope you enjoyed wading through the mind of my friend Octavia, and if you haven’t your fill, you can read more about her on her blog!