Aug 072016


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.



1. You know I’m over here chomping at the bit, so I’m going to just dive in with the most important question of this whole interview: tell us things about when you lived in Romania! What kinds of food did you eat? What was the FRUIT like?! Does your mother tongue ever come out during fits of road rage?

 My childhood in Romania was spent almost exclusively traveling the Carpathian Mountains in RVs. Usually we were up around Ukraine, but did move around a lot. We mostly stayed in smaller towns and the forest, and I was such an outside kid. I love the deep, dark woods that make it so easy to see where fairy tales were born. I’m actually pretty lucky I never poisoned myself because I used to gob down any berries I found on sight. Now I know they were wild strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and lingonberry. The food was super meat-heavy (mostly because my family kept farm pigs) which made being a kid vegetarian tough. My favorite was mamaliga, which is like a salty cheesy polenta topped with sour cream. Also there were lots of delicious bread and dough desserts.
 It’s pretty hilarious that you would ask about the road rage, because cussing in Romanian is a special art! There are an absurd amount of cuss words, most of them involve genitalia, and usually an entire sentence is made out of it. A classic: Dute-n pizda ma-tii! (Don’t ask)

2. Oh man, you may have just reignited my polenta craze of 2008 because mamaliga sounds like something that needs erotically dumped into my mouth immediately. I mean…next question! If I had to tell someone what my first impression was upon visiting your home for the first time, without hesitation I would say HOUSE OF MUSIC. You and your husband Dustin have quite the collection of instruments! Tell the good people what instruments you play and also about your BAND!

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.

3. In order to escape the reality of living in a world where Donald Trump is an official presidential candidate, you are given the opportunity to live inside a cartoon. What cartoon do you choose and why!? (I get hyper when I think of questions.)

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.

Runners up: Gravity Falls, Adventure Time

4. You made a great tour guide when we visited Savannah last year; what stands out the most to me is the panache with which you pointed out all of the bugs in the Bonaventure Cemetery. If you had to spend a full day with one bug as your side kick, what bug would it be and how would you two spend your day?

Definitely a Praying Mantis! They are the Kung fu masters of the insect world, and as such we would spend the day rescuing villages from bandit hordes, hunting monsters, and mastering dope poses at the tops of bamboo forests.
5. What was something you were “known for” in high school?
It really couldn’t be anything but soccer. No one really knew me, and I peace’d out of high school after 9th grade. I was crazy about soccer for most of my childhood, and got pretty damn good—I became starting forward just a month into the season—before breaking my knee in a way that I was never able to fully recover from. After that I couldn’t see the point in being there anymore, and tested out. Boo high school!


6. Describe your personal style either using all made-up words, or in the vein of e.e.cummings:

i prefer glasses (i see more than
    and only
             and not always
        what it is they show me)
like shutters, bold
child of earth and Earth and soft cloths like

wind in leaves and growing loam, and clouds

                                    toward anachronisms       (what is on that tshirt?)
a braless boheme
who never does seem
to have grown up quite completely.
32 - Copy
7.  I’m sitting downtown on my lunch break thinking of questions for you just as this bro rolls up to a red light with Led Zeppelin’s “All My Love” blaring from his car like it was his fucking Red Light anthem, bitches. What would your “rolling up to the red light” anthem be?

Dig Up Her Bones by The Misfits. I can’t not punch the chorus out on the ceiling of the car when it plays!
“Red Light Anthem,” is such a cool phrase.


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.


10. That story is amazing! Maybe it will inspire Henry to open up and share his own SERVICE tale but probably not. :( Now’s the time when you shut this bad boy down with a list of 5 songs that everyone MUST listen to today in your honor.
There are a lot of songs that wanted to make the list, but I tried to narrow them down to the five that paint the most accurate portrait of my interior landscape. Enjoy being me for a few moments, and then enjoy being able to stop!
    •  “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!

  7 Responses to “People Feature #3: Octavia Kahn”

  1. Awesome interview! Awesome person! Thanks for sharing.

  2. This was too much fun. Thank you for wasting your incredibly entertaining interview skills on me! :-D

  3. I am LOVING this series. Officially stalking your friend now, don’t mind me.

    • Woot! Stalker friends are the best friends! Glad to meet you :-D

      Totally agree with how awesome this series is. It’s too fun reading how people are rolling with Erin’s hilarious and thought-provoking questions. I hope you’re next!

  4. “Dig Up Her Bones by The Misfits. I can’t not punch the chorus out on the ceiling of the car when it plays!”

    That is my favorite new Misfits song TOO! :D

    I’ve been waiting to read this one, and that SERVICE story was fascinating. I’ll bet there are a ton more interesting stories like that of her time there.

    And Romania, wow. You have the coolest friends.

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