It is our favourite Russian-American princess’ birthday! To celebrate reaching her 24th year, Q & L got to interrogate her.
L – If you were a cocktail, which would you be?:
I recently had a drink called A Rose is A Rose is a Rosé: it’s made of mezcal, gin, lillet rose, agave, lemon, sparkling rosé, rose water — shaken and served with a lemon swath. It was smoky, a bit too strong, and a lovely shade of pink.
Q – What’s your ideal birthday celebration?
A long meal with good friends — lots of drink and cheer. Ideally, geography wouldn’t matter, and my loved ones overseas and scattered would be there, wherever ‘there’ is. [Can you tell I miss you, Q & L? ]
(L misread this question as “what’s your ideal birthday cake”, so let’s have the answer to that too:)
A simple, homemade, chocolate cake, made by my mama. Or one of Elisha’s vegan Depression-Era cakes, with candied violets from her garden. I had one this summer and it tasted like home.
L – If you could have lunch with anyone at all on your birthday, dead or alive, who would it be?
My grandfather, David. He passed away two years ago before my birthday, and his absence is deeply felt in my daily life. He more than anyone made my birthdays wonderful, simply by his joy for the occasion. He had this quality that made one feel incredibly loved, just by being near him. He also appreciated dining out with style, especially for birthdays. I’d like to take him for wine somewhere in the afternoon— somewhere sunny— and I’d ask his advice, or listen to his stories about being a cowboy, the son of an immigrant, a dreamer.
Q – Do you believe in astrology? Discuss your star sign.
I do. Or rather, I accept astrology as a mythology that I enjoy in my daily life. I’m attracted to the mysticism of it, these beautifully articulated fictions derived from the stars — and curious notions of the universe explaining us to ourselves. I revisit often an astrology text given to me by my grandmother, called Sun Signs by Linda Goodman, and it describes each star sign in lengthy chapters, like character backgrounds in a script. I like to read from Sun Signs after I’ve met someone to see how the descriptions match up. Goodman writes that Aquarians are dreamers, futurists, romantics. I believe that of myself.
L – In our current socio-political climate, tell me one key action you would like every reader to do to help.
Gather your friends and make each other accountable for daily actions. Resisting should become a daily practice, and having a group to organize with can really energize you when you are feeling exhausted. Once you have your collective, tasks like calling your reps and showing up to weekly rallies feel less daunting.
L – If you could have any role at all in any film or musical or play, which would you take?
Fantine, Les Mis, if only for one song — “I Dreamed a Dream.” For film, Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth in Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice. I really want to play opposite Rosamund Pike. [Infinite swoon.]
Q – What would you like to accomplish before you’re 25?
I want to finish writing my anthology of poems and travel essays. I want to run for a low-ballot office in my district. I want to get better at Vietnamese. I want to hear more of my grandmother’s stories, and write them down. I want to love others more fully and selflessly.