Friday, November 12, 2010

20 Questions with... Kate Haas

Welcome to "20 Questions with..." I want to feature passionate, creative women who are following their dreams. If you're interested in being a 20 Questions feature, let me know, and I'll send you the questionnaire.

Enjoy past installments of 20 Questions here.

Fun fact: I tabled with Kate at the
Portland Zine Symposium this year.
She's completely fabulous and very down-to-earth,
 in spite of being a famous zinester/editor and all that.
Occupation: writer and editor
Pimpalicious Link: When I got a phone call informing me I had a tumor, I was appalled. For the wrong reasons, as it turned out. My essay about it all, “A Little Stranger,” appeared in the Summer 2010 issue of Brain, Child magazine.

About Kate, in two sentences: Kate Haas spent three years with the Peace Corps in Morocco and the past ten mothering two small boys. The toughest job wasn’t the one requiring Arabic.

1. What it is you do, and why do you do it?

I’m a writer. I was one of those little bookworms who couldn’t have turned out to be anything else. Mostly I write literary essays about parenthood, but I’ll tackle anything that makes a good story. I’m also the co-editor of Creative Nonfiction at Literary Mama. There’s something about untangling snarled sentences that I find deeply satisfying; it’s my geeky passion. I do freelance editing, as well.

2. Did your passion sidle up next to you and offer to buy you a drink, or did it pimp-slap you and say, “You’re gonna work for me now, see?”

I always kept a journal, but it wasn’t until I got back from the Peace Corps that I decided to get serious about writing. I met a guy who did a zine and thought, “I could do that.” I married the guy and started Miranda (so titled because I’d always loved the name) as a venue to write about Morocco, lost companions, my bad Waldorf school, being the lone kid without a TV in the 1980’s, recipes, and lots and lots about books...

When I had my first son in 2000, I added the subtitle “motherhood and other adventures” to Miranda. The first wave of “mama zines” was just coming on, so I got plugged into a really interesting community of women, all struggling to find time to write while raising small children. I guess you could say that my passion slapped me upside the head. Because if there’s one thing the mother of small children doesn’t have time and energy for, it’s writing. If you manage to do it despite that, it’s because you’re really compelled to.

3. Disney is remaking Snow White, and has cast you as the eighth dwarf. What’s your name?


4. Are you more of a Jackie, or more of a Marilyn?

Style isn’t my strong suit, but I admire the elegance of Jackie’s look and wouldn’t mind achieving it now and then.

5. Peter Pan, in all his lithe nimbleness, has appeared at your window with the intent of whisking you away to someplace fab. All you need to fly is one happy thought… What comes to mind?

Free babysitting

6. What makes you feel sexy?

The breeze under my skirt on the first spring day when it’s warm enough not to wear long johns.

7. If you had all the time in the world, what would you do more of?

I would make those quilts for my boys from the baby clothes I’ve been saving all these years for that purpose.

8. What’s the last thing you bought that later made you scream, “What was I THINKING?”

Probably that leather jacket I got in Morocco. I was leaving the country, I had dirhams I couldn’t convert into dollars, all the other Peace Corps volunteers were getting leather jackets. But I’m more Ma Ingalls than James Dean, when it comes right down to it.

9. It’s 3:30 a.m. You wake up with an insane craving for what?

The superpower of going back to sleep instantly.

10. What’s something you know you should do for your body, but don’t?

Eat less artisan cheese from Ancient Heritage Dairy at the Portland farmer’s market – but I can’t resist!

11. What do you want on your tombstone?

I saw a tombstone once in a pioneer cemetery in old Shasta City. It said MOTHER, and underneath, “She hath done what she could.” I can’t say I’d want that, exactly. But I can’t get it out of my mind, either.

12. Let’s talk about your first kiss. What happened?

In a closet, during a game of Truth or Dare, at a Quaker youth retreat. Keyword: slimy. I consider it miraculous that I ventured a second kiss, after that.

13. What’s one thing you’d never reveal on a first date?


14. Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Jennifer Ehle (as seen in the BBC’s 1995 Pride and Prejudice)

15. What’s the one song that makes you feel like you can take on the world? You know – the one you bust out the serious moves for when no one is looking?

“Wall of Death” by Richard Thompson. ‘Cause you can waste your time on the other rides, but this one’s the nearest to being alive!

16. Fergie, Duchess of York, or Fergie, diva of Black Eyed Peas?

Can I pretty please say Katharine Hepburn circa 1938, instead?

17. What real-life dream gets you so excited, it keeps you up at night?

My agent calls to say that a major publisher wants my book proposal and is offering a big advance. Heck, it could be a miniscule advance and I’d still be excited.

18. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your 12-year-old self?

Never put your journal into checked luggage.

Don’t try to fall out of love with someone. Only time can do that for you.

19. Welcome to Suicide Karaoke. You’ve gotta sing. Your life depends on it. What’s the song that’s going to save you?

“The Queen of Skye” (as performed by the Red Clay Ramblers on their CD, Rambler.). It’s a lovely song about a ship getting loaded up and sailing away to the Carolinas. I used to sing it to my boys almost every night for years. It will probably remain imprinted on my mind forever.

20. You’re heading to a potluck. What’s your never-fail dish? Share the recipe!

Cheese Puffs

If you want to be all Frenchified, you can call these gougeres, the way my mother does, but they’re cheese puffs. And what cheese puffs they are: Magnifique! Formidable! Et tres, tres simple. Also, extremely impressive. The hot, cheesy, flaky deliciousness of these things cannot be overstated. Waltz into a party or potluck with a tray of them and your culinary reputation will be secured for life.

1 cup water
6 Tbs butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 cup flour
4 eggs
1 cup shredded cheese (any kind you want – go crazy)

Preheat the oven to 425.
Lightly butter a cookie sheet.

Put the water, butter, salt and pepper in a pot. Heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is boiling rapidly.

Add the flour to the butter mixture all at once and continue to cook, stirring till the mixture forms a ball and leaves the sides of the pan clean (this will take under a minute, if that).

Remove from heat and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Incorporate each one thoroughly before adding the next. (This is the only hard part. Those eggs will not want to mix in. But keep beating; they will).
Then stir in the cheese.

Place rounded spoonfuls (about the size of a walnut) on the cookie sheet. Bake about 20 minutes or till puffed and golden. Makes around 28. Try not to eat them all on the way to the potluck

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