No Wonder You Were Afraid to Ask #20 – Jenny Pritchett – At or Near Her Surface

1998-2016. Northern California. Because this is what single, childless people can do all. The. Time.
 1976. Dad in unironic trucker hat and me, smushed newborn, in our house in Quincy, Illinois. Note Newsweek with cover line "Taking Charge."
1976. Dad in unironic trucker hat and me, smushed newborn, in our house in Quincy, Illinois. Note Newsweek with cover line “Taking Charge.”

I’ve known Jenny for almost 10 years. I attended grad school with her at San Francisco State University where we worked together on the staff of the University’s graduate literary journal, 14 Hills. She is such a passionate and compassionate person and was a great mentor to the staff of the journal. Jenny has an amazing book of short stories out and is now the author of a really engaging secret blog called, Jenny True: An Excruciatingly Personal Food Blog.

Jenny said, “When I’m not oversharing, I’m a fiction and creative nonfiction writer who’s published in real places like Guernica, Salon, Boulevard, Northwest Review, and Southwest Review, and I’ve published a book of short stories, At or Near the Surface (Fourteen Hills Press). I’m also a creative writing teacher at the Writing Salon in San Francisco and Berkeley, and I’m a copy editor at a kids and media nonprofit.

This is a video of me singing comedy songs on guitar at the Double Play in San Francisco when I was 24.

Her passions include, “Social justice, equality and equal access to education and opportunity, balanced and independent media, love, travel, good food, good wine, and good writing.” Jenny added, “Although I grew up in Saudi Arabia and Wales, I was born in Quincy, Illinois, to an artist and a high school English teacher who instilled in me a sense of possibility and adventure and who always supported my writing. Although I’m proud of my professional accomplishments, I’m most proud of my personal work: Years ago I healed from eating disorders and an impressive variety of self-harming behaviors, and I feel grateful and lucky to be on the other side.”

1994. Prom. Jesus
1994. Prom. Jesus

You can also find Jenny online here:

Professional website: www.jennypritchett.com
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenny-pritchett-a86a9562?trk=hp-identity-photo
The Writing Salon: www.writingsalons.com/

Read on! You’re not going to find an interview ever that begins like this!

Is there anyone out there you would like to apologize to, which you haven’t been able to?

Oh, my god. So many. Tom: Sorry I dated your teammate immediately after breaking up with you. Nick: Sorry I dated your best friend immediately after breaking up with you. Spencer: Sorry I cheated on you with Nick. Allison Ziff: Sorry I hooked up with Nick (different Nick) when you went away for the summer (BUT HE SAID YOU WERE ON A BREAK). Michele: Sorry I cheated on you with that guy from the bar. Mom: Sorry for 1989-1994. JT and Keith: Sorry I barfed all over the bathroom and then went to sleep instead of cleaning it up. Derek: Sorry I played Sheryl Crow’s “Leaving Las Vegas” on repeat the entire first semester of freshman year. David Sedaris, sorry I was so weird when I met you. Annie Leibovitz, sorry I was so weird when I met you. Dorothy Allison, sorry I burst into tears when I met you. Countless people, sorry I was weird or awkward or self-righteous or drunk or passive-aggressive or everything at the same time. William: Sorry I ate the plums in the icebox.

If you could cure one disease in the world, what it be? Why?

Loneliness. Because loneliness.

What advice would you give the teenage you?

Stop trying to sleep with as many people as possible and FUCKING STUDY.

How do you think we can fix the racial divide in the United States?

White people need to stop thinking of ourselves as white people.

What do you think is the most important invention ever?

Birth control.

Did you have a particular birthday cake you had every year when you were growing up?

German chocolate cake, which my grandmother made for me every year. I still love it, but no one makes it anymore. It’s a 1950s American invention, like chow mein.

If you were the opposite gender for a day what would you do?

I would go around apologizing to women ALL DAY.

Celebrity crush?

Justin Trudeau.

What is the coolest thing you ever won?

A cassette tape of Sting’s 10 Sumner’s Tales and a coupon for Hardee’s cinnamon raisin biscuits (1993).

1986. First day of school in Quincy, Illinois. Trapper Keeper, mullet, Ocean Pacific shirt (sleeves rolled), Nike velcro sneakers, pink-tinted glasses, backpack on one shoulder.
1986. First day of school in Quincy, Illinois. Trapper Keeper, mullet, Ocean Pacific shirt (sleeves rolled), Nike velcro sneakers, pink-tinted glasses, backpack on one shoulder.

Have you ever cried when a celebrity died?

Maya Angelou.

What was the first album, CD, or download you owned?

Hands to Heaven by Breathe.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

Littering. It’s the ultimate fuck you.

Do you ever talk to inanimate objects?

I used to apologize to chairs when I bumped into them. I don’t do that anymore.

What is the number one reason you doubt yourself?

Childhood trauma. Duh!

What was the first concert you attended?

10,000 Maniacs.

Do you think the United States is the greatest country on this earth? Why or why not?

Of course not. We’re the biggest hypocrites on the planet. We accuse other countries and cultures of fundamentalism, and then we invade them and try to impose our fundamentalism on them.

What is one thing you tell people right now to change the world for the better?

Tell people you love them. RIGHT NOW.

What is your best personality trait?

People seem to like that I apologize for everything, including things that aren’t my fault and are, for example, their fault.

What is one word you use all the time?

“Exactly.”

Do you collect anything?

Right now I have a foster kitten collection. I’m up to four.

Have you ever had a near death experience?

I had a panic attack on a plane once where I thought I was dying. But apparently I wasn’t.

How big of a house is enough?

I actually don’t like big houses. I like things cozy. I like just enough room for me and little enough room that if I leave something in another room I don’t have to climb a flight of stairs to get it.

What do you think drives violence in this world?

Fear and ignorance.

Have you ever stalked your ex online?

Yes. Regularly. Also, this wasn’t the question but there is nothing I haven’t broken into: phones, email accounts, Facebook accounts, instant messengers. I’ve never opened mailed, but I’ve LOOKED at people’s mail. If we’ve seriously dated, and it was after the advent of social media and cell phones, there’s a decent chance I’ve snooped on you.

What’s the longest road trip you have ever taken?

I backpacked in Southeast Asia for four months.

What one song have you listened to more than any other?

“In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel.

What would you like to be remembered for?

I would like to be remembered for being nice. I’m working on it.

Is there a book you really want to read, tried several times, and still haven’t finished?

No, because I have a philosophy about this: Life is too short to finish books you don’t connect with.

What is the most annoying necessary task you can have to do? Example: Shave legs, pump gas, etc.

SHOWERING. JESUS.

Have you ever hit a parent?

Are you kidding? My mom would have fucked me up, even if she’s so short she would have had to swing over her head.

What is something that scares you?

Being stuck in traffic and having someone slam into my car from behind. Someone throwing me in front of a train. Dying in a plane crash.

Tell me about the crazy one night stand you had?

Two or three years ago I took a 26-year-old home from a club. It was the first time I ever thought, “He’s too young for me!” It was a strange feeling. No one had ever been too young for me. It changed my whole relationship to one-night-stands. I stopped having them after that. But there’s still time.

Do you hate anyone? Why?

No. That takes energy I don’t have.

What one word would people use to describe you?

It depends on the person. Some would say “bitch.” Others would say “angel.” Like most people, I’m somewhere in between.

1998-2016. Northern California. Because this is what single, childless people can do all. The. Time.
1998-2016. Northern California. Because this is what single, childless people can do all. The. Time.

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