What are you up to, Andrea Askowitz?
Two weeks ago, you met Jan Becker, MFA candidate at Florida International University and contributor to All That Glitters, a nonfiction collection edited by Corey Ginsberg, Nicholas Garnett, and myself.
Today, meet Andrea Askowitz, author of My Miserable, Lonely, Lesbian Pregnancy. Her stories have appeared in the New York Times, Salon.com, Jewcy.com, and NPR. She teaches memoir writing at Lip Service Institute. She is creator of Lip Service: true-stories out loud, one of the most popular literary events in Miami. She’s at work on a book of stories currently titled, Listen to This or maybe Don’t You Know I’m Famous? Andrea grew up in Miami where she lives with her wife Victoria and children Natasha, Sebastian and Beast.
Andrea also contributed to All That Glitters, to be released online on October 1st, 2013 (along with Issue 7 of Sliver of Stone Magazine). If you want to be a VIP, though, here’s the thing: On September 21, we’ll conduct a special sale at Lip Service, at the Miracle Theater, in Coral Gables.
Okay, so here’s my interview with Andrea:
MJ: In your book, My Miserable, Lonely, Lesbian Pregnancy, you describe—well—your pregnancy. Today, your daughter Tashi is 9 years old. Do you feel that attitudes are changing in South Florida concerning gay parenting and gay issues?
AA: Yes, I think attitudes are changing. For sure. Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage. But even in Miami, attitudes are changing. There are more of us out. Natasha’s first grade class had three out gay families. Three in one public elementary school in South Miami. It was our own little Castro.
MJ: What is the most important lesson in life you can give a child?
AA: Wow, most important lesson in life for a child? Always be yourself. Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself. I don’t know.
MJ: At the end of your story, Under the Covers, you ponder the questions, “Did [my daughter] understand licking a girl’s breast as sexual? Wasn’t it okay even if she did?” Did you ever come up with satisfying answers?
AA: I actually think it is okay if my daughter did what she did and felt it sexually. We have bodies. Sexual feelings are natural. I think in the story I was asking the question rhetorically.
I just realized something about one of the questions in the story. “Does Tashi understand licking someone’s breast as sexual?” That question is the wrong question. I am quite sure she had NO understanding of sex. She doesn’t understand sex now and she’s nine. But it’s possible that she felt something sexual. I would edit the story today to something like, “Does Tashi feel something sexual? Isn’t okay if she does?” Stories are never finished.
MJ: Lip Service recently won the Knight Arts Challenge. Wow! How did that impact the program?
AA: Lip Service won a Knight Arts Challenge Grant. I’m so proud. It doesn’t change what we do; it just gives Lip Service a giant stamp of approval.
MJ: What are you working on now?
AA: Natasha is now 9, and I’ve just finished a draft of a book of stories. Sometimes when I think of my daughter’s age, I also think, what the @&$”@!! have I been doing all these years. It’s stories about me. Stories about a woman who needs lots of attention.