I get nervous sometimes.

Anne Lamott, she’s a big reason I write. A big influence for a lot of us. Bird by Bird? She wrote that.

I’ve got her phone number in my hand. The publicist said she’d just be getting off a plane. Flying sucks.

Theoretically, I should be good at interviews. I’ve got a Masters in Psych with quite a bit of experience in active listening and cross-examination.  Problem is, even though I’ve done tons of interviews by this point, whenever I talk to someone I really love, I turn into a thirteen-year old girl.

But maybe that’s what makes a good interviewer. Neil Strauss, the guy who wrote The Dirt and a most excellent book on the art of the interview, Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead, says you shouldn’t try to be so cool, to go with real emotion, lighten up and just connect as one flawed human to another. My old Rabbi friend says you should never waste a chance to show appreciation for the good things a person has sown into your life. Then, there’s a quote from Anne herself: Flounder as a spiritual act.

Man, I don’t know. Here goes.


In the Beginning

 My very young son became a father in mid-July 2009, when his girlfriend, Amy Tobias, gave birth to their son. They named him Jax Jesse Lamott, Jesse after Amy’s beloved grandmother Jessie, and Jax because they liked the way it sounded. Amy was twenty when she delivered, and Sam was nineteen. They’re both a little young, but who asked me?

Sam’s birth, on August 29, 1989, was by far the most important day of my life, and Jax’s was the second. Sam and I are quite close, and I’d always looked forward with enthusiasm to becoming a grandmother someday, in, say, ten years from now, perhaps after he had graduated from the art academy he attends in San Francisco and settled down into a career, and when I was old enough to be a grandmother. I was a young fifty-five. Maybe a medium fifty-five. Let’s say a ripe fifty-five, with a child just one year past his majority.

The day before Thanksgiving 2008, I had heard that Amy was expecting, when I got a call from Sam, in despair.