I have lived in New York City or within spitting distance from it most of my life. I received my BA from Binghamton University in 1987. I worked for Simon and Schuster in Columbus Circle for two years as an editorial assistant and later as an editor. The money was crap, but I had some nice, expense-account lunches with authors. Because I'm an idiot, I left the life of martini lunches for the sparkling night life of the Southside of Chicago. I received my masters at the University of Chicago where I wrote a lame thesis on de Tocqueville and Hannah Arendt. I returned to New York thinking that my U of C degree was going to land me some choice editorial job. Wrong. Ended up teaching special ed in the South Bronx for two years. Because I evidently have a strong self destructive streak, I returned to graduate school. In 2001, I received a PhD in political science from the Graduate Center of New York. I'm married to a swell guy named Steve who won't let me say anything more about him, and I have two kids, Jonah and Ian. I blog at 11D.
Why do you blog? > I'm in it for the money.
What has been your best blogging experience? > There's not one best blogging moment. I do enjoy the interesting, smart, fun group of people that I 'hang out' with on the blogs. Oh, I did think of one particular good time. I did like getting loaded at the political science conference last year with Dan Drezner, Ana Marie Cox, Henry Farrell and other blog geeks.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Getting targeted by the kid-haters, who apparently have their own blogs which direct hate at bloggers who write about their kids. Actually, it was pretty amusing as well, so could also fall under a positive blog experience. I have a nagging worry, too, that I'll never be able to run for higher office after having this blog for two years now.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Avoid corny blog names, don't take yourself too seriously, and be original.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > James Madison, Alexis de Tocqueville, Hannah Arendt, John Locke, Alexander Hamilton, and Max Weber.
What are you reading at the moment? > Just finished Jane Eyre. About to pick up Little Children by Tom Perrota.
Who are your cultural heroes? > The Brontes, the Coen Brothers, Lucinda Williams, Elvis Costello, Ernest Hemingway, Georgia O'Keefe, Paul Reubens, David Remnick, Jon Stewart, Wes Anderson, Edward Hopper.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > I've been lucky enough to be more influenced by people than by books. While they disagreed on some things, my dad and my graduate school adviser were most responsible for shaping my political world view. Both believed strongly in democratic participation, both were populists in their own way, and both saw the positive role that government could play in our lives. Hunter Thompson did have a minor and temporary (thank God) influence on my world view during my twenties.
Who are your political heroes? > Oh, they're all dead. Abraham Lincoln, FDR, and Lyndon Johnson before Vietnam.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > Vote early and vote often.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > Only one? That's hard. I have big plans for education and urban renewal, but lately I'm most interested in improving the economic and social status of mothers in the US. I would improve maternity leave policies and offer more child-friendly work opportunities.
What would you do with the UN? > Redecorate. That building is horribly dated.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Britney Spears, poverty, one crazy guy with a suitcase bomb, and general ignorance.
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > Sure, I like debate. But the person couldn't be a wack-job or anything. A reasonable person, with a somewhat different point of view, who could be gently nudged towards the correct path? Sure.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Humour.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > To get a free drink.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > I have a strong dislike of people who are too afraid to consider the opposite point of view, too unimaginative to ask why, and too timid to eat sushi.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Sun-tanning, parades, vacations at resorts, cruises, board games, and Disney World. Hell, I'm not so big on relaxing, in general.
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > Susan Sarandon.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Galica, Spain.
What would your ideal holiday be? > Shopping for rugs in Fez, again.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Playing around with the kids, eating good meals without the kids, watching bad TV with my husband.
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? > Coco.
What talent would you most like to have? > It would be good to tap dance.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Ambassador to Bali.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Jon Stewart.
Which baseball team do you support? > The Yankees.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I would hire Supernanny to watch my kids and go off and read some books.