I came across this list of questions in the New York Times Modern Love section this past holiday season. I copied them to a word document thinking it might be fun to ask Sofia them on vacation. I mean, who wouldn’t love to be cross-examined over margaritas in a foreign country? In the end, we never got to the questions. But when I arrived back home, there they were, saved on my desktop. When I opened the file and read through the three sets of questions, I felt like they might make great fodder for this Substack! So, for the next three weeks, I am going to post my answers here. Note: I have edited out some of the questions that didn’t inspire interesting answers.
1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
I’d love to have my Gramma over for dinner. Though, I’m sure if I asked while she was still alive, she would have said no. She was a host, never a guest. She had terrible rheumatoid arthritis and hated to leave the house in her final years — not that it dampened her spirit. When we arrived at her house, we’d let ourselves in through the front door without ringing the bell, yelling, ‘Hi, it’s us!” She would shimmy and shuffle along the hardwood floors to greet us, bubbly and warm, even if her joints were angry and inflamed. So, if I were to rephrase this question it would instead read, Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want to be the dinner guest of? I’d say, my Gramma.
Gramma oversaw our Christmas feast nearly every year I was alive. I can remember only two we didn’t spend at her house. The women in the family, my mom, aunts, and us girl cousins, were always on hand to help in the later stages of the preparation, but Gramma directed us all. It was her show. Though I rarely saw my Gramma drink, she did keep a small glass of rye in the bread cupboard, and while she cooked, took minuscule sips, making her good-humored and calm. I am not quite either of those things when I cook. Though I try. She said cooking took away her appetite, so instead of eating, she entertained us while we ate. I recall those dinners as long, happy, loud affairs where everyone got seconds. Those holiday dinners in particular were memorable, meaningful, monumental nights that have proven to be impossible to replicate since she left us eighteen years ago. I’d want to have dinner with my Gramma again for a plethora of reasons, that I miss her so much is of course number one. If she would agree to be a guest, I’d be sure to have rye on hand.
2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
I looked up the definition of famous to attempt to answer this honestly because my instinct reading this question was to answer, No. And then to add, I’m not famous and I don’t want to be. When I think famous, I think of Taylor Swift, or the Kardashians. These are FAMOUS people. I don’t feel like I exist in the same universe as them. And their fame looks claustrophobic, and overwhelming. I don’t want that. I’m not that. But after looking up the definition of famous, which is known about by many people, I suppose to varying degrees, through much of my adult life, I have been some version of famous and desired it.
I know that when I was a teenager, I wrote to multiple friends that I thought Sara and I were going to be “rock stars.” I don’t know if what I really meant was “famous.” I think I hoped we’d be successful playing music and that we could turn it into a job. I suppose some fame is necessary to achieve those goals. I also want to note that my bombastic confidence at fifteen was in part a ruse to convince others (and myself) that I wasn’t the aimless stoned loser I was back then.
If I ask myself honestly now, twenty-five years into a successful career in music, and a life spent mostly in the public as a “famous” person, if I want to be famous, I guess the answer is yes. I do want to be known by many people. Though my pursuit of fame looks very different than it did at nineteen, or twenty-five, or thirty-two.
4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
Sofia and I purchased a house on a remote island off the coast of Vancouver a few years ago. We spent much of the Pandemic there. Now that we are back to work, I have had less time there than I would like. I’ve been finding myself daydreaming about being there a lot. So, I think a perfect day for me right now would take place there. And while I love to host family and friends, and I love being at the cabin with Sofia and Georgia, a perfect day might be one spent alone. I’d wake up early with the sun and spend the morning puttering around the house in my slippers, watching the army green water in the cove rush up the beach, while I drink coffee. In the afternoon, I’d read, listen to music, play guitar, and then make dinner while I listen to a podcast. After dinner, I’d sit outside and sip a hot toddy as the sun went down in front of the fire pit, and watch the otters play in the cove. Then I’d put on some mindless TV and retire to bed by nine o’clock. I’d turn my light out before ten and stare up at the stars through the two skylights over the bed, drifting off to sleep hoping no one murders me.
6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
Oh lord. What does it say about me that this is really hard to answer? Of course, I want the mind of a thirty-year-old over the body of one at ninety. Dementia is a massive fear of mine. To lose the ability to speak and read and remember and connect to people is horrific to me. But another fear of aging is that my body deteriorates and has less mobility and I live in pain. I really love the idea of looking good and feeling good as I age; the vain part of me is like, can we just split the difference? I get the mind and body of a fifty-year-old until I’m ninety. I recently read this article and it horrified me. The idea that after we’re 75 one might want to die because all life after that is so limited really bothered me. But I find myself thinking about it a lot.
Want to know more?? I will be answering the rest of the questions over the next two weeks, consider becoming a paid subscriber to find out more!
8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
Sofia and I bonded very early on about not having children. We have many reasons for this that I won’t share but I can say that it wasn’t a calling for either of us. That being said, I love being an aunt! And Sofia is madly in love with Sid too!
Another thing we have in common is that we both love to travel. I have spent much of my adult life traveling for work but early on in our relationship, I expressed a desire to do more personal travel. Sofia has lived in a few different countries and loves to travel and would love to live abroad again at some point.
We both love to eat. Sofia claims to think about food constantly. I would say food and drinks at the end of the day are my biggest motivation too. I love being social and going out. I love having people over. I love to cook. I love preparing food. I love hosting and creating menus. I love nice restaurants and food courts and everything in between. And Sofia is the same. She is a wonderful dinner date, she is a fantastic, meticulous cook, she’s adventurous and not picky, and when we travel, as she speaks multiple languages, I’ve benefited in more ways than one when it comes to ordering food and drinks. We really share a love for food!
9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
My mantra for 2023 is Lean into Legacy. In the music business, when you get to our age and point in your career, you often get referred to as a heritage act or a legacy act. I think this is mostly meant to be respectful, to denote all your achievements and contributions you’ve made to the industry. Which is nice and all, but it also makes me feel old, washed up, and irrelevant.
As a young-ish-looking person, who is barely 5’2”, I get mistaken for being younger a lot. Sara and I hit the gene lottery (thanks, Mom) and have taken good care of ourselves. I think we dress well and are stylish. We exude youthful confidence and have a lot of youthful ambition even after two decades of making music. I feel incredibly grateful for those things. So, when people started to refer to us as a legacy act, or a heritage act, it was jarring. When those words started to crop up in our bios and reviews, I had to start to reframe myself, Sara, and our career.
It all started in 2018 when we were awarded the Governor General’s Award in Canada, an award that is typically given to artists at the “mid-point” of their career. I won’t deny I balked at that a bit. Mid-career sounded a lot like middle-aged. I was only thirty-eight at the time! Going and being honored was surreal. When our award was announced at the live event in Ottawa, they played a star-studded video of artists ranging from New Kids on The Block, Taylor Swift, and Neil Young giving us well wishes. They had the industry talking about us and our achievements spliced with the highlights of our twenty-year career. Lights covered “I Was a Fool” with an orchestra. All that time we were sitting in the theatre as audience members, giant medals around our necks, next to the Governor General of Canada and our friends and family. It was like being at my own funeral. I was moved by the honour. Touched by an expansive look at our career, the attention to detail, and the effort made by so many to celebrate us, and yet I still left feeling a little depressed.
In the months (and now years) that have followed, I have asked myself a lot, can I learn to embrace the part of our career and life we’re at?
The easy answer is, yes! Slowly.
Rather than running away from legacy, I’m leaning into it. Now is the time in our career when we should be creating things because we want to. Not because we have to. We should be trying new things. Learning new things. We should be sharing our wealth, our knowledge, and our experience. We should be mentoring and giving back. We should be enjoying time off and enjoying the fruits of our labour. We should stop looking back and start looking forward. The journey isn’t over — not by a long shot. We have more ambition than we ever had. But it’s how we go about accomplishing things, and what things we still want to accomplish, that have changed. And these revelations only come when you’re middle-aged. And for that I am grateful.