Interview with Deborah Orgel • Artist

SM: Please describe your favorite photograph that has been taken of you.

DO: It’s a black and white picture, taken at a friend’s wedding in September of 2001, that shows me laughing—it’s a moment that shows total abandonment, happiness, and what I look like with a seventy-five dollar haircut.

SM: If you were trapped in a loop of repeating one activity over and over for 24 hours, what would you prefer to be doing?

DO: Reading the Oxford English Dictionary in all its full multi-volume glory.

SM: When was the last time something a stranger did surprised you?

DO: When our sewage line was backed up last week, it was rather disgusting. I called Roto-Rooter, and the guy walked right into the backed up sewage, which was easily over his ankles. Yes, he was wearing boots, but his pants were still trailing in the foul muck.

SM: What pocket sized item have you owned the longest?

DO: I have a round, squeeze-toy from when I was a wee little one. It has baby faces, duckies, flowers, and rocking horses rising from its surface. I often pull it off of its bookshelf home to squeeze it and hear that squeaky whistling sound.

SM: Please indulge us with an anecdote.

DO: I was bartending and shift-managing at a Washington, D.C. bar (not far from the Capitol) one summer night a few years ago, when the (dishonorable) former D.C. mayor of “the bitch set me up” fame came in and walked up to the bar. He wanted to cash a check for one hundred dollars. I told him I couldn’t do it, when he reminded me who he is and insisted that it wouldn’t be a problem. He waited until I called my manager at home, who gave me the permission to cash the personal check—presumably to avoid offending him, as the former mayor had been recently elected to the D.C. Council. I was feeling a little crabby so I only cashed it for fifty. This encounter brings forth so many questions:

Why did he need to cash a check? Why not use the ATM right across the street? Would the check bounce? What does he need the hundred dollars for so badly that he’ll come into the bar and ask us to cash a check? In my time there, he hadn’t been in before with such a request and never came back for a repeat performance. Hmmmm….

SM: When was the last time you engaged in an act of pure spontaneity?

DO: A few minutes ago. I wrote an email and sent it without consulting the etiquette gods as to whether the content was appropriate. Alas, it is gone.

SM; Please describe an impressionable moment from adolescence.

DO: My father and I were sitting outside of a supermarket waiting for my mother to get “just one thing” when I noticed a sign on a store that read UNISEX Hair Salon. I asked my dad what this word UNISEX meant on that sign and he said, “It means haircuts for both sexes.” I understood this to mean that the only people who would get their hair cut at this salon must be people who were both male and female. I stared out the window at the customers who left this place wondering just what, exactly, was under their clothes.

SM: If we told you to draw God as a cat with a thousand eyes, how would you illustrate a portrait of him or her?

DO: I’d show ol’ godly cat passed out next to a bottle of Thousand Eyes Pale Ale. Sometimes the job has to be too much, I think, to be everywhere and everything at once.

SM: What song would you like to hear first thing tomorrow?

DO: Portland, Oregon by Loretta Lynn and Jack White. It’s my current favorite.

SM: Please compose a brief poem or haiku on the subject of your choosing.

deadlines are bedbugs
pestering as I doze
wish they’d just scram already