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The Lost FishbowlDC Interview: Cathy Alter

Cathy.jpg When the hardcover of Cathy Alter‘s “Up for Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, and Starting Over” was released last year, Alter did a FishbowlDC interview that sadly never made its way onto the blog. Alter, who freelances for WaPo and Washingtonian was kind enough to dig up her old Q&A to post in honor of the paperback release of her book. For more on Cathy, check out her website here. Her lost interview is below.

What word do you routinely misspell? Maintenance. In fact, I just spelled it wrong in answering this question.

What’s the name of your cell phone ring? I bought my phone in Hong Kong, so I call my ring, which sounds like the opening credits of a bad chop suey movie, the Suzy Wong.

What time did you get up this morning? 9:07. Ah, the life of a writer.

When did you last cry and why? I cried Saturday afternoon, after a friend read me the nastiest two-sentence review of my book in the Post’s Media Mix. It felt really personal to me. Plus, the reviewer spoiled the ending.

How many emails do you receive a day, roughly? Now, with my book out, at least 100. On normal days, probably 15.

What’s your favorite letter? This feels like a trick question. My first thought was the letter my mother sent me while I was away at sleepover camp, suffering from terrible homesickness. My second thought was Q.

What single person played the biggest role / had the biggest influence on your journalism career? Mr. Harris, my seventh-grade English teacher. He used to give us paragraphs from classic literature and tell us to change every word to its synonym. At 13, I became a walking thesaurus. cathy alter.jpg
When’s the last time you volunteered? Where? I volunteer every Thursday from 10-1 at the Christ Child Opportunity Shop, in Georgetown. The average age of their volunteer is 80. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.

Who is your favorite active journalist? Jennifer Senior. When people talk about having girl crushes on Megan Fox or Angelina Jolie, I think, what are they crazy? I am totally in love with Senior’s writing and range of knowledge.

If you could have one superpower, which one would it be? I’d like to be able to read minds. That power would have saved me a lot of time while I was still dating.

Red or white wine? Red, preferably from Italy.

Jenna or Barbara? Jenna. She always looks like she has something dirty on her mind.

More after the jump.


Leno or Letterman? Letterman. I like that he’s pissed off a lot.

Stewart or Colbert? Stewart, although I think the Colbert Report keeps getting better and better. I think it’s easier to play a character, which Colbert does well, but thereÂ’s something much riskier and smarter about Stewart’s role as host.

Boxers or briefs? Thong.

Yankees or Red Sox? Red Sox. Red Sox. Growing up in CT and having an unwarranted obsession with going to Harvard, I started backing the home team at an early age. Once I realized my father and brother were Yankees fans and my allegiance to the Red Sox pissed them off, I naturally continued my support.

What did you have for breakfast? A 50-50 mix of Kashi Autumn Wheat and Kashi Go Lean cereal – with rice milk. I’m allergic to regular milk. And a pot of coffee.

What one toiletry item could you not live without? I think I’d forgo toothpaste in order to keep using this amazing Moroccan Oil I get at my salon. It smells so good I want to drink it.

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