Q&A with a ChicagoNow blogger: Jenna Karvunidis of High Gloss and Sauce

Today, across the ChicagoNow sphere, we are sitting down with one another to dish. I had the privilege to send Jenna Karvunidis of High Gloss and Sauce a bunch of the questions that rattle around in my head. And she was kind enough to answer them. Let’s take a walk down interview lane, shall we?

An Unquiet Chicagoan: How long have you been blogging? How did you get involved with Chicago Now?

This is embarrassing, but I’ve actually been blogging since 2002. They say an overnight success takes ten years. I guess make that 20 for me! I got involved with ChicagoNow after I pitched a story to the Red Eye in 2010. Jimmy suggested I pitch a blog, so I did and here I am.

AUC: Have you always been a writer — for instance, did you keep a journal or diary as a kid?

I was always writing stories as a kid, but they’d boil down to a string of 20 adjectives before anything ever happened. I think I just wrote every word I knew and when I ran out, I scribbled THEEE END. Then I worked in the journalism departments of my high school and college, where I always had a running column in the school papers. By then, my biggest challenge was getting my dry jokes past the editor. There’s nothing worse than seeing your darlings botched in print.

AUC: Have you ever read your pieces out loud or performed them for an audience?

Once I read a post out lout as part of an audition for Listen To Your Mother. When I wrote it, I was cuddled in my jammies just typing into my box, you know, but then I had to read it in all three dimensions. I was standing in front of real strangers and I had the realization that there is way too much oversharing going on on my blog. I definitely put all my real, personal thoughts out there. Now I try to picture my
readers were sitting in front of me before I hit publish. Good thing the internet can’t see me right now. My hair looks like a cotton ball that’s been through the dryer.

AUC: Are your children interested in writing or any artistic endeavors? Do you hope to show them your work one day? Is there anything you hope to teach them?

I do hope my kids read my blog someday. This is macabre, but I always think if I die tomorrow, my kids can read my blog later to get to know me. That’s why I throw a few “for the grandchildren” stories in every now and then. The internet and cockroaches will outlive us all!

AUC: What is some of your favorite music? Do you listen while you write? Does music inspire you?

I cannot STAND listening to music while I write. I have ADHD and all the noises going on at once drive me insane. I can’t stand for the TV to be on while I write either. You’d think in a house with three kids, five and under, I’d be used to noise. Maybe I should just buy a straight jacket and start pecking on the keyboard using a straw in my mouth. Save time.

AUC: What is your favorite place in Chicago/land? — “Touristy,” “Underrated,” and some place you think is a secret gem (if you’re willing to share)?

My favorite place in Chicago is the Waterfront Cafe in Andersonville. Actually, all my favorite stuff is in Andersonville – Kopi Cafe, M. Henry, Icosium Cafe. Wait, why did I move?
AUC: I hate the word “favorite” really, because it makes it sound like we have to narrow things down to ONE thing, but what are five words you really love?

Shoot, you’re making me pick five favorite words? It’s like writing a haiku. Okay, “Baby, let’s plan a trip!”
AUC: What is an animal you really groove on?

My favorite animal is the fox and not just because of that stupid song. Fox is my grandfather’s nick name and if I had had a son amongst my three girls, that would have been his name. Oh well, next life. I’m not getting fat again.

AUC: What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?

What do I hope to accomplish with my writing? I don’t even think writing is a choice. It just comes out of you’ve got that curse. I can’t put a cap on it and walk away, like, “not doing that anymore!” They don’t sell a patch or a gum to quit this awful habit. I guess my reason for making some of my writing public is to get people fired up
about my same foes: pollution, guns and sexism.

AUC: Do you have any writing inspirations/icons/heroes?

I totally have a writing hero and I’m 95% sure he’d flush my writing down the toilet if he ever read it: David Sedaris. He’d probably call me a wannabe hack and admonish all my similes. (David, call me!)

AUC: What is your favorite holiday? Why?

My favorite holiday is certainly not Mother’s Day – not because my kids don’t love me, but because it’s so much work. Mother’s Day is always about the most senior mom in the family. You end up spending the day catering to your mother-in-law while intercepting popsicle drips on your kids’ special outfits. The way to win the Mother’s Day game is to outlive everyone and become the grand poobah. I figure I’ll enjoy Mother’s Day by 2050. It’s a long con.

AUC: What are some books you’ve read and never forgotten/left their mark on you?

There are a few books that have never left me. I never understood why The Bonfire Of The Vanities was treated as a comedy in the movie version. The book has a lot of social commentary and has a great way of telling a story from all perspectives. I still believe to this day there aren’t good or evil people, only circumstances. I also took a lot from The Color Purple, Drowning Ruth, and The Red Tent.

AUC: I just got this scenario proposed to me the other day — you have to be chained to a famous person for a week on a desert island. Who is it? I’ll allow you to branch out if you want and go one alive, one dead and one fictional.

I have to spend a week with a stranger in a place with no toilet?
Dead: Amelia Earhart – she’d get us out of that mess.

Alive: Bradley Cooper. What happens on the desert island, stays on the desert island!

Fictional: The flying dog from the Neverending Story. At the very least, we could island hop and I’d have a fuzzy bed to sleep on.

And there you have it. A slice of life with High Gloss and Sauce. I like interviews, so keep on the look out for more. Meanwhile …

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