Posted by: Matthew | May 14, 2007

My Interview with Sarah Vela

This is my interview with Sarah Vela. She lives in Austin. Her blog is Life in the Big City. Thanks for letting me interview you, Sarah. Domo arrigato!


Where do you live?

I live in Austin, Texas.

What is it like where you live?

I love Austin. I grew up in Massachusetts and have lived in New England, Wisconsin, New York, Cleveland, and Osaka, Japan. Austin has the nicest climate of any of the places I’ve lived. I do miss the snow, though, and wish I could make snowmen with my kids in the wintertime. Austin is sometimes called “the live music capital of the world.” I don’t get to go out much to listen to all that music, but it’s still fun to live in a city where there is so much going on. I know a lot of musicians and artists. I live really close to the University of Texas campus, in an old neighborhood with lots of 1930s-era houses. Just down the block from me there is a creek, called Waller Creek, which runs through the whole city. Even though I am just a few minutes from downtown, my neighborhood is full of trees and animals. That’s one of the things I like best about living here.

You started your blog when I was four! What made you start blogging?

I have a friend named Jody who has been blogging for MUCH longer than either of us. Her website is called the Big Dumptruck. I had never heard of blogging before I met her, but then I started to read her blog, and other blogs that she linked to (including Sarah Brown’s blog, which is how I found your blog!). I’ve always loved writing, and I felt like I needed a creative outlet. Having small kids can be very isolating. I was home alone a lot of the time, and writing a blog helped me feel more connected to the world. I’ve been pretty sporadic about writing in it, but I hope that I can get back to writing more regularly. My husband (I just got married!) gave me a really great camera last week as a wedding gift, so I should be posting more pictures soon, too.

You have been sober for nine months. My mom and I talked about what that means. That’s awesome. My friend’s mom has been sober for 9 years and my uncle has been sober for 8 years. How’s it going?

I have good days and bad days. Some people say in sobriety that any day where you don’t take a drink or do drugs is a good day, so I guess it’s going pretty good. This is the second time for me in sobriety – I was sober for 6 years once, before making a choice to drink again. It’s going better for me this time around. I have lots of support and I’m more sure than I was before that I need to stay away from drugs and alcohol. I feel very, very lucky that I made it back into sobriety without having to go through some of the things my friends have gone through.

What are you afraid of?

I’m not afraid of anything. That might be hard to believe, but it is true. Sometimes scary things happen to me, but I feel that everything that happens in my life happens for a reason, and that I truly have nothing to be afraid of, not even death.

What is the most frightening thing that has ever happened to you?

I think the most frightening experience might have been when I was with my family in India, and we were trying to get back home to Boston. The first Gulf War had just broken out, and it was hard to get a plane out of the country. Lots of things went wrong on that trip, starting with Afghanistan not wanting to let us into their airspace, and so we had to circle and circle over the Himalayas for a couple of hours. After that, we had to land in Brussels to refuel, because we didn’t have enough fuel to make it to London. The usual flight path would have been over the Gulf, but because of the war all the commercial traffic had been redirected. I remember looking out the window and seeing lots and lots of planes. I was afraid we might have a mid-air collision. When we finally landed in Boston, I burst into tears. Part of me thought that we would never make it home again.

If you could be any animal, which animal would you choose?

I’m pretty happy being a human animal. It’s hard to know what it is really like to be another sort of animal. I think I would like to be a bird, to know what flying is really like. Maybe a hawk or an eagle, since they get to fly so high and go so fast.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?

That’s a secret! What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you???

What is your favorite place to go and just enjoy life?

Austin has so many nice places to go and enjoy life. We have wonderful parks here. Lately my kids and I have been going to Mayfield Nature Preserve, which has peacocks and koi ponds, and hiking trails along the lake. There are lots of nice restaurants and cafes in Austin, too, where you can sit outside and enjoy the nice weather. Now that summer is here, we will start going to the Y again, which has a really fun outdoor pool with lots of fountains and slides.

Has anyone you know died? What did you feel like at the funeral?

I’ve been to lots of funerals and memorial services. The hardest one for me was my stepmother Polly, who died in 2001. She was only in her 50s, and she died of a brain tumor. My family was with her in the hospital when she died. We had a wonderful memorial service for her, outside in her garden. Lots and lots of people came and spoke about her and what she had meant to them. I was very sad at the service, but also happy to hear all the stories and to see how many people loved her and remembered her.

What is your favorite type of non-mammal?

These are hard questions! I am not very good at picking favorites. I think lizards are really, really cool. We have a lot of lizards living around (and inside!) our house. We see them on the windows at night. I also think snakes are really fascinating, but here in Texas we have poisonous snakes, so I’ve learned to be more careful when I’m outside. I guess I like reptiles best, after mammals. But I’d still rather be a bird than a reptile.



  1. Matthew, the questions just keep getting better and better! I have had to interview people before and I can never come up with the right things to ask. Where do you get the inspiration for these? Are you just naturally curious?

    I can’t wait for the next interview! Keep up the good work!

  2. I’ve never read Sarah’s blog but I can tell from your interview that she’s a strong, warm, and charming person. You’re like Barbara Walters (except you’re not an old-ish lady and I’m assuming you don’t talk funny)

  3. Hi Matthew,

    I am so impressed by the questions you are asking. You always seem to put a lot of thought in the questions and what you want to know from your interview partners.

    I always like reading your blog –

    and if you would like to interview yet another Sarah,
    feel free to add me to your interview list. I’d love to answer your questions!

    Have a very cool week,

    Sarah from Germany

  4. Wow, Matthew! Great interview! I’m proud and impressed that you decided to ask Sarah about her sobriety (and I’m thankful she was open to write about it). It can be a question that many people feel awkward to ask.

    Congratulations Sarah on your sobriety!

    Oh, and I’m also glad your not an old-ish lady. 🙂

  5. These interviews are great, you ask really good questions! I also like the hookup to blogs that I didn’t know about before, so thanks!

  6. Hi Matthew-

    I came across your web page from The Sneeze. I have been greatly enjoying your blog. I think the questions you ask are better than I could come up with now. You and your Mom have definitely seem to have created a great learning tool. You seem to be talking about a lot of different topics. I look forward to reading more.

  7. Matthew, you ask such great questions. I’m so happy whenever you’ve posted another interview to read!

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