Cast Spotlight: Lori Jakiela

by stephaniejankowski on March 22, 2016

“It rhymes with tequila” is how we learned to pronounce today’s cast spotlight’s name, but her performance on May 6th will be why we never forget it!


20150119hoJakiela1magLori Jakiela is the author of the memoirs Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe; The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious; and Miss New York Has Everything, as well as the poetry collection Spot the Terrorist. Her new collection of poems, Big Fish — about parenthood, aging, death, and Cindy Crawford’s cellulite – is forthcoming this spring from Stranded Oak Press.  She teaches in the writing programs at Pitt-Greensburg and Chatham University, co-directs the summer writing festival at Chautauqua Institution, and lives in Trafford with her husband, author Dave Newman, and their two children.  Learn more about Lori on her author website HERE.


Q: Who IS Lori?
A: I am such a work in progress. Most days I try to be kind. Most days I try to be patient with others and myself. Most days I try to practice the Buddhist concept of Be Here Now. But I screw up a lot, on the hour sometimes. Some days go better than others.


Q: How did you discover LTYM?
A: I found LTYM through a top-secret, you-have-to-have-a-decoder-ring Facebook site. I was happy to find it because motherhood, parenthood, life can be lonely and isolating. When I listened to past LTYM shows, I felt less alone. All those sane and beautiful voices. I’m happy LTYM provides a space where we can come together and be honest about our lives as mothers, as parents, as people’s kids, as people. It’s a beautiful thing.


Q: What is the craziest thing you remember saying to your children?
A: So one day a few years back my daughter — she’s 11 now and a talented singer — found a vibrator in my closet.  When she asked what it was, I panicked and said “microphone,” because it looks exactly like that. Classy marketing and all. Before I could grab it from her, she tried to sing into it. I’ve hidden it better since.


Q: What is one of your favorite things you’ve ever written?
A: Favorite things are hard – I can be a total pissy malcontent, always on to the next thing —  but here’s a link to my latest book. It’s about motherhood and being an adopted person and what family really means. It was a difficult book to write.  A magazine called Litbreak excerpted the first chapter, which focuses on my adoption search and Alex Trebek’s mustache. (You can read) it here —  And another magazine called Full Grown People ran a later chapter – about a jerk relative and the difference between what we’re born with and what we make for ourselves and what family means. It’s HERE.


Q: When did you first start thinking about your mother (parents) as an individual person (people) and not just “mom” (“mom and dad”)?
A: When I was 30 and living in New York – I was a flight attendant then, very itinerant — my parents called. First one got on the phone, then the other. They were fighting. My dad had gotten a prescription for Viagra. My mother was furious. She called him a sicko. He accused her of having an affair with her 24-year-old gay trainer from cardiac rehab. I was supposed to somehow mediate this.  I told them they needed more friends. I told them I was their kid and there were things I shouldn’t know. I got off the phone as fast as I could.  I took the next over-the-ocean flight I could get. I think it was Hamburg, a bombed-out, rebuilt, sad and surviving place. That moment, and the first and only time I saw my father cry, stand out.


Q: What do you wish most for your children?
A: I want them to be happy. I want them to be true to themselves, no matter what the world throws at them. And I know the world is going to throw a lot at them. That’s one thing that keeps me up at night. I want them to be proud to be different. I want them to never feel they have to compromise themselves to fit in. Most of all, I want them to be kind.  It’s Vonnegut’s advice, really. “Be kind, babies.”



Q: What do you love most about Pittsburgh?
A: The waitresses at Dee’s Bar who were kind to me years ago. Their beautiful tattoos.  Our rivers. The way Pittsburgh people wave to each other in traffic when we let each other cut in. Our toll booth people, how when they ask how a trip was, they mean it. Absolutely everything.


Lori forgot to mention a hidden gem in Pittsburgh: her talented self! Lori’s writing chops are hard to come by, and she is graciously sharing them with all of us on May 6th at the Carnegie Lecture Hall. You do NOT want to miss her–get your tickets HERE!



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