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Fathom Questionnaire

Meet the Travel Novelist: Brigid Pasulka

by Brigid Pasulka

Meet the Travel Novelist: Brigid Pasulka

Hometown: Chicago.

Occupation: Novelist and director of a high school writing center.

Favorite destinations: Krakow, Poland, and Alassio, Italy.

Dying to visit: Taiwan. My husband is very "American” in looks and habits, though he spent a year and a half living in Taiwan in his twenties. I just want to hear Chinese come out of his mouth and watch him and his picky palate navigate the cuisine.

Bizarre travel rituals: It's not really bizarre, but my packing consists of starting a pile on a chair about a week before I leave. Every time I think of something, I throw it on the pile. By the night before, all I have to do is put it in the case, so it only takes a few minutes.

In-flight relaxation regime: I always say the same prayers as we're taxi-ing to take off, then read or write or nap. I love the limbo of a flight, when you're completely unreachable and have no obligations.

Always in carry-on: Earplugs and a sleep mask.

Concierge or DIY? DIY.

See it all or take it easy? Ideally, I like to see one thing a day and spend the rest of the time with friends or walking around or sitting in cafes.

Drive or be driven? Drive. Though I've been a little hesitant since being pulled out of my rental car at gunpoint by the Polish police. Long story.

Travel hero: My friend Lisa. Right now she's on a road trip in Jordan. By herself. Though not for long I'm sure. She makes friends wherever she goes and fits in well without denying her American-ness or taking ridiculous risks.

Weirdest thing seen on travels: Possibly when someone pulled out a gun on the Moscow metro and started threatening another passenger. Half the people looked the other way. The other half started laughing. I got off at the next stop shaking my head.

Best hotel amenity: Cleanliness. Unless there's a resident cat. Then I'll take the cat over cleanliness.

I dream about my meal at Pasta e Basta in Alassio, Italy. I had a deal with the brothers who ran the place. I would call Morrie Mages Sports in New York for them and order the running shoes they couldn't get in Italy in exchange for all the gnocchi with gorgonzola I could eat. I wish I could learn to make even a passable version of it at home. I've tried, but no luck.

Everywhere I go, I check out the student cafes. They're usually made for loitering, and I love to sit and write and people-watch.

When I arrive in a new place, I learn the lay of the land by walking, walking, and more walking.

I always bring home either art or practical things. That way when I'm brushing my cat with the brush I bought at a pet store in Poland or using the cheese grater from Italy, I remember the time I spent there, like a little surprise in the middle of an otherwise ordinary day at home.

If I never return to Moscow, it'll be too soon because I don't understand the general mentality I found there: If you don't lie, cheat, or game the system, you're a sucker.

I travel for the chance to see people and places change over the years. I love going back to the same places over and over.


MORE BRIGID

Website: www.brigidpasulka.com
Twitter: @BrigidPasulka
Facebook: Brigid Pasulka, The Sun and Other Stars
Stories on Fathom

Brigid Pasulka is the author of two novels, A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True and The Sun and Other Stars. You can follow her at brigidpasulka.com or on Twitter. She travels for the sheer comedy of fumbling around in other languages and to wake up her writing eye.

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