Melissa Sonico, Educator, Writer, Designer, and Mother.
What do you do for a living? And what about for fun?
I’m lucky that my livelihood is supported by a few creative endeavors that I enjoy—to varying degrees: I teach college English, write (short fiction, freelance copywriting, and journalism), design and sell jewelry, and I also do some collaborative campaigns for brands. For fun, I bang around on the piano with Johanna, play Animal Crossing with Harrison, read short stories and essays on ElectricLit.com, and watch a lot of television and movies with my husband Johnny. Lately I’ve also been spending a lot of time baking and trying to challenge my culinary limits.
How would you describe your style in 3 words?
Timeless + comfort + functionality
What is your most marked characteristic?
I am painfully shy in most social situations (but not anywhere near as shy as I was starting from high school to my early twenties—or I just got better at hiding it?).
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Laying on the rug listening to records with Johnny while Harrison plays with Johanna. And Peruvian food.
What is your current state of mind?
Currently, I’m trying to dispel some of the anxiety caused by the current state of the world right now.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I love to randomly gift things. If I’m even just grocery shopping, I pick up things that aren’t necessities. It’s borderline compulsive, I think. Johnny has started going shopping exclusively just so I won’t come home with more watercolor paints for Harrison or some random treats Johnny loves that he won’t buy himself.
Which living person do you most admire?
I don’t know that I have one person in mind. When I think of someone to admire, I think of one possessing the qualities of intelligence, empathy, activism—someone authentic. Maybe George Saunders?
[Here’s a footnote for my choice, from a letter from Saunders to his students at the start of the pandemic, but it also applies to the racial unrest and everything else 2020 is throwing at us:
But I guess what I’m trying to say is that the world is like a sleeping tiger and we tend to live our lives there on its back. (We’re much smaller than the tiger, obviously. We’re like Barbies and Kens on the back of a tiger.) And now and then that tiger wakes up. And that is terrifying. Sometimes it wakes up and someone we love dies. Or someone breaks our heart. Or there’s a pandemic. But this is far from the first time that tiger has come awake. He/she has been doing it since the beginning of time and will never stop doing it. And always there have been writers to observe it and (later) make some sort of sense of it, or at least bear witness to it. It’s good for the world for a writer to bear witness, and it’s good for the writer, too. Especially if she can bear witness with love and humor and, despite it all, some fondness for the world, just as it is manifesting, warts and all.
All of this is to say: there’s still work to be done, and now more than ever.]
What is your most treasured possession?
Letters from Johnny when we were broken up. They’re lovely, weirdly.
Who are your heroes in real life?
AOC, Miranda July
What would you do if you have no constraints?
I’ve always wanted to do something in performance, like sing and/or act. It’s probably when I’m least shy or anxious.
What is your motto?
“I want to be violated by insight.” Aimee Bender
Please use one word to describe how you view yourself. Also one word to describe how you believe others see you.