What Matters to Erika Paget

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Debbie Millman has an ongoing project at PRINT titled “What Matters.” This is an effort to understand the interior life of artists, designers, and creative thinkers. This facet of the project is a request of each invited respondent to answer ten identical questions and submit a nonprofessional photograph.

Erika Paget is a Los Angeles-based entertainment events and editorial writer with a strong interest in television and pop culture. When not working, she loves vintage hunting and writing music.

What is the thing you like doing most in the world?

Anything that involves being outside. I live in the heart of Los Angeles, so anything I can do to have a quick moment in nature is really restorative to me, whether it’s hiking in Griffith Park, walking the succulent-lined stairs in Beachwood Canyon; even biking a few miles when the weather is nice. Because I work at home in front of a computer screen all day, the time to breathe in fresh air and look at the outside world is really healing to me.

What is the first memory you have of being creative?

In my elementary school, kindergarteners were included in the yearbook, but my lovely teacher (Lisa Callis, whom I still cherish) wanted us to have a special one just for our class, so she let us all draw self-portraits and make collages, and then she photocopied everything into a spiral-bound booklet that we all got to take home. I still have it; it kind of looks like a punk zine. But that was the first time anyone encouraged me to make art or express myself creatively.

What is your biggest regret?

Well, I did live through my 20s, so I have plenty, but one of my biggest ones was dropping out of the interior design major in college. I had taken a few textiles classes, and after I failed one, I talked myself out of pursuing it as a career, which is such a shame, since I actually grew up loving interior design. I decorated dollhouses and watched This Old House every weekend, and always had a deep interest in aesthetics, design, color— all of it. But in college, I was suffering from depression and a toxic perfectionism, and if I wasn’t amazing at something, I abandoned it. I ended up getting a degree in creative writing (something I had already been doing for years), and while it has served me well with my editorial career, I can’t help but always wonder how much more satisfying my life would have been if I had gotten over my own ego and kept taking interior design classes. I guess I’ll never know!

How have you gotten over heartbreak?

Oh gosh, so many ways. Taking up a new hobby (I recommend embroidery), getting out of town, joining a new gym class, therapy, journaling, (maybe too much) wine. All the classic strategies.

What makes you cry?

I mean, everything? Animals! Sad babies! The movie Synecdoche, New York! Anything about humanity or suffering. Also when shows I love come to an end. I’m a water sign, so I’m very easily emotionally overwhelmed.

How long does the pride and joy of accomplishing something last for you?

Not long enough, which is something I’m always working on. Taking the time to truly acknowledge and celebrate my accomplishments before just going, alright, what’s next? is something I’ve struggled with all my life. I’m trying to force myself to always do something nice for myself when I have a win, so I take a moment to let it really sink in.

Do you believe in an afterlife, and if so, what does that look like to you?

I don’t know. I grew up Christian with an idea of heaven and hell, but the older I get, the more I move away from religion and those binaries. I believe that your energy has to go somewhere when it leaves your physical body, but to where? Who really knows. I mean, hopefully I’m not stuck haunting some stranger’s house for all of eternity.

What do you hate most about yourself?

My sensitivity! Sometimes things are not about me! I wish I was better at recognizing where to put my energy and what needs to be let go.

What do you love most about yourself?

My big heart! I’m hugely empathetic, warm, and caring, and I will always do what I can for my friends and loved ones. Without sounding too full of myself, I think I’m a great friend to have.

What is your absolute favorite meal?

SUSHI. I could eat it every day. I love fish. I love rice. I love veggies. I love miso. If I had the ability to make restaurant-grade sushi at home, I would never eat out again.