You’ve gotta love a former Catholic schoolgirl who can laugh at her past. Vicki Lindgren Rimasse doesn’t stop there; she has baby chicks, a “Medieval” mentor, an all-female therapy group and a leisure suited suitor to joke about.
Question: If Hackensack, New Jersey, were a person who signed up for a dating website, what would his/her profile be like? For extra credit, do you want to do one for a male Hackensack and one for a female?
Answer: Female Hackensack: Eclectic city, old world values, hometown feel, proximity to shopping malls, tanning salons, and New York City. You need a house out in me.
Male Hackensack: Sensitive, caring city, loves kittens and puppies and long walks along the beach…(that’s what every man says in his ad, from what I’ve heard; they don’t mention the pot holes).
Question: How does Hackensack compare to East Meadow, Long Island?
Answer: Growing up on Long Island everyone made fun of New Jersey. When I somehow ended up in Hoboken – and later Sopranoville (North Jersey – home of the Bada Bing Club) and told people I was from Long Island – they would make jokes like “Oh – where Joey Buttafucco lived?” or “Home of Joel Rivkin, the serial killer?” When all is said and done, Suburban North Jersey is amazingly similar to Nassau County where I grew up (East Meadow). Lots of nail salons, tanning salons, and conveniently-located shopping malls. The main difference is that there has NEVER been a sales tax on clothing in New Jersey.
Question: Speaking of Jersey, what do you think of the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum books and/or the movie One for the Money?
Answer: She’s a very talented writer and I’m looking forward to seeing the movie – although I still think of myself as being a Long Island girl and Jersey is just where I landed through the accident of marriage.
Question: Looking back on your girlhood and teen years, was Catholic school good for you, in the long run?
Answer: I didn’t start Catholic school till 9th grade (when my school – Trinity – was only in its 3rd year of operation). At first it was a culture shock – we had to stand up when nuns walked into the room. I wasn’t sure how to act or what to do. But by mid-year as a freshman, I loved it and embraced the experience. Maybe it’s because I never got a ruler across my knuckles – which some of my friends said they did in grammar school.
Question: You can’t talk about Catholic school without mentioning the Sisters. Describe your favorite Sisters. Why were they your favorites?
Answer: Without a doubt, Sister Celine. She was the librarian at the school. Always reminded me of an absent-minded professor. Once (in reference to dogs) I asked her if she preferred Afghans or German Shepherds. She thought about it for awhile. “Definitely Afghans,” she said, “in fact, I’m knitting one now.” Second would have to be Sister Marcella Marie, my creative writing teacher; I still use some of the techniques she taught us.
Question: What’s are the most fun things about being in group therapy?
Answer: Realizing you’re not the most screwed up person in the world, for one thing. And – since I was in a group of all women – the sharing. Great stories, most of which I can’t use but which have given me the “backstory” for several characters in my upcoming novel.
Question: The Catholics and the Jews always talk about the guilt that their respective religions make them feel. If somebody said, “Our guilt’s bigger than yours.” In your opinion, who would be speaking, a Catholic or a Jew?
Answer: I think they would duke it out. Neither would win – but they’d have a fabulous feast together…pastrami on rye bread (with wine).
Question: Yum. How can someone stay on a diet in your part of the country and enjoy herself?
Answer: They can’t; that’s why there’s a gym next to every pizzeria (offering free Zumba classes – and sometimes tanning).
Question: If you had to live in an upper middle class suburb in Minnesota for a year without being able to leave, how would you react?
Answer: I’d do fine; I’m half Swedish. My birth name is Lindgren – and from what I’m heard – it’s as common as “Smith” there. That means that couples who want to have an illicit romp at the No-Tell Motel likely register as Mr. and Mrs. Lindgren.
Question: How would you cope?
Answer: There are shopping malls in Minnesota, right? Case closed.
Question: You’re half Swedish. What is your other half?
Answer: Italian! What a clash of cultures. My mother would yell and scream when she was upset and my father would brood. The good thing about it is that I make great meatballs.
Question: Your character Joni knows how to keep the fun and giggles of her college years going way into middle adulthood. What is her secret?
Answer: Being petite and firm all over and never dealing with the struggle of having to lie down to zip her jeans. She can’t help being chronically adorable – but because she is – doors were always opened for her.
Question: Poor thing. Does she still get carded in bars?
Answer: I have no idea – I stopped speaking to her after I had a baby. Not intentionally – I think my subconscious was protecting me from suicidal thoughts.
Question: Going out with the girls sounds like fun to a very married woman, but so many women don’t. What is a good step to take to break out of the comfort zone and change this?
Answer: Watch “Sex and the City” – the entire series. It’s a primer for how women need their friends no matter how many oranges they might cut for their kids’ soccer games. Also – Sangria helps a lot.
About the Author: Vicki Lindgren Rimasse a/k/a Victoria Gwen Lindgren was born on January 22, 1955, second daughter to Victor and Lucy Lindgren who took advantage of the post-war housing shortage in Brooklyn by moving to East Meadow Long Island. Her birth was largely unnoticed for several days, as simultaneous to her mother’s labor pains her father had appendicitis and was rushed to the hospital. As if that wasn’t enough, there was a raging blizzard.
This gave Vicki a jump start on learning to laugh at herself, which she has been forced to do for most of her life, through colorful episodes with a sometimes bizarre cast of characters and scenarios. Example: how many people are offered a plate of pork and beans during their first trick-or-treating expedition?
Writing a book has been a life-long dream which started in (public) grammar school. I was in an accelerated grammar school program where everyone else was a math whiz and I was challenged in that area. In fact, my first-grade teacher wrote that ‘Vicki needs to pay more attention to her arithmetic.’ I started writing little stories and passing notes to friends in class as early as third-grade. One time, the teacher confiscated the note and forced me to read it aloud, thinking it would embarrass me–but it actually made everyone laugh (even her).
Vicki lives in the North Jersey suburbs with her son, Dylan Andrew Young, and various pets. Eventually she hopes to move back to Long Island (where the malls are better).
Interview by – Liz McKeown
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