Cara Santa Maria is the senior science correspondent for The Huffington Post. Before interviewing actress and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik, she sat down in the green room to talk about being a Ph.D. dropout, why she can’t play an instrument, and why she’s into science but not contemporary sci-fi.
If you could legalize one crime, which would you choose?
I would probably reschedule certain drugs. That’s the easy answer, isn’t it? At least decriminalizing marijuana. Is gay marriage still a crime technically? I would make sure that we’re all on the up and up when it comes to civil rights, and it was federally accepted to get a marriage license for LGBT couples.
Do you have any recurring dreams or nightmares?
I don’t often remember my dreams, which is probably kind of weird. You know how people talk about having a dream that they can fly? That just started in my late 20s. I do really like that dream when I have it. It’s kind of like I’m doing the breaststroke, like a frog in the air. It’s so real every time I do it.
What’s hanging on your living room walls?
On my bedroom wall I have a model of Archaeopteryx lithographica [a transitional fossil], which is just like my tattoo on my arm. I also have a lithograph of a really cool Dali print that my mom gave me one year for my birthday.
What teacher or professor changed your life, if any?
My most recent professor, her name is Carolyn Pytte, and she was my professor when I started my Ph.D. in New York City at Queens College. I ended up dropping out and moving to L.A., and she was my professor only for a year. She was the first strong female professor I ever had, and the first professor I felt I could really talk to about my personal life. I don’t want to say she was instrumental in me leaving my program, but in learning to make the decisions that were most instrumental to my life.
What’s your favorite fast food chain?
I very rarely eat fast food. Back in Texas we have a place called Taco Cabana that I really miss.
If you were going to get another tattoo, what would it be and where?
I don’t think I want any more. My last one is on my ribs. It’s a quote from Carl Sagan. It has real spiritual significance. I struggled whether to get it for a long time.
Do you play any musical instruments?
I don’t, but I used to be a singer. I have a keyboard in my living room. I used to say I have retarded hands. I tried guitar, I tried piano--I’m not good.
In your opinion, what is the greatest science fiction film of all time?
I’m not really a big science fiction nerd. I love mid-century socially conscious sci-fi-Orwell, Bradbury, and Vonnegut. Let’s say 1984. Does that count as sci-fi? I don’t do a lot of modern science fiction.
Where are you a regular--or where do you long to be one?
My apartment? Runyon Canyon? Where would I long to be a regular? I don’t know. I would love to be regularly traveling to really interesting places. But the truth is I’m kind of a homebody. I love to stay home with my boyfriend and my dog. It’s fun for me.