Chris Austin is the publisher of the water policy website Maven’s Notebook and the creator of Aquafornia, a news aggregation site on California water. Before participating in a panel on how Californians can learn to live with less water, she revealed in the Zócalo green room that she’s a vicious player of the board game Sorry!, a somewhat secret fan of Flo Rida and Lady Gaga, and continues to long for a pie she ate in Burbank 10 years ago.
What do you wake up to?
I’m an insomniac. So I usually wake up between 2 and 4, and that’s usually when I start my day. Usually 3 to 4. Two is a particularly unrestful night. So I exist on about four or five hours of sleep every night. It’s been that way for years.
What’s your favorite dam?
I guess Hoover Dam is pretty impressive.
Where would you like to travel to next?
I want to go up to Northern California to travel the Feather River again. I traveled that road once, and it’s just absolutely gorgeous. From Quincy to Chico. I’d like to get even further north, see Mount Shasta. That kind of thing.
What’s the best present you’ve ever given someone else?
I gave my husband a guitar one year, and he wasn’t expecting it. It was a good guitar.
Why do you go by “Maven”?
Because I started blogging in 2007—I started the blog Aquafornia—and back in 2007, blogging was really in the hands of the regular person, and people blogged about cat videos and recipes, and nobody used their real name, so I didn’t either.
How did you get into trouble as a kid?
I know I got into trouble. I was pretty sneaky. … I never think back that far.
What’s the last great dessert you ate?
They had this maple nut buttercream pie at the Castaway restaurant up in Burbank that I had 10 years ago—I am still trying to find that thing. It was the consistency of ice cream, but it was not frozen. I’m sure I still have clogged arteries from it, it was that good. I ate it over three days, it was so big and so rich. But it was the best thing I ever had. I’m always trying to find that one.
What’s the last board game you played?
We play Sorry! in our house. Me and my husband and my two kids, and we’re vicious. We beg, steal, and borrow.
What do you wish you had the nerve to do?
I’m pretty nervy. I’ve been living outside my comfort zone for a while, so I get these ideas, and I just kind of do them.
What music have you listened to today?
I’m an ’80s rock fan, with a little bit of modern teen stuff in there. It’s kind of like my secret—I actually am up on some of the current music people my age should never be listening to. I love Lady Gaga and Flo Rida. I had to explain to my friend who Flo Rida was: “No, not Florida, Flo Rida.”