Shirley Otis-Green is a senior research specialist at City of Hope and a social worker with experience in palliative care. Before participating in a panel on end-of-life choices, she talked up War Horse, strawberry shortcake, and roses—thorns and all—in the Zócalo green room.
What’s the ugliest piece of furniture you own?
We had a really ugly mattress, but we took it back. We had it for three months and it started to burst on the side. A defective mattress! What are the odds? You can visibly see that—that’s ugly! You make your bed, and you’ve got a sag and a lump.
How are you different from who you were 10 years ago?
I’ve had the opportunity to have more time with my family, which has made me more compassionate and hopefully more patient.
Where do you go to be alone?
I bike ride—on occasion with family, and on occasion that’s an opportunity for some alone time.
What’s your favorite plant or flower?
Roses. That’s an easy one. Because of their incredible beauty and their unique characteristics, and also in terms of actually liking that they have thorns. They become a beautiful metaphor for life.
What word or phrase do you use most often?
Tonight it looks like hmm … I’ve got catchphrases I guess: various ways of expressing “oy vey” in different languages.
What salad dressing best describes your personality?
There’s something to be said for raspberry vinaigrette, just because it sounds like something to aspire to. But probably Thousand Island—more common, not particularly highfalutin, but actually quite tasty.
What’s the last live performance you saw?
We recently saw War Horse, and it was really quite grand.
Where would you like to travel to next?
I will be traveling to Lancaster—I’m a student there for a Ph.D. in palliative care. It offers wonderful opportunities to explore the lakes district and the beauty and history of Great Britain.
What dessert can’t you resist?
Strawberry shortcake. Ice cream in general. Fruit: a fresh bowl of strawberries—this is pretty heady stuff.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?