Recorded March 18, 2012 on

Sasha Cagen is a writer, coach and community builder and the founder of the Quirkyalone movement. She is the author of the books, Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics and To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us. She writes a blog on the Huffington Post and has appeared on CNN, the BBC and NPR.

Sasha attended Frank’s performance, The Uncomfortable Zones of Fun in December 2011 and published a long review of the performance on her Huffington Post blog. Frank invited Sasha to be a guest on the Shaman’s Den after reading her review.

Below is an excerpt from the book, Deep Conversations in the Shaman’s Den, Volume 1.

Linda: … and then Frank always says they complain … (Frank sounds) And they say you know I can’t get connected with people, and they blame it on their disability. And Frank says, hey, turn the letter board around, make it easier for people to talk with you. (Frank sounds)

Michael: Cool.

Frank: Reach out. But they want to blame the …

Linda: Disability for all of their problems.

Michael: It hasn’t stopped you. (laughs)

Frank: How did you get started …

Linda: In your work? How did you get started in your work?

Sasha: I started writing … oh, is there more?

Linda: I think so …

Frank: Or in your …

Linda: In your play? (Sasha laughs)

Frank: Life … ?

Linda: Or how did you get started in your life?

Sasha: (giggles) … Hmmm, now I don’t know how to answer … (giggles) How did I get started in my life … maybe I should answer that one … that seems interesting.

Frank: Yes.

Frank Moore, Sasha Cagen and Michael (video capture)

Sasha: Well you know, it’s funny, I was talking to my mother a few months ago about some early … some childhood things and she said to me … she was kind of questioning my interpretation of my childhood or something … and she said, well, you were just always this kid who like always wanted to go and explore and meet people and when you were two and people would come over, when they were leaving you would be sad and want to go with them and see what was going on. So it was actually really interesting to hear that. (Frank sounds) And I think that’s true. That I am just very curious.

Frank: Like me.

Sasha: Yeah, probably.

(Frank sounds)

Linda: You want to hear more? Tell us more!

Sasha: (giggle) … Wasn’t that enough? (laughing)

Frank: I am not CNN.

Linda: He’s not CNN (laughter) … You can give longer answers.

Sasha: I know … I’ve got my talking points ummm, ummmm, so then how did I get started in my life … well, I went to nursery school, made some friends, then I went to kindergarten and um … Yeah, I think that I just always had a … I grew up in Rhode Island which is a very quirky interesting state … I think it really kind of shaped me but at the same time I really wanted to leave it.

Frank: And you made a career out of “quirky”.

Sasha: Yeah, I think so (laughter) and I am getting more explicit about it … I think I am going to become more explicit about that ’cause I have been kind of not totally owning it.

Frank: How?

Sasha: I don’t know yet, but I think it’s going to be like the centerpieces, because I really am really interested in individuality and acceptance and celebration of individuality and I think that underlies all of my work … and I’m actually working with a coach now to help me see that … because there are certain parts I haven’t … I haven’t made it coherent yet, but that is the center of it all.

Frank: What is quirky?

Sasha: Um … it is unintentional difference. So it is basically being yourself in a way that is not … it’s not like trying to be quirky. For an example, I think quirky is hip right now and there was a Saturday Night Live sketch that was like Zooey Deschanel and other quirky characters in pop culture that have this kind of hip aesthetic and that’s not quirky at all. Like that’s totally commercial and predictable. So quirky is … the example that I used in that Quirkyalone book was like it’s a cowlick … it’s like your hair sticking up … and it’s uncontrollable … you work with it, you don’t hide it. You go with it.

Frank: And play with it.

Sasha: Yeah, right, if you can. Like first you have to accept it and be good with it. That’s the first step. And then yeah, play with it … it’s more fun.

Frank: Why would not you accept it?

Sasha: Why would you not accept it? Because it’s not acceptable. It’s not how you are supposed to look, behave or be. Or because it takes courage to accept your quirkiness.

Frank: But, if you are quirky, you don’t have a choice. (Frank sounds)

Sasha: Um … Well, you do have a choice. I mean you can camouflage it and blend in … if you are self-identified quirky then you have made the choice to embrace your quirkiness. But everyone is potentially quirky … I mean we all are, right? So that really is the difference between quirky people and non-quirky people … the non-quirky people are hiding it.

Frank Moore and Sasha Cagen (video capture)

Frank: Art and science are full of …

Linda: Quirky people. (Frank sounds)

Sasha: Yeah, that is true. Yeah. (Frank sounds)

Frank: I just read …

Linda: Which one are you thinking of, the science one? (Linda to Mikee) What’s the name of that book we just finished reading about the science dude?

Mikee: Feynman, Richard Feynman.

Linda: Richard Feynman, it was a biography of him.

Mikee: Autobiography.

Frank: How he is quirky. (Frank sounds)

Sasha: Michael’s read it.

Michael: I read it … he is amazing. When he was studying physics, instead of reading the books, he did every experiment in history to understand on his own terms, so that by the time he became a scientist, he couldn’t … no one actually understood the ideas he had because he started all of them from scratch. He’s really funny too. He is an awesome guy.

(Frank sounds)

Frank: He can pick locks.

Linda: Oh, pick locks? There was that whole thing where he got into picking locks.

Michael: For the challenge? (Frank sounds)

Linda: It was really safes. He knew how to pick most of the safes in the building that he was in at one point … he kind of prided himself in that.

Michael: I should learn that skill …

Frank: And the Manhat …

Mikee: Manhattan project …

Linda: Oh, the Manhattan Project, that was the organization where he picked all of the locks.

Michael: Oh, that is a great place to do it … (laughs) Well, you know if you are going to go, go big, I guess. He was a more original thinker than almost anyone else around him and I never understood if it was just who he was or if that is what he learned to be. I keep reading those books, because I never get tired of them.

Frank: What was it called?

Linda: The actual book? Do you remember the title of the book, Mikee? He’ll look it up.

Frank: You Must Be Kidding.

Linda: Oh, that was the name of it.

Michael: Yeah, You Must Be Kidding, Mr. Feynman. (all laugh) Good choice. Do you read a lot of physics books?

Linda: We read a lot of books. Frank has read a lot of physics books over the years.

Sasha: Do you all read books together?

Linda: Frank gets the talking books from the Library of Congress, it is a free service, so he can pick the books online, then we download them and put them on a little stick and they send us the machine to listen to them on. We always have two books going. We have one we read during the day and one we read late at night when we are getting ready for bed. It’s really fun. We do a lot of reading.

Frank: After ten years at least of not reading.

Linda: Right, any books at all. (Frank sounds)

Linda: Well, it is because we started the radio station and we had that on all of the time, so we just stopped reading. Before that we had books going all of the time. And then we started again about a year and a half ago or so.


Frank Moore and Sasha Cagen (video capture)
Recorded live on, Sunday, March 18, 2012, Berkeley, California.

Read Sasha’s review:

Read Sasha’s review of this Shaman’s Den:

More Frank Moore’s Shaman’s Den: