BW: What was it like growing up with a mother who was schizophrenic?

Eugenia: Honestly, I didn’t know that she was until I was about 15. I just thought that she was eccentric and quirky, which she was. I took a psychology class when I was 15 at the community college and something clicked. I went home and told everyone and they were like, “yeah, you didn’t know that?”

BW: Was she ever on medication?

Eugenia: No, she married into a very well-to-do family. My two older sisters are from that marriage. During that time she decided that she wanted to be an artist. She got into yoga and meditation and all that. She said that they [in-laws and husband] didn’t like that and they institutionalized her because of it. But, I think there’s more to the story.

But no, she was never medicated. She never went to therapy or anything.

BW: I’ve talked to other people who grew up with schizophrenic parents and it could get scary. Was it ever like that with her?

Eugenia: No, my sisters say that she calmed down a lot by the time I came along. She was 42 when she had me. But, it really flared up in her late twenties and early thirties. But, when I knew her, she just thought the FBI was after us. But it made sense because she was really good friends with Jerry Garcia.

BW: Really? How cool.

Eugenia: Well, she was best friends with Jerry Garcia’s baby mama, Manasha Garcia, so we traveled with them a little bit. So, she thought that because of his drug connections that the FBI was always after us so it kinda made sense.

She was also obsessed with religion. She would bounce around to different religions and thought that Jesus Christ was walking the earth. She would give every homeless person she saw money because she thought that it was God testing her. It was a mixture of Christianity, Hindu and Buddhism. She had alters everywhere and crucifixes everywhere. We said the lord’s prayer every time we got off the phone. A lot of superstition.

But she was super hilarious and really, really intelligent, pianist and tai chi instructor and writer and poet.

BW: Do you see her in you? Some of her quirkiness? 

Eugenia: Yeah, for sure. But she was a great mother in a lot of ways and in a lot of ways it’s like, why didn’t you teach me how to be a person?