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State Sen. Sara Howard

Freshman state Sen. Sara Howard, who is an avid reader, feels right at home on Thursday, April 25, 2013, at Indigo Bridge Books in the Haymarket.

I like this new job, but it's much more challenging than I had originally thought it would be.

I've learned that there's a very high premium on having good relationships here, and how important it is to have genuine interest in what's going on in your colleagues' lives.

It makes a big difference when you're on opposite sides of things to be able to step back and think, "Oh, there's something I really like about that person."

Somebody that I wouldn't necessarily agree with on policy has a lot to offer just on a personal level. And we're doing a similar job that is of equal difficulty.

I didn't realize that I would treat my bills like children, that I would want to usher them along the path in a very maternal way. It's like, "Oh my gosh, my kids are stuck in committee," or, "My kids can't get to final reading."

I always think that circumstance is the biggest mystery. Like, what's the circumstance that brought me to this place as opposed to another one?

I came into a family that was a little bit different than the one my sister, Carrie, came into because my dad had passed away three months before I was born. He was killed in a car accident outside of Grand Island.

The things I don't remember are my mom (former Sen. Gwen Howard) being overwhelmingly sad, which are things that my sister, who was 6 when I was born, would remember.

As I got a little bit older and both of them sort of moved away from the grief, it was always just the three of us.

Growing up, it was very idyllic.

We were very insular. Saturday afternoons we would listen to the Irish Hour and dance around the kitchen.

When we mark the anniversary of losing Carrie (at age 33), which is March 24th, we always have slushies and junk food and we watch John Hughes movies. We have a very set protocol for Carrie Howard Day.

I was a very quiet kid, and I read everything. ... I was one of those kids who you could put me with a book in a room for four hours. I wouldn't come out until I was hungry.

I was, maybe, in fifth- or sixth-grade when my mom caught me reading a Stephen King book and she said, "Why are you reading that? You're too young for it."

She would have to put books on top of the refrigerator so that I would not get a hold of them.

I read Anne Tyler too young, Stephen King too young. I know I read Edith Wharton too young, because "Ethan Frome" still does a lot of damage.

I was encouraged at Duschene High School to explore things that I found interesting. I'm not sure that every child has that luxury. How remarkable that I felt so safe to do all of these things that other kids in other schools get bullied for.

I would go through writer phases, periods of time where I would learn everything about one thing. Hence, the Edith Wharton phase. Hence, the Jane Austen phase. I did a medieval phase that my mother claims lasted far too long.

The first time I went to Europe was when I was 11. We stayed with my Aunt Trudy, who was stationed in Heidelberg, Germany. My mom and my sister loved to shop but I preferred going to museums, and so we would try to find a happy medium.

When I was 14, my mom and I went to China on some sort of steal-deal. It was February, so it was very cold. ... When I was 19, I went to Australia with a friend from college.

I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland, for a year when I was in college. I volunteered at a writer's museum, studied and was a page for a little while in the parliament.

I was 12 or 13 and my mom and I were in the basement, and I was organizing her sewing ribbons and thread by color, and we heard an ad on the radio that said, "Would you like to learn how to fly?"

I think she was betting on the fact that I was really shy, and that I would not make the call by myself. But I did. And I started flying out of a small strip outside of Eppley, general aviation.

I actually never went up with an inspector so I never got my license, which is too bad. I stopped lessons when I was 19.

I'm a little bit of a dilettante. So ever since Carrie passed away (2009), every summer I try to do something that I've always wanted to do. I just decided I wasn't going to wait anymore.

So the first summer I learned letter press, a method of printing, an arts and crafts style that's coming back.

The next summer they had a learn-to-run program, so I ran a 5K. I learned screen printing two summers ago. And this last summer I took an improv class.

I don't know what I'm going to learn this summer. Maybe guitar or maybe a language.

I'm a (Myers-Briggs) ENFJ. I was an INFP. So I've flipped from being an I (introvert) to an E (extrovert). 

Right after you take the bar (exam), you wait to see if you've passed. So I was doing lots of fun, interesting, odd jobs like pet sitting, sitting in the audience of Court TV shows.

I did tons of focus groups, which was awesome because it meant I had a meal. 

Ever since I got this job, I've had to have a mouth guard because I grit my teeth at night. It's really bad. My dentist is really mad at me. 

I have a boyfriend in Omaha and so when I hang out with him we're just going to have movies and eat. We're not going to talk about bills because he's not political in any way, which I find wildly charming.

A lot of Friday nights I babysit. I'm probably the only one of us that has to babysit regularly.

What makes me laugh ... pretty much anything cat-related.

My cats are both mutts. I have August. I picture her like an old French lady who smokes a lot. She's just very surly. And Murray, who's kind of an idiot, but in a lovely way.

I average about a book every two days.

Right now I'm reading "Half the Sky," about how, globally, women are treated in an inferior manner. I finished "Lean In" like a minute ago.

Things that make me truly angry are things like inequality.

I listen, generally, to music of the indie rock persuasion, because I'm a kid who grew up in Omaha in the late '90s. I like a lot of those Saddle Creek records folks, Cursive and Criteria. Mountain Goats is one of my favorite bands. Tilly and the Wall. The Weepies. She and Him.

Nachos are my kryptonite. Things can be cured with nachos, I'm sure. 

There's something very peaceful and useful about making a meal yourself.

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Reach JoAnne Young at 402-473-7228 or jyoung@journalstar.com -- You can follow JoAnne's tweets at twitter.com/ljslegislature.

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State government reporter

JoAnne Young covers state government, including the Legislature and state agencies, and the people they serve.

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