(585) sits down with Leticia Astacio
I love the short hair! Where do you go?
Thank you! You know, I randomly just wander into barber shops. What happens is, I wake up one day, and being this creature of habit and planning I am, I think, “I want to be bald-headed today. Right now, immediately, I don’t want any more hair.” So I put a call out to Facebook, like “Who wants to cut my hair right now?” People are super, super sweet and kind to me here. I appreciate it a ton. And people do accommodate my foolishness! You know, it’s funny because people are like “Oh, because you’re a judge.” No, people have accommodated my foolishness my whole life. And that’s how I’ve kind of grown up like that, you know? If I’m supposed to have a haircut, the universe will align in order for that to occur. And if not, it’s just not in the cards.
How was your trip to Thailand?
Oh my God, it was everything I needed when I went. Because, you know, I was here. And there were constant stories, and constant charges, and ultimately they were all being dismissed, but they wouldn’t stop happening. So it was my birthday, and I said to my sister, you know, I read Eat Pray Love a million times post-divorce, and I was like, “Oh my God, I’m having a total eat pray love moment, I’m done with court, there’s nothing I can do in Rochester, I’m not going to work, why don’t I go to Thailand? Just fill my cup and meditate?” And I mean, it was everything I expected it to be. You can live with monks—I literally did live with monks. I took on the precepts to act as a nun. I meditated with them every day, I ate one time a day, I slept on the floor…it was really, really, really, really cool.
Does running for city council feel like an organic next step for you, or do you see it as a career shift that you’re taking very deliberately?
I don’t think it’s a career shift. My career is law. And I’m still a lawyer, and by running for city council I don’t intend to abandon being an attorney at all. And having my private practice. So I don’t think it’s a career shift. I absolutely loved being a judge, but one of the bittersweet moments for me was closing my practice. Not knocking the experience, but my dream was not always to become a judge. I didn’t foresee that. My dream was to have my own practice. So when I did, and I had to close my office…it was exciting to go be a judge, but it was like, “this is mine. I’m walking away from something that’s mine.” So it’s really cool that city council is not as much of a derailment in my career, as much as when I was a judge I literally had to retire from law. Now I don’t have to walk away from those things that I love. I enjoy being on trial, I’m a trial attorney, so that was something I had to give up.
Guilty pleasure TV show?
Oh my goodness! I am, like, queen of trash TV. I have eliminated most of the trash TV from my life, so this is less embarrassing. At one point in time there would have been, and it would have been, like, “Real” everything. But right now it’s just the Housewives of Atlanta. I’m all wrapped up in their lives; I can’t get enough of them, and I’m always like “How did you get this job?” Because people follow me with cameras all day, and I do NOT get $250,000 an episode. So can someone give me a call? Because I’m already doing this for free [laughs]. So that’s probably my favorite ratchet reality television show right now. And, not for nothing, but you watch it, and you’re like, “you guys are in your fifties. I’m not doing so bad. [laughs] You’re throwing wine bottles and you’re fifty-plus years old. So if I didn’t fight anyone today, I’m winning at life.”
Is there anything else you want to mention?
I have no idea. I don’t even know why you guys want to interview me! So, I read Shonda Rhimes’s Year of Yes… I’m about to turn thirty-eight years old, so I think that’s my challenge to myself. So you reached out, and I was going through my year of yes, but I’m like “Yeah. I don’t even know what they want to know about me, but I’ll figure that out when I get there!” So I don’t have an agenda, I just was in my yes segment of life. So I said yes! Anything you want to ask me. From what I’ve been told, I don’t know why, but apparently I am an interesting person. And people are interested in me, whether they like me or not! People who hate me seem to be the most interested! Like, if you don’t like me, why are you still watching? [laughs] But that’s been my experience. I don’t like to listen to people I don’t like. That’s strange to me…I mean, why follow people you don’t like?
John Ernst is a lifelong Rochesterian and (585)’s editor-at-large. You can see more of his work at johnmwrites.com.