I’m a first-wave baby boomer who remembers both “Duck and Cover” and the federal polio immunization program. Anybody who thinks those were the good old days would have gotten a real kick out of the Bubonic Plague/Hundred Years War era.
I was born in Monroe, Louisiana. I have lived as far north as Virginia -- where I graduated from high school and Old Dominion University -- and as far west as Japan. (Or, as far east as Japan if you prefer the Marco Polo route.) Getting to Japan required a psychological evaluation (the feds have a file on me like Elaine Benes’s, describing me as a “difficult” patient) and more shots than the Salk program, but was well worth it. Especially since you taxpayers footed the bill. (Note: “SOFA” has nothing to do with furniture.) While there, I saw B.B. King in concert and learned that not only are the Japanese Blues fanatics, but excellent Blues musicians themselves. (I, on the other hand, still need the waitress to put a rubber band on my chopsticks.)
Memorable moments of my teens include the enrollment of three Black students at my high school and the assassination of JFK. But I’m going to set aside profound events experienced by almost all teens of that era and save them for my roman à clef. (Ha! And people told me a French Lit major wouln’t be worth diddly squat.) Memorable moments of my particular high school years included: flunking Algebra 2 – with the aid of a tutor, yet -- and winning second-place in the annual city-wide student art contest (First-place went to something abstract. You can bet school art judges will always give the edge to something abstract, so they can tell disgruntled representational losers that they too will appreciate the abstract when they’re more “mature” artists. And develop cataracts.
Memorable moments of my particular twenties include: being part of a Beatles press conference, drinking Heineken aboard a Dutch submarine and playing the lead in “Star-Spangled Girl” at the Cavalier Dinner Theater.
Skipping ahead a few lurid years, I am now the divorced mother of two grown daughters, one a physician and the other a pipeline engineer. (Yeah, I had to look it up too.) My one marriage was to a career officer in the Marine Corps, who introduced me to Camp Lejeune and Parris Island. Except for recruits, Parris Island is actually a perfectly lovely place. Okay, there are Palmetto bugs the size of ironing boards and sand fleas. At least the non-recruits can swab them out of their nostrils instead of having to stand at parade rest and suffer. I’ve worked as a magazine art director; a newspaper reporter and editor; and have taught ESL for Wake Tech Community College. (This one’s multiple choice: ESL means a.) Extra Sensory Lasciviousness b.) Eating and Surviving Lutefisk c.) English as a Second Language
As much as I enjoyed all of the above, publication of my first non-fiction book and my first fiction sales were thrills only comparable to bringing the two daughters into the world. And the Beatles press conference. Whenever I have worked jobs unrelated to writing, as much as I enjoyed them, I have felt like the literary equivalent of a transsexual, always having the sense that I was trapped in someone else’s identity.
I mostly live alone now except for my pit bull, but that doesn’t mean I’m peculiar. (Writers get to be “eccentric,” not peculiar.) I really wanted a more portable dog, but little dogs get snapped up (no pun intended) from rescue organizations very quickly. Owning a rescued pit bull, I’ve realized two things: the stereotypes are wrong and I’d root for the Attica Axe Murderers before I’d root for any team that would hire Michael Vick.