Creative Nonfiction Writer
I am a published writer and editor with a MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles and a BA focused in Multimedia Production from The Evergreen State College. I’ve also single-handedly planned a number of special events and conferences for medium to large groups in both the United States and Canada; emceed and spoken live on stage before various audiences; been interviewed for radio, television, and the Web; and interviewed approximately one hundred people, including Bono from U2. (He was/is super down-to-Earth and hyperintelligent, so I must crush the dreams of haters.)
I have acted a little, lead writing classes, facilitated an improv theatre group for developmentally disabled adults, and volunteered for a women’s shelter. I also spent several years volunteering my time to the Multiple Sclerosis community after I was diagnosed with the same lovely disease in 2010.
I am serious, silly, ADHD (used as an adjective), irreverent, empathic, principled, and liberal. My biggest concerns tend to be for those who are easily overlooked and misrepresented if represented at all. I appreciate people who have struggled, been sidelined, and seen enough to have some stories and uniquely compassionate perspectives.
I was born gregarious, curious, precocious, and fast. That’s a lot of “ious” words mixed with a bit of danger. In mothering circles this mixture just boiled down to, “Your daughter is a handful.”
Since I was born in the 1970s and baby bondage wasn’t exactly frowned upon, my parents slipped a leather harness around my chest and kept me on a leash when we went out in public. This was because I was also a couple of other adjectives: impulsive and fearless. The harness was successful at keeping me off most roofs, but it did not stop me from searching through medicine cabinets in people’s homes or dismantling the mechanisms in the toilet tank so I could put them back together again. That was “me time.”
Because I had adorable dimples and a sweet smile, most homeowners were unsuspecting. My mom was on to me, though. She told me later that it was embarrassing hearing me open and close cupboard doors while I spied on the secret goodies that belonged to the homeowners. But I just had to see every bathroom I came across. (That is how I first found out about Rough Riders condoms.)
My parents were conservative politically and socially, so my mother tried really hard to keep me away from the social influences of the time. I wasn’t allowed to watch movies like Dirty Dancing or even read the menstruation/puberty classic by Judy Blume, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (although I snuck both). Our four or five television stations came in via the antenna that my dad mounted on our roof near the chimney. On windy days, the reception would get really spotty. On good days, we would get the Canadian station. If I wanted to see MTV, I had to go to my friend Jenny’s house where we watched New Kids On The Block videos and acted out all of the dance moves. “Oh oh uh oh oh, oh oh uh oh…”
During the summer, my family went to Batnuni Lake, which was deep in British Columbia, where my grandparents owned a fishing resort. “Resort” makes it sound a lot fancier than it was. (Last resort is more accurate.) This location was gorgeous, but it was set out on a heavily pitted and pot-holed gravel road some 83 or so miles from the nearest town–Quesnel. The drive is a bit treacherous and there was no electricity. The gas generator had to be run each day for an hour in order for certain things to get done like bathing, laundry, reading by light, and other normal, modern things. There was a wringer washer for cleaning clothes, which I actually used, and propane lanterns on the walls. I learned how to fish, tell tall tales, drive boats, play cribbage with grandma, dance to her record and 8 track collection, which was full of Billy Ocean and Roger Whitaker, and, at her urging, hold my own in conversations with adults.
By the time I made it to middle school, I was a sheltered, middle-class teen with stubborn, disobedient hair and a super busy, creative mind that begged for some sort of creative outlet. I didn’t have any cool moves. I was a child of 80’s and 90’s music, back when it seemed like everyone cool could do the Running Man and the Roger Rabbit. Not me. Aside from poorly imitating moves from Saturday Night Fever for a laugh, I wasn’t the one at the center of the floor during school dances.
I also sucked at the violin. The alto sax wasn’t much better. My rendition of “Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley” on the guitar for music class in 5th grade was nothing special. But, writing… writing was something special for me. Writing was something that I could do well compared to my peers. It was my one and only creative outlet even when it wasn’t about me. I loved it so much that I relished creating the best notes and quizzes for my friends. (One friend has a crate full of items that I gave her between elementary and high school.) If I ran out of official stories in my MadLibs books, I made my own. My friends’ favorites were the Madlib scripts that they had to act out once they were completed. Such ridiculousness.
While in college, I found that I had a natural knack for investigative reports, as well as playwriting, screenwriting, short stories, and nonfiction. Eventually, through what felt like kismet, I decided to become a writer. The circumstances that lead me to become a writer are described in a story that I published in this book. I went to Antioch University Los Angeles from 2004-06 and got my MFA in Creative Writing. Since then, I have published a number of nonfiction pieces about other people and very few about myself. Now I intend to move forward while adding memoir and personal essays to the mix. This is my organic development as a writer. I didn’t feel free to write about myself before, but now I do… and so I will.
I’d like to encourage everyone else to follow their natural trajectory. Be open to change. Never say never. You may change over time. Your world may open up and life may change in such a way that those things you never thought you’d be able to discuss openly are now ready for primetime.