Born and bred in New England, I sport a healthy accent that, depending on your auditory tastes, may sound wee-ard (weird) or chahming (charming). Convinced that my calling was a career in nursing, my adolescence was spent working in nursing homes tending to folks that were both ancient (at 14 years old, 45 is ancient) and disabled with either a mental illness or a physical disfigurement. Looking back, it was a delicate age of transformation, and this was my virgin experience viewing and tending to male and female bodies that were not my own. Being exposed to unusual anatomical and mental anomalies may have instilled a tinge of fear about getting old or going crazy.
Okay, maybe more than a tinge. Seeing ginormous boobs that spanned shoulders to below the knees, a two foot little person waddling angrily about and wheezing like a static radio, and a woman who beat you on the back while you were bending down in front of her wheelchair tying her shoes became my norm. Genital disfigurements and tumor-like growths on the head were also part of my adolescent unveiling. I worked with my best friends, some of them nursing aids like myself, others kitchen staff. After working the 7-3 shift, we’d leave, spark up a ciggy, and hang around the street corners. Service to others mixed with mischief = my adolescence.
One year into my long term goal of becoming a psychiatric nurse, I hit one of those forks in the road, the ones that churn and burn and tell you, “Sorry kid, not that way.” I switched majors, graduating with a degree in social psychology and working as a psychiatric counselor until the birth of baby number two, where I accepted the very lucrative position of stay at home mom. To clarify, staying at home meant holding down multiple part time jobs, as well as writing and publishing my first book, My Big Fat Head. After years of jobs that included newspaper columnist, PR for businesses and nonprofits, and transcription work, I landed a role as a full time employee in corporate America, an odd beast that enlightened me to a world of survival skill sets I didn’t know existed. In 2012, Damaged Goods was released.
Though my aspirations have rarely matched my actual path, I’ve resigned to go along for the ride because at the end of the day, I realize I’m not driving the bus. What I have discovered is that the only time I’m me, the only time I feel defined, is when I’m tapping on my keyboard or scribbling thoughts on sticky notes. When I close my eyes, the “me” I see is a storyteller, so whenever I hit a road bump, I tell myself, “Eh, why not? It’ll be a good story.”