I’ve loved words ever since I read 103 books in Miss Vopelensky’s first-grade class in Racine, Wisconsin—home of the world-famous KRINGLE. Best Danish pastry ever. A pastry that has been known to make grown men weep and grown women moan in ecstasy. At 14, I reluctantly left the kringle behind and moved with my family to Phoenix, valley of the scorching sun. There I joined the high school drill team, became editor of the school paper, and while most of my classmates were jammin’ to ‘70s rock like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, I was singing in my hairbrush to show tunes, Sinatra, and Bobby Sherman.
At 19, I joined Uncle Sam’s Air Force to fly a typewriter off into that wild blue yonder. That yonder turned out to be Europe (hardship duty, but someone’s gotta do it) where I trod the steps of the Parthenon, sunbathed on a topless beach in Sardinia, tiptoed through the tulip fields in Holland, got drunk at Harry’s Bar in Paris, and ate frog legs in Luxembourg. I also fell head over heels for England and became a full-fledged Anglophile and tea snob years before Downton Abbey.
After my enlistment, I returned stateside where I moved around a lot doing that angsty twenties thing of trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up* and where my place was in the world. *(Little white lie: I’ve known what I wanted to be since I was five.) But like most insecure artsy types, I was terrified to follow that writing dream and possibly fail. Instead, I took a lot of detours.
One detour I never chose; breast cancer at 35, the day after my first wedding anniversary and three months after finally graduating from college with my journalism degree. Diagnosed with an aggressive Stage 2 cancer, I endured the chemo from hell which left me bald and puking my guts out. Thankfully, I married one of the good guys. When Michael first saw my mastectomy scar, he kissed it and said, “I love this scar, because it means I’m going to have you with me for a long time.” We’re now in our 25th year of marriage.
Cancer compelled me to follow my writing dreams, so during those years I became a reporter, columnist, speaker, and award-winning author of 17 books, including Thanks for the Mammogram! and Mentalpause. (Still waiting for that New York Times bestseller.) I live most-of-the-time-contentedly in Northern California with my Renaissance-man and our spaniel-pug mix Mellie—the alpha female in our house.