I come from a long line of writers from both sides of my family. Growing up on the Gulf Coast in and around Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida with Spanish Moss dripping from live oaks and the gothic tragedies that are the deep south are the murky waters of the gene pool I swim in. The minute I could get out I fled to New York and after the initial shock of feeling that I was living in Mordor I finally found my people and my place–mostly other ex-pat southerners or sympatico foreigners. It was the New York of all the movies I’d ever seen–the sophisticated upper east side, jazzy bohemian village and punks in alphabet city. Somewhere along the way I foolishly followed a romance that resulted in a long sojourn in a small New England town in the Berkshires. Shirley Jackson was not kidding around. After one too many martini fueled Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf evenings with my in-laws I packed up my car, drove across the country and landed in Berkeley.
One of my secret desires is an Irish tinker’s cart that I could hook up to my car or even an airstream and live the life of a nomad. From the time I was a tiny child when my grandparents took me with them all over the south I’ve always had the urge to move, go someplace new. I don’t know what it was about China but I knew it was on the other side of the globe from the time I was 2 years old and attempted to dig through with a spoon. I got there right after after the cultural revolution and wound my way through Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Because my paternal grandmother was Swedish I have relatives in Europe and there’s no better way to spend time in London, Paris, and Normandy. I did my Eat, Pray, Love routine with a Native American Elder traveling through the Netherlands sitting in lodges and with a Jungian astrologer on the mystic isle of Iona. One of my honeymoons (yep, more than one) was spent in Panama the day after Noriega was shunted off to prison by the US. Fortunately my Panamanian friend kept us from being targeted as ugly Americans. I searched for Persephone in Rome, Sicily, Malta and Gozo. And I just got back from Cuba right after Obama opened the door.
My paternal grandfather, Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson started DC Comics thus I’m at the mother ship of comicdom every year at San Diego Comic Con. Maybe that choice of Greek Mythology for a Masters wasn’t so crazy after all. The archetypes are alive and well in comic book world.
Daily life is filled with the usual struggles of most creative people–keeping my spirits up while attempting to keep the bon vivant of the neighborhood–Major Davies–in cat food and me in wine, cheese and chocolate. When I get blue and gloomy I take a deep breath and look around my apartment at all the books and beautiful things acquired from a lifetime of adventures. Then I get on my bike–Miss Scarlet–and ride along the East Bay struggling against the wind that can be up to 18-20 mph while the biker boys rush past me. Even when passing many of them give me the friendly nod as I’m one of a few regular female riders and you have to be either a masochist going against that wind or you really love to ride your bike!
In spite of being relegated to a tiny space after the acre or so of perennial beds I still have my garden in pots on the deck and stairs and down on the patio. I’m fortunate to have a grand group of friends–artists, writers and smart thinkers all across the globe. I inherited a love of gathering convivial souls together and filling a dining room or kitchen with the cheerful sound of people enjoying themselves. I’m happiest feeding my friends on my best china, silver and linens whether it’s an elegant dining room or small chairs around a kitchen table. As my grandmother Azolene always said, “The essence of good manners is putting other people at ease.” If I can live up to that I will have done well.