About Me

I was born in early March at a reasonable time in the morning, arriving exactly on my due date. Being the first and only girl in my family and not crying too much in the night as an infant, my mom said I was the perfect child. Maybe that was true while I was an infant. My parents were wonderful and my three brothers were my friends. Our vacations were mostly going to reunions and visiting relatives, but I enjoyed them. I loved belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, going to church on Sundays and participating in the youth programs when I got to the appropriate age. Taking on assignments in my church starting from a young age helped build my confidence. 

As early as I can remember, I loved to read. I would happily lie on the floor with a picture book as a kindergartner, and spend hours reading the Magic Tree House series in early elementary school. Our teachers gave us prizes like coupons for a free Peter Piper personal pan pizza for reaching benchmarks for hours or reading completed. Every time I stared at the chart on our classroom wall, I was dismayed to find that one boy in my class always beat me. I came in second, but that was probably because I also liked to play outdoors, when I was usually narrating my own actions in my head, making myself the protagonist of a fantasy no one else could see. Or when my younger brothers were old enough we made up stories and ran around in the backyard and down the street with our enchanting pretend play. I began creating fiction early on, making up a story about the magic properties of white and brown sugar mixed together, as well as the name and history of my middle brother’s stuffed bear. He believed them all. 

The first story I remember writing at five years of age was about a boring dream I had of two cats in the backyard near some loose bricks on a lawn. They jumped from brick to brick in a circle. We had no pets and I was always a little mesmerized by our neighbors’ felines as a child. Even though my mom was allergic, more than once I let some wandering cats into the house, pretending that they got in by accident. And then we all had fun (or at least I had fun) chasing them around and placing them outside again. But who knows, with how many viral cat videos are out there, maybe I could write some bestselling cat poems and stories one day to complement them.

My childhood and adolescence went by with nothing extremely exciting happening. I enjoyed being in the East Valley with access to surrounding mountains to hike. I played the cello in orchestra through my senior year of high school, and learned to play the piano. My older brother worked for the Phoenix Symphony in sales when I was in my mid teens, and he kindly took me to symphony concerts as well as other artistic events with free tickets he earned. My love of anything artsy grew. During the summers in my high school years and first two years of college I took a number of odd jobs which I supposed helped prepare me for my future.

These included dusting and organizing objects for a big yard sale (which I doubt ever occurred) and providing a listening ear to a kindly woman who happened to be a hoarder; packing tea and other random products such as nail cuticle remover at a center that employed adults with learning disabilities, where I fought ennui with endless streaming through my earbuds; making sub sandwiches and running to the bathroom 10 times a shift due to continual SoBe refills, and ignoring the glances of the male friends of my coworker who lived in a halfway house, the ones who always wandered in when it was just us two ladies in the evenings; giving customer service at a department store where my main assignment was in lingerie and I studied Spanish for my college class on breaks and then practiced with my Spanish-speaking customers, and where nothing was too eventful except on Black Fridays or the day a man called in and asked a barrage of questions about saucy items on sale and made me go pink when he started to describe unnecessarily what he’d like to use them for with his girlfriend and asked for advice on what was best for that, at which point I told him I had to return to my other customers (there were none at the time) and hung up, not bothering to tell him he could look at options online or come into the store to find what he needed (as if I wanted to see him in person); and helping Medco by Mail customers at a call center, where I was when I learned that Michael Jackson died, and I pondered things in between calls like what it’d be like to live with an arm that ended before the elbow, like my manager had, and the only calls that stick out now were when a man told me to tell Obama to “stick it where the sun don’t shine”, the woman who went quiet when I asked for the customer and told me haltingly it was her husband but he’d died a few weeks before, and the man who was happiest to refill his Rx, but gave enough clues for me to figure out he had major memory loss and lived in a nursing home, so I couldn’t process his request.

After high school, I attended Arizona State University and earned a bachelor’s in English (Creative Writing). They didn’t offer a full Creative Writing program until the year after I graduated. Some highlights during this time include my internship with the Boys and Girls Club where I mostly tutored kindergartners and first graders, and singing with the ASU Women’s Chorus. I loved being able to read and write for my classes but I did feel like something was missing.

Once I had my bachelor’s degree I took a nine month break. For a while I tried to figure out what I wanted to do but soon after I graduated I decided I wanted to go abroad. After all, my writing professor always told us to go experience more of the world to get inspired. I almost ended up in South Korea, but China seemed a more natural choice when I decided it might be a fun adventure to teach English as a foreign language.

My best friend in junior high was from China (it was she who taught me my first two words in Mandarin which were “butterfly” and “shut up”) and my ninth grade World History teacher had a mail order bride from China. I’m not just imagining things when I say he taught us more about China than any other country in that class. Anyway, after I chose China, I got to work studying Mandarin with the Pimsleur Method CDs, speaking to people who had been there and done that, and checking out books at my local library including a large red book full of beautiful color photographs highlighting food and culture from all the provinces, a China A to Z reference book, a memoir by a woman who had lived in China et cetera. I earned a bit of money by doing most of the homeschooling for a first grader who was my neighbor because her mother had a lot to handle at the time. I looked through a book with a list of companies who employed English teachers abroad, and found in one some good notes about Buckland Educational Group. When they hired me I was ecstatic! I signed an 11 month contract with them and went off away from home for the first time.

Several people thought I was crazy, and many worried about me, but it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and the most difficult thing I’ve done so far. Teaching was a great challenge, and I fell in love with my students, the teachers, the culture, the food, the beautiful landscape of Yangshuo and the bustling energy of Xi’an and Beijing.

After adventures like walking barefoot after my slippers fell apart on the steaming, dirty streets of Beijing, getting lost in the Xi’an Muslim quarter, getting robbed, nearly run over by buses or other vehicles a few times, almost poisoning myself by eating bitter almonds (I didn’t know at the time they were different from their sweet cousins), eating things like donkey and frog, going out on “dates” with one of the single teachers, getting my citizenship changed to Canadian, and many, many more, I was ready to come home.

I found a day job and began spending a lot of time writing on my time off, and eventually recovered from reverse homesickness, continued to grow, build friendships and figure out what adult life should be like after college and my “gap year”. When I started writing poetry regularly in 2015 I was a bit surprised at how much I enjoyed it. When I joined the American Night Writer’s Association over time I felt the push to pursue my dream of sharing my writing with a wider audience. A bit of what was missing is starting to appear.

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