Maybe it was reading all the fairytales in my hometown library that led to my episodic life. I was a restless teen, and instead of going off to college after high school, I boarded a bus in the Pacific Northwest, where I was born, and headed for the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. There I had my first cross-cultural experiences, my beautiful daughter, my first heartbreak. I then moved to Houston, Texas and became a single mom, an art student, and a bookseller before finding my way to teaching. As a community college English instructor in Houston, TX, I met students from across the South and around the globe who sparked my longing to learn more about the world.
I got to college late and made up for lost time by becoming a perpetual student. While studying art in my 20s and multicultural literature in my 30s, I fell in love with folklore studies. An East-West Center fellowship in my 40s landed me in an international dormitory in Honolulu with students half my age. Focusing on touristic representations of Hawaii’s traditional cultures, I earned a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Hawai’i. Later, I taught university courses in Hawaii’s multiculturalism and American folklore. For 5 years, I was the curator for ‘Iolani Palace, a Native Hawaiian history museum. Then I fell in love with China.
20 years ago, I married into a big Hong Kong Chinese family, so my cultural education is ongoing. I’d like to say I’m a quick study, but the truth is that theory and practice are different creatures. Faced with the unfamiliar, I have often floundered, and my acculturation hasn’t always been graceful. My forthcoming memoir (Camphor Press, 2021) chronicles the challenges and gifts of this process.
If I’m good at anything, it’s reinvention, and I’ve come to appreciate the humbling and transformational gifts of digging deep and crossing boundaries. I hope readers will encounter new perspectives and maybe recognize bits of themselves in my work.
For now, I live in Hong Kong with my Chinese husband and our two American cats. If you would like to receive publication updates and new blog posts, you can sign up for my mailing list by going to my Contact page.
For links to published and forthcoming essays, please visit my Publications page.