I’ve always had a rebellious streak and itchy feet. Instead of going off to college after high school, I married a bass player and boarded a bus in the Pacific Northwest that was bound for the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. In the town of Eureka Springs, I had my first cross-cultural encounters–between North and South, hippies and locals, pipe dreams and reality. I also had my beautiful daughter and my first big heartbreak. I headed further south to Houston where I became a single mom, an art student, and a bookseller before finding my way to community college teaching. I was fortunate to land in an international city, and teaching students from across the South and around the globe sparked my interest in travel and other cultures.
I’m a late but perpetual student. When local bookstores were sunk by the first wave of discounters, I went back to school. I got an M.A. in English and folklore studies at 40. While teaching multicultural literature, I got excited about Asia, which led me to the East-West Center and the University of Hawai’i. I graduated with a Ph.D. in American Studies at 51. Instead of returning to Texas as I’d planned, I stayed in Hawai’i and taught university courses in Hawaii’s multiculturalism and American folklore. Then I became the curator at ‘Iolani Palace, a Native Hawaiian history museum, where I worked with historians and traditional craftsman representing the story of Hawaii’s last monarchs.
My cultural education is ongoing. Twenty-two years ago, I fell in love while studying in Hawai’i, and my life underwent another sea change. Within five years, I married into a big Hong Kong Chinese family. Navigating my intercultural relationship, learning about Chinese culture, and reconsidering American values are themes in my forthcoming memoir, Rabbit in the Moon (Camphor Press, 2021). I live in Hong Kong with my husband and two cats.