I was born in St. Louis, MO and traveled down the Mississippi river to New Orleans to live when I was 12. I loved wild New Orleans and its dichotomy versus the buttoned-up conservatism of the Midwest. Perhaps the combination of the two helped me learn to enjoy the unexpected, treasure creativity and fun, but still appreciate ethical decency. I chose to go to Tulane University so I wouldn’t have to leave New Orleans when ready for college.
While at Tulane I majored in Communications, which did not yet exist as a major. My advisor was pretty easy-going ; she let me choose any class I wanted and apply it to my major as long as I could state the communication aspect. The biggest reach in my course selection was Bartending. I actually learned mixology in an evening class where we drank our homework. I also enjoyed being a disc jockey at WTUL, Tulane’s radio station that broadcast citywide, also serving as PR Director for my last two years. When I graduated I had something ridiculous like a 3.6 gpa, which was all the more amazing considering that my motto was “you either have to go to class or read the book, but not both”.
I wandered around Europe after graduation. Returning home, I almost killed my brother and me when I demonstrated my love for animals by swerving my car to avoid a cat on the highway. When I finally accepted that I really needed a job, New Orleans was at the bottom of a petroleum-induced depression. I had a friend in Atlanta, GA, and suddenly there I was in the land of southern charm and opportunity. I took a job as Communications Specialist at Rich’s Department Stores. I left 3-1/2 years later, a victim of Federated’s purchase of Rich’s and subsequent bankruptcy.
Free of the corporate life, I found myself intrigued by these cool little machines being made by Apple computer. I bought a Macintosh Plus and a Laserwriter, and learned to use Aldus PageMaker software. Not too many people were doing this at the time and there was a lot of self-teaching going on at my house. Around the time I got slightly sufficient with the setup and desktop publishing, Rich’s found they still had a need for a Corporate Communications specialist. We continued our relationship except I was not an employee but an independent contractor, I had a lot more freedom, and I made more money. Over time I picked up other corporate clients too, gradually settling into servicing the publication needs of small non-profits.
My company, CFB Communications Inc., offered a nice way to make a living but I was a little bored, so I went to Georgia State University in search of a Masters degree in Communication. I started out in the journalism program but soon became interested in rhetoric. The chair of the latter department offered me a scholarship and a monthly stipend in exchange for teaching two “Introduction to Public Speaking” classes a quarter. I was probably the world’s worst public speaker as I turned beet red and stammered when put in front of people. Being forced to lead a class, coupled with teaching the very skills I desperately needed myself, turned out to be a big part of my education. My Master of Communication also taught me to think critically and analyze spoken persuasive methodologies. My area of specialty was political communication and to this day I cannot watch a political speech without tearing it apart in my mind.
I graduated from Georgia State, still was running CFB Communications, and also kept teaching at GSU as adjunct faculty. We obtained funding for a Macintosh Lab on campus and I put together a desktop publishing curriculum for both undergraduate and graduate communications students. Teaching was something I really enjoyed but over time I found I needed a new challenge. Always with CFB Communications in the background paying the bills, I became a real estate salesperson.
I loved selling real estate and I hated selling real estate. Ask any Realtor about that statement and s/he will fully understand. My broker said to me once that “for every easy deal there’s a hard one”, and the hard ones were sometimes brutal. For instance, there was the time I worked with a buyer for one solid year trying to get the bank to cooperate on a condominium short sale. The margins were very very tight. The bank finally agreed, the other agent took a lesser commission, and I’m sure I agreed to the same. Finally, after all this time, I took my client to see the unit—soon to be her unit! her dream! We walked in, she looked around, paused, and said “Shhhh. Listen.” I listened. I didn’t really hear anything. She said, “I can hear the people walking upstairs. I don’t want it.” And she turned on her heels and left.
I learned so much as a real estate agent. I learned about houses and construction and financing, but mainly I learned about people. I did well in real estate and it was a tough market then. The bottom had fallen out in 2007 and a lot of what I did was convince people to sell at a loss so they could buy again at a great deal. My Masters in rhetoric, my powers of spoken persuasion, aided me in ways I never would have imagined.
That market tired me out. I believed in the real estate axiom “Win-Win or No Deal”, but now there was always one angry party at the closing table. I knew I needed something different but I did not know what. I had a 40-year history of going to the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas and I’d been doing some writing, so I packed up for a two week vacation on Eleuthera to write, get my head straight, and contemplate my future.
There’s so much now in this story of my return to Eleuthera. I don’t want to rewrite my blogs, which are on this site, and which you can read to learn in real-time what happened. Suffice it to say that I met a wonderful man, an old friend of my family’s. We got along well and got married a couple of years later. He and I now live on the beach and blue water of Eleuthera in the winter, bucolic Beaufort, SC in the spring and fall, and beautiful Narragansett, RI in the summer.
My recent past projects include publishing a 112 page full color photographic/essay book Eleuthera: capturing magic, and helping to pull together a website for Beaufort’s Sea Island Corridor Coalition. These projects and a few others can also be found in more detail on this site.
Thank you for stopping by and, if you’ve read this far, wow!
I redesigned this site to motivate me to start writing blogs again. I’m also always interested in collaborating on a publishing project, so if you’ve got one in mind, please contact me.