Born in Berkeley, California, of two parents who were also born in California, several of whose parents had also been born in California, and so on. Lived a happy '50s childhood in San Jose and Fremont with two brothers and a sister and two parents who actually liked each other and liked all their kids. Was conscious, by the time I was in my late teens, of the importance of trust and unconditional love.
Graduated from Washington High School in Fremont at 17. Spent a month camping in Canada with another teenaged girl, Nicki Bouton. Got a job at Highland Hospital in Oakland as a medical secretary; Pat Racanelli, my best buddy, still works there. Moved away from home at 18 with Michelle deRoco. Learned to scuba dive. Quit my job to hitchhike across America with another 18-year-old girl, Marcia (Rogers) Carota. Hitched 7,000 miles, got a job in Boston at Boston Children's Hospital, slept in graveyards, sides of freeways, under bridges, with relations. Back in California, got my job back at the hospital. Learned to sky dive. Worked a second job at Herrick Hospital to make enough money to go to Europe.
Spent almost two years in Europe on $1,000. Picked grapes in the south of France (got a tattoo); pretended I was Canadian and got a job in London as a secretary for British Airways; peeled potatoes and washed dishes at a pension in Austria, skiing every day; traveled with my lover in the German band through Germany; worked on boats on a Greek island and as a waitress; worked and lived in a kibbutz in Israel; spent some time in Paris.
Came back to California and got another job at the hospital in Oakland. Quit to go back to school to study veterinary medicine. Cynthia Katona at Ohlone Community College unveiled my passion for Shakespeare. Got pregnant while using an IUD. My sister Shannon and I got a house together. Ryan was born at home in Fremont, California, in 1977. Changed majors because Nicki Bouton introduced me to graphic design; moved up to Santa Rosa, California, to go through a three-year graphic design program at Santa Rosa Junior College. Began assistant-teaching the course. Carmen Karr and I started our own graphic design business. Was tricked into getting pregnant. Jimmy was born at home in Santa Rosa in 1982. I made the stupid mistake of marrying his father when Jimmy was four months old. Continued to teach at the college part-time, worked part-time designing video boxes for pornographic movies, freelanced graphic design in the middle of the nights, was a married single mother. When Ryan was 7 years old he and I took a trip down to Oaxaca for several weeks. I got dreadfully sick, came home, got pregnant while dreadfully sick, left that man when I was two months pregnant. I was much happier. Scarlett was born at home in Santa Rosa in 1986. Added a couple of other jobs to my collection because neither of the fathers thought they should pay child support. Worked in an ad agency. I have a tendency to like a job until I have learned everything I can, then move on. Supported myself and my three children on $10,000 to $12,000 a year. I became very good at being poor. We built Christmas trees out of cardboard, stole toilet paper from public restrooms, learned fifty ways to cook beans, read stories and made up plays instead of watching television.
I couldn't do everything, though, so for ten years I didn't sleep much and the house was always a mess. You have to give up somethin'. All that time, though, I was very conscious that it was my choice to be poor. It was not an unhappy time. I chose to work several part-time jobs with no security, no benefits, no medical coverage, in exchange for being home when my kids came home from school, in exchange for jobs I could do in the middle of the night (freelance graphic jobs, preparing lesson plans, etc.) when my little ones were sleeping. I traded graphics for theater tickets, for dance lessons for my kids, for books. In 1984, of course, the Macintosh was invented. I was very resistant to computers. "I'm going to let computers pass me by. By the time they can do what I do in graphic design, I will be ninety years old and won't care." Well, was that stupid, of course. One of my students, Brad Mager insisted I could not be computer-illiterate. He brought over his Mac Plus and plopped it on my kitchen table, which was the only flat surface in the house clear enough to set anything on. We clicked. The Mac made perfect sense to me. Even the Font/DA Mover made sense. I was teaching 8 hours a week but running the entire graphic design program, which took about 30 hours a week. I got paid for 8. So I quit the design program and asked to teach a HyperCard class. Oh my that was fun. I asked if I could teach any other Macintosh classes. They said, "Can you teach spreadsheets and databases?" "Oh sure," I said. I ran home and looked up "spreadsheet" and "database." I discovered that I love spreadsheets and databases--such clear, logical, and oh so useful programs. Taught Microsoft Works, Intro to Macintosh, PageMaker.
I am a teacher. It is my path. It is what I am supposed to do. No matter what is going on outside--divorce, unhappiness, anger, poverty, death--when I walk into my classroom nothing else exists except my students and our work. Teachers certainly don't teach for the money. Real teachers teach because they are supposed to. I didn't plan do what I'm doing. When I was in high school I had a small business teaching swimming in my parents' backyard, and all the moms and dads assumed I was going to be a kindergarten teacher. "A teacher!" I exclaimed with dismay. "Oh no, I will do something much more exciting than be a teacher!" It took many years for my path to unfold, and I had no clue where it was leading. But now that I am here, I see that it happened the way it was supposed to. I did not know I was on a path, but I see now that having the courage to live in the "wisdom of uncertainty," to take jobs I had a passion for instead of the ones that offered the most benefits and highest pay, to be willing to struggle to happily make ends meet rather than live in a miserable partnership, to take the anger and bitterness after a divorce and direct that energy to getting my own life together rather than trying to get money out of him, eventually led me to a very satisfying place, a place that offers so much more to me than I ever thought would happen in my life.
My teaching turned into writing a booklet for my students, which turned into my first two books, Macintosh Basics (shortly thereafter changed to The Little Mac Book) and The Mac is not a typewriter. I borrowed money from my mother to self-publish these two books. The previous year I had tried to get a HyperCard book published, but not one of the ten computer book publishers I queried said yes. So I decided to publish these two books myself. I took a weekend workshop from Dan Poynter in Santa Barbara to learn how to market and sell them. They started selling. I started work on a PageMaker book.
It's a long story, but through Scott Kronick, a contact I made at the Berkeley Mac User Group (BMUG), Ted Nace at Peachpit Press got hold of my book and asked if he could publish it. Peachpit was just getting started at this time--the business was still in Ted's house in Berkeley. He agreed to publish both my existing books and also my PageMaker book.
I continued to teach at Santa Rosa Junior College and continued to write more books. I bought a house. I had a broken heart and moved to New Mexico. I realized, when I got here, that this is where I am supposed to be right now. The broken heart was just a painful kick in the butt to get me here.
So now I live in Santa Fe. I cofounded the Mac User Group here and have been president, vice-president, and board member, opened (and closed) Zuma's Electronic C@fe, had a column about the Internet in the Sunday edition of the local newspaper, was a Brownie leader for my daughter's troop, taught Electronic Typography at the local community college, appear on the local radio stations now and then, helped found the New Mexico Internet Professionals Association, am madly in love with the best designer in the state (probably the country) (probably the world). In the past few years I have taken to teaching Shakespeare classes and leading monthly readings; I wrote a book about the woman who I believe may have written the works attributed to Shakespeare; founded the Mary Sidney Society; have had time to travel the world and ride elephants, camels, rickshaws, and zip-lines; I study death and joyful Stoicism and I mosaic as often as possible and I continue to write columns and articles and books.
But now my kids have all moved out and are doing incredibly great, so in 2010 I went back to school in London and got a Masters in Shakespearean Authorship (I'm the first American with a postgrad degree in this subject) and am starting work on a doctorate! Gads, I'm so excited! I am so blessed to have been able to create such a terrific life.
Scarlett is now 24, Jimmy is 28, and Ryan is 32. I haven't been bored.