I’m still figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. Between my undergraduate years at Hamilton College outside of Utica, New York, and my graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh, I have spent time studying English, psychology, art history, and even chemistry, and outside of academia, I have worked as a paralegal and a therapist. Although my search for a career has taken me down many different paths, literally and figuratively, there are certain things that have always been very important to me. I have, for instance, always know a love of stories, a love of art, and a love of food. I have vivid memories from my childhood of visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art with my grandparents, and I also remember the voices my dad did when he read to me from The House at Pooh Corner when I was little.
Of the three, cooking was perhaps the most important to me. I have loved cooking since I could hold a spoon. My father and my grandfather both loved to cook, and initially, cooking was how I connected with my father. From the time I was little, Saturdays would be our days to cook. I grew up outside of Boston in a little coastal resort town called Marble Head. It was an interesting place to grow up because you had a lot of people with lots of money, a very strong middle class, and it also had fishermen who are barely making a living. But all of these factors also contributed to a great food shopping community. Sure, we had supermarkets, but we also had the small specialized food shops. On Saturdays I would go with my dad to the fishmonger and the baker, and the butcher and so many other specialty food stores. We would go to upwards of ten different places to get all the supplies we needed. By the time we had home and cooked with all of these supplies, it had become a day-long food preparation extravaganza almost every week. It was my love of cooking that actually lead me to write Aftertaste, my first novel.
Another love of mine that has always been present in everything I have done is people. Many people would think that being a paralegal is unimaginative work, but as I gathered and distilled information from clients, I learned their stories. Out of undergrad, I was a legal assistant law firm in Boston. I was assigned specifically to cases of clients who were sick and the dying. I did lots of deathbed interviews, and as a 24-year old woman right out of school, this was a lot to handle. After all, what did I know about loss? What did I know about illness? It was fascinating because I learned a lot and it piqued my interest in people’s stories, and the psychological tools we use to grapple with those things. This helped direct me not only to my eventual graduate studies and work in psychology, but also given me many ideas for books, including the book I am working on right now.
While I may still be figuring out what I want to be when I grow up, I know that all of the stories circulating in my head are far from told. I am looking forward to writing about my great grandparents, who were among the sculptors who made the Lincoln Memorial; and about life in Marble Head; and about many other things. Most of what I have seen and experienced in my life is stories waiting for me to tell.