"There's a crack in everything. It's how the light gets in."—Leonard Cohen
I was born on the island of Taiwan to a Chinese mother and a Mexican-American father who fell in love with each other at an illegal gambling den. At the age of two, I moved to the United States, then moved again and again. I was a Navy brat and that's what life is like for Navy brats. By the time I was 8, I had lived in Taipei, Taiwan; Corpus Christi, Texas; Long Beach, then Hawthorne, California; and East San Diego. The latter was the first place I was called names. If a kid saw me with my mom, they might call me Chink. If they saw me with my dad, they might call me wetback. Yep, it was a lovely place. Miraculously it didn't damage my self-esteem. Not that it didn't affect me at all. When I had a crush on a guy, I'd always make sure he saw me from a 3/4 angle—that way my nose looked slimmer and less ethnic.
When I was in eighth grade my dad was assigned to a Nato base in Izmir, Turkey. My sister, brother and I did not want to go. Two years later when our tour was up— we'd lived with rationed water & electricity and without television, we survived a military coup d'etat and bombings, the death o fAmericans and one of our school buses held hostage by terrorists—we strangely did not want to come back. A sense of community is that powerful. But we did come back. After high school I went to college. At UCLA I got a bachelors in psychology, but what shaped me more was: tutoring youth incarcerated in maximum security prisons (I learned a lot about the effects of circumstance and more about how to inspire people); and, working on a crisis intervention hotline, counseling depressed and suicidal callers plus the occasional loser who didn't want to pay for phone sex so used us instead; and, let's not forget the music. It was Los Angeles in the eighties. I skipped class to see 10,000 Maniacs, X, The English Beat, Everything But The Girl. People moan that poetry is dead but it's not, it's just set to music nowadays...thank you Nick Cave, thank you Leonard Cohen...
I went to Harvard after that. I thought it would be cool to change the world. I started studying education & social policy there. I thought I wanted to be Secretary of Education for the United States. I visited my boyfriend Tim (back when Tim was dating girls) every other Friday thru Sunday in NYC while he was going to NYU graduate film school. I sat in his classes and thought People can go to school for something as fun as this? The writing bug kicked in then. The fact that I was reading Camus and Tom Wolfe and Anne Sexton helped, too. I finished my masters at Harvard, but I realized I didn't want to change the world as much as I wanted to just change my world. I got into UCLA graduate film school in screenwriting. I won a lot of awards. The most by a student ever. More importantly, I met the love of my life, Samuel W. Gailey, and we started writing—among other things—together. (By the way I'm still best friends with my ex Tim and that relationship is informing my next book).
We wrote scripts for TV & Films with mild success but came close a few times to the big time. Over the next decade I did some extensive traveling to India, France & Spain, we got married and we had a baby girl. We became tired of pitching our hearts out and making money one year then none the next. So, I switched to writing columns & essays for magazines then books while helping brands set up editorial platforms. We also moved to a remote and rural island in the Pacific Northwest where I am now finishing my next book, a novel I call The Heart It Races; helping other writers succeed; building a literary festival, and ruminating on whatever else you see on this site. And, I have no idea how my story will end...
The Story Behind The Honest Q & A
As a screenwriter then a magazine writer I loved conducting Q & A's with interesting women who were doing interesting things. But there was always an unspoken agenda. Make them seem cool. Make women want to aspire to be them. Don't show too many flaws and don't delve too deep. But I always knew there must be pain and personal sacrifice on their path to where they got. I wanted to see that whole woman, more of that whole picture. As my first Q & A subject said, if I can help one woman by exposing a little of my pain, then it is worth it. So, you may still aspire to be these passionate women you'll find on these pages, but you'll also know the little and big things that might make life or their creative pursuits more challenging than you think.
To view a list of my writing, book & editorial/branding projects visit my PROJECTS page.