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Personal History for D. G. Fulford

Just The Facts

In a few pages, what is summary of your life story?

I will begin by telling you who I was eighteen years ago. I will do this because I have a written statement in front of me and what could be easier than starting out with something I already wrote? Ease in everything, my friends and future relatives.

I had just gotten a job as a columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News-- a proud and fulfilling segment of my life -- and I was asked to write an introductory column.

Here are the facts, as they stood then. D.G. on the cusp of a new career, circa 1988.

And I quote. From myself.

I am a writer. I'm a painter, too. I have a daughter and a dog. I have two cats who are sisters and four new tires on my car.

I hail From Ohio. I hate sports except for rodeo. I love country music. My favorite Beatle was Ringo, although if asked now, I would say John. If I had to pick one character that I'm most like in "The Big Chill," it would be William Hurt. My favorite movie is "Midnight Cowboy." I have a little of the Ratso Rizzo in me, too.

All of my friends are best friends. I see no reason to have any other kind. I read all the time. My drink is Bud Light; my candy bar, Snickers. I have two brothers I would die for. I think kindness beats meanness hands down.

I want "Up On The Roof" played at my funeral -- the version by the Drifters. I have nothing against James Taylor, it's just the Drifters did it better.

I am a recluse who enjoys nothing more than a night on the town. I like a quiet house but a loud car radio.

I always think I left the coffee pot on, and I always go back to check it. I was given the Still Crazy After All These Years award at my 20th high school reunion, but I consider myself intense and serious.

I would rather be hot than be cold. I like to eat alone. My favorite author these days is Ann Lamott. My favorite painter these days is Alice Neel. I mourned her passing but I try to emulate her living.

I hate jokes and games. I do like the wooden pieces in Scrabble, though. My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, but I', partial to St. Patrick's Day, too.

I love my electric blanket. I wear Obsession cologne. I throw salt over my left shoulder whether I spill it or not.

I cry at award shows. Pretense infuriates me. I have bad dreams about haircuts. I am loyal and trustworthy.

I would not get on a scale if it were the last piece of dry land in a shark - infested sea. Every time I go to a restaurant, I order the same thing.

I enjoy cussing. I think heavy metal music is funny. My ideal man is Waylon Jennings. My ideal woman is Colleen Dewhurst. My ideal child is my own.

I am not a gardener, but I've tried my hand at growing ornamental corn. If someone tries to talk to me about numbers and insurance, my eyes roll around backward in my head.

I like lawn ornaments. I believe in an eye for an eye. I considered naming my child Honesty or Desperado.

I didn't.

I value truth and good humor. I honor memory and hope. I try as hard as I can. You can count on me.

OK, here I am, me now, back in 2006. I plan to update and explore, but much of 1988 holds water. Who I was tells a great deal about who I am.

What is your name (first, middle, maiden name, last)? Do you like your name? If you could, would you choose another? What name would you choose? Who were you named for?

My name is D.G. Fulford. The D.G. stands for Deborah Greene. That should help those who wonder if I'm male or female.

About that Deborah -- no one calls me Deborah except Carol Klein, my mentor in creativity. People used to know me as Debby -- Debby with a Y, please -- but I changed to D.G. the first second I got a professional byline. Having been one of the 35 million or so Debbys, Debbies and Debbis born when I was, really, can you blame me?

My father named me Deborah. He knew a girl named Deborah Grubb in high school and liked the way the name sounded. I never heard the melodious tone he did with Grubb and Greene, but there you have it. I'm back in my hometown now, so people still call me Debby. My poor mom fumbles trying to both introduce and please me.

"You know our daughter, " she says even though my Dad's been gone for seven years. " D.G. Fulford Debby Greene."

I even do this myself. "Hi, I'm Debby Greene D.G. Fulford."

Of course, they'll say. Are you -- and they name one of the many male Fulfords who still live in town. I tell them, no, I used to be married to their cousin.

Do you speak any foreign languages?

I speak fluent Baby and Dog. The two languages are nearly identical, except Dog is a little higher in pitch. Dogs can hear the higher frequencies, as you know.

Your Family and Ancestry

Where was your mother born? Where was your father born? What circumstances brought your parents to the place where you were born? Were there people already there whom they knew, or did they come into the community alone? Was the community welcoming to them?

My mother has this well - documented. My children's children's children will have the lucky chance to read her work. But the Fulfords, my family of last names of record are undergoing a reality TV , guilt by association moment. The BBC, British Broadcasting System which some cable people can get has a new fall series called The F**ing Fulfords. This strikes me as very funny, but I'm not sure how I would feel if I were Uncle Al.

If you could do anything differently about your family, what would it be?

I'd make it last longer.


Did you have a nickname? How did you get it? Has it stuck with you?

Our dinner table growing up was a suburban branch of the Algonquin Round Table. Everyone in my family is smart and funny, and the leader of the smart and funny was my Dad. Smart and funny were survivor skills; amusing, instructive survival skills. You had to work to be smart and funny enough to get the joke.

My father used to call me Lucrezia Borgia.
Who is LucreSHA Borgia, I'd say.
Lucreeeeeeezzzzzzzia Borgia. Lucreeeeeeezzzzzia Borgia. My father became operatic when he said her name, complete with pronunciation correction.
Lucreeeeeeezzzzia Borgia, he'd say to the harsh and cutting side of me. Lucrezia Borgia was the most terrible, awful, meanest woman in all the history of the world.
And we'd laugh. And I'll never forget this snapshot into my life and my formative years. My father educating me in both history and humor, considering me a premie equal at the opposite end of the table. He gave me the coin of our Bryden Road realm.

In high school I nicknamed myself Marlboro Greene after the new menthol on the market. Now , was there any doubt that I'd find myself in the wild west someday?

Elementary School Years

Do you remember having to stand up in front of the class to read a paper or a story?

We used to have room programs at school. I usually got a fairly good part; my favorite being Molly Malone in fourth grade with my still friend David Krakoff co-starring as my Irish lad. Perhaps the most racy was my Hawaiian number, I may have sung a solo to Bobby Smith, or maybe he sang it to me in the sixth grade, but I think I wore a hula skirt. My first public performance was in the first grade.

I sang an original number.
I called it "Shoes."
It went a little something like this.

Shoes are brown,
Shoes are white.
Shoes are heavy,
Shoes are light!

Shoes for loafing,
Shoes for play....
Shoes for

Pretty good song. Should have been proud. But I sang the entire song, complete with piano accompaniment by the brilliant Mrs. Hilliard, with my head at a right angle to my neck, superglued by tense six-year-old nerves to my right shoulder. Sideways head. I think I did better at the Mother's Day room program. I'll sing that song for you another time.

Holidays and Celebrations

Do you like your birthday or dread it? What birthday do you remember the most?

May 9 is the birthday of Billy Joel, Candace Bergen, the Alice in Wonderland guy, Kenny Stone and me. Kenny died sometime during the night last night. He was 58. I am 56. I have known him from the second grade on.

And I believe I'll choose him as my Guardian Angel for the next little while.
The Donald Trump of the Homeless, the musical instrument in human form, the twinkling, bee-bopping, blue-eyed man who would look you -- ME! -- in the face and get it and recall it and be so hep that he was the heppest cool Jewish cat from fourth grade on..

Kenny Stone, my birthday boy, how glad I am we connected and electrified and laughed when they played Neil Diamond instead of Neil Young, Kenny, May 9 will not be the same without you, but since you are my chosen Guardian Angel now, I have the vibratory image of your twinkling smiling face on May 9, with Billy Joel, for the rest of my life.

How did you celebrate Easter or Passover?

When I was four or five, I believed that the song HERE COMES PETER COTTONTAIL ( Hoppin' Down The Bunny trail) was MY song. Not as in my favorite song. It was more of an ownership thing. Maybe my brothers could listen to it on our 78 with the purple label , but only I could sing it. Me and Fran Allison, of course, who sang it on the record. The B side was something about a stairway.

I would sing it and I would sing it; I see myself at the back of our driveway singing it, and then hearing a agonizing echo coming from the backyard. My brother was ambling around to the back door singing -- maybe even humming -- my possession, Bunny Trail. I burst into tears. Became inconsolable. Wanted my Mom and my Dad to punish him. Over the years, I didn't get better. I accused my former husband of thinking he owned the Beatles.

High School

Is there anything you would like to add about your high school years? Perhaps the best day of your high school years?

Terry Connor coming to pick me up in a Mustang on a spring-like Ash Wednesday. He had ashes on his forehead. I didn't know why until later. So he had a smudge on his forehead. It was ME he came to get. Makes me happy still.


Describe your career.

My writing career began when I was a junior secretary / receptionist at a Christian and Humanitarian advertising agency in Pasadena, California. This was smack in the middle of the 80's --my daughter was in third grade. Now that I think about it, this is already a bygone era, when lavish office Christmas parties and bonuses were the order of the day. Our boss wrote each employee a note on their birthday; I got something about my smiling face at the reception desk, along with words of wisdom for a successful life. I became quite friendly with Cathy; senior secretary to my junior, but younger than me and wild tons of fun. Work was like play, in those days; an extension of high school after college.

Cathy put out an office newsletter called the Weekly Reider. ( We worked for the Russ Reid company.) She offered me a chance to write for the Reider, which we then made crazy and funny. I loved doing it and would write interviews and bulletins in longhand between the ringing of the phones. I became known as a good writer, so they let me take the writing course for a copywriter job. The work was writing mail order pleas, and I didn't have the knack.

At this time, one of my many crossroads, Pasadena Weekly, the cool, alternative paper in town ran an ad : Looking For A Few Good Pens. I took the only clips I had, those from the Weekly Reider, and met with a guy named Geary who hired me on the spot. This was an intern job at first; an internship for a 35 year old woman. It was at that point in my life I found what I was good at. Eventually I became a staff member, and , honestly came to life. I worked with the perfect group of bright, hilarious, curious, open, eager and nerdishly cool proud journalists. This was a defining moment in my life. Suddenly, finally, I found where I belonged.

I wrote for the Pasadena/Altadena Weekly (three stories a week, a ten page cover story every three weeks, and the calendar section until we got another intern) for four years until it changed the way it did business, and all we loving staffers floated off into the night. I freelanced some and worried, learning the sad, scary lesson that writing is nothing to count on, and then the thing that never happens to anybody happened to me. The editor of the Los Angeles Daily News phoned and said they were thinking of hiring a columnist.

I had never driven on the freeway (one of my then prevalent phobias) had never used a computer, and had never been in a real big city newsroom. Yet I was to come in for a three week audition; four personal columns a week.

I got the job. This was Nirvana for me. I enjoyed the writing, and happily, so did the readers. I enjoyed them. It worked wonders for my professional ego and became a great answer to, "Hello, what is your name and what do you do?"

Seven years of that, and that identification. Meanwhile, I wrote To Our Children's Children: Preserving Family Histories For Generations to Come with my brother, at which point my career branched out into books, a one-book bookstore, teaching, talking and, then, the logical progression of What an exciting, interesting place to be, here in the almost-spring of 2006.

Were you ever the boss? Would you have wanted to be? Did you ever run your own business? How did it start?

I am the boss of me, which is the only kind of corporate ladder I could ever be on. I have had bosses, as well as benign employers, but I've always considered every job as "working for myself," knowing I have my own best interests in mind.

After Los Angeles ran out of reasons, I moved to Virginia City, a ghost town in Northern Nevada which made perfect sense at the time. I had fallen in love with an East Coast friend's retreat-like lifestyle -- the walk to the post office, the everybody knows everybody, the ease of living, the art life, and thought I could reinterpret it on top of a mountain.

I figured I'd be Yosemite Sam to her Popeye. I bought a house with a man I loved on D Street, one street down from the bustling C street where unhappy families walked up and down the authentic wooden sidewalks eating ice cream in the winter, and fudge.

After an hour and a half visit to picturesque Storey County with its train whistles and church bells and gold pilings left from silver mines -- the last time the place had been profitable in 1859 --we decided to make our move. I had prayed on it in the legendary St. Mary's Church in the entire-town-historic-register VC, and woke up the next day thinking. Historical? Family history! Fate found a house with a shop attached -- it had been a one chair beauty salon -- and my one-book bookstore was born. So started an interesting segment of my life; my years as a ghost.

Romance and Relationships

Describe your search for love.

My search for love never yielded love. I've decided to let love search for me.


What are some of the memorable things that each child said? Some things that amused or pleased you, or still sticks in your mind?

"When I grow up, I want to be a Mommy and have long beautiful hair and say Damn It."

What did your children call you? Basic "Mommy" and "Daddy" or something more unusual?

For awhile there, believe it or not, "Mommio" and "Daddio". We didn't coach her, she was just born hep.

The House You Raised Your Family In

Was the house you raised your family in big enough for all of you? Did your kids share a room?

The house I raised my family in for the first five years was the most adorable home, precision painted the perfect go-together rust- red and yellow with green accents and shutters. It had a front stoop and was bought to flip by an Army couple with a talent for clean, inviting and cozy. Absolutely perfect for non-do-it-yourselfers with a baby on the way. Even the lavatory wastebasket was covered in lavatory wallpaper.

My husband (former husband now) saw this house on his way to work, and, basically, bought it before I saw it. I acted huffy about that for awhile, but once I saw the house I knew it was where we could happily live. In fact, that real estate transaction spoiled me for the agonizing ones to follow. Sight unseen and searched for, the perfect home was ours, and sold, when it was time, to the first person who saw it. Living room with brick fireplace, dining room with built in cupboards, fresh-picked perfect pitch wallpaper -- more detailed-out than painted.

We were a good family in that house. I was mother - a mime, if I go with full disclosure here, an artist, yet to become a writer and my husband was father - banker - musician- my love. Our daughter was the baby friend sent to us to join in all our reindeer games.

Did you ever move? Was that particularly hard on anyone?

We did move, to California, and that was hard on all of us -- grandparents , great-grandparents included --in numerous ways. Our daughter -- four and a half years old when we told her we would be moving, started picking up every little speck of paper on the carpet of her room, and lining her dolls and animals up on the shelf as rigidly and evenly spaced as a store display.

This was a good career move for my husband, and, eventually adventageous for all of us, but it was wrenching for me to leave home. I didn't even like camp as a child! I protested, naturally, but realized leaving was a given. I told John, "If you want to go roller-skating with Cher, you can go roller-skating with Cher, but leave me out of it." Obviously, this was in the early '80s. And our life was noticably un-Cher-like.

My Mom flew with our daughter, our Scottie Ddog, Ike and me. She would help us move in. My Dad, who I had never seen cry, had tears in his eyes at the airport. I spilled a Bloody Mary on my lap the first hour of the trip, a precursor of my mood for the first few years there. I was isolated and lonesome, and considered California to be good practice for death. I couldn't see or talk to my loved ones, who were too many time zones away.

What was your address? What was your phone number? What color was the house? Was your house a one-story or two-story, stone, wood or brick? Did you have a garage? What was the floor plan? Can you envision each room and certain things that went on there? What was the view out your front window?

We moved to North Maiden Lane in Altadena, California. This house satisfied my need for funkiness -- a shoebox shaped home at the end of a long wooded driveway, fronted by iron gates. Huge trees and magnolia bushes lined both sides of the narrow drive, making the house invisible from the street. In fact, when I sold it, our openhouse had more visitors than the realtor remembered at any other opening. People were curious about what was down there.

I remember reporting back to Ohio that it was "cabinny in feel." The setting was much more Michigan than California. My Nana had an oil painting (I have it now) that I had always coveted. A little girl dressed in red playing with a yellow ball on a narrow path sided by tall blue trees. I wonder now if this painting didn't play some prescient part in my landing where I did.

The house was almost as strange as the setting. The "master bedroom" was attached to the Jack and Jill children's rooms, so we made our own master in the front of the house. It had built in bookshelves and a built in desk and a wooden wall --pocket doors -- that slid open to the living room. I learned, upon moving out that it had been built as a music studio that held a piano. Our bed was a "California King" -- something I had never heard of, but hard to buy sheets for back in the Midwest!

Each room had built in dressers, the kitchen was small, but what did I care? I never knew the oven thermostat didn't operate until a Russian repairman told me ten years later when the oven shut down a day before Thanksgiving. Shoji screens hid the kitchen, and the washer/dryer/litterbox room behind it; a room my husband later used for his first computer. The dining area was separated from the living room by an indoor grill, where we put our first microwave. The living room looked out over a valley and onto the mountains. We eventually built a lovely deck with a hot tub, and added beautiful landscaping; all which went to pot after we separated. At that pointed I painted the deck a circus-like pink and green.

There was a playhouse in the back, and a room with a sauna out the front door. This was a magical, mystical place to live. A place you went "phseew" every time you drove into the driveway. We loved it, we did.


What personal staples are always and always in your kitchen or refrigerator?

I have zero imagination when it comes to food, and I hate to go to the grocery store, so throughout my life, I have tended to eat the same thing every day for lunch. I have a harder time with dinner, so mostly it becomes a variation of lunch.

Here are my current must-have-on-hands:

Blueberries (saw on Oprah that they are the perfect food)
Kroger's Private Selection Oven Roasted Turkey Breast sliced/ shredded "falling apart"
Apples (much of the fruit goes uneaten, I admit)
Alpine Reduced Fat Swiss Cheese
Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter
Dannon Light'n Fit yogurt vanilla)
Green Tea (another Oprah suggestion)
Land O' Lakes Fat Free Half and Half
Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper
Snausages for you know who.

I am forced to go to the grocery when I'm nearly out of water, but I'll put it off and off and off.

One of my favorite things in a book ever is the must-have grocery list Erica Jong wrote in Any Woman's Blues:

"Raisin bran, milk, bananas, coffee, apples, sliced turkey, rye bread, tuna fish, butter cookies, chocolate ice cream. aspirin, Valium, yogurt"

New must haves:
Greek Yogurt
Blueberries, red raspberries, bananas
Hard boiled eggs
String cheese
Almonds, walnuts, raisins,
Coke Zero
Special K waffles
And Snausages for you know who.

If you have a dog, it probably has a Kong, and you know how nicely Snausages fit. And if you have a dog like mine, you know how quickly Kong can become an obsession.

Politics and History

How have your political views changed over time? Have you become more passionate and political or do you kind of just ignore politics nowadays?

So I'm reading along in the paper this morning, when I come to the vile headline : Bin Laden calls for long fight with West.

This was more like a throw down than a headline. I try to skirt the negative as much as I can, but I had to see what more Osama had to say. I read along.
And then I came to this description about ObL.

"The 49-year-old Saudi had beeen silent more than a year." Forty-nine? Osama bin Ladin is 49? Doesn't he look older to you?

I may be the only person in the world who didn't know this, but it fulfilled my news nose for the day.

Osama was in Kindergarten when I was in Junior High. Little baby.

Your House Now

What is the most comfortable room in your home? What is your favorite chair? Favorite place to read? Where do you usually sit to talk on the phone? Where do you usually do your computer work?

Everyone ends up in a chair. Life leads you to that place to spend the day and evening; a cockpit with armreach access to phone, remote and reading materials, to clock, to address book, medications and water, to a place to throw the newspaper and the table where you like to take your meals. Your spot, where you can be found, comfortable in your chair.

There's a house across the catty-corner street from me, that has felt little life since I've been here, a year and a half. The shades are drawn all day -- they are in most houses on the street, I find -- but these closed drapes felt different than the others.

One day, in the winter, I saw an old lady bring her garbage can to the curb on waste management night. She turned around and went straight back indoors, and I never saw her since. Her drapes never moved, either. One day they did. That day a younger woman, a daughter she seemed, was taking in some air in the the frontyard. It looked like she ws there for the weekend. I saw some vans at the house a few days ago. And by trash day, I could tell what had happened. The old woman's belongings were at the curb, waiting for pick-up. There were lots and lots of garbage bags, boxes, and a yellow chair -- a faded and worn yellow chair, sitting, waiting at the curb.

This chair. This logical progression both broke my heart and gave me an image of a lifespan. A worn chair, sitting there. Although it's empty, it's not empty at all.

What do you see from your kitchen window?

I have one tree in my backyard and it has been struck by lightning. We had some freak thunderstorms last month. I heard crashes and booms in the middle of the night, but didn't think much of it. Then, looking out my kitchen window in the last few weeks, I noticed a raw chunk in the trunk of my only tree, and limbs that looked dark and claw-like. It has just gotten nice enough to step outside and breathe, and when I did I took closer look. It was dark, burnt, black; a charred branch hanging over into my neighbor's yard like an intruder in a grim reaper costume.

This tree stands in the corner of my yard, smack up against the privacy fence I had built when I moved in. The fence has singe marks, and a few bites taken out.

What could have been and wasn't!

I'm calling tree chopper- downers and getting estimates, which I can ill afford. I'm smiling about the lightning, though. What a message, what a sign. We don't know how lucky we are at times. We sleep through the reminders. I have my yard, I have my fence, I have my privacy behind it. And I didn't burn my neighbors down. Hallaloo.


Where were you when your child told you that you were going to be a grandparent? What were your first words?

I was teaching a class at Thurber House, the house in Columbus, Ohio where James Thurber grew up. I was praying that the call was from my realtor. My house was for sale – and had been for sale – and I hoped he had good news – any news -- for me.

‘Hey, I thought you couldn’t take calls,? yelled Tyler, thrusting his shoulder from its socket at a 45 degree angle, his hand waving at the end of his arm like a neon flag at a used car lot.

I had no idea whether you could take calls.

“Hello,? I said into my cellphone, in the tentative manner of one not used to receiving cellphone calls.

‘Hello,? my daughter said.

My daughter lives on the West Coast. I live in the Midwest. We have been long distance to each other for much too long.

“Oh! Hello! It’s my daughter!? I said pointing the cellphone at my Saturday writing class. These were foutrth , fifth and sixth graders learning to write family history. I felt proud to prove to them I actually had family.

“ Say, ‘Hi!’

“HIIIIIIIIiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii,?they said, delighted with mass opportunity to yell.

I smiled back into the phone.

“I’m in class,? I said to my daughter

“I’ll talk to you later,? my daughter said.

“Is everything alright??

“I‘ll talk to you later,“ repeated my daughter.

“No, what? You can talk to me now.? I walked into the hallway and shut the door behind me.

“Are you out of the class??

“I’m out of the class.?

“I took a home pregnancy test and it had a faint line of yes.?

Who called you from the hospital to tell you your first grandchild was born? What time was it? Who was the first person you called?

We were all waiting with bated breath -- my former husband, his wife, my Mom, my son-in-law’s parents. My daughter had a Cesearian scheduled because the baby --we knew he was a boy -- was in breech position. He would be born in the Pacific Time Zone, I waited in the Eastern Time Zone, and could have walked from Ohio to California in the time it was taking to get the call. We knew she was scheduled for an early delivery, so what was wrong? My ex husband and his wife and I called each other constantly -- What was going on? Have you heard anything? ? Ai yi yi --I called my Mom to say "nothing yet" then we jumped off the phone like June bugs, as if call-waiting had never been invented. Cellphone at my left, cordless at my right, our family formed a coast to coast waiting room with frozen stomachs.

Then the phone rang. All was well. Boo Boo was here to add another beautiful link to our chain. I called my Mom, and then the Fulfords who were just ready to call me. We laughed about who heard what first; suddenly investigative reporters instead of grandparents to be. And then I dropped to my knees, thanking God for our blessed miracle. So, I guess you could say I called God third, but I had been talking to Him all along.

What did you think the first time you held your grandchild?

I finally got to California when my grandson was five weeks old. Other grandmothers in my 'hood thought this was scandalous. I got in at night.

Of course the cab driver had trouble finding their lane and of course I had no instructions for him. I had been there many times, but was out of my element (CVS, Kroger’s and the library) I have no sense of direction. We got there. It was late.

My daughter and her husband stood in the doorway, looking so tired they looked like a New Yorker cartoon about tired new parents. The baby was asleep and we were not allowed to wake him. But we could tip toe in and take the quietest of looks. He was swaddled, which lwas a new old one to me. My daughter was the first and, for the most part, last baby I ever held.

I steeled myself to quiet my emotions and looked down into the co-sleeper -- again, new to me -- and felt the physical jolt you get when you see a movie star. There he was -- the guy I had been staring at in Internet photographs sent by his father. They had been special issue grandmother/ baby People magazines, and there he was -- in the round! -- so familiar and glowing. Oh, my baby boy, I know we’ve met somewhere before.

It did not take an instant, not even the time it took his image to reach my retina, that I knew I was looking at my very own family, miraculously grown, and the precise right beautiful swaddled baby who I would get to love for the rest of my life.

Moods, Attitudes and Philosophies

Do you like rainy days? What do you do on them?

I am answering this question and question 8 to see if the ten minute time save works...I know I have been remiss about writing here in my bio -- I'm writing and doing lots of things , just like you all, so I get the not getting to it part, big time. But once you are here,

Did you ever follow instinct instead of logic or judgment?

I tend to act with "irrational exuberance," which I've learned to equate with hope. Hope is a must-have. I am learning to put a governor on the "irrational" aspect, but preserve the exuberance. Pray to God and row to shore. Live on hope and tomorrow.

I think I can. I think I can. I know I can, I hope.

What are you like when you're sick? Do you like being taken care of or left alone? Have you ever had a bad diagnosis?

I'm not sure I'm being anthromorphically correct here, but when I'm sick, I'm like an elephant going to the elephant graveyard. I get myself to my bed and my covers, and if I could, I would unplug the phone. I am Howard Hughes-like about cold germs -- among my mileu I'm known to get particularly bad colds, as does Jackie Isaac.

A week-long, undeniable, head-filling cold is always preceded by what my family refers to as T.H.E. sore throat. A sore throat so feared that we dare not speaketh its name. I fear colds so much I can remember where I was when T.H.E. sore throats struck like I know where I was when JFK got shot, and the December night of John Lennon. I was in the checkout line of a supermarket once; hadn't had the cold when I when in there but it struck as I was going out. It's as if all the blood drains from my head and hands and that is it for me. I can remember a T.H. E. coming on in the middle of Mr. Celler's sophomore algebra class. I was standing at the drinking fountain. I knew that as much as I had concentrated for the first half of class, it was over when T.H.E. hit. I remember thinking, I can catch up, foreseeing the rest of the week and weekend in bed.

Am I afraid to go to the doctor? Yes, and mostly because I hate it when they weigh you. And look at your weight from last time. I don't want to know my weight -- I always give myself five extra pounds for coffee -- and I certainly don't want to discuss it with them.

What's your pet peeve?

I hate the phrase "pet peeve."

Do you consider yourself hard working or lazy? Are you patient or impatient? Do you consider yourself a Type A or more kicked back personality? How has your personality and temperament changed through the years? Any special circumstances where you changed because something dawned on you?

Something dawns on me every day.

Are you easy or difficult to get along with?

I think I am an amalgam of both. I am a very agreeable person and pleasant in my dealings, a decent, if somehat eccentric sort, but you wouldn't want to live with me. My attempts in that area have not ended happily. Well, yes they have. Happily for me.

What character trait have you seen in someone else that you might like to emulate?

I would like to glow like my mother.

How private are you? Do you live with an open door policy or is your home your private sanctuary?

I'm more private than private. I keep a Visitor Badge on the chest of drawers right when you -- I -- come in the door.

Hard Questions

What was your proudest moment in life? Second and third proudest moments?

I consider myself an evangelist of family history, a Johnny Appleseed spreading the good word about the writing, the giving and receiving of this gift. I took my sermons to the mountains of Northern Nevada. With help, I opened a one book bookstore. In a ghost town.

Who sees something wrong with this business plan?

The first day of business was Historic Day, a large deal in Virginia City, which is also known for its Chili Cook-Offs, Mountain Oyster Festivals ( fried testicles, ) and camel races.

Historic Day had some gravitas to it. Joe Page's house was on tour, and I knew that would be a popular draw. I didn't want all the hordes from Joe's house to rush up the steps up to the house, instead of down the stairs to the shop, which had originally been a one chair beauty salon.

I was good to go for Opening Day. I wore a dated red mail order dress and Nana's watch. I had practiced using the cash register and the credit card swiper -- I'd been given written directions; first you do this, then you do this, but I still was no master. I stayed in the shop with a smile on my face from 9:00 until 6:00. Some people might have stuck their heads in on the way to the Fourth Ward School and Museum, which was two "blocks" and a dusty climb from my house down on D Street. I had failed to notice when jumping into this venture that any action you were going to get, you were going to get on C Street.

I did sell one book that day. I got the money wrong three times, before the son of the woman figured it out for me. I was ashamed of myself. When my loved ones called to inquire and speak enthusiastically with me, I could not lift my voice above a whisper. I told them I had no sense of humor about this, so please, please no jokes.

So why, again, was this my proudest moment? It was not this specific moment -- this specific moment I was being hit with the economic reality of my one book bookstore in a ghost town in Northern Nevada, and the immediate sinkhole stomach recognition that I once again had leapt before I looked in a very big way. However, as I say, I am an evangelist for writing family history and this was the pulpit I worked from for a very interesting three years. A big adventure for PeeWee, and of that, I am proud.

What has held your emotional stability together through the years?


Heavy Questions

Any secrets that you don't mind sharing now?

Even though James Taylor's version of "Up On The Roof" is not the one I want played at my funeral, I still adore James and his musical philosophy "The secret of life is enjoying the passing of time."

Amen, James.

My secret of my life is reading in bed. No matter where I've lived, no matter which decade I decipher, my most peaceful moments have been in the morning with the paper and coffee, or in the evening ( early, early, early evening!) with a selection of magazines and novels and nonfiction work surrounding me like a big Whitman's Sampler of words.

I sound like a ton of fun, now don't I?

The meaning of my life? Yet to be revealed and I'm keeping my eyes open. Disregard that "finally" in the question above.

The secret of life, though? Peace and quiet have gotten me through, comfort and safety have been mine in my nest with the light on. Oh, and my little dog, too. She's always there.