Funny, storyteller, TEXan
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I seem to be a product of three processes: my innate nature; the roles and expectations placed upon me by family and society; and, the circumstances of my formative years. My nature is to be an observer, a point of view from which I have lived a life with rich internal life. As a third grader, I literally narrated myself walking down a street. “She walked to school next to her friend, dragging her fingers along the chain link fence. Spying a man sitting on the playground swing set, and she wondered what his life was like. Her friend quickened her step and she hurried to keep up…”
The role given to me in life was to be a leader, having been born the oldest of three girls. My circumstances were determined by the fact that we moved from town to town frequently. I lived during my formative years in a small town, on a military base, and in a number of suburbs, mostly in Texas. Do you every wonder if you would be a different person if the roles placed on you and the circumstances of your life were different?
My family is deeply rooted in Texas, but my dad was an officer in the Air Force, so I grew up like a pointless tumble weed. In those days, Air Force families were transferred every two years, and only once did we live on or near a base, so I was not around other military kids. I don’t know how they coped with the frequent moving. In my case, I developed a rather cock-eyed view of the world.
Every time I began a new school, I was the outsider. With a jaundiced eye, I stood off to the side watching the interpersonal mayhem unfold, all of which seemed to be taken so seriously by those involved. What seemed to be a life-and-death matter to others struck me as haphazardly comical. It was as though the authorities in each high school endeavored to instill the idea into their wards that their school was the greatest place to be on the planet. This process of socialization began in kindergarten and intensified until it reached a fever-pitch in high school. I imagined that the authorities did this to keep the teens from running amok.
I can understand why the authorities engaged in these endeavors. Teens are in danger of becoming rather energetic anarchists at the drop of a hat, you know. Pep rallies were staged to gin up students into a frenzy of belief: that their school, their town, their state, their country was the best school, town, state, country in the world. Statistically, this matrix seemed to work on the student body in a bell-shaped curve distribution pattern. Most of the high school student body fell in the middle of that curve, seeming to spend their four-year prison term dazed and confused, but I was an outlier, way off the bell-shaped curve of socialization.
Afterall, I knew it would be “adios” in 24 months, and to me the whole high school scene seemed twisted silly. From this sort of accidental upbringing, this messy confluence of nature and nurture, I developed a wicked sense of humor, which comes out in my writing.
Duckett Delivered was inspired after my husband, teenage son and I moved to the mountains of rural North Georgia. Shades of Chevy Chase’s movie, Funny Farm! Accustomed to the predictability of the suburbs, we experienced an unexpected culture shock. Unforeseen by us, our house needed quite a bit of repairs, and we came to know a number of local characters who more or less worked to set our home aright. While they struck us as eccentric and odd, I found them loyal, honest, and endearing. Well, most of them anyway. While Duckett Delivered is not the story of a naïve, suburbanized family moving to the country, it was inspired by the characters we met and the haphazard accidents of nature we encountered.
For much of the time I lived in the mountains, I felt the confusion and disorientation of Alice trying to make sense of Wonderland. After we moved back to the predictability of civilization, I began to write. It was an exorcism, a kind of self-therapy. And it worked. You know what they say: “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
Now on the other side of all that, I am grateful for the experiences with the characters and the circumstances that inspired the Duckett Delivered series. It wasn’t until I plunged into writing this novel series that I felt the depth of the innate kindness and horse-sense of the Southern Appalachian folks.