Wednesday, April 20, 2011
I was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. My parents, who recently celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary, still live and work in this great city. I have one younger sister, who growing up was both my best friend and greatest adversary, depending on the day/hour/minute. We had two cats, Pearl (who, poor thing, was neither female or white) and Jingle Bells, who didn’t care much for us because we dressed them in doll clothes. We went to public school, took piano lessons, played soccer (my dad was our coach), competed on our pool’s summer swim team, and participated in Girl Scouts (my mom was our troop leader). We had love, guidance, structure, discipline, all we needed, and enough of what we wanted. You might consider my childhood an idyllic one, and though I wouldn’t have agreed with you during my teenage years, you would be right.
I went to college at the University of Iowa and graduated in 2002 with a BA in sociology. (In case you’re wondering, an undergraduate degree in sociology prepares you for nothing, except maybe working towards a master’s degree in sociology.) A family friend once told me I’d better enjoy my college years, as they were the “good old days” I’d remember in the years ahead. He was right. Those five years in Iowa City (yes, it took me five years to graduate – thanks, Mom and Dad) allowed me – an uncertain, brace-faced, and spectacled high-schooler – to reinvent myself and become who I wanted and was meant to be.
I met my husband, Tom, while we were students at the University of Iowa, so though neither of us were born or raised in Iowa and we don’t live there now, we both consider Iowa City to be a home of sorts. We dream of someday moving back, not so much to relive our college days (reliving my college days as a 32-year-old might kill me), but to raise our children in and give back to the community that helped us begin our careers, find each other, and become a family in the first place.
After graduation I worked in fundraising and special event for the American Red Cross in Cedar Rapids, IA. Eventually Tom’s desire to pursue a master’s degree and PhD in industrial engineering took us to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where for six years I worked for the Red Cross in volunteer management/administration and youth programming. I LOVE the Red Cross. The mission of the organization – to provide relief to victims of disaster and help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies – speaks to my heart and soul.
Six years and two kids (Will is four and a half and Hallie just turned two) later Tom finally graduated from the University of Michigan with his PhD and accepted a faculty position at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. We left our families, friends, my job at the Red Cross, and the only home our children had ever known to head south to Texas.
So here I am now, trying to figure out what I’m doing and where I’m going (you know, besides taking care of my family and our household and driving to and from preschool, the grocery store, Target, and the gym). I’m not a writer by trade, but I like to write. I’m not a photographer by trade, but I like to take pictures. I’m not a Texan by birth, but I’d like to learn what it means to be one, as long as I can do so without forgetting my Midwestern roots.