My most valuble intangible possessions are my sense of optimism and humor, which have helped me to survive even the most difficult situations. New friends often tell me that my life sounds like a soap opera, but that gives soap writers far too much credit. Not even Erica Kane can match some of the trials and tribulations my family has survived.
My parents died in a car accident when I was three years old and I was raised by my older sister Jenny. Jenny already had three children of her own and was married to an Air Force man, relocating our unruly brood every eighteen to twenty-four months. I don't know if I am extroverted by nature, but I certainly became so by necessity. I changed schools each year and had to quickly make new friends. Throughout my childhood, everyone's favorite show was Saturday Night Live. I have a knack for impersonations and would dazzle my friends on the schoolyard every Monday morning with recreations of the show's best skits.
When I didn't know an answer in class or got into trouble, I diffused the teacher's anger by making a joke. I wasn't always the best student, but I was certainly the funniest and easist to like.
Life became more challenging in high school when my uncle left the service. We lost our home in a hurricane in 1993, along with all of our personal possessions. Because my brother-in-law ran a home business, he also lost our primary source of income. We were homeless for almost a year, sleeping on sofas and daybeds in the homes of family and friends. I once again assumed the role of comic relief, being supportive of my family by finding (and illuminating) the bright spot in any situation.
Although my life is...