My Five W’s & H

Who?
You’d be amazed at how many people go through the drive-thru naked. Would you like fries with that? My first job was at Burger King. It kicked off a number of character-building jobs that eventually led to endless inspiration and my professional writing career.

Next up was a job in the Pathology department of the local hospital. I filed extremely gruesome photos of dead people. One guy buried an axe halfway in the ground and threw himself on it. Very dramatic. Mind you, I couldn’t get into R-rated movies at the time. Anyway, I’m one of the few who loves hospitals.

During college at Temple University in Philadelphia, I moved into a funky South Street apartment. A friend hooked me up with a job at Uno’s Pizzaria. The cook smoked crack in the alley and unusual items ended up in the pizza. The bigger problem: my seriously lacking waitress skills. I quit before they could fire me.

After checking IDs at a night club in Society Hill, I was promoted to shooter girl. This involved wearing a black bodysuit, a X-cross bandolier that held shot glasses instead of bullets and holsters with a bottle of gin and, if memory serves, a bottle of 7Up. With hand over the glass, I would bang the concoction on the back of a bent over patron until it fizzed. My parents were so proud. Even the homeless man who slept in my foyer didn’t approve of the hours. The human condition was an education.

Then came the best pre-career job ever. I worked as a receptionist at swanky beauty salon, where I received free services, good pay and even better stories. One involves the F.B.I. and another has to do with a customer’s bondage fetish. I’ll tell you about both over a fizzy 7Up and gin.

Soon after graduation, my Temple News clips helped me land a job as entertainment and features editor at The Catholic Standard and Times, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. One of my first interviews was with Perry Como. That thrilled my grandmother, who loved his Christmas music. One of my final interviews was with writer and director M. Night Shyamalan. That thrilled me. It also inspired me to pursue other freelance writing.

Just as I was leaving the newspaper biz to freelance, a large pharmaceutical company offered me a communications management position. The salary was sweet and I’d get to travel frequently to London. Turning it down was a defining moment. Although, it would be nice to take a trip across the pond for a pint. Do you have a travel assignment for me?

My husband and I started our family. I provided copywriting services to a marketing agency and wrote for consumer magazines. A few years later, I took some acting lessons and began auditioning. QVC, the leading home shopping network, was seeking a cotton expert with TV experience. I Googled cotton, auditioned and got the gig. For 13 years, I shared a green room with entrepreneurs, celebrities and inventors. My home decor sales segments were live and unscripted. Not having to memorize a silly sales pitch was pretty fantastic and I loved getting glammed up by the salon team.

It reminded me of how much I enjoyed that college job and led me to open a salon and spa. The development and marketing was far more fun than the daily management. I sold it to one of my stylists a year later. I checked that off my bucket list and I still had my job at QVC.

During that time, the clergy child sex abuse scandal hit Philadelphia. With kids in Catholic school and having worked alongside many of the involved priests, I felt personally betrayed. I founded a blog titled “Catholics4Change” to give parents a place to vent and question. The blog also attracted victims. Local and national TV and radio shows invited me to offer commentary. Becoming deeply involved with the issue, I founded a political action committee to champion child protection legislation.

My daughter’s college visits prompted my return to Temple University as an adjunct instructor in Communications. My Dead Poets Society teaching fantasy was fulfilled – without the student suicide.

Then, my husband and I decided it was time to really shake things up. With our son, we moved to Charleston, SC. The low country is an inspiring “office” for writing.

What?
A perfect day includes feet in the sand and a good book in hand. A perfect night includes a full moon, starry sky and the scent of confederate jasmine. If I could only eat one food it would be Italian. Baroque music, the ocean and yoga relax me. The ultimate indulgence is a massage and/or a hot fudge sundaes with extra everything. My family is everything. I collect crystal balls, tarot cards, crazy friends and shells. I spend way too much time watching TV – especially shows with period costumes and accents.

Where?
Born and breed in Philadelphia, I’ve recently died and gone to Charleston, SC. Both cities have equal parts of my heart.

When?
24 hours, 7 days a week, live and unscripted.

How?
I’ve accomplished everything with family and friends, but have been motivated by less supportive individuals such as Sister Marie Terese. She was my high school English teacher who repeatedly told me I would fail and my uniform skirt was too short.

Why?
My why is to connect the dots with others through words. I’d love to hear about yours.