My Life's Story (Part I)
My Life's Story
I was born in Murfreesboro, TN to a pair of quasi-hippies that didn’t know any better. We never lacked for love in my family, although some of the other stuff (like money, or discipline) may have been in short supply. I pretty much ran wild, and it came back to bite me one or two times.
It was hard to grow up in my family and not be a musician. Both my parents sing and play piano, although they come at it from different sides; my mother is classically trained, while my father is more of a rock ‘n roll kind of guy. I have a little bit of both, but am a huge choir nerd.
When I was four, we moved to Huntsville, AL and joined the Episcopal Church (or “Catholic light,” sometimes “recovering Catholic”) and the church gives me ample opportunity to indulge my love of choral music. My faith has always been important to me, especially in recent years.
All throughout school, I thrived in a magnet school focused on the Arts. I played the cello in middle school orchestra and became a leader in my church and school choirs. I mistakenly thought myself an extrovert because I was not shy; however, I never really quite fit in with any one group and needed a lot of time to “decompress” after being around people. Reading was (and still is) my escape.
In seventh grade, I was diagnosed with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy. When I got up in the mornings, I would twitch (Mom said it looked like a “startle reflex”) until I fully woke up. In the early morning and late evening, when the sun was low on the horizon, driving in the car could trigger these “twitches” when the light flashed through the trees. In high school, I developed deep depression and anxiety, and retreated into myself.
Meanwhile, the internet was gaining steam. I had made some friends on AOL, visiting a chat room called “The Xanth Glade,” where we played characters who lived in Anthony’s Xanth. The internet continued to be a refuge for me, somewhere I could be me with anonymity.
The summer after my freshman year in college, I had my first tonic-clonic (formerly known as grand-mal) seizure. It was terrifying. I woke in the hospital, my knees and elbows scratched up and tongue sore and swollen from where I’d bitten it. This started a very dark period in my life, riddled with depression, unemployment, abusive relationships, substance abuse and, eventually, homelessness. After a while, my right shoulder started to dislocate during my seizures and eventually I got to where I could not use my dominant arm at all.
I could not take care of myself, so I was forced to move around, first to Virginia with my father, then to Ohio with my mother.