I was the first daughter, granddaughter, and niece born into a large, traditional Italian family from the Bronx. They weren’t disappointed I wasn’t male and couldn’t be named after my father: some variation of Frank, like Big Frank, Little Frank, Frankie, or Francis, with an ''e'', instead of ''i.'' My great-grandmother, Nonnie, decreed I would be named Assumpta, since I was due on the Feast of the Assumption. In my first act of defiance I came two weeks late. My father named me after my mother.
I should have become an Italian-American princess: dripping gold chains, hair teased as high as my heels, wearing push-ups and plunging necklines, driving a Cadillac, being pampered and indulged by my parents and hand-picked husband. But by some collision of divine intervention, happenstance and odd coincidences, which I have come to believe are all examples of synchronicity, my life took many different twists and turns.
I never lost the adventurer's spirit, both the urban and exotic type. I've sailed in Long Island Sound and the Galapagos archipelago, communed with Incan ghosts during an overnight stay at Machu Picchu, and spirits of another ilk who emerge during the magic and mystery of a gentle, empowering birth. I've traveled in Europe, South and Central America, hiked and skied in places only fools go, and hobnobbed with the beautiful people at upstate antique shows, out the way art galleries like Steve Heller's in Boiceville NY, and New York City arts and literary events.
I learned to "think quick" and "never flinch or your done for" riding the New York City subways when vigilantes Bernie Goetz and the Guardian Angels figured the NYPD needed some help. After narrowly avoiding crossfire twice, with nothing left to fear, I braved the Coney Island Cyclone proving two things: the average bra will not hold up under G forces that strong, and they weren't designing roller coasters 50 years ago with anti-whiplash protection.
Somewhere along the way, I figured out that a smile always makes the path a little less treacherous, and that being smart didn't mean I couldn't have a good time and laugh at myself. Married twice and divorced once, I'm lucky to have found the perfect match the second time around. Everyday, I face my biggest challenge: working motherhood, which is the theme of my memoir in progress Karma, Kickbacks and Kids.
I walked the streets of the South Bronx when there were more abandoned buildings than occupied ones, and in Harlem and Washington Heights when cracked out crazies made the good old heroin addicts look like kindly old souls.
Just when I thought I couldn't see more devastation came the mutated monkey virus from Africa now known as HIV, being on duty on 9/11/01 and, most recently, at ground zero of the H1N1 (swine) flu epidemic. I've chronicled those events, the journey of the United States health care system to the edge of an abyss, and other high and low points of my career in Someday I'm Going to Write a Book: Diary of An Urban Missionary.
I wear a little gold cross around my neck, a nod to a Catholic upbringing, wear sensible shoes so I can run away from or toward trouble, depending upon the mood I'm in, and still look pretty good in a plunging neckline under the right circumstances. All of these experiences inform my writing which includes professional publications, op-ed, memoir, creative nonfiction, science fiction, and fantasy. It's all on a continuum, really.
A big New York City welcome to my site. Browse, chat on Facebook, argue with and challenge me on my blogs--I can take it and promise to turn on the Bronx charm. Literally.