ABOUT ME . . .

PICTURES ABOVE (Left to right, starting with the top)

My Beginnings

I grew up as a so-called military brat — though I never thought of myself as bratty at all. I was fourteen when my father, a WWII veteran, retired from the U.S. Army and we settled in Petal, Mississippi. The somewhat bizarrely named Petal is a small suburb of Hattiesburg, which is the city where I was born. I graduated from Petal High School and then enrolled at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) in Hattiesburg. I remained there long enough for the university to award me three degrees: a B.A. in English and German, an M.S. in English, and a Ph.D. in comparative literature (with an emphasis in English).

My Education as a Writer

My education as a writer began in high school, where I had tough teachers who demanded that we learn the fine details of English. We had to know correct grammar and spelling, and we also had to use correct pronunciation. The word ‹git›, we learned, was not the same as ‹get›. And ‹pre-FER-able› was only for Yankees and other unwashed heathens who had never learned to say ‹PREF-er-able›.

One teacher in particular was infamous for being a real stickler for making students do everything in exactly the right way. She taught all the classes in senior English, and we started to hear stories about her in our freshman year. She also taught a class in junior English, and you might miss her in that year, but nobody avoided her the next year. It would not be an overstatement to say that we regarded our future in her class with a sense of awful dread.

When I finally took senior English, I discovered that all my fears about this infamous dragon lady were unfounded. I enjoyed the class and learned a lot from her. Even her rigid manner was not entirely humorless. The atmosphere in her room was never hostile, and all of us came to realize that her purpose was to make us into literate and educated users of the English language.

During my time in graduate school I taught English and also, for two years, worked in the university Department of Public Relations, where my duties included writing stories about campus events and taking photographs. Many of my stories appeared in major state newspapers in Mississippi and Alabama and in newspapers in other states.

My Experience as a Physician

Updated on 2016.10.09.