First of all, Stasha is pronounced “Stay’-shuh“ not “stash-uh” and certainly not “stah-shuh.
“Well, that’s not the way it’s spelled,” you say. Nonsense, I say. Tell that to the folks who live on Houston Street in NYC, Wilkes-Barre, PA, or Kissimmee, FL. It doesn’t matter how it’s spelled because, dear reader, I’m telling you how it is. The way something is pronounced vs. the way some folks think it should be pronounced is not necessarily the same and never-the-less, there IS a correct, personal, proper way to say it. In fact, the final arbiter of what is proper and correct is the person who’s closest to the subject, in this case, me. Stasha. Not just because that’s the way my parents pronounce it, because it’s the way I do. And yes, that is enough to make it so.
So are you getting some sense of me by now?
I am a native Floridian who grew up in rural northern, central Florida. Anyone who doesn’t realize that parts of Florida are, in fact, the Deep South has never broken down on old 301 between Sparr and Citra. I am a southerner to my core. In fact, I am not just “from the South,” I am steeped in it; with all its ambiguities, errors, ignorance, and grace. My kin and clan – for better and in some cases for much, much worse – have always come before all else.
I grew up in a town where most of my relatives played, prayed, and hung out together including great-grandparents/aunts/uncles, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd cousins, and distant relatives that I couldn’t trace the lineage of but I knew they were related.
I was raised in the strict Southern Baptist tradition with a fundamentalist’s approach to God and the bible and it colored my life in ways that I cannot possibly describe here. Almost every male in my family (with the exception of my brother) is some version of a preacher, including my Daddy who is as devout of a Christian as you can be and still be a really good guy.
By the way, you’ll notice that I always refer to my mother as Mama and my father as Daddy. Like I said, from the south. My Mama called her ninety-five year old father Daddy. I’m known as Sister as is Mama and my Aunt. It’s just how it is.
At fifteen I discovered the theatre (or rather I stumbled upon it) and I spent the next twenty years in that wonderful world. I majored in theatre at Florida State and after I graduated, happily made most of my living in the arts. Everything from Shakespeare to Mamet, from live theatre to B-movies, from comedy improv to theme parks I did it in my quest for success. Some people in the “real world” consider my lack of fame and absence of obscene wealth an indication of failure but the truth is I lived well, paid my bills, built a home, and enjoyed my life. Not every actress gets to be Meryl Streep just as not every accountant gets to be the CEO of PriceWaterhouseCoopers (are they still in business as of today?) but no one calls them a failure for their lack of a corner, Wall Street office.
I met the love of my life (Mike) while I was working for a kid’s cable network live show at a Central Florida theme park. I was a game show host; he was a sound guy. On July 1st ’95, as I never let him forget, I asked him out on our first date and we’ve been together ever since.
During my time with the theme park (who had a wonderful tuition reimbursement program) I decided to get a masters degree and pretty much pulled an area of study out of my ass – Human Resources. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking at the time but I was getting older, fatter, and I knew I couldn’t keep making a living on the boards forever. Anyway, I got a great eduction and discovered that a “Human Resources” department is about as close to hell on earth as ever want to be.
In 2002, Mike and I started our own business. In some ways it was a 9-11 epiphany. We had both worked in entertainment for all of our adult lives and while it was almost always fun, sometimes exciting, and generally satisfying we realized that we really wanted to contribute to the world in a different way. Don’t get me wrong, there is tremendous value in show business. It transports, rejuvenates, educates, and sometimes inspires people beyond their current plane. But we discovered we were in a “been there, done that” phase and saw the perfect outlet for our skills. We work in cultural, historical, and arts focused institutions now. My primary responsibilities involve writing (obviously) and producing projects; Mike provides technical and engineering expertise.
So with our business thriving – even in this economic downturn – I started branching out, expanding my desire and ability to write. Now, in my “spare” time, I write fiction, non-fiction, and this blog; that’s it, in the ole proverbial nutshell. In and amongst all of the other activities Mike and I ride motorcycles, and we travel extensively for both business and pleasure; within the last year I’ve taken up karate, weight lifting, and biking. We have no children. Right now I am also spending a lot of time with my family helping to care for my granddaddy, who is 95, an old-time southern redneck, and the last of an era. Update — March 2009 Grandaddy passed away and with his passing is the end of an era. See “The moment we’ve all been waiting for….” if you want to know how it turned out.
So there you have it. The short summary of me. Reading over it, it does seem a bit thin, doesn’t it? That’s my point It’s impossible to see the depth, value, or potential in a blurb or a sound bite. I also don’t believe that it is necessary to be extraordinary to be happy or even interesting. The Dogged Pursuit of Happiness is for and about people like me – hardworking, ordinary, “average” folks who get the same amount of hours in every day as William Shakespeare or Merryl Streep. And just like Willie in the past and Merryl in the future, someday our lives on this earth will be over and our dogged pursuit will end. And to me, that merits active, dogged, determination to make the most of every minute.