My name is Amanda. You probably know that by now. Lots of people also call me Amy. Or Aim. Or Amos. And probably lots of other things I don’t even know or want to know. No one calls me Mandy, especially if they want to be my friend. I have a relatively large, fairly eccentric family of which I am extremely fond and to whom I am fiercely loyal. They are some of the most interesting and amazing individuals I know, and I love being related to them. I totally get along with my parents and we are super close. I love cats and I am single. So yeah, you can get to that stereotyping right away.
I grew up in several places, but mostly Petaluma, California. Petaluma is an interesting place, and as is true with many hometowns – I imagine – you can take the girl out of Petaluma but not so much the other way around. In between stints in the North Bay I lived in Seattle, right north of the University near Green Lake, but I was part of the busing experiment and went to school near Capitol Hill. And I also spent time in San Diego where I lived in Hillcrest and went to school at Memorial Junior High Magnet School in Barrio Logan. Both of these schools were amazing and also incredibly personally significant as they developed my love for the urban underbelly and definitely cultivated my already emerging Latino Fetish. After a sort of brief and not totally wonderous return to Petaluma, (save for some athletic successes that were a lot more meaningful at the time) I took off for Guadalajara where I had a series of interesting adventures and misadventures prior to enrolling at UCSD as a totally underachieving sophomore. UCSD was great, but certainly far greater in hindsight as I would guess a lot of undergraduate experiences tend to be. I took a year off midway and realized that I didn’t need time off, I needed an attitude adjustment. The worst of college certainly kicked the shit out of what the non-collegiate world had to offer me at that point. I eventually graduated with a degree in History and a big interest in a lot of other things ike Spanish literature, Italian, linguistics, Creative Writing, Political Science and two very amazing professors, David Gutierrez (swoon) and Bill Deverell. Oh, and the Grateful Dead. At that point I was facing the early nineties with zero interest in the dot-com future and a BA from a good university that was not really gonna help me get any sort of job. I was sort of segueing out of Ex #1 into Ex #2. Things were mildly unsettled, if not complicated.
So I went to Europe.
After I ran out of money “over there” I eventually came home with Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Austria, Romania, Hungary and more Italy and more Greece firmly lodged in my mind. Ex #2 was waiting and I was restless. I needed a plan. I enrolled in the teaching program at SFSU and met another of my life changing mentors in Dr. Gilda Bloom. She caught my attention when she said her seminar was like the Grateful Dead; not for everyone, but for those who were into it – it was gonna be the shit. She was right. About just about everything. From there I embarked on what has become a career, I guess. I started teaching [and coaching] at Balboa High School in San Francisco’s Excelsior District. I loved it. I loved the people I worked with and for. Then I met Ex #3 and decided to move to Tahoe. In hindsight, highly suspect decision making.
Then again, as my BFF has said about me, I am a really together person but “have been making consistently bad relationship decisions since 1989.”
Anyhow – if nothing else, the teaching continued. Flourished even. I taught at Hug High School, Incline High School and Sparks High School. I found a new mentor [Kendyl Depaoli] and a new focus [Geography]. It was pretty cool. And I was still traveling. Lots of time in Mexico, particularly Baja: Zihua, Manzanillo, Los Cabos, Las Frailes, La Paz. Also the Caribbean: the Bahamas, Jamaica, the Keys. And making my way some other places as well with work and family: Alaska, from Juneau to Valdez and all points in between for a three week geography seminar on the Semester at Sea boat followed by three weeks at the exact same latitude on the other side of the globe touring Scandinavia and the Baltic States: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Russia, Latvia, Estonia, Poland. Eventually even got antipodean with a sojourn to Australia and managed to also traipse across quite a bit of the good ‘ole US of A as well.
In 2000 I decided to go back to school. Under the guidance of some of the most amazing people I know, in or out of academia. I applied for the Master’s program in Geography at the University of Nevada as a student of Gary Hausladen, Paul Starrs, and by indirectly, Peter Goin. It was a good decision and led to a body of work [and an MS] of which I am extremely proud [curious about Area 51? Just ask.] Plus, my advisory team, Peter-Paul-and-Gary? Yeah, they were The. Best. Ever. All the while I continued teaching in Washoe County and dying a slow personal death with Ex #4 in the suburbs.
So I went to Asia.
Five years later, with one more Ex (#5) and a bunch more countries under the proverbial belt [China, Japan, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia and Myanmar to name a few] here I sit in Hong Kong. I still teach. I live on a small(ish) jungley island in the South China Sea and work in one of the busiest urban districts on the planet. I now have added yoga to the list of things I am mad for and do that nearly everyday. And then there is also this little project. And this one.
At this point, things are starting to look like there are some really interesting turns ahead in the year of the Tiger and I am thrilled, not freaked out like I might have been if these changes were happening in another time or place.
Watch this space.