When I read a particular author or blogger for a while, I often become curious about their background. Who is the person behind the writing? How did they get where they are today?
When my book, “Singlism: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Stop It,” was first published last year, a journalist at a local publication asked if she could interview me. In case anyone is interested, here are some of the answers I gave her.
[This is my answer to a question about where I’m from and how I ended up in Summerland, California:]
I can now say that I grew up in a small town (Dunmore) outside of Scranton, Pennsylvania, and people actually know where I am from. I can thank The Office as well as Vice-President Biden for that. (Hillary Clinton had Scranton ties, too.) Both of my parents were FBI – full-blooded Italians. In fact, in Dunmore, there were only three ethnicities – Italian, Irish, and Polish. I was shocked to discover in my first anthropology class in college that the world was not overwhelmingly Catholic.
When I was a junior in high school, one of my father’s friends told him that I should apply to Vassar since I had good grades and test scores. I had never heard of it, but that’s where I ended up going. I went to Harvard for graduate school in psychology, then spent the next two decades teaching at the University of Virginia.
In the summer of 2000, I came to Santa Barbara to spend a one-year sabbatical at UC Santa Barbara. I knew within five minutes that I never wanted to leave, so I moved here permanently. I gave up my full professorship, with tenure, in order to remain in California. The awesome Summerland beach house I rented for my sabbatical year was going to be my one-year splurge. I am still here in the same house – more than a decade later.
[This is an answer to a question about my academic background:]
When I got to grad school, my advisor, Robert Rosenthal, was studying nonverbal communication between people when they are being honest. (Rosenthal is most well-known for the “Pygmalion effect” that revealed how teachers’ expectations can affect students’ performance). I wanted to study something similar enough to his work to keep him interested in my work, but different enough to claim the work as my own. I thought it would be more telling to look at nonverbal cues when people are lying. I still find the psychology of deception interesting, but my real passion is studying singles and singlism.
[Here is what I had to say about what I think of the place I live now, the tiny beach town of Summerland, California:]
I love Summerland. When I first got here, I just couldn’t stop smiling. It is such a cute little beach town. When I lived in Virginia, I used to save up my money to spend a week or two at the beach at the Outer Banks (North Carolina) each year. Now I live at the beach!
I love the informality of Summerland. I love living steps away from the sea (a lot of steps, but still). I love the variety – the funky little homes next to the big mansions. I adore all the hiking trails. When I first got here, I bought some hiking books, but I soon discovered that I could walk out my front door, wander around, and find all sorts of trails that were not on any of the maps. There is also something appealing about seeing your neighbors at the post office and getting to exchange pleasantries with all of the gracious people who work there. I don’t have any children, but I love when the Summerland School hosts its cookies and crafts sales.
I’ve been here for 11 years and I never take it for granted. Every single day, I wake up in awe of my great good fortune in getting to live here. [Update: Now it’s 12 years. I hope there will be many more!]
Beach sunset photo available from Shutterstock
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Last reviewed: 18 Aug 2012