Thursday, February 19, 2009

#148: Even If Lesley Clark Isn’t Smiling, She Is Happy

Lesley Clark’s dad was French and black, her mom French and Norwegian. Growing up in San Antonio, most people thought she was Mexican (and so began her love affair with Mexico). At 2 months, Lesley escaped the tornado of 1976. At 4 years, Lesley already knew she wanted to be a writer and started writing stories about a little girl running away from home. At 5, her parents divorced, which Lesley always felt bad about because she got the mail the day that her mom received a letter that led to an argument with her dad (and probably contained the reason for the divorce). Lesley remembers her mom telling her dad that she didn't want anything—not the house, the car, or any furniture—except Lesley. Lesley’s mom was selfless and creative; she gave her an enriching childhood, always told her stories, introduced her to different cultures. They had theme nights and there were daily words to learn. In middle school and high school, Lesley’s dark wardrobe and depressing stories got her sent to the counselor’s office (luckily, the guidance counselor understood). For a time, Lesley wanted to be an auto mechanic, but wasn’t allowed to take auto classes. She dropped out of high school, briefly, because she was incredibly bored, and was going to get her GED and go directly to college, but went back for the diploma and finished high school with many honors. At college, she studied social psychology. At 21, Lesley dropped of a master’s program in creative writing at Antioch after a stalker followed her to Venice Beach. In her early 20’s, Lesley fell in love with a Mexican national named Fernando Hernandez Degollado. They always felt each other through music. It was a passionate and tumultuous 2 years that ended disastrously when he was deported (and Lesley felt like she stopped breathing). Lesley went to live with him in Mexico, but things got wild there, and she couldn’t handle any of it. Lesley came back to the states and her book of poems, The Absence of Colour, was published by Pecan Grove Press. After this, Lesley quit writing poetry. After leaving Fernando, she couldn't see things in poetic forms anymore. For 8 years after that, Lesley was involved with a musician named Jason Hernandez until they ended it amicably. At 29, Lesley rescued a kitten from an abandoned Nissan’s radio compartment; she had never had a pet before so she thought the kitten had a heart murmur when it purred the first time. In 2005, Lesley’s father passed away and it was difficult to lose him to an unexpected death (which may have been a cleverly concealed murder). It tore apart her father’s side of the family. Around this same time, Lesley was diagnosed with Celiac and really sick all the time. It was rough. Eventually, Lesley received her master's degree in creative writing from Fairleigh Dickinson. Recently, Fernando came back into Lesley’s life and she started writing poetry again. It all came rushing back. It might be a second chance at true love and now Lesley has to decide whether to follow him back to Mexico again. She doesn’t know what will happen next, but she will be happy no matter what it is.