Rachel Vail

BirthI was born on July 25, 1966, in NEW YORK CITY, and grew up in New Rochelle, NY, with my mother, my father, and my younger brother Jon. (And down the street from my future husband, though of course I didn't know that until much later.)InterestsSome details, I do know-I was very into reading and theater, so I read every book I could get my hands on (especially realistic fiction, either contemporary or historical) and took acting workshops and auditioned for every play in school, camp, or the community. I played Peter Pan, Miss Hannigan in Annie, Benny Southstreet in Guys and Dolls, the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, and lots of extremely memorable chorus parts-for instance, I was "girl number two" in Fiddler on the Roof-the one who said "We heard about your sister, Chava". I didn't care -I just wanted to be on stage. Waiting backstage before curtain call, after giving my all in a performance, was the best feeling I knew. In seventh grade I started taking magic lessons, and by eighth grade I was making all my own spending money by performing at kids' birthday parties as a clown named Tallulah. I liked the freedom of wearing all that grease-paint-I could be as wacky and un-cool as I wanted. I tried dance but felt so clumsy. I faked a sprained ankle to get out of the recital. I took voice lessons which made me a little light-headed (and I was afraid of the voice teacher's growling, drooling Doberman) and both saxophone and piano, neither of which I ever practiced. I did well in school but started a lot of my work at the last minute, in a crazy mad dash, so that it was never late but there were usually careless errors or areas I had to fudge. I had this idea that to work hard at something was sort of a negative, an admission that I didn't have natural talent. If I wasn't going to be Mozart and have the music (or dance, or math, or social studies term paper, or whatever) channeled through me from God, then I was just embarrassing myself by all that workmanlike effort. I didn't get over that idea until after college, by the way.Career AmbitionsI never really planned to be a writer. I planned to be a financial wizard after learning about option-spreading at age 10, then a poet after discovering Shakespeare at 11. After overhearing "the real power is held by the lobbyists" on a class trip to Albany, I planned to become a lobbyist. Secretly, of course I always imagined myself as an actress, but that didn't seem hard or important enough, and also I worried I wasn't naturally gifted enough.ParentsMy parents were always great. I liked to make them proud, and they trusted me and supported my efforts and interests, which was sometimes weirdly tough. There was so little for me to rebel against.As a KidWhen people ask me what I was as a kid, I always feel like my answer is at best incomplete.What are you like, as a kid? I'm still trying to figure out what I'm like as an adult.SociallyWell, things went in waves. Sometimes I felt very "in", very aware of and tied in to the whole scene, excited by who liked whom, all the gossip, some of it less than kind. Other times I felt so alone-like there was nobody like me, nobody who liked me, nobody to talk to. And much of the time it was somewhere in between. A best friend when I was lucky, and a few people in each crowd I liked and who liked me. I resisted being classified as a brain or a jock or alternative or popular-too limiting. I would have to shut down too many parts of myself to be just one type.AdolescenceI went through a very intense stage in middle school (Junior High). I worried about being too ordinary. I also worried about being too weird. I also worried about changing states of matter, my inability to be morally certain, ignorance (my own and world-wide), and making a fool of myself. http://us.macmillan.com/author/rachel...
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