Reflections on Bad Sex, Worse Hair and Shooting Rhinos

Life's not so bad for this Michigan hippie in North Carolina

Photograph by Purple Clover
'I was born in Michigan, to the only hippies in the Midwest.'

And THAT’S when I shot a rhino and gave myself a pedicure.

I was just trying to have a riveting first line, so you’d be drawn in. Did it work? Are you clamoring for more?

My name is Karen Sommerfeld, and I am almost 48, which is RIDICULOUS because in my head I’m somewhere between 16 and 22, except for the part where I’d be the most hagged-out 16-to-22-year-old you’ve ever met. I’d be, like, an insomniac 16-year-old who smoked whiskey.

I was born in Michigan, to the only hippies in the Midwest. Pretty much everyone else who was a hippie went to California or New York or something, but not my parents. We sat on the zigzag carpeting and talked about our feelings. Which resulted in me ceasing to have any.

I graduated college after a brief seven-year stint (I majored in White Zinfandel, drama, perms ... and relationships. I failed every one of those tests). I moved to Seattle, where they read more books per capita than anywhere else, and where there was a lot of caffeine.

Turns out there were just as many relationships and dramatic scenes there, maybe because we were all hopped up on French Roast, so I was glad to meet my husband and move to Los Angeles, where everything is very real and meaningful.

I spent over 10 years there, forming a close relationship with my cleaning lady. She was fantastic and we get on the phone even now and gossip and laugh and have ourselves a time.

Cleaning ladies are affordable in Los Angeles because there’s a lot of competition. So are manicures and therapists. I liked these parts of Los Angeles, whereas the part where you compliment someone’s shoes and they answer, “They’re … last year’s”? Not so encouraging.

My husband’s job took us to North Carolina, to a town with 3,000 people in it, one of whom I managed to sleep with, but only after my divorce.

Oh. Right. I got divorced. Now I live in Greensboro, N.C., in a house I’m upside-down on. My husband—ex-husband—is engaged already, like he’s Paul McCartney, and here I am writing to you.

I have been seeing someone as well, but I promise you I won’t be getting married anytime soon. I mean, I won’t be all Cathy comic about it, but I think I’m single for awhile. Has anyone seen my shirt with the big heart on it? Ack!

That's all you need to know for now, although I’ve left out my many pets, my bad hair and my allergy to grapefruit. All in good time.

Tags: memoirs