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Janet E. Helms

life questions

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I suspect that my life has been much like everyone else’s life in that it began much beyond my recall and continues in its own direction in spite of my best efforts to move it in the direction of fame, fortune, excitement, and/or adventure. To me it is an unremarkable life, a condition for which I am grateful. However, a normally eventful life such as mine does not contribute to very exciting or suspenseful story telling. Story telling is a tradition in my family. Both my father and paternal grandmother were excellent storytellers and my mother wanted to grow up to be Brenda Starr (a cartoon investigative reporter). From them all I learned that if the story isn’t interesting enough to tell, then one probably shouldn’t tell it. Nevertheless, the editors of the Handbook invited me to contribute a chapter, even though I warned them that it would be a sleep-inducing experience for the reader. I suppose they anticipate that many readers of the Handbook will be people with insomnia in need of a nonchemical cure.

In an effort to overcome my writer’s block, I shared my dilemma with my colleague at Boston College, Susana Lowe, and she and her graduate assistants graciously volunteered to generate some questions about my life whose answers they thought would be of interest to readers. They generated 37 questions, many of which had several parts. I could not address all of them because of space limitations. Some of the questions I have already answered in an interview that I did for Robert Carter. However, there were several that I could not answer and so I have decided to use them as the focus of this chapter because the process more

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