A Love for Language

There are things about me all over this site. Instead of telling you more, I’ll tell you a very short story of how language became (and remains) so important to me . I was the son of Austrian refugees, Eric and Hedy, both from Vienna. They met in New York, married in Florida and returned to the upper West side of Manhattan to make a life. It is also where I was born.

Intent on becoming full-fledged Americans, my parents decided that they’d no longer speak German. In fact, it was strictly verboten (or whatever word they used) in the apartment. Trouble was, neither Eric or Hedy had much of an aptitude for learning a new language. Nor was there the ubiquitous TV that would become a training ground for so many future refugees in search of English they could imitate.

As a result, there was very little of anything spoken in our lives. I didn’t learn enough German on the weekends when we got together with my parents refugee friends to converse with them.  Shy by nature, my parents made few English-speaking friends. And if the concept of play dates with genuine American kids even existed, no one had told Eric and Hedy — in any language.

So, when finally at five (by then we were living in the Bronx) I started school I came to language — to English in particular — with a hunger for words that I still feel today as well as the desire to be able to express myself using language to provoke interest and evoke feelings in others.

It was that desire in large part that led me to major in Communications at Stanford and pursue a graduate degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State. It also led to my co-founding of MediaWest — one of San Francisco’s first multimedia production companies — and spawned my career as a novelist, short story writer, freelance writer, creative director, writing coach and memoirist.