Interview by Elisa Hawkes
Coastal Journal staff
Where were you born?
I was born in Houlton, Maine, June 1975.
Do you have brothers and sisters?
I have four sisters. I’m the second oldest.
Tell me about that house. I hear there is an interesting story connected to it.
I worked at the University of Maine for a long time, because I was there working as a student and then I was their food manager for three or four years. And Stephen King is a big donor, a lot of money, and so he’s there quite often. I met him and we got to talking, and he asked me where I grew up, and I told him about Linneus. Linneus is a very small town. It sprawls, but the town itself is very small. It’s four corners with a blinking light, with a small convenience store and fire station.
He said, “Oh, Linneus. There’s this creepy old farmhouse that I drove by for years growing up. But it creeped me out. It just looked haunted. It was the inspiration for ‘Pet Cemetery.’” I said, “Really? Where is this creepy old farmhouse,” because there’s farmhouses in Linneus, but not many right on the main street. He said, “It’s big, it’s yellow, it’s got lots of dormers.” And I was like, wait, where is it? He said it was about two houses down from the fire station. I said, “That’s my house. That’s the one I grew up in.” He said, “You’re kidding me! That’s the creepiest house I’ve ever seen.” So Stephen King thinks the house I grew up in is creepy and it was the inspiration for “Pet Cemetery.”
So, was it creepy?
You know, the sisters and I thought it was haunted. There’s a lot of stuff that goes on. You see thing, you hear things, yeah, I think so. Ben [Alicia’s husband] won’t go up on the third floor.
You are a chef, correct?
It’s one of my previous lives, yes.
What made you decide to become a chef? When did you decide?
It was an interesting road, because I grew up cooking, sort of. It was not anything like this calling that I had. In high school, I was a B+ student. I didn’t really test well. I didn’t really like school very much. I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. And the guidance councilor we had at school, I don’t know if she was burned out or what. And judging by my test scores, she said, “You know, I really don’t know that college is the thing for you. I really don’t think that you should worry about college.” I thought, “Oh, really, well, the heck with you.” [Laughs.] I walked out of the guidance councilor’s office, and there was this flyer on the wall where you rip off a tab for Paul Smith’s College, which is a culinary school up in the Adirondacks. I ripped one off, I turned around and looked at her and I said, “This is where I’m going to go.” I applied there and to UMaine, and that was it, and I got into both. Paul Smith’s College is a privately owned college for about 400 kids. You go there for culinary and forestry.
Is that where you graduated from?
It was a long road, because the first year I got mono and that was kind of lousy. They don’t let you go to school, that has anything intense to do with food, with mono, so I had to reapply to UMaine, and went there for four years, and then went back to Paul Smith’s. I have a BA in English with a minor in anthropology from UMaine and an associate’s degree from Paul Smiths.
You worked in the culinary arts for a while?
Total starting from when I was 13 – I guess you start when you’re 9, picking potatoes – my first job was washing dishes in a diner, so I was 13 years old. I probably worked in the culinary field for about 12 or 13 years.
And what about actually cooking?
I worked for seven years.
What do you do now?
I am a massage therapist. I own my own business.
Where is the practice?
It’s in my house. We built onto our property last year because I got tired of renting.
Did you have a contractor do the building?
A contractor built the outside, but my husband and his family helped with the inside work. There are still details to do on the inside, but it is a work in progress. There’s a floating floor because in the space, as well as massage we offer yoga classes and we’re going to be having a nutritionist and acupuncturist on site that travels through, and we’re hoping to get a Zumba class going. Ben has been very supportive.
What do you call the business?
It’s Flying Leap Fitness.
That’s an interesting name. What made you think of it?
When I changed careers because of the accident, I had to take this huge leap of faith, because my culinary degree was my life. It’s what I wanted to do, it’s what I focused on, it’s what I was. And after I had my car accident, I was completely at a loss about what I wanted to do.
Why did you have to give up cooking?
Because of the accident I had, I ripped three muscles off my spine and chipped several vertebrae. So when I went back to the kitchens, for about two weeks, it was horrible. I couldn’t keep up, and it was horribly painful. I talked to the doctors about it and they said I could have surgery on my spine and it was this 50/50 idea of you could be paralyzed or you could be fine. I decided I didn’t want to have surgery. The other options were to deal with the pain for the rest of my life or try massage therapy. They were skeptical that it would work.
I tried going back to the kitchens several times. It never worked. The pain would radiate up through my hips and into my head and give me these headaches they call spinal migraines, and it’s mainly because of how you stand and that you stand in one position, and it just settles down through your spine, it’s awful. You carry 50-pound sacks of potatoes; you can’t keep up. I had to give up that career and I had to find another one.
Through getting massage therapy, I found this great therapist who was wonderful at explaining what she was doing, why it hurt so much, and what the muscles were doing, why they were healing and what they attached to. I got really interested in how the body works as a machine, basically. It gave me a focus. So, it was just this huge leap of faith to go from this one career, which is completely different than this new career that I’ve decided to take on, so I decided, well, I would take a flying leap.
I think it imparts movement. I think it talks about how you have to take that flying leap of faith, you have to really keep moving, you know.
How do feel about the change? Do you like this as much as cooking?
It’s completely different. It’s like apples and oranges. I would always go back to the kitchens if I could. Absolutely. This is a completely different passion. It’s a tough question, because, if given an option, I would always go back to cooking because that is my first love.
Is this hard on your back?
No, because of the movement. When I was cooking, I was just standing there, chopping vegetables or whatever, and that was excruciating. This is more like power yoga for an hour and a half.
So what is your advice to people in terms of having a healthy body?
Drink plenty of water. Move. If I have one thing to say to people, it is simply if you can just walk, walk. I mean you don’t have to go out and run a marathon. But move. Because the more sedentary you are the more sedentary and painful your body is going to be. Do it everyday. Just go out every day and do something; even just go out and garden. Do something that you’re not doing in your normal routine.
If someone wanted to contact you, what would they do?
They could call 712-0374, or email
, or visit flyingleap.massagetherapy.com. We’re trying to get better about updating our website.