Celia Rivenbark was born and raised in Duplin County, NC, which had the distinction of being the nation's number 1 producer of hogs and turkeys during a brief, magical moment in the early 1980s.
Celia grew up in a small house in the country with a red barn out back that was populated by a couple of dozen lanky and unvaccinated cats. Her grandparents' house, just across the ditch, had the first indoor plumbing in Teachey, NC and family lore swears that people came from miles around just to watch the toilet flush.
Despite this proud plumbing tradition, Celia grew up without a washer and dryer. On every Sunday afternoon of her childhood, while her mama rested up from preparing a fried chicken and sweet potato casserole lunch, she, her sister and her daddy rode to the laundromat two miles away to do the weekly wash.
It was at this laundromat, where a carefully lettered sign reminded customers that management was "NOT RESONSIBLE" for lost items, that Celia shirked "resonsibility" her own self and snuck away to read the big, fat Sunday News & Observer out of Raleigh, NC. By age 7, she'd decided to be a newspaper reporter.
Late nights, she'd listen to the feed trucks rattle by on the highway and she'd go to sleep wondering what exotic cities those noisy trucks would be in by morning (Richmond? Atlanta? Charlotte?) Their headlights crawling across the walls of her little pink bedroom at the edge of a soybean field were like constellations pointing the way to a bigger life, a better place, a place where there wasn't so much turkey shit everywhere.
After a couple of years of college, Celia went to work for her hometown paper, the Wallace, NC Enterprise. The locals loved to say, as they renewed their "perscriptions," that "you can eat a pot of rice and read the Enterprise and go to bed with nothing on your stomach and nothing on your mind."
Mebbe. But Celia loved the Enterprise. Where else could you cover a dead body being hauled out of the river (alcohol was once again a contributing factor) in the morning and then write up weddings in the afternoon?
After eight years, however, taking front-page photos of the publisher shaking hands with other fez-wearing Shriners and tomatoes shaped like male "ginny-talia" was losing its appeal.
Celia went to work for the Wilmington, NC Morning Star after a savvy features editor was charmed by a lead paragraph in an Enterprise story about the rare birth of a mule: "Her mother was a nag and her father was a jackass."
The Morning Star was no News and Observer but it came out every day and Celia got to write weddings for 55,000 readers instead of 3,500, plus she got a paycheck every two weeks with that nifty New York Times logo on it.
After an unfortunate stint as a copy editor--her a*s expanded to a good six ax handles across--Celia started writing a weekly humor column that fulfilled her lifelong dream of being paid to be a smart a*s. Along the way, she won a bunch of press awards, including a national health journalism award--hilarious when you consider she's never met a steamed vegetable she could keep down.
Having met and married a cute guy in sports, Celia found herself happily knocked up at age 40 and, after 21 years, she quit newspapering to stay home with her new baby girl.
After a year or so, she started using Sophie's two-hour naps to write a humor column from the mommie front lines for the Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The column continues to run weekly and is syndicated by the McClatchy-Tribune News Services.
In 2000, Coastal Carolina Press published a collection of Celia's columns. A Southeast Book Sellers Association best-seller, Bless Your Heart, Tramp was nominated for the James Thurber Prize in 2001. David Sedaris won. He wins everything.
Her second book, We're Just Like You, Only Prettier, published by St. Martin's Press, was the winner of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Nonfiction Book of the Year and was a finalist for the James Thurber Prize for American Humor. Jon Stewart won. He and David Sedaris probably went out drinking afterwards. I'm sorry, did that sound bitter?
Celia lives in Wilmington, NC, with her husband, Scott, Director of Government Relations for New Hanover Health Network and author of the true-crime bestseller, Innocent Victims. Their daughter, Sophie, attends elementary school where she grudgingly wears a very uncool uniform. When she isn't writing books, magazine articles or speeches, Celia enjoys watching old episodes of "The Gilmore Girls" while eating anything from Taco Bell.
She reports that the proudest day of her life was the one in which the Sears truck showed up to deliver a matching washer and dryer and neither one of 'em had to go on the front porch.