EDWARDS — Claire Noble realized she needed to develop a sense of humor before the absence of one literally killed her. The former Air Force officer and self-described uptight mom had plenty to be embarrassed about — from trying to travel the world with small children to eating maggots — and it could have all gone terribly wrong.
But instead, Noble chose to explore her own life through a spyglass tinged with a casual, codachrome lens. The result is an authentic and often hilarious memoir, “State-Sponsored Sex: And Other Tales of International Misadventure,” which she will launch locally at The Bookworm of Edwards on Monday.
Noble’s book recounts her trek across China and other nations to discover the absurdity and humor in life. While this book highlights poignant events that make up her story, it is mostly about Noble’s responses to those critical moments and her efforts to react with joy and laughter.
This ideal, and her entire book, is based on Viktor Frankl’s observation that “between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
“I have had to really work at seeing the humor in difficult and embarrassing situations,” said the author, who lives part-time in Edwards. “By writing about those situations my goal is to not only laugh about it later, but to learn to laugh in the present.”
TREAT THE ROUGH PATCHES WITH LAUGHTER
Noble’s journey begins in Texas and eventually covers most of the continents — she served in Korea and Japan, moved to China with her husband, and now she calls Switzerland home.
The memoir traces these routes on the map through life events from her childhood to her marriage, motherhood and a myriad of other situations most people find awkward.
“My sister claims that I am a magnet for abuse, but honestly, crazy things just happen to me,” Noble said.
While living in a high rise in Hong Kong raising two kids (which sounds pretty crazy to some Vail Valley locals), Noble decided she needed to pursue some additional professional aspirations. So she enrolled in an MFA program for creative writing.
“I had always been a scribbler, and while in China I began to write with more intention,” she said. “My misadventures provided the fodder for my writing.”
Plus, getting those stories out on paper helped her to realize how essential responding with a shrug and a grin really are.
“Life will inevitably have rough patches,” she said. “Treating those times with humor does not trivialize them, but helps us bear them, whether it is an awkward social situation, the demanding behavior of a special needs child or an encounter with a difficult person.”
Mishaps aside, readers will find Noble’s descriptions of living and raising a family abroad full of fresh and interesting perspectives. Armchair travelers will discover a new route with every story. And the most seasoned adventurers will find a new companion on every page.
Leigh Horton is an intern for The Bookworm of Edwards. Email comments about this story to firstname.lastname@example.org.