My first published work appeared in the local newspaper in Fairfield, Connecticut, when I was nine years old. It was a Christmas poem that, to my adult eyes, looks awfully like a rip off of “The Night Before Christmas,” but evidently the paper was short of copy that week. I’ve improved since then.
My high school on Staten Island was just a ferry ride away from Manhattan, in the days when theatre was affordable and jazz clubs didn’t check too closely for IDs. It made for the most extraordinary dating life. College brought me back to the state of my birth where I graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude from the University of Connecticut.
Despite that precocious publication so long ago, I have produced little of note since. Early in my career, I taught anthropology at Quinnipiac College in Hamden, Connecticut, where I wrote research and position papers and curriculum guidelines. Not exactly what you’d want to pick up unless you needed something to put you to sleep.
When I was a program officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities, I brilliantly mastered the knack of bureaucratic writing and churned out thousands of pages of tedious grant assessments, noteworthy for saying in 25 words what might have been expressed in eight. I did, however, give free reign to my creative spirit in trip reports that focused on such things as bush plane rides to Eskimo villages or Sioux healing rituals rather than on tedious meetings. But then I was told to “tone it down; stick to business.”
Thus I went well prepared for Chicago and the Lincoln Park Zoo, where, in masterful fashion, I spewed out even more copy for publications and internal reports. As a reward, I’d sometimes be invited to feed lettuce leaves to towering giraffes that would unroll their foot-long tongues and use them like steam shovels to sweep the greenery up from my palm. Or on other occasions, I’d get to bury my hands deep into the silky fur of a lion or tiger that was just a big pussycat when sedated for a teeth cleaning.
As you might guess, when I became a consultant, I disgorged more dry pages — manuals, reports, fund raising documents, and strategic plans. To prove, however, that there was still a creative mote among the dust particles in my brain, I occasionally wrote freelance articles.
At last! Finally! I am now seriously pursuing the kind of writing I really want to do. Many of my reviews of theatre productions and art exhibits can be found in the Seattle Times. An unpublished memoir about my mother sits on a shelf waiting for its book proposal.
In Our Prime is an anthology of 41 essays by women who have reached and passed the half-century mark. It’s got the wit and wisdom of creative women who speak eloquently about the present issues and past experiences of women of a certain age. It’s available on Amazon.com. And there’s a Christmas/travel/food essay book called “Hanging Up Memories” published on Smashwords, and available there and on Amazon.com.
My grown son and daughter are both teachers and have inherited their mother’s love of travel. It’s a passion shared by my daughter-in-law who is studying for a PhD in Educational Psych. My granddaughters are not yet school age, but are already seasoned travelers having been to Europe and various places in the United States.
As for my husband, he’s my biggest booster, my editor, and an inveterate traveller himself, always game for adventure, always there to bail me out of awkward situations.
I’m trying to talk my daughter into a collaboration on a travel book. Though I am just a tourist, she goes to off-beat places to live: like a rural village in the Philippines, a farming province in China, a NOAA vessel in the Bering Straits. Perhaps my artist son will illustrate a book, if ever we write it.