Circa, late ’50s, I began to look inward to discover my Self; what I observed, who I might be– or was at that time–so that I could determine where I might go once I grew up. I was about eight or nine years old. Pretty mature, wasn’t it.
I thought I was ten but recently remembered, we were visiting for my grandfather’s funeral. Amazing. I could have sworn I was ten already. But what did it matter: I was a child. Like every child, I was impressionable, influenced easily by those who appeared to have all the confidence in the world; sometimes those are criminals, con-men and women, conjurers of evil… you have to be protectors of impressionable children.
It was then that I began to write. First, I began with scripts, emanating the characters, by memorializing them on paper from tv movies from which I memorized dialogue. I would watch the movie over and over again, as many times it took for me to memorize the entire dialogue, gestures, tone, movement and scenes. I would even act it out for family.
The movie had to be one I really liked and eventually I would memorize the entire thing, then perform it before my relatives would always request my performances, what a kid I must have been. During this time I wrote the lines of the movies I watched, instinctively.
“He walks over to the machine laughing hysterically: ‘It’s alive! Alive!’ He then collapses. The monster raises itself from the table. His assistant is awe-stricken. The doctor continues to laugh hysterically and finally collapses fully onto the ground.”
Good training don’t you think? I should have been a director or playwright, but alas, I had no direction or guidance to lead me to something like that. In fact, I tried to put on a play with grammar school kids (I was in fourth grade), but the principal (still remember her name: Mrs. Baines) discouraged me and told me I was not to put on anything like THAT. This was my first push into the crevices of the Wall.
.As I grew older then, I wrote lyrics and songs in the privacy of my dysfunctional family home, in the room, after all my chores, and wishing there was someone to talk to. I tried my hand at poetry as well. I listened and memorized so many songs that I liked. For poetry, I read Frost, Keats, Arnold, and many others. I began singing like some artist/songwriters such as Joni Mitchell, Paul Williams, Paul McCartney, Lenny Welch, Carmen MacRae, Aretha Franklin, Nancy Wilson and others. You would think by now, I would have experienced someone’s discovery of me, but no.
I tried, oh, believe me I tried. I went to a music place where an ad said they were looking for new talent, as soon as I got there the young man wasn’t listening to my music, he was trying to grope me and get me to kiss him–or something. I was probably about sixteen (just learned to drive) and matured early for my age. I left quickly and cried all the way home, never trying that again. I went to L. A., to try my talent for The Gong Show (what a terrible choice I made), and had no accompaniment, (although a young man volunteered) I sung, and the guy seriously told me, “you don’t belong here honey, sorry.” Again, I cried all the way home, except that I was quietly grateful for the piano player; he was angelic (I think literally) played like some kind of professional pianist and really VERY good! We were fantastic, which is why I couldn’t understand why the Gong Show would not let me perform to the world. Those experiences sent me deeper into the crevices on the Wall.
Finally, I tried my hand at writing short stories after reading a few from Mary McCarthy, Flannery O’Conner, Raymond Carter, James Baldwin, Shirley Jackson, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and on and on. I started reading long narratives, too, like D.H. Lawrence, Harper Lee, Kurt Vonnegut, Joan Didion, Truman Capote, and others.
I wrote about things that happened to me from day to day–like memoir or journal. I stretched my stories into novellas. Finally I wrote long prose. The funny thing was, I never showed anyone what I wrote, I tried to show the people who never validated me in the first place: my family. So naturally I thought nothing of my own writing pretty much as they did. But after two failed marriages and two children, I decided to go to college, and there is where I got a little hope.
I entered the Writer’s Day contest, I won first place in Science Fiction short story. I was so elated I knew writing was my ticket to life’s purpose. I enjoyed a $40 check and a dinner party for all those who won, from first to third place. I was sitting in euphoria, since I was a first place winner. This even and experience prompted me to courageously submit my short story to Isaac Asimov’s magazine. I actually got a response from his editor, I still have the letter. He wanted me to send him a better font size, I did ecstatically, and then…he rejected it. There went all my hope.
It wasn’t unusual that I kept hidden anything I wrote until I was about twenty-five, divorced, and wanting to be a singer. The first attempt at self-exposure was when I began karaoke and auditioning my songs for shows. I joined a group of people who promoted (I thought) our lyrics and songs, comedic routines, or whatever we had that we wanted to perform. Curiously, two of my songs, though registered with this organization (I still have the receipt), were very similar to two other songs by famous singers: Kenny Rogers and Paul Williams–I don’t think Paul Williams would have stolen it, as he was a good songwriter of his own, however, I’m not sure about Kenny Rogers. Honestly, I think the company turned around and sold peoples’ songs, so that singers or writers could glean from them a bit, then created their own and hitting the number one Bulletin Chart listing best songs, while us idiots trusted these strangers.
AS that did not go too well, and realizing there were probably more people wanting to be in Hollywood than crabs in the ocean, more than ants on an anthill, I decided to give it up, tend to my children, and get married a THIRD time–some people never learn. But at least I was given the gift of a third child, and that made all the difference. I saw my children as each one a gift from God, only it took me a long time to see it. I’m sorry my beautiful children.
Going to college at a very late age should indicate to you that I grew up emotionally (well, somewhat) finally, and was now able to aspire to a better me. No one told me that would be a long time a’coming. No one also told me I had to pay eventually for all the years it took to achieve credentials. After graduating at 50 years old, I submitted a resume to so many schools to become an English teacher. I must suck in the INTERVIEW because after over 200 submissions I never got a job. I ended up desperately attempting to commission work. I suck at sales, too.
I am 72 now, and now that I am in the winter of my life I am finally spouting off much fodder and publicly in the new technological frenzy: the BLOG.
Albeit, I am without much capability or even interest in the outside world– I am fine with the little bit of writing I’ve done, yes I hope someone might say to me that it is worth something, but if not I will go quietly and comfortably to my grave without much regret. My children will inherit my words, and either do something with them, keep them until they die, or just throw them away. That is the way of life, so it’s okay.
At least, and throughout this journey, I managed to acquire a real estate broker’s license to gain an occasional check now and then. Don’t ever let anyone tell you real estate is the golden egg. It can be, but mostly real estate has very few success stories except for psychotic liars, sociopaths, backbiters and backstabbers. But it’s okay anyway; it was fun and my reward was being of service to the right people, helping them achieve their dreams, and seeing happy faces when they moved in or out of their homes.
Looking back I am still pretty proud of my life. I am a mother of three fine human beings, four (and a half) grandchildren, and I remained married to the man who distracted me from my life’s tough tow for at thirty-seven years now. I won’t say I finally met the right man, because that is not true. But I did finally learn to be grateful for whatever I have, and if it isn’t perfect, I can accept that. The only perfection ever on this planet was the one who died 2000 years ago, and rose again, promising me a place with Him for eternity.
In the famous words of the actress, Debra Winger–from the movie, Terms of Endearment– I muse, as she did, and tell others about my husband that he is so cute, and that’s why I stayed (ahem).
I hope you get something from my writing and take it with you to a better tomorrow.
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