Friday, March 23, 2007

In A Nutshell
XLVI

In a Nutshell

A place set aside to answer 201 autobiographical questions
from a mother for her daughter. This may take awhile...join us if you like.


46. When I was very young I thought I would be this when I grew up:

I always wanted to write. I wrote stories as soon as I put words on paper. Also poems. When I was 12, I started my first novel. Wrote. Wrote. Wrote. Took all the classes in school that would allow me to write. Wanted to write science fiction for a long time. Wrote poems. Wrote essays. Wrote stories. Loved it.

I also wanted to be a lot of other things when I was young. I wanted to be an astronaut (although I'm not sure how I would have felt about that had I known about the diapers) and a lighthouse keeper (lots of time and few distractions, plenty of time to write) and work my way around the world on a tramp steamer (and, I wonder, were there even any tramp steamers left when I was growing up? Were they like clipper ships, already gone?) and an astronomer and an archaeologist. I majored in anthropology my first two years in college, and only gave up the archaeologist dream when I went back as the mother of two babies -- the possibilities of taking two small children to the wilds for field work were not very high. I wanted to be a reporter, was on the Daily Californian at college and the very first story I wrote (a humorous piece about a Big Game stunt that Stanford had pulled on UC) was not only published on the front page, I got a by-line. Unheard of for a first semester freshman. Actually, when I dropped out of college, I intended to write the great American novel, and all of my exploration of hippy life had that subtheme under it -- this was going to make a great novel. When I went back, I knew I had to find a job with a paycheck -- but, oh, I look at how J. K. Rowling did it, and I wish I could have done that.

When I look at this list, it seems to me that what I wanted, most of all, was adventure. A chance to do something that not everyone, especially not every woman, got to do. To go places and see things and know that I had really lived.

It is interesting to me when I think of how what I wanted to do then relates to things I did later. I was a records management consultant at one time, and as I was examining the decades old files at the Contra Costa Water District, I felt very like a cross between Nancy Drew and Margaret Mead -- digging into layers of past artifacts, cataloging them, discovering what they meant. I've certainly traveled. I've done things most people don't do -- lived on a homestead in Alaska, been a Montessori teacher, pulled myself up by my roots and started over at 51.

A lot of the things I wanted to be were about finding out about people. And I have done a lot of work that involved finding out about people.

And every job I ever had involved writing. Writing stories and songs for my students in Montessori. Writing reports and grant proposals and training handouts and training plans. I even had two secretarial jobs where I wrote the procedure manual for the agency. Writing press releases and print ads. Writing reports for the court in two different jobs. Today I have been working on a grant proposal that's due April 2.

And one thing I did not want to do was be a housewife. Achieved that.

1 comment:

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Congrats on the no housewife thing! :)