A brief autobiography
I was born in March of 1933, the first of four, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to parents who loved me. I was a small baby, not quite five pounds, the last time in my life I would be underweight. My father was an intern in the hospital of my birth, but he did not attend my delivery; in those days, birthing belonged to the mother and a set of professionals, unlike today when people off the street seem to be welcomed into the delivery room. Bonding was not big in 1933.
When I was five, we moved to Archbold, Ohio, a town of 1,234 people, most of them farmers, most of them Mennonites. I grew up in the days before television and in a place where the radio reception was poor and in a town with no movie theatre or bookstore and in a house where the only music came from the grand piano in our livingroom when my mother played and I practiced my lessons. In the winter, I skated on the creek; in the summer I pitched manure on the farm; in the fall I rode in the haywagon; in the spring I picked wildflowers in the woods. Once in a great while, my grandmother would drive us to Toledo some 50 miles away on roads paved, mostly, but narrow and two-laned. Thanks to her, I saw The Wizard of Oz and Woody Herman and his band. In 1946 a movie theatre opened in our town and, except for World War II, provided the most excitement in my life up to that time. In case, you haven’t guessed it by now, I qualify as Old.
In 1951, I entered the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where I learned that I was waaaay behind and then how to catch up. I also found out that there were people called Democrats. I, of course, was not among them having grown up in a family who thought Dewey was God and Truman the Devil, a title inherited when Roosevelt died. At Michigan I found out about Jews, too, most of whom seemed to be Democrats and very sexy.
In 1956, a B.A. in English under my arm, I moved to San Francisco, got dumped by the boy I was certain I was going to marry and returned to school, the University of California at Berkeley, where I spent a blissful two years at the end of which I had a teaching credential. Which is when my life really began. I had one finally. I became a high school English teacher and a registered Democrat.
In 1964 I married a guy named Joe and in 1965 was delivered of a baby boy. In 1970, I packed up my boy and my books, left my husband behind in Minneapolis and returned to the Bay Area where I have lived ever since.
In the 23rd year of my teaching, I fell by luck into the arms of the Bay Area Writing Project, a consortium of excellent teachers who have figured out what they do in the classroom and why, then go on to teach other teachers. One tenet of the Writing Project is that teachers who teach writing ought themselves to write. So, at age 50, I began to write. It is the Writing Project’s fault that you are reading this.
In 1993, enough being enough, I stopped teaching high school English and took a parttime job at St. Mary’s College in the School of Education. I took a volunteer job teaching writing at San Quentin Prison, became an abortion escort at Planned Parenthood, and in 1999 placed an ad in The New York Review of Books. Before I turn 67, I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me. The rest you can find in my books: A Round Heeled Woman and Unaccompanied Women, published in 2003 and 2006 respectively. I am currently working on a novel.
I live in Berkeley.
The Ladies, a novel; essays in magazines
Amnesty International, ACLU, Doctors without Borders, NARAL, Red Cross
© 2014 Red Room Omnimedia Corporation. All rights reserved.