I decided a little over a year ago to change my life into what I thought it would be when I was in my early '20's and sat in my kitchen hammering the keys of my electric typewriter penning what I thought was a progressive and feminist science fiction book entitled The final Savior. It was pretty radical for the time. My lead was a really tough take no shit female character named CHA. Even though I received a lot of encouraging suggestions for rewrites from a bunch of Science Fiction publishers and magazines, life got in the way and the manuscript is still gathering dust in my files. But it's OK, all of my poetry and short stories are keeping it company so it's not very lonely!
After my mom died of lung cancer I started to think about the regrets she had for the things she never accomplished. And began making a list of the things I didn't want to regret when my time came. I began to brush off the dusty, moldy, lonely folders packed in my basement. I banished the dust mites and paper mites to new homes and reread many of the stories and poems for the first time in a long, long time. I really liked what I read and thought that maybe I did have some talent after all. I decided to revamp and update what I had written since most of it was written in the '70's. Not only the world but my view of it had changed drastically since then. I was a little more realistic, a lot less innocent and the voice of a cynic had crept into me between the beautiful poetic lines of unrhymed verse. But the biggest regret, the one that loomed over me constantly jabbing me in the ribs like a malicious critic, was the folder from Rowan University and the half finished sheet of required courses. I hated that I never finished college. That I had stopped writing. That I had become the version of myself that everyone said a woman in her '50's should be. This became the one thing, if left undone, that I would regret the most on my deathbed. Because I knew that the degree would put me back in touch with myself, and would put my life where it was supposed to be instead of side-railed because life had crashed into me and left me on the side of the road parched and intellectually dry. When I packed all my stories and poems away I also packed away the part of myself that could create. Without that, I was only a shadow of myself. The world was an odd place for me to live without my writing and I became closed off, angry and despondent.
At 56 years old, going in all or nothing, I jumped into the quicksand pool, and went back to school and finished my BA degree 25 years after taking my first college course. It was exhilarating, exhausting and the best thing I ever did for myself and my middle aged self esteem. I found that because I had grown older, my poems took on new depth. My short stories were more rounded because I was more rounded, figuratively and oh, yes, literally too! But, that's a whole other entry in itself to be discussed later.
I was also accepted into an MFA creative writing program. This is something I never allowed myself to dream. I never thought I would ever be a good enough writer to entertain the thought of competing in a spot for this type of program. And after years of people asking,"What do you want?" and my reply: "I want to live on the beach and write poetry!" I am finally going to get my chance to do just that. For the next two years I am going to spend my life focused on my first love, poetry! Well, I am doing it in Ohio, and not on the beach, but I'll get to my beach too!
There are so many funny, sad and frustrating stories of how I got here; to this time; to this wonderful second half of my life. I hope you will join me on the journey and share your stories as well. Who knows? Maybe if we encourage each other we can all accomplish the thing that we love and be happy! Wouldn't that be great? Oh-oh, I think my little idealistic hippie-chick is coming to the surface again. If she does, anything is possible! Stay tuned!