According to my senior yearbook – which I just dug out of my office closet and dusted off to write this post—I was, among other things in: Concert Orchestra, All City Orchestra and Reutama – which was our student written and produced musical. In case you haven’t had your coffee yet, Reutama is amateur spelled backward. Although I have little memory of it, I seemed to have helped with the Homecoming Skit and served on the Prom Committee – both of which surprise me since I had what could best be described as tepid school spirit. But high school is a funny place. I was also an office aid – which I do remember because it allowed me to wander the halls for 50 minutes, which was awesome. There are a bunch of other things listed under my senior picture – service organizations and the scholarship I won and how I was an officer in this or that club.
But let me paint you the fuller picture: I was passionate and nerdy. I had various minimum wage part time jobs, including one in the ‘fast food industry’ where I was promoted quickly until the incident with the milkshake machine, which honestly I do not regret. They were making me wear a hairnet. My shelf life was limited.
I loved books. I wrote – God help us—Star Trek fan fiction! This was before the Internet so my fellow fan fic writers shared our stories – mine being mostly about Spock’s love life—on yellow legal pads. To JJ Abrams, I now publicly declare that if I hadn’t lost all these stories when the roof of my parents’ house leaked into my former closet during a heavy snowstorm, I would be able to prove that I had Spock hooking up with Uhura a LONG TIME AGO. Alas, you will just have to believe me on this.
I was also kept up my moderate viola skills because my friends were in orchestra and theater and I lacked the ability to do anything else even vaguely musical or theatrical except for stage crew, so the viola with its alto key (is that even the right word? I don’t remember) was the best I could do. I dated the bassoon player from the marching band, which I’m sure tells you EVERYTHING else you need to know.
I loved movies and going out to diners (where I pretended to like coffee) and riding the El into downtown Chicago with my friends, where we would wander the museums and the lakefront. I was an urban city kid. My friends and I had a lot of freedom to come and go.
So what did I want back then, besides straighter hair and a trip to Europe (neither of which I got)? The truth was – I wanted what I am currently doing-- to take the ideas from my head and WRITE books and stories, maybe even write for a TV show, but I had no clue how to get there. So instead I said I wanted to teach. Or maybe be a lawyer. Or maybe an occupational therapist. In fact, I indicated a different major for each college I applied to. This is how in the dark I was about what I really wanted. In the end, I chose Northwestern, the last to send an acceptance letter, most likely because I put off applying until the last day you could. I began to learn to write there, but I believed that I was supposed to be teaching. And changing the world. And HELPING PEOPLE. All of which are good and noble goals.
A couple decades later—some time after I could write that fan fic on line but by then the impulse had passed, which I suppose is a damn shame since certain on line fan fic writers have taken their versions of someone else’s characters on to fame and fortune (*cough--50 Shades--cough*)—I finally got back on track.
So to answer the question directly: I am now doing EXACTLY what I dreamed of doing my senior year in high school. It just took me awhile to allow myself to do it.