In the 90s, I learned to be happy. And in the 00s (
what do we call this decade? the “zeros?” the “ones?” otherwise known as “the aughts”), I found my direction and footing.
I began the decade newly married and happy, but also discontented with my career track. I was working 60 hours a week in recruiting and HR in high-tech, and commuting 100 miles roundtrip for work each day. I had the exits off of I-880 memorized, in exact order. I was by many definitions, successful.
However, I felt something was missing. And the thing that was missing was writing. I signed up for a UC extension fiction writing workshop with an amazing and encouraging instructor Susan, who became a very good friend, and who urged me to send out my work. My work got published. And then I applied to MFA programs…and was accepted into several programs.
When I told my friends I was enrolling in an MFA program, this is the response I generally received: “What, an MBA? You’re going for an MBA! Congratulations!”
To which I replied, “No. An M.F.A…!”
To which they replied, “What? Art? You draw? Huh?”
I happily enrolled in the MFA program closest to home, where I met great mentors who I adore, and who still support me today. (thank you).
2007 was a shit year for me–what with my stroke, and then the sudden death of an immediate family member and other personal challenges and unfortunate happenings that I didn’t bother to share with the world. I withdrew from my MFA program for a semester to recover. When 2008 rolled around, my husband and I heaved a sigh of relief and wished for a better year.
Even with the demise of the economy, 2008 *was* a better year for us than 2007 (that’s how shitty 2007 was). The Fall of 2008 brought me full recovery from the stroke and I finished my MFA program in the same year. 2009 brought me renewed drive–and a completed first draft of my novel manuscript (okay, I may be counting my chickens before I hatch on the “finished manuscript”–but in the world of counting chickens, I’ve only got one chicken eyelash left!).
In hindsight, my stroke may have been the best thing to have happened to me as a writer and as a human being. It slowed me down, forced me to re-evaluate, forced me to fight back in recovery, and identify what was most important to me in life. I was without words, without the ability to read or write, and I found myself determined to recover and “come back like Lance.” I wanted to write, more than ever.
My illness forced me to live entirely in the present-tense (because of my severe memory problems) for at least six months. It took me months to be able to read a short story again–but until then, I read paragraphs over and over, because I would forget what I was reading by the end of that paragraph. I wrote everyday in my journal, and on an anonymous blog, even if I forgot the beginning of the post by the time I reached the end of the post. But I persisted, until I could read, and until I could write fiction again.
I think I am a better person and writer for that experience. I learned to fall down and get back up again, and in doing so, gained footing and direction.
I gained awesome new friends, including one amazing BFF.
I enter 2010, a new decade, rejuvenated, hopeful (and still married and happy). And with this blog.
I hope the next decade brings you and yours lots of growth and joy.