Sunday, August 22, 2004

The plan was... go to bed an hour ago. Oh well.

I turned down the dream job. But I'm surprisingly sanguine about that. I'll write more about that later...maybe tomorrow.

I've spent this weekend thinking about my dad. No special reason - no birthday, anniversary, holiday, or special occassion. He was just on my mind a lot. And looking over the Jackson Pollock painting that is my life, I realized something. My dad always assumed that, one way or another, I would be a writer.

I remember writing a "book" when I was seven or eight called "First Poems of Life." I got the directions for making a book from my Girl Scout handbook, and I wrote some horrible poems about stupid things. Here are two of the ones I remember off by heart:

Spiders are ugly,
A lot of chuggly.
They are creepy
And make me weepy.

Ah yes - can you stand to be in the brilliance my sheer talent gives off? I had just learned about nonsence words from reading "Jabberwocky," also in my Girl Scout handbook (those Girl Scouts - renaissance women every one). If you are stunned by that work of genius, hold on to your hat for this one:

I'd like to live at the zoo.
There would be lots to do.
I could see the view.

Can you stand it?

Anyhow, I wrote about seven or eight poems along these same lines in my book, and even illustrated it with drawings that radiated even more putresence than the poetry. Do you know that my dad was so proud of that book, that he took it to work with him and told anyone who would listen that his daughter was going to be a writer? He even kept it with his important papers all throughout his life.

Then, when I wrote a poem in fifth grade about snow (which was also not that great), he bragged about it to anyone who would listen, even showing it to his passengers, who included some of the most powerful business people in Pittsburgh.

In seventh grade, I wrote a short story at Banksville called,"The Magic Pencil." Basically, the story was about two seventh grade girls who find a talking pencil when walking home from basketball practice. The pencil helps them with their math homework and leads them on exciting mysteries, the first of which was the search for jewel theives who were hiding out in a trailer in the woods. The find them because they painted the jewels with glow in the dark paint and then set them out in a path from the trailer to the main road. Yeah. Can you stand the excitement? Believe it or not, that story won an award among creative writing IEP students. My dad again carried it around with him, showed it to everyone, and told people to remember my name because I was going to be a famous novelist someday.

In high school, I won a scholarship to a workshop for young writers at Pitt. The workshop lasted all summer, and at the end of it various works were chosen to be published in an anthology. I had two short stories and a poem selected. We got copies of the anthology at a publication party. My mom usually went to those kind of events with me, but it was on a Sunday and she had to work. My dad would normally work Sundays too, but he took off that day to go with me. This time, he was so proud that he made copies of the works I had published and handed them out to everyone. I mean everyone. There are a few professional baseball players who are now proud owners of the stories, "His Father" and "The Back Porch," and the poem, "A Dream Inferred." I'm sure they found their way into the trash at Three Rivers Stadium about a minute after they got out of his cab, but nonetheless.

At that point in my life, I had given up on the idea of being a writer or an English teacher and I was going to be either a physician or a researcher (HA HA HA!!!). Despite that, my dad had decided that after I graduated from college and medical school or graduate school, I would help him to write his memoirs as a cab driver. He was convinced that I was going to write and that I was going to be brilliant.

Well, I never got to ghostwrite those memoirs. And I regret that. My dad (and my mom - in her way) was the one person who never told me I couldn't. It didn't matter what we were talking about - he believed I could do anything. But he knew - somehow, someway - that I was destined to write.

I wonder now if I am where I am now as an opportunity. I wonder if this is God's - or the universe's, or destiny's - way of telling me that now is the time. I find it interesting that I am perfectly calm about having to turn down a job I dreamed of having, and that I have a general sense of peace right now. Is it coincidence that these (and other) memories of my father came flooding back to me this week? I don't think so.

I don't know if I will ever have a book published. I don't know if I really have the talent for it, even though completely objective people and total strangers seem to think I do (well, except for some folks at St. Al's CCC - but we won't go there). But if you do ever go to your friendly neighborhood Barnes and Noble and see my name on a dust jacket, open up to the dedication page and you will see something like this:

To my daddy, who always said I would.

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