“You’re a woman of extremes,” my dentist told me.
Of course, I couldn’t answer. Like most dentists, the young man in Cut Bank, Montana, had thoroughly mastered the skill of asking questions while stuffing fingers, hardware, and disgusting plastic molds into a mouth.
Besides, what was there to say? I was moving from E. Glacier Park (population about 379 at the time) to 42nd and 9th in Manhattan.
There was, of course, a man behind the story—an actor I’d found while doing summer stock in New England. It was a crazy summer—meeting Theodore Bikel, a folkie I’d long admired, watching Pearl Bailey strut her stuff, and discussing children with John Raitt while he practiced his golf swing with the crooked sword from Man of La Mancha. (I was childless at the time; he was worried about his daughter, Bonnie Raitt. Yes, that Bonnie.)
Finally. Masters in Theater in hand, I was finally going to the heart of Broadway.
They weren’t interested.
More importantly, I discovered I really hate, hate, hate rejection. And boy, does the theater hand out rejections—far more often than they hand out parts.
I tried to resume teaching, but floundered. New York was not Browning. I was no longer an “uptown girl.” My heart belonged in the Rockies.
So I found jobs as a temporary secretary. (Thanks, Dad, for insisting I take typing in school.) I worked at the Continental Grain Company, where John Houseman had once apprenticed, before he became famous for his Smith-Barney ads.
I was a receptionist at a beautifully decked out building overlooking Central Park They put fresh flowers on the desk every day. It was lovely.
It was utterly boring.
Finally, I landed at ITT, the International Telegraph and Telegram company—a big deal in those days. It was my first step into the technical world. I’d wound up being a temporary secretary in a division that was building technical infrastructure. It was my first step into the technical world.
My last real math class had been Algebra in high school. (Math of Personal Finance in college didn’t count.) I should have been lost. Instead I was fascinated. Perhaps the fact that my dad held a patent for some technology crucial to television had something to do with it.
ITT also introduced me to the concept of a database. Over the next 30 years I leveraged that concept to a successful career, much to my amazement, but I still remember the beginnings of that career.
When the career was fianlly at its ebb, I began to pay more attention to my writing. I wanted to finally have the career I wanted as a romance writer. The adage, “Write what you know,” was stuck in my consciousness. What did I know? I knew about the tech industry.
And I knew about layoffs in Silicon Valley. I also knew about the struggle to keep things together.
“This is my home. I love this town and these people. But I won‘t go backwards. I won‘t.” Annie Gerhard, California Sunset.
California Sunset was about as autobiographical as any of my stories, but it isn’t the story of my life.
“Writing is easy. Just open a vein and bleed.” Ascribed to a multitude of sources.
Technology afforded me an interesting and profitable career. I’m grateful for all the techies and technology, including my husband. The career also opened doors to worldwide travel I never would have experienced otherwise.
But I was also grateful when it ended, and I had a chance at another new beginning.
How about you? Where have the twists in your life led you?
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