I started out teaching at Yale when I was 26 and then was selected to be a Visiting Lecturer at UC Berkeley. I was pretty much horrified at how little we social scientists had to offer the rebellious youth. After 3 years, I stopped reapplying for the next year’s assignment. (See “Drop Out”.) I did other things for about 30 years and then got called back to the podium. I accepted because I thought maybe I knew something by then. Now I teach, but I teach only “creatives”, not those who wish to “do” social science.
It began to pour poems in the “way back,” right after the twin towers fell. I started “The Morning Poem Club”, members of which got a poem every morning before they even got up because I got up before any of them. I published a collection called “Poems After the World Changed,” (see WORDS)–and also see SOUNDS because I speak many of them. Nose around and you will find a children’s book of poems for adults and a collection of sonnets. The poetic urge stopped when wordlessness fell over me after “Upon Reading Owen Barfield.”
I do not think of myself as an academic, but over 30 years in the hallowed halls has me ‘fess up. I treasure the decades on the stage and in the corporate world where I learned things that Social Science classes had failed to teach me. After the Ivy, I taught at UC, and when I dropped out of that, I supervised the ‘community studies’ students sent out to us on one coast or the other. Much later, I agreed to teach for the largest university in the land (CSU). I now restrict my teaching to a small arts college. Less pay, more fun.
I tend to have ridiculously epic dreams – many memorable. I’ll just tell you one. It was 1972 and I was in a hot dog stand which had been converted from a large roller-skating rink. Have at it, Freud. There were many stand-up round tables with no stools. As I stood there eating my hot dog, I noticed a thin trench coated man to my right. I asked him, “Are you a human being?” He said, “No.” I asked, “Where are you from?” “I am from the planet Stonehenge.” I said, “I didn’t know there was a planet Stonehenge.” “That’s not all you don’t know,” he replied.
As I already said “up there” I dropped out of a promising academic career because I found it uninspiring. I though the Ivory Tower was a place to talk–but it seemed all politics. I just wanted to write fiction and talk with interesting people over pitchers of beer. One night someone said, “I know this teacher and you must go to her and take her classes.” “Ok,” I said. “What’s her name and what does she teach?” That was the beginning of my acting career: after just one night of seeing how actors train, I saw that I HAD TO submit to it.
My teacher was a scholar and Broadway actor. I became a Stanislavkian actor, teacher, director. Two of my lead stage roles were drunks–another was a 12th Century witch. I also played a nun. Which was I? When I moved to Hollywood, I taught acting to earn a buck. since live stages seemed to be launch pads to get TV jobs. The last series I remember watching was 77 Sunset Strip, so that didn’t work to my advantage. I took a temp job at Paramount for a week and stayed 13 years. I stopped auditioning for industrial films.
I accept any and all pronouns, but I prefer the English language as it was before we kicked around in it. I try not to cringe at grammatical errors. When asked as a teen if I’d “d’ruther” be a boy or a girl, I would always answer, “Boy!” But the reason was they had an easier time hitchhiking. I finally like being a woman.
I think love between two people who see their asymmetry and their equality is the most precious thing there is. You can find it described under “The Sound of Love” or in the sonnet to a jasmine bush. The Owen Barfield book put an end to all that rhapsody. Now there is just the memory of the smell and touch of love.
I love to put things in order. As a bored child I would go to the family bathroom and line up bottles in the medicine cabinet. For the right man, I will sort nuts, bolts, screws, and nails. Once I cleaned the avalanche on a man’s desk. He was horrified. Now I help organize the world of an international teacher.
I was raised one, but I didn’t understand it until about four years ago. Now Jesus is just alright with me.
I never had offspring, but my sister had four–so genetically, my DNA is quartered in California, New York, Philly, and Aspen. My sister did something right because each kid is amazing: helpful, kind, beautiful, sweet. Each of them married amazing partners – three of whom remain around. Between them are 5 offspring so I am a Great Aunt!
Huston Smith taught me that Jews brought the idea of RESPONSIBILITY to us. Responsibility goes with freedom
I am an elder now, and boy am I eld. I am embracing it, but it is tricky to call one’s self wise. I let my hair go white with Covid, but that is the only concession to aging here. Well, I do climb into bed before 9 each night and I gave up drinking–but that is just because bed is so nice and I have already drunk enough for one lifetime.
I love the idea of just stopping. Just stop. Pray. Five times a day is good – or any time you think of it.
I first started dreaming about writing when I was just a school girl. In college I dreamed of writing a novel that would be held together with a pattern – like a crystal – and then we would see we are all caught in that crystal. I get very prepared for classes or otherwise I might just wander all over the place. I believe in the power of poetry.