A Lifetime of Stories
My mother used to record me and my younger brothers when we were young. She used one of those little black tape players with the big, strong buttons and a built-in microphone. She asked us questions, led us in song, and sometimes, just let the tape pick up our conversation.
One day when I was eight, Paul was three, and David six, she recorded us telling each other stories. David told a story, and then I told another one. Then David sang a song, and I sang another song. Then we urged Paul to stop being an appreciative audience and start telling stories, too.
“I don’t know any stories,” Paul said.
“Just make one up!” said I, and David said “Yeah! Just make one up!”
“I don’t know any made-up stories,” Paul said. He sounded so defeated.
“Sure you do, Paul!”
“Yeah, everyone knows stories — just make one up!”
Well, it turns out that making up stories isn’t as easy as I thought it was when I was eight. But it’s still what I would rather do, more than anything else.
I’m in my forties now, and I’ve spent most of the (ahem) three decades that have passed since that recording was made avoiding making up stories.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time — well over the requisite 10,000 hours needed to become an expert — reading everything from the back of cereal boxes to novels to non-fiction on every topic imaginable.
I’ve majored in poetry (not fiction) and double majored in drama at Tufts University.
I’ve worked in two incredible bookstores (Harvard Book Store and Brookline Booksmith), where I allowed myself to … keep up that voracious reading habit.
I became a copywriter — someone who writes the words that tell-about-and-sell things.
I wrote book reviews and Arts stories for a local paper in Boston.
I worked in Sales at Farrar Straus & Giroux.
I went to Swedish Institute and became a licensed massage therapist.
I ran the Career Training program at Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula, Montana.
I went to CTI and became a Life Coach.
I came on board my husband’s small book publishing company, Maui Media.
I’ve also taught swimming lessons to tots, published a best-selling book that reviews Maui restaurants, and edited a sobering-but-much-needed book about dog cancer.
Along the way I’ve moved from Boston to New York to New Jersey to Montana, and to Maui, where I finally (finally) felt completely at home.
And all along the way, I’ve built my life around stories. My own and the ones of those I love (and those I just meet on the sidewalk, through my dogs). But I’ve kept them in my heart, only allowing them to come out in conversations with friends. And if you ask some of my friends, they’d be better on paper, edited.
I love story. It’s how I learn. And it’s all I want to do, for the rest of my life.