When I was in the 7th grade, the teacher had each of us stand up and tell the class what we wanted to be when we grew up. My little heart pounding, my gut in a twist, I stood when it was my turn and announced that I wanted to be a jockey – and the entire class laughed.
But the joke was on them.
Having for years spent my allowance each week on “Millie The Model” comic books, what I really dreamed of being was a model, just like Millie. Taunted all my young years with the moniker of “plain Jane,” I ached for Millie’s glamorous life, but I couldn’t tell them that. Oh, hell no! To be laughed at for wanting to be a jockey was nothing. To be laughed at for my deepest heart’s desire – that would have been crushing.
When I was in my twenties, my modeling career became a reality, mostly catalogues and print ads for this product or that. Cheryl Tiegs had nothing to fear, but I’d achieved my childhood goal and it was with great pride that I toted my 11 x 14 portfolio of photos all over
on “go sees” just as Millie had done. San Francisco
My thirties found me in
pursuing an accidental acting career. I say “accidental” because never in my life had I ever had such a notion, but from the modeling one thing had led to another and there I was. I would eventually come to learn that in life there are no "accidents." A few commercials, some bit parts in TV shows, and I had succeeded, at least on some level, at what I’d set out to do, and though my heart really wasn’t in it, acting did serve to lead me to the next step on my journey. Hollywood
Midway through the decade, with younger models hot on my heels and an acting career stalled in the slow lane, change once again happened upon me with the surprising discovery that I not only liked to write, but seemed to have some aptitude at it, and I set my sights on a career writing movies for television. While learning my craft, I wrote spec scripts, took writing classes, pitched ideas, and made the rounds at agents. Finally, after years of this, I got my first movie deal and with it my shiny, plastic Writer’s Guild card. I was in!
TV movies flourished in those years from 1980 through the nineties, and I achieved a pretty decent career for myself with little thought of it ever ending. But end it did, with the arrival of reality-TV, which could be made a lot cheaper and without having to deal with those pesky writers. And so right around the early part of the 21st Century, when a sunny morning in September would forever alter the world as we knew it, my personal world shifted on its axis, as well, and I faced a future without an income.
My decision to go back to school and become a paralegal while in my fifties was daunting and not made any less so by the fact that I was older than the damn teachers, but it was also challenging and exciting. I found a job that allowed me to work from home as I had all those years as a writer, so not much changed except the pay scale, but at least it was a steady gig, which I’d never had in my other professional incarnations.
Which brings me to now. I look around at the path my life has taken from city girl to farm life and marvel at the circuitous route that led me here. It was nothing I could have planned and yet perfectly planned it now seems, as if by some unseen hand that picked me up each time I fell, dusted me off and sent me once again on my way.
Being blessed with good health, I could easily have another 20 years ahead of me. In fact, I’m counting on it. What will they bring? I have no idea, but I sure do find it interesting that while I never became a jockey, horses have played such an important part of my journey.
And to think. It all started with a comic book.