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J. Elliott

My childhood dream was to inherit my grandparents’ house in upstate New York, set up a typewriter on the second floor and be a writer.  Alas, my parents sold the farmhouse when I was a teen, so that part of the dream was buried with a ‘sold’ marker and a benediction.

I graduated with a portly liberal arts education and B.A. in English Literature from the University of the South, in Sewanee, Tennessee. (I know, this sounds like Hicksville if you’ve never heard of it, but look it up, the campus was designed after Oxford –it’s gorgeous.) Moved to New York City with dreams of getting into publishing, which I did. Worked for W.W. Norton Inc. for three years in publicity. The slush pile reader job I coveted was taken, and my best friend offered a gig–move to Japan to teach English with her. Lived in Kyoto for three years, had a blast lesson planning private classes for ages three to seventy. Heeding signs of economic slump, it was time to come home. Took a short but highly memorable teaching position for the Florida Elks Children’s Hospital in Umatilla, Florida, a one-room schoolhouse affair for children age K-5 to help them keep up with schoolwork. Best job ever. But my ex wanted to move to Gainesville to attend the University of Florida.

A fair chunk of my employment history in this era was devoted to the corporate world of trust banking until our department was downsized and outsourced. I don’t really miss the corporate pantyhose life, and I hope that “Hello, my name is… ‘Daniel’“ in Mumbai enjoys my former position. No hard feelings, and really, I’m kidding. Sort of.

I asked the universe for a non-corporate job where I felt I was needed. “Something quirky” I said. “And how about ‘forensic’ (too much CSI!). Within three weeks, I was employed as an assistant to a forensic psychologist who evaluated sex offenders. Just goes to show, as the adage says, be careful what you wish for. The job was challenging. I had a great boss. Sadly, he had a recurrence of cancer and died within months of the diagnosis.

As my fiftieth birthday rolled around, it was time to reinvent myself again. But wait a sec. Did I set out to be a secretary? No I did not. What did I really want to do? What were my childhood dreams? Oh yeah, I remember!  I always wanted to be a writer.