When I was a girl growing up in a small town in Ohio, the future filled me with anxiety. I felt pressure to have a passion or dream to pursue, but the truth is, I loved too many things to narrow it down to one path. I loved learning about bees and flowers, about space, about laws, queens, geography, religion, art – I loved nearly everything. (Math never made this list.)
As I approached high school graduation and it was time to choose how to spend my adulthood, I was still undecided. This is what prompted me to join the Air Force. After seven years of service and an honorable discharge, I wasn’t much closer to figuring out what to do. I started a degree in pre-law with plans to become an attorney. I’d worked briefly as a paralegal during my last year in the military, so this career seemed like a safe bet. It wasn’t until the death of my grandmother that I realized what I wanted to do.
My grandmother was one of the people with whom I was closest. My mother and I lived with her for the first part of my life. She even chose my first name, and I was given her name for a middle name, so in that sense and many others, she was like the foundation upon which I was built. Losing her felt like a push into an alternate universe. It was in learning to navigate this new world that I had an epiphany. I realized that the direction for my life had been staring at me all along – words. When I thought about my life, I saw that words were always my biggest passion.
My childhood was filled with the magic of words, starting with my mother reading Cat in the Hat to me until I could recite the entire book at age three. I remember feeling pure joy when learning Pig Latin in third grade and going on to create my own secret code with friends. I asked Santa for a typewriter so I could write my own stories like a “real writer” when I was nine. During seventh grade study hall, my best friend and I would write poems in a secret notebook, and that year I relished learning new vocabulary words like astute and ambivalent with my favorite English teacher, Mrs. Kane. I expanded my love of words to foreign languages by studying French and German in high school. When I joined the Air Force, I selected a job as a linguist, where I spent six years studying and translating Russian. Even in my free time as a young adult, I chose books about etymology and Shakespeare over the latest Nicholas Sparks romance novels.
It was clear that language was what I enjoyed the most. I moved forward with this new clarity and earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, both in English. The more I studied English language, the more enraptured I became with poetry. My favorite thing about poetry is the weight that one word can carry in the text. I am now pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing with a focus in poetry. In addition to my desire to write and read poetry, I also want to contribute to the literary community. This is what has brought me to Sundress Academy for the Arts. I love the way they foster connections and bring resources and inspiration to writers. I am very happy to help with their mission, and I hope to play a part in helping others find their own joy through words.
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