Some old stories

1100728367In 2012 and 2013 I contributed to a website called Storylane. It inspired me to write very short pieces about a variety of subjects. Unfortunately, Storylane no longer exists, but packrat that I am I saved every piece I submitted. Here’s a few:

How I Got My First Job Out of College
I graduated from UCLA with a degree in English and had no idea what I would do professionally after getting it. I had wanted to work as a journalist and actually completed all the course work for a degree in journalism at the University of Wisconsin. But family illness caused me to transfer to UCLA for my senior year, and UCLA didn’t offer a BA degree in journalism.

So I was stuck in a city I didn’t know, and hardly knowing anyone in it. I tried valiantly and unsuccessfully early on to get a writing job and then gave up. It was 1962. Not a lot of jobs for women writers in those days, especially in Los Angeles.

Then someone suggested I try the growing aerospace business in southern California. And I did. I called Douglas Aircraft Company – the precursor of McDonnell Douglas and now Boeing – and asked the man who took my call if he ever hired anyone with a degree in English. And he immediately said yes, come right over. After a brief interview I was hired as a technical editor, working on users manuals for a spacecraft project.

I’d like to say this story had a happy ending, but it didn’t. The contract was cancelled – not unusual in that business – and I was laid off after three months.

However, that job kicked off my career of almost thirty years working as a technical writer and editor and a proposal manager in the aerospace business. Only later in life did I start to pursue the career of my dreams – journalistic and creative writing.

My Favorite Toys
Growing up I loved to play with cutout dolls. I had dozens of them. One even had a photo of my face on it. Dressing the dolls up later evolved into my love for drawing and designing clothes and shoes. My girlfriends and I would sit for hours drawing very high-heeled shoes. I like to think that Christian Louboutin got his design prowess from us.

I also loved a large mama-doll my grandmother gave me. If I sat her up she would say, “mama” and open her big blue eyes. I still have that doll in its original clothes. Another toy I still have is the stuffed dog made out of faux fur that my father gave me. I still have that dog too, but it’s probably very mangy by now. My doll collection also included a set tiny storybook dolls, but I wasn’t allowed to play with them. I had them on display on shelves in my bedroom.

Girls back in the day when I was growing up didn’t play sports very much. I liked to swim and ride my bike. I also loved to play jump rope, jacks, and the One, Two, Three O’Leary ball game. I only started playing team sports in middle school.

One thing my father always said was…
From the time I was a little girl my father always said, “It’s better to be five minutes early than to be late.” He was a stickler for punctuality – we had to be at the table right at 6 pm for dinner, we had to be waiting in the car when he took us anywhere, and we had to be on our way with time to spare every school day.  He’d get into a real froth if anyone of us made him wait.

It got so that I panicked at the thought that I might be late for any kind of appointment. That’s how programmed I was by my father’s words. Even now, that panicky feeling still comes up if I think I’m going to arrive somewhere late. It’s amazing how just a few words can affect someone for the rest of his/her life.

Unfortunately, my father practiced what he preached to the ultimate degree when it came time for him to die. He was only seventy-two. He died much too early – at least fifteen years or so.  He probably didn’t want to be late for whatever was waiting for him.

Ten Things About Me1100638675

  • I workout, including amassing over 12,000 steps on my pedometer, everyday
  • 
My husband and I met at work, and we’ve been married 44 years
  • We’ve lived in the same house in Manhattan Beach, CA since 1979 – thirty-five years this month!
  • 
We and our family lived on Kwajalein, a Marshall Island in the South Pacific, in 1977-1978
  • I don’t drink coffee
  • I haven’t eaten red meat in over 30 years
  • I am a published poet
  • Esalen in Big Sur, CA is my favorite place
  • I love to walk to the beach and along the Strand
 in my hometown
  • And I’d like to live in Italy for a while.

 

Comments

  1. I enjoyed these vignettes, Madeline. I especially enjoyed the career story. Since I spent 32 years in higher education, much of the time as an English professor, I always enjoy reading about English majors who find their way in the world.

    My guess is that many of us who have devoted our “retirement” years to writing and publishing are finally returning to our original loves. Congratulations on never letting the dream die.

    • Madeline Sharples says:

      Dear Shirley, Thank you for your thoughts. I think you are so right.. We have had to find our way after all the hurdles we had to jump. Like you, I’m so glad to have found a way to fulfill my dreams.

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