“Mom, Why Didn’t You Become A Writer?”

Hannah:  “Mom, Why Didn’t You Become A Writer?”
Hannah and I at the restaurant, "Hideout 125."
Just outside of Hideout 125, on Mother’s Day Weekend, is where Little Booger asked me why I had never pursued writing.

At that moment, I was transported back to freshman year and my first college Journalism class, ultimately becoming my last, at Indiana University Bloomington, in 1981.

I knew the answer immediately but had never admitted it to anyone.  Dare I say it out loud and confess to my daughter?

Me:  “Well …… when I got to IU, my intention was to major in Journalism.”

When I was in Jr. High, (that’s what it was called for us Baby Boomers, not Middle School as it is referred to now),  I had a wonderful English teacher by the name of Betty Stein.

2 yearbooks from elementary school, 3 from Jr. High and 3 from High School.
These are the yearbooks I have from my school years.

Mrs. Stein also sponsored the Fairfield Jr. High School Newspaper.  I had to dig out my yearbooks because I couldn’t remember the name of the paper. It was called the “Falcon” and was only printed a couple of times a year.  She enlisted students from her English class to write the articles for the paper,  and two lucky students would be chosen to be the editor, one for the first semester and another to be editor for the second semester.

A note addressed to my parents from my 9th grade English teacher.
A note sent to my parents from Mrs. Betty Stein. It reads:  Kate is doing such an outstanding job on the school paper that I felt you should be told. She assumes responsibility quietly and well; she is always pleasant, cooperative and very competent. Working with her is sheer pleasure!





The Editor position was only open to 9th graders.  I was asked to be the editor for one of the semesters.

This is when I started to embrace writing.  I was hooked.

My report card from 9th grade.
YEP ……. That’s a big fat “F”. As you can see, I didn’t exactly apply myself!

Unfortunately, this royal and blissful beginning to my writing career ended abruptly.  I was flunking 9th grade Algebra the same semester I was Editor and, in true Bob Leffers form, my Dad marched into the Principal’s office and demanded that I receive tutoring.

I had to resign from the Editor position and stay after school, each day, for extra help from the Algebra teacher.   Neither I, nor Mr. Booker, was feeling blissful about that situation. 🙁

Just another exercise in peer humiliation for me.

A picture of the newspaper staff from my 9th grade yearbook.
The newspaper staff from 9th grade. I’m 3rd from the left in the front row.

But ……… High School was right around the corner and South Side High School offered a Journalism class.  YAY!

Note to self:  Keep grades up to avoid additional degradation.

High school was much different but I still had to pass that required math class: 10th grade Geometry.  Can you tell that math was my absolute nemesis?

Although I tolerated Geometry and eventually made it out of that burning inferno, I lived for Journalism class.  I also enjoyed French class but, senior year, I had to make a choice between Journalism and 3rd year French, as they  were offered the same period.

Senior year I split my time writing articles for the paper and working on the yearbook.  My good friend, Mike, became the Editor of the yearbook and asked me to be the Co-Editor.  There was a lot more responsibility entrusted to us with the yearbook and Miss Anne White, the Journalism teacher, let us have a fairly long rein.

The 1981 South Side High School yearbook staff.
The 1981 South Side High School yearbook staff. This was my senior year that I was Co-Editor with Mike. I’m 2nd from the left in the front row and Mike is to my left. I remember everyone thought Mike and I should be front and center for the picture.

I knew by senior year that if I wanted to become a journalist, Indiana University was the place to go.  After all, one of America’s most talented and famous journalists at the time, Jane Pauley, graduated from IU.  Even though I had no aspiration of becoming the next Deborah Norville, Indiana was were I wanted to go.

A picture of my pin and charm from senior awards.
My awards from senior year. Quill & Scroll pin and Editor charm.
Quill & Scroll is an International high school journalism honor society that recognizes and encourages both individual and group achievements in scholastic journalism.

I  really liked to write, in fact, it was my intention to leave the scenic campus of IU, in four years, holding my diploma in Journalism.

Now …….. if you know me, or you have followed my blog, you know my degree in Journalism metamorphosed into a degree in Dental Laboratory Technology.  Why?

My college diploma.
My college diploma in Dental Laboratory Technology.

Back to that question my daughter asked …………..

“Mom, why didn’t you become a writer?”                                                     

I would have been much more embarrassed to admit my lack of courage to her when she was growing up because, well …….. We’re supposed to set an example for our children and make sure they know they can achieve anything if they set their mind to it, right?

But my daughters are adults now.  So I said it ……………

“I was too shy.”  

And, I said it without one bit of chagrin.

⌈Those who know me well, would probably not use that word to describe me now.   I was very bashful my entire life, up until I found myself running a business where I was required to consult with other professionals and colleagues on a daily basis, mainly dentists.⌋

That’s called “sink or swim,” baby!

I continued ……………..

“I showed up for the first day of Journalism class, along with 200 other students in an auditorium-style setting, for what was to be the first of many lectures in the career of my choice.  At the conclusion of the lecture, we were told to ‘pair-up’ with someone, with whom we would be assigned a project.  I looked around and it appeared that everyone was talking to someone.  No one approached me, and I was too timid to approach anyone.”

It was a “sink or swim” moment in my life.  I chose to sink that day.

I never went back to that class and withdrew the next day.

Most likely everyone has experienced a defining moment, as I had, in their lives.  I’m disappointed with my 18 year-old self that I didn’t have the courage to pursue what I thought to be my destiny, but of course if I had, I never would have found what I was truly meant to do in this life.

An upper and lower denture I set recently.
A Medicaid case I worked on recently.

After 30 years in this business, I can say without hesitation that this career choice has been one of pleasure and importance.

There is nothing better in life when you get a call from a client who thanks you for your work and proceeds to tell you that their patient was so happy with their teeth that they started to cry.

Me with my letter and patch.
A letter, and commemorative 30 year patch, from the National Board of Certification in recognition of my certification.

I’m so thankful for the very small miracles God works in my life,

But …………

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”                            –  George Eliot


xoxo, Katy