September 16, 1975


September 16, 1975 John and I had been married exactly one month when I wrote this entry. We’d met for the first time 7 months ago, so even though we were legally man and wife I was still in the analyzing the “dynamics of our relationship” stage. We lived in a one bedroom apartment on Hoover, within easy walking distance of USC where he was in his second year of law school and I was working on my MFA in Professional Writing. I was working full-time as a secretary for Len Hill and Richard Marx, two program managers at NBC.

NBC ID Card_edited-1

The state of my moods depended on my reactions to people around me. On this particular day, I bounced from John making me feel lazy and uncreative to Shelly buoying me up with some positive feedback. I wish I could claim that in the intervening years I stopped letting the opinions of others determine my sense of self-worth.

Mood 1

That would be a lie. At best, I’ve become incrementally better at self-validation. I’m still inclined to dismiss positive feedback as false flattery and accept criticism as the absolute truth.  On the bright side, being thin-skinned means I’m not blind to flaws – in myself or my writing – when other people point them out. More often than not, what I initially perceive as criticism can be re-construed as good advice.

Open to criticism

Mood 2


In retrospect, John was right that pushing me harder wouldn’t have solved my writer’s block.  Creative energy does have to come from within. At the same time, I’m immensely grateful for Shelly’s encouragement.  Without it, I might have quit. I’m not one of those writers who have to write even if no one ever reads it. I write to be read and hopefully understood – to communicate.

Mood 3

That goes for this diary blog, too. This is as good a time as any to thank anyone who’s liked one of these or commented. Your feedback and validation keep me going.


July 27, 1977


July 27, 1977

Looking for my calling
Looking for my calling

This was a transitional time in our lives. John had finished his last year of law school but wouldn’t know when or if he’d be licensed to practice until after the bar results. When we married, I was working for Len Hill at NBC. I quit to take a job at USC that gave both John and me a break on tuition. I quit that job for more time to write and immediately got pregnant.

New Mom
New Mom

Christopher was seven months old at the time of this entry. John and I shared a car, which he drove to USC and work, so I was marooned in the Hillside Strangler’s killing fields (bodies were piling up in circumference around us).

70's Fashion
70’s Fashion

I had no idea whether or not I’d succeed as a writer. My identity was in flux. When I look back at photos taken then, I hardly recognize myself. I’m dressed like I thought a new mother or future Jr. Leaguer should dress. (On the other hand, 70s fashion didn’t do me any favors.)

New Mom and Dad and Son
New Mom and Dad and Son

The part of my psyche that never changed – my constant – remains in my worry about the impression I made on Gailya.  From the time I started writing in diaries (age 12), whenever I spent any time with a friend, I second-guessed my performance in my diary – “I’m sure I bored her” was my most common review. Maybe everybody critiques their social interactions and inventories their mistakes. Even if true, I suspect most people grow out of it.

Am I any better now, 40 years later? Maybe a little. Not enough.