Sneak Peak into a New Memoir
Yes, I'm working on a fourth memoir, alternating with researching and developing the Aunt Nell Cozy mystery. This time I'm looking back at my years living in Germany. The working title for now is Old World, New Me: An Introvert's Memoir of Fitting In and Standing Out. Here's a short excerpt from the unpolished draft.
I’m told I make it hard for people to get to know me. It’s not that I strive to be mysterious. I think I just have a higher set point for the kind and amount of personal information that feels appropriate to share with strangers. Consequently, I’ve been called aloof when I think I’m just being observant and not competing for attention. Some consider me shy, which can be true until I know and trust you. In reality, I’m just an introvert.
Whether that is a trait hard-wired into my neuropsychology, or a coping mechanism born of growing up with hyper-critical, über conservative, prone to punishment parents, I don’t know. Regardless, I figured out early in life that it was best to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself, lest they be used as weapons against me.
I’ll tell you a secret, though. There is a streak of the wild child lurking beneath my carefully cultivated surface of outward appropriateness. I’ve always leaned towards furtive rebellion. To be honest, being the sort of maverick that is quietly subversive is one of the things I like best about myself.
The rebel introvert side of me comes out mostly in writing. Sometimes in random one-on-one conversation. That’s much more satisfying to me than the sort of daring that requires adrenaline pumping, death defying acts of high energy stupidity.
Perhaps this is how I got involved with a young man in the Air Force when I was enrolled in a women’s college and working as a dorm monitor. You see, back in the in loco parentis days, students had to sign out of the dorm if they were going off campus, and I checked them out, and back in.
One weekend in early October, Denver was having an unexpected blizzard, and I had a student missing as curfew approached. That’s when I got a call from a buck sergeant at Lowry Air Force Base, who was on a similar kind of barracks duty and trying to find the airman who had taken my sophomore out to dinner.
The sergeant and I traded concerns for a minute, then the conversation became more social as we both hoped the missing couple would walk in out of the snow at any moment. He was from Mississippi, but only had a very mild accent to my Missouri ear. His first name was Jimmy, and as clichéd as it sounded, he had joined the Air Force to see the world.
Because he asked, I told him I was studying political science and philosophy. I expected that to be a turn off, and was surprised that he was curious about how I expected to use that in the future, which probably planted the first seeds of doubt.
There was no way I wanted to be a politician. Campaigning for office would be a terrorizing prospect for an introvert. Although I liked thinking about different ways to think about things, it soon occurred to me that that skill was rarely a job requirement for beginner employment in a world that prized compliance with arbitrary standards.
The next year I switched my major to journalism and later became editor of the campus newspaper.
I ended the call with Jimmy after about 10 minutes, feeling like I should keep the phone line clear in case other dorm residents were stuck out in the weather and were trying to call in. But not before he insisted on giving me his phone number in case I heard from the missing twosome. An hour later they showed up, and I called Jimmy to let him know his guy was safe and on the way back to Lowry.
Although I wasn’t really looking for a boyfriend, somehow that started a courtship. A few months later he asked for my address. He was being sent to Vietnam and wanted to keep in touch. I wasn’t that attached, but he was going off to war. How could I refuse?