I used to be a very serious person. I was an executive in a serious business, drove a serious Japanese luxury sedan, and wore serious business clothes. Even my writing was serious. In my first two books, Harvest of Dreams and A Man Like That, my characters faced serious problems and dealt with them in serious ways.
Then something changed.
It started even before the disintegration of my old career. It might have been brought on by my father’s final illness and the realization that life is too short to be wasted on meaningless, unsatisfying pursuits. Perhaps it was the natural culmination of an overload of serious life events. Or maybe just the arrival of wisdom that comes with age. For whatever reason, I began to chafe under the constraints of my serious life. I wanted to find ways to have fun.
I know this will surprise some of you, but I did not choose to take up heavy drinking, wild parties, and cabana boys. I wanted to express my sense of whimsy, not end up on Middle Aged Women Gone Wild. Instead, I started buying fun socks.
Sitting in my father’s hospital room with my mother and sister, I was surprised when I showed them my cheetah socks and my mother said she was glad to see them because she’d thought I’d become very stuffy. Now, I never thought of myself as stuffy—reserved maybe, but not stuffy. I always knew that inside I was still fun. It’s a bit disconcerting to hear a pronouncement like that from one’s own parent. Her comment increased my determination to liberate my whimsical self. I bought more socks with monkeys, cats, and chipmunks. My brother even bought me a pair featuring Van Gogh’s Starry Night as a retirement present. Here are a few of my favorite designs:
And it didn’t stop there. When we decided to move to Carmel, I knew I didn’t want to bring my ten-year-old car. The new me needed a new car. It had to be small, economical, and above all—fun. Well, a car can’t get much more fun than this. Except for the speed bumps in the grocery store parking lot, I’m having a great time bombing around the hills and valleys of the Central Coast in my new red Fiat 500.
Even my writing voice has changed. My western novella, The Treasure of Como Bluff, is snappy and funny with only the merest hint of angst. And my next book, a contemporary romance about a female bodyguard entitled Unwritten Rules, features a cantankerous Chinese grandmother and a neighbor who leaves pennies in the freezer.
Here’s to having more fun in The Second Half!