WHAT’S A KATHY MARTINAK?

I am a Jersey Girl, which is cool–there’s a song about us, and we don’t pump our own gas–but I’m also a nerd, and I was a nerd way before it was cool to be one. In the personal ad through which I met my husband (yes, I had to resort to that), I described myself as “a state of being verb.” This meant that I was not the mountain-climbing or water-skiing or sports-playing type. (And that was before I learned that I had MS.) I have always been bookish and nerdy, if somewhat outspoken. I think I may have been born with a book in my hands, but, being an adopted child, I don’t know for sure. My childhood role models
were Harriet the Spy and Little Women‘s Jo March (both writers) as well as Anne of Green Gables (a teacher). In middle school I read The Lord of the Rings and The Prophet, and I became obsessed with writing free verse and developing a life philosophy, while my friends were drinking beer behind the roller skating rink. In high school, I took a class in musical comedy. My teachers thought I was a hoot and a half, and encouraged me to take to the boards immediately. “You’re so funny! You have such a stage presence!” But I told them that I had to, you know, go to college and all. (That class came in very handy in later life, though, because teaching is definitely a performance art, and the more comedy, the better.)  Anyway, as an undergraduate, I still loved to read and talk about books, so I majored in English, and upon graduation I couldn’t think of anything else to do so I carried on majoring in English by going to graduate school. By the time I’d finished my Master’s degree, I was a really good writer of academic prose, and I had read enough literary criticism to know that my own childish creative endeavors were crap. Also, I needed a job, and I ultimately became a high school English teacher. I taught for 20 years, and for 12 of them I taught AP Literature, where I was lucky enough to teach college level material without the bother of a PhD. I had to retire from teaching in 2013 at the age of 50 because of problems arising from MS. With the recent departure of my only son for college, I am officially bored out of my skull. I’ve written a few short humorous essays; they literally wrote themselves when the spirit moved me. Writing them felt very satisfying. I looked to both Nora Ephron and Fran Leibowitz for inspiration, but I found both of these women to be too sophisticated and worldly-wise to help me write. Still, I would like to do something rather more proactive than sitting around and waiting for inspiration to hit.  Hence this attempt at blogging.  It has been frustrating so far; there is little technology in the ivory tower!  But we shall see . . .

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