on the small island where you try laying claim
breathing transports the flesh to and from the coast
you journey without compass of starlight
high spirited purpose often billowing canvas
effortlessly forward across wilding seas
spinning as she does
paths disappear in your wake
water eventually erodes the edges
no sanctuary exists for you in these pounding crests
settling upon an abandoned shell
placing it to your wrinkled lobe
you close your eyes, inhaling the ocean
once more seeking out the peace of those crashing island waves
Sixteen short years ago, I left my career. It was a surprise even to me. I had planned on working right through the whole mom thing. Why not? I could multitask with the best of them. I had color-coding down to a science. I was not only a list maker, I was a List Master.
Go ahead, throw in that new baby ’cause there was nothing I couldn’t do. Besides, all the women I worked with returned after having babies so would I. I adored my career. I loved walking into my big office, (though I didn’t appreciate the kitchenette location if someone was microwaving broccoli). Creating 4/C textbooks and their ancillary components required a small planet of talented people. My staff was terrific and I had a fabulous administrative assistant. After months of arduous work, I always loved having a tangible product to shove proudly into someone’s hands.
I only knew how to do my job one way – ALL. I worked many hours often and always. It was how my parents raised me. You give your ALL so ALL was what I gave. I was Atlas – the weight of the publishing planet upon my back.
Eight months after the delicate daughter entered my autobiography, I gave notice. I only knew ALL and ALL was not divisible by two. For many months afterward I color-coded toy baskets, made infinite to-do-lists and wrote about a little alien in my house…
Thank you and goodnight. May your dreams be weightless and pain-free this evening…
(I rendered fashion gal in pen and ink, ball on back girl is pencil, Prentice Hall cover design and interior design by me. Skeletal System in Motion cover illustration by the talented illustrator: Keith Kasnot )
Okay, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The delicate daughter was named after a lovely Harry Nilsson ballad and the big son was named after the sitcom, Get Smart. But, please don’t tell them. They are already subject to the birth order dilemma, or in other words, jockeying for position as is their perceived ‘right’ based on when the canon shot them into the delivery room.
Let me bring you way, way back into my career and to my first foray into the mad, mad world that is publishing. Before entering my eleven-year career at an educational publishing house, I worked for a small publishing company. I was there for a year. And what fun I had: I put several family members on jacket covers, got to speak to Elvis Presley’s step brother and learned about the birth order.
I learned about the whole birth order thing when my art department had to redesign the cover for Dr. Kevin Lehman’s book, The Birth Order Book – a book still popular today. Rooted within The Birth Order Book’s pages, Dr. Leman explains how birth order affects our personalities, parenting-style, marriages… Using quite a bit of humor, the Doctor strives to help us overcome our, “ingrained tendencies.” Having five other siblings myself, I was quite curious about what Dr. Kevin had to say on the matter. Besides working on the cover, I read his book. I found many of his insights spot-on though my greater difficulty was admitting this. I’ve always described my birth order as bottom-of-the-top (third born followed by three more Italian cherubs). So I have difficulty admitting some truths and I know why: I’m a middle child.
For your viewing entertainment, I’ve included some of my early book jacket designs. Don’t judge too harshly, these were my first covers and I was having a good old time… (The Elvis cover is a comp. A sister’s photo graces the cover for Hot Trax. I gave the jacket cover with one of my brothers on it to my sister-n-law. Don’t ask me what real men do ’cause I don’t know. Sorry, don’t have Dr. Kevin’s I didn’t design his cover.)