everything about me...well, almost


Roberta St. Jean, Writer and Recovering English Teacher  
My first meeting with my Web site designer was wonderful until she asked me to write my profile. I've had writer's block ever since.   "This is silly," I told myself two weeks later. "You are a writer; you teach a technique that clears writer's block. Why don't you use it?" Myself answered, "What can I write about Roberta St. Jean that will convey who she is and why people will enjoy her class?"   "Never mind all that," I said to myself. "Just write."   Okay. Here goes.  

I arrived on the planet during a New Hampshire blizzard. My first home was across the street from the inspiration for Snowy's house in Ruth Doan MacDougall's "The Cheerleader." As I turned four, we moved to the house my parents built in the town Grace Metalious called "Peyton Place." During a labor strike, my father took a top secret civilian job with the Navy in China Lake, California. I walked on China Lake, but only because it contains no water. My brother Ron was born and we four lived in a tiny two-room trailer.

We moved to Margate Apartments in Temple City, a suburb of Los Angeles. My mother made a white artificial tree for Christmas and we went to Pasadena to see the Rose Parade. A neighbor hanged herself. Back in New Hampshire, I was thrilled to be with my friends in fifth grade. Diagnosed with scoliosis when I was twelve. Made the junior high cheerleader squad, but was too heavy to jump off the floor. Won the Betty Crocker Homemaker Award in high school though I couldn't cook or sew. Coeditor of the yearbook. Saw a neighbor on the television news after he was arrested for trying to assassinate President Kennedy.

At Plymouth State College, I majored in English. Graduated with a Bachelor of Education degree. I was one of the 15 Plymouth Players who converted the abandoned Lincoln High School into a summer theatre for the town's bicentennial. Met Sherman and Rachel Adams, the producers. Sherman Adams was the former special assistant to President Eisenhower and a former governor of New Hampshire. I built and painted scenery, stage managed, and appeared in several plays.

Taught English in Northern New Hampshire and Upstate New York. I filed a discrimination suit against a national health agency and won. My younger cousin was killed while training to be a Navy pilot in Texas. Was a staffer in Senator Hathaway's campaign office and typed position papers written by Angus King before he became governor of Maine. Met Senator George McGovern, Senator Ted Kennedy, and the heir to an oil fortune who proposed to me on election day. Founded the first Rape Crisis Center in Maine with another survivor.

My father died of cancer at 64. He had worked for 50 years and never took a real vacation anywhere. Lived in another trailer (aka mobile home), adopted two poodles, took a swimming class at the Y called Absolutely Terrified. Still can't swim. Wrote a mystery that began as a romance novel but was too boring; entered it into a contest and lost. Stuck it in a drawer.

Went to Jamaica, took SCUBA lessons, married my instructor, got divorced, finished my second mystery novel and put that in another drawer.

Joined a writers' group; read "Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg. Started Cupid's Dating Service and wrote a monthly advice column for "The Odyssey." I taught my first Write for Joy! class and discovered how wonderful teaching can be.

The house my parents built was taken by eminent domain to slightly modify an intersection. My mother, already in her 80s, was moved to a new house on the same property. Nice as it was, she never accepted it. When medical professionals decided she could no longer care for herself, she was moved to an assisted living facility and passed away two years later.

I accepted a position with NARFE Magazine and moved to Alexandria, Virginia. I interviewed Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet. On September 10, 2001, returning from my 92-year-old uncle's wedding in Arizona, I was on one of the last planes to land at Ronald Reagan National Airport. The next morning, I saw the smoke from the Pentagon and heard the fighter jets take off for Pennsylvania .

I bought my first house, on a canal that looks like a river, and moved to South Florida between Hurricanes Frances and Ivan. I am trying Internet dating with mixed results and waiting for Hurricane Wilma. A part-time job found me and I am writing another book.

This profile contains far more than you need to know, but I want to show how the Write for Joy! process works. Once you have allowed yourself to write whatever comes to mind, you can go back and make changes. But if you edit as you write, some of your best ideas may be lost forever.

Write a profile of your own. As your thoughts, feelings and experiences appear on the page, you will uncover a rich resource of topics for future writes. These writes may lead to stories or books. You may even publish them.

But first, Write for Joy!

Write for Joy!
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