[wpcol_2fifth id=”” class=”” style=””]I grew up in Montclair, New Jersey, without any memorable traumas. I spent the summer of my 19th year with an Italian family. The landscape was soft and colorful, shown here. I still visit them, more than 40 years later. What a gift.

After plodding pleasantly through a B.A. in French and Spanish and an M.A. in English from New York University, in the heart of Greenwich Village, I immediately left for Europe with $400 and no particular plan. I didn’t come back for 13 years.

I spent six months in Israel, three months in Spain, and months here and there in Germany, Austria, and Italy. During my 11 years living in Athens, Greece, I taught English as a Second Language and created my own line of skin care products, which I manufactured in my kitchen. Among the many places I traveled in Greece was the Gorge of Samaria in Crete. This is a picture of me at the bottom of the Gorge.[/wpcol_2fifth] [wpcol_3fifth_end id=”” class=”” style=””][thethe-image-slider name=”Early Life”][/wpcol_3fifth_end]

[wpcol_3fifth id=”” class=”” style=””][thethe-image-slider name=”Middle Age”][/wpcol_3fifth] [wpcol_2fifth_end id=”” class=”” style=””]My first husband was an Australian journalist whom I met in Athens. We moved to the U.S., had two children, and got divorced. My second husband was a former song-and-dance man, then computer programmer from North Carolina. We got divorced, too. My children had by then had enough fathers, so I didn’t date for the next twelve years.

Once my children were old enough, I took ballet lessons again, played piano, and made money. I have also sung with wonderful choirs in New York City, Hoboken, and Montclair, New Jersey.

At dinner tables, in the street, from books, and in classrooms, I learned French, Spanish, Greek, Italian, and German. I also edited a cookbook.
My family is sentimentally attached to the Adirondack mountains, where my great grandfather established a camp on Raquette Lake in 1896.[/wpcol_2fifth_end]

[wpcol_2fifth id=”” class=”” style=””] Africa always seemed too dangerous, too far, too different. But I spent a month in Harare, Zimbabwe in 2005: shopping, cooking, going to the gym — living like a Zimbabwean, up to a point. Africa did not entrance me; it saddened me. So much wasted potential, and scant hope that will change.

One photo is of the market in Mbare, in Harare, Zimbabwe, where thousands of people gathered every day. In 2005 it was razed. Zimbabwe sank from despair to tragedy. A great and unnecessary tragedy for hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans. It muddles along today, a spectral reflection of its former self.

Not to give away the happy ending to my book — but my husband and I now are more likely to travel to see children and grandchildren in California, or to to Vienna and Graz to visit dear friends there. We add a junket to these two destinations – Spain, France, the Grand Canyon, and so on. But most of the time, we are pleasantly looking out on the Hudson River and the New York skyline from our Hoboken apartment.

From 2005-20014, I taught in the award winning freshman writing program at Montclair State University. My students came to me poorly prepared, and it was satisfying to see them learning to make a solid sentence, construct a cogent essay, and raise their rhetorical skills. They were, and are, smart, motivated, and challenged by a difficult world. Leaving behind this vocation was difficult, but it absorbed a dominating share of my mind, time, and energy for most of the year, deflecting from my first joy and first priority, writing.

My grandchildren have extended my grasp well into the 21st century. They touch my heart so.

…and the happy ending, I have been blissfully married to Terry Stoeckert, a now retired professor of Finance at Stevens Institute of Technology, for going on nine years.

[/wpcol_2fifth] [wpcol_3fifth_end id=”” class=”” style=””][thethe-image-slider name=”Late Life”][/wpcol_3fifth_end]