I received an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of San Francisco in December of 2015, at age 64. How I ended up there after forty-plus years has a logic of its own, in a life marked by several new beginnings.
After a middle class upbringing and education in Los Angeles public schools, my adult persona was formed in the crucible of the late sixties. I worked through my twenties at day jobs in rural Northern California–five years cooking and five years driving nails–while volunteering or working in cooperative organizations (check out “Our Collective Dream” elsewhere on this website.). I learned how to cost a menu, price a job and mind a store.
As my forties dawned life on the home front was quite rewarding. I started Dinocardz, a business that did extremely well on the back of Jurassic Park but which I failed to transition successfully into a company (I got another publishing job after that failure). Anne got her Ph.D. and opened her dance-movement psychotherapy practice. Eva and Sophie grew and entered Presidio Hill School, where I joined the Board and eventually became President. I rode my first double century (200-mile plus ride) at age 46, and Eva and I attended the Central Valley Tandem Rally on my first tandem.
In 1997 Eva was killed while she and I were in Charlotte, N.C. I was unable to protect her when it counted. Life since then has been shaped by that trauma, and by her absence. I rode my bike a lot, even crossing the country. Judaism and the synagogue grew in importance. Ambition shrank. It took me two years to go back to work, first as the Chief Financial Officer and then the Board Chair of Equal Access International, a consequential international media NGO, from which I retired in 2017. Anne and I started the Eva Foundation in 1999, giving to girls and girls programs, whose Eva Gunther Fellowship program endures to this day. I led the reconstruction of Beth Sholom’s campus. Through the Eva Foundation, beginning in 2009 I nurtured the start-up of Alliance for Girls, a successful consortium of Bay Area girls service agencies and professionals. AFG became independent in October of 2017; I currently serve as Board Chair.
When I turned sixty I declared myself retired. I took a creative writing class, and in a twenty minute exercise I wrote six paragraphs of dialog between a wife and husband who had lost their child. This was the birth of Without Jenny, which occupied me through the end of 2017. Now I find myself in another new world, a world of book promotion, of social media engagement, blogging, appearances, and website management. I think I’m starting to begin to get the hang of it. I’m dancing and riding and volunteering and have two new writing projects. Life leads you to moments; what you do with them is up to you.