BH, Computer Cowboy and I were worthy of beginning our relationship when we were eighteen years-old. After many decades and descendants, as well as after a blessed move to the Holy Land, we’ve evolved. Whereas my man still likes to manipulate numbers and is paid well to do so, and whereas I still like to play with words and am sometimes paid well to do so, our lives are not what they used to be.
When we became a twosome, Computer Cowboy was an electrical engineering student and I was an English major. More specifically, I had signed up for a bachelorette in Science Writing and Editing and my future spouse had signed up for a dual major in math and in the area of electrical engineering that would become the study of computer hardware. At the time, there were neither certificate-granting programs in technical writing nor computer science majors.
Our paths were commonsensical given our backgrounds. In high school, I served as the teen columnist for two urban newspapers. Meaning, as a fifteen year-old, I held down my first salaried writing jobs. Analogously, as a teen, Computer Cowboy fashioned rudimentary programs. His accomplishments were extraordinary since forty years ago there existed no formal science of software.
Time passed. As an undergraduate, I merited seeing a musical of mine produced. Computer Cowboy merited participating in research in the nouveau world of artificial intelligence. Throughout our college years’ summers, and, on a consulting basis, during school terms, we made respectable money writing assemblages of words or assemblages of code.
Graduate school followed. Computer Cowboy moved from coding in LISP, PASCAL and FORTRAN, to building vast programs in RUBY, JAVA, PYTHON, and PERL, and then to using architecture description languages such as ADML and Wright. Eventually, Computer Cowboy moved from academia to industry, in particular to a job involving managing other computer scientists as well as involving trouble shooting at several of the corporation’s international addresses. He also filed many patents.
As for me, I settled on studying and then on teaching rhetoric. I was intrigued by the impact of language on culture and of culture on language. My specialties were: communication theory, communication ethics, and the crosspollination of media and society. I looked at communication as an abstract entity and as a social construction. I applied my research to pedagogical communication in higher education and to accountability issues in hospital settings. Along the way, my efforts: garnered a few national awards, gave me the chance to spend a summer at Princeton University as a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Scholar, and secured the opportunity for me to give over my findings at a meeting in Europe.
BH, subsequently, we were blessed to have a family. Our children were born in 1991, 1993, 1995, and 1998, respectively. For fourteen years, I focused on raising our boys and girls, pursued no scholarship, and taught, on average, only one night course per term. Computer Cowboy continued to work in software applications.
In the midst of those happy arrangements, more exactly, in 1999, NaNoWriMo was born. In 2000, supported by a generous gift, from my family, of funds for a few weekly hours of babysitting time, and fueled by the drive to return to the world of my musical, my newspaper columns, my various academic papers, and my limited number of short creative works, i.e. to the world of words, I joined Chris Baty’s group and wrote a rough version of a novel.
That project, which, over time, morphed into a trilogy, is still in progress. On balance, my experience of completing that novel’s first draft, combined with my having earlier finished my dissertation, and having earlier seen my first academic book in print, sufficiently bolstered my undertake additional, book-length trade works. BH, in the intervening years, I have written more than three dozen books and have seen more than thirty of them published/ signed for publication.
Eventually, my husband and I determined that our youngsters were old enough for me to return, full-time, to the ivory tower. The year when I once more interviewed for tenure track positions, was the year when Computer Cowboy was offered a corporate transfer to Jerusalem.
Of course, we accepted that offer.
Our first decade in Israel found our family acclimating to this most consecrated of lands. The kids passed through elementary school, junior high, and senior high, here. I returned to focusing my resources primarily on them. At the outset of our aliyah, I worked just a bit as a professor and just a bit as a writer.
To my surprise, my Israel-generated short works were almost immediately accepted for publication. To boot, I was nominated for, and sometimes won, an assortment of international literary honors. Those achievements motivated me to teach less and to write more.
I began to assemble some of my poetry, essays, and brief fictions into poetry collections, essay collections, and short story collections. My initial book contracts led to further book contracts. I then embarked on scripting novels, which, too, were accepted for publication. For those reasons, I started to write on a full-time basis, with the exception of my teaching occasional face-to-face or online writing workshops. I remain amazed. I remain grateful.
In due course, our offspring grew up. They served in the IDF or as Bnot Sherut, progressed to university, and engaged in various professions. Like their father, our family’s young men and women are facile with technology. Like their mother, they are facile with language.
One is an English teacher. Another is a lawyer. The two that are still matriculating are on paths requiring qualitative skills. Moreover, one of them is the chairperson for an entire city’s NaNoWriMo programming (she’d be surprised to learn that Mommy was one of the first participants in that grand, international enterprise, and that one of Mommy’s former Israeli writing workshop students is the facilitator for the NaNoWriMo group in another Israeli city.)
These days, Computer Cowboy still manages software teams. Sometimes, he also solves serious, global corporate problems. His hair is salt and pepper and he’s less able than are our sons to lift very heavy objects.
Similarly, nowadays, our daughters are, overall, more physically able than me; my midlife has been marked by many health challenges. What’s more, I no longer fly around to put forward my research at scholarly conferences. I do author interviews exclusively via Skype or via other long-distance formats. What is more, I’m no longer the extrovert who could and would teach public speaking in her sleep, but an introvert who talks mostly to her manuscripts.
A well, I no longer present myself as “Dr. G.” as much as I present myself as “So-and-So’s Mom” or as “Computer Cowboy’s Wife.” Rarely, do I let on in social circles that I’m a writer.
I care less about social status than I do about detaching from unnecessary involvements. It’s nice when people like me for being myself rather than for my productivity.
Computer Cowboy and I are aging. Nonetheless, we sally forth. He maintains an array of hardware and software at his onsite office and in our home. Additionally, my beloved heeds my struggle with noise by utilizing sound barriers; he’s taken over one of our kid’s abandoned bedrooms so as to position two doors between us.
On my side of those walls, I’m increasingly insistent on QUIET. My workplace has to be a sanctuary of silence. Beyond that requirement, I fancy nothing. My keyboard and printer are antiquated. My computer was updated only after its predecessor provided more than a decade and one half of service. My family complains. I shrug.
Computer Cowboy and I hope to grow even older together. He plans to continue maneuvering code. I plan to continue maneuvering words. We plan, IYH, to stay in Israel forever.