I am a grateful” retiree” with a full life of writing, teaching, service and activism. This blog is focused on my fiction writing, as writing about life in Tamilnadu, South India, seems to feed my soul. As a TCK (“Third Culture Kid”) who spent 15/17 of her earliest years in India, I’m 2/3 American and perhaps 1/3 global in my memories, dreams, and sensibilities.
My family arrived in Madurai, South India, when I was a 10-month old baby. We returned to the US 17 years later when I was ready for college- with only two years of “furlough” in between. After moving to the US, I worked as a legal aid attorney in rural Appalachia representing disabled coal miners and battered women. In the early 1980s I settled in Oregon, received my MSW degree so I could work with low-income women in a college setting. For more than 15 years I taught, counseled, wrote grants, and helped women leaving domestic violence, addiction, prison, immigration trauma and poverty transition to college and job success.
I now live in Ashland, Oregon, where I live in a mobile home park and advocate for the rights of mobile home residents. We’re working to protect our tenants’ rights, create cooperatives, and get legislation passed to limit rent increases in a time of housing crisis. I teach Psychology at Rogue Community College, still delighted by the joys of working with blue collar and low-income community college students. I’ve also launched a small grant-writing practice in hopes of supporting the work of social change agencies in Southern Oregon. And I’m involved with a local support network for lesbians and other queer women.
Am I really a “retiree”?
My novel continues to call my name! Novel writing is a gorgeous challenge- coming up with a well-paced plot- developing believable and likable characters- writing with beautiful language and visual poetry- and dealing with cross-cultural realities- have all kept me engaged and learning. I hope that this book and this blog will help encourage women and LGBT folks in India. I also hope to help foster Indian writers to develop their English writing skills and get their stories out to a broader world. I hope to return to India in 2024 on a Fulbright grant, where I will be offering training to law faculty in “student centered teaching”. I’ll be based in Bangalore and hope to gather more wind and weather for my fiction writing from the queer and law communities there.
I’m always grateful for the rich, First World life I have been granted, the adventure my parents took, what I have learned from Buddhist practice, and the many ways I am able to be of service to community.
Write to me with your ideas and feedback! Cynthia