Carol Gee, M.A, a retired military veteran and university administrator, is owner of A Feast of Words, LLC, VenusChronicles.net (her one-woman writing service), and is also an author and freelance writer. Her work has appeared in a number of venues, including the Chicken Soup series and Woman’s World. She lives in Stone Mountain, an Atlanta, Georgia suburb.
Tell us about one of the toughest periods of your life.
The toughest period in my life began just before starting my senior year of high school. My mother retired after 20 years working at the Library of Congress and announced we were moving back to her small hometown in Virginia. As you can imagine, being the ‘new’ girl in the twelfth grade was tough. While the other students weren’t necessarily mean, they weren’t overly welcoming either. After all, many had gone to school together forever and had their friends.
Graduating high school, and with no money to go to college (I had taken many college prep classes and had good grades), and with few job opportunities, I took a job with the local shoe factory. There were a total of three factories in that small town. Not only was the work dirty, it was hard and we were paid by the piece so we had to work fast to make quota, and it was frequently dangerous.
Doing this day in and day out made my life seem desolate. Then, one day on break and flipping through a magazine, I came across an ad for the United States Air Force. In the ad, a young African American female sat alongside a young Caucasian female and a Caucasian male in front of board with some kind of knobs. Suddenly, this seemed like my answer.
Filling out the postage-paid postcard, I dropped it in the mailbox on the way home, and completely forgot about it…until a recruiter called. Before I knew it, I had taken the entrance exam, a physical that checked me from head to toe (where I fainted twice) from the long day and stress, and was on my way to military basic training.
For as long as I could remember, I wanted to write. I remember jotting down little short stories to entertain my younger sister as early as age ten. On the other hand, the women in my ‘village’ (folks who came to my mother’s beauty shop, members from our church, etc.) thought I would make a great teacher. “Because you speak so well,” many said, and because few knew many African American women writers making a living through writing. Without a college degree, I knew that both were impossible.
The AF changed my whole life’s trajectory. Not only did I travel the world and learned to embrace other cultures, I also earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees courtesy of the GI Bill (no student loans), as well as met and married my life partner – a union that has spanned over 46 years.
Suddenly, opportunities abounded. Twenty-one years in the military, a short stint as a mental health counselor, and over twenty-eight years in higher education at the college/university level – yes, this did include teaching. Then, nineteen years ago, I finally did it. I wrote and published my first book. The Venus Chronicles was a spoof on the book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. Today, I am author of four books, three of which are part of a series that women fondly coin ‘girlfriend’ books. These books chronicle a day in the life of the modern woman, me. With such essays as Now That I Got My Mind Together, The Rest Of Me Is Falling Apart, I May Not Be Able To Find My Way Out Of A Paper Bag (what my husband says), and I Can Make A Mean Pound Cake – these are laugh-out-loud fun books. Today, I also enjoy a vibrant freelance career; proof that what does not kill you, indeed, makes you stronger.