birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

They say youth is wasted on the young. My friends and I often say to on another..." If I only knew then what I know now." And all that. The thing is, if we all made the right choices at the right moment, life wouldn't what it is today. We wouldn't be where we are. And anytime, I start to go down that path, where I begin regretting every single decision I ever made before the age of say, 30, I stop myself. And I tell myself, and it's very deliberate, to remember why I made that decision, and even though friends and family may have tried to talk me out of it, I made that decision for a reason, and there's no time for regrets. I heard Glenn Close say this once, and at the time, she could do no wrong, and actors can make bold, knowing comments like these because they're, well, Glenn Close.

Of course, we all know that I'm not always this rational and decisive...it's a big facade and I try not to share all my regrets with a lot of people. I do encourage my children to take risks, don't let opportunities slip by, and that they have the luxury of time. If only I had been more aware of my timeline, if only I hadn't been in such a rush about EVERYTHING, if only I had had more self-esteem to push myself for what I really and truly wanted, if only, if only, if only...

I've fantasized about the careers I should have had, meant to have, wanted to have. A Broadway musical comedy dance star. Those years of singing my heart out on my parents'16th floor Manhattan terrace...Pal Joey, The Sound of Music, The Pajama Game, The Fantastics, and The Music Man, somehow wasn't enough to wow my 8th grade English teacher into casting me in "Bye Bye Birdie." Still I pursued acting in high school, but it was always behind the scenes. Why didn't I pursue theatre directing? I loved it! I know why. When I went to school 3000 miles away, I met a boy who told me to switch my major from theatre to film production. And I did. That's why.

A foreign correspondent a la Christine Armanpour. My father didn't encourage me enough to travel as much as he did. He did suggest that I go into investment banking which at the time, stunned me. Did he not have any idea who I was? I was on the school newspaper in high school. Why didn't I pursue journalism in college?

A screenwriter. Sigh... I did try. I wrote script after script; I was one of the millions who flock to Los Angeles, City of Dreams to get my name on the big screen. I thought that maybe having a famous screenwriter for a grandfather would help. It didn't. No one had ever heard of him.

An investment banker. When I was broke, living in New York, my father made this suggestion, I thought about it for five seconds. And then I didn't. I wonder how serious he really was. Lately, it has crossed my mind time and again.

A librarian. You think I'm kidding, right? I actually did work in a library during college and it's way overrated.

A bookstore owner. This is something I still seriously give some thought to. I imagine a small town, where everyone knows everyone, organizing events, readings, author tours... and it would constantly be fall outside, with lots of orange and red leaves rustling around the door as each customer walks in. I'd be forever drinking Earl Grey tea, with my latest cardigan slung over my shoulders, peering over my reading glasses, wondering where to place the latest Jo Nesbo mystery.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think of becoming a teacher, which is what I am. Never did I think I could work with students who had autism, or learning disabilities. Never did I think I'd be the oldest staff member on a faculty of 18 teachers (it's a charter school). Never did I think I'd get so excited about finding a great lesson plan about simile and metaphor, or cause and effect. Never did I think I'd get so excited seeing a student who didn't ever think he could do it, do it. It's a life, and maybe one of these days, I might find an old, run-down bookstore that needs a do-over.

You Too Can Win!

Finding My Voice