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My past has caught up with me

For more than 20 years, I worked as a freelance writer. I covered all kinds of things — schools, health, quirky country folk, crime, politics, oysters, food and art. I was very busy and very comfortable. And then I moved to California. And I was daunted at the prospect of finding new stories from a place where I couldn’t even find Target and had to pull over and cry.

So I took a Big Corporate Job. Which has been very good to me, in so many ways.

But there is always the shadow of my freelance self. Sometimes it is large and looming and howling to get out. Sometimes it is a slight sliver that will give a little polite cough every now and then to remind me its there.

Somehow, the good PR people of Sonoma County found it fitting to invite me, based on my past and present freelance work, to a Wine Country Weekend. Yesterday we had a full day — we began in a vineyard where the complexities of grape-growing were explained. And of course, we tasted a delightful pinot to help illuminate the lecture, and were each given grape knives to learn how to remove the delicate berries from the vine and toss them into a bin. It is the only time that I can think of when drinking wine at 10 a.m. is totally acceptable — even expected.

And then it was off to the DaVero olive oil folks to learn about olive oil and rose, and because of this, I am forever ruined from my Trader Joe’s $5.99 bottle. I also began harboring fantasies about running off to live the Sonoma lifestyle, which apparently includes TWO dogs, a biodynamic farm for chickens, pigs, olives, all vegetables, Meyer lemons and a house my husband and I build ourselves. And in this fantasy, I’ve let my hair go totally grey and long but I am still HOT and GORGEOUS in my farm dress and wellies. I’m digressing but I don’t care, it’s my blog.

Then to the MacMurray Ranch, where the intelligent, etherial curly redheaded Kate (the late actor Fred MacMurray’s daughter) gave us a tour and sat us down in a redwood grove on the property to teach us about wine and cheese pairing. Which led to an alternate-reality fantasy about curling up under a tall tree, on a soft patch of needles and woodchips, while eating a Humbolt Fog soft goat’s milk cheese and pairing with the MacMurray Vintner’s Block merlot, and in my culinary bliss, and as I nod off to a nap of undetermined length, coming up with a brilliant idea for a novel that will be optioned for a rock opera.

Then dinner, with a well-known sommelier who pairs wine and movies.

I went to bed, full, happy, slightly queasy and a head full of pitches for my editors.

The 40licious take-away is this: By the time you are 40licious, you’ve done so much work laying your foundation that it will serve you as you coast along in your future. It’s still just about saying yes.

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Vanessa McGradyMy past has caught up with me

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