It was my first semester of college, and I turned in a paper late. See, the beleaguered writing professor had chosen my semester as the one to take a stand. She had a reputation as a softy, and she’d gotten tired of all the essays being turned it on the last day of class.


I didn’t understand the idea of a syllabus and keeping track of when things were due. So. I turned my 2nd paper late. And there was no appeal. I lost a full letter grade.


I suppose that B was well worth it, because I never forgot how important those deadlines were. I made it a habit to turn papers in a week early, get feedback and improve the paper so that I got the best grade possible.


Some people do things at the last minute. It’s a source of inspiration.


I hate the last minute. I like to be prepared and over-prepared. That’s good, right?


Maybe. There is a saying going around:


Begin before you are ready.


I can look back at my very first semester of college now, and have mercy on the girl who didn’t quite get it. I can laugh at the penalty of getting a B. At the time, thought I felt a huge failure.


Perhaps I wasn’t ready for college yet. Or perhaps I was, and doing it imperfectly was part of the experience. I would have chosen differently had I known better, but I was there to learn.


Lots of things in life are begun before we are ready. Birth is the most obvious example. Absolutely no baby is ready to handle life on the outside at first. We don’t think of that though. It just must be done.


Falling in love, learning a new skill, parenthood– these are all things we are thrust into. Ready or not here we come.


“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

I am attracted to the idea of loosening my grip on my feet. And terrified.


I remember in 2003 when I started writing my soon-to-be published book The Russian American School of Tomorrow. I didn’t know it would be a book. I didn’t know it would take more than ten years. I’m proud of it now, no matter what happens. And I never would have predicted it.


Back in 1999 when I met Chris, taking a chance meeting a new guy at the local pizza place, I didn’t know that we’d end up married and have all these adventures.



I wasn’t ready for any of this. None of it would have happened if I hadn’t taken the first step. It is a dangerous business. I don’t think I’m ready for it, but here I go.