Valentine’s Day “How We Found Each Other” Short Essay Contest

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Jacquie Moody FullerHow I Found the Rest of My Life

My first job out of college was as an administrative assistant at Gemini Ink, when the organization was in its infancy.

Now in a bright, welcoming space on South Presa, it was, back then, run out of a small, rented office trailer behind a restored Victorian on Woodlawn Ave.

The office was all of about 500 square feet – our weekly staff meeting found us cramped around a table that barely fit in the room.

Nan Cuba

Nan Cuba

Naturally, we were a tight-knit family. We worked together, ate together, laughed together, and pulled pranks on one another. We even sometimes referred to then-director and founder Nan Cuba as “Mom,” and – full disclosure – I ended up dating a co-worker for a short time (we’re still friends).

I took the job at Gemini Ink because I was a burgeoning writer, and one of the perks of employment was getting to take discounted classes. I also was charged with taking care of visiting writers – though I didn’t always do the best job at it. I once managed to get poet Denise Duhamel locked out of her lodging in the middle of the night, and drove a terrified Ernest Gaines the wrong way down a one-way street.

But it was here among this little family that I grew. My love of writing deepened, I went from being a slam poet to a published poet, and I met the teachers who I’d later travel west to study under. I left San Antonio in 2002 to get my MFA at New Mexico State University. But it really was the start of the rest of my life. It was a turning point – not only was college behind me, but I made a decision in working at Gemini Ink to pursue what I loved. It was a decision that would continue to propel me to the place I’m at now.

Leaving San Antonio was hard – I’d grown up there and it was my home – but in New Mexico, I made new friends (including Gemini Ink’s new Executive Director, Sheila Black) and met my future husband. That road eventually took me to Minneapolis, and a job I love, working in public radio.

It was also one of the many experiences that inspired me to create www.howifoundyou.com, a website that collects stories about how we found the ones we love, ourselves, our culture, our calling. Gemini Ink and the friends I made there still occupy a special place in my heart, and my history.

The 2011 Young Writers Camp at Gemini Ink.

The 2011 Young Writers Camp at Gemini Ink. Courtesy photo.

Gemini Ink and The Rivard Report want to know how you found someone, or something, that changed the course of your life. We’re proud to announce a contest for Valentine’s Day, “How I Found You.” You could win a grand prize of a free Gemini Ink Class, a $100 gift card to Feast Restaurant, and have your story published in The Rivard Report. Second place will receive a $50 gift certificate to a Gemini Ink class. Third place will receive a $25 gift certificate to a Gemini Ink class in promotion of Gemini Ink’s “(W)rite of Spring” semester.

Essays should be 500 words or less and you must include a title as well as a brief bio sent as a Word document attachment on an email to info@geminiink.org. An author headshot (.jpg) should also be attached to the same email. You may include one relevant photo (that you have permission to use, complete with caption and photo credit) to accompany your story. Submissions that do not meet this criteria will be disqualified. You’ve got until Feb. 1 to submit your story. I’ll judge the winners from up here in frigid Minnesota, so aim to warm my heart.

Note: Feb. 1 also happens to be the same day Gemini Ink kicks off their spring semester with my fellow NMSU alum, David Maclean. The story behind his memoir was featured on public radio’s “The American Life.”

 

Jacquie Moody Fuller hails originally from San Antonio. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband and daughter, and works as a host for The Current, an alternative music service from Minnesota Public Radio. You can read her writing at Paper Darts and Revolver, and hear her on The Current, Saturday mornings from 6-10 a.m.

 

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