If you had asked me back in high school what I expected my career path to be, I would have told you I was leaving Kansas for good. I had accepted a nice scholarship/grant package from the University of Southern California and had grand plans of getting my degree in biomedical engineering and doing something world-changing with my science and math skills.
So understanding how I ended up getting my degree in English at USC and then working in university communications, library reference, mental health, a county history museum, and writing about Kansas places and Kansas true crime is a study in serendipity, good luck, and bad luck.
Which is why this month’s topic is so interesting to me. I’ll be blogging not just about those happy moments, but also the rotten ones that forced me to be brave and change my path. In many ways, those moments of bad luck did more for me than the moments of good luck.
I grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, the first child of a couple who immigrated from present-day Croatia (which was part of Yugoslavia back then). I was that kid could spend hours riding her bike because it gave her time to think. I loved making up stories, mysteries, and reading, and I especially ghost stories. I loved, loved, loved learning, and I was good at math and science (“You’re much too smart to be an English major” was the kind of nonsense I heard on a regular basis) so I was practical and majored in engineering and HATED it. Then I became an adult and changed my major to English and lived a scholastic dream the rest of my undergraduate career.
After breaking up with a longtime boyfriend and swearing off men forever, I ran into an old friend while visiting family in Kansas over Christmas and the next thing I knew, I was giving up my SoCal life and job and moving back to — gulp — Kansas. And not Kansas City, where I grew up, but Emporia, which was, after Los Angeles, a rather shocking experience.
Skip ahead 15 years and you’ll find me, a woman who wanders the Kansas countryside, looking under rocks for the area’s story. I will periodically startle someone who doesn’t know me when I point to a drainage ditch and say, “Wow, that would be a GREAT place to hide a body!” And I’ll share the joy and wonder of the Kansas-y things I find on my blog, Diana Staresinic-Deane: Unearthing Stories on the Prairie.
You can already see the good luck, bad luck, and serendipity working in my personal timeline. I look forward to sharing my luck (and hard-luck) stories with you this month.
Diana Staresinic-Deane, is a Kansan-gone-Californian-gone-Kansan, former library assistant, county history museum manager, writer, history junkie, cemetery photographer, and guinea pig enthusiast. Fascinated by little Kansas towns and their histories, she’s happiest when she’s digging through old newspapers and exploring old cemeteries. She is the author of Shadow on the Hill: The True Story of a 1925 Kansas Murder.