Kurt G. Schmidt is an old owl, sometimes wise, often not. When unable to find a satisfactory word for writing the wisdom, he observes bird feeders from his studio window. On at least one occasion, this owl perched on a branch and watched him. If Kurt publishes any interesting stuff, he may share it here on Links. If not, he will either watch the birds or go hiking with his wife. Kurt published the autobiographical novel, Annapolis Misfit, when he was thirty-four and spent many years as a technical writer while raising his family and writing a memoir about becoming a dad at forty-seven. After retirement, he also wrote memoirs about his vagabond relationships in Europe and another about a dysfunctional childhood. Excerpts from all three appear in various journals.
Growing Up Small and Tainted
A city of chaos forms a young boy’s struggles with authority before Mom moves the family to her parents’ unheated summer house in rural New Hampshire. They struggle to overcome adverse living conditions and Dad’s odd behavior (for example, Dad cannot touch the fish that he and Kurt catch). Dad’s drinking leads to toxic episodes. Slipping grades, his parents’ divorce, and poverty diminish Kurt’s chance for college. A small loan and a kitchen-duty scholarship take him to Washington D. C. and seven months at a school specializing in study for the service academy entrance exams. Afternoons after classes he rides a trolley to Congress, where he tries to lobby various congressmen for an appointment to Annapolis. Once he arrives there, a military regime and its hazing rituals bring back childhood ghosts that precipitate a PTSD crisis. Drawing on old survival instincts, he discovers the courage to overcome the trauma of failure. Excerpts have appeared in Snapdragon: A Journal of Art and Healing, Barzakh Magazine, and redrosethorns.
Dancing with a Scarecrow in Bavaria is the odyssey of an American discontent who quits his engineering job for a year-long road trip to discover the inner lives of Europeans. A fragile Bavarian mother relates the pain of her husband’s rejection. A depressed Danish woman in the south of France believes sex supersedes the myth of love. A Norwegian journalist invites him to her fiord cabin and into a bout of honesty. He stays in London with a British Casanova-pilot who has problems with relationships. A Croatian Robin Hood enlists his aid in stealing materials from government construction sites. A German virgin tries to exploit him. Two inhibited Oxford University women hitch a ride with him from Greece through Slavic mountains to Dubrovnik. He tries to understand each person’s emotional history, discovering newfound empathy. He returns home with the conviction that what he has garnered from these relationships will sustain his travels along a new road. He enrolls in a Harvard University writing class that leads him to an unplanned life that includes publishing a novel. (Excerpts from this book have appeared in several issues of Eclectica Magazine and in the Adelaide Literary Award Anthology; see “Links”.)
Tough Questions from a Child
An aging couple is desperate to have a baby despite advice from doctors that Shelley’s chances of bearing a child are slim. Against all odds, Jesse is born. He grows up asking provocative questions: What’s God? Where do you go when you die? Do you have to be married to have a baby? What’s Mono Gamus? Mom and Dad try to answer his God questions while struggling with their own spiritual uncertainty. They come to understand the positive nature of allowing him to take risks, such as his learning to become an individual thinker with a certain interest in pushing himself. Dad writes of the family’s relationships over thirty years as Jesse passes through challenges such as difficult teachers, dirt bike racing, sports car racing, and earning a pilot’s license, while also capturing the humor and drama of modern social issues and pounding his brain over questions that often seem like a challenge from the Almighty. Excerpts have appeared in the Boston Globe, Bacopa Literary Review, Discretionary Love, Grown and Flown, Parent Co, Your Teen Magazine, The Ravens Perch, and The Good Men Project (see “Links”).