28 before 29, #4: Cathy S. (aka Mom)

I’m turning 29 next month. In honor of the Saturn returns theory, I’m spending my last month of 28 asking friends and near-strangers all sorts of nosy questions about what their life was like at my age. Previous interviews include two former coworkers (Hannah and Kara) and a brand new acquaintance (Saya). Today is different, because today we hear from my mom!

Mom and Dad

My mom (pictured above with my dad) lives in Maryland, where she runs a small business and, when we’re lucky, gets up on stage and tells stories and then blogs about it. Here are her memories in her own words: 

I turned 28 in 1980, which feels like a very long time ago.  I’d moved to Washington from Pittsburgh in 1979, the first of our entire extended family to fly the coop.  I’d had business cards printed up that said Catherine A. Kinneavy, Writer/Editor; I worked for a temp agency doing secretarial work (that 120 wpm came in handy) and distributed these business cards to everyone who would take one.  That was how I met Walker Williams, who hired me freelance and then fulltime in 1981.  I joined Washington Independent Writers when it was a fledgling group with a staff of one; I lived in Southern Towers, those high rises at Seminary Road and 395; I drove a Datsun B-210—my third car.  The first car I left in San Francisco when I drove out there in 1976 with my college friend David.  My second car, a tan Ford Pinto, I’d bought when I had my first real job, at Roffler Industries, and lent it to my friend Jim so he could shoot a wedding one Saturday night, and he went over a hill and smack into a tractor trailer backing out of a driveway.  He had just installed a tape deck in it and actually took it out to give to me, broken jaw and all.

Cathy with big hair

But back to 1980:  I had a complete jerk for a boyfriend, and I think that might have been the year a former boyfriend called me out of the blue to ask if I would travel “anywhere in the world” with him.  I chose Scandinavia – not the smartest move on my part.  I think he was hoping we would rekindle something, but we didn’t, and he went on to work for Microsoft and retire, quite wealthy I’m sure, at age 40.  No regrets, though.  We were not meant to be, and the jerk boyfriend and I were not meant to be, because YOU were meant to be—your dad, and you and Leigh Ann. We were all meant for each other.  So though 28 was a watershed year for having been when I moved to D.C., 30 was really the best, most life-changing year. [Julia’s note: My parents got married and had their first kid that year.]

I do have some distinct memories of 1980.  Reagan being elected, the Iran-Iraq War starting, our boycott of the Moscow Olympics to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (how strange that seems now!).  And I remember waking up one night from a deep sleep with the sense that something really terrible had happened, and when I heard John Lennon had been shot and killed, I thought, “That was it.  That woke me up.”  But maybe what woke me up was Saturn.

I love you,


When I sent my mom the interview questions, she wrote back to say “I broke the Q and A mold, Jules. Hope that’s OK.” It’s more than OK – and not surprising. Thanks, Mama.

Photo of my parents by me; the second, from 1980, is courtesy of Cathy Smith. 


3 thoughts on “28 before 29, #4: Cathy S. (aka Mom)


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