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Writing from memory when your memory sucks

I may have discovered a stumbling block to my writing endeavors. It’s my memory, which kind of sucks. I swear, I can’t tell you all the things I’ve forgotten.

Seriously, I can’t.

Recently I was getting excited about an idea I had to write a book of essays on my father, organized semi chronologically through afflictions. Chapter one: Alcoholism or My father is a floor mat. Chapter 2: C is for Cancer. Chapter 3: Drugs are fun! Hey, let’s do them all! Chapter 4: Back operations and body casts. Chapter 5: Paranoia, anxiety, depression, oh my. Chapter 6: Holy shit, what happened to your colon? Chapter 7: I’ve fallen and I somehow manage to get up to do it again and again and again…Chapter 8: Is that a pain pump, or are you just happy to see me?

Now I know you’re just dying to read what will clearly turn out to be the feel good book of the summer, but the problem is that when I go over it all in my mind, it just lumps together into a pile of suffering; a giant of tumor of addictions and ailments. Which came first the back operation or the depression, the drugs or the pain? I can’t remember specifics. Was the heart attack 1996 or 1997?

So how can I write about it honestly when I can’t even really remember it? Can that be considered creative non-fiction – me flubbing the details but nailing the emotion?  Maybe, but I don’t think so.

That’s why I used to only write fiction. Fiction is fabulous. You don’t know something, you make it up! Well, maybe not if you write historical fiction or technical stuff, but generally, in fiction your imagination is your memory.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could do that in real life? Damn, I can’t find the keys… why they’re right there on the table, silly. Nervous about a job interview, well don’t be, you’re going to nail it. Not in the mood to make dinner, you’re so lucky, your spontaneous, amazing husband is about to walk in early with take-out from your favorite restaurant.

Having the power to create a story is such a gift, but somewhere during the creation you have to give up some of that power as well. You go in thinking your character is going to rob a bank or betray a friend, but then the characters take on a life of their own and all of sudden, you’re not making all the decisions, they are. There’s no relying on memory; you just need to choose from as many paths as your creativity and your characters allow. If it’s true for the storyline, it’s true.

So given my limitations, I’m not really sure how to proceed on the project regarding my father, or whether I should proceed at all. Of course even with non-memory challenged people, there’s still selective memory and varied perspectives to contend with. We really do create a lot of our past according to our emotional recollection and not necessarily what actually happened or when, so maybe there is a case for my version of truth.

I should probably just go back and edit my most recent manuscript of sex and betrayal in the suburbs. It’s a whole lot lighter and sometimes reality is really not as good as the reality you create in fiction.

Now, if I can just remember where I put those pages…


Yup, last place I'd expect them.

Yup, exactly where you’d expect a manuscript to be – on the floor in the corner, of course.


Let’s All Drink to the Real Housewives of BRAVO

I wish I would drink more.

I blame BRAVO.

It may just be the rose-colored, knock-off Gucci sunglasses I’m looking through, but it seems all The Real Housewives (not to be confused with real housewives) seem to be skinny and glamorous and drinking at every occasion.

It’s lunch by the pool. Gauzy, translucent cover-ups. And wine.

Spa party? Egyptian cotton towels. And wine.

Dinner party? Cocktail dresses. And wine.

Tea party?  Long, sundresses. And wine.

Oh no. We suspect so and so has a drinking problem. Designer jeans with strong intervention blazer. And wine, for everyone but so and so, at least until the next dinner party.

Drinking seems to be their reward at the end of a good day or the beginning of a good day. Or bad day. Or any day. I get it. We all need our happy place, but when I look to treat myself, I head straight to the freezer and pull out a tub of ice cream.

Ah, my friend, through good times and bad, you are there. Unfortunately, so are the five extra pounds that accompany you. I certainly don’t see any  Housewives deep spooning a tub of Rocky Road. Most are waifs, saving their tiny bodies and huge mouths for trash talk and bottles of chardonnay.

So, I decided to take a lesson from the lovely ladies of BRAVO. Whether I like it or not, I would drink more so I can look and be more fabulous. Sometimes you just have to suck it up, or actually down, in this case.

I figured I’d start right out of the morning gate. No coffee for me. I’ll take a tall Bloody Mary, thank you. Mmm. Not bad. It made me want to actually sit down, something I never do. I even started flipping through a magazine to check out the over-the-top fashions I will soon be sporting instead of my old gym clothes. I was so into my new morning revelry that I neglected to check the clock. Crap! We just missed the bus, and I forgot to even wake the kids. Plus, now I can’t drive them to school. Damn you, BRAVO, where is my limo??!

The next time I tried my experiment was at the school social. I put on a long, pretty dress and big Kyle of RHBH earrings, and even though I was stuck doing my own hair and make-up, I decided to kick off the evening with a glass of wine to get myself in the mood. And it worked! I was sipping and singing while getting ready. So fun! Although before we left my husband did ask if I let our 5 year-old apply my makeup. Hmm. What could he mean by that? Eh, whatever, where’s my glass?

By the time we reached the party, I was two- three solid glasses in. The minute the valet opened my door to help me out, a wave of nauseous struck and left me clinging to him, quite inappropriately. “Bravo!” I slurred and gave his stunned face a pat. My husband gently put me back in the car and drove us back home. The drive of  shame.

Maybe I was going about this wrong. All the BRAVO fun and fabulous happens when the gals get together. That’s it! So I invited my neighborhood Peeps over for some “Whine and Wine”.  Come on, every good gathering needs a great theme! Shout out to the Bunco party!

We settled the kiddies in the playroom. Oh yeah, there are kids. We’re freaking real housewives! We can’t just leave them at home alone while we drink. Now that would be totally irresponsible. So I pop open a bottle. Okay, I twist off the top to get the party started.

We chat and drink and eat too many chips, but then, Jill’s kid threw a truck at Ann’s kid’s head. Stirred with a little Malbec, it had the makings of some exciting drama. I sat up Housewife straight, with my back arched, my eyes wide and my bra-enhanced chest out. I was wearing a low cut dress a la Housewives, so I wasn’t kidding about my chest being out. I was wishing I had served white so that when Jill threw a glass at Ann it wouldn’t stain my carpet, but my wishing was all in vain. Ann was fine, and the whole thing was brushed aside. Boooring.

Well, my experiment was a surgically enhanced bust. I was no BRAVO Housewife. The wine didn’t make my life more glamorous, it actually made me less glamorous. Case in point, when I looked in the mirror after we got home from the school social that I never attended, I saw I was wearing blue sparkle eye shadow and red lipstick. Uh, ew. I don’t even wear makeup! And drinking certainly didn’t make me thinner. In fact I gained three pounds, probably because I was eating more since I was drinking and didn’t care. Plus, no one wears to the floor dresses with full on cleavage and giant earrings to random events. I kind of looked like an idiot.

I think I need ice cream.

I blame BRAVO.


The Real Reason Why you Flip the Bird and Buffalo have Wings

We sat at T.G.I. Fridays and waited for Jessica, our usual waitress, to arrive. Howard and I were negotiating the next morning’s activities while the boys were playing tic-tac-toe on their place mats, when a strange man’s voice interrupted us.

“Hello, Kimosabees. I am Blue, your waiter. Can I take your orders?”

We all looked up and saw a small, long-haired man of obvious Native American descent, with a smile that ran up to the wrinkles of his eyes. For a moment, we stared speechless, but then I quickly collected myself.

Jessica knew our order by heart, but I relayed it to him – buffalo wings and onion soups for me and my husband and chicken fingers for the boys.

He nodded. “Interesting selection.”

“It’s not interesting,” Michael, my seven-year old exclaimed. “We get it every week.”

“Oh it’s very interesting,” the man said mysteriously. “You obviously don’t know how one harvests buffalo wings and chicken fingers.”

He had our full attention now.

“Tell us how,” my boys demanded, and unbelievably the man pulled out a peace pipe and pulled up a chair.

“Uh, are you allowed to do that?” Howard asked, but Blue’s eyes were glazed over and he began.

 “A long time ago on a day as bright as a newborn sun, my great, great grandfather Blue Cheese was out hunting Buffalo.”

Julius, my four year-old, giggled, “Blue Cheese is a funny name!”

“Yes, young one, it is. It was our family’s responsibility to make cheese for our tribe. My grandfather did not like this. He wanted to be a buffalo hunter and was sad, so they called him Blue Cheese. Blue was an extremely skilled hunter and delighted in his own talent. One day, Blue had bagged many a buffalo and was shaming the tribe’s true hunters with his prowess. A fairy spirit saw his boastful pride and frowned upon Blue. She decided that from then on, every time Blue hunted Buffalo it would sprout wings and fly away. Blue spent the rest of his life frustrated, making cheese and never able to catch buffalo again.”  buffalo-wings (1)

Our mouths hung open and then Blue’s very great grandson passed us the pipe. I took a long toke and passed it to Howard.

Blue nodded sagely. “Legend has it, that all those buffalo flew straight to a secret ranch, so deep in the south they never even heard of country music. There, a woman named Magic Mama, like her Mama before her, breeds the buffalo and harvests their wings.

“How?” Tyler, my kid who needs to know everything, asked.

“Actually, wing removal is a relatively simple, technical process involving five steps.

First, Mama takes the buffalo before the sun wakes, when they are most docile.

Second, she relaxes the buffalo, so they feel nothing but the clouds passing by.

“How?” Tyler asked again, intrigued.

“She has her ways,” Blue answered and blew a huge puff of smoke in our faces. Oh.

Third, Magic Mama uses atomic clippers to delicately snip off their wings.

Fourth, she lays the wings on an ancient stone for two moons, where they relax and shrink.

Lastly, she secretly sells them to restaurants nationwide. The money goes to help Native Americans build casinos all over the country.

“Wow.” I said in amazement.

“Now do chicken fingers!!” My boys chanted.

With a satisfied smile, Blue took another deep drag and began again.“You already know part of the story, but it has been confused with other legends, so you don’t know the full story. Many moons ago, a nest of baby chicks were hatched with extremely long, fleshy feet. It was a strange deformity that the tribe had never seen, and they were feared as a bad omen. The chiefs and elders met and decided that they could not kill the little chicks for fear of angering whatever spirits had created them. Instead, they sent them far away, leaving them to fend for themselves.”

images“Did they survive?” Michael asked, wide-eyed.

“Yes, they grew to full chickens, thick footed and harboring a dark anger against the tribe. One day, when the chickens were crossing the road – no need to know why, that’s another story – they were almost run down by the very tribe who had banished them. In a moment of heated passion, the chickens raised their abnormal claws in angry protest. When the Indians came home they told of the chickens crossing the road and raising their strange ‘fingers’ at them, thus giving rise to many common expressions such as, giving the finger and flipping the bird.  170px-The_gesture02

These chickens continued their pilgrimage, ultimately finding solace at the same place as the winged buffalo, Magic Mama’s ranch. There, Mama has bred them and uses ancient techniques to remove the aberration.

First, she keeps the chickens cooped up for days, amassing their energy.
Second, she releases the chickens on a full moon.

Third, she watches while the chickens run round wild, like they’ve lost their heads.

Fourth, she waits until the chickens exhaust themselves and fall over in a deep sleep.

Finally, Magic Mama uses her special clippers to delicately remove the excess flesh, selling the sought after “fingers” to places such as this.

Before I could say wow, or ask for another hit of the peace pipe, Jessica appeared with our order.

In the momentary distraction, Blue vanished.

“Where’s Blue?” Michael asked.

“Who?” Jessica looked perplexed.

“The Indian!” Tyler explained.

Jessica clearly had no idea who we were talking about.

“Weird,” Howard said and we all stared down at the chicken fingers and buffalo wings uncertainly.

“Should we… eat?” I asked, but the boys had already begun.

“Mmm… Magic Mama makes some mean wings!” Howard said.  buff

“It’s good knowing no buffalo or chickens were actually harmed making our food,” I said, digging in.

“How’s your dinner, boys?”

Three greasy faces smiled. Tyler summed it up. “Taste likes chicken.”

And there you have it.

chicken fingers - app

We’re a Super Family*

*This was my Blogger Idol Essay #4,  just in case you voted (of course you did!) but was too busy to read. The assignment was to write about my family as super heroes. Oh, and we had to use the words Ukulele, Horse and Frazzled. I’m going to post BI assignment #5 later, as soon as I get it together. 🙂

I’m still in the game! Thank you guys for supporting me.  I’m already hard at work on my next assignment (#6). You can see it and vote on Wednesday…

The Adventures of Superrrr Helpfulll Mommmm…..

It is an ordinary day in the small town of Sport Sloshington as Super Helpful Mom quietly tip-toes down the stairs. She wants to get an early start packing lunches for school and making breakfast. Plus, there are dishes and laundry that need to be done. She heads into the dark, quiet kitchen and flips on the light. AAAAaaack!! Someone is sitting at the kitchen table! “Oh my God, Boy Who Never Sleeps and Barely Eats! You scared me!”

“Sorry, Mama.”

“Can I get you anything?” she asks, but she barely gets the words out before a rush of wind whooshes past. He is gone. She shakes her head affectionately, “That boy is like air.”

She gets busy, packing Boy Who Never Sleeps and Barely Eats’ (BWNSABE) lunch first because all he takes is milk. Next, she flips the laundry and places breakfast on the table. She is about to cut apple slices when she feels a resisting hand on her arm. It is Safety Patrol Dad. “Knives are dangerous!” he warns. She carefully places the knife down, and instead, bites the apple skin off like a squirrel and cuts chunks with her helpful front teeth.

As she works, something small and strong wraps itself around her leg in a vise grip. It’s her 4 year-old son, Cling Boy! Super Helpful Mom walk/drags him over to the table and uses his secret weakness to successfully detach him – her iPhone. As Cling Boy grabs the phone to play, she places him in his seat.

She turns at a gust of air. BWNSABE is back at the table, licking the cover of the butter tub like a cat.

“Er, Boy Who Never Sleeps and Barely Eats, can I get you some toast?”

He shakes his head no and continues licking.

Just then, her oldest son schleps into the kitchen, leaking socks, candy wrappers and crumpled papers. His shirt is backwards and inside out, he has one sneaker on and his hair simultaneously stands straight up and falls down over his eyes. “Good morning, Disaster Dude.”  She kisses his head and her lips touch something hard. She pulls out a lego figure tangled in the mess. “Hey, I think you forgot something.”

Disaster smiles and sits down. She helpfully forks eggs into his mouth.

“Okay, gang.” Safety Patrol Dad announces as he unplugs the coffeepot and then the toaster. “I’ve got an early meeting at work.We leave in 12 minutes for the train.”

Super Helpful Mom forks the eggs in faster. “Mom! Too much!” Disaster gags.

Like lightening, Safety Patrol Dad is on him, throwing him over his shoulder and pounding on his back!

“Dad! You’re killing me! I’m not choking!”

“Glad to help, son!” Safety Patrol Dad booms.  “Now let’s move! Daddy has a train to catch.”

Finally, they all settle in the car. “Seat belts!” Safety Patrol Dad orders.

“I forgot my backpack,” Disaster says. “… and I, uh, volunteered to bring in cupcakes today.”
“No problem!” says Super Helpful Mom. She jumps from the car and races back to the house.

“Be careful!” screams Safety Patrol Dad, as Super Helpful Mom hurdles over scooters and baseball bats scattered across the lawn. In the house, she quickly finds Disaster’s back pack and eyes the cake mixes in the cabinet. There’s just no time!!! They will just have to stop on the way to school. Super Helpful Mom notes the dishes still in the sink. “Oh, why can’t I be more helpful?” she sighs.

In seconds, Super Helpful Mom is back in the car. Four minutes till train time. Safety Patrol Dad takes off. And then he stops for a full three seconds at the stop sign. They’re off again – and then stops for another three full seconds. Off again. Stop. Off again! Stop!

“We’re never going to make it!!!!!” Super Helpful Mom cries, totally frazzled! “Please let me drive!”

But Safety Patrol Dad wags a finger. “You know you drive too fast.”

Amazingly, they pull up to the station just in time, but there’s trouble across the street – a group of blind, old ladies are walking straight towards a construction site! And there’s a school bus full of children headed right at them! The bus driver is talking on his iPhone and not paying attention!

“Holy Ukulele! We must save them!” Safety Patrol Dad shouts, and he and Disaster Dude leap from the car (after coming to a complete stop and activating the vehicle’s hazard lights). Disaster runs to the construction site, and in one swirling mass, litters piles of dirty clothes into the dangerous open road. Within seconds, the old ladies safely fall into the soft cushion of mess that Disaster has spun. But, wait! The school bus filled with children is still heading straight towards them! Safety Patrol Dad looks both ways, and then jumps in front of the ladies. “STOP!” he yells, using his super megaphone voice; but the bus driver is deep in his conversation and does not hear!

Disaster Dude hurls crumpled homework papers at the bus to get the driver’s attention, but it is no use! The bus keeps coming!

Using his Super Safety Powers, Safety Patrol Dad mind channels the number of the bus driver’s cell and quickly dials. The bus driver clicks over.

“LOOK WHERE YOU’RE GOING!” Safety Patrol Dad yells, and the stunned driver looks up just in time to screech to a halt!

Whew! That was close!

But wait, now the train is about to leave! Super Helpful Mom needs to help! She runs with little Cling Boy and sets him loose on the conductor. He quickly latches himself to the man’s body. The train conductor is polite but appalled, and tries unsuccessfully to pry the child from him.

“Thanks honey,” Safety Patrol Dad says, coming up next to Super Helpful Mom. “Cling Boy, look what Daddy has?” He flashes the iPhone he confiscated from the bus driver. Immediately Cling Boy detaches and reaches for the phone and his mom.

There is a whoosh of air. “Forgot your briefcase, Dad.”

“Thanks, Boy Who Never Sleeps and Barely Eats! You’re a lifesaver.” With another whoosh, BWNSABE is gone. “We really have to get him a better name,” Safety Patrol Dad whispers to Super Helpful Mom.

The train gets off only minutes behind schedule.

They return to the car where BWNSABE already sits, quietly licking the leather of his seat. “Good job team!” Super Helpful Mom cheers. “Next stop cupcakes!”

From the departing train, Safety Patrol Dad’s megaphone voice echoes out to them. “Watch out. There’s a nut allergy in the class!”

“I don’t eat cupcakes.” BWNSABE says.

“You don’t eat anything!” Disaster Dude teases and they drive off laughing.

“Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha!”

Tune in next week and you’ll hear Safety Patrol Dad say, “Hey, don’t walk behind that horse! It’s dangerous!”

I’ll Worry About It Later *

* This was my week 2 blogger idol assignment which was to write about my day as a man.*

When I glance at the clock this morning, I can feel right away something is different. My back is sore and my crotch area itches a bit. Instead of jumping out of bed to run downstairs and make lunches for the kids, I decide, eh, whatever, and just roll over and sleep a little longer. Weird. I NEVER sleep longer.

One of my kids finally wakes me out of a drooling stupor. “Mommy!! It’s almost bus time!” I lift one brow and try to focus. The clock reads 7:50 am. The bus comes at 8:15 am. “F*CK!” I blurt out, which startles me more than the clock. I never say that, at least not in front of the kids. My seven year-old stares at me wide-eyed and is grinning like he’s just learned the best secret.

I make my way slooowwwlly out of bed to the bathroom, my kid following the entire time. Why do I feel like I have a hangover? “Go get ready.” I order and scratch my ass.

“But you always pick out our stuff.” He whines.

“Do it yourself.” I grumble and then fart loudly. His eyes perk again and he runs out giggling.

Ah. I sit myself down on the can for a nice, long time and flip through the paper. Heaven. By the time I get downstairs, it’s 8:10am. The boys have miraculously made themselves breakfast and are at the door ready to run to the bus stop. I give them the once over. My oldest has his shirt on inside-out, his shoe laces are untied and he’s wearing two different socks – one short and one long. My middle son looks perfect for a soccer match, and my youngest is wearing thick brown sweats, a brown tee shirt and brown rain boots. I scratch my head, amazingly unconcerned. “Did you guys brush your teeth?” They all look at each other and shrug. “Homework?” I ask, and my oldest pulls out a crumpled ball of paper from his bag. “Okay then, have a good day!”

As they bound to the bus, I notice that my oldest son’s backpack hangs open. There’s something I’m forgetting. What is it? Lunches! Oops. I have an epiphany, maybe I can get Dominoes to deliver to the school. That’s genius. Why haven’t I ever thought of that before?

I have a half an hour before I need to get my youngest to Pre-K. In the kitchen there has been a cereal explosion, but I casually crunch my way past the table covered with Fruity Pebbles and spilled milk over to the coffee maker. Oh lucky. The container of milk is right here on the counter. And cookies! I shove a few in my mouth without a thought. I should really clean this up I think, and gulp down my coffee while my child dressed like a big doody eats the cereal from the floor.

 The phone rings. It’s my mother. I’m way too busy to answer.

“Let’s get to school, buddy.” I say. “But how ‘bout a catch first?” We leisurely throw the ball on the lawn for a while before I finally get him to school 15 minutes late. A bunch of nursery moms are still hanging around and chatting as I bounce by with him on my shoulders. Wow, one of them has a really nice rack. I can’t seem to stop staring. I feel unusually drawn to her, but realize I’m wearing my pajama tee-shirt with the holes and somehow I forgot to put on a bra this morning. I don’t really feel like socializing anyway, especially after one of the flat-chested moms gave me a strange look when I whipped her daughter up and threw her into the air. I totally thought she was laughing, but turns out the kid cries like a laugh. How would I know that?! I have a strong urge to return to my bathroom and the sports section.

Comfortably seated back on my toilet I think about what I have to do for the day. Gym, supermarket, dry cleaners, I need two birthday party gifts, a school meeting and I must do laundry. Hmmm. None of that sounds like much fun. I’ll definitely do the gym. Maybe I’ll just blow off the rest of it and go hit some golf balls. That’s an awesome idea. I am so Awesome! I think and then realize there’s no toilet paper. “Hey can you bring me some toilet paper?” I yell out, but there’s no one there to get it. I shrug and go back to the newspaper. I’ll worry about it later.

*Putting finishing touches on my week 3 entry now. I’m partnered up with Meredith from She is hysterical and awesome!!! Get ready to vote Wednesday/Thursday at Thank you all for keeping me in the game. 🙂 *