Category Archives: auto-biographical

Never Tear Us Apart [Memoir]

IMAG1609_1I don’t know when girls start to notice boys but I started my career of boy crushing early. Some say daddy is a girl’s first love but not with me. It was Mr. Rogers. I woke up to that man almost every morning and loved him with a sexless passion that defines a little girl’s first romance with a television character. Once, Lynn and Lynette were talking in the living room about the boys they liked. Eager to get in on the conversation with the girls 12 and 14 years older, I chimed in, “but what about Fred?” Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on June 10, 2013 in auto-biographical


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The Curious Case of the Can of Buttons [Stories]

il_fullxfull_366295235_b0w0The coffee can gleamed dully in the corner of the closet. Above it were family treasures. Below were the litre bottles of Jack Daniels, Smirnoff, Beefeater. On either side were jars filled with wheat pennies, dimes minted before 1965, international coinage. The can was more interesting, filled to the brim with buttons.

Dad harvested buttons from everything, like his mother before him, saved for a day (you never know when) a button might be needed. I can’t recall a single flyaway button incident the entire time Grandma lived with us. The little ones wore zippers and elastic and Grandma preventatively reinforced the buttons on everyone else’s clothes. Flyaway buttons? That’d never happen, not on her watch.

Clothes failed before the buttons did and when they did, Grandma would snip the buttons off for later use. She died in 1989, and Dad took up her habit. There’s a Frog and Toad story about a lost button. Toad’s lost his and Frog scours high and low for one to match. Why didn’t Frog ever call my dad? We had buttons to spare. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on June 5, 2013 in auto-biographical


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All Summer in a Day [Memoir]

Mother dropped a thin brochure over the book I was reading.

“What’s this?”

“Dad and I were talking about you taking classes at the university with me. There’s a program for kids like you.”

“Kids like me? What kind of kids?”

“Precocious kids.”

I must have looked bewildered. “What does precocious mean?” Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on June 11, 2012 in auto-biographical


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Let’s Try It

When Dad passed away, his archives became available to us. Years of records, a file folder on every child, every property, every pet, every business. Most of my folders included drawings, birthday cards, the occasional award or picture but a fair chunk was dedicated to the history of my education, non-traditional that it was.

I was a parenting experiment. All children before me attended some form of traditional schooling, public or private, skipping a grade here or there. Raoul and Linda both started college at 16 but otherwise the older seven kids were within the range of common. My parents decided to buck the industrial schooling system entirely with me: Total home education. What this meant in the 1980s is that once a year I would go to the local elementary school for a few hours a day one week a year to participate in standardized tests. Providing I performed at or above grade level, the state would allow us to continue home education.

This once-a-year testing event was my only contact with children who didn’t share my genetic makeup. All those experiences you may not even register as experiences were new to me.

The first day of third grade assessment, my mother dropped me off at Mountain View with Miss Fredericks. Mother pressed some money into my hand. “You’ll need this for lunch. Just follow the other kids.” Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on April 2, 2012 in auto-biographical


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It Goes On

I lost my first tooth March 17, 1984. I have no memory of that event, but I don’t need to. Dad made note of it for me.

Thanks to Dad, I know when every centimeter of gum released its toothy bounty. I know the exact dates I was hospitalized, every music performance and who in the family attended, every road trip taken until I was 19. He logged his activities and those of whom he was around for every day of his life from January 3, 1974 until February 21, 2012. One page a day, one pad a month, every month. Filed away in chronological order, more than 450 notepads. The aggregation of an old man’s life and of those he touched. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in auto-biographical


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One Moment in Time

In 1990, I was 12 years old. But forget that. It’s not really important. In 1990, Ghost was the big movie, the band Warrant released “Cherry Pie,” the chic wore massive hoop earrings and Converse all-stars, Cheers and The Golden Girls were popular, The Young and the Restless was the soap to watch, and slap bracelets were huge. Forget that, too. Not only is it not important but I had to look all that up. I don’t know it first-hand because I was a home-schooled kid who didn’t know anyone and had just relocated across the country with a mother and dad old enough to be my grandparents.

I don’t know how other kids feel about moving but I hated it. Then I loved it. Then I hated it again. Loved it. Hated it. Loved it. The cycles continued but eventually the periods of “loving it” lasted longer and the periods of “hating it” were relegated to days when the pollen count was high. Eventually what pushed me more into the “loving it” zone was the opportunity to pursue two interests: reading historical fiction and biographies side-by-side and hanging out in the jacuzzi at the new house, simultaneously. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on February 15, 2012 in auto-biographical


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A Swiftly Tilting Backyard Shed

In the HOA-controlled master-planned country club neighborhood where I grew up, the maximum allowed size for a shed was 4×4 and no higher than the 10-foot cinderblock wall. Ours was 10×14, composed of yellow corrugated aluminum siding and as tall as our house. Ramshackled, unstable, and a few decades old, it was salvaged from an old rental property. For the privilege of having that eyesore in our spacious backyard, my parents were fined $150 a quarter, fees they probably never paid. The shed’s contents were intriguingly and creepily relic, from the decrepit lawnmower to my brother’s abandoned Charlie McCarthy ventriloquism dummy. I was afraid to step foot inside. There were tales of black widow spider nests and the interior of the shed was lined with 5-gallon canisters of propane, kerosene, and gasoline, all kept as back-up supplies by Dad “just in case.” Just in case of what I’m unsure.

But, if one turned a blind eye to the risk of scary spiders and scent of flammables, and ignored the crunchy-hot quartzite pea gravel and occasional lizard, behind the shed was a great place to hide. Strange? Maybe. But without a treehouse (without trees!) or a quiet place in the house that wasn’t overrun by siblings, pets, or siblings’ children, I had few options. I didn’t know any better and it worked.

Around this time I made the huge leap from Dr. Seuss to ‘real books,’ prompted to do so when I noticed the smile of encouragement on the librarians’ faces turned to an eye-brow raise of skepticism every time I brought my summer reading log to their desk. It wasn’t so much that they doubted my truthfulness as they probably expected a child my age should have advanced beyond books with simple sentences.  Hannah, the stereotypical old maid librarian at the local branch, took action and introduced me to the next age group in books. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on January 17, 2012 in auto-biographical


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