A to Z Theme 2016

For my 2016 A to Z theme I used a meme that I ran across on the blog of Bridget Straub who first saw it on the blog of Paula Acton. This meme is a natural for me to use on my memoir blog. It's an A to Z concept and it's about me. No research and nothing complicated. I'm given twenty six questions or topics to discuss that are about me.

In April I kept my posts short and uncomplicated. In the midst of it all you might learn a few things about me that you didn't previously know.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Working Years: Out on Our Own

The life stages (beach picture, beach scene in...
The life stages (beach picture, beach scene in Wiek) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
           This post is the third in the series The Stages of Life for the Purpose of Memoir.   In the introductory post I suggested that life can be broken down into four major stages when writing memoirs.  So far we have looked at Memories of Baby Life:  Do We Have Accurate Recall? and School Days: Building Who We Are.  You can click on the three links to read these posts if you missed them.

Leaving Home

          Whether we go on to work after high school or defer work to go to college first, most of us at some point will cut our ties with living in our parental home and move on to a life on our own.  These are typically the years of work.   Many of us will go on into relationships with others and often that will result in marriage and families as we become responsible for raising our own children.   No longer seen so much as children of our parents, we now have our own identities with new roles in which others see us.

           Leaving home often begins with going away to college, doing a stint in the military, or some adventure that is a preliminary step to our career life.  The adjustment of setting out on one's own can provide fine material for memoir.  These can be humorous times or periods of doubt, fear, and angst.   Whichever way we look at this transition stage, it can be a time filled with love, loss, and learning.  This part of our life is often a great story that we can share in order to help or entertain others and provide lessons in life to others who may need them for their own growth or to understand their own past.

Revealing Our Identity

         Eventually we enter into that period of life that most identifies who we are as others see us.   We may enter into the careers that bring us recognition in the circles of those who know us.  Our stories of how we made it in life and what we accomplished can be very interesting to others.  Those stories may consist of success or failures, but with the memoir we should be able to use the important experiences to help bring revelation to those who hear our tales.  Anecdotes about our working careers can teach others or stir emotions within them.   For many of us our jobs define who we are and give us a big part of our life stories.

         The current generation is not as rooted as previous generations when it comes to career.  Some of us may have worn many hats in our working life as we've hopped from job to job.  There are many stories in this scenario.  A memoir of work life can be many things and portrayed in many ways.  Whether the memoirist is attempting to entertain with humor or teach with instruction or whatever else, a mixed job bag can be like a diamond mine of writing possibilities.

         Adult life is not all work.  There can be stories of love, struggles with health, political involvement, parenting--you fill in your own blanks.  What was most significant during your most active adult years?   You may have a special story that you need to tell about those years.  Or you may have many stories.  The stories are there when you start digging for them and they all have the potential to be interesting.

           Do you think that our work is generally what most defines who we are?   What are some kinds of  stories that you think could be most helpful to others?    Can you think of examples of inspirational stories of working, parenting, or other aspects of adult life?    Do you prefer a memoir that is humorous, uplifting, or educational?

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Fears We Inherit

fear (Photo credit: siette)

       We inherit many of our physical traits directly from our parents.  Our hair color, physical build, or facial features will more often than not be similar to how one of our parents looked.  Now I can look in the mirror and see a very distinct resemblance to my own father.  It's in the genes.

        Other aspects that may have been passed to us from our parents are not genetic, but cultural preferences, ethics, and beliefs about certain things.  Sometimes it may be societal while in other cases they be things that are mostly confined to our own family.  Mothers and fathers shape their kids to believe many things whether they intend to or not.

        Since I was a small child I've been told negative things about cats.  My father was never particularly fond of felines, but he never said much about the subject.  On the other hand my mother would tell eerie stories about cats and cat owners she had known in her life.  Many times she would come right out and say that she hated cats.  In turn I grew up intensely disliking cats and having a bit of a fear about them.

          My mother used to tell a story about how she almost drowned when she was a girl.  I can also remember riding in the car on a road that followed closely alongside a river and my mother being very afraid.  Sensing her fear, I too became afraid that we might run off the road into the water and drown.  We never went swimming many times when I was a small child so I had little experience with being in any water other than the bathtub.   My father was a very good swimmer, but I did not see him swim very many times.   Later when we moved to San Diego we would often go to the beach, but I would stay away from the water.  An aversion to large areas of water had already been instilled in me.  I actually never learned to swim until I was in college and took swimming as a physical education class.  Even now I am not a good swimmer and haven't been swimming in many years.  Being on a boat can make me very uncomfortable.  I am not excited about the prospect of having to swim.

           Many of my friends learned fix-it skills and craftsmanship from their dads.  My dad was never good at things like that and rarely did such work around the house.  His father had died when my dad was still fairly young so maybe it was partly for that reason that my father didn't acquire those kinds of skills.  Then again his father was a newspaperman and may not have done much in the way of work around the house either.  In any case, what basic skills I acquired I either learned on my own or from friends.  And believe me, I don't know much.  Now I have an unease about doing home repairs and will usually hire somebody to do it for me.   My fearing of making things worse if I do them is justified by some of my own bad past experiences.  Like my dad I am no handyman and it often scares me to think of trying.    

           These are all things I could overcome, but they are also part of who I am and have been.  I have acquired these attributes from my parents and I'm comfortable with it.  Years of habit and hearing the negatives about those things that I fear have made these fears very real for me.   In part it's my parents and now it's part of me.

             Are there fears that you have acquired from one of your parents?    Is there anything that one of your parents greatly feared that you are not at all afraid of?    Have you passed any aversions on to your own children?   If so, did you intend to pass them on?

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Times That You May Want to Forget That Can Be Worth Remembering

Metsu, Gabriel - Sick Child, the
Metsu, Gabriel - Sick Child, the (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
          Being sick ain't much fun, but it sure can be memorable.   During a bout of illness we might wish the whole thing would go away and that we could just forget about it, but after it's all done it's another ordeal we've survived and it can sometimes make for some good stories.

           Our stories about being sick can be entertaining, frightening, or informative.  Few of us enjoy being sick, but a good story about sickness can be just the cure for whatever might be ailing us at the moment.  After all, sickness is a part of life and sometimes the cause of death.  There are many human stories related to sickness.

           My recent bout of illness was a big setback for me in my blogging activity.   I didn't get much done as far as work on writing and chores around the house, but I got a nice amount of reading done and managed to watch a few more movies than I normally would.  Other than that I spent a lot of time sleeping, sitting around drowsily, and then sleeping some more.  Then there was one evening spent in the emergency room.

            Never in my life had I had such a dizzy spell as I did in the event that led me to ask my wife to take me to the hospital.  She knew something serious was up.  I normally don't like going to a doctor and my few experiences with going to the ER have never been pleasant ones.  This time though I thought something serious was afoot.  They checked me out and gave me some Valium and Travel Sickness pills and put me on observation while blood tests were run.  Final prognosis?   I'm getting older and I was reacting to an ear infection.  This was a new reaction to ear problems for me, but now I guess I have a better grasp on what to do if it ever happens again.

           I remember times of illness in my life.  Not that I'm unhealthy or anything, but we all get sick sometimes and I can remember some of my own times.  I recall the Seven-Up, hot tea, and buttered toast that my mother used to give me when I was a child and home in bed sick instead of going to school.  Broth made from chicken bullion.  They all are things I still turn to when I feel badly.

           Then there was the time my sister had Scarlet Fever.  My parents were so upset and listening to them I was certain that she was going to die.  In retrospect I'm sure that the situation wasn't quite as serious as it seemed, though it was serious enough.  In a way I envied the attention she received, but I was glad I didn't contract the illness.

           In my adult years I've been fortunate not to have had many serious illnesses.  Often, as adults sometimes have to do, I'd just plod forward through sickness to continue doing whatever it was I had to do. As a business manager I frequently just worked through my sickness and let it run its course.  I might slow down, but I'd keep going when I had to and just collapse at home when I could.

          Thank goodness my kids were all healthy.   They didn't have many serious illnesses, which was good for me since I was a single father raising them on my own while trying to lead my work life.  There were a few times when I'd take one of them to my office and let them sleep on the couch there while I attended to business.  Sometimes we just have to improvise and do the best we can.

           There are memoirs completely about sickness--the travails and the victories and how it can all change our lives.   Or sickness can just be a part of the story.  Nearly all of us can tell a story about a time we were sick or about someone we know who suffered through being sick.  It's just another topic that we can consider when we're coming up with ideas about what we can write.

            Do you have some memorable stories about being sick?   Is there something in those stories that can provide a learning experience for others?    Have you had funny sickness experiences?   Do you often write when you are sick or do you tend to avoid writing during those times?

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Taking a Break--Not Feeling Well

Due to illness I'll be taking off this week.

However my current situation is a reminder of how illness--our own and that of others--can play a role in memoir writing.   I'll be posting on this topic in the future.  Perhaps some of you might think of your own stories.

Take care for now.