Six Word Memoir

Familiar with the six word memoir?  The story goes that a magazine editor challenged Ernest Hemingway to write the shortest narrative possible.  He submitted “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”  Six words.  Six words that provided character and conflict, that told a complete story.  A simple Google search returns this version of the tale along with 1.24 million more hits confirming or denying its veracity.  Whatever the truth, SMITH magazine supports a website dedicated to the six word memoir and its role in creative writing and self reflection.  Click the link above to check the Six Word Memoir site.

At the close of my big kid’s College for Kids Young Writers’ Academy a few weeks back, we audience members were invited to participate in a challenge much like the students had been doing all week.  One of the instructors threw down the six word memoir challenge.  I froze–instant writer’s block.  Not everyone did, and from the room came a handful of charming mini-bios.  Among my favorites:

I found you; I found me.  (And the “awwwww” went up from the entire audience.)

I am not good at this.  The audience bust out laughing at this young lady’s clever spin.

Life sometimes strides; Life sometimes sucks.  This one also drew laughs from around the room, and I couldn’t have been more surprised at its author:  my son.

Try as I might,  my six word memoir remains unwritten. How does one capture one’s essential self or perception of self?  Including one attribute eliminates space for another. I’m a mom. I’m a wife. I’m a friend. I’m a speech-language pathologist.  I star in many roles, but am defined by none. Music sings my biography, but I am not a songwriter.  I’m no philosopher, but hold dear some guiding tenets and random nuggets from much wiser souls than I dare dream to be:

Be today the person future you would be proud to call a friend. (This one is WW’s)

The opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s indifference. (Elie Wiesel)

Don’t be a dick. (Me and Everyone)

A mother is only as happy as her saddest son. (Can’t quite source this)

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. (Eleanor Roosevelt)

A friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, “You too? I thought I was the only one!” (CS Lewis)

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are. (John Wooden)

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Thank you for this dose of happy.

Just who am I?  My husband and I had a discussion recently about the many mes–that’s a pluralization of ‘me’ by the way.  It goes against every punctuation convention I hold dear; I cannot apostrophize a plural.  I’m unable to refer to many mes as ‘us’ either, although ‘us’ is the plural of me.  Weird, right?  Mes is not a word (well actually it is a Spanish word meaning month) but ‘me’ isn’t plural, I know.  And we’ve already covered this–I write like I talk in my little blog here, so grammar and conventions are oft times unconventional in the name of creativity, judgey ones.  I know the rules of grammar, but I’m all rebel rebel like that here.  Dang it’s hard to be a grammar freakazoid when you break the rules yourself!  Deep breath.  The many mes.

I think we generally acknowledge that we are different things to different people in our lives.  180 speech paths don’t care so much about my kitchen remodel.  My friends don’t care a lick about my ethics presentations or remediation of phonological disorders.  My husband can’t be bothered with my music fandom.  My children pay no mind to me when. . .  Ah, hell, they pay no mind to 93% of me unless it deals with food, Pokémon, or hooking up to Wi-Fi.  Most of the time, most mes are poppin’.  Most of the time I feel confident and comfortable with my multiple personalities.  I think if I weren’t me, I would like me in whichever persona I need me to be.

But when I am vulnerable, all of the mes in me dive for cover.

I asked myself this question in a long-ago blog post, and vowed to figure it out: Who am I?  The bigger question perhaps is why am I no closer to figuring it out?  I’m old, I should know by now, shouldn’t I?  I’m a #baseballmom, but I’d like not to be an MD mom.  See?  No hashtag for MD mom, because who wants that for their kid?  Who wants that to be a defining element in their six word memoir?   I could just stick to mom, and call it a day I guess.  I’m a communicator in many forms–language and speech habilitator, information sharer, professional developer, blogger, cheerleader and advocate for my children, comedian, song lyrics savant.  Who tags themselves essentially as a communicator?  I’m a good and loyal wife.  Speech-language pathologist is in me, but doesn’t rate highly enough for the six words.  I laugh a lot and I smile a lot, but I can be morose.  I’m terribly hard on myself, and my husband believes I should be black and blue for the extent to which I beat myself up when I fail, especially when I believe I fail at parenting.  I’m optimistic, yet anxious; I’m the queen of hyperbole, yet quite pragmatic in fact.

My husband, who unwittingly started this post in motion, thinks I’m lots of personalities (not in the DSM-V multiple personality disorder kind of way though probably possibly, so please keep your questioning my sanity thoughts to yourselves, muchas gracias), but that not everyone gets all of me.  The discussion stemmed from one of the mes he appreciates less well than the rock star wife and mom me.  I would argue that not everyone needs all of the mes.  There’s a line in Some Fantastic that goes, “I missed out on the best of you.”  Who needs, but is missing out on the best of me, the best of the me that they need anyway?  My kids?  My husband?  My friends??  I can’t be best me at everything to everyone all the time, but I certainly can’t be failing those who matter most.  Am I?  When being right for someone’s something prevents or distracts me from being the right something elsewhere??  Damn.  Adulting is hard.

Getting back to my son’s memoir.  Why was he, all 5’9″ now, twelve-and-a-half years of him, able to crank it out in the allotted timeframe and belt it out in a roomful of people?  Does it accurately reflect how he views the world?  He freaking nailed it–life does sometimes stride, and it most assuredly sucks at others.  It’s profound.  Alternately, it’s middle school shallow.  It is balanced though, right?

Much can be revealed in six words.  Maybe that’s why getting it right matters so.  Have you written your six word memoir?  Can you write mine?

Family, friends, happiness–greater than gravity.

It’s a start anyway.


A Two-Nap Kind of Valentine’s Day Celebration

I don’t succumb to sick often; I am a warrior.  Except when I’m not, and then I get my Vick’s Vapo-Rub on with the best of them.  I don’t.  But after three weeks of a highly-scheduled life, I waved the white flag and allowed the dark side to win.  There’s probably a Star Wars metaphor in there, but I don’t have it in me to work it through.  I’m really dumb when I’m sick.  I’m dumb but I’m HILARIOUS, and by hilarious I mean slap happy, entertaining (yet again) a very small audience:  myself.  I’m funny, just ask me.

Friday night was the kids’ school dance.  I learned that my little kid has got some moves, for reals, and that he really loves to explore his space (insert visual of Will Ferrell doing “more cowbell” at Christopher Walken’s behest).  I learned that my little kid knows the words and moves to such (quotes intended for effect here) “classics” as Gangnam Style, The Macarena, Watch me Whip (and in the name of all that’s dear, don’t you forget the Nae Nae) and the Chicken Dance.  Super.  My role in the neighborhood edition of elementary school Dance Fever was as concessionaire, which is now my favorite word of the week.  The middle school kids were selling concessions to support their class trip to our nation’s capitol next year, so our family “volunteered” (yes, the quotes) to supply and vend highly sugared food and beverages to the 5th grade and under set.  My big kid enjoyed the dance less than the little guy, but that’s because he was employed in actual work which is NEVER fun for apathetic middle schoolers.  He’s not a super coordinated dancer, but I did catch some killer chair-dance moves during the Cha-Cha Slide.  I am a badass chair dancer, and I was delighted to get visual confirmation that my son IS MINE, he IS!!  I knew like I knew the sun would rise on Saturday, that the dance was the wall, and that as soon as we would arrive home, I’d hit that wall.  Oh, but I did.  Hard.

I wanted to do something fun with the boys this weekend to celebrate love.  Not a fine dining kind of celebration, but some outing somewhere fun just to spend time together to acknowledge the love I feel for these yahoos.  That’s Valentine’s Day enough for this girl.  When you forego showering and brushing your teeth for thirty-four hours though, it’s hard to get down with love.  Because getting off the couch to change the channel felt tantamount to running a marathon, I watched the Los Angeles Marathon, the Olympic qualifier–it was on, who was I to question?  Who was I to move even?  I watched men and women run balls out for several hours in a row, when I couldn’t work the remote control, so complex and challenging it was in my ague.  Those marathoners wore me out, man they took it out of me, so I fell asleep (the first nap I’ve taken in I can’t tell you how long!), and naturally those freaks of physical and physiological perfection were still running when I awoke.  At 4:30 yesterday, I undertook a major task of my own–I took a shower.  And then I took another nap, ’cause holy crap, that shower was E-X-H-A-U-S-T-I-N-G.

I’ve never been a Valentine’s Day fool.  I get it, but I don’t really get why girls lose their heads over it.  I’m not such a cynic that I think it’s all BS–I LOVE love, but I don’t need overpriced roses or enormous mylar balloons on the day to know that my husband loves me.  I always get him a card and some token of recognition, because why?  Because I LOVE love, pay attention!  But I’m OK with lunch at Five Guys or Kopps (custard, bitches!) or even breakfast at home.  I am not a creative person, so Pinterest and Etsy make me feel alternately murderous and envious around the holidays.  I realized this morning that one of the ways I show my family I love them is through food.  I am a decent cook, and I very much enjoy cooking for my family.  I feel slightly more among the living so far today, so I put together a (I think) lovely breakfast for my three boys.  It’s the best way I know how to demonstrate my love for them.  There’s no way I’ll paint a cute sign or sew a cute Valentine’s Day blanket or wall canvas–I’m SO singularly bad at arts and crafts–but I can cook you something from my heart.  THAT I can do.  Food = love.  There’s math I can get behind.  I love you, my family.

My little kid, he of the dancing fame, and I think a pretty darn funny kid in development, gave me this valentine, which probably affected his teacher’s opinion of me in one of two distinct ways:  I’m either the least responsible mother of the year, or the one she wants to have margaritas with.  Probably the second.  I mean my kid’s totally cool, and that has to come from somewhere, right?  His valentine contained lyrics and movie lines that we giggle conspiratorially together over.  And because I was feeling crappy, he gave it to me a day early to cheer me up.  I am doing something right, and here’s evidence:

Seriously love this kid


Keepin’ it classy

Since I don’t have the budget or husband quite willing enough to take me to Florida for a Valentine’s Day Barenaked Ladies concert tonight, what I’m most in love with doing this Valentine’s Day is watching the season premiere of The Walking Dead. Because nothing says love like zombies, y’all.