Writing the First Story in your Memoirs

Here are memoir-writing guidelines that can help you to write the first story in your book of memoirs–and all the stories you want to tell. You will want to pay particular attention to the guidelines when you begin your first story, however, since that first story is often the hardest one to write.

Don’t try to write a book. Write one story.

“Me, write a book! Oh no! Too much work to even think about.” read more

So You Want to Write Your Memoirs

For too long, you’ve been saying, “I want to write my memoirs.” But that’s about as far as you’ve gotten. You’ve not even had writer’s block yet–since to have such a malady you have to at least be a writer, and to be a memoir writer you have to have written at least one of your stories.

OK, stop fretting. Everybody has a story. You do, too. Here’s how to begin: read more


I throw my head back as hard as I can, and it makes a satisfying whack against some part of Joey’s face. He yelps, lets go of my arms, which he’s been holding behind my back, and retreats. I pursue, and the fight continues. The two of us smack and smash, slug and sock at each other.

This is the culmination of an entire year’s worth of jeers and gibes. Waiting for our fifth-grade class to begin each morning, we’ve had some intense skirmishes. Several times we’ve thrown each other’s school books in the ditch surrounding the school yard, and once I wound up with that black ditch ick all over one of my nicer school dresses. But right now, it’s combat, and I’ve got to win. read more

They Is Us

I once read a book about the annexation of Earth for use by an alien race that wanted majestic purple mountains and fruited plains for themselves. They didn’t bother to murder us. Instead, an uncounted number of our generations before they made the trip to Earth, they did something that caused every passionate encounter between a man and a woman to become a crime of passion. Men who got turned on killed those who turned them on. This happened over and over until finally there were not enough women left alive to birth the human species.

Sometimes, I wonder if what I read was fiction. Worldwide today, in 2017, women between the ages of 15 and 44 are more likely to die or to be seriously injured by men than they are to be killed or maimed by cancer, malaria, war and traffic accidents combined. For pregnant women, the situation may be worse: The leading cause of death for pregnant women is being killed by their husbands. read more


On the lunch shift, the drunks are at tables rather than at the bar, and the waitresses serve them my Bloody Marys and martinis along with their New York Strips. Five or six ounces of vodka and 16 ounces of dead cow in an hour, and then they’re gone—until after work, apparently. This is my first nighttime shift as a bartender, and I’m surprised to see many of the same faces I’ve often seen at lunch since I started this job. Most of these guys must have noticed me behind the bar at lunch. Most of them now seem to be taking a closer look.

One sot is doing more than gawking. Since 5:00 when he toddled in, he’s tried “Hey, you gotta boyfriend?” and “You’re hot, girl!” Neither have gotten him any more than another Dogfish Head beer—why anybody would name a beer Dogfish Head, I don’t know, but he’s ordering them, I’m serving them to him, and the brand seems to suit him. I’ve moved away from him by the time he’s come up with “Nice ass!” loud enough to elicit some titters. Sorry, I mean laughs. read more

Why Doesn’t Winning the Lottery Make a Person Happy?

Good luck can bring some brief happiness, but to have a lasting sense of well-being, you must have goals and you must work to achieve those goals.

In the last 20 years, most positive psychologists have come to the conclusion that winning the lottery does not necessarily make someone happy, at least after the initial euphoria wears off. Most of us ordinary folks find this conclusion a little hard to swallow. We imagine getting all that money along with lasting happiness, not to mention success, good relationships, long life and all the pie in the sky one could eat. Surely a stroke of luck of such magnitude should bring a little happiness! read more

Does my Dog Really Love Me?

Do dogs feel love for the people who feed and care for them, or do they just engage in behavior that gets them fed and cared for?

Buddy’s owner arrives home from work and Buddy races to greet him. Is Buddy glad to see his master because he loves him or because his master dispenses the dog food? Missy wriggles and thumps her tail when she sees her mistress getting the leash. Is Missy happy to be with her mistress or would she be just as happy going for a walk with anybody who would take her? read more

How to Start a Conversation with Someone Who Will Not Listen

The most important part of any conversation may be what happens before the first word gets said.

With someone who is easy to talk with, it’s usually OK to say whatever is on your mind whenever it occurs to you. Talking with a person who listens to you and responds thoughtfully and kindly seems to take no effort. Practicing good communication skills and having meaningful conversations with a person who won’t listen to you, however, can be a challenge. read more

Why Does Time Speed Up as One Gets Older?

Why do the years pass so quickly in old age?  (Hint: It may not be all attributable to experiencing time in relationship to the length of your life.) Can anything be done to slow down the passage of time and get more out of life at the end of life?

Objective time—real time—passes at an even rate, never speeding up or slowing down. However, subjective time—time in the mind—seems to pass more quickly for the aged. The older one gets, the worse the problem becomes until at some point the oldster laments, “Where has the time gone?  It seems like just yesterday….” read more

From Shy to Sociable

Shyness is a real and often painful problem, but there are some things you can do to feel more comfortable and confident around other people.

Almost half of all the people in the United States are awkward and unsure in social situations. More than 10 percent suffer from painful shyness along with loneliness, anxiety and depression. In fact, shyness is so widespread that only about five percent of all people are not now and never have been shy. read more

Don’t Remember Much?

Memories can be brought to life again through the sense of smell.

“I remember holding my first baby in my arms. This was back in 1943, November. The nurse had just settled my child, my baby, into my arms, and I was inspecting all those fingers and toes I had been making for nine months. My husband arrived—he’d been stationed overseas and had missed the birth. He burst into the room, still in uniform, to make my day absolutely perfect. He had brought a dozen yellow roses. You know, I haven’t thought of that in years.” read more

Two Cinquains

A cinquain, in poetry, is five unrhymed lines in a 2-4-6-8-2 pattern. Line 1 must be a noun with 2 syllables. Line 2 must be 2 adjectives with a combined 4 syllables, which describe the noun. Line 3 must be 3 -ing words with a combined 6 syllables, which describe the noun. Line 4 must be an 8-syllable phrase or sentence about the noun. Line 5 must be a word (or two) in 2 syllables and must rename the noun. So:

Alive, Fertile
Rippling Surging Gasping
Our river gives birth to all life
* * *
Yes! Yes!
Perfect, Profound
Willing, loving, giving
The very best word in the world
Just so

read more

We Know Where Lopez Is

Any bus ride you take in Puerto Vallarta is a sightseeing tour. It won’t be the kind of tour that tourists from the States get after being sales-talked into a timeshare presentation with free city-excursion hook. It won’t be the kind of tour that expatriates take when they venture away from their air-conditioned seaside condos. It’ll be the kind of tour that,….

Getting to “Centro” one morning for a Spanish class is easy. We know all buses go to Centro, and we’ve seen a bus come by on our street every 15 minutes. We walk across the street and catch the first one that arrives. Easy, we say to each other. read more

And Again

Gray gusts. Rain comes at last.
Dull drifts and comes up bright.
Clouds are clean now.
Sky is safety.
The sun sings for me again.
My voice rings for you again.

You Too Are Us


  • Peepee Boy, 10 years old, the instigator, always ready to shock the younger children
  • Katharine, 8 years old, studious
  • Stork Girl, 8 years old, a know-it-all
  • Baby Fairy Girl, 9 years old, demure
  • Belly Buttons Boy, 9 years old, acts reasonably
  • Buffalo Boy, 8 years old, always physical
  • Jump Rope Girl, 8 years old, also physical
  • Littlest Boy, 6 years old, mostly interested in toy cars
  • Mama, the mother of Katharine and Little Brother
  • Little Brother, 6 years old, very sure of himself

FADE IN at stage right: read more

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