Category Archives: Memoir musings

Black and White Thanksgiving

By Carolyn Barbre

Thanksgiving Day, 2012 – While preparing dinner for eight (what the cooking instructions said the 14-pound turkey would feed), almost entirely during the commercial breaks in the eight-part miniseries, The Kennedys, it was interesting to see the story behind our Camelot president, warts and all. There were not eight people coming for dinner. It would just be my younger son and I, but I’m a big fan of Thanksgiving leftovers.

Kennedy was elected the year I graduated high school and married my high school sweetheart. Kennedy’s assassination just three years later would have a profound effect on my generation, the country and the world.
* * *

I had no idea I’d led such a cloistered life growing up in Southern California beach communities until I sat behind the driver on a cross-country bus ride to Jacksonville, Florida. We passed black tenant-farmer families living in one-room shanties with cotton growing right up to the unpainted wood structures. Some had a passel of barefoot children in tattered dirty clothes playing on front porches. I watched agape through the bus window at the raw poverty of their existence.

It was the dark of night when we pulled into a bus station somewhere in Alabama. A young black woman holding a toddler by the hand and a baby on her hip asked if ours was the bus to Jacksonville.

“No, it’ll be along shortly,” the driver responded, causing a tremor of fear to surge through me, as he shut the door and backed out of the parking slot. I was about to ask if I was on the wrong bus when he said, in a supercilious voice to no one in particular, “Ain’t gonna have no niggers ridin’ on my bus!” I couldn’t wait to get to my husband. He would have known the proper thing to say. I just sat tongue tied while feeling terrible for that poor mother. She would no doubt have to wait hours for the next bus while minding her tired, cranky children. How could the driver or anyone be so hateful?

When daylight dawned the bus was cruising through the piney woods of north Florida. Suddenly we were surrounded by convoys of army trucks, jeeps and some heavy-duty artillery equipment under tarps, traveling the roadways. My husband, Dean, was in training at the Navel Air Reserve station in Jacksonville primarily to avoid service in Vietnam. I had no idea the Cuban Missile Crisis was so real, so in-your-face in Florida. Was Dean now in more jeopardy than if he’d been drafted? I wondered.

We’d been together since the end of my sophomore year of high school. Our very first date was his senior prom, a magically romantic night. I’d been staying with my in-laws since Dean left for Florida, not a good fit without their beloved son. He’d only been gone a couple of months when I quit my job, bought a bus ticket to Jacksonville, and now here I was in the stifling humidity. Dean and Dick, his ski-patrol pal, met me at the bus station. Dick had driven his car to Florida so had his own transportation. My husband did not. But he’d managed to find us a furnished garage apartment.

Dick seemed like a lost soul and hung around our apartment recounting stories of our winter in Mammoth when it snowed something like 30 feet, snow so deep that they shut down the ski lifts and closed the mountain. When the storm finally abated, they actually had to dig the lifts out. At last Dick departed and we indulged our passion, a slippery, sweaty pursuit. The apartment had no air conditioning. Nothing dried in the oppressive humidity, not the sheets, not the bath towels, not the inside of one’s shoes which were prone to gather a growth of mold.

Palmetto bugs, enormous flying cockroaches appeared after dark, crawling over the double-garage walls. Too often one or two would make it into the apartment above, always an alarming encounter. One time I went downstairs to shake out a rug and sweep up around the door. When I started back up the stairs I came upon a snake about the length of a yardstick. I had no clue what kind it was or how it got there, but somehow between the rug and the broom, I got it slithering downstairs and out the door. The heebie jeebies stayed with me until my husband came home.

Dean’s training pay was stretched thin so I found a waitress job in a local cafe and got a continuing education on the southern diet (heavy on starchy and greasy food, high in calories and low in nutrients), as well as race relations. When I asked the heavyset black woman, who literally mixed the ingredients in the tuna salad and macaroni salad with her thick fingers and sturdy hands, if she could just set a sandwich in front ot the customer at the end of the counter, she shook her head no.

“If they sees me touch their food, they be all upset and I gets in trouble,” she explained. I had to laugh at the hypocrisy.

The boss, a white woman in a white uniform dress and white apron, her gray hair confined by a hairnet, lived on milkshakes. She’d recently had most of her decaying teeth pulled and hadn’t been fitted for partials yet (another testament to the poor southern diet), so spoke with a toothless lisp and sucked her meals through a straw. My skinny-as-a-rail co-waitress proclaimed herself to be poor white trash in a thick backwoods accent. She mentioned more than once, when the song “Po’ Folks” came on the radio, that she and her siblings grew up hungry.

“That was us,” she’d say. “If the wolf had ever come to our backdoor, he’d a-gone away hungry fo’ sure.”

Trust grew for this unprejudiced white girl from California until even the black teenage dishwasher shared some of his life, how he and his friends would sometimes drive around in a car with all the windows rolled up. “We’d slink down like we was sittin’ in cool comfort with air conditioning blowin’, you know, and givin’ folks a little wave. Then we’d go around a corner and roll down all the windows so we could breathe.” He painted a funny picture that had us chortling through the steaming kitchen.

But it was starkly different when my husband and I found time to take in our surrounds as we walked around town. Despite the Kennedy administration’s achievements in accelerating integration in the South, signs over doors and drinking fountains still proclaimed “Whites only.” Such blatant bigotry was so incomprehensible to us that Florida seemed more like a foreign land.

My husband stood six-foot-six, without a mean bone in his body. It was startling and embarrassing when black men with downcast eyes would actually step off the sidewalk and into the gutter to give us more than ample room to pass. We made it a point to sit in the back of buses as our own protest, although it was to the consternation of both the driver and the black passengers in northern Florida, even though bus segregation had been ruled unconstitutional in the Rosa Parks case back in the mid-1950s.
* * *

In November of 1963 we were teaching skiing weekends on the slopes of Southern California, while attending the local community college in the South Bay. You really can ski and surf in the same day in the Golden State. We were on the slopes the day that President Kennedy got shot and word traveled quickly. Everything stopped as folks gathered around for the next update. Then came the report that the president had died, had been assassinated. It spelled the end of innocence for our generation.
* * *

The times they were a-changing. It was from there that our paths soon diverged. Dean was happy to ski all winter and surf in the summer, all he said he wanted from life. Eventually he moved to northern Idaho, a place of long white winters inhabited primarily by staunchly conservative white Americans (although he was always a liberal at heart).

I wanted to be a part of the passing parade, a contributor through my chosen profession, photography, for which I moved to New York. I got my degree and bought my first professional camera. Late one afternoon I was walking down MacDougal Street when I noticed the shadows of fire escape ladders creating a strong graphic design against the brick walls of old tenement buildings. I took a black and white photo of the scene.

Later I displayed the untitled image in a photo exhibit I had in Greenwich Village and someone bought it. They said they wanted to use it as a book jacket. I was sent a copy of the jacket (for my portfolio), but not the book. A slice of my photo was on the right with the title, The Political Economy of the Black Ghetto, in yellow on a black background down the left side.
* * *

After watching The Kennedys miniseries this Thanksgiving it occurred to me to google the title, The Political Economy of the Black Ghetto. I was rather amazed to get more than a million references. Published in 1970, the modest 152-page book is available in hardbound and paperback from Amazon to Barns & Noble to used bookstores. I went to Amazon and found, beginning on page one, the authors stating that while surveys show “Americans believe that ghetto unrest, riots, and rebellion are caused by criminals, outside agitators and foreign communist influences” the research found that it was discrimination in education, jobs and housing that was the culprit, especially the dehumanizing effects of individual racism.

Although we weren’t in the thick of the desegregation movement, Dean and I did our small part. And this Thanksgiving I discovered I was a contributor to a seminal work that has become a classic, an outspoken chronology of the way things were and how they needed to change, that would eventually lead to our first black president.

Anyone interested in leftovers? How about some homemade apple pie?



Filed under Memoir musings

Who do you think you are?

The first paragraph in the prologue of this memoir by Alyse Myers, vice president for brand programs at The New York Times, tells the whole premise. ”I didn’t like my mother, and I certainly didn’t love her. The only time we actually had anything in common was when I had my own daughter—but by then it was too late, since my mother was to die before we really could compare notes.”

The firstborn of three daughters to a stay-at-home, chain-smoking mom and a frequently absent father, Myers is two years older than her two siblings who are just a year apart. She believes her sisters were favored by her mother while she adored her handsome but narcissistic, philandering father who spent more on his wardrobe than his family. But he gives Alyse her future when he recommends she keep a journal to write out the pain in her life such as when she was taunted as a “Jew girl” by a local bully.

Her parents’ battles end when her father dies from stomach problems compounded by morphine addiction when Myers is just eleven. The loss of the only person with whom she had bonded was devastating. She spends as much time as possible at friends’ homes and more on the several occasions her mother throws her out while shouting, “Who do you think you are?” Upon Myers’ return, these incidents are never spoken of—the hallmark of a dysfunctional family.

Daughters who never bonded with their mothers will relate. But it helps a great deal to understand the failure to bond. In this instance, a young mother with three children under the age of five, such as a one-, two- and four-year-old in a poor family, will naturally expect much more of the eldest, despite her tender years.

It is not until after her mother’s death from lung cancer when Myers is 37, that she locates a locked box her mother has kept private and lays claim but does not open the box for 12 more years, when her own daughter is fifteen. Myers is taken aback to realize that her mother was loved. And that she once loved this one man, her high school sweetheart, the only man in her life, ever. In addition to their love letters Myers found her own history and accomplishments in report cards and correspondence that her mother treasured as well.

Feeling and hearing no love from a parent it seems can only be healed by loving one’s own children in words and actions.

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and I shall have some peace there

My homegrown tomatoes, perhaps to barter with.

“My depth of connection to gardening, my elemental drive to be one with it, to meld with other living things who do not yell or put forth unrealistic expectations… being truly at attention, at one with the task: That sense of perfect was what I had not found anywhere else…”

–Margaret Roach from her book AND I SHALL HAVE SOME PEACE THERE: Trading the fast lane for my own dirt road

Margaret Roach, former New York Times editor, fashion and garden editor at Newsday, first garden editor for Martha Stewart Living magazine and the editorial director of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia left “thirty-two years of corporate servitude” for a life of meditation, gardening and bird watching from a house she had purchased 20 years previously on some acreage in upstate New York.

Upon starting her life in the country full-time, Roach immediately sets up a garden blog named for a book she wrote years before, A Way to Garden. “As in just one way, my way, not the way, necessarily.” But it is not all smooth sailing. Roach has her share of doubts expressed in the following aside: (Note to self: need to write a companion volume called A Way to Live, and urgently, and then please buy yourself copy.)

It was 2008. Roach had the credentials and the connections. She sent out her book proposal. AND I SHALL HAVE SOME PEACE THERE was published in February 2011. It doesn’t get much faster than that in traditional publishing. In her mid-fifties, unmarried, childless and without a pet until she was adopted by a two-year-old neutered black cat, Roach writes with wry humor and sage advice, her own and that of Zen masters.

“I admit it: I garden because I cannot help myself,” she writes and I understand, completely. “It is no wonder so much gardening is done on one’s knees; this practice of horticulture is a wildly humbling way to pass one’s days on Earth. Even the root of the word humility comes from the soil: from the Latin humus, for earth or ground, and a good soil is rich in partially plant and animal material called humus.”

Actually I have sat on a short swivel stool and a plastic ice chest on wheels to do weeding until I got my new kitchen floor and in the process discovered knee pads which my tile guy wore. I bought myself a pair at Lowe’s and now wear them for both in-house floor work and outdoor gardening—a wonderful invention these gel-lined, Velcro attaching knee protectors. Roach has a knack for inventing words. She made one observation that is posted on the clipboard of my mind. “I prefer to think I’m an about-to-be in spite of my own un-spring-chickeness.”

Roach’s house was built in the 1880s as was mine. And I am just now becoming a professional gardener, in that I am bartering some of my produce with the organic produce broker who sets up shop at the White Barn every Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. Last week I bartered seven pounds of zucchini and eight pounds of apples for a baggie of green beans, three Spanish onions, one bunch of green onions, four peaches, a small round seedless watermelon, a red pepper and a green one, and a box of a blackberry/raspberry hybrid berries that were amazingly delicious. And I still have two dollars on account. I also left fifteen pounds of butternut squash on consignment.

I only barter what I cannot absolutely use myself (I am currently pretty sick of apples and zucchini. In fact I tore out two of my three zucchini plants while they were still producing). And now the tomatoes are rapidly ripening on my sixteen plants, faster than I can use them but still not in quantities generally suggested for preserving. Maybe dried?

Roach admitted to moments of doubt (while inventing more new words): “The giddiness of my new life, it seems, is wearing off, and frankly I (jobless, scheduleless, and incomeless though I may be—seemingly without encumbrances or restrictions) am feeling increasingly free but also completely trapped.”

But it’s about transitions. A friend sends her a postcard offering up a new slogan, “Survival is the new success.” Works for me. If you think life in the backcountry would suit you, I recommend And I Shall Have Some Peace There. Especially for single women. Enjoy.


Filed under Gardening, Memoir musings

Big Backpack—Little World

By Donna Morang

Ever wonder how there are always some people in the most remote corners of the globe that speak English when the news crews show up for some disaster or uprising? Think Good Morning Vietnam only replace the amorous Robin Williams with an intrepid traveling granny who loves helping people have a chance at a better life by teaching ESL (English as a Second Language). English that helps child street vendors sell to American tourists to be able to survive, that helps local wait staff get better tips from those tourists to support their families, that enables future Vietnamese Airline pilots learn the required language to fly commercial planes to airports worldwide.

The snow was on the ground at her little house in Montana when Donna Morang’s daughter sent her information on ESL. She was ready for sunshine, white sand beaches and crystal clear water. First stop, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in November 2000 where she would take a class in teaching ESL. She was the oldest one there, but she not only passed after the required 150 hours of instruction, she discovered that “most cultures honor and respect older people who are considered wise.”

However, this is no staid teacher. From Mexico to Central and South America, from Indonesia to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, Morang seeks out the non-touristy neighborhoods and immerses herself in the authentic culture, bringing some American color with her. There isn’t a local dish she won’t try, including dog, snake meat and fried insects. She bellies up to the bar for the local beer, her favorite wine, tequila shots or rum—whatever is favored by the clientele with whom she never fails to make friends. She’ll join in for karaoke and dance till dawn with young male suitors who find her intoxicating.

This vagabond life is not without its mishaps. Morang was stung by a poison fish she stepped on in shallow Mexican waters, stung by microscopic jellyfish in Indonesia, got parasites and a fungus in Latin America, even got hit by a car that busted up her knee in the crazy traffic of the Far East, so that she had to knock it back in place with her fist, and then seek medical attention. Most interesting was that she trusted local homeopathic remedies which, in every instance, worked for her.

I would love to see the videos to go with this real deal travelogue: of interminable bus rides over iffy roads through deep dark jungles, of surviving hurricanes on and fishing off of Caribbean islands, visiting gorgeous cities and timeless ruins, traveling to work by cyclo (bicycle rikshaw) in Ho Chi Minh City, colecting shells and swimming off pristine beaches and so much more.

Big Backpack—Little World is written in colloquial style so that it reads like the letters you never got from your kids (or at least I never did) when they set out to see the world. Morang judges no one, helps whomever she can and is loved, respected and protected in return.

Boomers, if you think the best is over, read this book.





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Feminist Voices or Demure Ladies or What?

Feminist voices are loud in noting that male literary lions consider female authors inferior. But who, really, is to blame?

In A Widow’s Story Joyce Carol Oates, recipient of a half dozen highly prestigious literary awards; author of some of the most enduring fiction of our time, writes, “Because so much in a writer’s life can be distressing—negative reviews, rejections by magazines, difficulties with editors, publishers, book designers—disappointment with one’s own work, on a daily/hourly basis!—it seemed to me a very good idea to shield Ray from this side of my life as much as I could.”

Oates is giving a day-by-day, hour-by-hour report on her thoughts and actions during and after her husband of forty-six years, Ray Smith, editor of the Ontario Review, dies unexpectedly of complications from pneumonia. She goes so far as to say she, “walled off from my husband the part of my life that is Joyce Carol Oates—which is to say, my writing career.”

She praises her husband for his editorial skills while sharing that he did not read her fiction, and, “in this sense it might be argued that Ray didn’t know me entirely—or even, to a significant degree, partially.”

I recently tried to explain this “old-school modesty” by women of a certain age who had it ingrained to appear less than to protect the fragile male ego. Oates gives a classic example. I confess I am only 123 pages into this more than 400-page tome, but it has already become a recurring theme. “As he didn’t read most of what I wrote so he didn’t read most reviews of this [my] work, whether good, bad, or indifferent” which she follows by a qualifier defending her husband or her own reticence. “Always it has astonished me that writers married to each other—for instance Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne—should share virtually every page they write…” and again, “Perhaps it is naïve to wish to share only good news with a [my] husband.” Oates doesn’t even claim her work or her husband when she goes into demure mode but chooses the impersonal as in this work and a husband.

What do you think dear reader? What’s a woman to do?


Filed under Memoir musings, On writing

Fresh Tomato Bisque?

Roses from my garden

 My apologies for those of you who checked in and found no new posts for the last month. The thing is, I finished my memoir, corrected the second draft and am now at the dreaded find-an-agent stage once again (never found one for my novel although I gave up after about fifty queries). So I’ve been in a funk.  

Although I must say my yard and garden have never looked better, as I have fully caught up and maybe gone a little overboard. Do you think fifteen pepper plants are too many? Just kidding, I only have four in the ground: red, yellow, orange and green from the bell pepper family. The others are still seedlings that probably won’t be transplanted.

 Last year I planted all these exotic heirloom tomatoes, more than a dozen plants, and got not a single tomato. Blossoms, but no tomatoes. Not one! This year I went to the local nurseries and now have eighteen tomato plants in the ground in various stages of growth—some seedlings, some flowering and some with green tomatoes on the vines—so I will have my own organic, garden-fresh tomatoes this year.

Apparently now I am going to have to learn home canning although I don’t much care for canned tomatoes. Dried? I do have a food dryer. I’ll give it a try. It’s just that there is so much water in tomatoes it will take a while. Set up a tomato stand in the front yard? Sell at the farmer’s market? (I’d rather be writing.) Maybe just pass them out to friends and acquaintances…


Think I’ll save commenting on the zucchini, squash and cucumbers, also growing in my gardens, for another post.

I hate the angst, that dreadful feeling, kind of like doing taxes, but I must sit down and work on that nonfiction proposal.


Fresh tomato bisque?

You take two pounds of ripe tomatoes, one medium onion sliced thin, two tablespoons butter, one bay leaf….


Filed under Memoir musings, On writing

Hating a place is safer

Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found by Jennifer Lauck is a tough, loving, sad and painful story about a little girl adopted to give her adoptive mother a reason to live and fight the cancer eating her away. Her 9-year-old brother tells 7-year-old Jennifer she is adopted. “Adopted,” B.J. says, “not real, not one of us,” after a social worker comes to call and questions Jennifer about who is caring for her. In truth, it is she caring for her mother who, at the culmination of the visit, wets the couch because she did not want the social worker to know she needed a urine bag and then “poops” in her pants on the way back to bed. Young Jennifer gets her cleaned up and back into bed, cleans the bag and hooks it up, gives her mama her pills, washes out the soiled clothes and then goes out to play.

Not too long after her mother dies, on B.J.’s 10th birthday, Daddy informs them they are moving in with a lady and her three children (yes, the evil step-mother). It’s not that her handsome father ever did not love her but he works himself to death trying to provide an upscale lifestyle for this California hippie, new-age, health-nut wife, who clearly favors her own children.

Then things get really bad.

For the young Nevada native, her time in California was pretty much all bad memories except her annual day at Disneyland on her birthday, with her dad. She hates living in Hermosa Beach and is afraid of the ocean, a dislike and fear that stay with her into adulthood. She’s talking about the places I grew up.

Since we cannot as children accept that our pain and suffering is the result of abuse by our caretakers for how else should we survive? I believe we attach these feelings instead to places—from houses to neighborhoods, to towns, cities, states and even countries.

I love the beach and the ocean because of beautiful memories garnered there. But I dislike a particular neighborhood and hate a style of house (pastel-green stucco, tract home) for the trauma I experienced from adults in those locations.

Do you hate or fear a particular place as a result of childhood trauma?

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Truth or Consequences

Tienanmen Square

By Carolyn Barbre

Last week I asked the questions, “Is writing a memoir a long form of poetry? Or is poetry a cryptic way of disclosing your inner self?” I disclosed on someone else’s blog that I thought the answer was both. Judith Barrington who, wrote Writing the Memoir, the best book I have found on the subject to date, stated, “My own route to memoir was via poetry.” I rest my case.

Following are some observations from her book: For members of marginalized groups, speaking personally and truthfully about our lives plays a small part in erasing years of invisibility and interpretation by others. By demanding our “loyalty” in the form of silence, some of the people we are closest to have coerced us into collaborating with their lies.

Barrington clears up the confusion between memoir and fiction: After all, not everything in a memoir is true: who can remember the exact dialogue that took place at breakfast forty years ago? But, the author stands behind her story, saying this happened; this is true, requiring the writer to be “an unflinchingly reliable narrator.” With the central commitment not to fictionalize, you enter into a contract with the reader. Memoir is circumscribed by the facts, while fiction is circumscribed by what the reader will believe.

There are no secrets, most especially not in today’s world of tracking every keystroke consigned to the Internet via blogs or emails or even the most innocent “like” button. There really never have been secrets in the long run. But they have never exposed quite so easily or thoroughly before.

I just finished reading a memoir that left me with the nagging feeling that the author was cherry picking what she wrote about, hinting at but never sharing the whole truth. It was beautiful, poetic, but ultimately blah. Barrington warns, “Dishonest writing is often mediocre writing…with a faint odor of prevarication about it.”

The point is to self-analyze, to share one’s intellectual and emotional quest for answers. We all want to be the heroes in our own story. Barrington maintains that self-revelation without analysis or understanding is an embarrassment to both writer and reader.

Ready to be the hero of you own story?


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A Strong West Wind

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, poets have a penchant for writing beautiful memoirs.

For example, in A Strong West Wind by Gail Caldwell, she writes about the early 1970s: “Our supposed role models and leaders had gotten us thus far to Hue, to Nixon’s White House, to Watts and Selma. Such convictions produced miracles as well as lunacy, and you couldn’t always differentiate between the two; we were living in an era when Diane di Prima’s so-called poetry counseled stocking up on codeine, come the revolution. It was like standing in a high wind every day, and stepping in almost any direction meant free fall. This promise, or danger, made a lot of cliff-walkers believe they could fly, or at least take the dive and walk away. We were stardust, we were insane with hope, we would live forever, if only we could keep from being killed.”

Remember Vietnam was still going on and student war protesters had been killed about which she writes, “If students against the war had yet to grasp the delineations of the Vietnam draft, Kent State blurred the boundaries, at least symbolically, and placed the troops and the protesters on the same side of the barricades.”

Not only is she a poet but Caldwell won a Pulitzer for “Distinguished Criticism.” I didn’t even know there were Pulitzers for distinguished criticism. Book mavens have to give her a big thumbs up “Like” for making a career of reading books. She has spent at least 20 years as a staff writer and book critic for The Boston Globe, earning the title of Chief Critic. (Just reading the venerable Globe’s book section is an amazing and, dare I say, nostalgic journey).

You gotta love her style as in the following: “But a memoir with an armory of opinions, a couple of failed marriages, and a socialist rap sheet? That was a resume I could aim for, or at least dream about.”

Is writing a memoir a long form of poetry? Or is poetry a cryptic way of disclosing your inner self?

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A Time to Remember

As to why she hadn’t told us all this before—about the marriages and the lost children—her exact sentence stays lodged in my head, for it’s one of the more pathetic sentences a sixty-year-old woman can be caught uttering: “I thought you wouldn’t like me anymore.”

–Mary Karr
The Liars’ Club

The price of this secret was the warp and woof of Mary Karr’s gritty childhood which is to say the foundation of her life. In fairness to Mary Karr I need to mention that I listened to her memoir, Lit, first, which one should not do. I did not get the full impact because I did not have the foundation information, not like it is told in The Liars’ Club.

Although there really was a Liar’s Club where her oil refinery employed daddy starred, it appears to be a double-entendre including her artist mother’s colorful past and her own intuitive secret keeping as a child. It’s like To Kill a Mockingbird wasn’t about mockingbirds or even really about Scout’s childhood.

What is shocking about watching To Kill a Mockingbird today is to see an all-white, all-male jury decide a black man’s guilt or fate. The very best and least we can hope for is to be judged by a jury of our peers. Things have improved in the jury selection process. But carried to its logical conclusion, only people who walked in those shoes could truly judge or critique—why I am focusing on memoirs and memoir writers although clearly, no one ever walks exactly in another’s shoes.

And it can be fun, having some of my own memories nudged and understanding I was not alone in some of life’s little embarrassments. (See my post titled “Which Twin has the Toni?”)

Writing a memoir is tough enough. How do you feel about the judgment that followed or will follow?

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