5. Tell about a lesson you learned in middle school.

In my world, middle school was still called junior high.  Seventh and eighth grade.  A time of self-absorption and individuation for most people, and definitely for me.  I began to see myself as an individual and not just my parents’ child.  I had feelings and thoughts of my own and was sure I deserved experiences of my own too.

There were good things — I had very good friends in Mary, Laura, Sam, and Jon, and there were difficult things too.  If I remember correctly, my mom spent at least part of my eighth grade year in the psychiatric ward of a hospital in Little Rock.  That might’ve been ninth grade, though.  I’m not completely sure.  

These are the years without a lot of concrete memories.  I remember favorite people and teachers, but  not a lot of events.  I remember feeling pretty awkward and uncertain in my body.  I was tall — had always been tall — but others were beginning to catch up.  I wore mostly homemade clothes, which did not help my feelings of being different.

In subsequent years, I’ve learned that everyone felt as awkward and out of it as I did.  A few years later, the movie The Breakfast Club came out and we all talked about who belonged in which category:   the princess, the athlete, the brain, the basket case, or the criminal.  We were quick to assign others to the princess, athlete and brain category and it was pretty obvious who the criminal/rebels were.  




But really?  We all felt like the basket case. We all were basket cases.  Uncertain.  Learning.  Fearful.  Awkward.  

4. What material object do you cherish the most?

Hard question.

I don’t tend to think of myself as a “stuff” person.  I tend to treasure people and memories more than things.

That said, there are things I own that are dear to me, primarily because of the memories and the people I associate with them.

First, I love my house.  I found it.  I bought it.  It didn’t come loaded with memories, but with promises of new beginnings.  For the fist time in years, I feel like I have a home.

I love the pieces of furniture and decor that once belonged in my grandmother’s house.  


That’s enough for now.  I’m not that much of a stuff person, but home and family mean much to me and I am honored to be trusted with this house and the legacy that comes with being my grandmother’s granddaughter.

3. What is the oldest piece of clothing in your closet that you still wear?

Oddly enough, I have it on today.

I’ll admit it:  several pieces of my winter wardrobe don’t fit well right now, so I pulled out one of the few older items I still had in my closet and wore it today.

It’s a jumper.  A black velvet-type jumper.  To be honest, it’s a little too big (which is good) but it still looks pretty ok.  I’ve had it a long time, and for years it was my go-to for funerals; I wore it to Grandmother’s funeral with a dark purple sweater

I hope it never truly fits again, but I’m thankful that I had it today.

I even got a compliment from one of our student workers.  “I like that!  It’s kind of like an overall dress . . . what do you call it?”  

2. If you had to eat the same meal over and over again for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why?

Oh, this is rich.

If you know me, you know food is a big part of my life.  It’s been both a blessing and a curse.  Although I haven’t spent my adult life yo-yo dieting, food and my body size has been a constant theme of my life.

So about that food . . .

I miss my grandmother’s cooking.  I have a lot of her recipes, but somehow they genuinely tasted somewhat different — better — when she prepared them.  My grandmother’s generation was probably the last one who ate more real food over their lifetime than prepared foods.  Oven fried chicken, sliced tomatoes, cornbread, butter beans . . . and all of it so, so good.  I don’t remember a lot of potatoes or rice being served at her house.  Her Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were amazing.  She was no short order cook whose major function was to keep everyone happy.  She fixed meals — wonderful meals full of real food — and we sat as a family and ate.

I miss that.  I would eat one of her meals every day for the rest of my life if I could.

In the real world, I would have to say Mexican food.  Or what we think of as Mexican food.  It seems like no matter combination of those ingredients you have, it tastes good.  Really good.  It’s satisfying too.  The salsa, the crunch of the chips, the warmth of the beans and rice.  It’s just good.

In fact, yesterday, I had Mexican food with a friend for lunch and then went home and fixed Mexican chicken and Spanish rice for supper.  I mean what’s not to love about this?

1. What is your earliest memory?

Early memories?  It’s hard to know what to include.  Are they actual memories or stories I’ve heard so often that I’ve created a visual interpretation of them?

One scene that comes to mind is in Georgia, seeing my brother come home with a bloody nose.  Since I was two when we moved from Georgia, I feel fairly certain this is a constructed memory.  I also remember being in our house on Pleasure Street and running down the hall yelling, “Mary Jane!  Mary Jane!”  Someone had come to the door and asked for “Mary Jane.”  Not realizing that was the same person as “Mama,” I called for who was being requested.

Other Pleasure Street memories include being stuck in a tree in the back yard and having to wait for my dad to get home from work to climb up and rescue me.  He was my hero.  I also remember waking up and finding our neighbors in our house instead of my parents.  My mom had gone to the hospital to have a baby and came home later with Alan.  Our neighbors were the Walls and they treated us like their own grandchildren.  I remember loving them dearly and feeling safe in their home.  I have one very focused memory of drinking 7-Up and eating Fritos and seeing little pieces of Frito float in the bottle.  For a brief time, my mom had someone who would come and help do the housework.  I don’t remember her name (maybe Margaret?) but I remember that she reminded me of Miss Edna who had helped Grandmother for so many years.

And I remember moving away from Pleasure Street to a smaller home on Center Street.  I felt it was a new adventure, but looking back, it must have been from financial difficulties during the recession of the 70s.

To be honest, I don’t have a lot of specific memories from many of the following years.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m more of a live-in-the-moment person or if it’s because there were several years of difficulty that came soon after we moved from Pleasure Street.

But the early years?  Good memories.  A lot of unstructured time and playing and music and singing.  I would consider myself to be a happy child.

Twenty-five writing prompts to hopefully end the writer’s block

1. What is your earliest memory?
2. If you had to eat the same meal over and over again for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why?
3. What is the oldest piece of clothing in your closet that you still wear?
4. What material object do you cherish the most?
5. Tell about a lesson you learned in middle school.
6. Describe the most vivid dream you can remember.
7. Create a character ten years older than you of the opposite sex and write about their day in first person.
8. Describe an object in the room without mentioning it by name.
9. Make up a recipe.
10. Pick a controversial issue you are passionate about – and then argue the opposite stance (ooooh…I dare you).
11. Write a letter to your sixteen-year-old self.
12. Write a letter to your ten-years-older-than-you-currently-are self.
13. Start with the day of the week it currently is…and then let your stream of consciousness take it from there.
14. What is your favorite book, and why does it speak to you?
15. If you could have any skill in the world (that you currently don’t have), what would it be?
16. What was your favorite thing to imagine when you were a child?
17. Write a letter to the President.  Without mentioning politics.
18. Describe your perfect day.
19. Write a letter apologizing to someone you owe an apology to (if you don’t owe anyone an apology – make it up).
20. Why do you like to write?
21. What inspires you?
22. When do you feel your happiest and most complete?  How does it feel when you are experiencing this?
23. Describe your favorite sound.
24. What kind of work do you like best?

25. Write about the first thing that happened yesterday morning.