City to Farm Girl

All of my early memories were of living in a town or city. My mother drove us for visits to her sister's farm in Cartwright, Manitoba, Canada...just across the line from Devils Lake, Noth Dakota where we lived. The road was unpaved with huge ruts in it. Getting stuck wasn't unusual. At her farm, my Aunt Gertie had wonderful food for us to eat and we played outside getting into mischief at times. Once I took a basket and gathered eggs. I brought them to the house and proudly displayed them, but my Uncle Roy was very displeased that I had taken eggs he was planning to have hatched. Later we saw where in his anger he had thrown the eggs against an inside barn wall. We slid down piles of hay and found out that wasn't a good idea either. My Aunt, had to work very hard on their farm and I decided that being a farm wife wouldn't be my lives ambition. There was a big plow horse called Bruce and it was fun to take rides on him. They were short rides with everyone watching we city kids trying to hold on. I think Uncle Roy was probably happy when we left their farm. The visit lasted two weeks and is one of my favorite memories.
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Who Am I?

My mother chose to raise me after I was born to another. I am not sure it was the right choice for her as she was raised in a family of anger, distance and a myriad of dysfunctional behaviors.

I didn’t learn of my adoption until I was 51 years old. I needed my birth certificate to apply for a passport. She said she would send me a copy. A few days later she called to tell me she had mailed me a packet of information. “I sent you a newspaper article about Kent Hrbeck, my favorite Minnesota Twins player, your birth certificate, ‘You’re adopted you know,’ and a recipe for fish boil.”

I learned the specifics of my birth sandwiched in between a sports figure and a method for preparing fish! My head was reeling, my heart pounding and my hands were wet with perspiration.

It was clear that my adoptive mother felt passionate about keeping this secret from me. I chose to honor her wishes and never spoke of it again while she was alive.

While my mom was difficult, she expressed her love as best she could. She was married to a raging alcoholic who kept her in fear all the time. When my father would come home from a night of drinking, he would always want me near him. She would make me sleep on the floor next to his bed so, when he called out for me in his drunken stupor, I was there to calm him.

In her final years, I had to confine my mother to a nursing home because of advanced dementia and, ultimately, cancer. She became more and more abusive to me, making it clear that her role as my mother was one she had never wanted.

I always fantasized about my birth parents. I wondered if they were good people, did they regret putting me up for adoption? Did they ever think of me and what my future held?

After her death, I needed to find answers. I knew one person who could fill in the holes of my life that were so empty to me. I called her, and she did confirm the circumstances surrounding my adoption. She provided me with my actual adoption papers stating the names of my birth parents. To my surprise and disappointment, learned that I was born to a woman who I only knew as my cousin. Mine was an intrafamily adoption, my mother offering to take me from her unwed niece as her own.

I know these people! I used to babysit their son and twin daughters!
Wait a minute. These are my twin sisters and my brother!
My birth father was a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, serving on the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, DC. My birth mother was a meticulously dressed woman who never left her home without full makeup, well-coiffed and nails done. Staunch Catholics, they had a Mass at their wedding; my birth mother beautiful in her virginal white satin wedding gown and lace veil.

Here I am surviving a childhood of fear, exposure to the violence of alcoholism, lack of demonstrable love from both parents and feeling that, if I was going to be anything or have anything, I was going to make it happen on my own.

And I did.

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The Lessons of Adolescence

Looking back at my years in junior high school from the view of a 79-year-old woman is filled with bittersweet memories. I couldn’t wear pants to school despite living in Minnesota. My music teacher used to play the piano at the movies before “talkies” arrived and class consisted of singing the old songs of her time. Learning to stay clear of my homeroom teacher, “Spitting Katie”, who had a space between her front teach which resulted in her spraying on you when speaking. Helping my boyfriend set type for the school newspaper which required setting each letter in a wooden frame that had separations for each column and had to be then tightened by huge handles that kept the letters in place. We then mounted this frame into a machine that resembled a thrashing machine which then individually printed each page by the operator raising and lowering a crank. The most vivid memory of my junior high school last year is being my English teacher’s “teacher’s pet”. He also organized the lunchtime activities in the school gym. My girlfriend and I were invited by this teacher to join him in the audiovisual room above the gym to play records for those dancing in the gym. My girlfriend was far more savvy about the ways of the world, but when the teacher wanted to dance with me I had no idea what his groping my buttocks and his arousal meant or have the courage to confront this authority figure. Being very naive for my age, I was afraid to refuse his continued invitations. Only now do I know the effect those impressionable years had on me.

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Lesson 1:

The assignment was to listen to a song that brings back memories, then to write for 10 minutes about that/those memories. I chose to write about a time just before I became a Christian and lived a pretty unsavory lifestyle to my taste now.

Song: Days n’ Days “F**k It”

There was a freedom in those early days. There was a lack of care and responsibility. Driving around carelessly, the biggest and most important goal of the day was drinking more and passing the time. Finding something entertaining to do. It was freedom on the outside, living rebelliously because we were there “other”. We were embracing our “otherness”. It was an acceptance that we were powerless to anything larger than our own ability to sedate ourselves. It was a putting up of hands and saying “F**k it” and learning how to be free. There was not much to do, so we spent hours chain smoking and dreaming up a future that would never come. It was the best and worst of times, ignorant to anything that didn’t affect me or what I cared about. I was self indulgent and selfish. There was a freedom in the grit and there was type of sick virtue to it all. We had embraced our lower-middle class stature. We were born into this without a choice, why not make the choice to feel good? We couldn’t control much, but what we could control we did. We didn’t have an urge to preserve ourselves, because, after all, what was the point? We had each other and that was all we needed. We passed the time with nicotine stained hands and alcohol induced arguments about nothing. Chasing passions that meant nothing but self glorification. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. We loved and hated ourselves because we knew the strange comfort of not being enough. We died to the idea of more. God was an idea we couldn’t relate to. God was in everything, but we searched for him at the bottom of bottles. It was the best of times, it was the worst of time. Our demons danced the nights away with us and we fed them the best food and drinks we could buy them.

It was long days full of caffeine and adrenaline and late nights full of gin, tonic and cigarettes. We couldn’t do much more than that. We were destructive and wanted to tear down society and dismantle it’s sickness, thinking we could do that with calloused elbows on a bar stool. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

10 possible ideas to write about:

-My spiritual journey
-my mother
-Moving as a child
-Prison Letters
-Church of Christ
-Urban edible landscapes

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Lesson 1

I had told my kids I would write the story of my life for them. I even set up a notebook to put the memories in. I titled it “This is Me”. But at 78 I have so many memories and due to a small stroke many years ago, there are some foggy areas of the past. I am hoping with the guidance of this course I will be able to give my children some idea of the world I grew up in and how it shaped me. There are so many stories it’s hard to know what and where to put them.

I doubt I’ll ever attempt to publish any of these stories, but they do open up avenues for the fiction I write and maybe I’ll publish one of those.

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Essentials of Memoir Writing Lesson 2

  • Moving to America/ A different country

-Where I moved from

-Where I moved to

-How it affected me

  1. Lessons learned from a bad relationship

– What happened?

-A lesson I learned from it

-How the lesson benefitted me

  1. Adolescence

– What I learned

-Reflection on adolescence


Set an alarm for 10 minutes. In those 10 minutes, as fast as you can, write more things that could go into a memoir related to any of your 3 topics. Don’t worry about whether the ideas are good or bad, the point is to write as fast as you can.

If ideas occur to you that don’t fit into any of your topics, add new topics for them.


à Bad relationship topic

-How I got out of the relationship

-Why I got into that situation in the first place

-Events leading up to the situation

Which topic did you choose to write about first?

– Most traumatic

Which topic did you automatically focus more attention on?

  • Bad relationship
  • Adolescence

Which topic did you generate the most ideas about?

– Bad relationship

Which topic do you feel the most attracted to? Which one interests you the most?

  • Adolescence is the most attractive.
  • Bad relationship is the most interesting


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Silk Pants

Whether you’re shopping for fun or you have a specific event in mind that you need to dress for, Walmart’s Women’s clothing section has just what you need. With a generous selection of wardrobe staples and fun accent pieces to wear for formal, casual, professional or athletic occasions, you’ll find the right items at Every Day Low Prices. You can build an entire wardrobe in this section. We offer a full range of women’s clothing sizes, including plus and petite size ranges, allowing everyone to shop for and find women’s clothes to suit their style. Dresses, skirts, scrubs, jeans, shorts, jackets, T-shirts and tank tops are all available in this section. If you’re looking for underwear or pajamas , you can find those items in our Intimates & Sleepwear section. Women’s dress pants at Gap Factory are designed to flatter. Slim fits sit just below the waist and provide a sleek look through the hip and thigh, creating a streamlined silhouette that’s classic and stylish. Choose the original Slim City Pant or the Cropped Slim City Pant, which sits just above the ankle and is perfect for the season. These designs are great for work, going out to dinner with your girlfriends or that friend who’s starting to become something more, or simply any time you want to look amazing. Pair with flats or classic pumps for a look that’s polished and easy.

e. Inseam: Best taken from an existing pair of trousers you like. Measure along the garment inseam from the crotch seam to the hem. If the prohibition against class actions and other claims brought on behalf of third parties contained above is found to be unenforceable, then all of the preceding language in this Arbitration section will be null and void. This arbitration agreement will survive the termination of your relationship with Forever 21.women's clothes sizes

One of the trendiest summer clothes this season are the palazzo pants. These are extremely wide-cut pants that flare out from the waist and in appearance are mid-way between a skirt and pants. Made of light and comfortable fabrics, the palazzo pant is an essential summer time pant designed to be roomy and airy. They are quite versatile and can be black silk pants mens paired with different kinds of summery tops, from long tunics to short tops. With a distinctive outward flair which creates a pleasant rippling effect, these pants have a very feminine appearance and feel great too. Women of all shapes have embraced this fun garment as you now can get all sizes of palazzo pants including plus size palazzo pants.women's clothes sizes chart

PLEASE NOTE: is not responsible for delivery delays that may occur as a result of poor weather conditions and parcel volume. A piece that combines free time with sartorial elegance. These buttoned jacquard trousers in stretch silk wool blend are brought up to date with a drawstring waist and feature a regular rise and straight side pockets. Leg cuff width 18.5 cm / 7.2 in.

Robert Rodriguez Wide-Leg Silk Pants w/ Slit Detail Details Robert Rodriguez silk pants with slit detail. High-rise; hidden hook-zip fly. Side slip pockets. Back welt pockets. Relaxed fit through wide legs. Dry clean. Imported. DRYING – Silk should be hung to dry. Heat can cause shrinkage and damage many expensive fabrics, and silk is no exception. Protect the fabric and it will last for years.

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LESSON 3, EXERCISE 1:Come up with at least 5 details about your childhood bedroom

Come up with at least 5 details about your childhood bedroom.

My bed was in the middle, the head of the bed against the wall. If i was lying in bed, Jonathan’s crib was on my left. I think I was 4 or 5 when I slept in that room.

The floor had a kelly green color linoleum with raised flower patterns. I loved to take a paper and shade a crayon to get the flower pattern on the paper.

One night in my bed in the middle of the room, my finger started irritating me. I remembered that earlier I had tied around my finger, a twistie tie from the produce section of the grocery store, to create a beautiful green ring. But now it was tight and my finger was swelling up and turning red. i got up and went inside where I found my father and Roxanne talking by the front door in the living room in the soft evening lamplight. I showed them my problem and Roxanne helped get it off while my father waited. I feel good; there is no judgement. Gentleness. A vapor of love slowly comforting me.

I sometimes climbed into Jonathan’s crib with him to play. Fun. Exciting. Silly.

Once my mother came in at night to bathe Jonathan and change his diaper. She said she’d be back in five minutes. Almost instantly I am standing in the doorway of the bathroom, “Is five minutes up yet”. I don’t remember any yelling. I just waited there until she was done.

Memories. Warm, soft.

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Hi, I am an amateur at writing. To be honest I really don’t like to write. However, I am trying to write a memoir about my mother’s death, even if it is just for me. I am looking for positive criticism on how to improve.

The following is from lesson 2.

They hugged said goodbye, took a picture with her (this would be the last picture she would ever be in and just minutes before she died) and left. I finished hanging up the clothes on the outdoor clothesline. Hot humid summers are good when it comes to needing a free dryer. What better than free, fresh outside air.

Mom and I walked back into the kitchen and I went to sit on the couch. I watched her count her meds again and take a bite of the FiberOne cookie. She then walked silently into the bathroom. She never made a noise just calmly and quietly walked into the bathroom. My dad walks in there to brush his hair.

“Are you chocking Judy?” He said this in such a quite calm manner, I was stunned and confused at the same time. I jumped up to see and she was blue. She looked straight at me. I mean not just her lips were blue her whole face was blue. I could see she was afraid. She understood what was happening. The strongest feeling of fear washed over me. This was a complete terror, panic, and helplessness hitting me with a beam that is comparable to a firehose.

“Call 911!! Do the heimlich!! Do something she’s choking!!” I kept going in circles. He handed me the phone as he tried the heimlich. It took what felt like forever for the phone to connect. The feeling of panic was so strong it was choking my ability to think. I just knew that she was going to die and there was nothing I can do. As I waited for someone to answer the phone he began to panic even more.

“Are they sending an ambulance? Where are they?” He has a round bloated face and when he is upset it can be quite intimidating. He gently sat her on the floor. There was no sound coming from her. She was not moving but her eyes were open, she was awake. Was she hurting? Did she know?

“No one has picked up!” I gave him the phone to try. He must have gotten through because he started to talk to the 911 operator.

I picked her up, I wanted to try. I can stop this. This is not going to happen. I took my fat arms around her frail wast from behind. I pushed as hard as I could. I kept expecting the cookie to come flying out of her mouth. Noting. I pushed and pushed. I was sure the with my strong will alone that it would come flying out and she would be breathing again. Her body started to convulse. She was shaking in my arms, and then went limp. At this point, panic turned to desperation. I had to stop this. I gently laid her body on the floor, then I ran to get the other cell phone to call my sister. If I could not stop this, then maybe she could.

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Assassination – Scene 3 (Draft 1)

Assassination – Scene 3 (Draft 1)

Rough hands lifted David up and propelled him forward toward the smoking corpse of the immolated man – toward his own fate. He wanted to scream, to fight free, but shock and disbelief kept him mute. A cane struck him across the back and another across his face. Fists beat into his chest and shoes against his legs. His two captors shouted at him to stay silent and then at the crowd of men.

“We are taking this white man to our village,” they announced. “He is an American! CIA!” They spit the words as though something foul were in their mouths.  “Our village mourns the death of our Mother Gandhi. We have not had a way to revenge the murder. We will take him to sacrifice there.”

“Where is your village?” challenged the brute who had started the fire.

“Awagarh,” David’s captors answered. “We deserve our own sacrifice, so our village knows we honored the Mother,” he repeated, as though the crowd had not heard him the first time.

Somehow the crowd acquiesced. Their need for revenge had been sated by the horror of their deed. Much later, David would reflect that the ungodly screams and the sickening smell of burning kerosene and flesh brought them out of the collective trance that drives a mob. When the spell is broken, each man then becomes an independent witness to the atrocity of the mob and must carry the cruel act alone in memory. But in the cold emptiness of that night, held rigid by his captors, all David understood was that his fate lay somewhere else.

They walked for miles in the dark. At first the two men struck him viciously with canes and shouted in threatening tones, telling him he would die like the men who had killed their Mother Gandhi. David’s eyes swelled shut, his legs bled from the rake of thorn bushes, and he broke toes on unseen rocks. His lips bled and he vomited bile from the stomach kicks. But miles away from the train tracks, miles from the immolated man and his friend who’d been left behind, alive, when, sobered and perhaps ashamed, the vigilantes had dispersed, David’s two captors grew quiet and gentle. They stopped at a river to rest and to bandage his wounds.

“My name is Suresh,” said the older man in soft, broken English. “What is your name?” David couldn’t answer. Shock, fatigue and pain had reduced him to a shell. “What is your name?” repeated the man. David looked in the man’s face and saw neither anger nor unkindness. “This is Arjun.” Suresh pointed to his partner and David looked into the face of a boy who had yet to reach adulthood. “What is your name?” Suresh insisted.

“David.” The sound was garbled in his broken mouth. “David,” he tried again.

Suresh bound the worst of David’s cuts with a bandana and Arjun picked gaanja along the stream, crushing the leaves into a pulp. “Eat. Eat,” mimed Suresh, as Arjun forced the bitter mash into David’s mouth. Within a few moments, David lay back on the ground to sleep. Dawn was a light streak across the sky, so Suresh and Arjun stripped to their lungis and bathed in the river, quietly invoking the goddess as they watched for danger. When David woke, Suresh and Arjun were squatting silently nearby.

“We had to beat you,” apologized Suresh with a deep sorrow in his voice. “They had to believe…” A long silence followed. “Are you American?” Silence again while David’s fogged brain tried to decide the right answer. “American?” pushed Suresh, and David nodded, no idea what that meant for his future. Nothing more was said so David succumbed again to the pain and gaanja, slipping gratefully back into semi-consciousness.

At dusk they woke him and wrapped his head and face with their dried lungis so he would look like an Indian. Crossing the river, they circumvented the main road of Awagarh and wound through fields to a mud and straw house with open windows, a cow, several chickens and a few stray dogs. David ducked as they pushed him urgently through the small entry and into a storage room on the side of an open courtyard. He heard Suresh silence the alarmed voices of women and then he was alone.  The windowless room held pots, bags of grain, and a pile of dried buffalo dung patties for cooking. He fell to the ground in exhaustion and when Suresh came in some hours later, David was asleep on the mud floor.

Suresh carried a bowl of dal, some chapattis, and a lota of water. He sparked a kerosene lamp and squatted near the wall. “Kha,” he grunted. Eat. David painfully curled onto a bruised hip, aware of every wound, and looked warily at Suresh.  He took up the lota and drank, but most of the water ran through split lips down his filthy shirt. He soaked the chapattis until they were sodden bites and drank the dal. Then he looked Suresh in the eyes and asked why. Why was he pulled off the train? Why did Suresh beat him and then feed him? Why was he here… in this village…in this storeroom?

“They would have killed you.”  Suresh followed the simple statement with a matter-of-fact silence. “They’ll kill you if they find you here.” Then it was David’s turn to be silent. “We’ll guard you, but don’t come out of this room.”

Tension wrote itself across Suresh’s face. David’s own anxiety waned only slightly as he began to understand the risk Suresh was taking on himself and his family. Gangs of men were wandering the roads killing Sikhs and their supposed ally, the American CIA. Suresh and his young brother Arjun had saved him in the only way they could…by convincing the mob at the train that they would show him real punishment when he got to their village.  It had been a convincing ruse, and he had the bruises to prove it. But the danger had not passed. Now he would have to protect this family by hiding in silence, as Suresh had protected him by shouting and beating.  The very thought was exhausting. Suresh said nothing more as he left and closed the door, plunging the storage room into darkness again. David dropped back to the mud floor, a grain sack for his head. His clothes smelled like burnt flesh, his cuts still bled, and his teeth were loose, but he was alive. As he passed into sleep, he saw the man afire and heard his screams, and he knew that scene had been burnt indelibly into his brain.

Two weeks passed in the darkness of the storage room. Before dawn, Arjun would take him to the field to relieve himself, wrapped always in a lungi to disguise his white skin. Then he’d have a banana, some chai and perhaps a clay bowl of poha mixed with yogurt. By the full light of day, he’d be back in the storage room until nightfall. Occasionally he became restless, but the persistent darkness caused sleep that helped heal his wounds and, except for his broken teeth and toes, he started to feel mostly whole again. In the evening Suresh would bring dal, chapati and more chai. They’d sit in the dimly lit storage room talking about life in America or David’s interest in Hindu philosophy, then Suresh’s work in the jute field and gossip from villagers about the current level of safety. Suresh had a plan to take David across miles of open fields on the next moonless night and put him on the slow cargo train to Calcutta where he could ride 3rd class with the goats, chickens and grains.

David anticipated the escape would be as terrifying as the night he’d been thrown off the Rajdhani. Memories of the burning man had grown and morphed in his dreams until he saw himself alight and more than once woke screaming, to the dismay of Suresh’s household. He imagined himself stumbling through the dark, hiding from mobs of killers, missing the train, or worse, catching it to find the same killing mob in the cargo car. Cowardice bent his mind into perverse anguish, but shame made him humble in front of Suresh, the gentle, simple man who risked everything to save him. When the moonless night finally came, David rallied and accepted whatever fate allotted.  Dressed in the ragged clothes of a villager, hiding behind a scruffy beard, uncut hair, and a lungi around his head, David set out with Suresh and Arjun for the long walk.

The cargo train rattled across west India for an interminable two days. David squatted in a benchless 3rd class car crammed full of India’s poorest people, their livestock, and their meager household goods. He looked and smelled like a vagrant, and no one paid attention to him. He was relieved to be unrecognizable, even to himself.  Fear and humility had been great teachers over the past weeks, along with the miles walked barefoot in darkness with Suresh and Arjun. They had guided him safely to the train and given him a cloth bag with five rupees and three chapatis. He felt wealthy…full of their kindness and their gifts, full of life as a different person than he’d ever been.

End Assassination – Scene 3 (Draft 1)

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