Tag Archives: biography

Raiding the Fridge: Leftover Salad

This same prompt was given five weeks ago.  If you didn’t read it then, here it is again.  While you chew on this, I’ll be trying to come up with a different topic to write on today!  Judy

Boxed Salad

The story of my life is like a salad–more palatable when someone else does the cutting up and the mixing. I don’t know what to leave out of a salad.  I put everything into it every time–lettuce chopped so fine it’s better eaten with a spoon, carrots, celery, purple onions, avocado, apples, walnuts, cranberries, green olives and croutons, blue cheese, balsamic vinaigrette. All chopped up and blended to within an inch of its life so that each bite contains a bit of each.  Delicious, yes, but not enough variety between bites, perhaps. All of the elements mix up so much it is impossible to taste the flavor of each.  They blend into a fresh hash that becomes another thing entirely.

And this is what my life is like, as well.  Everything is remembered in such detail that I can’t sort out the relevant facts.  No one thing stands out as being the thing to feature.  I can’t get the gist of events.  What does it mean–that year or more in Africa? Somehow, after a lifetime of reading books that  imply reasons for things, nothing in my own life makes sense anymore.

I try to look at myself objectively. What in her makeup made her fall in love with a man who would become her stalker? What makes her leave places where things seem to be working out fine to jump into a new location and situation where she is thrust once again into the role of stranger?  Does she think, perhaps, this time she will come closer to finding herself?  Or does she think it will be a chance to try out a new life without the censure of friends who expect her to be the same person she was yesterday or last year?

What writer more competent than myself could find the pattern where all these pieces fit together into a recognizable whole? Perhaps Barbara Kingsolver could determine more easily how I fit in to my time or Joyce Maynard could extract those details that would make my life read like a mystery. Anne Tyler could describe those eccentricities that make my family readable, even if they aren’t from Baltimore; and I could certainly use the help of Abraham Verghese in writing the portions of my life that took place in Ethiopia. But undoubtedly, these favorite writers are all embarked on projects of their own, so it is not likely that any will be forthcoming in helping me to solve the conundrum of my own life story.

It’s like all of the details of my life are jumbled together in one of those big boxes out in the garage that I haven’t opened in fourteen years.  Even if I could bring myself to open those boxes, how could I ever make sense of them?  Yes, there are all these little boxes as well–where I’ve sorted the very best details into stories or poems or essays.–but where do those little boxes fit within the shipping container of my life?

In spite of a lifetime of writing, I have to face the fact that I don’t have the skills to write my own biography. Perhaps my task was to get famous enough to prompt someone else to do the deed, but it is getting late in my life and that seems unlikely to happen.  My chances to become infamous are equally long past, or at least I hope they are.  I have no wish to become famous due to my misdeeds or eccentric behavior.  Perhaps it is enough to unpack these tiny boxes one by one on my blog–like little parts of the entire tossed salad of my life.  Not biography.  Just bites.

DSC02426
The Prompt: Ghostwriter–If you could have any author –living or dead – write your biography, who would you choose?

(If you’d like to see today’s answers to this prompt by other people, go Here)

Boxed Salad

                                                               Boxed Salad

The story of my life is like a salad–more palatable when someone else does the cutting up and the mixing. I don’t know what to leave out of a salad.  I put everything into it every time–lettuce chopped so fine it’s better eaten with a spoon, carrots, celery, purple onions, avocado, apples, walnuts, cranberries, green olives and croutons, blue cheese, balsamic vinaigrette. All chopped up and blended to within an inch of its life so that each bite contains a bit of each.  Delicious, yes, but not enough variety between bites, perhaps. All of the elements mix up so much it is impossible to taste the flavor of each.  They blend into a fresh hash that becomes another thing entirely.

And this is what my life is like, as well.  Everything is remembered in such detail that I can’t sort out the relevant facts.  No one thing stands out as being the thing to feature.  I can’t get the gist of events.  What does it mean–that year or more in Africa? Somehow, after a lifetime of reading books that  imply reasons for things, nothing in my own life makes sense anymore.

I try to look at myself objectively. What in her makeup made her fall in love with a man who would become her stalker? What makes her leave places where things seem to be working out fine to jump into a new location and situation where she is thrust once again into the role of stranger?  Does she think, perhaps, this time she will come closer to finding herself?  Or does she think it will be a chance to try out a new life without the censure of friends who expect her to be the same person she was yesterday or last year?

What writer more competent than myself could find the pattern where all these pieces fit together into a recognizable whole? Perhaps Barbara Kingsolver could determine more easily how I fit in to my time or Joyce Maynard could extract those details that would make my life read like a mystery. Anne Tyler could describe those eccentricities that make my family readable, even if they aren’t from Baltimore; and I could certainly use the help of Abraham Verghese in writing the portions of my life that took place in Ethiopia. But undoubtedly, these favorite writers are all embarked on projects of their own, so it is not likely that any will be forthcoming in helping me to solve the conundrum of my own life story.

It’s like all of the details of my life are jumbled together in one of those big boxes out in the garage that I haven’t opened in fourteen years.  Even if I could bring myself to open those boxes, how could I ever make sense of them?  Yes, there are all these little boxes as well–where I’ve sorted the very best details into stories or poems or essays.–but where do those little boxes fit within the shipping container of my life?

In spite of a lifetime of writing, I have to face the fact that I don’t have the skills to write my own biography. Perhaps my task was to get famous enough to prompt someone else to do the deed, but it is getting late in my life and that seems unlikely to happen.  My chances to become infamous are equally long past, or at least I hope they are.  I have no wish to become famous due to my misdeeds or eccentric behavior.  Perhaps it is enough to unpack these tiny boxes one by one on my blog–like little parts of the entire tossed salad of my life.  Not biography.  Just bites.

DSC02426
The Prompt: Ghostwriter–If you could have any author –living or dead – write your biography, who would you choose?

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/ghostwriter/

Notoriety

Notoriety

Remember Morrie Amsterdam, and Dick Van Dyke and Sally?
So clever and so erudite, and humorous and pally?
They had such fun as writers for a fictional TV show
(I can’t recall the name of it, but one of you will know.)

If that is what inspired the thought, I guess I’ll never know,
but I’ve always wished that I could be staff-writer for a show.
Such fun it would be, trading thoughts and quips and puns and jokes
and putting them into a show for entertaining folks.

Week after week to do this, would be a joy, I thought—
turning out those funny shows with plots so finely wrought.
But I had not a clue of how such jobs as this were got.
The route to such careers was something I was never taught.

I college I took every class in writing I could find.
I loved this pressure to use words to show what’s on my mind.
Sometimes the words came easy and sometimes they came hard.
I had a few successes, although no one called me bard.

In those days before the Internet, I don’t know how I came
to hear about these contests where we were asked to name
new products such as cereal and milk and a new shoe
and several other things as well, I just recall a few.

All-in-all, I think I entered six or more for fun.
Months later came the envelopes that said that I had won
first prize to name two products—and earned $25 for each.
Never had I expected such heights of fame to reach!

I took my best friends out to dine to celebrate my win
and we drank Golden Cadillacs (and probably sloe gin)
and wined and dined until we’d spent the sum of all the cash
I won by writing ad copy—a celebratory bash.

I know if I dug deep enough that surely I could find
the names of all those products in the corners of my mind.
“Vita-Man the Space Age Cowboy,” was one winning entry’s name.
His purpose to sell milk, although he never reached much fame.

This was the late sixties with skirts short or to the floor
and I recall one shoe line that I wrote a ditty for:
Mini-mums and Maxi-mums were names I thought were nice.
“A maximum of comfort for a minimum in price.”

This one was not a winner, but the reason I can quote it
is because they used it anyway–exactly as I wrote it.
The other one I won was for a cereal you’d know well;
I know you won’t believe me, so I’m not going to tell.

It became so famous that it’s still there on the shelf,
though I’m the only one who knows I named it all myself.
Still, this is where my fame resides—in stores from shore-to-shore
and that is how my name came to be writ in grocery lore!

So now my deepest secret’s out. The world will know my plight—
that advertising or TV is what I wished to write.
You’d think that watching “Mad Men” would cure me, wouldn’t you?
and it might, but for the glory of that cereal and that shoe!!!!

The Prompt: Back of the Queue—Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but never got around to starting (an activity, a hobby, or anything else, really)? Tell us about it — and tell us about what’s keeping you from doing it.