I don’t wear jewelry anymore

I don’t wear jewelry anymore

Did I beg mama to give me the cluster of pearls ring that was my grandmother’s
Or did she just give it to me willy nilly and send me on my way
all I remember is I was around nine. 
Memory is sometimes vague, often it only comes with a certain feeling. 
I remember being in the back yard searching for it, just me. 
Did she know I lost it, I don’t know but I hate that I don’t still have it.

My high school/college boyfriend, yes he was the love of my life really in truly, brought me a necklace of an etched whale’s tooth from his family trip to Hawaii. I still have the Bulova watch he gifted me. Wish I still had him, ha. He is dead though, he died from ALS. His wife invited me to come visit several times before he died. It was precious. 

Mama wouldn’t let me pierce my ears. I took care of that with an ice cube and a sewing needle. I don’t think I got in trouble. She usually didn’t have the energy to punish or guide me. My pierced ears created a tradition, my daughter would always get me a new pair of earrings for my birthday. I kept some of those earrings even though I don’t wear them anymore. 

A few years ago, my ears began to turn red every time I put an earring in. They would itch and burn. The best solution was to no longer wear them. I gave away most of my earrings, kept the ones that hold a special memory in my heart. 

In 9th grade, Mama took me and my older sister, on a ten day tour to Europe. In ten days we went to London, Stratford on Avon, Paris, Lucerne, Rome, (day trip to Assisi), Florence and Venice. My memories are fairly vivid from this trip. We were blessed by the Pope at the Vatican. In Lucerne, Mama announced we could get a special piece of jewelry to commemorate our trip. My sister chose a watch. I chose a sapphire diamond ring. Eventually I passed it down to my daughter. I hope she still has it.

The one last piece of jewelry I possessed from my grandmother, a stunning, unusual turquoise and diamond ring was stolen a few years ago. Traveling through Portland. I went out to my car after a night’s stay at a boutique hotel in the northeast neighborhood. Not only was one window busted out, but two. I had the ring in the car because I was taking it to be repaired. It is gone. I searched craiglist ads, placed an ad. I still think some weird miracle could happen, shopping in Portland and spotting it. Who knows, none of us know. 

Worthless or just misunderstood

One of the gifts of isolation time during Covid has been time, time to write, time for online writing classes and time to read. Reading other memoir is a great teacher while writing my own memoir. The latest memoir I picked up, What We Carry by Maya Shanbhag Lang is about mothers and daughters, family secrets and how we cannot grow up until we fully understand the people who raised us. I can’t put it down only stopping to re read and underline phrases.
Maya’s mother was a psychiatrist, her father had a temper and did not hold women in high regard.


“Against this backdrop, my mom’s stories provided a glimpse of an alternative universe where people aren’t worthless; they were simply misunderstood.”

This week, I was fortunate enough to have a small piece of writing published by Visible Magazine. A boost in the arm, knowing my writing is worthy of publishing. Maya’s quote worthless vs. being misunderstood struck a cord. I’d like to believe that if some understanding came to be, my family could heal. If grace ever presents itself for the opportunity to understand, I will surely welcome it. Meantime, I’ll accept what is and keep writing.

In honor of National Independent Bookstore Day

This is an excerpt from my memoir in honor of National Independent Bookstore day. Bits of it have been revised but for these purposes I like it. Thanks goes out to John, my previous boss, who has taken the time recently to speak with me about my days working at his bookstore. Lemuria bookstore continues to be a top independent bookstore in the United States in large part because of John’s dedication and hard work.

The Mousehole Cat

My daughter was five when her stepdad and I meet. After eight magical years in Missoula, MT, I had returned to my Southern hometown of Jackson, MS. Paul and I worked alongside each other at a local bustling bookstore. As a previous frequent customer, he had waited on me for years. Eleven years my elder with his salt and pepper hair, beard and blue eyes staring through wire rimmed glasses he looked the part of a wise, caring bookseller. Here we were sitting and working together at the open circular customer service desk, right in the middle of this beautiful bookstore. 

Lemuria bookstore had just moved to this new location a year before. It had grown out of the small space it previously housed. Now it was nationally known for its first editions collection as well as author events. The first editions had its own room, the children’s section, OZ, was like a little store of its own. Visiting authors would read to a packed crowd from their newest book then situate themselves in a booth tucked away up a couple steps. This allowed readers a moment to say a few words to the author while having their book signed, then walk through and down steps on the other side making for the perfect flow. 
It was an honor to meet writers such as Lorrie Moore, Kaye Gibbons, Jim Harrison, John Grisham, Tim O’Brien, Mark Childress and Tom Robbins. I would assist in the signing, sitting next to the authors in the booth, greeting their fans and getting the books opened to the correct page to sign. As the endearing Willie Morris signed and visited with readers of My Dog Skip, I dutifully kept his coffee cup filled with his favorite whiskey.

Behind our little world at the customer service desk, Paul proved to be nothing but helpful. Each morning for my first week of work, Paul would greet me, look at me as if looking into my soul saying, “Frances, let me know if you need any help finding a book, anything, I’m here to help.”

Since I was a single parent, my parents were helping quite a bit with my daughter. Part of the routine was for them to drop her off at the bookstore just before I would be leaving work. She would come behind the counter, proudly sit in my chair while I balanced the register at closing.  She and Paul struck up a friendship. It was so heart-warming to look over and see the two of them drawing or looking through a book. He was giving her undivided attention while encouraging art and reading. Paul would get downright silly with her at times. Over time, his kindness won me over. I asked him if he would like to spend time with us outside of the bookstore, so my daughter would have a male role model in her life. Her dad lived a thousand miles away. He jumped at the chance. He was married, but his wife traveled often for work. On days off, the three of us would find a local hike, visit the Mississippi petrified forest, hunt down the best shaved ice shop or the best local BBQ for dinner.

It was all innocent enough. I cannot remember the reason, maybe he had a book in his extensive book collection at home to show me. I went by his house. My daughter wasn’t with me. We were alone. As I was leaving through the kitchen door, he kissed me. I was baffled but before I knew it, we were sneaking off for private moments together whenever we could. He wrote me beautiful love notes, bought me tasteful romantic gifts. Including a fused glass heart brooch, which I still have. Other gifts were well thought out and much appreciated. When my coffee maker went on the blink, he showed up with a high-end coffee maker that could be set to make coffee as I was waking up. What more could a girl ask for?

Paul eventually divorced his wife and we moved in together. Our bookshelves were full, our decorating taste matched perfectly, and I had a family to cook for. 

The three of us, Paul, me and my daughter found much comfort in each other. Paul loved finding the perfect book to bring home and read aloud to my daughter. There was one children’s book we loved for the story and the illustrations, The Mousehole Cat. A beautiful black and white cat was the main character. The cover of the book was a sea captain with a full gray beard holding the cat. Paul resembled this sea captain with his kind eyes and full graying beard. We felt it was fate, when on the day before Christmas eve, a woman came in the bookstore and shared that she had a litter of kittens that were looking for homes. One was a black and white tuxedo kitty that looked just like our favorite character. Paul phoned me from the bookstore. We quickly made arrangements to have this kitty as a Christmas surprise on Christmas morning. It was magical. Nick the cat, who loved only us, was with us until the end of our marriage.

*Kaye Gibbons wrote one of my favorite books, Ellen Foster.
*Lorrie Moore came to the bookstore to promote, Like Life. She is a delight.
*Willie Morris’s My Dog Skip is also a movie, a tear jerker, highly recommend.

Order and Appearance

Order and Appearance

The mimosa tree was a place of refuge with it’s smooth bark short truck, not too high limbs that were perfect for climbing, sitting in and reading. 

The Seuss-like spiky, pink, white with a bit of yellow puffball blossoms shot up from fern like leaves and put out a faint sweet smell.

Girlfriends came over to climb with me, photos give evidence that we are related to monkeys.

It was the only tree in our large front yard that was mainly green St. Augustine grass with a couple of low growing red azalea bush flower beds. 

Our yard was neat and tidy. In fact, we were Yard of the Month once, and a sign was placed by the local garden club near the street for all to see. Certainly, John Henry, our sweet yard man should have been given this award, but that’s another story.

One day Daddy cut down my mimosa tree because the blossoms were messy. 

Writing A Memoir Can Be Dangerous Work. Protect Yourself!

“Write from the scar, not the wound” is advice given to those writing memoir. However, that’s not always possible. Then you attempt to turn that wound into wisdom.
There is an art to radical vulnerability and I’m trying to learn it. Trying to take care of myself in the midst of writing memoir while getting re-triggered when looking through old journals, pictures, emails and texts.
Is this necessary, one might ask.

I believe it is.

I have been stripped of many things I love. Some things are because of my doing, my wrong doing. I don’t want to hide behind secrets, especially my own.
But I have not been stripped of writing.

I’m finding my own rituals to empower and protect me. Last night I stayed up late making play lists. One for dancing, so I move my body to get energized then dance it off after the tough stuff. Yea, songs that might motivate you in an aerobics class, corny and upbeat. Everybody Dance Now, Can’t Stop That Feeling or Love Shack. My empowering playlist includes, Lizzo’s Good As Hell, Girl by Maren Morris and Dianna Ross I’m Coming Out. U2’s Walk On continues to be my theme song.

My friend, Wendy, suggested a monster doll to sit with me. I like that idea and found a very cute one on Etsy. It’s got to be cute, not scary.  Cute felted monster.

Thanks Chris for sending me this Brevity essay by Aimee Christine.

Writing memoir can be dangerous. Protect yourself.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

By Aimee Christian

I thought I knew what I was getting into when I started my memoir because I’d been writing personal essays and creative nonfiction for some time. It didn’t take me long to learn that I was wrong. Writing memoir meant wandering around in my past in a whole new way, and I learned that my past can be a pretty bad neighborhood to be in alone.

When I try to re-immerse myself in how it felt to be a child or a teenager, it’s nearly impossible not to feel all the feelings from those early years, which is great for the story but, as it turns out, is terrible for my marriage and my children. In revisiting my memories to write, I found myself mourning breakups, looking up old apartments on Zillow, Googling my bullies from summer camp, and spending hours rereading old journals and old yearbooks…

View original post 550 more words

Damn it y’all!

Damn it y’all. Yesterday was a blur, filled with shock and sadness. This country truly is divided. I so wanted Mike Espy to win Senate in Mississippi, get Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham voted out. So wanted Steve Bullock in Montana to win the Senate seat and not have Daines. Not have Greg Gianforte win the governorship in Montana, remember he is the one who body slammed a reporter back in 2017. Yea, great guy. This list could go on.
Biden’s looking good though, there’s that. As Bishop Michael Curry says, the struggle continues, but love is the way. I’m going to hang onto those words.

On another subject, I just started an online memoir writing class through Creative Nonfiction. Already, I love the way it is structured, the way it gets thoughts and writing organized. First assignment is: Free-write on this question: ‘The story I want to tell is…’. Follow the first thought that comes and see where the words lead you. 
My Side of The Story:

Dismissed without discussion. That’s how it’s been for many years. And I still cry from the loss most days. It’s been four years since I’ve seen my now six year old twin grandchildren, a boy and a girl. I meet them at birth. I was an integral part of their lives for the first two and half years.

I have always been a “kid” person. Babysitting from a young age, being a nanny and then owning my own childcare. Children are so full of promise, innocence and fun. Being a part of their development is an honor. I love seeing the individual emerge and encouraging their curiosities as they  present themselves. It’s been twenty years since I closed my childcare. I am still in touch with many of the children I cared for and close friends with some their parents. Caring for someone else’s children is an intimate service. The joys and challenges of a child’s development allowed me to become a part of some of my childcare client’s families. 

Once I became a grandparent, I thought this is the life, the one I have been waiting for.