Sunday, June 8, 2008

Determining The Title of My Memoir

First of all, happy birthday to me! Well it is the day after my birthday, but I stayed up late to start this post, and now I am going to finish it.

Given that it is my birthday, sort of, it's a good day for the following.


September tagged me, and as my mom said, "it's a cool one - not too time-consuming," and I will add that it is as silly or as serious as you want it to be.

1. Write the title to your own memoir using 6 words.
2. Post it on your blog.
3. Link to the person that tagged you.
4. Tag five more blogs.

Okay, so in my high school journalism class, I was demoted from writing titles because I've never been good at them. This was harder for me than it ought to have been.

But I still had some fun with it.

Here are some titles I thought of...

  • First, I had trouble with the six word thing. My early attempts included some word fudging. One of my favorites from that stage was Make a List, Graph It, Forgetaboutit! If you don't count "a" as a word, that helps. Anyway, anyone who knows me well knows I am a serious list maker, and that I graph and plan and scheme in a most serious manner, but 80% of the time I forget the project I've taken ever so seriously soon enough because I've moved on to the next one.

  • Then I took this task more seriously for a bit, and thought of titles that represent the "core me." "They" say every preacher has one good sermon in them. It's possible I may have written mine, and that now everything is a variation. If I make it into a six word title, it is something like: Love Lived Freely, Fear Through Thee. Okay, actually, the sermon part may apply best to the first three words. And I am not sure if the title even makes sense now, the way I broke it down into six words. But basically, the idea is that the fundamental core of my life has been my attempt to live a life centered in LOVE, even when that has meant living (charging) through huge fears. I decided that if G. had her way, she would probably vote to transform the above title into something more like: Chaos...Love...Chaos: Fear Love Not, which probably reads even less smoothly than the one above, but is likely a more accurate description of the way I live my life. That is...dive in because love is the strongest value, live in the chaos that happens when love determines your course (think: our experiences as foster moms), then repeat! But fear not, for love is worthy. Along those same lines, I thought of Chaos, Love, Fear...Chaos, Love, Fear. I liked that one because I could imagine a series of chapters with each of those words as titles, repeating themselves over again as needed ("Chaos Part I," "Love Part I," "Fear Part I," "Chaos Part II" get the point). I think I could easily write about my life in this manner, but it really under-emphasizes love, which I believe to be the stronger and most important theme.

  • That made me think of one I liked even better, but that may have involved more than six words depending on how you count them, and that sounded a bit unoriginal: She Was Called & So It Was. Still, that's a pretty good synopsis of my life, and the development of my family and vocation. The last or first words of the book would have to be "and it was good," from scripture.

  • Similarly, I tried to summarize my life is six words, and PHEW! That's pretty much impossible. The best I could come up with was It’s Good, Just Not That Simple, but I didn't like that title. It sounded negative.

  • Never Fully Understanding, Never Fully Understood were words I used when posting a comment on another blog. And I guess I do feel like my life does have that thread in it (especially the "never fully understanding..." must nod here to my own constant state of confusion LOL). But that probably is overly simplistic and would come off as negative even when I don't mean it to be so (oh, yes, because I will never be fully understood ha ha ha), and truly, my life IS good.

  • So then I started thinking more about my personal characteristics. It reminded me of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I couldn't remember all their names, but I could think of lots of good title words that could pass as their names even if they weren't really. Ones I came up with included: Sleepy, Grumpy, Happy, Dopey, Mopey, Sneezy. I also liked this one because it lended itself well to chapter titles, and I could easily shape my life to fit within these chapters. Sneezy would have to be a medical chapter, by the way, which could be very interesting. That said, only one chapter for "happy?" Hmmm. Had to move on.

  • Thinking of my personal characteristics also immediately brought this one out: Her Obituary Was Written and Updated. Or I guess since it isn't a biography but rather a memoir, perhaps it should be My Obituary Was Written and Updated. G. will laugh at this one. She knows it's true. I've written my obituary. I have fill in the blank spots she can use for updates (add children or whatever), but it is otherwise done. And I go back every now and then to update it. What I still have to do, and plan on doing, is put together most of my memorial service. G. calls this morbid. For me, it has nothing to do with death really. It is absolutely 100% an expression of my love for her, a deep desire to take care of her, and my way of honoring what I know will be among the harder things for her if I die before her (G. does not enjoy writing, and she especially abhors articulating emotion in public). I think this title says something about the core of who I am and how I think. It also gets straight to the heart of my life because my family is the absolute most important thing in the world to me and the center of my universe in almost every way, shape, and form. After thinking up that title, I got it in my head that I could expand that concept for more flexibility in chapters. And here, I ended up fudging with the word limit again: She Wrote It Because She Lovesya. Alright, alright. It wasn't that good, so I'll go back to the word limit.

  • In a moment of self-doubt I wrote a title I would never use, mainly because it is inaccurate, but I liked it anyway because it is reflective of some aspect of my inner life: Sturdy Girl Outside, Fragile Girl Inside.

  • Poking fun of myself further, but also capturing some of my nature, I thought of: I Hate Change; Let’s Change It. It really needs seven words though. It would read much better as I Hate Change, but Let's Change It. The idea is that I have an ongoing love-hate relationship with change. G. will be the first to tell you that as soon as the dust settles, and I start to get comfortable, I feel the need to stir things up change something. G. is always talking about when things in our lives settle down. The whole notion of "settling down" has become some mystical creature always around the corner. She has been talking about it for the ten years we've been together, and truly, especially since our move to the west coast, our lives are characterized by living in stirred dust. I have to take responsibility for that. I am always taking on projects (starting a charter school among my most recent desires for a potential project, for example), and changing big things (having babies, and so forth). I don't like being idle. At work, too. I often come off as unafraid, daring, willing to take risks, interested in big vision and the future. And yeah, that is largely how I am. However, on a huge level, I also hate change. I am the last to agree to a change in the rearrangement of furniture in my home. I often cry when traditions are altered in the slightest. I prefer to eat the same things for months on end (hmmm...more neurodivergence I suspect). I am cranky, irritable, and generally uncomfortable when things in my environment or the dynamics of my relationships change. Yep, it is love-hate for sure. What a nut!

  • One of the more obscure titles I thought of was: It’s Late Or Never: I Choose… does that even read? The concept was alright, but it didn't translate well to six words. The idea was something along the lines of my slow movement through life, and the choices I have made often involving either "never" or "late." Clearly, however, if one can't describe the concept in a clear fashion, one isn't going to write a book on it, so I guess that one is out. Oh well, it was a very limited depiction of my life anyway.

  • That said, the last one mentioned got me on a roll with the often eccentric, neurodivergent, unusual, funky, and slightly off-center relationship between my internal and the external world. One of the first titles I thought of along those lines was this: Isn’t That the Name, Villa Waffers? My parents and siblings will know immediately what I am talking about. I might have been eight years old, if memory serves, and my family was on a picnic. On our picnic table was a box of Vanilla Wafers. I'd eaten them before and was perfectly familiar with their name, but when I asked for them to be passed to me, I read the name off the box rather than recalling the name. Despite good reading skills, I misread the box. "Pass the Villa Waffers, please" I said. Now that I am on anti-seizure meds, I am starting to realize how this seemingly benign childhood event is a piece of a puzzle in a lifelong pattern. I am now coming to understand that this is a big part of "my story." Why was I unable to rely on memory recall to ask for the Vanilla Wafers? Even if I read the box, why hadn't I caught the difference between my memory of the name and what I was (mis)reading? The answer may in fact be a part of funky neurological wiring rather than just a silly childhood "moment" (sort of like the cliche, "senior moment"). But thankfully, the incident was met with good cheer and generally friendly, compassionate humor rather than mocking. My parents' home has long been nicknamed "Villa Waffers," and we still sometimes use this nickname in addressing correspondence.

  • Thinking in those terms, I was able to come up with several rather highly apropos titles including: No, That Never Occurred To Me; Brilliance Wrapped Up in a Box; I’m Sure I Never Said That; and Glimpses of Brilliance Muted and Lost.

This led to my all time favorite so far. Here we go.......................

Perseveration, Stimming, Deep Pressure, Heavy Work

That would be it in a nutshell. I'd have a chapter with each word as its title, and I would divide up my life's story accordingly. This would be EASY. Each is a therapeutic term describing either neurodivergent behaviors or therapeutic techniques to address neurodivergent needs. People often do the therapeutic techniques naturally if their neurological systems need them, but if you ever go to Occupational Therapy or Speech Therapy, you might just be taught how to use the techniques in a more intentional way.

Anyway, I like the way it captures my life so well, and also captures my distinct interest (obssession...perseveration??) regarding all things medical/neurological in nature.


Jofish said...

How about: Amazing Woman: Non Stop Thought Process?

Masasa said...

That has me giggling away. Yep. That would do it too! What, am I that obvious?!?! LOL (laugh out loud)

Masasa said...

Okay, as if to prove the point, that one got me thinking and now I can't stop LOL!!

What about:
I Just Can't Stop My Brain!