Have You Had Your Memoir Fix Lately?

I loved this interview by my poet friend, Donna Marie Merritt, and Jack Sheedy, about the writing of his memoir, STING OF THE HEAT BUG. I especially loved Donna’s introduction!

Donna Marie's Peace & Poetry

The STING OF THE HEAT BUG is a memoir (admittedly somewhat embellished, but with good effect) by Jack Sheedy. Jack is not a movie star or athlete. He is not a recognized name. Why read about his life then? Everyone has a story, so what makes his so interesting?

His voice. Jack has a way of telling a story. I nodded in recognition as I stumbled across underlying universal truths scattered throughout the book. I laughed at the way he described some memories and I cried when reading about others.

You can almost devour each short chapter as a separate essay, which is perfect for people like me who must snatch time for reading wherever I can get it. And yet, when you string the chapters together, the story reveals itself as a touching whole, encouraging the reader to do some reflection of his or her own. After all, our…

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Mother/Daughter Road Rage?


My daughter and I fought daily throughout her teen years. Sometimes rather viciously, which I’m sure comes as no surprise. Since then, we’ve settled into an agreeable, parent/adult-child, besties-kinda-relationship. That is, until we slide into the front seats of a car.

Recently, we took a trip to visit my sister, our annual 4th of July excursion to Vermont, where we ordinarily celebrate our nation’s birth with great gusto and ample amounts of goofy behavior. Since I’d be starting a job the following Monday, teaching an intensive week of theater camp with 6-11 year olds, we agreed that I’d drive up and she’d steer us home. I no sooner turned the ignition key, when bam, the fighting began. Granted, it was a hot day, hovering at a steamy 90 degrees, which meant the inside of her black-upholstered Elantra, could’ve been mistaken for a sauna.

The nit-picky disputing began over fuel and where we’d gas up. She vied for Gulf, a station on the left side of the street, one that she preferred, and bitched and moaned when I passed it by. After filling up at the local Pride, we argued over which was the best route to I-91, a highway seven or so miles from our house. Each time I flicked on the directional, “why are you going this way?” slithered through her lips. Tired and cranky, I handled it like a petulant teen, as two days prior, I’d gone to bed at sunrise, and hadn’t fully recovered from that back-flip into adolescence.

I’ve never liked being told what to do, with 12 years of Catholic school to thank for that, and she managed to activate all those authoritarian buttons. Having just completed her Masters in Social Work, my daughter wears confidence the same way I exude self-doubt. I often feel myself shrinking in her presence. As tired as I was, I rebelled, just as I did back in high school, and she didn’t like it one single bit. So, we fought our way to I-91, then fought our way up the interstate.

You’re going too slow!

Don’t backseat drive!

You’re going too fast!

Make up your mind!

Watch out for that truck!

Shit, let me pull over, so you can drive.

We bickered like this all the way to my sister’s. The relief from getting out of the car was palpable.

On our way back home, I thought about our vehicular quarrelling. How we seem to erupt whenever we drive together, these days, quite often in my daughter’s newer car. We both carry considerable baggage that fuels our fears. Along with that, comes the need to control. It’s something we both wrestle with, and seems to rear its ugly head when we’re trapped inside the confines of an automobile.

Hi. My Name is Carlos!

Art by Matthew

Art by Matthew, 2nd grade

On Friday, I subbed in a 2nd grade class, at a school where I also do poetry residencies.  As I scanned the plans the teacher left for me, I noticed a tip-off at the top of the page. A list of children’s names that might cause trouble, along with those I could rely on if I needed help. Often good information to have, but the former is not always true from this sub’s point of view.

The kids streamed into the classroom at 8:50, bundled to the hilt in their winter gear. It was 7 degrees outside and we all knew there’d be no recess that afternoon.  Seven-year-old chatter rang through the room, as I stood amongst them, a tad overwhelmed by the early morning chaos a sub always brings.

Though I’d printed Ms. Weis in large blue letters across the white board, a small boy came up to me with sparkle in his eyes, and asked me my name. When I told him who I was, he thrust out his little hand in search of a handshake.  And as I placed mine in his, he shook it firmly and announced in his little-man voice, “Hi. My name is Carlos,” with a smile that lit up his earnest face. My heart opened wide and the tenseness I always feel as I approach a new subbing assignment seemed to melt away.

His name was one of those on the troublemakers list, and I imagined whatever else he did that day, would be fine with me.  Though Carlos had difficulty staying focused through much of my time with them, I sensed this little man/child would make it just fine in this world.

Let’s face it.  Who doesn’t like a nice firm handshake coming their way?