Cee’s Week 3 Responses to Tasks

Memoir, Week 3    

Age  11-15

Whom did you form major relationships with in this period? Briefly describe the dynamic of the most important ones.   When I was a kid at these ages, I really didn’t have strong relationships with anyone. I was pretty much a loner.  I went to school, stayed out of trouble, and did my homework.  Pretty much stayed to myself.  I would come home and listen to my records.

Where did you live?  Oxnard, California in an apartment.

What was your community in this period?  Did you have one?  Was it satisfying, complicated, dramatic, supportive?  I didn’t have any kind of community.  A few kids at school, I was friendly with, but not like best friends.

Describe one sound from this period.  Was there a song you listened to over and over?  Try listening to it now.  What does the experience bring up?

Some of my favorite singers were Barry Manilow, Helen Ready (I am Woman), Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond. I actually wrote out all the lyrics to the songs from my records.  Talk about tedious work back then.  I still enjoy listening to the music from the early 1970s.

Describe one taste from this period.  Nothing really comes to mind, except maybe mushy overcooked vegetables.  Yuck.

Describe one smell from this period.  I liked the smell of bread baking.

Describe a time you felt lonely during this period.  It’s hard to find a time I didn’t feel lonely in this period of my life.

Describe a time you felt supported during this period.  My parents definitely were not any support.

What was the source of stress during this time?  My home life and way too many secrets.

What other memories feel significant to you from this time?  I lived for school and babysitting. Anything to get away from my parents and my house.  My sister was usually out of the house with her friends, so I could pretty much stay in my bedroom where no one bothered me

Task – Loneliness

Take 20 minutes  and allow yourself to write about a time in your life when you were most lonely? What were the circumstances?  Were you surrounded by others or isolated? Working or not working?

This will be a summary of what was going on in my life.  My father sexually abused me.  He worked nights and I happened to be the first one home, and it was my job to wake him up.  I think you can fill in the pieces.  One day when I was 12 or 13, I told him “no more”.  I told my mom what he had done.  He admitted it, but made me feel like I was the one to blame.  After that my mother made me appear in public with him all the time. If he went to the store, I was stuck going with him.  My mother did not support me and most definitely didn’t want the world to know there was trouble in our house.  We had to look loving and normal in public.  My life was hell after that.

Now take the time to write about a time when you felt connected to others,  Who did you connect to?  Over what? Can you reach out to the person now? Is there someone else who comes to mind who might fill a similar role?

I really didn’t have any kind of support during this time period.  That would change in a year or two, but ….  I did have a teacher, my geometry teacher, who worked with me and who I really liked.  She took short stories I wrote home to her husband, who was an English teacher.  He would give me suggestions on how to improve my writing.

Task – Volunteer, Just a little

Where can you volunteer, even just a little, right now? Perhaps it is the gift of time in a local soup kitchen.  Perhaps it is the gift of advice to one who is building a career in your area of expertise. Perhaps it is the gift of listening. We all have something to share. What could you “give away, for fun and for free,” today?

I used to volunteer a lot when I was younger.  Since I’ve had physical issues for years now.  My volunteering is through my photography blog.

Task – Strength in Numbers

List five people who have been supportive of you at different times in your life?

  • Ruthie Jones
  • Chris Donner
  • Betty & Charles Passmore
  • Susie Taylor
  • Stephanie Zeller




  1. Sharing all of mine at once, too. Deb

    Memoir, Week Three

    Ages 11 – 16 ½

    1. Whom did you form new major relationships with in this period? Briefly describe the dynamic of the most important ones.
    At age 11, I began Junior High. There was only one Junior High in town, so I got to know a number of kids who had gone to other elementary schools. I developed a close friendship with one girl named Jenny who, after we got to know one another, moved just around the corner from us. She and I remained best friends through 7th and 8th grades.

    This was the 1960s, and the schools in our town were still segregated. As we were about to enter high school for 9th grade, it was announced that one teacher and a few students from the Black high school would be transferring over to the White high school. Jenny’s parents were in-your-face racists and took her out of public school. She was sent to a girls’ boarding school, and I have only seen her twice in my life since that time. Her father called my parents “Communists” for keeping me and my siblings in public school.

    In high school I made a new circle of friends. We were good kids who made good grades, participated in clubs and other school activities, had a lot of fun together, and never got into trouble. I am still friends with many of them to this day.

    Also while I was in high school, my mother (who had experienced a deep religious conversion) became director of a Black gospel choir (long story there). The young people in the choir all went to the Black high school. I traveled with the choir and became their substitute piano player. So I lived a secret double life, one with my White friends and one with my Black friends. I am still friends with some of those former choir members today.

    2. Where did you live?
    I lived in the same house in Gainesville, GA in which I lived during my younger years.

    3. What was your community in this period? Did you have one? Was it satisfying, complicated, dramatic, supportive?
    I guess I had two communities, one made up of my White friends and one of my Black friends in the gospel choir. Each community was supportive, and I never viewed the situation as complicated. I just never mentioned my involvement with the choir to any of my White friends.

    4. Describe one sound from this period. Was there a song you listened to over and over? Try listening to it now. What does the experience bring up?
    The jingle for Atlanta AM radio station WQXI. That was the station we listened to constantly. In the 60s, before there really was FM radio, WQXI played the Top 40. There wasn’t one particular song I listened to over and over, but I listened to the radio all of the time. I still prefer the music of the 60s and still listen to it frequently.

    5. Describe one taste from this period.
    Anything from Dairy Queen, especially Brazier burgers and French fries.

    6. Describe one smell from this period.
    The smell of chlorine in the swimming pool. My grandparents had an amazing swimming pool, much larger and deeper than the average backyard pool because they had it put in when my aunt was still living at home, and she was a champion diver. I spent much of each summer in that pool.

    7. Describe a time you felt lonely during this period.
    Funny, I don’t remember feeling particularly lonely. Maybe it’s because I had felt so very lonely when I was younger, and during this time in my life I actually had friends and the independence to be involved in outside activities.

    8. Describe a time you felt supported during this period.
    My family participated every summer in week-long church retreats, and I felt very supported by both adults and young people who attended.

    9. What was a source of stress during this time?
    I never dated much during high school and always was stressed if a big school event was coming up, and I had no date.

    10. What other memories feel significant to you from this time?
    When I was in 7th grade my dad ran for Congress. He was the first Republican to run from our district in 100 years and at a time when Republicans in Georgia were actually more progressive than Southern Democrats. He was vilified publicly by those on the right who disagreed with his progressive stance on civil rights (this was 1964) and by those on the left who disliked the Republican presidential candidate that year (Barry Goldwater). My dad quit his job to run, used all of his and my mom’s savings on his campaign, and then lost the election. So he had no job and no money. He then started his own business which ultimately became successful, but family finances were very tight throughout my high school and college years. Takeaways from this – the Congressional race resulted in my being very interested in history and political science, which became my majors in college. However, the experience completely turned me against one of my dad’s college-age campaign staffers who I saw to be racist, arrogant, self-serving and creepy. (Not sure why he worked on the campaign except that he wanted to further his own political ambitions.) He ultimately did enter politics himself, rising to the position of Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. I’ve never really expressed this to anyone, but I still detest him. His name is Newt Gingrich.


    Take twenty minutes and allow yourself to write about a time in your life when you were most lonely. What were the circumstances? Were you surrounded by others or isolated? Working or not working?
    The loneliest I have ever been was during my freshman year in college. I have no idea why I felt so alone, especially since I had just returned from spending a year as an international exchange student and was quite used to being away from home. I had a nice roommate and was constantly surrounded by other people, but I felt out-of-place and totally alone.

    Write about a time when you felt connected to others. Who did you connect to? Over what? Can you reach out to that person now? Is there someone else who comes to mind who might fill a similar role?
    When I was in my late 30s I had a friend who was truly my soul-mate, the best friend I ever had. She and I worked together and spent time together away from work. When she moved away because of her husband’s job I was devastated. Although she now lives in New Hampshire and I am in Georgia, we reconnected several years ago and are now Facebook friends.

    Because I am my husband’s caregiver I can’t get out of the house to volunteer. However, my dear friend who lives 30 miles away also is a caregiver, for her mother who is 103 years old. She and I send messages back and forth, sometimes several times a day, on Facebook Messenger to commiserate with each other at times but mostly to offer support and try to inspire each other.

    Strength in Numbers

    Take pen in hand and list five people who have been supportive of you at different times in your life.

    1. Eloise “Hallelujah” Brown, youth group leader at summer church retreats when I was a teenager
    2. Jean Isbell, missionary who always stayed in our home when she was back in the U.S.
    3. Clara Martin, college journalism professor
    4. Father Carl Buice, Episcopal priest who helped me through a very difficult time when I was a young adult
    5. Dr. Jeffrey Burton Russell, department head when I was in graduate school

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, Deb. Wow, oh wow! Amazing! Extraordinary!

    I feel privileged to have met you, if only through this little bit of contact. Do you have any idea how special your story is? Or is it just so much your reality that you can’t see it as the rest of us do?

    Kudos to you and your family for being at the forefront of civil rights. What a lot you must have seen and heard back then.

    Cee is probably a trifle jealous. She has always said that she was supposed have been born in the 40s or 50s so she could have been part of the civil rights movement. I can easily see her as a Freedom Rider or working as a secretary helping the effort, marching with everyone.

    Lots of virtual hugs!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Chris, How did I miss your comment? I’m sorry, I would have responded before now. Thank you so much for what you said. No, I don’t really see how special my story is. It’s just what I did, and I always felt as if I never fit in wherever I was or whatever I was doing. Funny isn’t it how we see how own lives?

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.