Yes, This Will Be On the Test

Writing, Reading, Laughing

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Looking Back

As I sit making THE list for writing projects I hope to tackle in 2012, I can’t help but reflect on the profound influences that have left indelible marks on the emotional landscape of my life.

As writers, I believe the living script of our existence is the treasure chest from where we summon the seeds of creativity that bud and blossom in our stories. We report, invent, and metamorphosize moments, feelings, and events that have profoundly touched us.

As I wave farewell to 2011, here is a list of 11 notches on my consciousness, in no particular order.

Standing outside in the front yard with my brothers when the men first landed on the moon and swearing we could see them in the binoculars.

Seeing my parents cry when John F. Kennedy was shot.

Watching WIZARD OF OZ for the first time on a color TV and freaking out because the Wicked Witch was green.

1968 – Viet Nam, the soldier on my POW bracelet never came home. Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. being assassinated.

Two perfect children.

The Berlin Wall coming down.

Losing my brother and too many friends to the villainy of AIDS.

Beloved books: Peter Pan, The Three Musketeers, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Gone With the Wind, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter.

Star Wars, because Luke Skywalker and I were facing our destinies in the same year. He as a Jedi, me in college.

Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion, Mammoth Caves, Grand Teton, Crater Lake, Grand Canyon National Parks, and New England in October.

Drop drills in elementary school, preparing for a nuclear attack.

What memories are etched in your minds?


  1. Wow. That was just... wow. Gave me the chills. I know you're going to laugh, but I swear even though I was like 5, I remember the announcement that John Lennon had been killed, and he later became a hero of mine. Of course 911 is another moment. I remember my 2 yr. old son watching Elmo's world, my husband in the shower and my mother calling strangely at that hour of the morning in a panic because we were "being attacked".

  2. Lisa, I remember my first look at the New York cityscape without the twin towers. I couldn't comprehend the enormity of that day. Still can't. The Beatles White Album came out in 1968 and I was forever hooked, so I am with you on the impact of John Lennon's death as well.

  3. Man, this is such a great post! Got me thinking. I remember being in French class listening to the radio on 9/11. I remember when all the Harry Potter books came out. I'm about Harry's age, so he's the one I grew up and faced my destiny with.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  4. Nine eleven will forever be etched in my mind. The sky was so quiet that day after the planes were grounded. I remember taking my small children out for a walk just to get away from the news.

    I remember the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. I was in college and we didn't have a t.v. in our room. It was between classes and my mom called me to see if I knew about it. I remember sitting on the floor and crying.

    I remember Columbine. I remember Virginia Tech. I now know that my children not only have fire drills, but lock down drills. And because we live near a nuclear reactor we have escape routes and safety zones and pills to take in case of a nuclear disaster to prevent thyroid cancer.

    I can remember summers with my grandmother in the mountains of Virginia and reading stacks of books in the summers. Family reunions. Discovering Harry Potter long after it was released and Twilight. And blogging.

    And I remember every detail of the birth of my two perfect boys. Thanks for reminding me of everything I have survived and gone on to happier times.


  5. The Challenger blowing up. Ronald Regan sweeping the nation. 9-11. Many, many more.

  6. Heather and Laurisa, I was watching the Challenger liftoff live when the unimaginable happened. I agree it will always have a place in my heart.

    Thank you all for sharing your moments.

  7. Most of these are memories I share as well. I'll add another one -- when Elvis died. I think I remember this mostly because my mother was so upset about it. Also, at the time we were staying in a hotel in Atlanta where Bing Crosby was also staying, and the media swarmed the hotel to get his reaction to Elvis' death for some reason.

    I'll also never forget the 1999 earthquake that hit near Istanbul. I was living in Ankara, and even there woke up in the middle of the night to the aftershocks and radios blaring. The last little boy they pulled out of the rubble, days later, was the exact same age as my 4-yr-old son.

  8. 9/11 is the among the worst--I think of it as the Pearl Harbor of our generation, since everyone remembers where they were when they heard or saw what was going on.

    The births of my three children were probably the most amazing days of my life--I remember how incredible it was to finally meet the tiny person who'd been hanging out inside my belly for the past 8-9 months.

  9. Wow those are powerful memories. I'm sorry to hear of your brother. Makes me sad.
    I have so many memories etched forever. I try really hard to remember every wonderful moment when my kids delight me... I know it will go so fast. I never want to lose the enchantment I feel for them.
    Happy New Year!!

  10. This is a beautiful, haunting post. This takes me back to things that I can't ever forget: 9/11, the Challenger disaster, the Oklahoma City Bombing are just a few. The Wizard of Oz is also etched into my brain, since I watched it at least once a year as a child.

    Happy New Year!

  11. Susan - I had a boyfriend who lived and breathed Elvis. He was seriously affected when The King died. Earthquakes always tug at my heart having lived through the 1994 Northridge CA quake. The sudden violence of them is haunting.

    Ara - I agree with your Pearl Harbor analogy. Have you ever been to the Arizona Memorial in Hawaii? It is incredibly moving. I'll bet visiting ground zero digs into the psyche the same way.

    Pk - Thank you for the kind thoughts about my brother. Those moments with our kids are so affirming, even when they are maddening.

    Medeia - Thank you. The annual viewing of Wizard of Oz was a tradition in our house as well.

  12. Wow! What incredible memories. Now I want to watch the Wizard of Oz! I didn't even know there was a black/white version. :)

  13. Wow! What incredible memories. Now I want to watch the Wizard of Oz! I didn't even know there was a black/white version. :)

  14. That's a fabulous list! So many wonderful people have been lost to AIDS - so sorry about your brother. I hope we're making progress in fighting that hideous disease.

  15. Laura - I'm going to buy the Blu-ray of Wizard of Oz and watch it over winter break. It's been awhile.

    Jemi - Thank you for your sweet thoughts about my brother. He volunteered for lots of AIDS studies before he died. I like to think he contributed to the longevity of many HIV sufferers.

  16. Yeah, what Lisa said. Wow. You are obviously a strong person and that shines through in your writing. Have a wonderful and productive 2012!

  17. Thanks for sharing this list with us Leslie. It has really helped me get to know you on a different level...other than the writing level:)

    Happy New Year!

  18. Thank you, Vicki and Deana. Super 2012 to you both.

  19. I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your brother.

    I didn't know The Wizard of Oz was first out in black and white.