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My Mr. Perfect doesn't think that I'm perfect too.

I had a late dinner tonight at a restaurant I frequent. It is an all-you-care-to-eat establishment, and it features a number of savory soups as well as an impressive selection on the salad bar. I have eaten there so many times over the past eight years that the staff knows me. There have only been a couple of managers at this restaurant, and often he or she will sit down and talk while I eat. It makes for a good neighborhood experience. I sometimes like to imagine it is similar to living in a New York neighborhood where everyone knows each other: grocers, mail carriers, police officers, restaurant employees.

Tonight my seatmate was a manager who recently returned …

Don't believe people when they say they're willing to listen.
Since when you get out what you truly need to say, they run. And then you
They just go. And then you run out of people to cope with and you got to keep it inside. And the funny part is... if no one can stand listening to my sadness.... then how come I can even stand living through it?
I hope time will give me the answer to that. Since people certainly aren't.

Ian and I drove up Reader's Digest Road today. I've passed Reader's Digest Road on the parkway hundreds of times; it actually marks what I like to think of as the exact half way point between my "city life" and my "country life." Once I pass it, I'm "over-the-hump" and "almost there" in whichever direction I happen to be going.

But never, in all my years that I've passed it with regularity, did I ever make either the right turn while heading north or the left turn while heading south to drive up and take a peek. It never even occured to me to do so for a long, long time. I used to idly wonder if there was more to Reader's Digest Road …

It is Christmas vacation—the day after Christmas 2008, actually—and I am indulging in television. 20/20 is on, and the story is about America's "meanness" and obsession with public videos displaying aggressive acts. In a little over a week I'll be 52-years-old, and I suppose that will qualify me as an "old man" in this society, but I simply cannot understand the general public's infatuation with conflict. Cheerleaders slapping each other around, videos of babies fighting at the behest of their [laughing] parents, cell phone footage of students physically assaulting teachers . . . heck, a colleague sent me a message today describing how she witnessed a Toys R Us customer in front of her get arrested for physically assaulting a cashier. …

Aunt Babs was a one-of-a-kind Christmas gift giver. She was one-of-a-kind in many ways. To begin with, everything was wrapped in the Sunday comics, or "the funnies" as they were called down south. Not to be cheap. I know this because Aunt Babs, while frugal, was very generous; she was the antithesis of "cheap." She was ahead of the cusp in the green movement, is more like it. Plus, she was creative; would I be remembering her gift-wrap years from now if she weren't? Each "funny"-wrapped gift had a perfectly tied ribbon, and a gift card with her distinct handwriting, in green for the occasion.

Aunt Babs was big on theme and tradition. I, and later my sister, had hand-knitted Christmas stockings with …

By: Verna D’Alto

WHO ARE WE BEHIND THE
MASK?
DO WE FEAR DEATH? OR ARE WE
AWARE THAT
DEATH IS ONLY THE BEGINNING?

ALL OF OUR LIVES WE ARE
DEVOTED TO A MASK.
ISNT IT TIME TO DREAM THE
DREAMS WITHOUT IT?

I saw a friend of mine; he was sad, sick and wanted to talk. Ed, came to me with questions. He was confused and said;” I can’t live like this anymore.” I knew he had been to rehabs over the years, but none of it stuck.
I asked him, do you know what it is to have clarity? It is a hard question to ask a man who has lived his life going to …

Hopeless romantic who still has faith in unfortunate accidents that are predestined by fate.

I lost.

I put up a good fight, but in the end, I lost.

I wanted to see India up close and personal. I wanted to experience the culture, see the people, ALL the people in their own land and on their terms. I’m an American, I come from an egalitarian society where all men are created equal etc. etc., and I wanted to believe that I could treat Indians as equals and be accepted as one of them. Well, maybe without all the dirt and stuff, but just be friendly, say ‘hi’, take a few pictures, and hopefully get a smile back. There’s a lot of dirt here.

And I think I did a hell of a job. …

I was born in 1960 into a blue-collar lower income family on Long Island twenty-five miles from New York City. My family had a strong sense of giving to the community. My dad is a volunteer fireman and has been for over fifty years.

Somehow I always seemed to find the trouble. My mom always said I was a good kid, but my dad well that was another story. He would say “good kid? He was never good to go bad!” I guess that was the struggle that I had to fight alone. At the age of 16 I was arrested for shoplifting. This began a string of criminal activity that became the beginning of the end.

In January 1978 a few months …

I remember when my twin Heidi and I were ten years old, and we were living with Mother at the run-down Times Square Hotel. The year was 1984 and we had dinner the night before at the soup kitchen on Forty-Sixth Street. My family was excited to call the warm hotel room our home for a couple days. It was one room with a queen sized bed, paid for by New York State’s emergency fund.

It wasn’t really a surprise that my family got evicted from 1073 First Avenue. Mother had not paid the rent for about a year, and spent hours at housing court filing complaints about the tenement’s violations. When the landlord turned the heat …

In 7th grade, I was diagnosed with a case of Orthostatic Hypo-function. Those fancy words define a disappointingly mundane condition, whereby a drop of blood pressure causes my legs to fall asleep. This drop serves to do little more than incite some pains and fill a line on my medical charts-- which would otherwise be rather empty, thanks to my boast-worthy knack for avoiding danger and taking Advil. The admittedly manageable yet indisputably unpronounceable condition strikes, I’ve found, on those nights when all I want is sleep. As persistent pains circulate my legs, my cozy bed becomes a battleground for Body v. Brain. My condition rears its polysyllabic head and my own head, monosyllabic though it is, emerges abuzz with activity. I consider it one …

I blinked and YEARS went past.

I have experienced so much in my life so far. Far more than my grandmother believes that I should have. From deaths to sickness to family tribulations and bullying; I have seen it all. Why me, I ask myself? Why not me? I am surely convinced that what doesn't kill me will indeed make me stronger. From my grandfathers' cancer, to my mothers' strokes, and the cruelty of kids in middle school, I am still here to tell the whole world about it. Believe it or not, I wouldn't switch lives with anyone for all of the tea in China or all of the snow in Siberia. I am loved more than I could ever hope to …

Me, myself, I; my worst eneimies!

Still admiring my Mr. Darcy from afar!

It's amazing how life can fall apart overnight. January 4th happened 12 months ago, and I still can't forget the pain your leaving caused me.
it started when I caught mom on the phone with grandma, around 7:30 AM. it's difficult to put into words what happened, but you died. I remember how I stayed at your house until break was almost over in a couple days, and I really wish I'd been there up until break ended. gammy said you were happy before you died, and that you thought you were fine every time the rescue squad came, twice, to try and keep you alive. the first time was Diabetic Shock, or something to that extent. you were in your room, TV on …
Mom died.
mom would have died if she knew how things turned out for us.
mom's dead either way, and some things are probably here to stay.

I never planned to be a curmudgeon. But now, less than a month away from my 53rd birthday, my penchant for grumpiness and downright anger gives me pause. Not that I have turned into a complete a-hole, mind you. I am still filled with hope for the/my Future, and a sense of wonder pervades a good part of every day I live (usually early in the morning and late at night). But here, particularly at this most festive time of the year, my patience grows seriously thin, particularly in traffic and in stores I frequent for reasons other than making capricious purchases of doo-dads and gee-gaws in the name of Christ. It is true, I pretty much hide in my …

Prof. Barbara Foster/Belladonna
62 Barrow St. No. 1
N.Y., N.Y. 10014
Tel:212-929-1442/fax: 212-924-5311
email: bellad@earthlink.net

The Wife with a Double Life
Go wherever your impulse leads you. Take whatever Fate offers, unless you feel a strong dislike for the gift. Casanova

For years, by choice, I sawed myself in half emotionally. This condition resulted from my double life: daytimes a married academic, nighttimes a Greenwich Village free spirit. Being happily wed to Michael yet free to see other men required connivance worthy of a Borgia. A coterie of friends were hip to the masquerade; strangers knew me as a librarian-scholar engaged in research on Women’s Studies.
One self displayed a bookish facade, its shadow(aka Belladonna) craved adventurous travel plus gobs …
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