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First I led the life that I thought my parents wanted me to have. Then when my kids were born, in my late thirties, and I was a parent, I left that life behind and began anew. I am living proof that it is never to late to live the life you dreamed or the life you were meant to have.

From the time I was little, I wanted to be an artist. I loved making things, drawing things, painting things. When I grew up, I wanted to be an artist. Which is why it makes no sense that I studied chemistry, and got an M.B.A. But that was the life that made the most sense to my parents.

I never fit well …

I convince myself that this is indeed reality and not some made up world like in the Matrix. When I was younger I held the fleeting hope that this was indeed a fictional world. That all that was occurring was the workings of some evil being and that soon I too would get the call from my Morpheus and that he'd ask me to help liberate humanity and life in general from this pathetic existence that we all seem destined to live in. When I was cowering in some other room while mom and the sperm donor were fighting...I'd sit by the phone...waiting...waiting for that call that would make it all go away...I should have called the cops instead. When my mom stupidly took the …

The Sandbox

One beautiful summer day my grandfather took me to a company picnic and we watched carpenters build a huge sandbox. Then it was announced as dump trucks came to fill the empty sandbox with sand that there was money was in the sand and all the boys could dig for it.

I must have been about three at the time. When the "game" started all the boys ran to the box and I started to bolt but my grandfather had a tight grip on my hand and trying to fight it was useless, he was a very strong and kind man. I protested often to my grandpa that there would be no more money left and …

It was mid-morning on the first crisp cold day of October, the sort of fall day when one can feel the melancholy of winter suffocating the air, when I stood on an overlook of the Snake River Canyon, just a few hundred feet from the Perrine Bridge. I had walked to the end of the walking-trail to the last overlook, with the belief it was the most secluded and there would be less of a chance someone would stop me. I imagined that jumping would feel like flying until I hit the ground at which point would come the release that I so desperately longed for. I wasn’t afraid to die and I wasn’t afraid of the possible pain or repercussions ahead of me on …

My life at age 43 is a series of incompletes. Academically, an incomplete that is unresolved eventually evolves into an F on your transcript, so in a way I guess you could say I am failing life, or certainly straying from the syllabus. I am fairly content with this until I am forced to spread the entire raw contents of my life out on the table for review – never married, no children, old car, poor performance on domestic skills, too much sun exposure in the 80's, preferring to spend Friday nights alone with a movie and take out, selfish with my time, terrible at remembering birthdays, never quite enough money in the bank that I don't lie in bed deducting my daily expenditures, and …

It is the start of another long day. I go through all the mundane daily chores as normal. I climb out of bed begrudgingly, still sleepy from the lack of sleep I had last night. I go to the bathroom to get my shower, always the best part of my morning. The hot water always feels so good on my tired skin. I let the steam slowly wake me up, one pore at a time. Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes finally, I start to actually “shower.” I realize that probably more time has passed than needs to, so I try to rush through the rest of the process, finish and get out. I yell for the kids to start their showers. This is …

My best friend moved to Tennessee in 2007. She promised to stay in touch the last day she was here. I cried for hours and wrote to her everyday. For some reason, she stopped replying more frequently. My heart is crushed by this.

My parents tell me to re-think returning to work. I don't re-think it, and two weeks later I’m standing at the foot of the store's stairwell and shouting that I am clearly "the only one 'working' here," and that I have "had it with you people." Then I try to throw a vacuum cleaner up half a flight of stairs, and, when I fail and the hose of the vacuum gets jammed in between the second and third steps, I drop it and storm out of the store. I return with the required 'resignation notice' written in cursive on a paper hand-towel from the ladies' restroom, sealing my destiny with a piece of Christmas tape, from a roll I found in my coat pocket. It …

“You know, I could kill you right now, little boy,” Patrick said, holding long, sharp metal scissors to a boy’s throat. “Yeah, I could slice your throat right now and nobody would know,” said Little Rudy. He held a pocket knife in the air, pointing to the boy. Rudy was six years old, just a year older than my brother, Patrick. The young, blond hostage had large blue eyes that glistened with tears, which streamed down his dirty cheeks, moistening Patrick’s milk chocolate hand. He didn’t open his mouth or make a sound as my little brother tried acting like the cool cousin next to Little Rudy. “Don’t you dare scream for your mommy, or we will REALLY kill you!” said Rudy. “Yeah!” Patrick said, …

I am a giant. All eyes watch me as I trample my way across the school yard. I am three times the size of every other human specimen at the school, I am sure of it. I think I must belong in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest, fattest, most gigantic sixth grader to ever walk the planet.

I wonder what might be wrong with me. How did I end up in this position? What possessed me to change schools? I know the answer. Escape.

At least at St. Gregory I knew what to expect. Ridicule, teasing, mockery from my classmates, who looked like brunette clones with their perfect …

It was the first time I'd seen my mother's eyes widen to such a bulbous size. It was shock I think. Shock that she was now faced with a task that meant an emotional action, a shift in her being that she'd not contemplated before, certainly not something she'd ever been prepared to understand except in movies or 500 page novels. And certainly not now, not in her kitchen, not in the form of her tearful white faced 9 year old offspring that sat across from her at the kitchen table. Not with news like this.
I waited listening to my heart beat, listening to the inner signals that I'd come to know intuitively like an inherited language. The …

Where a childhood memory lays to rest behind the doors of 1704 Marquette. The top finishing coat of the hard wood floor peeling, chipping away, Mom using every wood polish possible to keep the shine. The wall near the entrance to the hallway stamped with lipstick infused kisses - every friend and family kissing the white wall, forming a collage of pink to red oil hues.
The cat calendar dating 1988 above the phone against the wall, the calendar my cousin Karen told me are watching with their large cat eyes and going to haunt me in my sleep. A hole in the hallway wall where my little brother Patrick angrily smashed a skateboard into.
Impossible today to look out of the restroom window, standing …

My dad was diagnosed with malignant melanoma when I was 13 years old.
He was given six months to live. Six years later, he's still alive.
Would it have been better for him to die?
His brain is slowly deteriorating. He doesn't remember things. He's 55, I'm 20.
My mom loses her hair when she's stressed, which is always.
I feel like I've lost both of my parents.
I thought things could only get better.

My family moved when I was 14.
I started dating someone who appeared to be the perfect catch.
I thought I was happy with him.
We dated for three years.
He was a drug addict, a dealer and a great liar. …

I’ve had so many people tell me how sorry they are that my Grandma died yesterday…

Every time I smile and say, “Thanks, but she was almost 98!” because I want to celebrate her LIFE not mourn her passing. I want to pull out the old black and white photos of her and show her off, lounging with other 1920’s flapper friends as a motivated young woman in “business school”, then take a magnifying glass to the sepia photos of her during the depression standing tall and grinning at the camera in front of a dilapidated old Ford truck, hugging my then toddler father to her legs while the wind whips her long belted felt coat to one side. I want to …

I can almost hear it, some mornings, when I open my eyes, the gentle whir of the opening credits to my life's show rolling, to see those names of my loved ones flicker across the screen, heralding the entrance of all the new players in my life-- faintly, as if in another room in the house, I can here the first few notes plucked on a piano for my theme song. There are those ten moments before I place my right foot on the ground, always the right foot, and I walk into the closet and come out and suddenly my life will fall into place. For some reason my clothes fit better, look better, and my hair doesn't do that flippy thing it …

My grandmother died suddenly this morning, just a few weeks shy of her 98th birthday. My dad was with her at the end, which was quiet and peaceful. He is not doing well with this deep loss, and my sisters and I are trying to help him settle into his life without her. I wonder, though, if my sons will fully understand the importance of her passing, and how much it brings to light the essential and fragile connections of their history.
In the end, her laboring heart just gave out, but her sharp mind stayed with her. She was truly the matriarch of our family and an iconic force in the valley, and the small town and her family will certainly celebrate and remember …

Every single one of us is naked, riding a go-cart without a helmet, headed straight for a brick wall.
Everyone.
Some of us are smiling as the wall rises in front of us, confident that instead of bone and blood, they will see angels and light. Others have their arms thrown up over their eyes, figuring that there cannot possibly be a good ending to this. Still others eye the wall suspiciously, knowing they have no brakes, no steering and wondering then why this ride has to be taken at all, even if there are harps and lightness of being at the end, even if the brick wall is an illusion.
Because there will still be more unanswered questions, won’t there?
We still …

I read something scary in a parenting magazine while sitting in the waiting room at the ObGyn. The article said that once you have children you no longer choose your own friends. There I sat, waiting for my 2nd prenatal appointment in a week, 28 weeks into a high-risk pregnancy that followed close on the heels of a 2nd trimester miscarriage and this was the most terrifying thing I'd read about parenthood so far. I was sure that this wasn't going to be true for me. Kids were increasingly a part of my friends’ lives -- Kim had adopted from China, Helena was going through fertility treatments and Lisa had a brand new baby boy. Our children would bring us closer together, and the friends …

Watching the Olympics, I am reminded of my earliest memory of the games, the 1980 Moscow games that the U.S. boycotted in protest of the U.S.S.R.’s invasion of Afghanistan. I was seven at the time and my family was just off the boat, having arrived as Jewish refugees in Cleveland three month earlier from Kiev. I was too young to understand geopolitics but I was grateful that the U.S. was standing up to the Soviets.

Growing up in Cleveland in the 80’s when it was known as the “mistake on the lake,” it was easy to take for granted how lucky I was to be in the states. Though I had some vague memories of the one room shack our family of …

I once read a quote that said: "The only thing worse than murder is high school." Now, to a point I believe that. Nothing is worse than starting off high school as an awkward freshman with a broken jaw. Yet, I've learned through the many hours of boring classes and moments of embarrassment that high school really isn't that bad.

When I started my high school career I was an eager 15 year-old with a broken jaw, and an aversion to talking to new people. I was awkward, swollen, and just not happy. Seriously, who would be? I couldn't eat solid food, couldn't talk, couldn't play my saxophone, and just couldn't deal with the situation at all.

As I walked through …
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