The Six-Word Memoir Blog

September’s Memoirist of the Month: Karen Golden

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

By Shauna Greene

“I love that Six Words is truly a community. I love that people come and go, and I especially love that people stay.”

Name: Karen Golden
Place: Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Member since: May 2011

Browse through the reams of Six-Word Memoirs from notjustagirlintheworld—at well over 2,000, there are plenty to peruse—and you’ll discover a clever (“Cloud 8 is my personal best”), quick-witted (“More Walter Mitty than Wonder Woman”), and pleasingly neurotic woman (“The cant’s have me totally surrounded”). If we could use only one word to describe her memoirs: acerbic. Of course, we’d rather use six: “Look up acerbic, find Karen Golden.”

Karen first discovered Six-Word Memoirs in 2011 via a Facebook post and was immediately hooked. “Barefoot, never (again) pregnant, dislike kitchen” is an early favorite, and her love of wordplay (“Dislike chaos even in theory”) has flourished since. Courtesy of our friends at Spreadshirt, we know Karen will pick a great six for her Memoirist of the Month T-shirt. Read more about Karen and what makes her one of the Six-Word community members who make six tick.

When did you start writing, and what have been turning points in your creative life?
I honestly don’t remember when I started writing. I kept a journal as a teenager and back in the day, in addition to passing actual notes—not 140 character texts—in school, I also wrote a lot of letters to my camp friends—I grew up outside of Chicago, but went to a creative arts camp in Connecticut. It was fun (in an excruciating kind of way) to find all those notes and letters while helping my parents move out of my childhood home.

One of my favorite Six-Word Memoirs, “Writer in search of a plot,” marks a creative turning point. I remember being in Mrs. Lowey’s creative writing class my senior year of high school—a much-coveted privilege—and learning that I could not plot anything. Everything I wrote, including some really bad poetry, was a first person narrative/opinion piece. Eventually Mrs. Lowey had us interview a classmate and write their story. Voila, a plot. In college, I worked on the school paper and eventually became the news editor, reporting didn’t require me to create a plot, just the facts, ma’am.

Despite not having been an English major, my first career, and my true love, was publishing. I took the infamous Radcliffe Publishing Procedures Course back in its cult-like heyday. The guy who ran it called it The Publishing Mafia. After the course, I moved to NYC.  I worked for a couple of literary agencies and then landed at Viking Penguin in the 1980’s. It was a great time to be young and in love in New York and have an expense account. We were pioneers down on Houston and Hudson back when that part of New York was really just being developed. All that ended when Proctor and Gamble came calling for my new husband and his newly minted (Columbia) MBA

We were thrilled to include your Golden nugget “Every Meal is a Seinfeld episode” in our recent book, Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Life. Tell us more about your faith, your family, and your memoirs.
Oy. As a member of “the organized Jewish Community,” I like to say the Jewish community is more Jewish than organized. On the side, I am a fundraiser for The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia: I sell hope.

Living in Cherry Hill, New Jersey (an edge city of Philadelphia) and working at the Jewish Federation gives me a wealth of material for “Six Words on Jewish Life.” New Jersey is pretty much divided between the part that is a suburb of New York and the part that is a suburb of Philadelphia. It is rough country for my boys who are NY Giants fans, but we manage. My husband Brad and I have been married for 22 years (gasp). We have three children: our daughter (19), a sophomore at Ithaca college, and two sons (16 and 13). I anticipate many angsty college-related Sixes in the upcoming year.

My personal favorite Jewish six is: “First meeting, third b’nai mitzvah, Dayenu.” Others I hold near are “Holy land made her wholly different,” about my daughter’s Birthright trip this summer, “Refrigerator, heart full. Time to pray,” and “Newly Minted man atoned via Xbox.” And for my Klout Score: “I’m the Madonna kind of Jewish.”

What authors inspire you or do you admire?
e.e. cummings, both because I love him and because he shares (and allows me to rationalize) my disregard for the rules of punctuation and grammar. I do believe he could spell—or at least he knew enough to get a good editor! Note to my fellow Sixers, please keep those cards and letters (about my spelling errors etc.) coming. I’ve embraced this particular shortcoming: “Bad proofreading makes a good life.”

Tom Robbins and John Irving, when I was younger and liked my wisdom with a dose of whimsy. Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates, Anita Shreve and Alice Hoffman…and a bunch of other smart women I am forgetting…when I was struggling with the story of my life. I’m still struggling, but I am resigned to making it up as I go along. Although I generally don’t like short stories, I love Ellen Gilchrist.

Is there someone’s writing on SMITH that’s especially moved you?
Too many to count. When the “Questions” section of Six first went up, I answered this and was much more mortified about the people I left out than pleased for those I’d remembered. I love that Six Words is truly a community. I love that people come and go, and I especially love that people stay. I love low-profile writers and readers and I cherish the interplay and feedback found in the comments section. It’s a great community and a wonderful place to me to “work things out.” I am proud to say that I’ve achieved “regular” status on the wayward route of our itinerant unofficial ambassador/den mother, L2L3.

When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
My hobbies are children and laundry and, as I often say, it’s good thing they go together so well.

Finally, Karen Golden, what’s your Six-Word Memoir for today?
Six words, the world’s best sandbox.

39 responses

  1. L2l3 says:

    Congrats on Memoirist of the Month! Insert feigned surprise here…not;-P It is much deserved and I’m thrilled (probably more than you are) to see you in the spotlight. Love the photo of you and the rockin’ beads. Oy AND Ay-Yi-Yi!!!

  2. KharisJo says:

    congratulations on a well deserved feature and it was great to read about your life and career. What a good looking family!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Much deserved honor for such a humble person.

  4. JAD says:

    Sorry, notjust so excited about your tribute, didn’t sign in I’m the anonymous one :)

  5. canadafreeze says:

    What a great pleasure to meet you, notjust. Lovely interview, great pictures. I love your writing. You inspire me. Congratulations - well-deserved recognition.

  6. Banjodan says:

    Dear Karen, it sure was great to learn more about you. My hunch that you must be a fascinating person was true!

  7. catsmeow says:

    Wonderful to meet you! You are such a creative Sixer and a fantastically supportive presence on the site.

  8. Wench says:

    I loved reading more about you! Congratulations on your feature, you’re a great member of this community and we’re glad you’re here. Hey, Cherry Hill is half an hour away from me!

  9. Dean says:

    What a fantastic (and well-deserved) member feature! You’re as interesting a person as I’ve imagined. Congratulations on getting the spotlight treatment, and thanks for being willing to share of yourself so that we might know you a bit better.

  10. bevvie says:

    Kudos! There you are, girl. Featured and dancing! So happy to learn such interesting tidbits about ya. As you already know, I love your memoirs, especially the ones about your mom and dad. Your back stories often leave me crying (in a good way).

    Nice family portrait! Keep writing and dancing. Looking forward to more gems from you.

  11. marymc says:

    Well, look at you! It’s about time!!!

  12. Lovely Lizard says:

    Congrats! I love your acerbic wit and your ability to perfectly capture every thought in exactly six perfect words. It was a pleasure learning a bit more about you and your family.

  13. LetTheWolfin says:

    Mazeltov on the feature, Karen! Great to ‘meet’ you and learn more about you and lovely to put a pretty face to the moniker! Love what and how you write, especially the interplay bantering back and forth - keep ‘em coming!!

  14. TeaTopper says:

    Enjoyed your “bio” very much!

  15. Wolfie says:

    What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?

  16. _Miracle says:

    You are one of my top favorites (no secret :-). Direct, brilliant and funny. Always enjoy your sixes and backstories especially about your dad.

  17. kathi wright says:

    congrats on the feature!

  18. notjustagirl says:

    You are making me blush (not easily accomplished I assure you!) Thanks for the kind words, great company and inspiration. Six really is the best sandbox will all the best people.

  19. Loon says:

    I enjoyed the hell out of reading about you and yours. Outstanding credentials…

  20. Mourningdove says:

    So glad to read your story. Love your sixes and look forward to reading more!

  21. ElSagacious says:

    Your definitely one of the more intelligent, complex and (dare I say it- dark) contributors on this site. Keep up the good work.

  22. Level1 says:

    How wonderful it was to see you featured when I opened SmithMag this morning. Congratulations on the deserved recognition and keep ‘em coming!

  23. maryjane31 says:

    Always love your memoirs and comments. Congratulations!

  24. shelldefelice says:

    Beautiful lady, inside and out! I love that you make time to share your talent with us in spite of a full and over flowing calendar. So fun to learn more about you…I feel the same about “working things out” here. Your sixes keep me coming back for more.

  25. Jl333 says:

    Look at you girl, rockin’ out with your beads. Purple is YOUR color. Obviously you were having a good time in that photo. Was that from your sons recent bar mitzvah? Lovely family photo. And like Miracle said, it’s no secret you’re one of my favorites. I especially love when you add backstories to your memoirs. So glad to finally see you as memoirist of the month. Now go sell some more hope…

  26. Coleen says:

    Wonderful words by and about a wonderful woman:)

  27. lillybrook says:

    It was so wonderful to read about you. Congrats on being MOTM!

  28. DynamicDbytheC says:

    I am running over with my pail and shovel. You always make the sandbox fun.

  29. oopsalittle says:

    I love ALL your memoirs - you are too fabulous and now I see you have the dance moves as well! Congrats congrats congrats

  30. oopsalittle says:

    Oh oops those question marks were a smiley face - not sure what happened but will try this….

  31. RedStickWriter says:

    Congratulations, Karen. You are definitely notjustagirlintheworld, you are a presence. It is such a pleasure to read you and interact with you in this place that I agree is the best sandbox in the world.

  32. Amapola says:

    So good to meet you this way!! what a gorgeous family and what an inspiring story!

  33. three-monkeys says:

    It was so great learning more about you, my friend, and seeing your pretty face. You are such a solid and supportive part of this community - it would NOT be the same without you!!!

  34. ErikaStellar says:

    Wonderful to learn more about you. Your comments and support on my memoirs mean more to me than you could ever know. I love putting a face to your name now. Congrats on memoirist of the month!

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