I remember (a joint blogging exercise)

May 10th, 2011 § 19 comments

I left last Friday morning for a very special weekend. For 48 hours I went to Lenox, Massachusetts for a writing workshop for about 50 people taught by author Dani Shapiro on crafting memoir. I knew Dani, but hadn’t met any of the other attendees in person. I’d started chatting with a few of the women on Twitter in the weeks before the workshop and was excited to meet them.

Kripalu itself was new to me; as a person who doesn’t practice yoga I hadn’t heard of the well-known destination. I’ll write more about the details of the weekend in another post; suffice it to say that it rejuvenated me as a writer and a person. I spent my days with four special women (click on their individual names below to visit their blogs); the picture below was taken on Saturday night when Denise, Lindsey, and I stayed up late gabbing like college girls.

One of the many thought-provoking exercises that Dani Shapiro gave us while at Kripalu was to write for 10 minutes, without stopping, sentences that begin with “I remember.” (An exercise inspired by Joe Brainard’s classic book, I Remember).  Denise, Christine, Sarah, Lindsey, and I all found this both fun and surprising – we discovered that we wrote down both long-cherished memories and ones we had not even realized we remembered. Katrina Kenison (who was also at Kripalu this weekend) also recently wrote her own “I remember” list.

We think this is a powerful and revealing exercise, and wanted to share a few of our “I remembers” as well as invite you to participate. Please join us – either by writing a post on your blog about what you remember or by adding a few of your memories to our comments. Start with 5 “I Remember”s and if you get a good rhythm and flow, keep going! If you write your own post, please come back and link it here – and we look forward to reading and responding to your memories.



I remember the purple fingerprints up and down the tape measure the surgeon used to mark me for surgery.

I remember going to Legoland.

I remember walking down the aisle.

I remember less than I used to.

I remember my mother’s light blue Cadillac and the way she put newspaper down on the floor of the backseat so my riding boots would not get them messy.

I remember mowing the lawn of my childhood home and being paid 25 cents for each of the four portions.

I remember visiting my brother at college and falling asleep to the sound of his girlfriend repeating “Mmmmm” as I told stories.

I remember pralines and cream ice cream.

I remember the way Clarke’s voice sounded the night he told me his mother had been killed in a car crash.

I remember how he almost fainted when Paige was born.

I remember my father telling me he thought my one year old daughter was too chubby and laughing about it once she grew so skinny she couldn’t find pants to fit.

I remember thinking that marrying Clarke would mean nothing bad would ever happen to me. I remember learning that I could not have been farther from the truth.

I remember how great it felt the first time a reader left a comment on my blog.

I remember my grandmother telling my mother and me she thought we were too close.

I remember the epidural. I remember not having the epidural. I remember which one I liked more.

I remember the bathrobe-style gown they use at Sloan Kettering.

I remember the last night I looked down and saw my breasts.

I remember waking up after they were gone.

I remember sleeping in Colin’s hospital room. And Tristan’s.

I remember being called “Mom” for the first time.

I remember hearing the words, “I know what’s wrong with your son.”

I remember thinking, “But what do people do on Twitter?”

I remember the strong smell of Steve’s cologne in high school and how you could smell him before you saw him.

I remember Bill’s white Ford Pinto.

I remember telling my parents I didn’t believe in God.

I remember my first serious boyfriend, James, telling me he loved Jesus more than he loved me. I remember telling him our relationship wasn’t going to work, then.

I remember clipping my grandmother’s toenails a few weeks before she died. I remember how the nail on her big toe was about to fall off and how I just couldn’t leave it hanging there.

I remember getting the phone call that my grandfather had died.

I remember my mother turning down the volume of the radio when my father would come home from work when I was growing up.

I remember missing my college graduation.

I remember my father giving me a list titled “10 Maxims for Our College Girl” when I went off to college.

I remember that my birthday cake had a horse on it.

I remember sitting for hours while my hair got permed in high school.

I remember thinking I would never weigh more than 100 pounds.

I remember my first blind date. I remember my last blind date. I remember that they were the same date.



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§ 19 Responses to I remember (a joint blogging exercise)"

  • Lindsey says:

    Love these memories, and loved meeting you. xoxox

  • Christine says:

    The best part was hearing them aloud, giggling and nodding in understanding. Wonderful to read them here again.

  • Erika Robuck says:

    I love this exercise and your answers.

  • denise says:

    I remember meeting the stunningly beautiful and articulate woman who I knew would become a fast friend the moment I looked into her eyes, full of warmth and life.

    Loved meeting you and can’t wait for the next time. xoxoxoxoxo

  • Sarah says:

    What I love about this exercise more than anything is the fact that each “I remember,” each little snippet, is the simple beginning to what is surely a bigger story. And it’s the individual stories that add up to a life. And it is all the lives around us–with all their stories–that keep us connected and real.

    Bravo, Lisa!

  • joanne firth says:

    Love this excercise! Thanks for sharing your memories.

  • auntie_jenn says:

    I love this…I hope I have the sense to try this myself!

  • Becky says:

    Okay — I sense the makings of a poem here!
    I’ll let you know if anything falls out of my brain, in the meantime… I love your list, it’s amazing as are you…
    I remember the first time I read your blog,
    the connection I felt, the sisterhood, the bond.
    I remember too many funerals.
    I remember crying in front of someone I looked up to.
    I remember love.

    Love you Lisa.

  • Laura W. says:

    Thanks for the post and the idea about the writing exercise. It clearly helped you a lot. This is something I might use in the future as I struggle with confessional writing.

    Also, does Dani Shapiro have a blog? 🙂

  • JoAnn Kirk says:

    I do not much like memoirs (most of which can be categorized as “misery memoirs”)…..they so rarely have the ring of truth. Too many people writing memoirs seem to have bought into the idea of “creative non-fiction”. What an oxymoron that is, especially for a *purist* like myself!

    A great book for recording memories (and it actually makes you remember!) is” To Our Children’s Children” by Joe Greene and D.G. Fulford. The book has hundreds of memory-provoking questions and plenty of room to record your thoughts.

  • Pamela Carlson says:

    Today, I came up with things from long ago. (This was fun.)

    I remember how free I felt playing around on the hills of Bolinas as a kid.

    I remember making up epic family sagas using my plastic horses as the characters.

    I remember not wanting to wear a skirt to my grandpa’s funeral.

    I remember how I used to find my family at big Kiwanis club dinners by homing in on my dad’s laugh.

    I remember the seemingly endless drive out to the ghost town, Bodie. I was reading The Phantom Tollbooth that day.

  • j says:

    Love your list… a life remembered. I wrote a bunch. Here are five…

    I remember my big brother thought 8-track tapes were the future of music. Then he thought Beta was the future of video. Inexplicably, he is the rich one now.

    I remember when Scott Shriver showed me how to French kiss behind the library in 6th grade, and I knew nothing would ever be quite the same.

    I remember being wrong about Chad, and then right about love.

    I remember a childhood spent trying too hard to make my father proud. I remember the first story I didn’t show him… how painful and freeing that was.

    I remember how hard this road has been sometimes, and it makes me fall in love with my now.

    Thank you for inviting me to play. xo

  • Amber says:

    Your last memory of your grandmother is just…well words can’t describe it. But I know. My grandmother lived with my parents for the last 5 years of her life and I remember many such memories. Bittersweet.

  • Fabulous. I’ve been looking forward to hearing about your retreat and this is so lovely. Will come back and visit again tomorrow. Thanks for making my day in what’s been a long week so far:)

  • […] weekend a few wonderful writers (Lindsey, Denise & Lisa to name three) whose blogs I love attended a magical retreat on memoir writing by the […]

  • Alana says:

    Thank you for sharing those memories. (and now I will remember being a dope and adding myself twice to the Linky Tool).

  • Elizabeth says:

    This is lovely, so many different emotions. I wonder did they come to you in this order as a particular stream of thought or did you mix them up to keep us on our toes? I went from smiling to nostalgic to sad to wonder so many times!

  • anonymous says:

    It’s upsetting to those of us who believe in God, and use Him as a place where we derive our strength, to hear that you elected to fight in your own strength and not place your fears at the foot of the cross. Just because James said he loved Jesus most doesn’t mean you weren’t loved, it just meant that he placed the highest “rank” to the One who died for him. The greatest tragedy is not that you lost your life, it’s that you lost your soul. Even though this is my first encounter with your blog, this is something I mourn for… It bothers me to my core that you never surrendered your soul to Christ – that’s a fate worse than bodily death. I pray your family has found Christ.

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