Some Dude’s Life

I recently completed a memoir about my first 20 years. I’m calling it Some Dude’s Life in a nod to Tobias Wolff. Here’s the first page.

My paternal grandfather’s watercolor of my childhood home.


…sky cloud dirt grass fallen leaves stiff with midwinter frost in the final quarter of the twentieth century. I’m nine years old, standing in a corner of our property among alder saplings, concentrating on recording as precisely as I can everything my senses pull into consciousness. My toes are cold, the elastic cuffs of my jacket crusty where I’ve wiped my nose. The delicate scent of alder smoke hangs comfortingly in the air. Ewes bleat and beyond the herd surges the tide of motors and tires on the interstate. The house has caught some pinkish golden afternoon light on its west-facing siding and appears to glow. A thought pins me indelibly to this savored present: if I commit absolutely to my writing, at this moment, by the time I’m an adult I’ll become one of the great writers of my time.

Here the memory reveals itself as something under construction; the red blinds in the window belong to a bedroom that wasn’t added onto the house until years later. I keep picking over that misremembered bedroom window as I queue up this sequence and play it again. I focus on a leaf, a blade of grass, a rock, the fence, not so much accessing sense objects as reconstructing them, neuron by flighty neuron, my memories as unreliable as the emotions imprinted on them feel true.

I slowly zoom in on that window and hear the blunt, pubic thud of glam metal coming from within. Wait. Listen closer. Yes. I do believe that’s “Round and Round,” by Ratt.