One month after turning in the durned book, I am really and truly tackling the mess of an office I spread out in for the four month project of writing the Insiders’ Guide to Richmond. Though I am terrified that I might throw out some piece of paper that could prove that I wasn’t making up out of whole cloth those 135,000 words yet not plagiarizing either, I am determined to at least get the papers and brochures and maps off the floor. Lofty goal.  My children return from school in the next week and I would like the house to be shipshape for the moment they walk in the door and deposit all of their dorm and apartment crap here for the summer.

De-shitifying is one of my favorite things to do in a certain mood, and not just because during the process today I came upon the first book I wrote, an autobiography for a 6th grade English assignment, appropriately titled, ME.  Here’s a taste of the sort of top-notch writing that I was typing back in the day: “In third grade we had Sister Charlene. She was alright.” (I was being generous–she was unhappy in her work. I’m still being generous.)  That was from Chapter III, Grades One to Six. Sorry to have left out the completely fraudulent Ancestry chapter and Chapter II, The First Five Years. From Chapter IV, Things I Enjoy Doing:  “In the summer I love to get up at Cape May and either see doughnuts from Kokes’ Bakery or ride down on a bike and get some. Really Kokes’ doesn’t sell doughnuts, but it does sell buns and other things. Another bakery sells doughnuts, but they are not very good.”  Guess there’s no need to thank any of my English teachers up to that point in time.  Ouch. But it’s all in there–the biking, the doughnuts, the getting some, the honesty, and the idiocy.  The past really is prologue. Frightening. 

The dedication is especially troubling: “This volume is dedicated to my parents, who gave me the information I needed to finish this book on my family and me.” I was a heartless kid unless you happened to be a doughnut. Then the feelings (and crumbs) really spilled all over the page.

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