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contents copyright © 1998-2017 by ralph robert moore, all rights reserved
My novel Father Figure, a bestseller for its publisher in trade paperback, is now available for free in PDF format. Click here to go to a page where you can download the complete text of the novel.
lately 1998 | lately 1999 | lately 2000 | lately 2001 | lately 2002 | lately 2003 | lately 2004 | lately 2005 | lately 2006 | lately 2007 | lately 2008 | lately 2009 | lately 2010 | lately 2011 | lately 2012 | lately 2013 | lately 2014 | lately 2015 | lately 2016 | lately 2017 | autobiography
Everything I write is about myself. Even when I write about others, real or imagined, I am still, of course, writing about me.
Soon after I started SENTENCE, I decided to include an occasional piece, on the Index page, on what was going on in my life. If I enjoy a particular author, I'm curious what their life is like, and so likewise I thought people reading my stories might enjoy having some idea of what I'm like, outside my fiction.
Originally, these pieces, which I soon titled Lately, appeared about once a month, but at the start of 2001 I decided to post them weekly. That frequency allowed me to go into greater detail not only about the more significant events in my life, but also, and maybe of greater interest, my day-to-day life.
So in the past few years I've written not only about the death of both our mothers, how I lost my day job, and got it back, the time I had to testify in court, and my wife Mary's stroke, but also about all the little events of life, getting repairs done, discovering a new store, showing up for jury duty, getting a bone marrow transplant on a tooth.
In some of those Latelys I recounted events in my life from decades ago, and after writing quite a few such reminiscences, I realized that in addition to the weekly Latelys, I also wanted to write my autobiography. To tell the story of my life, of how I got from was to am.
It's one thing to write about a specific event in life, and quite another to try to put all of one's life down on paper. I soon discovered that in order to have my autobiography make sense, and read as a story, which indeed it is, I needed to eliminate hundreds of memories I had of myself and others, because to include all those memories would reduce my autobiography to anecdote, rather a journey of self-discovery.
That, to me, has been the hardest part of writing my autobiography. While living my life I always felt someday I'd write down all my unique experiences, preserving every memory, but now I realize that can't be done. One day in the mid-eighties, while Mary and I were living in California, we parallel-parked as usual in San Mateo Park, a green pick-up swimming into the space in front of us. The driver hopped out, middle-aged man in work clothes, unhinging the logo'd gate at the back end of the pick-up's bed, pulling out, slanting down, a wide sheet of unpainted plywood, down which hobbled a gray, three-legged weimaraner. "We'll always remember this moment," I said to Mary, as both of us, in the front seat of our Mustang, bit into our roast beef sandwiches, and we will, but the recounting of it, and so many thousands of other memories, will not make the edit.lately
I started this on-line diary back in late 1998, as a means of sharing with you what my life is like. Although a writer's interior life is often very exciting, new ideas docking against each other like space ships, most writers don't live the type of exterior lives that produce headlines. I'm no exception. Even so, I hope you enjoy the entries, and I hope they help you to get to know me a little better.
For each year, entries are presented in chronological order, starting with the earliest.lately
An American Celebration of New Friendships About to Go Bad Early November, 1998
I didn't start writing the Lately column until late 1998, and at that point wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to say. As it turned out, in the second column I wrote about the sudden death of both our mothers.lately
SENTENCE Statistics for 1998 January 2, 1999
In 1999 I stayed at a frequency of about one column a month. The most personal column was on my father's visit. As things are (distance, circumstance), that visit may turn out to be the last time we meet, face to face. I also wrote about death and television, and my fond farewell to writing '19' as part of the current year.lately
SENTENCE Statistics for 1999 January 8, 2000
2000 started with me, like many Americans, gloating about our good fortune on the stock market, but by the end of the year I lost my job, and a month after that, our favorite cat, Elf, died. In between those big events, I talked about an accident on the highway, and how I felt turning fifty.lately
SENTENCE Statistics for 2000 January 6, 2001
In 2001, I started receiving fan mail meant for football player Rob Moore, reflected on how we're influenced by all the people in our lives, and remembered reading in bed as a child. In May I got called for jury duty, and had to testify in court on an unrelated matter later in the year. I had to review all the archived documents related to the company I used to work for, and we celebrated the tenth anniversary of Mary and me living in our house. I ended 2001 getting bone marrow surgery on a molar. This was also the year, of course, of September 11.lately
SENTENCE Statistics for 2001 January 5, 2002
We started 2002 with a visit from Mary's dad. A month or so later, I wrote about strange dreams from my childhood. Mary had a devastating stroke in April of 2002. I wrote about the stroke itself, her stay at the hospital, and her return home, here, here, and here. Later in the year, as Mary continued her recovery, I thought up new ways to make money, our cat, Lady, gave birth to five kittens, and I recalled all the famous people I've met.lately
Calling When No One Is There January 11, 2003
At the beginning of 2003 I was thinking about all the weird coincidences Mary and I have had in our lives. I constructed an imaginary castle while trying to fall asleep, tried Google's translation software, had further bone graft surgery on my teeth, and killed a bunch of ants. This was also the year our cat Rudo died.lately
We've Always Been Sitting Out Here January 5, 2004
Once Spring returned to north Texas, I spent an entire day sawing down a huge tree limb. In May, our beloved, cranky cat Chirper died. In July, I was thinking of risky things I did as a kid, and in October, I recalled board games and processed foods from my childhood. In November, like everyone else with an Internet connection, I commented on the upcoming presidential election.lately
"There's My Rainbow!" January 1, 2005
Mary and I had to appear before a judge in order for her to be awarded Social Security disability benefits for her stroke. Mary's dad, Joe, visited us again for the Christmas holidays, but broke his arm during his visit. In July, I lost my job, and the next month had to pack up all the files I had at home and ship them to my former company. I needed my Social Security card in order to apply for a new job, and had to search everywhere for it.lately
Crash January 1, 2006
Early in the year, I wrote about the rapturous joy of eating steamed clams. We went through a couple of deaths this year, Mary's sister, Katie, and later in the year, my Dad. In the late Fall I lost my job, then came down with a bad cold, but overall, it was a pretty good year.
Humble as a Bumblebee January 1, 2007
In February I asked a number of editors of literary journals why they don't accept email submissions. A month later, Mary and I tried to figure out the meaning to mysterious objects we occasionally find in our home. I tried turning the subject lines of spam emails into a poem, had an encounter, early one morning, with a live crawfish on our sidewalk, found out how a problem can lead to a great gift, and towards the end of the year realized our world is imperfect, but that's okay.
In the Details January 1, 2008
In January I did an analysis of the absurd criteria used by the Motion Picture Association of America for their "ratings reasons". The next month, I devoted a column to what people say to your face, versus what they really think of you. Later in the year, I sprained my back, talked about a power outage in our home, and discussed where I get my ideas. In October, I wrote about the death of our cat, Athena.
The Tunnel to Taste God January 1, 2009
In February we had a month of petty irritations. As bad as that month was, September was far worse, when we went through one disaster after another. But there were plenty of good times throughout the year as well. I Googled our favorite restaurants across America, some of which we hadn't visited in decades, to see if they were still in business, and in November I took a virtual tour of interesting-sounding restaurants around the world. I also found time to reminisce about the old-fashioned Geocities family pages that were rapidly disappearing from the Web.
How To Say Goodbye January 1, 2010
I started off the year compiling the different tag lines reality competition shows use to dismiss a contestant. In February, I initiated a new feature on SENTENCE, a video Lately that would accompany each month's text Lately. I began work on a documentary on Joe's life (Mary's dad), and discussed my 5 favorite simple foods. In August, something wonderful happened as we were mowing the lawn. Joe died suddenly, but soon after that, as we had with Mary's mom, we received communications from the other side.
It's Possible To Be Polite And Still Be Rude January 1, 2011
I started off the year discovering that even polite people can be rude. Mary and I decided to get our wills done, just one of the many steps you take as you start to age. As summer approached, in June, I devoted a Lately to all my favorite Mexican food recipes. Towards fall, one of our cats, Sheba, died in our bed while we held him. A month or so after that, a powerful storm blew through our neighborhood, leaving us without electricity, Internet access, and phone service.
Both With Firm Handshakes January 1, 2012
In April, Mary and I bought a pair of guns. We didn't use them the next month when we had to destroy a massive bee hive inside our roof, calling out a professional instead. I had a colonoscopy a couple of months later, which was certainly a new experience for me. In October I answered 55 questions, and the following month we had to completely replace our downstairs heating and air conditioning system.
Like God Looking Down Into Our Day January 1, 2013
Early in the year I had to kill a rodent in the attic. In May I reminisced about all the jobs I've held in my life. I also discussed the ark my grandparents' neighbors built, how we survive in quotes, and near the end of the year met for lunch with some of the characters from my stories.
The Kindness of Enemies January 1, 2014
Revived And Presentable February 1, 2015
Because It Never Existed January 1, 2016
Life Tip 516c January 1, 2017
welcome to me
volume one: the crib years
All autobiographies are false, whether they're lines on a face, an airplane or bar conversation, or structured sentences. We're born with two mysteries: the mystery of life and the mystery of ourselves, and we don't solve either in the short gaming time we're given. All we can do is guess.
What follows is a read of my life. Throughout, I've tried always to be honest. When it suits my purposes. Because so much material has to be left out of any autobiography, in order to show patterns, I cannot give the truth of my life, but rather only a sense of my life.
The links above are to the first two of three sections comprising Volume One: The Crib Years. Additional sections will be added as I write them.