The Humbling Art of the Autobiography

My mother was recently cleaning out an old closet and came across something priceless. Not Antiques Roadshow priceless. More like the glimpse-into-yourself-as-a-child kind of priceless, where you realize the stone was cast much earlier than you thought. She had found several pages of the autobiography I wrote in approximately fourth grade.

Oh boy. Let me just say that my flair for the dramatic started early. Because reading it triggered some memories—memories of me trying to get details of my birth from my dad’s perspective. To summarize: there were none. Not because he wasn’t there, or didn’t care, but let’s face it. I was the last born of five kids, back when the dad’s role in childbirth was still pretty isolated. But luckily for me, and Mrs. Alma Case (assigner and chief reviewer of said project), I had seen just enough episodes of Leave it to Beaver and Bewitched to goose the narrative. So, let’s just say the written version of Hans Fleissner exhibited some classic Darrin Stephens flair on that “icy cold February morn.”

I also realized the young Jacqi was a bit of a futurist. While my sister (who was there when Mom turned over the discovery, so she heard it read live by the author) laughed pretty hard at the diligent listing of every sibling, aunt, uncle and cousin (in order, by age, of course), I think we were actually witnessing the birthplace of what we now know as the “listicle.”  And in the whirlwind concluding story, where I sum up an entire station-wagon road trip to California in less than three sentences, one could also argue that I invented the selfie and Twitter, all at once.

Luckily, I received a copy of this little gem just in time to help inspire a more grown-up accomplishment: the About section of my blog. Apparently, the young me found me utterly interesting and noteworthy, while current-day me had to try a little harder. I hope you will take a lesson from both of us—don’t let life and/or age stop you from being an impassioned voice in your own life’s narrative. Get out there, have fun, and do yourself proud!


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