Bite size Memoir: I scream You scream

© irene waters 2014

© irene waters 2014

Welcome back to Lisa and Bite Size memoir.  Lisa has made some decisions on her break about her blogligation and although bite size is changing just very slightly it will still work well for all of us. In fact we were asked to throw a die to decided which topic we would take on. Honestly, I threw the die and came up with ice cream which is an important part of my life.

This process also bought to mind a phase of my life where having read Luke Rheinhardt’s The Dice Man I decided that I too would also live my life by the die. This was where you would write on a piece of paper six options, number them. Whatever number you threw you then lived that option on your piece of paper. Whereas the main character in the book wrote options that were outlandish and for the criminally insane as well as the mundane, I could not bring myself to write options that were outside my own moral code. It was still an interesting exercise.

If you want to join in this weeks challenge you’ll have to be quick as they are due by the 22nd September. I’m cutting it fine but here is my response to the prompt ice cream.

Ice cream played a large part in my life. As a child ice cream was a treat. We ate dessert twice a week. My mother disliked custard and cream so they weren’t options. We wanted ice cream but my mother denied us this treat as it was expensive. My father would start the chorus ” I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.” My brother and I would join in and eventually my mother would cave in. My parents used  ice cream as a bribe to get me to tasks I didn’t want to do. Later in life, in an anorexic phase, my love of ice cream helped me survive. I ate ice cream almost exclusively gaining  protein, nutrients and fat from it. Later, in England we saw some cassata ice cream at Tescos. With no refrigeration we bought it and ate the entire tub in the car park. Yes I love ice cream.

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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36 Responses to Bite size Memoir: I scream You scream

  1. Lisa Reiter says:

    Wow Irene. Amazing how a throw of the dice lead to this new insight about you. I’m grateful to you for following ice-cream through to anorexia and the amazing hints at what a survivor you must be 🙂 Good for others to know as it’s a difficult issue to understand. I love your honesty and openness for I love to be the same (one relative checks with me that I really ‘intended to be so open’ sometimes – like she thinks I haven’t realised a ‘mistake’) – but I think it makes a good ‘memoirist’ or maybe being a memoirist has helped make you so? The more I write the more I feel I grow as a person but maybe it’s just that I’ve reached a point of growth to enable me to write?!

    Meanwhile some super insights too on what life without freezers was like! I remember us getting a great big chest freezer when I must have been quite small. It was an item of wonder for some of my friends. My parents were keen gardeners and so they filled it with berry fruits, blanched runner beans and all manner of ‘excess’ we never seemed to manage to eat up!

    Thanks for continuing to support Bite Size – this one was delicious! Lisa xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Lisa. Thank you for your wonderful comment. I know what you mean about being open and honest. I think if my mother knew I was writing blogs she would be horrified that I am exposing myself as she comes from a Victorian type of upbringing. I think as a memoirist you have to be prepared to open yourself wide otherwise you might as well be writing fiction. I do think you have a responsibility to other people who are in your memoir to respect their privacy as in the writing of your memoir you are also writing someone else’s biography. I was interested that Elizabeth Gilbert said of her novel, her latest publishing, that if you wanted to see the real her you should read the novel instead of her two memoirs. I can believe that as having read her two memoirs and found them lacking in some way. I think this is because she possibly sanitised her life to such an extent that she removed her humaness. In her novel she thought she was annonymous and let herself write freely. It’s an interesting subject but I won’t ramble on.
      I can remember staying with a family in Crawley in 1988 that still didn’t have refrigeration. Luckily your climate is a little more forgiving but having always lived with refrigeration of some form or another it was difficult to comprehend and I missed my ice cream with dessert.
      I love your Bite size memoir Lisa and look forward to launching into the next challenge.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lisa Reiter says:

        I think we’re totally on the same wavelength – I haven’t read Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoirs (and may give them a miss after your analysis!) – I am however struggling to complete parts of mine because of that need to not expose others! The advice I’ve just had from an editor is to state some facts but don’t analyse them for the reader thereby allowing them to conclude how it may have affected you. If necessary describe parts of your needs / attitude / thinking elsewhere but don’t deliberately draw the link.

        I’m reading Abigail Thomas “Thinking About Memoir” – some gems in it, including this confirmation..

        “The writer of memoir makes a pact with her reader that what she writes is the truth as best she can tell it. But the original pact, the real deal, is with herself. Be honest, dig deep, or don’t bother.”

        Happy writing! Lisa xx

        Liked by 1 person

      • A fellow called Eakin says that our parents teach us early in life the rules for relating life narrative and that these rules are the same as the rules for identity.. 1) to tell the truth, 2) respect the privacy of others 3) “to display a normative model of personhood..” It is interesting how your editor suggests you deal with these issues. How are you writing your book? Sometimes it is good just to write, no holds barred. Get it down on paper. You can tweak in the edits but for yourself do a copy that perhaps no-one else will see.
        Yes there is a lot written about the autobiographical pact but I love Thomas taking it further by saying the pact is with you and your quote. “Be honest, dig deep or don’t bother.”
        I don’t know what you are saying that you are worried about the reaction of the reader but I have found that the majority of people love being mentioned, even when the story is perhaps not doing them many favours. A lot of people change names but I can’t do that either for reasons I’ve just decided to write a post about.
        Happy writing to you also Lisa.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I remember the jingling of the Good Humor bells as thhe truck came down our block in Hillside, New Jersey, USA. back in the 1960’s. What a great memory.

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    • I have to admit I don’t remember the Good Humor ice cream vans although I’m sure I ate many. It could be where my love of ice cream came from. I am the little girl at the front of the van. We were in NY city for a year and a bit in 1958 -59. This would have been NY somewhere around Columbia University. (I think) Glad it brought back memories for you.

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  3. M-R says:

    My very favourite TV crime drama of all time, “Luther”, has an episode in the … 2nd series, I think, in which a criminal decides which horrendous thing next to do by throwing a die. I suppose it’s not an original idea at all; but it does retain a sense of impending doom. 🙂

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    • It takes you out of your comfort zone because even if you don’t put murder x as an option you might put stalk the ex boyfriend who jilted you last week for a day or eat a tub of ice cream. You never knew what you might be doing (even though you chose the options.) 🙂

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  4. lucciagray says:

    Lovely memory! What a clever idea your dad had to scream for ice cream! Glad it helped you pull through such a challenge.
    Curious about the healing and nutritious power of ice cream. When my father was in the later stages of dementia he would only eat ice cream, it kept him going for a time.
    Sometimes we used to get ice cream for desert at school. I can still remember the joy of eating it after an unsavoury school meal!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. noelleg44 says:

    I never turned down ice cream when I was little, and we did have an ice cream truck in one of the neighborhoods where I lived (age 2-5). My Dad had a sweet tooth so ice cream was frequently on the menu. And yes we chanted, “I scream, you scream..”
    Interesting and scary tidbit that you suffered from anorexia. Such an awful ailment and everyone reading your post is happy you are around to tell us about it.
    What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? So many to choose from nowadays!

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    • Funny how these little sayings are the same the world over. Perhaps Dad picked it up in the States when we lived there or perhaps it just happens.
      I’m glad for the ice cream that kept me going too. I wasn’t anorexic in the true sense of the condition, it was just to be a way out of a situation I didn’t think I could escape from. It’s a long story…..one day.
      You have me thinking. Coconut and macadamia nut are high on the list of ice creams in cones and white magnums are definitely my favourite icecream on a stick. The tub in the fridge is always vanilla.

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      • I’m glad you didn’t say chocolate! My favorite is cookies and cream!

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      • Funnily, although I like chocolate, particularly swiss, it is a flavour of ice cream I avoid like the plague. I don’t know why, I just dislike it. It comes from the days of the neapoliton ice cream in the 60’s where you had a stipe of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. The chocolate always seemed sandy in texture and it turned me off chocolate forever although I’m sure chocolate these days is probably quite delicious.

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  6. Charli Mills says:

    Lovely bite! My husband grew up on a dairy in northern Nevada with Jersey cows. Jerseys have a high butterfat content so his family sold to a butter co-op. They held back some to mix with summer raspberries that they grew and made the best ice cream I’ve ever had!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sherri says:

    I always love reading your bites Irene as you share such delightful stories of your childhood and also so openly about your life in general. I’m so sorry to read that you struggled with the dreaded anorexia. Ice cream must have been your life saver in so many ways, a time when those fats and nutrients from it did you the world of good. I remember as a child getting those yellow blocks of ice cream to put in cones, loved them. The ice cream van was always such cause for great excitement 🙂 Something here tells me that you like ice cream, can’t think why 😉 Lovely post my friend 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • Lisa Reiter says:

      You always remind me of fun things I have forgotten! Do you remember the square ice-cream cones you could fit your cut blocks into?!

      Liked by 3 people

    • I don’t know where you got the idea i like ice cream Sherri but you are of course right. The anorexia is a story for another day but I really didn’t have the illness I was just anorexic for other reasons but perhaps with a similar outcome – except for the ice cream. Thanks Sherri. Always a pleasure to have you visit. ❤ 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sherri says:

        Oh I don’t know Irene…something about your post rather hinted at your enjoyment of ice cream 😉 And yes, the ice cream here was wrapped in the same rectangular paper. I remember loving peeling it off and then plonking the ice cream in the square cone…mmmmm….I could go for one right about now haha 🙂
        I look forward to reading your story one of these days…although I do seem to remember you touching on something about it before come to think of it – unless I’m thinking of something else. When I was a child I had repeated bouts of tonsillitis (before the op that I wrote about in Lisa’s bite) and according to my mum all I ever ate were bananas! I was very thin…perhaps I should go back to the banana diet, lol 😉 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • I need to try the banana diet also. I think for me to be thin again I would have to be young again and I don’t know that I want all that heart ache again. I’m pretty happy where I am. XD

        Liked by 3 people

      • Sherri says:

        And that’s a pretty good place to be my friend 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

  8. TanGental says:

    Damn I should have chosen ice cream.. I cheated and rolled the dice until I got to ties but that’s another story. These comments have been such memory joggers. The rectangles in wafers because the Archaeologist liked the square cone and I had to be different. Getting a cold headache trying to eat it to quickly. Arguing if which of the two brands Walls or Lyons Maid was the best (and being horrified when I realised Walls also sold sausages – seemed to corrupt them for the purity of being only into ice cream). The debate with Lisa over memoir is also fascinating. I’ve deliberately hidden my family and friends’ identities with labels ( the Archaeologist the Lawyer etc) because the Textiliste is so determined to remain as anonymous as possible I know she’d hate her name or status being revealed yet it is pretty much impossible to blog, let alone write a memoir, without some reference to family (she has debated changing her name when they ask her In a coffee shop so they can write it on the side of a cup, for instance!) I really couldn’t in all conscience write a memoir for the period after we met and let anyone see it outside of my close family so sanitised blogging and novels it is. I will write it, so at least the children have it, but that is as far as it will go for now. As you and Lisa have made clear it is a shallow pointless exercise if it isn’t as honest as your memory recalls.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Lisa Reiter says:

      Well – it would be totally pointless if I sanitised a fight for my life – other ordinary people who have messy lives need to know it was somehow possible despite all that 🙂

      Geez Irene – amazing where we’re going here!

      Liked by 2 people

    • I somehow missed your comment Geoff. I like the way you have named your family. Peter Mayle in his Provence memoirs does much the same. You have no idea about the personalities of his wife. When he does mention her it is “the wife”. The way I see it is that anyone who knows me would also know my husband. I don’t write things about him that he doesn’t openly say to friends. Putting it to a broader audience doesn’t particularly concern me as I feel anonymous anyway. I don’t know the people reading my entries. Those that I communicate with I feel a strange connectivity but lets face it – if you met me on the street the odds are you would walk right on by. Perhaps when you have written it the textiliste will read it and say wow, you just have to publish but if she doesn’t your children will appreciate it greatly.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. bkpyett says:

    Fascinating to hear more of your life Irene and hear about your decisions made with the throw of a die! I also enjoyed your comment about memoirs, maybe it’s time for me to write a novel, as so much is forbidden (by other family members) in my memoir. 🙂

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    • Thanks Barbara. It is funny how family members react to memoir. Sometimes it is a matter of explaining to them that it is your memory and the effect that memory had on you but that you are aware that there memory of the event could be quite different and perhaps they would like to write their version. The other thing that is often found is to get around this problem is to give it to the family to read and comment on before you publish. From what I have read it is often items that are inconsequential that a person will object to and the item you thought was going to be a problem turns out to be fine with the family. If on reading it they object violently and it is bits that you can’t omit or modify then you can put it in a drawer for your children or rewrite it as fiction. Yes it was a great discussion.

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  10. Pingback: Call me anything but don’t call me late for dinner: I think not? | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist)

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