memoir

All posts tagged memoir

Looking Back on Teenage Years

Published September 24, 2020 by Maryanne
IMG_0373

Yesterday while I was having lunch with a dear friend, she shared with me letters I wrote to her as a teenager in high school.

The letters were mostly about me making fun of the bullies who harassed me. I handled it in a clever, witty way. I made up names for the bullies and created scenarios that could have been used in a John Hughes movie in the 1980s.

Sometimes it seems like we’re going through such a hard time, but we look back and it turns out we were happier and more intelligent than we gave ourselves credit. I look at this picture and see myself as a mom reading something her teenage daughter wrote. I laughed so hard at my younger self. Some of the words that came out of my mouth were, “I was so bad!” and “Wow, I was witty!”

I wish I could share, but the stories were mainly inside jokes that no one would get. I couldn’t even remember half the people I was making fun of.

The really cool thing that Joan pointed out was, “My children don’t have this. They text each other, but they don’t write letters. Look how you used up most of the page to write and draw.”

That is so true. In my words on paper, I’ve captured a portion of time that we’ll never get back. And because the letters were written somewhat in anger towards the bullies, I wrote to my friend, “Destroy this” (how dramatic!)

But she didn’t. She cherished the letters. And I’m glad she did!

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. In addition to Love Cats, she is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit:Be (Extra)Ordinary

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: I Don’t Want To Be Like You

Her fiction book “Love Cats” second printing is now available, under the pen name Krystianna Mercury, from Pink Flamingo. You can purchase it here: Love Cats

Visit Maryanne’s You Tube Channel here: Be YOUnique

Being Authentic… to Ourselves and Each Other

Published May 28, 2020 by Maryanne

Being Authentic: A Memoir by Morhaf Al Achkar, MD, PhD

Review by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

While many people are complaining about being cooped up during the pandemic, I’m secretly rejoicing because I’ve been doing what I didn’t have much time for before—READING! Since the mid-March lockdown, I’ve read six books, all special in their own right.

Prior to writing this review, I questioned myself… Is it weird to say I can relate to a man who was born in Syria, two years after I graduated high school? A man who became both an MD and a PhD–whereas I struggled just to get my diploma?

First, I took the safe route and wrote the blog as a regular book review. However, after a re-read, my review appeared dull and stale. This author deserves so much more. After he exposed his deep feelings for all to read, I promised myself I should do the same. I do not see that as narcissistic, but rather compassionate. In this review I want people to see me as a person who can find something in common with almost anyone—male/female, young/older, rich/middle class/poor, black/white/mixed. Because this is what the world needs right now, to focus on what we have in common, rather than what sets us apart. (And, honestly, I’ve been quiet about politics for too long, so read on!)

Leo

Author, Morhaf Al Alchar, MD, PhD, and faithful companion, Leo! 

Morhaf Al Achkar has not reached his 40th birthday, yet he ponders death.

I question: Why is he thinking about this now? Perhaps because of his struggle with both Crohn’s disease and a stage four lung cancer; perhaps because he dealt with the devastating loss of his own mother at a young age; or perhaps because we are in the midst a pandemic, all of us facing a virus that has no cure yet. And so many people are at each other’s throats, making it political.

In his memoir, Dr. Achkar strives to be authentic—his true self. And that he is. His story is direct as he gets right to the point with no apologies. And he is vulnerable. There is absolutely no pretense. You do not feel like you are reading a book written by a doctor, with both an MD and a PhD. Instead, you are chatting with a brand new friend.

Growing up in Syria, in a family of nine children, Morhaf often locked himself in a room reading books. He was labeled the “philosopher of his family” by his father. Early on, one of his major struggles was living in a culture “with hypertrophied masculinity.” Men boasting of foolish things like beatings or shootings was the norm. There were also bullies and schoolteachers who were abusive. Wise beyond his years, Morhaf made sense of it all and did not let any of this hinder his growth as a human being. As a person who was also bullied, I relate to this.

Once I began sharing my story to others, I no longer felt shame, but rather a big relief—even empowered! When I read about other people being bullied, it’s a soft spot for me. I can’t help but get a lump in my throat. Then I immediately switch my brain to the good parts of one’s life; their triumphs!

The saving grace in this picture is Morhaf’s mother, a warm, trusting woman, but one of authority and one who greatly valued education. Reading about how his mom pushed Morhaf to take the first steps on the dance floor reminded me of my grandmother.

Grandma practically raised me since my parents were divorced and neither were around much. I think about a family reunion we had when I was about 12. My sister, cousins and I danced to the hired band. When the reunion came to an end, my grandmother encouraged me to “talk to them.” I was shy, but wanted to make Grandma happy, so with my older cousin, we went up to the stage and asked the musicians for their autographs. A parent or grandparent encouraging the kids to dance or talk to someone at a party is a great move to get a kid out of their shy shell.

Another way I relate to Morhaf is not being satisfied with religion and rituals. As a Muslim he reflects on his faith after his mother passes. I was raised without religion, so I had nothing to go by except the standards Catholic holidays that Italian families practiced. When I was 24, I met an older Filipino gentleman who became my mentor. Together we studied religions and philosophies from all over the world.

Remaining open-minded until I met some Christian friends, I decided to give Christianity a chance. But then after my grandmother died, I lost faith, the same way Morhaf felt his faith was faltering after his mother died.

I stopped going to church and celebrating any holidays that had to do with Jesus. When I returned to faith, I took it all with a grain of salt, saving the positive and discarding what seemed overbearing. I now believe in Jesus, but also Buddha, God, and The Universe.

Perhaps this is something people of all faiths go through, but not many admit. So once again, as I’m reading the book, I am grateful to Morhaf for his honesty.

Amongst his great successes, he has had his shares of disappointments too. His passion in activism inspired was an option to leave his family, but after failing a commission-based job, he returned home.

Some of the best times seem to be spent in America. At first, Morhaf lived in Columbus, Ohio with his sister and continued to study. He traveled extensively throughout the USA. In addition to his studies, he had fun adventures that young people experience like dancing, hookah nights, playing cards, consuming cheap drinks, and adopting a canine companion named Leo.

Sadly, dating was an issue, especially in Indiana, where he lived and where many women were prejudiced to his color and didn’t think twice about making racist remarks. It felt terrible to read this. I am sorry that many USA women put a bad taste in one’s mouth, but I want people from other countries to know we are not all that way.

I live in NJ, a democratic state where we are open-minded to making friends of all races and colors—without judgement. I know behind my back my conservative friends and family refer to me as a “Libtard.” It’s wrong and very hurtful.

As a spiritual person, I refuse to retaliate with words and placing derogatory memes on Facebook. Instead I pray for them. And I pray for our president, who I do not care for.

During the month Donald Trump was elected president, Dr. Morhaf was diagnosed with cancer. As a Syrian immigrant he felt affected by the ban on Muslims, fearing he would not be able to say goodbye to his family. He wrote a letter to speak of his struggles. It was published in a Huffington Post blog, entitled “Dear Mr. Trump, You Are Cancer and I Only Live If You Shrink!” The letter explained what it was like to live with what he had then perceived as a terminal illness and as a Syrian immigrant affected by the ban on Muslims. After writing the letter, he felt empowered and liberated him to engage with the Syrian struggle.

I suppose many have friends who have immigrated to the United States and have been affected by Trump’s stance. It is absolutely heartbreaking seeing families being broken up. I know one personally, and will leave it at that to protect their privacy.

Aside from the prejudice Morhaf experienced from American women, he has decided to stay single because he doesn’t want to be a burden to someone should his health fail. I seriously hope he changes his mind because true love is mending.

I’ve shared the story many times and am happy to share it again. When I first began dating my husband I was going to many doctors because I never felt right. A few doctors feared I had cancer. After many ultra-sounds, CAT scans, and countless opinions nothing was found. Seven months after dating my husband, I had one final test that showed I was cancer-free and perfectly healthy! A week later I felt better than I did my entire life! Having a supportive loving person by my side healed me. I believe that!

So, you can see why I’ve enjoyed “Being Authentic” so much. There’s enough to relate to, but also much to learn. And, that, is what a good book should be!

Morhaf’s reflections on life in his later years, while he is now, fortunately, in stable health, we see that he is a true humanitarian and invites others to be as authentic as he is. This is what I wanted from my book, “I Don’t Want to Be Like You.” I want others to share their stories without feeling disgrace. The troubled times are what got you to where you are today. Always remember that.

When we look deep inside ourselves, and share our notions in writing, the reader gets a peek at our true soul. A reader may not “get it” entirely, but the more open an author is, the more we can learn about each other; and love each other. After all, deep down we are more alike than different. This is a book everyone can learn from. And Morhaf will be remembered for writing it.

To purchase “Being Authentic” (and have a sneak peek inside the book) please click on this link: Being Authentic

Follow Morhaf Al Alchar on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/morhafalachkar

95849294_2817039011678255_9072810759997620224_oBeing Authentic book cover

 

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Be-Extra-Ordinary-Ways-Become/dp/1733546227

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

 

I Don’t Want to Be Like You

Published September 10, 2018 by Maryanne

BookCoverPreview Mistretta

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” 

I’m ecstatic to say my fourth book is now available! (See links below, and it will soon be in Barnes & Noble stores). “I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is my memoir about growing up, dealing with bullying in the 1970s.

And with this, I want to add some wise words from my sister, who is a mom:

“Congratulations on the book. I, myself also experienced bullying. Unfortunately, today parents still turn a blind eye. So let me send out compliments to St. Anne and Fair Lawn high school (New Jersey schools). Both excellent in having a no tolerance motto for bullies. I raised my son to have compassion to ALL people. He would never hurt or bully anyone! As a parent, please remember those red flags. Believe me, you will notice if you pay attention. Burning children, shooting drugs, and fire crackers into an innocent pet, does not just happen overnight. I’m begging parent to wake up. Protect your children while you can they will only get worse. No tolerance for bullying! You must know your kids.” — Kim Cagiao

HGBM Store:  https://highergroundbooksandmedia.com/product/i-dont-want-to-be-like-you

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1536446696&sr=8-2&keywords=maryanne+christiano+mistretta

Kindle:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H6H4CY1/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1536446756&sr=8-1&keywords=maryanne+christiano+mistretta+kindle

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is an anti-bullying motivational speaker. Contact her at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com 

 

“On the Guest List” Book Reading/Signing

Published June 16, 2016 by Maryanne

Cover proof 4

Tuesday, June 21, 2016, 7 p.m. I’ll be doing a book reading/signing for my first book “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist” at Fairfield Library, 261 Hollywood Ave., Fairfield, NJ.

“On the Guest List” is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Guest-List-Adventures-Music-Journalist/dp/162903908X

“On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist” is a fun, upbeat memoir about a girl who loves music and life in general. Maryanne paints a vivid picture of being a teenager in the 1970s and young woman in the 1980s — and how the punk, new wave and rock scene was from a young fan’s viewpoint. Life truly comes together for Maryanne once she creates a career for herself reporting on the music she loves, writing for publications such as The Aquarian Arts Weekly, music.com and Punk magazine. Unlike other music memoirs, there is no downward spiral into drugs and addiction. Nor is it a groupie “tell all.” “On the Guest List” is simply a compilation of mostly happy memories straight from the pages of Maryanne’s diaries — and of course, her heart.

Book Party for Antoinette and Domenic Lombardi

Published November 23, 2015 by Maryanne

SAM_9248Congratulations to the new authors!

Yesterday was a big celebration at Hanover Manor in East Hanover, New Jersey.

My clients Domenic and Antoinette Lombardi had their book published “200 Letters, 62 Years and a War.”

From back book cover:

Domenic and Antoinette Lombardi began dating when they were teenagers. And soon afterward Domenic was called to fight in the Korean War.

During his time in combat, he wrote his love, Antoinette, over 200 letters. She saved every one of them. She also put together an all embracing photo albums that contained newspaper clippings of the war, photographs, holiday cards and other memorabilia; as well as more recent newspaper clippings of celebrations such as their anniversaries and birthdays.

Domenic also had his own collection of memories, several typed as well as handwritten notebook diaries, filled with the truth he experienced fighting for The United States.

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta spent many days at the home of The Lombardis in Florham Park, New Jersey ferreting through the photo albums, love letters and notebook diaries in order to put together this wondrous memoir.

The happy couple recently celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary.

SAM_9246Domenic Lombardi, Maryanne Mistretta and Antoinette Lombardi

To purchase “200 Letters, 62 Years and a War” contact Next Century Publishing at 786-999-8550 or contact Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta at maryannechristiano@gmail.com

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is available to help seniors write their books. Contact her directly at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com

Happy National Book Lovers Day!

Published August 9, 2015 by Maryanne

Book LoverYes, that was me!

Happy National Book Lovers Day!

If you’re a blogger, it’s probably very likely you’re an avid book reader. In my 30s I used to read one or two books per week!

Some of my favorites are:

  1. “The Christmas Pig” by Kinky Friedman
  2. “The Good Good Pig” by Sy Montgomery
  3. “Paleo Manifesto” by John Durant
  4. “Letters From the Earth” by Mark Twain
  5. “Finding of the Third Eye” by Vera Stanley
  6. “And I Don’t Want to Live This Life” by Deborah Spungeon
  7. “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret” by Judy Blume

What are you favorites?

Of course I wrote a few too!

“On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist” (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/162903908X)

“Love Cats” (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YBGVJQS/)

Win a Copy of My First Book “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist”!

Published June 3, 2015 by Maryanne

Cover proof 4Front cover by Darlene Foster

back cover proof 2Back cover of “Guest List”

WIN a copy of “On the Guest List”!

Hey gang, I’m giving away one copy of “Guest List” (free + $5 postage via PayPal). If you’d like to be in the drawing, please “like” this post and put your name/email address below. Contest open until 5 p.m. today. Winner will be contacted via email.

Note: This contest is on Face Book, Twitter and WordPress, so if you have a Face Book and/or Twitter account you can enter more than once!

Become a “Guest List” member on Face Book: https://www.facebook.com/groups/373926006116903/

And follow me on Twitter (I follow back!) https://twitter.com/PearTreeEnt

 

West Orange Public Library Author Panel

Published January 9, 2015 by Maryanne

West Orange Library 1-8-15Me, second to left, holding “Guest List”

Last night I was on my very first author’s panel at The West Orange Public Library, along with four other authors.

It was exciting promoting “Guest List” as this may be the last promotion. My second book, “Love Cats” (my first fiction effort) will be coming out spring 2015.

“Love Cats” has an exciting update! I was just given permission from Hal Leonard to use lyrics from The Cure’s “The Love Cats” and Iggy Pop’s “Mass Production.”

I have a potential publisher interested and I should know by the end of January. If not, I’ll be self-publishing again.

To purchase “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist” please visit: http://www.nextcenturystore.com/on-the-guest-list-adventures-of-a-music-journalist.html

Guest List Made “Badass Books” List!

Published August 10, 2014 by Maryanne

Cover proof 4

I’m pretty jazzed that “Guest List” made the “Badass Books” list on Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/kristenelizam/badass-books/

I never thought of my book to be a great work of literature; just some fun memories written in a fun way. Perhaps more like punk art than journalism. After being a serious journalist for many years, I wanted to do something fun with no rules. I didn’t even hire a copy editor for “Guest List” to make it more “punk.” And all the chapters are arranged by song titles. (Though I’m sure many people reading don’t even know half the titles. THAT is how underground Guest List is!)

All that said, it’s pretty cool to be listed amongst literary geniuses like Bukowski, Hell, Ginsberg. And that’s the beauty of being a reader, your tastes can cover a vast spectrum.

I’m honored and always humbled.

To purchase your copy, go here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/162903908X

I’ll be a Guest Author on Bringing Inspiration to Earth

Published March 2, 2014 by Maryanne

bringing inspiration to earth

Monday, March 3, 2014, 4 p.m. (EST) I am honored to be a guest author on Bringing Inspiration To Earth Radio, with host Robert Sharpe.

Here’s the link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/biteradiome/2014/03/03/on-the-guest-list-adventures-of-a-music-journalist