Nancy Roman

Help Wanted: Translator

This is an audience participation post.

I have a little notebook that I carry with me all the time.

See how cute it is.  And responsible. It’s all recycled. Even the pen is recycled cardboard (well not the inside). It’s very inspirational. (except I try not to recycle too many stories).  It was also free.

This is where I jot down all my blog ideas.

Usually I just need a word or two to remind me of the amazingly fabulous idea I had  – during a drive, or during dinner… or during (sorry, boss) a business meeting.

For instance, just the word “Cheese” brought back my husband’s desire to be more spontaneous, and how he cut the cheese (I still snicker when I write that) more ‘whimsically’.

Or sometimes I get an idea that just needs some fleshing out.  I wrote down “Shoulder Pads” about two months ago; but when I saw that old photo of myself in 1977, then I knew I had enough to make a story, and last week I got Freshly Pressed. (Yea!   And Thank You.)

And there are times when I think of an especially clever sentence or maybe a whole paragraph, and I write it all down in my little book.

I’ve got little germs of ideas that I haven’t acted on yet, so every once in a while, I go back to the beginning to see if some germ has maybe sprouted.

And that’s my problem.

Back around October I wrote this:

See it? – A little lower than halfway down, in my careless scribble:


What an incredible idea!  A gem!

Pure Genius!

Only I have NO idea what the heck I meant.

None. Nada. Zip.  I’ve gone online and read about Lizzie and her unfortunate parents. I’ve read parts of the trial transcript. I researched Lizzie’s life after the trial. I’ve read the theories…the maid, the sister, etc. I’ve researched the fashions of 1892 and the hairstyles – certainly there was a chance I wanted to give her a makeover.

But nothing.

So here’s the challenge:

Interpret this for me.

Tell me what I meant.

I’ll make it a contest and give a prize to the best idea.

It will be an imaginary prize. But this is a contest for your imagination.

Therefore perfectly appropriate.

“Lizzie Borden Mugshot”What the Fall River does it mean to you?


  1. Perhaps, given all the crazy celebrity mugshots of recent years, you wanted to reflect on what Lizzy Borden’s mugshot would have looked like. Guilty or innocent, you decide.


    • Maybe I was going to alter it to look more menacing, like Time Magazine did with OJ Simpson?


  2. Ooooh! Let me give it some thought!


  3. Michelle Gillies

    I’m thinking you were having one of those moments when you were thinking “… looks just like Lizzy Borden’s mug shot”. I have those moments and usually call for a hair appointment. 😉


    • She looks so pulled together in her mug shot – maybe I was envious.


  4. Anna Sthetic

    Maybe something about the difference facial expressions make in photographs? Even though she’s frowning, she looks a lot more human in your drawing of her than she does in her actual mugshot…

    (Hello, by the way. I’m a new follower, and I love (love *love*) your drawings. 🙂 )


  5. nikkix2

    First off,,I need to go refresh myself with some American History about said “Lizzie Borden”,,then I will come back with my suggestion to the mugshot.
    I do the same thing with my iphone, I’m always whipping that thing out,to type something into it, I’ve learned to not stop on the spot, take notes while walking (got a bruise from that lesson), or to do it while driving, (got a warning for that one),,best to “pull over to the side of the road m’am”. Thanks, Mr. Policeofficer,,,,you sexy blue eyed man you.


  6. I too have a notebook but it is never near when I have an idea so I have little squares of paper that get caught in the breeze from the window I usually sit by. They fly around in a whirlwind all over the living room and once in a while I go around picking them up. It’s a method of sorts at least.

    As for Lizzy, when I was13, I went through a phase where I had nightmares about being her. I think there was a made-for -tv movie I had watched that must have brought it all to life for me. It seemed to me, in that tumultous period of a girl’s life, that accidents like that could happen. Could you have been having a particularily stressful day?


    • There was a movie years ago… with Elizabeth Montgomery. They concluded Lizze was guilty. And I suppose accidents like that could happen – you would swing the ax by mistake ten times.


      • Well,ok, 10 swings of the axe does make the accident theory less plausible, but stress effects people in a variety of ways. Granted its best to get help early if this in anyway rings a bell for you. 🙂


  7. Perhaps an axe-producing company was giving away complimentary coffee mugs with Lizzie Borden’s face on them and you were making a note to yourself that you wanted a shot of coffee when you stopped whatever you were doing.


    • I DO sometimes need coffee pretty badly. I think Lizzie would be a good endorsement celebrity for axes.


  8. First, I congratulate you for being able to at least READ what you wrote! LOL! But if this helps, I vaguely remember that Lizzie Borden made the news no so long ago…and maybe you were wondering if the authorities took mugshots back then? Good luck to you 🙂


    • Oh, I could right another whole post on not being able to read what I wrote!


  9. Perhaps you were reflecting on the differences in our celebs today compared to back then. Think on it….Lizzie Borden had an ax, and with it she entered our history forever. On the other hand Kim Kardashian (sp) and Paris Hilton had a video tryst and an “oops, I didn’t know it would hit youtube!” With this, we are inundated with these idiot, know nothing, do nothing, empty headed, vapid twits on television and in every check out line forever.

    Maybe you were going to do a comparison.


  10. bigsheepcommunications

    I have no idea what you meant, but I’m sure that if Lizzie were alive today, she’d have her own Reality TV show.


  11. You really are amazing (in the best sense of the adjective)…Perhaps you were wondering whether or not Lizzie considered her axe a fashion accessory at the time, and her parents derisive comments about its appearance were the real impetus behind her infamous actions. Taken one step further, if those who arrested her were the fashion police and the jury consisted of twelve of her sartorially-committed peers, the verdict was a given on many counts… 🙂


  12. yeltnuh

    I confess, the first thing I thought of was: how cool would it be to make myself up to pose for Lizzie’s mugshot? Somedays, I find a scaaaary lady in my mirror. Maybe that’s not true for you.


  13. First, congrats on being freshly pressed! It’s about time WordPress recognized your work! My thought on your note is that you wanted to kill someone with an axe but couldn’t jot that down (evidence you know) so you wrote Lizzie Borden. Although knowing you, it may have been a new do and makeover you were thinking along with a caridgan of course…maybe some skinny jeans?


    • Thanks. I’m going to see if I had any other clues to my murderous intent on other pages.


  14. Perhaps you were working on a “Bring Back the Bun” poem? You know….one that goes a little something like this:

    Lizzie Borden took an axe
    And gave her mother forty whacks
    When she saw what she had done
    She gave her father forty one

    I can’t help but think of her today
    As I try to put my hair away
    On top my head in a basic bun
    Just think of all I could get done

    I could grocery shop and mop my floor
    Remove sticky fingerprints from the door
    I could tackle the growing laundry pile
    Put on my sneakers and jog a mile

    When I finish all I need to get done
    My hair will still be in that trusty bun
    Just look at the pictures of Lizzie Borden’s face
    She killed her parents without a hair out of place


    • That’s hilarous. She DID look awfully good in her mug shot, although I think she was not arrested directly after the murders. But still. I mean, her police photo is better than my driver’s license.


  15. The picture action looks to me like “I had no choice.” Perhaps your post was about the choices we make and how as humans we can rationalize almost anything.


    • A friend just pointed out to me that my Lizzie illustration pops up at the top if you go to Google Images and enter ‘Lizzie Borden Mugshot’. If I portrayed her as having “no choice” – maybe I will sway the future generation’s opinion of her!


  16. maybe you wanted to compare or talk about how children murdering their parents isn’t “new” to america. how long was this note? i know recent news shed light on a kid killing his father because the father kept getting at him for his grades.

    not long ago i watched a “cold case file” or something similiar on a teenage boy who also shot his father because he didn’t get him a car. kids these days are “do or die” maybe so was Lizzie.

    ^^^ OMG i left this comment on another blog.. .woops!!!


    • I took care of the superfluous one! The Borden’s maid was angry because they made her wash the windows on the hottest day of the year. That would do it for me!


  17. nancymn

    Perhaps a post about grown children living with their parents, and the idea of the child becoming the parent, and the stress this can cause?


    • Lizzie did have a lot of resentment. Daddy Borden was quite wealthy and yet he wouldn’t even spring for an indoor bathroom.


  18. Where did they take mugshots back then? Did they have to pack her up into a horse and buggy contraption and take her to one of those guys who has to stand under a sheet with an explosive in his hand whilst she sits immobilized for several minutes waiting for the picture to “take”?


    • Photography was fairly modern by 1892. But I wasn’t able to find any details about the mugshot.


  19. I’m guessing you saw a woman chopping wood and wondered who she reminded you of.


    • Hmm… I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a woman swing an ax… except in made-for-tv movies of course.


  20. Awwww…I was hoping you meant you couldn’t read what you’d written; I run into that quite a bit, with my own notes. I would be the winner, because I could read your writing…was surprised that you couldn’t, as it looked pretty legible to me…but no, you want to know what you MEANT by what you wrote…and I don’t have a clue! I guess I’m not feeling very imaginative this evening. Thanks for a fun read!


    • It’s certainly more common for me not to be able to read my handwriting than to draw a complete blank on WHY I wrote it.


  21. Dor

    I think you were thinking about multiple personality disorder or the various faces we show to the world. A deep psychological analysis of the changes in prosecution of criminals. Trials yesterday. Trials today. Can’t you tell I am a deep thinker?


    • Very deep, indeed. But I tend to think slightly shallower, like how nice Lizzie’s skin looks in all her photos.


  22. daphneshadows

    Hopefully you were not considering going on a ax toting killing spree…


  23. I would say you were possibly at a work meeting and bored and spacing off and looking at your boss’s, um, toupee? And, hmmm, maybe you thought you saw a perfect outline of Lizzie Borden’s face in his polyester hair shine? I suck at this.

    I have a little notebook in my purse that I keep for the same purpose.


  24. Next year’s Halloween costume?


  25. I love your blog. I have nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award! Have a great day.


  26. I’m pretty sure it actually said, “Lizzie Borden, mug’s hot.” You wanted to warn her that the coffee in her mug and hot and likely to burn her if she wasn’t careful!


  27. Ha ha, I blogged a while back about writing ‘Rouge Nipples’ as an idea and totally forgetting why. I still don’t remember to this day…..



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