“I have them, these attacks of the past…”
~ The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
This week I have been listening to The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, and the line above really struck home with me. I have them, too, these attacks of the past. And I’ve been having them a lot recently because this is a significant year for me. It has been 50 years since my year as an exchange student to Argentina, a year that had a profound effect on the rest of my life. And since my father kept every letter I wrote home during that year, I have words from my younger self, as well as many memories, to help me revisit that experience. I hope to share some of that with you, if I may.
Before cell phones!
50 years ago today, my hurried preparations were complete for spending a year abroad. In the 3 week period between receiving my acceptance letter and my departure, I got my passport and required shots, was tutored by the Spanish teacher at my high school (since I’d had five years of French, but no Spanish training), put together a wardrobe that I hoped would work for the year, and was almost finished packing it all into one large suitcase. I said goodbye to my school friends who would graduate before I returned. I had just turned eighteen years old and the longest I had ever been away from home was two weeks at Girl Scout camp. But I was over the moon with excitement and ready to take on the world!
I wrote these words about my departure for Argentina in a post I published here in 2008.
In early 1967, I was chosen to be an exchange student with the American Field Service (now known as AFS Intercultural Programs). Looking back, I realize that the year I spent in Argentina was a “pivot point” in my life — that point where I stood still, poised to move in one direction or another. A photograph of me, at age 18, was snapped at the moment I hesitated at the top of the stairs while boarding the airplane to Argentina, looked back over my shoulder, and then began the forward motion of my life.
Forty-eight years ago this weekend I met my Hubby. He and I are very different from one another, but the following quote from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights describes us perfectly.
A painting by one of my favorite artists: Deborah DeWit
Tonight just a thought about reading…
“One can always read a good book twice, ” Mrs Arbuthnot snapped. “In fact one always should read a good book twice.”
~ Elizabeth Taylor, Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont
60% of the way through this audiobook and I can’t stop listening. I’ve been afraid to read it for a long time now but felt it was an important one that needed to be read… The time was right and I found the courage to start it. Now I can’t put it down.
One of my favorite poets is Naomi Shihab Nye, and her beautiful poem, Kindness, is one of my favorites. Wise words for us all.
It’s been a very busy day and I didn’t think I’d have time to put together a blog post. But after a trip to the grocery store, where I saw this display of books that looked awfully yummy, I decided that a simple book photo was just right. I didn’t buy any of the books, but I’m going to look at the library to see if any of them are available there. About three years ago my doctor recommended a completely whole foods plant-based lifestyle change for me, so I fix a lot of different combinations of legumes/vegetables/rice “bowls” as meals and enjoy them a lot. These books had lots of ideas that looked, like I already said, yummy.
Illustration by Alan Lee — from The Two Towers.
I am slowly making progress on my rereading of The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R.Tolkien. It’s a very enjoyable reading project that I started in November as a retreat from the election stresses and strains. Perhaps I’m reading it slowly because those stresses and strains have gotten worse rather than better! But really I’m reading it slowly so that I can enjoy and savor the wonderful writing as well as the terrific adventure of it all. It’s been my evening read, just before I go to bed at night, and it’s a great way to end the day. I’m about 3/4 of the way through The Two Towers so at this time I am traveling with Frodo and Sam, and Gollum, getting closer to Mordor. I am very glad to spend time in their company.
Looking through some of my old notebooks the other day, I found an extensive bibliography of a book that I vaguely remember reading: Images of Women in Fiction: Feminist Perspectives, by Susan K. Cornillon. It was a library book, I remember that, and I was particularly interested in the extensive bibliography the author included. At that time I was a young stay-at-home mother with a 2-1/2 year old, so I must have been very Impressed because I took the time to copy it down, filling 5 pages in my notebook. With my cell phone, I took photos of those five pages to share with you because it’s a terrific book list! And it was fun for me to realize that over the years since 1974, I have read many of those books even though I hadn’t looked at that list in years! Do you keep notebooks? They really do turn into treasures after a few years…
Note: You can stop the slideshow and then click on the page to enlarge it if you want to look more closely at the list.
My early morning reading on this icy February morning…