1. I'm reading The Handmaid's Tale again. After a particularly difficult year of high school, I asked a favored English teacher what to read that summer, knowing that she had to have good taste because she'd done her masters thesis on e.e. cummings. She suggested Atwood's book. I loved it. It got me thinking about woman's place in the world.
As an undergraduate I pursuaded another kind English instructor to let me do a paper on it. The course of that research introduced me to Phyllis Schlafly, the ERA, the Christian Right, and the LDS Church's efforts against the proposed Amendment. It revealed to me that dirty word: feminism. As a graduate student I've done work on the Eagle Forum and am now working on the Moral Majority. The Handmaid's Tale was written in a very particular moment, and that moment has come to define my career and how I spend my days.
And to think it all stemmed from a very casual book recommendation to a teenage student.
2. When I was living in the dorms at college, I embarked on a mission to a suburban Macy's for a bathrobe. I left the store with a piece of fluff the color of buttercream frosting. It was one of the first times that I said, "damn the costs," and bought something because I liked it and I knew I would need it for a long time. Now that it's suddenly winter bathrobe season, wearing it puts me back in Pflueger Hall, back in the steamy smell of Dove body wash, back next to the drafty window where I used to sit after my showers. It puts me back in a time before I was an aunt and before my relationship with Mormonism got so fraught. I put on this bathrobe and I go back in time, back to before I knew anything about how good life could be.
And yet I kind of like that my cozy bathrobe takes me back to that time of not knowing any better.
3. Yesterday I went to New York City for the first time. It was big and bustling and dense and busy and shadowy. I only saw a few rushed snippets of the city, and I didn't like it all that much. How do people live there? Why would anyone choose that?
And then I remembered that I was in New York City, where I had never been before. That I made choices- a lot of them, big ones- that got me there. That I'd better enjoy right where I was because I'd never get to go to New York City for the first time ever again. Times Square got a little prettier and the people seemed a little nicer.
New York made more sense to me when it was a myth, but at the very least, there I was. And Philly seemed so blissfully quaint when I returned.