And just like that… I’m almost 50.
2004: Facebook launches in February. Martha Stewart is convicted of a felony in March. In July I go to the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop at Reed College and study with Dorothy Allison. She gives us homework and keeps us late. It’s amazing. I stay at the RiverPlace Hotel in Portland. Each evening, in an outdoor amphitheater where they serve wine, I listen to Mark Strand or Abigail Thomas or Denis Johnson or James Salter… It’s like getting to meet superheroes. At the kids’ school, I do the minimum; I’m not looking for extra work. And I hate meetings. But when they ask me to be in charge of something I care about, I say yes. The theme of Literature Live 2004 is “Narratives of Adventure.” We choose Erik Weihenmayer’s Touch the Top of the World as the group read. It’s the story of Erik’s dream to climb Mount Everest in spite of his blindness. At the beginning of the school year, I give all the teachers Idea Packets. For the event in November, Erik’s father is our special guest. We have a contest for the best questions to ask him–class by class. We show the documentary, Farther Than the Eye Can See. The students write about their own adventures, and we collect the stories into booklets, print them, and give each student a copy. I’m writing stories and still revising my first novel. I read 50 books this year–the highlights being John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, which I have never read before, and May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude, which I will re-read many times.
She sees that she has before her an important task: to understand that all the things that happened in her life happened to her. That she is the same person who was born, was a child, a girl, a young woman, and now she is old. That there is some line running through her body like a wick.
Mary Gordon, The Rest of Life