Thursday, February 20, 2020

I really do have other hobbies, but I LOVE to read.

St. Paul: The Apostle We Love to Hate
By Karen Armstrong

This is a serious scholarly work, as one would expect from Karen Armstrong. It is not for the faint-hearted or the biblical illiterate or even literalist.

It was the title that intrigued me. I intensely disliked Paul, as do many women who have suffered because of some of the pronouncements in the Pauline letters ("Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior.  Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands."). There is also the admonition that women should remain silent in the church.

So I joined other feminist women in disliking Paul intensely. 

Armstrong does an admirable job explaining Paul's life and his mission. In many ways, he created the church. 

What I found most interesting was that there is scholarly support that not all the Pauline letters were written by Paul, but some were written by disciples of Paul. For those of us who read neither Greek nor Hebrew, we benefit from scholars such as Armstrong who does. And the evidence that she lays out suggests that many of the most misogynistic passages were in letters these followers of Paul wrote.

I repeat my initial caution--this is not a book for the faint-hearted or for someone looking for a quick way to dismiss Paul.  But if you want to learn more about Paul, this book helps fill in some of the blanks.




Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others
By Barbara Brown Taylor

I previously read (and reviewed) Barbara Brown Taylor’s Leaving Church. I was far less enamored with that book, so with reluctance I approached this book. Why, you might wonder, did I read a book by an author’s whose previous work I had not enjoyed?

Well, I belong to a book discussion group (called Reformed Readers!) which does a fair bit of reading books which lend themselves to discussion of matters of faith. AND Holy Envy is the next book up in our discussion calendar.

The book started out with a tone that seemed to be replicating the shallow tone that had previously frustrated me…but, then. THEN! Almost immediately after the introduction Taylor begins to deliver insight after insight on how religions are alike and different. Given her position as a college professor teaching an Introduction to Religions course, she has ample examples of the religious illiteracy that plagues the United States (and maybe other parts of the world). Her students are mostly drawn from various Christian backgrounds, with a few students from other religious traditions.

Having been a college instructor during my professional career, I was struck with the wonderful creativity she brought to her course teaching. Her desire to help expose students to other traditions, as well as her intention to help them becomes more literate not only about other religions but also their own, shines through the narrative of the book.  She gives examples of her technique—giving them a quiz at the beginning of a semester asking them basic questions about the five religions they study. These quizzes are then returned to them on the last day of the semester. What a wonderful teaching technique!

The title—Holy Envy—requires some explaining. By this Taylor means that there are things in other religious practices that she envies for various reasons. Throughout the book, as you read about the various faith places she takes students, and the experience of other religious worship that affords, she does say what “holy envy” she might have for a particular religious practice.

If you read this work, you will be enriched. Perhaps, like Barbara Brown Taylor, you will come to cherish even more your religious traditions at the same time to learn to understand and accept other religious traditions.


  

The Great Quake : How the Biggest Earthquake in North America Changed Our Understanding of the Planet 
By Henry Fountain

First, I need to confess that I am a science geek. No, I am not a trained scientist. It’s just that most books which deal with, explain, describe--you name it—natural phenomena always grab me. The title of this  book was all I needed to want to read it. I do not live in Alaska, and have only visited it (and did see where many of the landmarks mentioned in the book can be found). But, I did have an aunt who was living in Anchorage on that fateful date, March 27, 1964. It was for her one of the most terrifying experiences of her life.

True to the title, the book details how the post-event analysis of the earthquake helped geologists and geoscientists to recognize and define what we now plate tectonics (another one of the subjects I love).  To take you on the journey, the author introduces to a variety of people who were all players in the event. The primary focus is on George Plafker, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, who was one of the first scientists on the scene. It was his careful data gathering and then analysis that led him to posit a cause of the earthquake—what kind of fault—and in so doing lay out a description of plate tectonics.

You also meet a myriad of people living in different areas in southern coastal Alaska where the quake struck. These people help the reader appreciate the human dimension and scope of loss. 

The book requires a reader who does not easily tire at detail. In doing so, the reader is treated to an ably told thoroughly enjoyable account of one of the greatest earthquakes in history.



Where the Crawdads Sing
By Delia Owens

Fate led me to reading this book. I had seen the title of the book advertised, and offered again and again on Amazon. But since it was touted as a best seller, and since I am skeptical of the value of other people's choices of best book...i.e. big sellers...I eschewed buying and reading it.

Enter fate. On a rainy morning in October, I was on my way to an appointment. I was certain the time was 10:30 a.m. It was a rainy miserable morning, and my appointment was for a massage--perfect antidote to a rainy day. I arrived, went to the door, knocked--and NOTHING. No answer. So I quickly texted about the timing, and learned my appointment was later in the afternoon.  So, I trudged back to where my car was parked, turned over the key--and NOTHING.  Engine...aka battery totally dead. Did I mention it was raining?  I called AAA, was informed they could get there in 2 or 3 hours (really!). So what to do? I walked to a nearby local bookstore--and there it was—WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING—prominently displayed on the front table.

In my moment of weakness, I bought it. And started reading it. With a cup of chai latte tea in hand, and a rainy outside, and a delayed appointment, I read. And read--and fell in love with the novel.

The novel is all of these things: a coming of age story. You can find elsewhere the basics of the plot of this novel. It is also a murder mystery, a story of survival under the most difficult of circumstances--parental abandonment. It is a story revealing love of nature, and the power of community.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Variation on a Theme

I have been blogging about the books I read over the past year--and I will continue to review the ones I read in the year ahead.

But I take a brief break now to look at the other "end" of books. For every book you read, someone  had to write it.

While my father was alive, he spent several years writing, editing, re-writing his memoirs. He lived a  long and full life, so he had much to write about.
As a former missionary, he watched as other missionaries he know wrote AND published their memoirs. Quite a few of those were self-published, and my dad longed to have his memoirs published as well.

He had printed out full copies for each of his children, he gave a copy to the church archives, but he did not publish his memoirs for distribution.

After his death, I decided to edit these memoirs, condense some of the content (my dad could be wordy), eliminate some passages that were downright tedious (think the begats in the Bible).  I contacted the editor of the historical journal of the church to which my father belonged. And she was amenable, even encouraging of this effort.

So I began.

I edited and edited and edited. I read, re-read, rephrased...I have no doubt I read his original text a half a dozen times, and the edited version that I worked on perhaps as many times. Then I sent it to the editor. She in turn edited it, giving me the option to accept, or reject her suggestions (I mostly agreed as she has a fine eye for what works) or rework a passage if I thought the information was germane to the whole story.
I delivered the final final final work and then the journal editor sent it off to the company that publishes the journals.

On Sunday, I got a note from the editor--the printed journal had arrived!
So today, I picked up my complimentary copies as well as few extra to send to family members.

The completion of this project makes me very happy. In my thinking, it was one of the best ways to honor my father's memory. And by the journal publishing them, these memoirs will have a greater distribution than it would have had if my dad had self-published and given copies away.

Every book that I read was written AND edited by someone. I take my proverbial hat off to all of you who are authors, editors and publishers. 

Friday, January 10, 2020

TO INFINITY AND BEYOND--well, not really. Just to my 2020 goal and beyond.

Last year, I set a reading goal, which I met and passed. The books I read have been reviewed in the last several posts here.

So, what to do for 2020?  Why, set the same goal, of course. It worked last year, no need to crank it up a bit as I already went passed what I had set in the prior year.
So, here are reviews of the first two read this year, and one from last year I had not yet reviewed.


Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of OthersBy Barbara Brown Taylor

I previously read (and reviewed) Barbara Brown Taylor’s Leaving Church. I was far less enamored with that book, so with reluctance I approached this book. Why, you might wonder, did I read a book by an author whose previous work I had not enjoyed?

Well, I belong to a book discussion group (called Reformed Readers!) which does a fair bit of reading books which lend themselves to discussion of matters of faith. AND Holy Envy is the next book up in our discussion calendar.

The book started out with a tone that seemed to be replicating the shallow tone that had previously frustrated me…but, then. THEN! Almost immediately after the introduction Taylor begins to deliver insight after insight on how religions are alike and different. Given her position as a college professor teaching an Introduction to Religions course, she has ample examples of the religious illiteracy that plagues the United States (and maybe other parts of the world). Her students are mostly drawn from various Christian backgrounds, with a few students from other religious traditions.

Having been a college instructor during my professional career, I was struck with the wonderful creativity she brought to her course teaching. Her desire to help expose students to other traditions, as well as her intention to help them becomes more literate not only about other religions but also their own, shines through the narrative of the book.  She gives examples of her technique—giving them a quiz at the beginning of a semester asking them basic questions about the five religions they study. These quizzes are then returned to them on the last day of the semester. What a wonderful teaching technique!

The title—Holy Envy—requires some explaining. By this Taylor means that there are things in other religious practices that she envies for various reasons. Throughout the book, as you read about the various faith places she takes students, and the experience of other religious worship that affords, she does say what “holy envy” she might have for a particular religious practice.

If you read this work, you will be enriched. Perhaps, like Barbara Brown Taylor, you will come to cherish even more your religious traditions at the same time to learn to understand and accept other religious traditions.


The Great Quake : How the Biggest Earthquake in North America Changed Our Understanding of the Planet By Henry Fountain

First, I need to confess that I am a science geek. No, I am not a trained scientist. It’s just that most books which deal with, explain, describe--you name it—natural phenomena always grab me. The title of this  book was all I needed to want to read it. I do not live in Alaska, and have only visited it (and did see where many of the landmarks mentioned in the book can be found). But, I did have an aunt who was living in Anchorage on that fateful date, March 27, 1964. It was for her one of the most terrifying experiences of her life.

True to the title, the book details how the post-event analysis of the earthquake helped geologists and geoscientists to recognize and define what we now plate tectonics (another one of the subjects I love).  To take you on the journey, the author introduces to a variety of people who were all players in the event. The primary focus is on George Plafker, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, who was one of the first scientists on the scene. It was his careful data gathering and then analysis that led him to posit a cause of the earthquake—what kind of fault—and in so doing lay out a description of plate tectonics.
 You also meet a myriad of people living in different areas in southern coastal Alaska where the quake struck. These people help the reader appreciate the human dimension and scope of loss.  The book requires a reader who does not easily tire at detail. In doing so, the reader is treated to an ably told thoroughly enjoyable account of one of the greatest earthquake in history. 



Where the Grawdads Sing

By Delia Owens
(read in 2019)

Fate led me to reading this book. I had seen the title of the book advertised, and offered again and again on Amazon. But since it was touted as a best seller, and since I am skeptical of the value of other people's choices of best books*...i.e. big sellers...I eschewed buying and reading it.

Enter fate. On a rainy morning in October, I was on my way to an appointment. I was certain the time was 10:30 a.m. It was a rainy miserable morning, and my appointment was for a massage--perfect antidote to a rainy day. I arrived, went to the door, knocked--and NOTHING. No answer. So I quickly texted about the timing, and learned my appointment was later in the afternoon.  So, I trudged back to where my car was parked, turned over the key--and NOTHING.  Engine...aka battery totally dead. Did I mention it was raining.  I called AAA, was informed they could get there in 2 or 3 hours (really!). So what to do? I walked to a nearby local bookstore--and there it was—WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING—prominently displayed on the front table.

In my moment of weakness, I bought it. And started reading it. With a cup of chai latte tea in hand, and a rainy outside, and a delayed appointment, I read. And read--and fell in love with the novel.

The novel is all of these things: a coming of age story. You can find elsewhere the basics of the plot of this novel. It is also a murder mystery, a story of survival under the most difficult of circumstances--parental abandonment. It is a story revealing love of nature, and the power of community.


*Yes, I recognize the irony--my reviews are in their own way MY best books--and you, the reader, have every right to be skeptical.

------------
TO INFINITY AND BEYOND--well, not really. Just to my 2020 goal and beyond.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Did You Think I Stopped my Book Reviews

Perish that thought.I have been reading, but also busy editing my father's memoirs for publication in a historical journal of his denomination.OK, on to reviews of the most recent reads.-

God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex RelationshipsBy Matthew Vines

This is an important book for anyone to read who desires to see more deeply into the Biblical passages that have been used to condemn homosexuality. The author carefully analyzes some of the oft quoted sections, and shows in a new light that the interpretations that were written in a different time in fact mean something other than for what they are sometimes used.

The Biblical analysis is not trivial. In fact, at times the book is challenging. But, if you are a serious student of the Bible and want to go beyond a knee-jerk reaction that has too long characterized the church's approach to same-sex relationships, this book breathes fresh life into the title subject: God and the Gay Christian.

I am not gay, but have many gay friends who I cherish. And, frankly, it is offensive and deeply saddening to me when I hear “church people” inveighing against someone who is attracted to the same sex.  I am blessed to be able to talk with these friends about their experience as they came to understand and accept their own sexuality. In some of the conversations I have had, these friends have revealed how they have been deeply wounded by the church. It was very affirming to read a book that does not condemn someone just because he/she is gay.

Running with Sherman: The Donkey with the Heart of a Hero  by Christopher McDougall 


I admit it...the front piece photo, of an adorable looking donkey, is what got me to read this book. I am a sucker for animals in need who are "rescued" by people, but who in turn also rescue the people. Anything that helps we humans to get over being the proverbial top of the living heap. In reviewing the list of books I have read, I see many stories that help to connect me to all of living creation.

Now, a prospective reader must know--this book is NOT just about a donkey named Sherman. The book opens with the donkey in question being virtually at death's door when he is "adopted" by the author. And the book takes you along on the journey of rehabilitating Sherman, and eventually getting him ready to run a kind of marathon (of which I had not previously heard)-- the annual World Championship Leadville Burro Race in Colorado.

Along the way, the author encounters various people who are broken in many ways as much as Sherman was. But, like Sherman, their brokenness can be healed. These stories, and Sherman's story make this a very inspiring work.My only complaint--sometimes the author's language is a bit more crude--that does not offend me at all. But the times that there is a change of tone seems a bit gratuitous and unnecessary. ---

Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faithby Barbara Brown Taylor

Barbara Brown Taylor is a well-known author whose works deal with spirituality, questing, and faith. I learned this when I began to read Leaving Church. You see, I had not encountered any of her works before. When her book AN ALTAR IN THE WORLD was published, I was intrigued with the title, but for whatever reasons didn’t read it.So, how did I come to read her earlier work LEAVING CHURCH? One of my friends at church gave me the book and said she thought I might like it. So, I read it.

What to say? First, yes I liked it. It resonated with me in ways that works such as those by Elaine Pagels (WHY RELIGION) and Rachel Held Evans (SEARCHING FOR SUNDAY). In many ways LEAVING CHURCH is a similar kind of personal account. Of course, the details differ, because the authors differ. Each has her own journey to describe. Perhaps I view LEAVING CHURCH through the filter of how closely it approximates my own experience. Rachel Held Evans’ book comes the closest to describing the kind of upbringing I experienced. 

Barbara Brown Taylor’s journey is long and multi-faceted. She describes her early longing for and search for spiritual connection. While the earliest expression she details in the book is a strong connection with nature, she moves on to describing her sense of call to Christian ministry. As a result, she becomes ordained as a priest in the Episcopalian Church, after her seminary training. Her initial call as a priest is to a large church where she is one among several priests. The grinding demands of that work, along with the oppressive sense of living in a highly urbanized area lead her to seek the calm of a more rural area. She and her husband find just such a location to which they move, and she begins life as a solo priest in a small church.

Each of these priestly calls have joys, triumphs, as well as valleys. Just as in the urban church, she begins to feel drained in the country setting. Thus the title LEAVING CHURCH. She traces a somewhat tortuous circuitous faith journey. Perhaps not surprisingly, she experiences burnout in her solo pastoral situation. And then leaves church.

That does not mean she loses faith—her faith continues, broadens and becomes more nuanced. 

If you enjoy and/or are inspired by faith journeys, you may enjoy this book.

The Measure of Manhattan: The Tumultuous Career and Surprising Legacy of John Randel, Jr.By Marguerite Holloway
 I expected a book that dealt with how Manhattan got to be the way it is...While this book does that to a certain extent, it spends a great deal of time detailing the life John Randel, Jr. Perhaps I should have paid closer attention to the subtitle--because that is what occupied the bulk of the book.

I am still wondering how Manhattan got to be the way it is.


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

I Bet You Thought I'd Stopped Reading...

Two more works for the list--as I work toward my self-determined goal to read 25 books this year--one more to go!
---------------------------


Let the Trumpet Sound: A Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
By Stephen B. Oates

I am a part of a book discussion group that our church has, and this book was a recent selection for discussion. That introductory note is partly to explain why I only recently read this biography, first published in 1982.

My knowledge of Dr. King was only cursory, having been aware of him in the 1960s. I confess to having had only a surface level of knowledge about his life. Of course, the news of his tragic death was one of those sentinel events in the 1960s, and one of which I was well aware.

So, I approached reading this book to fill in the gaps.

DID IT EVER…fill in the gaps, that is.
I have read a fair number of biographies, and I am hard pressed to recall a more exhaustive one. The author provided much material on Dr. King’s childhood, his formative years, his family background and his education. The book covers his educational development, his call to ministry and his awakening understanding of the mission he felt he had to pursue.

And that is just the beginning.
The work is long—exhaustive is one word. I learned so much more than I ever knew about Dr. King’s life. So for the reader who undertakes reading it should be forewarned that the reading is not easy.

My objections are few—they are 1) the book is too hagiographical. While Oates does cover many of the flaws in Dr. King, he does so in such a way that he dismissed the fact of those flaws. 2) The book uses extensive exhaustively long portions of speeches and sermons. No doubt, that proves that Oates had permission from the King family to use those writings (they are famously parsimonious in permitting the use of Dr. King’s words. 3) The way in which the sources are cited is somewhat unusual. As it happens, I was reading an e-reader version. So when I attended the book discussion, I asked if the quotes were cited. Well, my fellow readers showed me that in the print version, sources are credited at the end of the book—by page number. Frankly, this technique is arduous and totally unhelpful to a serious scholar who would want to check source.

My overall assessment—this is one of the more important books I have read since it informed about a great man in current American history about whom I previously knew only the barest of facts.

Photo source: Time.com

------------------

Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor

Barbara Brown Taylor is a well-known author whose works deal with spirituality, questing, and faith. I learned this when I began to read Leaving Church. You see, I had not encountered any of her works before. When her book AN ALTAR IN THE WORLD, I was intrigued with the title, but for whatever reasons didn’t read it.

So, how did I come to read her earlier work LEAVING CHURCH? One of my friends at church gave me the book and said she thought I might like it.**
 So, I read it.
What to say? First, yes I liked it. It resonated with me in ways that works such as those by Elaine Pagels (WHY RELIGION) and Rachel Held Evans (SEARCHING FOR SUNDAY). In many ways LEAVING CHURCH is a similar kind of personal account. Of course, the details differ, because the authors differ. Each has her own journey to describe. Perhaps I view LEAVING CHURCH through the filter of how closely it approximates my own experience. Rachel Held Evans’ book comes the closest to describing the kind of upbringing I experienced. 

Barbara Brown Taylor’s journey is long and multi-faceted. She describes her early longing for and search for spiritual connection. While the earliest expression she details in the book is a strong connection with nature, she moves on to describing her sense of call to Christian ministry. As a result, she becomes ordained as a priest in the Episcopalian Church, after her seminary training. Her initial call as a priest is to a large church where she is one among several priests. The grinding demands of that work, along with the oppressive sense of living in a highly urbanized area lead her to seek the calm of a more rural area. She and her husband find just such a location to which they move, and she begins life as a solo priest in a small church.

Each of these priestly calls have joys, triumphs, as well as valleys. Just as in the urban church, she begins to feel drained in the country setting. Thus the title LEAVING CHURCH. She traces a somewhat tortuous circuitous faith journey. Perhaps not surprisingly, she experiences burnout in her solo pastoral situation. And then leaves church.

That does not mean she loses faith—her faith continues, broadens and becomes more nuanced. 

If you enjoy and/or are inspired  by faith journeys, you may enjoy this book.

** Thanks, Lois.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Reading, reading, reading...

Two more books to add to the 2019 progression toward a goal (whatever my goal was/is). Both of these are non-fiction works, and while they couldn't be more different, I recommend them HIGHLY.

If you're thinking about Christmas gifts, you can't do any better for the reader (s) in your life than give Julie Zickefoose's book.  Buy it somewhere where the price is its true price (not the knock down price Amazon uses). Julie Zickefoose is a self-employed naturalist and author, so she earns her "bread and butter" by writing, publishing, and selling books. 
----------------------------------------------------

GOD: A  Human History by Reza Aslan

Among the non-fiction works I like to read are those that deal with various religious topics. I am a Christian and have an awareness of the history of Christianity and that it did not develop as a single whole "thing" dropped from heaven. Rather it is a religion that has taken centuries to develop--and that development was not a clear singular path toward "the truth." It was a circuitous, frequently contentious history. Factions developed, new alliances formed, then factions again…and on and on.

Reza Aslan’s GOD: A Human History widens the scope of the history of religion—from mere Christianity to the whole of humanity’s quest for and interaction with god—the many forms of god.  Essentially a chronological account, GOD begins with the earliest of humans and thieir growing awareness and comprehension of  divine power.  The book then follows in succession the chronological development of the various religions as perceived by humans.

Summarizing the book is impossible—each chapter in human history is so rich with content and meaning the reducing it to a summary does it injustice.

My understanding of religion has deepened, and my appreciation for various approaches to god has grown. All thanks to Aslan and his book GOD.



SAVING JEMIMA:Life and Love with a Hard-Luck Jay by Julie Zickefoose


When I began blogging in 2006, like many novice bloggers, I waited for my first comment…a link to the larger world of people interested in some of the things that enthrall me. As it happened, the woman who commented on a blog I had written (about a trip to Spain) was someone who was deeply involved in the amateur world of bird-watching. In turn, through her I found a network of bloggers with many and varied interests but the common connection was birding. Thus did I “meet” Julie Zickefoose.

As a self-employed author, artist and naturalist, she is…well, here’s her own description from her website http://www.juliezickefoose.com/index.php “ I am a writer, artist and naturalist at home in the Appalachian foothills of Ohio. Every day, I roam our 80 acre wildlife sanctuary, and every day I find something new. This deep relationship with the land is the wellspring of my writing.”  

Out of this description comes the makings of SAVING JEMIMA. Given that Julie is a wildlife rehabilitator, she gets frequent calls to rescue sick, or helpless, or abandoned animals and birds. It was in this capacity that someone called her about a baby blue jay. And that was the beginning of the book.

From the opening page, I was captivated. Make that from the first opening of the book, looking at the inside cover which is colored and speckled EXACTLY like a blue jay’s egg. It is that kind of attention to detail and authenticity of writing down her observations that makes this book unlike any other I have read—and that in the most delightful special way.  

Lest you think this book is only about birds—you would be wrong. True, you learn a great deal about birds! And the way Julie explains things, even if you aren’t a “birder” (that would be me…I love to look at them, but know next to nothing about them), you will be entranced.

Beyond learning a great deal about birds in general, blue jays in particular, you also learn what it is like to go through a life crisis—which Julie did—and how being connected to nature helps one heal and regain an even keel.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

YOU DON'T LOOK YOUR AGE...

Occasionally, when I mention my age* to someone, they respond "you don't look it."
I take that as a compliment, of course, but at the same time I wonder.
--What does it really mean?

Does it mean I look OLDER that my age?  Or YOUNGER?
Does it mean I look great (my preferred possibility) or terrible?

It's a curious thing--time. We tend to think of time as linear, progressive, each stage leading to the next. It's that kind of image Shakespeare evokes in the words from AS YOU LIKE IT--you will recognize it from its opening line: All the world's a stage.**

But I think we don't really experience time as a slow progression, one stage to the next a la Shakespeare. In some ways, that approach makes us cherish some stages and rue and fear others. 

Shakespeare's evocation of the cavalcade of life lists seven stages:

--infant in his nurse's arms, whining school boy, then lover, then soldier, then the justice, then the sixth stage--"the lean and slippered pantaloon, with spectacles on nose and pouch on side," and finally the last stage, the second childishness--"sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."

I think of time, not as something linear, but pleated like a fan. The folds may coincide with my life's progression--curly haired smiling infant, little girl with pigtails, newly minted boarding school girl 
with awful haircut (my worst stage!), budding teen,  long haired quasi-hippie new mom, professional woman embarking on a career, empty-nester, and now "you don't look your age."

But that's not how my memory works. I can jump from one stage of my life in a blink. I can connect the dots that may seem random. I can move backwards and move forward in time. It seems that the same person who was inside me at the various chronological points in my life is still there. Sure, experience and reflection have added dimensions, but generally I am who I am, who I have always been. And no doubt who I will always be.

So, I don't look my age? Maybe, maybe not. But my mind stores all  the steps along the way, and lets me move back and forth in time.
----------------


* For the record, I was born in February, 1945. You can do the math.
**AS YOU LIKE IT (Act II, Scene VII)
by William Shakespeare


All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.