“January draws this bright line down the new page I take to write.” James Merrill
February 17, 2008
I wanted to write my virgin blog on January 27 because it was the date of a memorial gathering for Diane Middlebrook, brilliant biographer, teacher, and treasured friend who died December 15, 2007. The line from Merrill was chosen for the ceremony by Diane herself because she liked to begin new projects in January. I had taken Diane’s poetry classes at Stanford and for many years we were members of a biographer’s seminar celebrated for providing the warm criticism and inspiration that launched many books--my own included.
Another reason I wanted January 27 was because on that day I was halfway through my 80th year. My problem was I couldn’t begin my “bright line” because I couldn’t decide whether to put my actual birth date on the author’s biography side of this page and come out of the closet with my advanced age. Instead of “Born July 27, 1927” I could fudge a little and write “Grew up in Los Angeles in the great depression of the 1930s” or simply claim I was “thirty” as all the RedRoom staff have done. (I checked dozens of RedRoom bios. Surprise! More women than men ducked the age issue.) Wouldn’t you think by the time you’d lived X number of years, you’d consider it an achievement, not a handicap? Well, no. The yearning for youth persists as does the feeling of not wanting to be pegged as old.
So, why in the end did I decide to put my age up front? Because I’ve always loved writing or saying the sequence of sevens: 7/27/27 and because as a biographer the first thing you need to know is when and where your subject was born and into what family situation. And besides, who was I trying to kid? On Valentine’s day, I had an MRI brain scan to rule out a tumor as the cause of those flashing migraine aura lights and patterns in my field of vision. Good result: tumor ruled out. Thrilled to join this community, I’ll take my new page mid-February.
Causes Anita Feferman Supports
American Civil Liberties
American Friends Service Committee