That Thing You Do

  • Yoga: I've been doing yoga since I was sixteen, since before there were sticky mats, when the only book on yoga that you could find in the local bookstore where we lived was Richard Hittleman's Yoga: A 28-Day Exercise Plan (1969).  I started going to classes when I was in graduate school up on Morningside Heights in New York and the only yoga studio that I could find was at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center down on 24th.  We chanted kirtan in Sanskrit, too.
  • Writing: I started keeping a diary when I was eleven, writing to "Toni" in conscious imitation of Anne Frank's "Kitty" as a way of practicing for when I would be a "real" writer.  I kept a diary all through middle school, high school and much of college, then again when I was in graduate school.  I did Morning Pages every day for a good five or six years, particularly when I was working on my first book.  And, of course, I've been blogging here now for three.
  • Swimming: I swam on the neighborhood swim team from when I was nine and on the high school swim team all four years (two different high schools, in fact; we moved between my freshman and sophomore years).  I even got to be an alternate for the high school state relay team my sophomore year; alas, I got fat after that, but I still practiced my heart out for the next two years.  My best events (i.e. the ones that I got to swim for the competitions) were in long-distance freestyle (200 and 500 yards--this was high school).  I was team captain (co-captain, actually) my senior year.  I still have my letter jacket, even after the decluttering.
  • Teaching: I knew I wanted to be a professor even before I went to college, that I wanted to be an historian from the age of 19.  I've been teaching formally since I was 25, full time since I was 29.  This was not an asset when I was younger, however, as my classmates all teased me for being so smart, but I was still determined to explain to them about dolphins and how holograms worked.
  • Studying languages: I was the top Latin student in the country in grammar and decathalon (according to the JCL competitions) when I was in high school.  I've studied Spanish, German, Ancient Greek, biblical Greek, Old English.  I even passed the language exams in graduate school in French without studying it formally, just from having to read the scholarship in my field.
  • Studying religion: This is my real passion and has been ever since I was 13; I wanted to be a minister at one point, back when we lived in Louisville and the assistant minister at our church was a woman.  I majored in Religious Studies as well as History in college--no mean feat at a school specializing (at least, at the time) in Science and Engineering and coming from a family three generations deep in physicians.
  • Drawing: I found some of my old drawings from when I was younger during the great decluttering this spring.  I took courses in drawing regularly in the summers when I was in college and graduate school.  I used to be pretty good.  I really should draw again.
  • Living abroad: I studied in Cambridge, England for two years as a post-graduate, traveling in Greece and Italy, and even working there on several archeological digs (long story).  I lived in Cardiff, Wales for three years after doing my course work in New York (another long story).  My husband is from England, and we travel to see his family every two or three years.
  • Cooking: I can make a mean Thanksgiving dinner, but my real specialty is cookies.  For one of our away meets in high school, I and a fellow teammate made dozens of cookies in the shape of our school mascot (a sandstorm with eyes and mouth).  Most recently, I baked a gingerbread men army for my Tolkien class (with armor by my husband and son).  I have even published on the religious significance of food.
Mom always used to say, when one of us had a passion for something, "That's your thing."  But if you do it, too, is it still mine?


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