05 November 2014

Aimee's Adventures Away from The Maine Page Turner, and What She Found There

Yup.  This post is late.  But better late than never, right?
As George Harrison once sang, "It's been a long, long, long, time..."

Yes, friends, I've taken a bit of a sabbatical from The Maine Page Turner.

I have a few excuses It happened for a few reasons.

1. At the time of my last posts, I was in the thick of reading for the Maine Readers' Choice Award.  So, I was reading a LOT, but I felt that if I wrote either positively OR negatively about what I was reading, I would either be boosting OR downplaying the books that were in the final running.  Within the scope of my role with the Committee, I didn't think that was ethical or appropriate.  My job was to read many books, and then recommend (more or less silently) a handful of them to be considered by the Readers of Maine.  My conflict about endorsing or otherwise commenting on the books made me silent and unsure of how to proceed.

2. I decided to learn German.  In March I made plans to visit a dear-friend-of-25-years, and his family, in Germany.  He speaks perfect English, and his wife's English is FAR AND AWAY better than my German, but I still devoted myself to spending a significant amount of time, each day of 2014 to exercises in German via Duolingo (which I cannot recommend highly enough). Is my German great? Not yet. But it was a terrific goal for me.  Now I'm continuing my learning via Portland Adult Education.

3. I had a physical injury.  This wouldn't seem like something that would in any way stop me from blogging, but I did fall into a bit of a mental funk after a freak accident that caused a significant tear of my left Achilles' tendon.  I was on crutches for a month and a half and in physical therapy for three months.

4. I simply needed a break.  I had been writing, almost without fail, one post per week for 18 months.  That may not seem like a lot, except that I was also nearly always reading a whole book upon which I built each post.  Now, I love to read, but that's a pretty big commitment, and I needed to cut myself some slack.  So I did.

Last month I went on an 11-day trip that was, in every way imaginable, completely rejuvenating for me.

Truly, there were storybook moments.
I didn't just see Germany; I experienced the culture, graciously hosted by my kind, generous, and adventurous friend. I experienced a different lifestyle that was a delight to me: staying in their lovely flat, eating "foodie" family meals cooked with love and care, riding public transpo EVERYWHERE.  I saw and did things I had previously only seen in books.  I felt at times like I had walked into a fairy tale, or at least into my own dream of what Europe would be like. At least twice I burst into tears simply at the beauty and wonder of it all.

Just a SHORTLIST: We saw the Altstadt of Nuremburg. The Brandenburg Gate, the Bust of Nefertiti and Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin.  Lubeck, the breathtakingly charming medieval seat of the Hanseatic Empire (and a UNESCO World Heritage Site).  We went to the Frankfurt Book Fair  walked across the Eiserner Steg, and enjoyed the Deutsches Filmmuseum in Sachsenhausen.  We took the scenic Deutsche Bahn along the Rhine River Valley to Cologne Cathedral. In Amsterdam, we saw the canals and the Rijksmuseum, and ate one of the best damn dinners I've ever had. We went to the Gutenberg Museum. We even went to the Opera. I barely slept, but I slept enough.  As Thoreau might say, I "sucked the marrow out of life."

I had the opportunity to step away from my "normal" life and analyze my day-to-day routines and choices.  For the first time in more than 13 years, the only person I was REALLY responsible for was myself.  I allowed myself to be vacant from my family, and give myself an honest-to-goodness VACATION.

My friend is a lively conversationalist and one of the most intelligent people I've ever known.  To say our talks were inspiring is to underrate them.  To lay out so many of my intellectual struggles or disappointments, and to receive, in return, constructive criticism, possible solutions, and encouragement has been a tremendous gift.

And baby, I'm BACK.

I return to my family and my life here renewed and refreshed. I have made an excellent recovery from my leg injury. At my friend's kind urging, I have a list of worthy goals, and I am taking active steps along the paths of those goals.  The time to act is NOW.  

I hit the "F5" button for my life.
Something about me is fundamentally different.  In a very good way.

While in Berlin, we had lunch near a university where my friend had done some academic work years ago.  In the pavement were squares etched with all the keys of the computer keyboard.  

Suddenly I felt compelled to find the F5 button - the refresh button. 

Because this experience was a Life "F5".


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