Nov 12, 2010

Revisiting My Youth

I woke up yesterday morning with a sore throat, which got progressively worse until, by the end of the day, I felt as if I were swallowing razor blades. You know that feeling, right? So, I begged off last night's Skype conversation with my writing buddies and curled up with a book.

It's hard to make yourself write when you're feeling so miserable. So what's a writer to do? Research! Aw, who am I kidding? It's hard to make yourself do research when you're cold and achy. The closest thing to my writing career that I could even deal with was revisiting my past by delving into a collection of reminiscences by fellow alumni of my high school in Beirut. I counted it as research since my next novel will pull from my high school years there.

Every time I think back to those times, I'm overcome with a certain, sweet sense of well-being. I can taste the foods in my mind, hear the pop music, mixed with Arabic melodies and the daily calls to prayer. I smile at the memories of certain teachers, friends, and neighbors.

Mr. Rigler, my English teacher, almost falling off his chair from laughter in the front row of the audience as I performed the part of Agnes Gooch in the school's production of "Auntie Mame." Karen, my sister's non-LDS friend, trying to help me stay a good Mormon by refusing to share the delicious-looking brownies that she had laced with marijuana (unknown to me). (She kept them from my sister, too.) Abu Ali, our landlord, smiling as he watched the antics of his little boy down in the courtyard and then, in the next moment, yelling and cursing in Arabic at a neighbor across the street about some local grievance.

Beirut was like that: smiles and laughter in one moment, curses and yelling in another. Still, it captivated all of us, as I can tell by the stories shared in this collection. No matter where you grew up, there is no tonic for the soul quite like revisiting the happy memories of your youth.

It is no wonder that my throat feels a bit better today.


  1. Those minute descriptions of living in Beirut already create a vivid picture.

  2. I agree with Heather. I hope you're able to infuse your new novel with those kinds of details. It would make for a fascinating read.

  3. I'm getting excited for this new book of yours, Tanya--


  4. I'm glad to hear it would be of interest. Now if only this blasted cold would exit the scene and leave me wanting to write again!

  5. Love your post and visiting part of your youth. What great experiences. Looking forward to your book!

  6. Your youth leaves you uniquely prepared to write for today's world. I am excited to read your next book.

  7. Fun reminiscences. Your phrase "overcome with a certain, sweet sense of well-being" rings so true when I think of the one-big-happy-family ward I grew up in. But I've learned it doesn't exist today. Things change.

    Best wishes with your next novel. It sounds intriguing.


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