New: A Religious Autobiography From “Interesting Times”
“May you live in interesting times.”
That’s a curse, remember? And 2016 marks fifty years for me among Friends–a half century of almost nonstop “interesting times.”
I’ve begun putting my experience of this era on paper, in a “religious autobiography, called Meetings. It’s now available.
If I believed in reincarnation, I’d be burning incense & spinning prayer wheels asking that on the next go-round, could the higher powers arrange for the times to be possibly a bit less interesting? Say with fewer wars, more time to catch my breath, smell the roses, take the long walks on the beach–
In the early 1830s, a young man went to sea, hoping to make his fortune. A Presbyterian by birth, he read his Bible each night in his shipboard hammock, and he was haunted by a verse in the fourth chapter of Proverbs:
“Wisdom is the principal thing: Therefore, get wisdom: and with all thy getting, get understanding.” Wealth, the youth piously decided, was nothing without this seasoning of wisdom. But where was such a combination to be found?
Presently his ship sailed into the harbor of Nantucket Island. Nantucket was then a wealthy and vibrant community, built and largely populated by members of the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers.
For Friendly Summer Reading: Two New Books — Quaker Stories & Friendly FAQs
#1– So you know I’ve been interested in Quakers and Quakerism for decades. I began exploring this interest by writing stories about Friends in 1977. Beginning in 1989, I was asked to read my Quaker and other stories to campers and adults at Friends Music Camp, at the Olney Friends School in Ohio, where Friend Peg Champney was the founding Director. I’ve been invited back to read more of these stories every summer since. Now I’ve collected nineteen of these stories in a new book, “Posies for Peg.”
“Myth, Reality & The Underground Railroad” is a usefully humbling piece in the New York Times for Friends about the Underground Railroad: scholarly work shows that most runaways did it largely on their own, a great many whites exaggerated or invented their URR support after the Civil War, and that actual white URR activists were often valiant, but relatively few in number and were marginalized & vilified by both respectable folk & dangerous mobs.
<< Here’s my life. My husband and I get up each morning at 7 o’clock and he showers while I make coffee. By the time he’s dressed I’m already sitting at my desk writing. He kisses me goodbye then leaves for the job where he makes good money, draws excellent benefits and gets many perks, such as travel, catered lunches and full reimbursement for the gym where I attend yoga midday. His career has allowed me to work only sporadically, as a consultant, in a field I enjoy. >>
Yeah, okay. Here’s my life as a published writer:
I’m now retired. I get up when I need to. I live pretty cheap, within the Social Security checks that come in monthly. As a result, I can write full-time and FTW.
The output? In two years – plus, five book titles. More to come, until something gives out, probably me.
Ann Bauer continues:
<< All that disclosure is crass, I know. I’m sorry. Because in this world where women will sit around discussing the various topiary shapes of their bikini waxes, the conversation about money (or privilege) is the one we never have. Why? I think it’s the Marie Antoinette syndrome: Those with privilege and luck don’t want the riffraff knowing the details. >>
Well, crass or not, you, dear readers ain’t riffraff, and I don’t mind you knowing a few more details.
First point: I am NOT Marie Antoinette.
My current “simple luxury” way of life is, as mentioned, only a couple years old. And before that, I had to work. Help raise four kids. Cope with various ups and downs — getting laid off, divorce, publications folding under me,presidents named Bush, wars, rumors of wars, yada yada.
And even so, I wrote and published a bunch of books. (I mean, who needs to sleep?)
On February 1, 1965, I was arrested in Selma, Alabama with Dr. Martin Luther King and 250 others. Here’s what happened that day, and how I ended up eating Dr. King’s dinner.
I – Blocking the View, Blocking the Road
That morning, I was too tense to eat. Keyed up and ready, my thoughts were full of armies marching to battle.
It was February 1, 1965. I was part of a nonviolent “army” – or at least a battalion – set to march in Selma, Alabama that day. Our objective, the territory we hoped to occupy, was downtown, the Dallas County jail; we planned to capture it by getting arrested.
My first book was published in 1967, and I haven’t really stopped since. Most of them have been either self-published or issued by small presses. That reflects both my stubbornness in the face of publisher bad judgment (i.e., rejection), and a preoccupation with niche subjects (e.g., Quakers) plus hopeless causes (peace, civil rights, ending torture). It hasn’t been all “vanity” — some titles have sold several thousand copies, and overall, I haven’t lost money on the efforts. Nowadays — hallelujah! — self-publishing is a mass phenomenon, and (almost) respectable.