One of my husband's sisters called me yesterday at about noon, and her timing was perfect. I'm so glad I got to talk to her right before my trip today. When she found out that I might be accompanying her brother on a three-day trip to Amsterdam, she asked me what we planned to do while we were there. I told her that we would only have one day to dedicate to sightseeing (because the other two would be dedicated to the long, long flights--gulp--there and back), and the only thing I knew for sure was that I wasn't all that interested in visiting the Van Gogh museum. Since it isn't tulip season yet, I didn't really know what else Amsterdam had to offer--besides its notorious red light district (and hopefully, some dikes and old-fashioned looking windmills!). My sister-in-law was a teacher at a US Department of Defense school in Germany when she was a young twenty-something (in fact, while she was over there, she met her husband, and they are now the proud parents of five--including triplets!), and she was able to do a lot of traveling throughout Europe. She said that she'd been to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, and she highly recommended that we go to see it.
I had completely forgotten that Anne Frank spent the last few years of her life living in the Netherlands, where her family moved to escape the Nazi persecution of the Jews in Germany. This hadn't even registered with me until my sister-in-law mentioned that the house in Amsterdam in which Anne wrote her diary is open to the public as a museum. I am so excited now for this trip! I read The Diary of a Young Girl when I was a young girl myself, and was so fascinated and moved by it that I've re-read it several times since. I can't even imagine walking through the actual building where Anne and her family hid from the Nazis for over two years, the "Secret Annexe" that was both a safe haven and a prison for a young girl who had so much of her life ahead of her--a girl with a remarkable talent for writing who dreamed of one day becoming a journalist and a famous author.
During the years of hiding in the annexe, Anne not only faithfully kept her famous diary; she wrote many short stories as well. She also had a notebook in which she copied down "beautiful sentences" written by other authors whose books she'd read. I'm actually thinking of doing this now--what a great idea! I am so often blown away by the particular phrasing of certain sentences in books, by the way they perfectly express an emotion or describe a situation, and I like to go back and read them again. Collecting them in my own little "book of beautiful sentences" would make this so much easier.
I have no doubt that had Anne Frank survived the war, the publishing of her diary would have launched a long, stellar literary career. I also believe that if she lived in this day and age, she would have a blog (and she'd have countless loyal followers, surely). Because what is blogging anyway, if not a means of jotting down one's thoughts, interests, observations, and dreams? Blogging is a daily writing exercise, like keeping a diary or a journal. And just reading what flowed from her pen when she was but a girl on the verge of becoming a woman, I can only imagine the impact Anne Frank's adult musings might have had on the world.
While we're in Amsterdam, I hope to give my rusty French another try (it's either that or
Dutch, I guess, and I'm not too fluent in Dutch). I'll take lots of pictures with my iPhone, so look for those on Monday.