On “The Golden Girls”

Hello, there. If you don’t know me or are coming by this blog for the first time, there is something you must know about me: My name is Crystal, I am 31 years old, and I am a massive fan of The Golden Girls and absolutely unashamed of it. Those who have known me through the years know that if they come across a meme of the show, to send it my way. Those who’ve followed me on Tumblr are very familiar with me either reblogging screencaps from the show or posting quotes or even whole conversations (often from an episode I was watching that day). I’ve watched the entire series numerous times since I discovered it. I’ve been known to work random moments from the series into everyday conversations and I’ve even made the occasional reference to it on this very blog!

Today is National Cheesecake Day, and thus it is also Golden Girls Day. (Need I say why?) Today, I’m gonna talk a bit about why I’m such a fan of this show and also talk about some of my favorite moments and episodes from the show. I hope it will help those who know me understand a little better why I relate so much to the show and its characters.

I discovered The Golden Girls a year or two after I had graduated from high school just by randomly coming across it on a channel where it was running in syndication (probably Lifetime). When I made the decision to drop out of college at 19, what I didn’t realize at the time was that it would trigger a period in my life where I was dealing with a lot of self loathing and turmoil. My personal insecurities (shyness, difficulties with talking to certain people, and feeling like I was ugly from a young age, maybe 8 or 9 years old), my difficult relationship with my dad (which I have previously blogged about), and my inability to find or hold down a steady job gave me feelings of depression. I’d cry myself to sleep at night thinking about what I did to make myself (what I thought was) a disappointment in my father’s eye. I constantly felt like I bringing shame on my family because I was so chronically unemployed. I felt ugly, useless, and I felt like I needed to deprive myself of things because I hadn’t earned them. It took a toll on my body, as I gained weight that I am still trying to control to this day. At times, my hair would get so matted that I needed large portions of it cut off (three times, to be precise). There were times where I would go outside on a beautiful, sunny day and I would feel nothing inside; I could see the blue of the sky and the green in the trees, but it was as if my soul could only see black and gray. Thinking about this now still makes me cry. I didn’t have religion to turn to in those times, because I had realized years earlier that faith and prayer had no effect on me or the state of the world and I had decided at 16 to walk away from it entirely. I knew it would provide me no comfort (not to say that it doesn’t provide other people comfort, but I am only speaking for myself here). It was during this time that The Golden Girls would provide me moments of brightness and positivity in what I have otherwise termed “My Lost Decade”. Even though I had memorized so many of the quotes and punchlines, those same jokes would put a smile on my face when I needed it the most. Watching and studying baseball also helped at times, as did knitting. While I’ve never been able to completely proclaim myself happy in that time and while I never ended up seeking professional help for my issues, I’m in a much better place now than I was when I was in my early twenties. My dog looks at me without judgement, and really her coming into my life when she did (in 2010, when I was 23) was one of the best things that could ever happen. I still deal with the insecurity and the low self-esteem at times, but knowing that my dog and (nowadays) my mom both need me at least gives me a little solace.

These days, The Golden Girls is still a morning staple in our house, and even my staunchly conservative father finds a lot of humor in what was then a very progressive show for its time and is still considered quite progressive today. Though it revolved around four older women, the appeal and values that make up The Golden Girls has spanned multiple generations. Its fandom consists of people of all ages, colors, genders, and sexual orientations. Heck, I saw a video on Instagram recently of WWE Superstar Xavier Woods at San Diego Comic-Con where he had found the Golden Girls merchandise section and just listing off how much of the merchandise he “needed”. He explained it by basically saying, “I want to breathe air, I need these Golden Girls shot glasses!” It was a show unafraid of taking on things like HIV/AIDS, marriage equality, and chronic fatigue syndrome when it wasn’t cool to talk about those things. It tackled LGBT issues, sexuality during one’s later years, dating people with disabilities, teenage pregnancy, and even immigration (both of the legal and illegal variety). Its appeal has reached so many people in the three decades since it premiered. Although Rue McClanahan, Bea Arthur, and Estelle Getty are no longer with us, their jokes and memorable moments still seem so fresh that it’s as though they never left. And Betty White is at this point still a living legend; the day she eventually leaves this planet will be a sad day indeed, but her place here will still stay with us, bringing joy and laughter to so many people in her long and illustrious life.

Before I close, I’d like to pay tribute to some of my favorite episodes and moments from the series:

  • “A Little Romance” is my favorite episode of the entire series; it dealt with a lesbian character (an old friend of Dorothy’s) and the passing of said character’s partner with dignity, and although her crush on the very straight Rose was played for humor (mainly because Rose reminded Jean [Dorothy’s friend] of her late partner…and yes, I’ve been in Rose’s situation before, but both situations, on TV and in real life, turned out with a nice positive ending), it still provided for one of the best scenes in the entire series, which I only need to sum up with three words: “Not Lebanese, Blanche.”
  • “Scared Straight”, where Blanche’s brother Clayton comes out as gay. The scene where Sophia figures out he’s gay after asking just a few questions is hilarious (as well as Dorothy mistaking Rose for saying “Blanche’s brother is a hobo”). For the record, Sophia figured it out because she had heard Clayton singing in the shower and she noticed he was “…the only man who knows all the words to ‘Send in the Clowns’!”
  • “Sophia’s Wedding”. The fact that Dorothy caught Sophia in bed with any man (let alone Sophia’s late husband’s business partner, Max Weinstock), Sophia’s answer to what had happened (“Afterglow!”), their wedding with a whole bunch of Elvis 🕺 impersonators as guests (including, if you look closely enough, a young Quentin Tarantino), their attempt at opening a pizza/knish stand, and the flamboyant wedding planner who responds to his referencing Susan Hayward’s speech in I Want to Live (and Blanche’s criticism of it) with “Well, excuse me for living, Anita Bryant!” (Anita Bryant was a singer who did a lot of commercials for Florida Orange Juice in the ’70s and ended up becoming an anti-gay activist during that time opposing a pro-LGBT ordinance in Miami; her ire with the LGBT community resulted in a protester throwing a pie in her face during a speech she was making.)
  • The episode where Blanche dreams that her late husband George has returned from the dead, while Sonny Bono and Lyle Waggoner are fighting over Dorothy. (“Sonny Bono, get off my lanai!“)
  • The episode where Blanche dates a man in a wheelchair (“He suits me to a ‘G’!”, and that’s not a typo. Ladies will obviously get this joke, men will have a hard time finding it. 🤣). She doesn’t dump him for his disability, but because she realized he was already married.
  • “The Commitments”: Dorothy backs out of a blind date and unloads him onto Blanche so she can go see “BeatleMania” at a dinner theater. Dorothy ends up bringing home the guy who plays George (“And Paul, when Ernie’s sick!”), while Blanche falls head over heels for her date Jerry (played by Ken Howard, of 1776 fame…he played Thomas Jefferson in the movie), who won’t even so much as kiss her (let alone go to bed with her, despite her attempts). Sophia gets pissed at Dorothy for bringing home a guy almost as yutzy as her ex-husband Stan (The Once and Future Yutz), and Dorothy ends up dumping him out of sheer embarrassment when he tries to perform his own material (he started with I’ve Gotta Be Me and ended with Everybody was Kung-Fu Fighting, and she left when he started performing “Dot, Dot, what a girl I’ve got…when we shower together we don’t have to turn on Hot.”). As for Blanche, one of her sweetest, most vulnerable moments comes when Jerry tells her that he wanted to take things slow (he and his late wife were virgins on their wedding night) and romance her the old-fashioned way. Blanche later remarked to Rose that she “…felt like a lady.” He gives her one sweet, sensuous kiss before leaving. If there’s one unresolved storyline that I would’ve liked to have seen be resolved, it would be that one, because Blanche ends the series single and the question of her happiness is left unresolved.
  • “The Monkey Show” (Everybody’s got something to hide except for Stan and his Monkey.)
  • And finally…”My Brother, My Father”. When Sophia’s brother Angelo reveals why he backed out on becoming a priest, I end up in laughter every time. (“Lucious lips, a full bosom, and a behind so firm, so round, you gotta fall down on your knees and cry out at its magnificent, regal beauty! I’m a butt man.”)
  • Wherever you are, whoever you are, I hope your Golden Girls Day is filled with lots of love, laughter, and cheesecake.
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    WIPs: Well, You Can’t Win *Every* Game of Yarn Chicken

    Rock Me On the Bias has been coming along well since I resumed work on it. It’s taken me a while to knit in this skein of purple, but it’s in, and I think I’ve about reached the halfway point.

    Unfortunately, I thought I could add one more pair of rows before switching to the white stripe marking the halfway point.

    Turns out I was wrong.

    As you can see, that is clearly not enough yarn to complete two rows of the increase pattern in that color.

    No big deal, though. I’m just tinking (picking out and unraveling the stitches one by one; tink is “knit” spelled backwards) back across this row to the beginning, and then I will join the white to work the next six-row stripe.

    I hope to share even more progress on this soon! In the meantime I’ll continue tinking interspersed with sips of some hot vanilla chai tea (even though I’m normally not a tea person).

    Is This Your Shawl?

    When we last left my shawl, it looked something like this:

    It was a handful of repeats into the pattern, but already showing promise.

    Over the course of 17 days, adding repeat by repeat, it started to look like a nice shawlette. Not a full size shawl, but honestly I’m cool with that because the weather here is (for the most part) too warm to warrant a full-size shawl, but is perfect for shawlettes and triangular scarves to complement a cute outfit or cover a lady’s shoulders when the weather does get a little more chilly late in the year. As the project got wider and longer, I started to worry: do I have enough yarn left? So, I made the decision to insert a lifeline at the end of one full repeat of the outer blue section of the original cake of Mandala (which you can see in the photo above). I got some leftover yarn from the Unicorn Virus shawl and threaded it through all the stitches on my needle…and there was well over 100, possibly 200 stitches in that increase section separate from the edging.

    See the pink yarn there? That’s my lifeline. I told myself I was going to work one last repeat in the blue before binding off, thinking I was going to definitely be playing yarn chicken 🐔 on the bind off…and this was not an ordinary bind off. This pattern called for a picot bind off. That’s pronounced “pee-ko” for you non-crafters, it is a homophone to pekoe tea (sounds the same, spelled differently); picot is French for “pin” and refers to the points that the bind off creates. Basically, you cast on a small number of stitches using the cable cast-on (which creates a small point) and you bind off a slightly larger number of stitches than you have in your point. This project called for a cast on 2, bind off 5 picot bind-off. It took about half an hour of diligent binding off and some listening to Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown on Netflix to make it happen, but it did! (We got rid of our satellite TV this weekend after multiple frustrations with the company; we’re currently on a free trial of an over-the-top service right now for our main TV, but as the app for the service is not available for download on my TV, we’ve decided to switch to the local cable company and we’re gonna have new cable equipment installed on Tuesday. Unfortunately, my TV also does not have a digital antenna plugged in, so I can’t even watch over-the-air programming when I’m in my bedroom, so my TV can only show Netflix, YouTube, and the WWE Network until we get the cable equipment installed.) Here’s a detail of the bind off edge; you can even make out the lifeline in the knitting if you look close enough.

    When the picot bind off was done, this was how much yarn was left over:

    (The bottom pic is a top view.)

    As it turns out, I had plenty of yarn left over, even after the bind off!

    So, here are some pictures of my finished project! First, the specifics:

    Pattern: “Close to You” by Justyna Lorkowska / Yarn: Lion Brand Mandala in “Mermaid” / Needles: US #6 by Boye (6.25 mm), 29-inch circular needles

    (I’ve linked to the Ravelry pattern database page, which is available as a free download from Ravelry if you’d like to knit this pattern yourself.)

    Here are some pictures of the shawl in action! I must say, the temperature was in the mid-80s Fahrenheit when I took them, and I was sweaty as hell! (The humidity made it feel like 90.)

    (I used the side view mirror on my dad’s Jeep for the draping shot, and then for the hands-free selfies, I set the iPad on the lid of our trash can and used the camera timer for each shot. I just wish my boobs didn’t look so big in these shots! 😂🤣😂🤣)

    I had a lot of fun knitting this one! The colorway kept me interested, the stitch pattern was somewhat simple, but still enjoyable to knit, and I loved the asymmetric quality of the pattern. I’ll be resuming work on Rock Me on the Bias soon, but I just want to revel in the awesomeness of this one just a little longer.

    Just Like Me, They Long to Be…

    Well, I finally got a chance to make a yarn run for the first time in a long time this week! I was able to make it to my local Walmart Supercenter, my first time setting foot in it in about 6 months (we’ve been going to a Walmart Neighborhood Market for groceries in that time period, which unfortunately does not carry yarn or books), and I went there because our air conditioner (which was repaired last week) needed some new filters (and as far as I can recall, our Neighborhood Market doesn’t really carry air filters, or at least the ones in the size we needed, 18″ x 18″ x 1″). So, while I was there, I also made the opportunity to pick up some yarn and add a couple of books to my collection (one cake of yarn and the books were bought with my own money; the other skeins only added about $10 to the grocery bill, not a huge dent).

    So first, the yarn (which you may have seen in a layout version on my Instagram).

    I got another cake of Lion Brand Mandala, this time in a colorway called “Mermaid”.

    (Apologies for the bad lighting here; you’ll get to see a better picture of it a little later in this post.)

    I knew as soon as I had started my Unicorn shawl that I wanted to knit a shawl in the same yarn, but in another colorway. Oh, and I love that this colorway has its own emoji as well, 🧜‍♀️.

    I also picked up some more Red Heart Super Saver for Rock Me on the Bias, which is still very much in progress and nearly approaching the halfway point (but I think I’ll hold off on posting a WIP pic for that one right now). Again, apologies for the bad lighting.

    The solid one is Soft White (which I’ve been using as an accent color here). The pink variegated is called Tourmaline, and then the purple and orange one is a Red Heart Stripes in Flamenco Stripes. You may see more of these in a future post.

    (And you are not seeing things: that is a Bobblehead of Curt Schilling, a Buddha, and a Hawaiian hula dancer on my windowsill. The Buddha is there for financial good luck, as supposedly he is at his most powerful on a windowsill. Okay, I’m superstitious, and I will readily admit to that.)

    Now, I do have a WIP on the needles, and it is a knitted shawl pattern called “Close to You” by Polish designer Justyna Lorkowska. Her pattern (whose Ravelry page I am linking to) is available as a free download on Ravelry, but if you’re in the position to where you’re able to buy patterns, I strongly suggest you at least check out her pattern store, where she has all sorts of shawl and hat patterns available for purchase. Her original pattern uses fingering weight hand painted yarn (The yarn for the shawl shown on her pattern page was actually hand-painted by her own husband!), but several Ravelers have used Lion Brand Mandala and larger needles to a very nice effect in their own projects. I’m using U.S. #6 circular needles (4.25 mm, as these are Boye needles) and I’m already into the second color on this cake, which goes from dark blues to light blue to white to gray to lavender back to the dark blues.

    The bottom pic here shows the transition between the first color in the cake and the second (which is a darker blue).

    I am a handful of repeats into this one, which calls for 19 repeats of the edging (a 12 row pattern repeat that I already have memorized, and I only cast on for this yesterday) before a picot bind-off, but if the wingspan (for those of you non-crafters, this refers to the length of the shawl from end to end horizontally) is a little short for my liking, I do have enough funds available for a second cake of Mandala if needed. The structure is basically an asymmetrical triangular shawl knit from end to end, a structure I have never knit before. (For comparison, the Unicorn shawl was a triangular shawl crocheted from the center out, and I have knit a few shawls in this style in the past as well.) I’m a bit excited to see how the gradient plays out with this one (especially since it’s being knit in a completely different style, direction, and structure from the Unicorn Shawl)!

    I also bought two more books for my collection, although I won’t be reading these immediately. I am still in the midst of A Farewell to Arms and have Lord of the Flies, Catching Fire, and The Fountainhead to read before getting to these books, but I’m still glad to have added these two to my collection. I teased at these on my Instagram feed as well.

    Looking for Alaska by John Green

    I am familiar with John Green, but not in the way that most people are used to. I discovered the Crash Course series of videos on YouTube a couple of years ago and have watched or attempted to watch several of the video series on there, including (but not limited to) the Astronomy series (hosted by Phil Plait), both World History series, and all of the Literature series (those series being hosted by John Green himself). It has introduced the phrases “…and it’s not cursing if you’re referring to a donkey…” and “…unless you’re the Mongols…” to my lexicon. I first heard of John Green’s books through their film adaptations, The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns (though I haven’t seen either film), but I had never read any of his books. I’ve found out that Looking for Alaska was Mr. Green’s first novel. I’ve been assured by Cassidy of A Raisin’ in the Spun (via Instagram) that it’s a good place to start, and I’m gonna have to take her word for it, as she is a huge John Green fan. I’ll see if this leads to me wanting to read all of his other novels.

    All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

    This one is more of a wildcard. If my memory serves me correctly, this book was in a Recommended list on Goodreads because one of my favorite genres I had selected was Historical Fiction. This novel revolves around a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy and their unlikely bond in the midst of World War II. I had never heard of Anthony Doerr before seeing this book pop up on my list, but the plot overview interested me enough that I added it to my “Want to Read” list. I think these two books should round out the reading list for the year pretty nicely, and perhaps if I come into enough money, maybe I’ll be able to make a whole new haul for next year.

    If you didn’t get the reference in the title, it’s the title line in the chorus of the song “Close to You” by The Carpenters. I’ve had this song playing over and over in my head since starting the “Close to You” shawl, both in The Carpenters’ version and in the style done by (the now husband and wife pair) Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis in character as Michael Kelso and Jackie Burkhart in an episode of That ’70s Show (in a fantasy sequence where when he sings during a dinner party the line, “In your eyes of blue”, she corrects him by saying, “They’re brown!”, and he replies with, “I know” in time to the music). I tend to associate a lot of things with music, if you hadn’t caught on to this blog by now. Have a great day, everybody!

    Cool as Ice*

    So, the repairman finally came over to fix our air conditioner yesterday. He arrived around 10:00 yesterday morning. It took him about 20 minutes for him to set up his equipment, and then he was able to get to work.

    So, rather than writing a whole essay about what happened, I’m gonna sum it up with some bullet points.

    • We went with a locally-run independent company to have our AC assessed and repaired. The founders of this particular company have also worked as firefighters, which is pretty cool, and it turns out our repairman was a veteran of the U.S. Army. He and my dad were exchanging stories about their service; I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here before, but my dad served in the United States Marine Corps in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Our repairman looked much younger, though…he looked a bit closer to my age, if maybe just a little older.
    • I also have to get this out of the way: our repairman was quite cute, too. I decided to keep this to myself.
    • The first thing our repairman did was work on the outdoor unit, where the compressor needed to be replaced, as the original one was shorted to the ground. It looked like he needed to roll it on a small cart due to its heavy mass. This part of the job took the longest amount of time to perform, maybe a couple of hours.
    • Then he had to come inside and remove and clean the coil in the indoor unit. It turns out it wasn’t quite as dirty as originally thought, but a cleaning was still a good idea.
    • The next thing he had to do was reinstall the cleaned coil. And while he was at it, he also patched up what seemed to be insulation on pipe in the indoor unit.
    • After conducting a few tests between the indoor unit and the outdoor unit, he was finally able to get the whole thing running.
    • Most of this whole time, my mom was sleeping, while I managed to read some more of A Farewell to Arms. I’ve read about 100 pages so far.
    • The room temperature was nearly 90 degrees Fahrenheit when the air conditioner was finally turned back on.
    • It wasn’t until about 10:00 last night that the room temperature finally came down to its normal 74-76 degrees, and I can finally stand in the kitchen again without feeling like I’m in a hellfire.

    And that’s how the story ends! Hopefully we won’t need it repaired again for a very long time!

    * = previous working titles for this post were “A Peon for Freon” and “A Paean to Freon”. Neither title quite worked for me after I thought about it for a bit.

    Florida is a Cruel Mistress

    Why is that air conditioners in Florida always seem to choose to break down in the summer? Or in this case, very close to it?

    In Florida, as well as in the rest of the South, many of us rely on central air conditioning to keep cool during the summer. Here in Florida, we normally only use the heater during the coldest months of the year, usually from late December through February; and in our house only when the outside temperature is going to dip down into the 30s Fahrenheit or lower, as without heating it brings the room temperature down into the low 60s…a bit too cold for us to handle in the winter. Right now it is June, and we are in the very last days of spring here in the Northern Hemisphere approaching the Summer Solstice. Although it will start to feel like summer in the more temperate latitudes, here in Florida, where we are is part of the subtropical region of the Northern Hemisphere. Summer for us began about a month or so ago. Daytime temperatures this time of year are typically in the low 90s Fahrenheit during dry days and the upper 80s when there is rain involved and it gets even hotter as the summer goes on. Floridians typically enjoy their air conditioning or the occasional breeze, though the breezes here in the summer are more for the moving air than any sort of cooling effect.

    Well, guess what? The compressor on our air conditioner broke! It broke this morning and tripped the circuit breaker going to the air conditioning unit. My dad spent all morning today trying to diagnose the problem. First, we thought it might have had something to do with the circuit breaker and that we were gonna have to replace the whole panel (because the one we have is old and obsolete). Then we thought it might have had something to do with the central unit itself (which is stored in a closet space in our kitchen, and the thermostat is on the other side of that wall, over in the living room). Turned out that looked okay. Then finally, my dad checked out the outside unit, and it seems that the compressor on the outside unit has blown. (The compressor helps make the air going inside cold.)

    Now, my dad is pretty adept with tools, but even he had to admit defeat on this one, as he’s not trained in air conditioner repair. He said he’s likely gonna have to call for a technician to come over and change out the compressor for a new one. It’s not gonna be cheap. I have no clue how long it will be before our AC is fixed. In the meantime, we have fans running in most of the rooms, the fan of the AC unit running (thankfully, that one still works, so we get a bit of air moving from the vents, even though it’s not cold air), and the window unit in the master bedroom is on (which is how we dealt with some of the unbearable heat that ravaged our house during the post-Irma power outage last year), so that anyone who wants to sleep in there (thankfully, tonight is Saturday, which is when my dad normally stays up all night to prepare his internal clock for his work week that begins on Sunday nights, so he likely won’t sleep in there until tomorrow morning at the earliest) or just get into a cool room for a few minutes can do so.

    However long it takes before our AC is fixed, it’s gonna seem like a long time whether it’s a few days or a week or two from now. Until then, my family and I will have to keep living the reality of this meme:

    To those of you with a working air conditioner as the summer approaches, consider yourselves lucky! Hopefully ours shall be fixed sooner rather than later.

    June 12: Anne’s Legacy

    The 12th of June marks the second anniversary of the PULSE nightclub massacre in Orlando, which I wrote about extensively last year in the entry “PULSE: One Year Later”. Two years on, we as region are focusing on how to live with the pain and sadness the events of that day has left with us, and those most deeply affected by it are continuing the healing process day by day.

    Today I would like to focus my writing on another victim of hate, one who made her legacy by just trying to survive in the most difficult of situations and writing vividly and truthfully about her experiences. Anne Frank was born on this date in 1929 and would have turned 89 if she had survived to the present day. Of course, she is best known for the diary that she kept during the years she and her family spent in hiding in her father’s office building in Amsterdam in order to escape from the Nazi regime that had been occupying the Netherlands at that time. She began her diary just a few months before going into hiding, a diary which had been given to her as a gift for her 13th birthday in 1942.

    Her family (consisting of Anne, her sister Margot, and her parents Otto and Edith) went into hiding in the summer of 1942 after her sister Margot had received a call-up from the SS (although Anne was not informed of this until they were on their way to their arranged hiding place). The Frank family were joined by her father Otto’s business partner Hermann van Pels (who was given the pseudonymic surname “Van Daan” In Anne’s diary) and his wife Auguste (“Petronella Van Daan”) and son Peter (who also only received a change in surname in her diary). They were later joined by an eighth person, Fritz Pfeffer (“Albert Dussel”). All through their ordeal, their sole contacts with the outside world were a trusted group of employees of Otto’s and Hermann’s who provided them with food, supplies, educational materials for the three teenagers, and even the occasional stash of yarn. (Seriously! Anne Frank was a knitter! In one of her diary entries, she talks about asking one of the helpers to bring her some wool so that she can knit herself a jumper/sweater to help her keep warm in the winter. She begins knitting said jumper in September 1942. There is also a photo of her from 1941, aged 12, knitting. Based on the image, she was right-handed and a thrower.)

    Anne maintained her diary from 1942 until just days before she and her family were arrested in August 1944, beginning the last tragic act of their fate as victims of the Holocaust for all but one of those eight. The group was detained at Westerbork transit camp in the Netherlands for a month following their arrest before being sent out on literally the last train to Auschwitz, a notorious concentration camp in Poland. The men and women were separated upon arrival, the last time Otto Frank would ever lay eyes upon his family. Anne was spared from the gas chambers that day because she had turned 15 just three months before arriving; due to his age and his slight frame, Anne falsely believed that her father had been killed. In October 1944, Anne and Margot Frank and Auguste van Pels were transferred to Bergen-Belsen in Germany, while Edith Frank stayed behind, dying of starvation in January 1945, just three weeks before the Allies liberated Auschwitz. Both Anne and Margot contracted typhus at Bergen-Belsen, and the two sisters died within weeks of each other in February or possibly March of 1945. The Allies would liberate the camp in April 1945. As for their fellow annex-mates, Hermann van Pels was gassed to death in October 1944 at Auschwitz; Fritz Pfeffer died at the Neuengamme camp in Germany from illness in December 1944. Auguste van Pels was transferred to Buchenwald just weeks before the Frank sisters’ deaths, and then was (according to an eyewitness) murdered by Nazis during transport to Theresienstadt in what is now the Czech Republic, about a month before the Allies liberated that camp. The last to die during the Holocaust was Peter van Pels, who is believed to have died at Mauthausen camp in Austria sometime between 11 April 1945 (when he was listed as being transferred to the sick barracks there) and 5 May 1945 (when the Allies liberated that camp), at just 18 years of age. Otto Frank was the only member of the group to survive the Holocaust.

    Otto received Anne’s diary from one of the helpers, Miep Gies, after the war. She had not read the diary in order to prevent it from being used to incriminate anyone. When he finally read her diary, he decided to translate it into German for some relatives in Switzerland. The relatives convinced him to compile his late daughter’s writings into a manuscript as a testament for those who suffered persecution under the Nazis, and so he compiled and edited the manuscript himself for publication. It was eventually accepted for publication in the summer of 1946 and released in June 1947 as Het Achterhuis. It would receive its first English publication in 1952 as The Diary of a Young Girl. Otto remarried to a former neighbor and fellow Holocaust survivor in the early 1950s, and would spend the rest of his life living in Switzerland. He made it his life’s work to honor his family and friends who had died in the Holocaust and to preserve the memory of his daughter as sort of a monument of what the Holocaust had stolen from her: not just her life, but also her ambitions and her potential.

    Anne’s story is only one of millions whose lives were stolen during the Holocaust, but hers is one of the most widely-documented and also one of the most relatable. A lot of this is due to her young age. She kept her diary between the ages of 13 and 15, and in those two short years, she managed to grow along with her writing and it became much more introspective in the later entries. She explored a lot of issues and feelings that so many girls deal with at her age: boys (including a brief infatuation and a few shared kisses with annex-mate Peter van Pels), periods, sibling rivalry, and personality conflicts with a parent (in her case, her mother, with whom she had difficulty connecting with; Anne had an extremely close relationship with her father, who she affectionately nicknamed “Pim”), just to name a few. Although she loved movie stars and had pasted pictures of them to the walls of her bedroom in the secret annex, she had aspirations of becoming a journalist after the war (as written in her diary on 5 April 1944). She had such an astute skill in observation, even if the “story” she was observing was just her everyday life in hiding and her reactions to developments in the war going on around her. She probably would’ve made an incredible journalist, much like Nellie Bly before her and Christiane Amanpour after her (which would’ve been an incredible accomplishment as a female journalist). The Nazis took all that from her, and the only crime she was guilty of in their eyes was that she was Jewish. That is the only reason why Anne Frank did not get to live to fulfill her potential: she was Jewish and was under the rule of an oppressive regime that believed that the Jewish people were not worthy of fulfilling the ridiculous vision that their hate-filled leader had for his “Thousand Year Reich” that would ultimately last all of 12 years. In those 12 years, 6 million Jews (about two-thirds of the European Jewish population at the time) would be murdered at the hands of the Nazis (most of them systemically between 1941 and 1945). Millions more Roma (Gypsies), handicapped people, ethnically Polish people, LGBT people, chronically ill people, political opponents, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Soviet POWs would also die at the hands of the Nazis during that time.

    Anne Frank’s legacy is not just a testament to the persecution she and millions of other European Jews faced as a result of the Nazi regime. She also left a legacy as a female writer, writing about her own truths and experiences in a way that became so accessible to readers all over the world, especially girls the same age range she was when she wrote her diary. I first learned of her story in an issue of Reader’s Digest when I was about 8 years old, and it has stuck with me all these years. Her story inspired me to keep my own diary as a tween and teenager, writing about my own experiences and feelings that I went through at that age and trying to make sense of news developments during my growing up. Even now, her story inspires my desire to keep blogging. Essentially, Anne’s diary was way ahead of its time, serving as her blog to her own experiences during World War II. The only differences between a diary and a blog are the medium and the audience: a diary generally is handwritten for an audience of one, while a blog is digitally written for an audience of many. Thanks to Miep Gies preserving it and Otto Frank compiling and editing it for publishing, what began as Anne Frank’s diary has become a bestseller and a forerunner to what we know today as the blog. And it is a work that continues to enlighten and serve as a source of inspiration for young writers everywhere. Anne Frank did not die in vain. And because her story continues to be told, the Nazis failed in trying to extinguish the voices of her and millions of other European Jews.

    I know this post was a long one, but her story is one that has always grabbed me, first as a young person, and then as a woman, and now as a writer. I close this post with the picture of her I mentioned earlier in the post of Anne at around 12 years of age in 1941, knitting.

    (I think Anne would’ve absolutely been amazed at how much knitting has skyrocketed in popularity these days. And also at how colorful a lot of today’s yarns are.)