Becoming What I’d Like To Be

I thought I’d recycle this post from January 13, seeing as I’m in Amsterdam and the themes have been on my mind:


Miep Gies died last week at the age of 100. I’ve known her name since The Diary of Anne Frank came crashing into my life as a little girl and left me forever changed. I’m not sure I can name a book that has had a greater influence on my life, and I’m sure I could walk out my door right now and find five people to say the same thing without leaving my block. In my upcoming memoir, I write briefly about the psychic imprint Anne left on me. If it hadn’t been for the heroism of Miep Gies, who rescued the papers off the floor of the annex where Anne and her family hid for two years, the world would be a different place.

A striking example of the far reaching influence of The Diary of Anne Frank can be found in Ted Conover’s book Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing. Newjack tells the story of Conover’s year as a maximum security corrections officer. In Sing Sing, he meets a prisoner convicted of armed robbery and keeplocked for extorting other inmates. The prisoner has tattooed down his back these lines of Anne Frank’s, translated into Spanish:

When everybody starts hovering over me, I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I’d like to be and what I could be if…if only there were no other people in the world.

Above is a page scanned from my scrapbook from days long gone, when I did things like backpack around Europe by myself. My friend Garrett and I flew from Rome to Amsterdam and with all the hell we raised there, my most memorable moment was my tour of the Anne Frank House. Winding through that tiny attic, I felt the full import of my own freedom.

My gratitude to Gies… there aren’t words.

One thought on “Becoming What I’d Like To Be

  1. Dear Jillian,

    I haven’t read your book yet, I am snowed under with my final thesis for universirty, and I am saving it for the 1st of September! I am a huge fan of your blog though, and I would just like to say a few things:

    1-You have a wonderful family. I know this sounds odd, but my fiance and I both want to adopt, and we find very little support amongst our friends. The stuff we hear is deeply offensive and ignorant! I stumbled upon your blog after reading your Modern Love entry, and became a huge fan. I could not wait to show your beautiful writings on adoption and the pictures of your gorgeous son to my fiance! We are huge Weezer fans too, so please say hello to Scott 🙂

    2- I read in a previous post that you will pass through Vienna soon, this tugged at my heart. I am originally from Brazil, but I lived in Vienna for 8 years, and although I now live in London (and love it), a part of my heart will always stay in Vienna. For me the most magical place is the huge Staatsoper building and the Cafe Central… If you get a chance, go have a look and whisper hello from the to those magical places 🙂

    Have a lovely time on your trip! 🙂

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