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Reports of a sort


Tonight I had dinner with former colleagues, so recently "former" that I still felt a part of the group. We were most (two were unable to come) of the women full professors in the English Department at the University of Texas at Austin.

The conversation—about work and balance in a full life, and about being in a privileged position as a professor—reminded me of my late friend Elizabeth Warnock Fernea, author of Guests of the Sheik: An Ethnography of an Iraqi Village, a book that's been in print longer than fifty years. She worked unsparingly as a mentor, teacher, writer, organizer of conferences, filmmaker, hostess of fabulous dinners and parties, good friend. She wrote about women in the Arab world, and gave many women writers from the Middle East a voice in English through translation and finding publishers for their work.

She and I exchanged shopping bags full of paperback mysteries. We didn't always like the same books but shared the enjoyment of losing ourselves in a good read. Neither of us really cared who did it.

I miss her.
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