In Spite of Myself: A Memoir

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I kept glancing behind as I hurried along but there was never anyone following me. To gain confidence I tried singing, but the sound of my voice was more sinister than the darkness itself, so I quickly gave up. A faint light glowed from the fields to my right and more than once I was sure that I saw, lit by a young moon, a still, solitary figure standing there.

In spite of myself : a memoir

Very softly down the glade runs a waiting, watching shade,And the whisper spreads and widens far and near;And the sweat is on thy brow, for he passes even now —He is Fear, O Little Hunter, he is Fear. The ice-bound trees cracked and rattled like the bones of skeletons. I was sure I would freeze to death. I started to cry and the tears froze against my face — little icicles hanging from my eyelids. The wind was stronger now and began to moan and howl through the tops of the pines, a sad and terrifying sound. I was certain at any moment I would be snatched up by that Spirit that hovers high above the trees the half-breeds talk of — that carries you away into the sky at such frightening speed that you burn alive.

And so the energy that imagination generates warmed me, and at last, I could concentrate and find my bearings. Often Mother would join me on her skis, but she also loved taking walks up those same trails. Frequently alone, as her selfish wayward son had less and less time for Mummy, she very seldom wore an overcoat even on the most frigid day, just a heavy tweed suit, thick brogues and flowing scarf. Very thirties, very smart, very brave! I waved at her as I whisked past and out of the corner of my eye I saw her wave back.

When I reached the bottom I looked around, but to my astonishment there was no one there, just an empty hill. I climbed up the trail again on my skis; how could she have disappeared so quickly? Was she behind the wall?

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But there was no door, hole or space into which she could have vanished. Had my eyes deceived me? Had I seen her at all? I kept still and listened for footsteps on the hard crust — there was nothing but silence. The sun dipped behind the mountain and a chill set my teeth chattering. I turned and skied the rest of the way home faster than I had ever made it before. That was all right by me. I adored them all. But to one in particular, a long- suffering cocker spaniel called Scampy, I am ashamed to say I was rather cruel. Until one day I saw something that made me swear that I would never ever hurt an animal of any kind again.

It was dead winter in Montreal, an uncomfortable cold, the roads treacherous, icy — almost impassable — no traffic to speak of.


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I was staring out of our living room bay window onto the streets below. The familiar little horse-drawn cart carrying coal came clattering with difficulty up the steep hill. The same horse, the same old man that had made this trip together winter after winter since time began. The ancient horse, now almost all bones, was faithfully struggling to reach the summit — the old man urging him on with his whip.

But the hooves could not get a grip on the ice. The horse bravely kept up the struggle, slipping backwards as he went. The old man, beside himself, gave the poor nag a severe lashing — but in vain — the horse stopped.

He could move no longer. One last lash of the whip proved too much. His heart cracked as he sagged to the ground between the halters.


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  5. It began to snow. It could be the dream we yearn forThat on earth we may never attainBut I know there was love on that islandFor it chased away all of my pain. If you looked through the oaks and the balm of Gilead across the bay from our country house on the shore, you could just see the island. It seemed to float on its own, just a little above the water, not too permanent a thing as if, free of its moorings, it would drift away at any moment. It had a habit of disappearing and reappearing through the mist and beckoning. When I grew older I was allowed to go there with my mother.

    It was like playing truant; it was the most wonderful escape. It belonged to her greatest friend — a lady of similar age with the warmest, most sympathetic of hearts and the deepest, darkest, most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. Her voice was coated with a husky timbre which was not unmusical and in an extraordinary way enhanced her attractiveness; its Creole-like drawl made you want to smile. When she spoke, the world was an easy place to be in.

    In Spite of Myself: A Memoir by Christopher Plummer

    She made me feel as grown-up and as wise as she, and she listened as if I were her only friend. No one wanted to leave.

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    Whenever there was a crowd, Mother and I knew just where to hide. On the way up to the house there was a bridge where we could stare down at the giant lily pads that carpeted the black waters below. There were lots of mysterious paths through the woods with surprise openings where we could both get splashed from the waves crashing against the shore; the swimming hole, with a raft you could swim out to, the stables which housed the ponies, and the inlets through which we would paddle our canoe and watch the bitterns stand on one leg or listen to the long sad chorale of the frogs.

    Polly had the most exquisite eye, and there was always the heady fragrance of fresh-cut flowers that penetrated every room. This enchanted isle would remain for me throughout my life, a hidden world. It also became for me all the islands I never knew, perhaps too far at times to reach, and almost always, a little too wondrous to be true. Lord Ronald said nothing; he flung himself from the room,flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions.

    John Prine - In Spite of Ourselves - In Spite of Ourselves

    When I was 18 years old, I moved to Oahu, Hawaii to pursue my education. It felt good to make such a drastic move.

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    It was also kind of scary. Being from the Washington, DC area, the schools around us are amazing and very prestigious but I always wanted something more. I always thought outside the box. I wanted something different from Northern Virginia. I wanted something different from Washington, DC, and Maryland. My first year at HPU did not go anywhere as I expected. The first mistake that I made was giving my time and energy to a boy that did not deserve it — but he was a learning experience. On top of that, in my first semester, I had three people die in my family. To go through such pain alone was excruciating.

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    Having to deal with a person who was mentally and physically draining and dealing with the loss of my family was too much for me. I started eating a lot to deal with it. I know it sounds crazy, but food is something that always made me happy. I ended up gaining 40 pounds during my first semester. Instead of the freshman 15, I had the freshman With all this going on, it was so hard to focus on school, so my grades ended up dropping extremely low.

    By the time I returned back to Northern Virginia to visit my family for Christmas break, I felt like I was a complete failure to them. My parents had sacrificed so much just to send me to school in Hawaii. I decided not to tell them about my first semester because I felt like telling them about it would only make them feel ashamed of me. I remember crying every night about how badly I had messed up my first semester.

    I remember praying and asking God to make sure that parents would not find out about my grades, or the things that my ex-boyfriend had put me through. Every night, I would replay my first semester in my mind and try to come up with possible solutions to make everything better. I never came up with anything, until New Years.

    I remember new years eve of We were counting down until midnight, and I started thinking that even though my first semester was completely garbage, I still made it. I had made it. In spite of everything, I was still here. It was as if something in my mind clicked and this energy just rushed through my body. I knew that I was going to be ok.