Friday, April 08, 2005

You say that so often.

It's not fair! They save seats! The old people! They save seats! I showed up for class ten minutes early and still couldn’t find a seat at the tables. I had to sit in one of the chairs in the back. And they still call out, “Louder!” in the middle of a peer poem recitation because they can’t hear.

Anna Lisa is the only other darkhair in the class. When I pointed out this phenomenon, she explained in a mock older sister tone, “Well, it’s the senior lunch room. Think if your days were empty how much you would value a seat at the table. You’ve got to earn it.”

I love this class. I just recently learned the phrase, “Zen moment.” It is a moment in which you are so perfectly focused on only the task in front of you at that moment that you don’t even realize the perfection until you’ve stepped out of it. I used to feel this way on the softball field. Dr. Bray’s, Dr. Montgomery’s and Dr. Bushnell’s classes were like that. I’ve felt that way singing in close harmony with people. This class is a Zen moment. I totally understand why the old people want a front row seat. Richard Fadem is pure entertainment to listen to. He is the quintessential literature professor. His passion is for the English Romantics. On an island of people wearing jeans and fleeces, he shows up for class in pressed khakis and a university shade of maroon sweater with the cuffs and collar of his white button-down shirt peeking out. He has long, wavy hair that crests back from his hairline. Well, in the fifties, it would have been considered long but doesn’t actually touch the base of his neck. He has a beautiful voice with an accent that is a blend of a Southern childhood and a youth spent in New York. It’s almost a refined nebbish speech pattern. Like Woody Allen if he were totally comfortable with himself and his place in the world. He has an almost regal stature; it’s definitely like a celebrity has walked into the room when he arrives. I’ve definitely seen some of the women leaning too close to talk to him and tipping their heads as they laugh at his anecdotes. He’s probably in his early to mid-sixties. He was a young professor at Columbia University in the Sixties. As we discussed the Romantic use of birds as symbols, he confessed to us that he has “a dread of birds.” He talks about the emotions that Yeats’ use of liquid L’s evoke. When most high school kids plagiarize in papers, it is because the books that they are researching in phrase the information so succinctly and directly that they are loathe to rephrase it in their own ungraceful syntax. Richard talks spontaneously like the best writing. “In this poem, Yeats is speaking not only of physical beauty but also of the cultivation of courtesy, high-mindedness, intelligence [two more perfect words that I couldn’t write fast enough to catch] that it takes to be a woman.” Stunning word choice through the entire two hours. I love this class.

I will totally be a half and hour early next week. Maybe I’ll even save a seat for Anna Lisa.

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