Monday, January 14, 2008

Day One.

This is completely not what I'm going to write about in this post, but the title puts me in mind of what is probably the thing that bugs me most about Hillary Clinton: more than the fact that every time she says anything you can see how carefully formulated her answer is so that she can deny she said it later if she needs to, or the fact that she avoids the truth as if it were bird flu, even more than the fact that she's married to Bill Clinton, what bugs me more than anything about her is that she uses expressions like "day one." She's always talking about what she's going to do or what she's going to be ready to do on "day one." I hate that.

Today was my first day of classes. (What a nice word "first" is. It looks nice. It sounds nice.) I have a geology class for non-majors called "Earth, Wind, & Fire." It's everyday geology -- what you need to know about Earth to be a responsible citizen of the planet and fascinate people at parties. I like the professor. He's 60-ish, dry scientist/dad sense of humor.

Just before class started he stepped out from behind the lectern and walked across the front of the room and back. His very deliberate way of walking reminded me of a guy I used to work with who had some kind of nerve condition, and the thought came into my head that he had walked across the room just then to get it out of the way, so everyone could see that he had an odd walk and then he wouldn't be as self-conscious about it. Just as he got back behind the podium, a guy sitting next to me said to his friend sitting behind me, "He walks like he has a wedgie," and his friend said, "Yeah. He probably does."

I thought, "How insensitive and immature!" and had a whole conversation in my head, comparing myself to these guys, lamenting how unkind people can be, but eventually forgiving them because they're so young and I'm so old and worldly and of course I would have more compassion because I've seen more suffering, etc. Then it dawned on me how backwards I had it, that the little storyline I made up for the professor was condescending, that I was projecting my discomfort onto him, when in fact he was probably just walking across the room to survey the class, or stretch his legs, or for no reason at all. And he did in fact walk like he had a wedgie.

I think Spanish is going to be less traumatic this semester. The teacher is from Colombia and has lots of teaching experience. She was at ease in front of the class, and had us all speaking on the first day. Ahh. (I recognized her immediately as the voice of the audio portion of our final exam last semester. Obviously they chose her because she speaks so clearly and beautifully.)

And last today was Introduction to American Studies. The "introduction" is more to a way of approaching a subject than to a subject itself. The subject of the course is Texas history and culture, but we'll be using the methods used by American Studies scholars which, from what I understand so far, combine the critical and theoretical tools of English scholars with those of social scientists. We'll see what that's all about. The professor was impressive, engaging speaker, pointy shoes. I didn't know beforehand that it was Texas course, but it works out well because I have a Texas government class too this semester. By May I'll be a Texas expert. (And the Spanish helps too, since so much of Texas history is in Spanish.)

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