Friday, March 21, 2014

I Am Who Is Supposed To Be Here (Greenblatt Lecture)

Saw Stephen Greenblatt speak at school Tuesday. It was what you might call "a big deal."Greenie is arguably the most famous living person in English academia. He helped invent new-historicism and write intros for Shakespeare plays in anthologies. I knew it was biggish, but I suddenly felt lameish when I realized everyone entering the reception sported ties and blazers. I was coming straight from class and sporting my giant stuffed to the gills lilac backpack. I was modeling the latest spring fashion of an oversized grey sweatshirt. Boop.

I edged around the sides at first, thinking I might be able to get inside and nab a seat, be largely unnoticed, but I saw a small pool of my peers hanging out by the refreshments and laughing over mozzarella kabobs. I saw a basket filled with assorted crackers and eyed my favorite snack ever: those sweet little brown digestive wafers! Any shame I had flew out the fancy windows as I picked through the basket and elderly women in cocktail dresses sullenly snorted "excuse me" into my behemoth knapsnack.

I had a pretty rad realization. "Hey," I thought, "I am who is supposed to be here." I am a student, getting my degree at this educational institution. The lovely people surrounding me were all very respectful of the man we came to hear, of the event itself, but I was actually in the first on this one. I have a big heavy backpack because I'm at school all day working and learning. I wear cozy clothes because I make peanuts and I drive a scooter that gets everything I don a little bit dirty. It was okay to be me. I felt good. I wondered if I ever mentally hold people to standards they weren't meant to meet. "I'll try to be better," I resolved.

Greenblatt was Greenblah. The man, the myth gave a (what I consider) a half-hearted look at storytelling and aging, mostly via King Lear. It was eh and my middle-age I-Teach-Persuasive-Speaking peer texted me during it, "Where are his signposts?" Everyone's a critic.

I didn't stay for Q & A. He hadn't charmed me enough. As I skittered out I noticed a table of assorted cookies for a post-talk reception. The tray was barely big enough to feed a fourth of the people in the room. I considered leaving the treats for the real academics of the night who stayed until the bitter end. But then I saw the most delicious-looking black and white cookie I've ever laid eyes on, so I scooped it up and gnawed at it as my peers and I walked back to our respective vehicles, laughing into the Arizona dusk.

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