Tuesday, February 26, 2008

footnotes and beautiful human beings

First of all, my paper is printing, and it's delightfully punctuated by musing footnotes. At least that's how I feel about them right now, high on strong black tea and peanut butter. Essays at this umbilical cord-cutting stage always seem to glow with brilliance and wit, subtle argumentation, panache. It's not until later--usually halfway between turning it in and receiving comments--that phrases somehow clunk up and the footnotes shift to tedious interruptions. Dear me.


The class I teach is moving into a chapter on bodies, selfhood, and the limits of responsibility. Yesterday we discussed first perceptions of other people, how gender and age affect our judgments, and the students were divided. Most of them spoke of their own experiences of being judged (unfavorably) for their youth as camp counselors, sports coaches, and music teachers, or of receiving poor treatment at restaurants and stores. But they couldn't agree over whether public judgment improves throughout one's life or peaks in middle age. Some of them believed strongly that the older an individual, the more wisdom and thus the more respect from society. Others mentioned how we belittle the elderly, view them as less valuable or as entering a second childhood.

Much later (remember my Mondays?), on the bus home, we made a stop to let off a woman with a large stroller and to let on an elderly couple. Recognizing the mother's need for help, I watched the couple on the sidewalk meet each other's eyes, and then the woman bent to help move the baby safely from the bus to the sidewalk. Bundled in long quilted coats and fur hats, the man and woman had deeply creased faces and whispy grey hair. But once they were safely on the bus, I saw the woman turn to her companion and give him such a look of glee, such an eyebrow raised, shrug-shouldered, gorgeous smirk of delight, it took my breath away. The man returned her smile, and two blocks later I had to get off at my stop, reeling with the sharp loveliness of their companionship, their delight at interacting with other people. Oh, to be so blessed in fifty years.


  1. Hey Cindy,
    Great to see you found my new blog and broke it in with the first comment. I like it that our apt has windows in several directions so we get sunlight all day long, although I'm usually not home during the sunlight hours to enjoy it. I love keeping up with you too. For some reason it seems more doable now that I've crossed over. I love getting tastes of grad school life. I'm so excited to be joining that world soon!

  2. oh, I did cut my hair. cut off about 10 inches. Everyone at the salon was like "are you scared?" and I was thinking, "are you crazy? do you know how much work this hair is?"