America Day 33 – Shakespeare House

This is late. It’s inevitable. I just got home from the Shakespeare House at Wellesley.

Five years ago it was the same, but I wouldn’t be writing this for another three hours. I found the time to leave and managed to do so.

The Shakespeare Society is a very old society at Wellesley College. There are no sororities but there are societies. They have a replica of Shakespeare’s birthplace on campus. It’s done up in mock Tudor, made entirely of wood, with a great big fireplace built into it which nobody has ever lit because the whole place would probably burn down if they did. The members of the society are all the geeky fun people I would’ve been friends with at university. After the show on Friday we are traditionally kidnapped and brought there for a party.

This evening I was reminded of my attempt to cook beer macaroni and cheese at about 3am five years ago. It was successful, as much as anyone involved is able to remember it. Most culprits have moved on in order to become astronauts or supreme court judges or leading biochemists. This place isn’t fucking around. These women are being taught by excellent humans, and these excellent humans are doing the best they can to teach well. It’s a remarkable institution, and one that I’m so thrilled to be able to teach masterclasses at. This afternoon I taught a memory class. About ownership of the words in a poem. Trying to get them to know the meaning of the words for them. Helping them learn a frame of memory that is not just about rote. I worked them through sonnet 29.

It’s not one I knew, so I took a walk around the lake beforehand and learnt it as I walked. It’s about an hour, the walk, and it took me the walk to know it, but not safely. Still, I wanted to test the memory methods I’d be teaching empirically, as otherwise how could I have faith that my method works for anyone? I think I gave them a frame. I reckon one or two of them will take on my advice to refresh it before sleep, and test it before opening eyes for two days running. If they do that diligently it’ll be theirs forever. If they don’t it’ll go the way of all short term learns. Three sleeps is how you make a short term learn permanent. Or spongebrain. I’ve learnt it now. Nice to have another one.

I’d have loved to be at this college. It’s remarkable. These young women have such space to create and examine their creativity. There are walls and walls of pictures of significant graduates, in all walks of life, some famous, but many more significant without being immediately recognisable. For every Hilary Clinton and Nora Ephron there are thirty huge influencers who haven’t hit the public eye in the same way.

As we walk home from the Shakespeare House, one of the members tells me how, on the day that the blonde haired entitlement narcissist actually won there was a sense of mourning generally on campus. I get that too. I’m sure there would’ve been a similar atmosphere in the huge branded penis substitute I encountered in Chicago had it gone the other way. But I find a lot more in common with these incisive and unusual thinkers. The president of the society was wearing a “Six the Musical” T-Shirt. I’m happy to lay out my ground – these are my people. I’ve had a fun night, and great chat. Now I’m publishing this with an arbitrary photo.20191004_221241

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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