If you are new to Sharon Wheatley’s blog, welcome! I write stories in “blogisodes”, and to start at the beginning of this story, go here.
I have to rush out of here and go to a gallery opening. Sooooooo New York, right? Here’s the best part. It’s for my brother-in-law, Tony Becker. View his artwork on his website here.
He is a full time artist who lives in Cincinnati, and this is a big deal for him. Frankly, it is a big deal for us, because it is so rare to have anyone from our family in town, especially doing something so cool and New York-y. I love it. I will give more details about the whole thing tomorrow along with pictures, but for now let’s deal with the real issue.
WHAT am I going to WEAR? Truth. This is my first gallery opening and really my only exposure to a New York gallery opening comes from the final season of Sex and the City when Carrie dated Baryshnikov, trendy artist. Remember her gorgeous blue dress, the one she fell asleep in on the bed in that oh-so-fab Paris hotel room? Yeah, I’m all out of dresses like that. Oh man, I’m going to have to do something to my hair and put on makeup and act like a real New Yorker. This is a struggle. I’m taking the kids (this is his idea, not mine!) and they will look great because–of course–it’s fun to shop for them. They are cute and little and fit easily into sizes…and as a bonus, they are both native New Yorkers so they are just a little more chic by birth right. I, Ohio born and bred….I prefer my clothes to feel like pajamas. If only I had a pair of pajama jeans. You know that’s a real thing, right? Google it. I can swear by the authenticity of the pajama jean, but if you put a gun to my head I could not name a hot designer. I really have no business being a New Yorker.
Carrie Bradshaw is probably supervising my move to the country as I type this. Wait! I know! I’ll make up for MY lack of style by taking a stylish and trendy friend to up my cool factor (I’ll just stand behind her). Phone call made. Brynn O’Malley, a beauty and recent TV star, will be in attendance. Hooray! I’m TOTALLY wearing my clogs. Brynn can be fashionable, the kids can look cute. Problem. Solved. This method, by the way, is how mothers everywhere end up justifying wearing “yoga clothes” all day.
I will report on the success of this plan tomorrow.
But now, let’s get to class, because the clock is ticking and I have to get into my fancy clogs, pick up the kids from school, gussy them up, pick up Brynn and Rob, and get to 24th and 2nd Ave by 6. Wish me luck. Oh–sorry–I mean, wish my brother in law luck because it is really all about his art and not my lack of style. Forgot that for a second.
We left off at me walking into Pace for the first day of classes, feeling like an elderly idiot and a bad mother. But still kinda excited. It really all rested on that first class and how the professor and students treated me. If anyone looked at me cross-eyed, I was so outta there and heading to the mall to skip class just like I used to skip my typing class (sorry Mom) or (alternatively) to Arby’s where I used to hang out when I skipped religion class (sorry God.)
Naturally, I was on time. And by “on time” I mean a little bit late.
I walked in and there were about 20 kids in the class, all under the age of 21, and all
looking a lot less than enthusiastic to be there. The professor, a small woman appearing to be in her 70’s was taking roll. There were things written on the board. Other people seemed to be writing them down. I sat down next to the door (just in case I decided to bolt) and pulled out my notebook, my pen, and my reading glasses.
You know, of course, that I was the only person wearing reading glasses, right? Don’t you think for even a second that it made me feel old or self conscious. No, no, no. I fit right in. Exactly the same way that I will “fit in” at that gallery opening tonight with my three-year-old and bad shoes.
Dr. Blumberg got to the end of the roll call and my name wasn’t on it. Why? Oh, because I’d registered two seconds ago because I didn’t fill out paper work. Now I remember.
Dr. Blumberg started with a syllabus and talking about such foreign things as “posting on
Black Board” and “e-reserves”. Everyone else was nodding their heads, yes, yes, they understood. I just wrote these words down and decided that my husband, the college professor himself, could talk me through the technicalities of why something called “Black Board” wasn’t referring to the big black thing on the wall. Welcome to college in the 21st century. I did learn a couple of things on my own. Remember the little “300” number next to the class? That (basically) means it’s hard. Remember the sweet little inclusive “WE” ? Yeah, it turns out that means a “writing enhanced” class. Apparently Pace students have to take a certain number of “WE” classes to graduate with the proper writing requirements. Then Dr. Blumberg talked about how many papers we were going to write that term. I lost track at 50 Billion.
No problem! I’m a writer!
Hey–what does MLA format mean? No bother. I’ll figure it out later.
After talking through the syllabus, which included reading The Grapes of Wrath and Waiting For Lefty and Over the Rhine I was bursting with excitement. Reading BOOK and PLAYS in a history class? What? Dr. Blumberg took a break and while other people rushed off to get some food, I ran down 4 flights of stairs and burst into Rob’s class thinking he was probably on break, too. He wasn’t. But he did introduce me (as he always
does), “Ladies and Gentlemen, Sharon Wheatley.” He knows an actress needs entrance applause. He’s good that way. It’s like being married to Ed McMahon. I sat down and listened to 10 minutes of his lecture on The Black Crook (standard fare for the first day of any Musical Theater History class) and then headed back up stairs where Dr. Blumberg was starting her lecture.
I was on time.
And by “on time” I mean “on time”.
Really. It was a weird feeling.
Dr. Blumberg is fascinated by history, or she fakes it so well that she deserves a Tony award. She jumps around with enthusiasm like she is talking about it for the very first time, yet reads off of papers that are dog eared with age. I don’t understand how she can still love what she teaches, but she does. Her interest was contagious. I paid attention.
This sensation was entirely new….I was….interested. Surely the feeling would wear off (enthusiasm is normal on the first day of school, I told myself) but she kept giving this
mind blowingly interesting information like–did you know that FDR was Teddy Roosevelt were 5th cousins? Okay maybe you knew that. Okay, but wait, it gets better. DID YOU KNOW that Teddy was a republican and FDR was a democrat? You knew that, too. Okay–here’s one–FDR married Eleanor (wait for it) ROOSEVELT who was his 5th cousin once removed and niece to Teddy.
So she didn’t even have to change her name.
And he had a life long affair with a woman named Lucy Mercer who believed in affairs, but wouldn’t marry a divorced man because of her religion. And FDR’s mother threatened to cut him off if he left Eleanor and the SIX kids for Lucy.
No. Way. I had about 100 questions already.
But it was the end of class and we had to go and I wouldn’t be back for a week.
Only 3 hours into college and I already knew so much. I could have a very quick conversation about the Roosevelt family and not look like an idiot (unless it lasted longer than 5 minutes, and then I was dead in the water because I was out of information). My hand was killing me, I think I wrote down everything she said because it all seemed urgent. After class Dr. Blumberg added my name to the roster and I said something really smart to her like, “Me like your class. Much. Bye.”
Oh God. I was that overly enthusiastic adult learner. That was me. Annoying.
Surely it would wear off.
(To read the next blogisode in this series, go here)