Friday, February 3, 2012

So Glad I Came

Greetings from Cambridge!

I've been trying to remember the last time I was in Boston or Cambridge; I think it might be at least twenty years ago. We came here once as a family when Christopher was a toddler, before Gregory was even born. I know I came here for the APA (American Philosophical Association) convention the year I went on the job market. Those are the only two times I can remember. But once upon a time, when I was an undergraduate at Wellesley, taking a good number of classes at MIT through the Wellesley/MIT exchange program, I rode the bus into Cambridge several times a week for a period of years.

Now I'm back for a blissful weekend attending the symposium Harvard has organized to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of the Grimm Brothers' fairy tales. I flew in this morning and got from Logan Airport to Harvard Square for a $2 Charlie ticket on the T (the ticket presumably named for the song "Charlie of the MTA"). I easily found the charming bed-and-breakfast on Irving Street, near the Harvard campus, where I had reserved my room for these two nights. My room is two flights up, tiny, with a shared bath: exactly what I wanted. A computer is available in the parlor; that's where I'm typing this now. Each room is stocked with books to read (which guests are welcome to take); the parlor also has magazines, including The New Yorker, and newspapers, including the New York Times.

For the next couple of hours I wandered around Cambridge, spending most of my time in the aisles of the Harvard Book Store (not the university bookstore, which is the Harvard Coop). I bought three books: Anne Sexton's book of fairy tale poems, Transformations; Diderot's Rameau's Nephew; and Nancy Mitford's Voltaire in Love. At first I thought the bookstore's relatively small section of children's books boasted no Claudia Mills titles. But then I looked again: two copies of the newly released paperback for Being Teddy Roosevelt - hooray! I asked the guy at the bookstore for a lunch recommendation and he directed me to a place called Darwin's on Mt. Auburn Street: truly excellent sandwiches, plus comfy armchairs for starting in on reading Diderot.

Then it was time for the symposium to begin, in the Barker Center for the Humanities. Two talks today: a presentation on the development of the SurLaLune fairy tale website that contains thousands of versions (and classic illustrations) for dozens of fairy tales - and the keynote address by prominent fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes on the Grimm brothers' legacy in contemporary Germany. Tomorrow there will be talks all day, starting at 8:45 and going until 6:30.

Right now I'm eating moist chunks of apple cake provided by the bed-and-breakfast - and then I'll curl up in my single bed and read some more, probably fairy tale poetry tonight. I'm so glad I came!

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