Regular visitors to this blog will have noticed that I have not put up any new posts in the past several days. In part, this is because I have been busy preparing for, and delivering, a ninety minute lecture on Freud and a two hour lecture on Marx. [Yes, even I actually spend time preparing, for all that it may not seem that way as I ramble on in class.] But the principal reason is that the news, these past days, has all been about the horrible catastrophe in Haiti. Blogs are, by the nature, chatty, snarky, personal, opinionated. But in the face of a tragedy of this magnitude [not enormity -- that means something else], I simply have not had the heart to snark or chat. I could, I suppose, go off on the despicable things that Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh had to say, but that is so disproportionate to the human suffering we are witnessing that it seems inappropriate, somehow. Each of us can donate some money to the relief effort, and that is a good thing to do, even though at this time the problem is not lack of resources but the difficulty, not to say impossibility, of actually getting them to the people who need them the most. So I have been silent.
Today is Susie's birthday. She and I were both born in 1933 -- she on January 16th and I on December 27th. Each year, there are twenty days when we are the same age. Here is an odd fact that I do not know quite how to explain. My father's father, the socialist leader Barnet Wolff, was a year younger than his wife, Ella Nislow Wolff, although when Ella was in her nineties, a quarter of a century after Barney died, she tried to shave a year off her age. My father and mother courted at Circle One of the Young People's Socialist League [YPSL -- hence they were known as Yipsels]. She was born in 1900, and he in 1901, so she too was a year older than he. When I fell in love with Susie in 1948, I was fourteen and she was fifteen. At that point, I did not even know about the ages of my grandparents. Go figure.
Anyway, I bought Susie a really nice present for her seventy-seventh. It is a necklace of what are called "African trade beads." These are brightly colored beads, made in Venice and elsewhere of glass and other materials and brought by European traders to the West coast of Africa, starting in the fifteenth century. They were traded for slaves, ivory, gold, and other "goods," and then were re-traded into the interior, where in some cases they came to be used as currency. Susie saw the necklace in a Carrboro bead store a few weeks ago and admired, it, but the price was outrageous, so she moved on. Generally speaking, it is considered rather gauche to tell your wife what you paid for her birthday present, but since Susie likes a real bargain almost more than she likes the present itself, I told her I had bargained the store down to about 40% of the asking price, and that considerably added to her pleasure.
Well, while we wait for the outcome of the Massachusetts by-election, I shall go back to preparing next week's lectures.