the Advocate

So, at Harvard things were upside down.

I finally found my place with other smokers on the undergraduate literary magazine, The Harvard Advocate.

I met a man there who rocked my socks. He brought to mind the high school English teacher. Mr. Gould (now decesased) at Kent School, with whom I had been completely obsessed and infatuated. I was cold from being kneed in the crotch as a child and didnt have any boyfriends at Kent. For this reason I had spent my childhood reading all the time and was brilliant with words (and also math): when I got on board with the Advocate in the fall of my junior year i was writing a computer orogram that generated 2 paragraph esssys in input poetry.

My father was a leading light in hi-tech at that time. People didnt understand yet about the fallout to family members like myself in the hi-tech industry.

I wasnt so good with hands on experience of life and feelings and human understanding. At Kent at that time the girls lived on “the hill,” at the top of an Appalachian Mountain in Connecticut. 4.5 miles uphill from the boys campus. And I was able to escape male attention for 4 years. With only a few exceptions. I never went for lunch at the boys school, for instance, and when I went there on weekends I was generally ignored. I didn’t wash and I didnt know how to talk. I was British. First generation American. And hi-tech.

Kent School was said to be “based on the English school system.” I dont really know what that meant other than that “Grades” 9 through 12 were called “Forms” 3 through 6 and we had numerical grades 1.0 to 5.0 instead of A through F.

I do know that that information confused my childish mind. The school was also near the lake in Connecticut that we went to every summer pursuant to going there in my childhood when my mother had a nervous breakdown.

My father was a British scholarship student from a very poor family in the north of Engand with a Ph.D. in Physics. My mother was a “Middle Class” (that’s means something a little different in England) socialite. She was a young bride; she disdained to get an American education

So there was a lot of uneality and confusion surrounding my situation at Kent. We were a new phenomenon that wasnt completely understood At Harvard it WAS; BUT NOT AT THE HARVARD ADVOCATE. As for Kent, my brother went for two years and then was allowed to go back home. I was NOT allowed to come back home.

So, I had a TERRIBLE crush on MrGould. Hiswife, Mrs. Gould was also my teaher for a year; to me he –Mr.Gould–represented this kind of ultimate beauty through literature–transcending my stodgy self and working class ties; starting with Pride and Prejudice Freshman Year which for me was a lovely read. Mr.and Mrs.Gould were Anglophiles and I was exposed through English class to my own British culture. Although I didnt really understand this at the time.

When I got to Harvard I started to wash and I had killer preppie clothing and for some reason they didnt kick me out for smoking when I had asked for not-smoking roommates even though I smoked.

All of this leads me to meeting up wirh MrB.Jr at the Advocate Building in Cambridge on a weekday afternoon in the Fall of 1981; after finally having transferred my affections for Mr. Gould to this lovely person (Adam) who literally appeared to have walked off of the pages of a book; and he was talking to me!!! as if I was real!!!

So you, my reader, may figure this moment and how it played out FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.

I have asserted in another post that the Advocate was “a portal” to my future: for better or for worse.

I was thinking of sitting by my self. In the prose board room reading through the short fiction submissions.

Everything changed after that.

If I wanted to be on the Advocate I had to be the President of the Advocate. There were no other rising seniors who wanted the job and the only one who was and did was very unpopular.

I didnt put it to myself that way at the time, but it was the truth.

So, donkey’s years later it comes down to one thing: the page torn from the book in the hallway. I dont know what that book was called and that its probably relevant info. I did know that it was serious and important that that happened.

I tore that page out of that book.

I had rented the building for the summer to a very socially unsympathetic organization. The Advocate was the province of a narrow group in literary and intellectual New York society. A member of the summer renters group left a paragraph long, nasty letter to Polly S., the Managing Editor of the Advocate and a daughter of a prominent family. In the book in the hall. i was scared because I had let that element in.

My fathers father was a socialist dockworker in Yorkshire, England; and I can claim D H Lawrence for cover here. Similarly, through my mother who was connected in an unfortunate way to the nobility in Britain and ectremely aware of literary British gardeners; that was her pleasure; and she made a point of wanting to plant flowers in the dirt outside the front of the Advocate building. Through that I can claim Virginia Woolf also. I didnt know all that about myself in a conscious way then. BUT I DO NOW!!!

So, I tore out that page because I WAS SCARED.

Generally, now, it helps to look at situations in my life that I didnt understand at the time THROUGH the lens of understanding the antecedence of British connections and specifically, the influence of Parliamentary rule.

In other words, let it go. I do. Its been 40 years.

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