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Huh. I read lots of history, and one of my graduate profs, a historian, often says that "The past is a foreign place. They do things differently there." I'm not sure why anyone would have tried to convince you that a great historical revelation is that people in the past were just like us. I think that's absolutely wrong.


Actually, I think seeing how people in history were just like us is part of the appeal of history. Another, equally big, part is seeing how they were different. And maybe the most interesting part, for me at least, is seeing what they can teach us, whether or not they're like us.


I think past people are just like us in rather the way foreigners are just like u.s. -- they loved and hated and were brave and brilliant and mean and stupid. They had sexual problems in their marriages, and abortions (this was really a huge revelation to me when I read an early 20th century woman's autobiography) and didn't always like their children.

But like foreigners, they have a different language and customs and often strike us as having done the wrong thing, mistreated people, made dumb mistakes, etc.

If my mom were trying to relate to my romantic life, I think in a way I'd prefer that she talk about someone other than my dad. That could get too weird.


I remember when you were 20 describing the story of your mom being married at your age. My impression at the time was your sense of divergence from your mother.

My major realization of my parents since that time is twofold.
1. My parents weren't always parents. They were winging it, but my perception until I was 25 or so was that they had always been parents.
2. More recent revelation - since having a child of my own - being a parent involves a lot of work, and your children may love you but they don't appreciate your work on their behalf. As you say elswhere, this is not exactly a new revelation, however tonight I heard a poem that captured the feeling. I can't find it, so I offer another poem - mildly nautical in celebration of your new job - as a consolation prize -


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