In the beginning….
When I was in school I hated history. It was dry, boring, and obsessed with names, dates, definitions and facts I couldn’t remember. When the other classes filled up, I wound up stuck taking history for a while in my senior year. The teacher was passionate about history but his almost militaristic teaching style was a huge turn-off for me (I’ve never been great at staying in my place and following the rules) but like other kids in the class, I was too afraid of him not to learn the lessons and pass the tests. I made it through one of the three terms and found a teacher to take pity on me and accept me as a student aide so I could get the required credit for graduation and get OUT of that “H” class.
I figured that I was now safely in the clear and could continue on with what I really wanted to do…music. Music was my life. I got such an amazing high from a good practice and finally getting that fancy flash of notes effortlessly trickling out of my flute. …even if I was less than stellar about doing said practices because they were…practice. Ugh. I practised anyway and studied and then passed the entrance hoops to get into one of the better music colleges in my area. Life was great! I got accepted and was now on my way to a blissful life of learning to be a darn good musician who was going to graduate university and then enjoy my post-graduate freedom with a gap year and head off to Europe and study under some of the best flautists then come back and be the best darn high school music teacher EVER!!! Heck yeah!!!
Wait….there’s a history requirement? Nuts.
Then came college….
I begrudgingly signed up for the dreaded “H” class and hoped it wouldn’t be too painful. In those first few weeks the teacher, a freshly graduated MMus on his way to a doctorate, was about as nervous to be in front of the class as I was wishing I could be elsewhere. …like hanging out in the music department lounge chatting with my new friends about all kinds of new mind-opening and taboo subjects and NOT being here learning about “H” and all those names and dates and definitions and facts and….
Over time, the teacher became less sweaty and stuttery (I really did feel for the guy…I’m sure I would have been just as much of a wreck) and I sort of warmed up to the “H” subject. His class was actually starting to almost be a little fun. We would get story times about the topic we were on and if we caught him in a good mood, we could waste a good 15 minutes of class time asking him about university and his work on his doctorate.
He even took us on a field trip! Note to teachers: never take a bunch of just legal college kids on a field trip the day after Halloween. However, watching my friend turn 14 shades of green in the back of the bus with a wicked hangover from way too many peach somethings the night before and me being the only one who could offer a drink of something to help settle her stomach…peach juice…was pretty amazing. I think I had the stitch from laughing at her for about a week.
Anyway, back to the trip… we went on a nice long bus ride where I got to watch my friend nearly hurl over peach juice and we eventually wound up at a monastery where we got to see all of our history lessons come alive. It was actually pretty cool. It was also pretty cool watching my poor hung-over friend nearly lose it again over the incense in the church and then nearly tipping over the bus when we passed the aftermath of a truck vs a train and everyone ditched their seats to get a look. Maybe this history thing wasn’t so bad.
I didn’t do too bad with that class. I got an acceptable grade, which for me was pretty awesome. In my 200 level class, however, I didn’t do so great and after talking with an admissions counselor at the university I was planning on going to, it was decided that I’d redo my course. Not the end of the world. Then I got horrible news…I developed carpal tunnel syndrome. At the time, it didn’t occur to anyone to teach young musicians that warming up was just as important for them as it is for athletes. Lesson learned. After working with a physical therapist that specialized in performing artists, I was told that if I wanted to have a nice long career with music, I’d have to take a year off of my studies for rest and therapy.
I was heartbroken, but my then boyfriend was there to console and distract me from my frustrations at not being able to practice. I left the music program and focused on my academic classes. Surprisingly, one of them was history, and I actually liked it. Names and dates and things were still hard for me but it was actually kind of interesting…and so was my boyfriend.
Fast forward about 25 years, we now have two teenagers and though I still miss music sometimes, I found a new fascination… Escapism! It makes a fantastic tool when you’re avoiding the hormone storm in the next room. I started fantasizing about a lovely and very extended Greek vacation relaxing on beaches in little villages sipping frappes and exploring ruins. As I read stories about little villages and the ruins around them, I realized that I was actually studying history…and loving it.
The kid who couldn’t get out of history fast enough in high school is now a Mom who uses studying history as a means of escape and is actually loving it. Really loving it. I was borrowing books from the library, scouring the internet, checking out e-books and listening to podcasts and watching a ton of documentaries. I even recently signed up for a free class through an educational site…a class built around a 3d model of ancient Rome from the University of Reading. Me…taking a history class from the University of Reading. I’m hanging out in forums with history buffs and REAL historians learning all kinds of cool stuff about ancient Rome and totally loving it.
Okay…now that you know all about me and my history with history, it’s your turn! How did you get interested in history? Is there a subject you are particularly fascinated with? Are you just getting started? …if so, welcome and enjoy the journey!
Please introduce yourself in the comments below…I’d love this to be a place where we all share and learn because, well…..classical history rocks. One rule, though…be respectful. We’re all here to learn and enjoy the awesomeness of classical history.