And so here I sit in this conference-type room (formally referred to as a Seminar Room on the plaque outside the door) in Susquehanna Hall, the building for the Department of English at the University of Maryland. It is rectangular with a long, oval cedar desk in the middle. The desk is surrounded by too many gray and blue checkered office chairs on wheels; lining the sides of the room are even more seating amenities, only they are solid navy blue and lack any implement of easy motion.
At the front of the room is a tiny chalkboard–green, not black–blocked partially by a screen pulled down from above. On the screen is projected an image of the University of Maryland homepage. There is a small, black TV on a stand caddy-cornered to the right of the board. The walls are a light blue, almost gray, dirty and knicked, clearly by the backs of all these chairs. The far wall from the entrance features a window overlooking the construction being done on the back end of the campus, behind our building. On the parallel wall hangs two boring impressionist prints–one a Bonnard, from MoMA, the other, laden in pink and green with orange fish in the center, is from an artist unbeknownst to me.
On the wall adjacent to the window hangs two other prints; these, however, are clearly from the Harlem Renaissance. One, of faceless African-Americans in brightly colored suits dancing the night away; the other of a group of African children, seemingly embracing. They are smiling. The depiction of the subjects is reminiscent of Modigliani.
Across the hall from this room is the Teaching Assistant’s office; there is a constant stream of young scholars-to-be flooding from its door.
When I first entered the room it was occupied by two women–one a pretty blond in a blue tank-top who was too busy writing to notice my entrance; the other a rebellious type covered in tattoos and piercings. Her short spiky hair is half yellow and half pink. I remember seeing her at orientation. She has a piercing in her cleavage. Since, the room has filled with a variety of students–currently ten total. I seem, based upon appearance and the overhearing of conversation, to be the youngest in the room. No one is shy.