Serendipitous text day, today. Started yesterday actually, when one of
the cohort at SU distributed an email to the grad list asking if anyone was
interested in a scattershot of duplicate journals she had–JAC,
Composition Studies, Business something or another, CCC.
Excess copies of a smattering of non-sequential, eight-year-old journals.
I clicked on reply, politely accepted the copies of JAC and
Composition Studies. Already had the copies of CCC (maybe), and
decided the business items wouldn’t get any time because my reading list has
grown immensely in these four months. I ‘d swear the heap of reading grows
by four books every day and reduces only by a chapter or two–the pattern of my
low-effort break, anyway.
I lumbered up to the office for some pre-term PDFing around noon today,
grabbed the journals from my mail slot in the lounge, and set to leafing through
the tables of contents. First pick: JAC 17.1 1997. A couple
of interesting finds, but most notable was a review of JoAnn Cambell’s edit of
Gertrude Buck’s work, Toward a Feminist Rhetoric: The Writing of Gertrude
Buck. What. have. we. here? See, I just signed up to give an overview
of Campbell’s book on Buck for CCR611. Actually, the bit will cover the
historiographic method employed by Campbell. Picked it from a generous
list of histories of comp; grabbed up this text even though I read it late in
the last century (spring of ’99) for EN555M, a seminar in feminist composition
history. The review, by Virginia Allen, introduces several sharp bits on
"excavating our disciplinary roots." Allen’s review is duly generous to
both Campbell and Buck; jogged my memory, too, about Buck’s vexing "organic
scientism"–tendencies to lever metaphors of nature and evolution (growth?)
against the logics of biological and human sciences. No need to go farther
with this just yet, and, of course, I’ve said very little about Campbell’s
method, so that remains–among many other busy-makers–for the weeks ahead.
Ph. wrapped up the ELA testing at school today. Stands for something
like English Language Assessment, I think. Basically, it’s the New York
battery for assessing reading comprehension and writing proficiency among the
state’s eighth graders. Typically, Ph. is resilient when treated to school
pressures, but before setting out on Tuesday, he expressed nervousness, mentioning that the teachers have kept saying over and over how important the test was.
No surprise. The local TV news even ran a report on Monday night urging
parents to make sure their eighth graders went to school on Tuesday.
Interview with a local school administrator: "If your eighth grade student goes
to school only two days this year, Tuesday and Wednesday should be those days."
Reported (with images of a shiny glassed-in showcase filled with CD alarm clock
radios and televisions) that the students had been enticed to prepare for the
language test with raffle tickets in recent weeks.
Notably the exam fails to invoke any of the intelligences led on by
the poor odds of winning cheap electronic gadgets.
But that’s not what I meant to write about. I wanted to say something about the Spanish-English dictionary…my Spanish-English dictionary from ninth grade–a cheap, plastic-backed edition, pocket sized. Ph. had been using it for Spanish class. Before break, he took the small book to school where, well, it disappeared. No trace. I fussed and fumed, a mundane parental ritual over stuff that gets lost without explanation. "Better find it!" (or something nearly as serious). So today, two weeks past
the formal infraction and processional of loud-voiced how-could-yous, Ph. said
he was walking past an open, unattended locker and there, among the clutter at
the bottom, was the dictionary. Aqui!
Rather than latch on to it, he continued to class, set his books down,
and returned to the locker where, now, the girl whose locker kept the book, now
stood, readying for her next class. Ph. took the book, kindly explained
that the book was his. How do you know? "It’s got my dad’s name on it." And so he made away with the lost book, now found.
I asked about the signature. "My name was on the book?," I said. "How’s that?" Ph.: I wrote it there. Good thinking: my name, in scribbled pencil, there, on the rough top edge of the pages. Buen provecho.