Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Serendipity and a diccionario

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 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.

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