If Style

Two full days this week—Tuesday and today—occupied with reading and reviewing student work means I am almost (almost) finished with the spring term. Today’s workday consisted of reading final projects and exams for ENGL328—a pleasurable enough undertaking all unto itself that it was not exactly a relief when my dentist’s office called late morning to offer a wait-list invitation for a 1 p.m. cleaning. Needed a break anyway: sure, I’ll take it.

Talkative hygienist talked: about a pain-free gum-poke test she would administer, about the relatively unkempt upper-outer-left region, about how that was because I was right handed, about the Chinese lanterns she’d used to decorate the vacation Bible school classroom where she’d spent that morning, about how I was her first patient of the day, about slow-notice children who saw and asked about the Chinese lanterns for the first time today, about how it makes no sense that EMU needed to raise tuition this year, about etc., about etc. For the price of clean teeth, an hour of arhetorical listening, I kept thinking. And then back to the office for two hours or so of more work.

Gems from the exams included one poignant opening paragraph that described exactly what I understand to be the value of this version of ENGL328. Another had the momentarily-profound-seeming typo, Elements If Style. And then there were sentences that rattled around in my head all day after I read them; one about how for the interdependence of writing and living this was a class in “radical biology,” another about how teaching well means constantly sending sound lines through the water. Rattling1: an inversion of Rich’s “You must write, and read, as if your life depended on it,” as “You must live as if your reading and writing depended on it.” What is a pulse, anyway, if not streaming cardiovascular inscription? Rattling2: for the adrift, academically and otherwise, sonic confirmation that there is an uneven floor beneath these immediate surfaces. And so, yes, a delight to read, a short term near-complete, and, next, in less than 1000 minutes, summer vacation, a few weeks of summer R&R (Rest and Relaxation, better described as Reading and Research).

Minor Blues Pattern

“Comin’ Home Baby” because it’s EMU’s Homecoming today. The Eagles football team enters the noontime kickoff (underway!) versus Ohio U. on a 15-game losing skid. Something tells me EMU has a good enough chance this homecoming of breaking the minor blues pattern that has become known as “the streak,” a bad luck stretch of albatrossian proportions. For my part, I will not be attending the game; I will remain warmly ensconced in front of my computer, responding to a series of inquiry memos from 326ers and then preparing for the first of two observed class sessions on the calendar in the week ahead.

Grading in the Sunporch

I was just thinking that academic types don’t mention grading often enough, especially in late April. A measly 50% of tweets and status updates from my network of peers mention grading–astonishingly low!

Right now I’m in the sunporch, grading. I would post about this to my Twitter account, but for this I need more than 140 characters. It’s a longer trip all the way around these ideas I’m having.

Here are a few of the grades FERPA will allow me to share:

  • B- to my deteriorated spelling skills. Here I thought “sun porch” was one word.
  • Make that a C+ because I had to look up “measly.”
  • F to the cooling fan on my five-year-old Vaio laptop because it sounds like a motorboat engine. All the time. The Family Finances Committee says my new home computer is on the list of “Things To Buy When In 2018 We Get These Student Loans Paid Off.” Fie!, fiscal conservatives!
  • C- to the rest of the laptop for getting me this far. I mean it: thanks!
  • C to the unsightly water-stained hole in the ceiling above my head. The exterior was repaired; the interior left like a monument to water damage, intact.
  • A to family, except, why is nobody home right now to nudge me through these fits of procrastination?
  • C- to Yoki, the dog so conflicted as to whine when inside because he wants out and to whine outside because he wants in. Any more whining and both of us will be crying. The C- also goes for that smell.
  • B+ to the bug carcasses in the shaded corner on the indoor/outdoor carpeting.
  • A to temperatures adequate to warrant grading in the sun porch on a Sunday afternoon.