Sunday, September 18, 2005

This and that

Fall/autumn is beginning to darken the doorway here in Wichita--or, rather, it's just beginning to turn yellow the foliage around that door. The highs are now in the mid-80s, and the morning lows are in the low 60s, just cool enough to make me think that soon I'll have to put on jeans instead of shorts when Scruffy and I go out on our sunrise walk. And I find myself already thinking ahead to the winter, when there'll be ice on the path and sidewalks some mornings, and wondering what shoes I'll need to wear then.

I've not posted in a while. I have no apologies, though: we've hit a nexus here of busy-ness at school combined with the void of Nothing to Write About. But since Tuesday some detritus from the days has accumulated, so I'll share a few things. Then: back to grading papers.

We are, of course, well into the semester here. I think that my classes and I are comfortable with each other now. In two of the three classes, we have a good chemistry; I think the third class is still trying to figure me out. As I mentioned above, I'm in the midst of grading a couple of batches of essays (I'm not behind in my grading, but the explanation is too byzantine to go into in a blog post consisting of detritus), and, as the first batches almost always are, they are, as I'll tell my class on Monday morning, "pretty good for a first batch." That is to say, they are rough around the edges (and, in some case, rather infirm internally as well) but with revision, and the things revision will teach them that they apply to subsequent papers, they'll get better. What else to tell them?

Mrs. Meridian and I treated ourselves to a trip to Book-a-holic on Friday. We've not had an organized book-shopping trip in a while, so this was fun. Book-a-holic is the biggest used book store in Wichita, and the chances of running across the hard-to-find there are pretty good. Witness my finding Lee Siegel's 1999 novel Love in a Dead Language there on this last trip, which I'd heard of before but had never seen in print. Other finds included Paul Auster's memoir Hand to Mouth (not hard to find, but I've just been too cheap to pay full price for it) and a collection of Charles Chesnutt's short fiction not collected in the Library of America edition of his works that I have. I have read a few pages of the Siegel; it is a metafiction in that continuum that includes Pale Fire and House of Leaves. It's visually and linguistically flashy; and, seeing as its core text is a muffed translation of the Kamasutra, it's, ahem, blush-inducing in both physical and intellectual ways. Since, as I mentioned before, I'm still trying to get through In the Fall, I don't have much time to devote to the Siegel novel. Perhaps as bedtime reading.

A brief exchange between Mrs. Meridian and one of her students back on Friday, during her American literature class:

He: I'm not American, Miss--I'm Mexican!! [note: this student was born in Wichita of Mexican parents. Which doesn't exactly invalidate his claim but does let you know what it's based on]
She: Well, then, what will you be doing to celebrate today?
He:
She: Today? September 16?
He: What are you talking about, Miss?

Mrs. Meridian's school is more than 60% Latino, and many are proud of their ethnic provenance, as they should be. Their shaky grasp of the cultural history that comes along with their ethnicity, though, is often surprising to us--and, indeed, serves as parital evidence that they are more assimilated into American culture than they are aware of. That fact is neither good nor bad; it's simply to say that they haven't fully thought through the complexities of what it means to call oneself "Mexican." But then again, who among us, no matter our ethnicity, had done such a thing when we were also wrestling with the much more basic question of what being a man or a woman is supposed to entail?

My younger daughter, C., fears, after seeing a little blood in her mouth after brushing her teeth, that she has "Jeje divide us."

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3 comments:

Storm Trooper said...

You are officially persona non grata. Just so you know, I LIKE Seinfeld despite his bad haircut. Geez.

fearful_syzygy said...

A wha'?

John B. said...

To the curious:
Mr. Trooper thinks it's great fun to visit other Blog Advance members' blogs and post non sequitors in their comment sections. He, of course, is in on the joke; no one else is.