Monday, January 24, 2005

Bing! Bang! Alakazam!

One of the constantly surprising and wonderful parts of teaching, now that I've been at it for, er, well, since Clinton's first term anyway, are the occasional students who stay in touch after the class is over. Usually contact is limited to an occasional out-of-the-blue postcard sent from Gettysburg or Seneca Falls. I love these postcards, and have a small stache of them - they prove to me, during the dark tea times of the soul, that I've managed to make something about American history come to life in a powerful way.

Every now and then, I'll stumble into something more constant. One student (now a history teacher) shares my taste in novels, so we swap reading suggestions. Another comes through Indiana once a year and insists on taking me out for drinks and dinner.

One student, the only one to whom I have ever suggested graduate work, asked to read Chapter Two. He called to chat yesterday, raising some great questions and even throwing my suggestions to him back at me. Conversation then turned to Chapter One. "Oh," said I, "it's a mess. The ideas are there, but badly organized. It needs some serious revision before I'd let you see it."

"Really? Oh. Well, I'd love to see it when you can. Based on what you've said in Chapter Two, I assume that you explain Historical Event X and Historical Trend Y and their connection to your topic. I just read a great book about Y and saw a documentary on X, and they sound very interesting."

My advisor (may he live forever) agreed with me that Chapter One was a promising train wreck and should be ignored for a while and allowed to percolate, as neither of us had a clue how to fix it. Did explaining Event X and Trend Y and their connections ever occur to us? Nope.

Said former student has just secured a place in the acknowledgments.

The cold that arrived on the 13th of January is still with me. No, I didn't use the pills, syrup and batteries to make methamphetamine, though that might have been a more effective use.

Words Written: none, but I'm pretty psyched to tackle #1 again!
Lessons Graded: twenty-nine


Hugh said...

"stash" isn't spelled "stache", but it should be. . . .


Rachel said...

I actually loved the word "stache" - an amalgam of "stash" and "cache" that points out, yet again what a strange language we speak when "sh" and "ch" can represent the same sound.

And espeically since both words have a similar meaning!

Hugh said...

I just remembered that "stache" is a slang abbreviation of mustache. I told you that story to tell you this one: Eons ago, when I was in 1st form (age 11), we were have a class spelling bee. As it came around to me, my word was moustache, which I correctly spelled the American way. The class (all boys) laughed at my silly mistake, but I pleaded my case with the (English) English teacher (fortuitously named Mr. Friend), and he allowed as, since I was an American, my spelling was correct. And I was vindicated.