Progress and Reading 

Day Nine: When people ask me what I do, my answer is that I am graduate student studying English at a State University. Of course, mostly this means that some people think that I am mentally correcting the way that they speak, or am silently amused or annoyed by the way they use the language. And while inspiring self-consciousness in other people is fun for about a minute and a half, I actually have better things to do than to mentally grade the way people talk. ("You get a B- for the grammar of that sentence, but I'm afraid you get an F for originality. Begone foul abuser of English Tongue!") In fact, as a word nerd, I like the creativity of non-standard uses of English. Phrases like, "All your base are belong to us" is a source of enjoyment, not an opportunity to be a pompous idiot.

English majors are not the appointed guardians of language, and those you do critique the way people speak may have good intentions, but are really killing the life of the language and are fixing it for the grave of obsolescence. Besides, this is not what English majors do anyway. My insufficient, oversimplified definition of what an English scholar does is basically this: they take a "text," which can be almost anything, and interpret it to reveal the hidden layers of meanings behind it, or interpret it to reveal its simplicity, or reveal its comment about the human condition--whatever the hell that is. Of course, to oversimplify the oversimplification, English scholars "interpret texts."


With this in mind, I am going to interpret a 'text' for you, thereby showing you an example of what a Graduate Student in English might be doing instead of inwardly laughing at your use of spoken language. In this case, the text the above photograph. You can see three main elements: my feet, a book, and my computer. There are other elements involved, but I choose to ignore them.

The feet in this picture symbolizes my walking all over campus today. I went to the housing office, the financial aid office, and the disability services department today, something that is at least a couple of miles of walking. The book represents my studying. I need to do much more of this in the coming days. And the computer represents the writing that I will be doing in the future. Of course, these elements can combine. Walking involves "putting one foot in front of the other," and this is, metaphorically speaking, what I need to do with my papers. I have several miles of text to plow through and, like walking, I need to pick a path and start with the first step. The book operates the same way. I could go even further with all of this, perhaps suggesting that the window represents my "looking toward the future," or that my office represents an attachment to school and work. But, I think you get the idea.

Here is what I still need to accomplish in the next few days: read my Victorian Book, file my taxes, and investigate my registering for summer term. I need to meet with a financial aid counselor to discuss getting a loan, and I need to see about getting some personal counseling off campus for the next term. Today, I turned in my Leave of Absence From and my Housing Petition. I met with the Disability counselor again. And, I read more of my Victorian Book. Tonight, I will clean house and do laundry. (And if there is any time, I will update my comic with a quick picture.)

06 April 2005
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