Sunday Salon: Mt. Grademore on the Grand Tour

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Papers on Parade

A week ago Friday I gave a final exam to my Intro to Drama students (my last on-site teacherly duty of the term) at 7 p.m.  (Worst. Exam. Time. Ever.)  At 10 p.m. I headed back to my house for some quick reorganization.  And at 3 a.m. I was out the door for the airport.  I've taken Mt. Grademore on a field-trip, you see.  To the beaches of Oahu.

The glass-half-full perspective is that I am grading in PARADISE.  The glass-half-empty attitude, however, primly reminds me that I am in Paradise and all I do is GRADE.

To be honest, the only idyllic sunning Mt. Grademore and I have done in Paradise to date was on last Sunday (hence the lack of a post then, fellow Saloners).  Since then I have been locked up in the apartment, enjoying the heat but barely registering the sunshine while I slog through the endless trails and crags of papers and exams while D is at work.

My only consolation is in the (sometimes unintentional) wit that blazes a comic streak through these assignments.  "Agamemnon," one of my exam essays reflected yesterday, "is more stapled to religion, while Oedipus is hung on it."  Oh, Mt. Grademore, I thought.  Will your delights never cease?

Then I turned the page on an exam booklet to find an essay titled, "How to Sacrifice a Goat."

Me [aloud, alone in the apartment]:   "I don't know whether I can face this tonight."

After hearing the epic saga of the Journey up Mt. Grademore, my friends start sending me comforting links that pose grading as an old-school epic computer game:


You are in a maze of twisty little paragraphs, all alike. The path ahead of you is littered with sentence fragments, left broken and twitching at your feet as their pathetic spaniel eyes implore you to put them out of their misery. Dangling modifiers loop happily through the branches overhead. In the distance, that sound of undergraduate feet has turned into a heavy, erratic thwump - swoop - THWUMP you recognise immediately - it's a badly-indented long quotation, and it's coming closer.

You wish.

A flock of commas scampers past, squeaking in a high-pitched, giggly way. 
>get commas
Tricksy little things, commas. These ones have embedded themselves in the comforting thicket of a nearby sentence.

>search for commas
Where do you want to search for the commas?

>search for commas around subordinate clauses
Surely you jest.

>search for commas prefacing speech
You spy a clutch of young semi-colons here, looking slightly confused.

>get semi-colons
You have the clutch of young semi-colons.

>throw semi-colons in direction of my own writing
I don't think you need any more of those, young lady.

>but I'm a Victorianist!
That's no excuse.

Seriously, though: I could do with a good long vacation in the rolling plains of Good Grammar and Sound Argument.  Or the beaches of Total Frivolity. If I could just get over this last craggy range....

Have I accidentally wandered into the academic version of Pilgrim's Progress?  How grim. I'll be over here by the Slough of Despond.