Monday, February 28, 2005

It came from the marking pile...

In Distilled Prose last week, my students were given a two-part in-class assignment. In pairs, they were to write a complaint letter on the subject of their choosing. Each pair then received another pair's complaint letter to respond to. The pairs had 30 minutes to complete each component of the assignment.

This one was at the bottom of the pile...

Dear Ms V———:

Your name is too hard to spell. For the convenience of the class members (many of whom, despite being in professional writing, can't write) please eliminate at least two, if not upwards of four letters from your surname. We suggest ditching everything but Erm or Eer.

Think of the advantages: Your name would no longer be called last; your car registration renewal date would change, possibly to a much better and convenient time. And those annoying syllables? Think of the time you would be saving yourself and others around you by cutting your name down to one syllable.

Another bit of ridiculousness that must come to an abrupt halt is your pretentious habit of capitalizing the first letter of "Leslie". Who do you think you are? We don't know who "lie" is, but your insistence of having "les" of her borders on the absurd. It's a self-indulgent number of L's anyway. Two? Honestly. eslie Erm just rolls off the tongue. eslie Erm. eslie Erm. It has a certain amount of quiet dignity, a certain intangible X-factor, a certain je ne sais quoi. Plus it's wickedly alliterative and it's completely unique. We don't think there are any other eslie Erm's on this earth. Even if there were, they wouldn't be as cool as you. Come to think of it, you'd have to be stupid NOT to change your name to eslie Erm.

To conclude, we truly believe that it would be beneficial for you to become known as "eslie Erm".

Sincerely yours,
Pair XY

On my behalf, Pair XX replied...

Dear Pair XY:

Thank you for your letter. While creative and comical, it is completely unjustified. As a full-time professor of the PROFESSIONAL Writing Program, it is my duty to weed out the weakest links. The fact that you can't grasp the spelling of my name goes against every inch of my writer's being. It's spelled just like it sounds.

However, I will concede that others have had problems with the spelling. I also had problems learning how to spell it, but then again I was six.

Your suggestion that having a last name closer to the beginning of the alphabet is noted. However, sometimes they start at the end of the alphabet, in which case "V———" is very advantageous. Moreover, I was named after my great-great-great grandmother and the honour and tradition seem much more valuable than the few extra seconds I would save by changing my name.

As far as your "ridiculousness" goes, Leslie or Eslie is a proper noun, thereby requiring capitalization. You asked me who I thought I was. My answer is quite simple. I am L——— V——— and I prefer you call me that.

Once again thanks for your letter. It's so much easier to sustain the quality of graduates when the "slow" students find me. To learn the proper spelling of my name I suggest you look up my office hours.

L---- V------

So there!
Purple Monday

Stretch your toes up to the sun, to the stars. Open the black night and find deepest primrose inside. There are undiscovered moons. The eyes of evening stretched, squinting: we cannot be seen in the dusk of dreams. Urgent silence. Where have you been walking tonight?

You can see the wrens fluttering their wings, truth beating through the fierce wind, the coy sun. Their voices sound like ghosts and they're laughing. Bring your knife: we will press palm to palm and commingle our histories. White daisies all over the meadow, pinks and heliotrope, violets, phlox, wild roses. Regret nothing. The truth may be inscribed only once.


Now reading: The Elephants of Style by Bill Walsh: a style and usage manual from a Washington Post copy chief; The Courage to Teach by Parker J. Palmer: a meditation on what teaching really means and also the base text for the teaching diamond I belong to; The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant: a fascinating novel about fifteenth-century Florence.

Waiting to read The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, The Dance of Anger, and The Return of Merlin. Et vous? Recommendations are always welcome.

New(ish) listening: How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb by U2 and The Beekeeper by Tori Amos. Listen deep.

"Peace is all around us. In our world and in nature and within us, in our bodies and our spirits. Once we learn to touch this peace, we will be healed and transformed. It is not a matter of faith, it is a matter of practice." —Thich Nhat Han

With love,
the queen of cups

Thursday, February 10, 2005

It's been that kind of week...

Sigh. So glad tomorrow is Friday.

Just for entertainment...

“We should read to give our souls a chance to luxuriate.” —Henry Miller

What kind of magical creature are you?

You scored as Faery.

You are beautiful wonder, and you are very wise, yet young and spontaneous at times. You are kind and sweet, but may be somewhat too deeply involved emotionally in frivolous affairs.

Faery 70%
Troll 60%
Witch 50%
Mermaid 45%
Human 40%
Demon 40%
Werewolf 25%
Vampire 20%

Want to know how you would score? Click here.

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." —Mother Teresa

Off to sleep now...