Nob 28, 2005

Encoding the Roll

Excitement, yes. Much more, a conviction that it is necessary. So I doubly have excitement, and I caress it like a bird's torn wing, knowing exactly how angry the feathers are. Today is a day set and reset for heroes. Yet, even with the mythic in both my thesis and pedagogy, I see no compelling reason to dwell on heroes. Rather, I reread Lorca's "En Balcon" because it was trying to say something earlier. But I ignored it in favor of my semestral routine of converting the photocopied class lists into tenable grading sheets.

If I die,
leave the balcony open.

Early afternoon yesterday, I finished encoding the lists for both attendance and grades. I stuck with the printed out grids and the weekly update of the soft copy. Earlier, morning, I asked my mother if she had an unused set of record books. There was an impulse to try something new, or, technically, old. Most of my colleagues still use the standard issue record books. I wouldn't dare dismiss the practice as quaint (though I believe those crazy small columns has contributed to the weakness of my mother's eyes). Nevertheless, I decided not to change horses. Not now. Not even when I'm well beyond midstream.

The little boy is eating oranges.
(From my balcony I can see him.)

God, those names and student numbers took much time! But not nearly enough space. I never knew that the emptiness of the grids - the yet numberless boxes - could fill me with dread. But they did. Yes, excitement. Four months! Literature! Mythology! All the kicking and screaming world and now this chance for me and my students to poke its very belly button with questions. All the rapes of subics and nations, the broken dishes, the morsels of dead and living flesh, loves and sacrifices, all the redeemers and asses, and mass upon mass with chains of fishes and loaves and pockets. Plus - and always plus - so much hope to work with, so much work to hope for. Four months!

The reaper is harvesting the wheat
(from the balcony I can hear him.)

Yet all those empty boxes, how they haunted the moment, how tight they were together. How they stared back at me as with complete cataracts! For her practice, my mother leaves a blank space between students so that she doesn't go wrong when she puts in the grades. To achieve the same effect, my grid just allows bigger boxes and thus, bigger names and numbers. Then the easy sweep of mouse-click calculations. Maybe my own sheet design generated my sudden fear. At the end of the months, these sheets will be riddled with corrections and signatures, various tints of whatever pens within reach. At the end: a hieroglyphic! Maybe some highlights? I looked at all those cellular tabula rasas. I saw them all filled up. I knew it: I would allow no spaces.

If I die,
leave the balcony open!