An abject failiure? said Virginia. Yes, said Ditto, that’s what the teacher called me. I’ve never heard the word “abject”, said Virginia. “Abject”, said Ditto, refers to someone cast down in spirit, someone reduced to hopelessness and surrender. Really? said Virginia. Yes, said Ditto, at least that’s the way Thoreau uses it. Thoreau? said Virginia. Henry David Thoreau, said Ditto, a man who wrote a book called Walden—my parents have a copy and they let me read it. Was Thoreau abject? said Virginia. No, said Ditto, but near the end of the book when he’s talking about the importance of protecting your thoughts he says, “Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts… if I were confined to a corner of a garret all my days, like a spider, the world would be just as large to me while I had my thoughts… from an army of three divisions one can take away its general, and put it in disorder, but from the man the most abject and vulgar one cannot take away his thought.” How come you can read Walden, said Virginia, but can’t pass the Dibels? I don’t know, said Ditto, I guess Walden is a different kind of reading, or maybe Thoreau has been outlawed.
It’s your turn, said Virginia, I’m sure you’ll do fine.
Alright big-nose, said the schoolmarm, you’ve got sixty seconds.
Read as many words as fast as you can… Begin!
DIBELS Nonsense Word Fluency
bol kiv ul jac lel
fij kug jat oj deg
wav pek yos mub fiv
ec faj vog kif puk
“bol?” said Ditto, What’s a “bol?” Just read the word, said the schoolmarm. But “bol” isn’t a word. Just read the word, said the schoolmarm. But it doesn’t make sense. Just read the word, said the schoolmarm. But there aren’t any words. Just read the word, said the schoolmarm. This isn’t English, said Ditto. Just read the word, said the schoolmarm. Can I use a Rosetta stone? Just read the word, said the schoolmarm. Or the Pentagon’s decoding program? Just read the word, said the schoolmarm. Or maybe a soothsayer? Just read the word, said the schoolmarm. Or a deck of Tarot cards? Stop! said the schoolmarm. Your time’s up! You scored one out of forty, you’re a red light. A red light? said Ditto. Yes, said the schoolmarm, an abject failure, you’ll start intervention in the morning.
Will they kick me out of school, said Ditto, if I fail the Dibels test? No, said Virginia, they’ll put you in an intervention class an hour a day until you pass the test. What if I never pass? Then you’ll be in intervention forever, said Virginia. Isn’t there any way, said Ditto, I can get kicked out of school?
Spring is here, said Virginia, only two months before summer vacation. Summer vacation? said Ditto. Yes, said Virginia. What’s summer vacation? That’s when we get three months off before coming back to school. Coming back? said Ditto. Yes, said Virginia, in the fall. For how long? said Ditto. Until the next summer, said Virginia. And then? said Ditto. Until the summer after that, said Virginia. How long do we have to keep coming? Forever, said Virginia. Forever? said Ditto. Yes, said Virginia, until we grow old.
Hey, a dating site! Maybe I should fill out a profile.
Age: I don’t know, I’ve never cut myself in half to count the rings
Height: I’m not as tall as I think I am
Weight: That’s not polite
Self summary: I’m a sphere whose center is everywhere and circumference is nowhere
I’m good at: Filling out profile questionnaires
The first thing that others notice about me: That I accidentally stepped on their foot
Favorite books, movies, shows, music, food:
books: Remembrance of Pies Past (Marcel Proust), A clean, well-lighted bakery (Hemingway), Where is Ralph Waldo? (Emerson), What’s that in the Attic? (Emily Dickenson), Donkey Hotey (Cervantes), The Idiot’s Guide to Animal Husbandry
music: You can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd (Roger Miller), L’apres midi d’une Trombone (Debussy), Bach’s concerto for trombone and cymbal in C flat minor seventh, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata for Seventy-Six Trombones
movies and shows: Babbling Brook (ambient dvd), Ocean Waves (ambient dvd), Mountain Majesty (ambient dvd), The Jerry Remy Postgame Show
food: organic, sustainably grown, local, free-range, alfalfa-fed pumpkins (from Pablo’s garden)
I spend a lot of time thinking about:
Thermonuclear physics, string theory, the event
horizon, if Pluto is a planet, how many angels can fit on the head of a donkey, what that smell is
On a typical Friday night I am:
Wondering what night of the week it is
You should message me if: You need an empty pie tin, you found my wristwatch, you lost your Wi-Fi connection, you have an extra pumpkin pie
Hmmm, thought Blurtso, another paperclip. You go months and months without seeing one, then you see them everywhere you turn. I wonder if they’re being discarded as the world goes paperless? And soon they will only be a symbol, an icon for attachments, virtual clips attaching virtual expressions in a virtual world… like so many other forms of attachment.
Hmm, thought Blurtso, would you look at that… a paperclip. I wonder how it got here? I’ve never seen Harlan use one, and I don’t think I ever have. It’s got a nice shape. I wonder who made it? Maybe it was a famous artist. I’ve never seen one in a gallery, so I guess collectors don’t call them art. I wonder how they decide? If I made a paperclip, I would call it art. It’s very symmetrical. And elegant. I wish I had some papers to clip. I suppose I could clip some hay…