So this is grad school. Part 1…

Let me preface this by say I scored a one hundred – perfect – on this particular entry. I didn’t know what that hell to do or say, so I had a little fun with it:

Assignment: Read “Suzi Writes a Poem” by Jessica Helen Lopez starting on Page 20 of Huizache. If this poem were an essay, what would its thesis be? Explain, using textual evidence from the poem. This is due on February 6. 

What I heard in my head: Bobby write a thesis; write a thesis Bobby.

OK. I haven’t set foot in a classroom in more than 20 years. It has been a while since anyone tossed around such collegiate terms in defining what I should write. I’m used to ledes, pull quotes and inch counts (and yes, that first word is spelled correctly for a newspaper man; bonus points if anyone cares to tell me why). Perhaps I might benefit by refreshing the old memory on what, exactly, this term actually means.

Hello, Google…

“A thesis is a statement or theory that is put forward as a premise to be maintained or proved.”

OK. That’s a bit vague. Got anything else?

Example: “His central thesis is that psychological life is not part of the material world.”

Really? Of all the words on the planet, that’s the best you could come up with?

Synonyms include “theory, contention, argument, proposal, idea, claim, premise, assumption, hypothesis, postulation, supposition…”

OK. A bit better. Maybe it will all make sense if I just read the required text.

Hello, Amazon…

What? No Huisache? Google? Nope…

I bet the bookstore has it. OK. Put on pants. Yes, I was typing without pants. Sue me. It’s one of the luxuries of an online class. Hair? Eh, screw it. I’ll wear a cap. Keys? Check. Wallet? Check. Pocketknife? Check. You never know when you might get the urge to whittle. Climb into truck. Drive to college. Walk in bookstore…

What? No Huisache? You’ve got to be kidding me…

Desperate email (and, yes, pants are firmly fastened at this point): Hello prof? “I’m having fits locating the Huizache 2015text on the required reading list. What is that? A book? A journal? Magazine? Any direction you could offer would definitely prove useful…”

Response:Huizache is a journal published at UHV. Go to the Center Building Room 301 or https://www.uhvconnect.org/store/ViewProduct.aspx?id=5059896 to buy.” Let’s see… I can wait three to five days for the mail to deliver it or just drive my ass back to school and get it now. Let’s go with the latter.

OK. “Center Building Room 301.” I’m betting that’s the third floor. Let’s see. That place doesn’t have three stories. Nor that one. By process of elimination, you must be it…

Park truck. Hike 8.4 miles to front door. Why on earth does one door automatically open and the other not? That’s weird. Oh look, a reception desk let’s test our theories thus far…

Yes, Room 301 is indeed on the third floor. You can take the elevator… Damn, doors just closed… It’s OK, it’s just three flights, right?

Plod, plod, plod, plod…

Plod, plod, plod…
Plod. Plod. Pant…

Plod. Pant. Pant, pant…

Pant, pant, pant…

Throw in a few les and I’ll be Peppy La Pew’s oafish American cousin. And damn, I’m only on the second story. Maybe I’ll wait for that elevator now while I catch my breath…

There it is. Destination zero. I found it! Plod, plod, plod…

Open door… There’s no one here… “Hello?” I hear some tiny voice from back in the catacombs. I walk that way…

Now call me ignorant South Texan. A dumb redneck. No really, I don’t mind. But I’ve been pronouncing this Huisachething as WEE-satch mentally all day. You know, the thorny bushes that plague our pastures in this part of the world?  The spikes blast straight through most work gloves right into your fingers, which, in turn, fill with this nasty yellow pus at each puncture point come Day 3 after working around them. Why would they name a respected literary journal after such a horrible specimen of the plant world?

They didn’t, some frail little 13-year-old with dirty blond locks from behind this massive desk corrects me. “It’s pronounced Hwee SACH ay…”

Sounds like some snooty-falooty mixed drink, if you ask me. A designer handbag, perhaps. Maybe some French delicacy made of snails or goose livers. Whatever. I’m here to get the damn thing, regardless of which syllable you stress. “I’d like to buy one,” says I. “I need it for class.”

“I’m sorry,” tiny shoulders replies. “The lady who sells those has already left for the day. I can’t sell you one. You’ll have to come back tomorrow.”

You’ve got to kidding me. Some jackass is about to pop out with video camera and tell me I’ve just been cranked, right? No such luck. This little chick is serious…

Damn.

Fast forward to Day 2 of my quest. I arrive early that day so as not to suffer a repeat of the day before. I have to park even farther away. I make my way through those same double doors, ready to bypass the help desk on this particular jaunt. Screw those stairs. I’m taking the elevator this time, no matter how long the wait. Oh, look! Someone is actually here this time. Let’s make this quick and get back home. These pants are bothering me…

“That will be $16.24, sir.” What the hell? When did they start charging sales tax for periodicals? I only brought fifteen bucks cash. Oh well, put it on this card. I flip to Page 20 as I await the approval process.

Suzi write a poem

Write a poem Suzi…

Boy! That sounds familiar. All paid up, I make my way back home and get comfortable. OK. Let’s see what was so important in these pages it took two days and a half tank of gas to get…

Read,

read,
read…

Digest,

digest,
digest…

OK. Let’s apply what we’ve just learned to the assignment at hand…

Follow Suzi follow

My instruction Suzi…
Sarah follow suit Sarah
Sarah follow Suzi

What the fuck?

We don’t write about F word, Suzi

Sarah
Sarah
Suzi
Tommy

Good, my name is not on that list, even if it was another F word to which they were referring. I’m not thick, like Sarah must be. She’s named twice, after all. Still, I do believe, I’m probably pushing the envelope a bit:

…sanitize Suzi…

Wash your poem Suzi
Tommy take a tip from Suzi
Tommy be clean Tommy

Perhaps I should put my pants back on and head over to Riverside Park, as the poem suggests to Tommy. Naw. Apparently, they must have cleaner bodies of moving freshwater near them. Our particular stretch of the Guadalupe ain’t going to wash anything clean, F words or otherwise. Depending on the day, it’s either schmegma green, to borrow from Yiddish slang, or Botulism brown, with a big shout out to our Latin users in medical profession.

Maybe I should pay heed to one of the dozen or more don’ts insinuated in the writing. There are 12 hard don’ts in this text. I know. I counted. There are plenty more if you read twixt the lines. I may have already missed my mark. After all, aren’t we supposed to avoid things:

…too multilingual Suzi

too narrative
too satirical
too surreal
too real…

That last sentence should have ended in a question mark, I do believe…

So what’s the thesis of this piece, were it an essay? I don’t know. How about: Critics crush creativity. Professors push us to postulate, while reigning our writing with regulations…

…forgo too much alliteration Suzi

too much alliteration sounds too Splangish Suzi
sounds like rap Suzi
like hip hop
like a bastard tongue…

Hey, I thought they said no cussing…. And what’s all this about va-jay-jays?

Perhaps, the journey of a particular piece of writing is sometimes worth the words, in and of themselves. Every once in a while, maybe, we need to flip the bird at standard regulation and introduce our reader to a more personal us. Sometimes, it could be, convention plays hangman to good writing.

But what do I know? I’m just a dumb redneck…  



Now that was what I submitted for my class, no edits, in its entirety. A bit long for this format, I’m certain, but once you get it going, you gotta see it through…

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