I'm doing laundry and researching conservatorships. Sophie turns eighteen next March, and I have to divest her of her rights, basically, and become her guardian. Sigh. I'm also preparing for her IEP is this Friday morning, and her teacher asked whether I wanted her to be there. I told him that no, IEPs are always about what she can't do, and I don't want her to hear that.
I also don't want to fill what peaceful, hard-working spaces are left in her brain with the educational jargon the IEP demands. Those of you in the know, know what I'm talking about: achieve 65% success with 92% accuracy and 50% prompting
. When this involves using a spoon to feed yourself, you get my drift. I'm also listening to a cool recording of Gertrude Stein from 1934, where she chastises the interviewer on what it means to understand
a text. I loved reading Gertrude Stein in college -- read nearly everything she wrote and relished the weird cadence of her language, the koan-like nonsense. Evidently, my enjoyment presupposes understanding, and in this one wonderful interview, Stein affirms what I've always believed and never articulated: either you like a book or not, and the liking is the understanding. I wish I'd known that when I labored for hours in an all-male book club in New York City, nodding my head in deferment to wiser minds that appeared to understand but not enjoy. In another life I was married to a PhD student in English literature, and I remember suffering through interminably boring get-togethers and parties where graduate students spoke of literature with verbal gymnastics that made my head spin (I was always a terrible athlete) but never of liking
something or disliking
something, of joy
or its opposite. Do these people even like to read?
I asked my husband at the time. Maybe I'm just slightly off
-- I've written before of my envy for Gertrude Stein, for her massive head and unattractive hair, for her seeming comfort in her own bulk and obtuseness. After five straight days of exercise and yoga, I can feel every muscle and sinew in my body, and they ache. Would that I were Gertrude in a voluminous black dress, sitting in a salon with a mousy helpmate cooking something delicious in the kitchen, spinning words into stories that make no sense except to those who enjoy them.
Look here. Being intelligible is not what it seems. You mean by understanding that you can talk about it in the way that you have a habit of talking, putting it in other words. But I mean by understanding enjoyment. If you enjoy it, you understand it. And lots of people have enjoyed it so lots of people have understood it. . . . But after all you must enjoy my writing, and if you enjoy it you understand it. If you do not enjoy it, why do you make a fuss about it? There is the real answer.
The dryer just binged, so it's back to folding clothes.
Reader, what are you doing today?