James just mentioned in an email that he’d finished teaching his class to diagram sentences, and had informed his students Just! How! Much! his wife loved doing that in school.
It made me laugh, but I also felt a crazy surge inside me. There was probably a strange gleam in my eye, to boot. Because, seriously, I L-O-V-E-D to diagram sentences. I can still remember my English teacher dividing us into teams and sending us up in pairs, to different sides of the room (chalkboards on both sides) to speed-duel the process of diagramming sentences. Seriously, I smoked at the task, probably because I was such a reader, and English was my favorite subject. Add my competitive spirit to the mix, and diagramming sentences was my ultimate competition. My dream would have been to just diagram sentences for the entire hour, illustrating my speed & accuracy. This might account for why I didn’t really have that many friends in high school… hm. SuperNerd! I can dissect sentences with a single swipe of chalk!
Now, could I do it with the same speed and accuracy today? Probably not. But just the notion of drawing that straight line with the intersecting short line elicits such a rush.
There’s just no telling what triggers a person has, I tell ya. Mine have long since been replaced with yarn, but the memory of what once was still makes my senses stir….. I can almost smell the chalk. The worst was when you’d get going so fast the chalk would snap under your fingers and you’d be scritching the last bits of the sentence out while trying not to drag your fingernails on the board…. shudder.
Ooo, look at this quote! I keep good company! Unless she’s being ironic and depressing. But I choose not to go with that one.
“I really do not know that anything has ever been more exciting than diagramming sentences.”
— Gertrude Stein