The word-of-the-day from the Oxford English Dictionary today (see below) rang too many bells in my memory today. No, I have no memory of ever having seen this word--autoschediastic (pronounced aw-toh-skid-ee-ASS-tik)--but its meaning(s) hit a bit too close to home. The foundation shook; the furniture trembled; Mr. Guilt emerged from the dark basement where I try (and fail) to confine him; Satan smiled his I'm-waiting-for-you smile--all of that stuff.
When I was in secondary school--beginning in 7th grade (Hiram Schools; Hiram, Ohio)--I somehow slipped from caring (a bit) about my schoolwork. I had found other interests; sports, girls, sports, girls--a lengthy list. And even when I (my physical self) was not at some sort of athletic practice--or in the presence of girls--my mind was. I was picturing heroic ninth-inning hits (and/or defensive plays); with girls, I was imagining ... never mind ... this is a family-friendly blog.
These activities and obsessions consumed most--okay, all--of my energy, leaving little (none) for schoolwork.
And so I rarely read the assignments, did math problems until they got too ... cerebral (this did not take long), wrote my themes (the word we used then for essays) with word-processor speed in the era before word-processors (we all turned in handwritten themes; I don't remember anyone who deigned to type). For me, rough draft and final draft were synonyms. We once had a teacher (I think it was Mrs. Browning in 9th grade) who required us to turn in an outline with our themes; I wrote my outline after I'd done the writing. (It was only then that I'd figured out what I was doing/had done.)
Well. In 7th grade geography class (bless dear Mrs. Nichols) we had, from time to time, to turn in reports on countries. I remember I did Ecuador for South America (I was stunned--stunned--to learn that it's Ecuador where Panama hats were made), and my report on Ecuador--as did the others I wrote for that class--bore a striking resemblance to the text in the World Book Encyclopedia. This was no coincidence, I will confess. I actually wrote "like" the World Book throughout junior high; no teacher ever said "Boo"--though I was sometimes alarmed to discover that the World Book authors got a B on my report.
As I began high school (I had signed up for the "college-prep" classes: Latin I and Algebra I--that's right: We did Algebra I in 9th grade then, not fourth), I started doing a little more work, so much so that Mrs. Nichols (yes, the same geography teacher, who also taught math courses) told me after a month or so that she'd heard I was doing "twice the work" I'd done in 8th grade. I was happy about that--until some years later when I remembered that 2 x 0 = 0. Still, it was nice of her.
Aside: When I began my own teaching career at the nearby Aurora Middle School in the fall of 1966, Mrs. Nichols, near the end of her career, was teaching at Aurora High School. She was extraordinarily nice to me (feigned ignorance of my secondary-school ways), and I could NEVER call her "Esther"; she remained "Mrs. Nichols" for me.
Gradually, over the years, my work became less and less autoschediastic--due to the influence of some wonderful college professors (yep, I'm talking about you, Professor Ravitz!) and grad-school profs and, most notably, my wife, Joyce, who's never for a second in her life been autoschediastic (she still isn't).
Now, I'm quite the opposite of my junior-high self. As I noted on FB last spring, I wrote more than twenty drafts of a speech I delivered up at Western Reserve Academy (about three blocks form my house). So, I see, I have made the transition from one who is autoschediastic to one who is, well, anal and OCD.
But, in the basement, in a box, is a set of the World Book, a set dated in the 1950s. Temptation remains close at hand ...
autoschediastic, n. and adj.
Pronunciation: Brit. /ˌɔːtə(ʊ)skɛdɪˈastɪk/ , U.S. /ˌɔdəskɛdiˈæstɪk/ , /ˌɔdoʊskɛdiˈæstɪk/ , /ˌɑdəskɛdiˈæstɪk/ , /ˌɑdoʊskɛdiˈæstɪk/
Forms: 16 autoschediastick, 16 autoschediastique, 18– autoschediastic.
Origin: Of multiple origins. Partly a borrowing from Latin. Partly a borrowing from Greek. Etymons: Latin autoschediasticus; Greek αὐτοσχεδιαστικός.
Etymology: < post-classical Latin autoschediasticus...
†A. n. Something done on the spur of the moment or without preparation; an extemporized piece of work. Obs. rare.
1641 Bp. J. Hall Surv. Protestation Protested To Rdr. sig. A2, The birth how mean soever was nigh strangled in the cradle: Take it as it is, an autoschediastick.
1658 T. Flatman Naps upon Parnassus sig. B5v_ (heading) An autoschediastique.
B. adj. Written, composed, etc., on the spur of the moment; extemporized, hastily improvised.
1809 Gentleman's Mag. July 616/2 There is an autoschediastic poetry, which may be regarded as the mere natural product, and the effusion of an inspiring passion.
1823 S. Parr Wks. (1828) VII. 159 Remember, the verses are merely autoschediastic.
1838 T. De Quincey Brief Appraisal Greek Lit. in Tait's Edinb. Mag. Dec. 765/1 The manner of the combat is autoschediastic or extemporaneous, and to meet a hurried occasion.
1979 C. James Pillars of Hercules i. vii. 93 He conjured from the gold strings of his harp An autoschediastic lilt of love.
2002 Age (Melbourne) (Nexis) 16 Dec. (Culture) 1 The closer you get to your deadline, the more autoschediastic..your work becomes.