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I am...a New Yorker
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Saturday, March 1, 2003
Bemused
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Going...
To London? Paris? Amsterdam? Bryn Mawr?

Eating...
Last weekend, I finally tried risotto (with pumpkin and mussels) at Candela, a rather romantic restaurant. Useless information to me at this, or any other, point in my life.

This week, Uncle Red's Addiction, from Chat 'n Chew.

Walking...
Because we had a relative heat wave of 40 degree temperatures. I was walking around with neither hat nor scarf, and just a short, leather jacket wide open.

Writing...
Not much, almost completely blocked.

Singing...
"Creole Lady Marmalade!" That song accounts for most of the French I know, but probably the most useful phrase ever.

Reading...
Fortunes:
"Your sarcasm might not be taken kindly."

My first thought was "no shit," which I suppose makes the truth of the fortune abundantly clear.

"Solitude does for your soul what water does for a garden."

Truer words I've seldom read.

Quoting...
"Everything's going to be alright. Thank goodness we're in a bowling alley!"

-Mayor Bob
Pleasantville

Watching...
Pleasantville, which I always forget how much I like. It's a beautiful film, and not just for the much-lauded spot color technique.

Seeing...
A guy on the bus with the full-on "bling bling" and the biggest piece was a 4 inch, gold statue of The Brain, Brain, Brain, probably plotting to take over the world!

I am...going to have to stop psyching myself out. Last Wednesday, I got completely discouraged in my writing class because I couldn't get myself to write descriptively. This has long been a complaint of writing professors. I write well, my vocabulary is good, but I do not think to describe people, places, things.

We were to bring in a piece we wanted to develop more or that we were stuck on. I brought in "Daughter of the Hegemon," which only the professor had read. The assignment was revision, which I guess I had confused with editing. She had us perform exercises to take the piece in new directions.

First, she asked us to pull out the most striking imagery. Only problem is that the piece I selected was about big ideas, not visuals, as is most of what I write. I was stumped and couldn't pull anything out.

The next step was handing us 3x5 cards with suggestions. Mine read, "Open a drawer."

Huh?

Call me slow, but I need concrete steps, like 1, 2, 3, 4.

: : :

I couldn't write all week.

This week, half of the class met on each day and workshopped pieces we worked on. It was really difficult to sit there and listen to critique and not respond. Actually, they liked the piece more than I expected. It was a soft critique all around, I suppose.

The funny part was that the members of my group attributed all sorts of brilliance to me that was not conscious. For example, I put it into two columns, as I do with verse, so it would fit on one page. The second column began with "her sudden husband."

More than one member of the group pointed out that this took the haiku from something large and global, to intensely personal. Unless I am some sort of unconscious literary genius, it was purely accidental. Like most things I write, it came out in whole cloth, after some of the major ideas poked around in my head for a couple of weeks. I edited it a bit, but since it is haiku, finding words to fit the syllables requires more editing during the writing process than usual.

The title came to me first. It's a word I hadn't heard in years, until this Foreign Policy class. It reminded me of a professor years ago who compared the decline of U.S. hegemony to a professor who is threatened by her students surpassing her. It is the natural order of things.

At first, I thought the title was too theoretical, but it seemed fitting. "Hegemon" is intimidating, both in sound and because of its obscure meaning. It's not supposed to sound friendly, because it's not a happy thing.

The instructor brought up the lack of visual images in the poem. Each person in the group mentioned what they "saw" when they heard and read it. The instructor and I were both surprised by this, because that was the whole problem the week before. While I included few, if any purely visual images, apparently I have a knack for evoking imagery. "Without knowing what 'hegemon' meant, I knew you were talking about the U.S.," said one woman. "I can totally see these fat cats in power," said Big Joe.

Also, it was useful to hear the critiques of other classmates' work. It gave me ideas of how to better write descriptions and how to revise my work. The only suggested change was for me to revise it a bit, that, in some stanzas, I made my point and then made it again.

Bottom line -- a lot of worrying and stress for naught (that naught for Scott).

[Next entry: "Curious Yellow"]
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