Tuesday, February 28, 2006

paper rough draft

Housewives paper

Women as housewives are a sticky spot in the Feminist community. On the one hand Housewives who choose to leave their careers in favor of raising a family are liberated in a sense because they have chosen their own path. On the other hand not all women have the choice, and those who are forced into the situation are not liberated, and in fact they are oppressed.

However there are shades of grey in the argument.

The idea of a housewife is an extremely old concept. Unless they were starving to death and had to work to feed their families, women stayed in the home. History has shown us that housewives were common practice, as well as occasionally being historically significant ___thing about "we will talk of this in my lady's chamber_____.

\n \n \nIn 1980 Terry Hakker wrote a book entitled "Since Adam and Eve". The book focused on her life as a housewife, a life that she found quite fulfilling and pleasant. Ms. Hakker\'s book caused quite a stir in the aftermath of the second wave of feminism and drew plenty of criticism.\n \n \nLucy Cavendish writes about her own experiences as a housewife. Having been raised by a feminist housewife herself, Ms. Cavendish claims that her 20 year old self would be appalled at her 40 year old life, yet Cavendish truly enjoys her life, finding it much less stressful than a life of corporate ladder climbing. Cavendish\'s main point is that feminism is not about discounting housewives, but about embracing the choices that women make and understanding that it is a good thing that women are free to make those choices. \n",1]
The hay-day of housewives in modern times was the 1950s. Once World War II was over, the men came home and wanted a stable situation to return to. The women meekly came back to the hearth and home after having worked in the factories and it is clear that not all women wanted to come back to the home after seeing what they were capable of. The housewife ideal of the 50s is illustrated most by the television characters of that time. Women like June Cleaver and Donna Reed are prime examples. These women seemed content with their lives behind endless strings of perfect casseroles, yet there seems to be an underlying unhappiness.

In 1980 Terry Hakker wrote a book entitled "Since Adam and Eve". The book focused on her life as a housewife, a life that she found quite fulfilling and pleasant. Ms. Hakker's book caused quite a stir in the aftermath of the second wave of feminism and drew plenty of criticism.

Lucy Cavendish writes about her own experiences as a housewife. Having been raised by a feminist housewife herself, Ms. Cavendish claims that her 20 year old self would be appalled at her 40 year old life, yet Cavendish truly enjoys her life, finding it much less stressful than a life of corporate ladder climbing. Cavendish's main point is that feminism is not about discounting housewives, but about embracing the choices that women make and understanding that it is a good thing that women are free to make those choices.
\n \nToday, Terry Hakker is writing a new book entitled "Disregard First Book". Her new book deals with her change of heart regarding her choice to be a housewife. Her husband of 40 years left her for a younger woman, leaving her a 67 year old woman needing job training in order to be able to support herself. She still feels that being a housewife is a viable option for women, however, she does assert that women need to face the facts that no one should depend on anyone to support them. Without job skills, women are tempting fate. \n\n \nHowever there are women who defy classification and support neither side of the argument. Such a woman is Martha Stewart. As the poster child for the housewife movement Martha draws criticism, yet she can not only sell power tools, she uses them. She is capable of making her own clothing and running her own company quite successfully. Her endless string of glue gun projects draws the laughter of the feminist community, however it is argued by her supporters that she is making something unique and beautiful from mass produced consumer drivel, making her a hero of sorts. \n\n\n",0]

Today, Terry Hakker is writing a new book entitled "Disregard First Book". Her new book deals with her change of heart regarding her choice to be a housewife. Her husband of 40 years left her for a younger woman, leaving her a 67 year old woman needing job training in order to be able to support herself. She still feels that being a housewife is a viable option for women, however, she does assert that women need to face the facts that no one should depend on anyone to support them. Without job skills, women are tempting fate.

However there are women who defy classification and support neither side of the argument. Such a woman is Martha Stewart. As the poster child for the housewife movement Martha draws criticism, yet she can not only sell power tools, she uses them. She is capable of making her own clothing and running her own company quite successfully. Her endless string of glue gun projects draws the laughter of the feminist community, however it is argued by her supporters that she is making something unique and beautiful from mass produced consumer drivel, making her a hero of sorts.



Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, VA
Bachelors of Arts anticipated May 2007. Major: English
Deans’ List: Spring 2005, Fall 2005.

Work Experience:

Tutor/Mentor, Higgins Academic Center, Ashland, VA
August 2005 – Present

n Engaged in careful editing of fellow students’ writing
n Developed extensive editing and writing skills
n Innovated methods of tutoring students in English Literature and Women’s Studies courses to complement the in-class learning component
n Provided mentoring services to students struggling with grades
n Instructed and guided students with developing and honing their study skills
n Earned title Mentor of the Month in November of 2005
Nanny, The Farson Family, Alexandria, VA
May 2005 – August 2005

n Developed inter-personal skills by mediating disputes and being a role model to three children
n Honed organizational skills by assisting a working mother by managing the varying schedules of the family

Sales Associated, Lane Bryant, Tyson’s Corner, VA
May 2004 – November 2004

n Developed marketing strategies to maximize the effectiveness of in-store displays to generate sales
n Completed tasks to ensure satisfaction in every facet of the customer experience at Lane Bryant
n Developed inter-personal skills by resolving customer disputes with amicable results

Other Relevant Experience:

n Reporter, The Connection Newspaper, May 2003
n President, Randolph-Macon German Club, Fall 2004-Spring 2005
n Vice President, Washington Literary Society, Spring 2005- Present
n Event Planning: planned, organized and ran campus wide educational and cultural festival, Fall 2004
n Recipient of Washington Street United Methodist Church Scholarship, Fall 2004 and Fall 2005
n Recipient of Randolph-Macon College Distinguished Achievement Scholarship, Fall 2003-Present

Sunday, February 26, 2006

style lesson 2

The focus of this chapter was correctness, and the author defines this through the outlining, and occasionally redefining, grammatical rules. To begin with he talks about the different forms of correctness especially considering different dialects. Different dialects also give the listeners clues about their speakers intellectual background, an unfair assumption but a true statement. We “think that grammatical ‘errors’ indicate mental or moral deficiency” (pg 14).

It interested me that not only do normal writers regularly ignore the rules set forth by grammarians, but the rules are also frequently ignored by the grammarians themselves. In this light, the author argues that it is quite impossible to follow all of the grammar rules, since not even the authors and enforcers of such rules are able to all the time. In fact the author presents several quotes on this theme, including one by the Fowlers, “Some there are who follow this principle now; but it would be idle to pretend that it is the practice either of most or of the best writers” (pg 19).

Finally, I was surprised at how long ago these so called rules were first written. Some date from as far back as the 18th century. The author argues to some extent that some of these rules have become antiquated and should not be taken very seriously.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Annotated Bibliography

Cavendish, Lucy. "Housewife No Longer A Dirty Word." The Seattle Post-Intelligencer 20 Nov. 2005. LexisNexis. McGraw-Page Library, Ashland. 24 Feb. 2006. Keyword: feminism AND housewives.

In this article, Cavendish uses her own experiences and the experiences of the women whom she is closest with to attack the question of the housewife. She begins with an explanation of her mother, a woman who, though a housewife, was also a feminist and taught her daughters that they could do what they wanted. The literature that Cavendish grew up with was works by Germaine Greer, Betty Friedan, Kate Millett, and Simone de Beauvoir. avendish then expostulates that her mother would be shocked at the choice that both Cavendish and her sister have made; to stay at home. Cavendish cites Susan Faludi, saying; "...feminism would start becoming a dirty word, that men would march against women and that women would return, mentally beated and bereaved, back to the hearth and home". Cavendish then poses the same question that her contemporary Darla Shine poses; "Why wasn't being a mom offered to me as a career?" Cavendish claims that her friends all balked when she first got pregnant, again when she moved into the suburbs, and the final straw was the dog. Yet one by one, these friends also became mothers and housewives. Cavendish says, "They all seem happy. They all seem fulfilled. They are intellegent women, and these are the choices they have made." cavendish concludes with a look at the past and a look at the future. She contemplates the correct feminist response to her friends to be, "Why are you calling me with cooking tips? Burn your bra baby!". Yet this was not her response, and in taking a different course of action, she sees that feminism is more than being a working woman. Cavendish concludes with a message to her hypothetical daughters. "...choices are not between a man's world or a woman's world, or between going to work or staying at home, but the chance to do whatever it is they feel they want to do. And if it's a duster that does it for them, hey, so be it".

Cohen, Emily J. "Kitschen witches: Martha Stewart, Gothic Housewife, Corporate CEO." Art Issues Mar.-Apr. 1999. Wilson Web. McGraw-Page Library, Ashland. 24 Feb. 2006. Keyword: Housewife.

In this article, Emily Cohen attempts to paint Martha Stewart in a different light. To begin with Cohen gives a bit more flesh to the figure of Martha Stewart, revealing her background as the granddaughter of Polish immigrants. Once in Westport Connecticut however, Martha became the domestic goddess that the world now sees her as. Westport was, according to Cohen, "A town where people could reinvent themselves (with the help of a decent decorator and a bit of fancy elocution), make a Gatsby out of a Gatz". Cohen says that once Martha went to Westport, her stock market career ended and she became something akin to a Stepford Wife, "maniacally engaged in lawn-mowing, house-painting, and laundry-folding". However, Martha, like all housewives Cohen argues, had many different Martha's to choose from. Cohen alludes to a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde mentality, either kindly and fun, or "the evil one". What mainly upsets Americans about Martha Stewart, Cohen asserts, is that she does not fit into categories. "Marth Stewart threatens on all fronts because Americans lack the right tools to come to grips with her. Multiculturalists destest her becase she projects homogenity. Men are terrified that she wears the pants. Some women howl that she hurls them into the Dark Ages. Others merely resent her success. (...) Martha more than earns her keep, proving what feminists of her generation hopes to make acceptable in the culture at large: Housework is indeed real work and should be compensated as such". For Cohen, Martha Stewart is not simply a hausfrau with a television show. Clearly Martha had to use her wits to rise to the top.

Crittenden, Danielle. "Contented Housewives." Sunday Telegraph 30 Oct. 2005. LexisNexis. McGraw-Page Library, Ashland. 24 Feb. 2006. Keyword: Feminism AND Housewives.

Crittenden begins with an anecdote about a friend, a 40 year old housewife whose life has become her 20 year old self's nightmare. This woman left her lucrative career to stay with her children at home. When once a woman leading such a life would have brought scorn down upon herself, this woman is at the cutting edge, a fashion icon, a sex symbol, all because she is a housewife. Crittenden praises Darla Shine's new book, which "gives voice to the secretly growing consensus that being a housewife is a potentially fulfilling and satisfying lifestyle". The ideas about stress that our society has is Crittenden's next topic. Her point is that women of today are hardly as stressed as women who's main concern was not 'Am I being a good mother?', it was that her children didn't die of colds. Instead of telling her children to eat their peas, this mother was telling her children to churn the butter faster. The point here is be thankful for what you have, and though its theme is a nice one, it does not fit well into the article. Crittenden then relates an anecdote about a woman who did not want to become a housewife, but became one anyway, harboring resentment. A cancer scare snapped her out of it and "brought order to the house, a renewed closeness with her two small children, greater intimacy with her husband, and that elusive peace within herself".

"Domestic Bliss!" New Humanist. 24 Feb. 2006

The article focuses on the feminist and ideas surrounding housewives. An Australian author spoke out in her recent book against the preachings of feminists like Germaine Greer for "elling women that they could have it all and carve out brilliant careers, without ever warning them to listen to their biological clocks". this woman blames her lack of children and her failed relationships with men on the feminists. However, the article then presents some of Germaine Greer's arguments from her book "The Female Eunich" in which she charaterizes her life as a housewife as one of servitude, not unlike a slave. The article next examines the writing of Betty Friedan and her famous "The Feminine Mystique". Friedan argues that all women should develop life plans and "see housework for what it is: work to be done and got out of the way speedily and efficiently, not a career". The article's next point is an interesting one. In essence the argument that it presents is that without housewives, feminism could not exist and vice versa. One feeds the other, and if one falls, the other falls as well. "Far from being something which the feminist subject has to reject in order to achieve a proper subjecthood, the figure of the housewife made the feminist figure possible". However, the article raises the question of the necessity of housewives. This day and age has such concepts as nannies, maids, gardeners, lifestyle managers, social cnsultants, personal shoppers, etc. Not all of these concepts are new, but they do offer an alternative to housewives where funds allow, making the housewife a superfluous relic of the past, and quite unneccessary. The article concludes with a positive outlook. We need a vocabulary that "doed not pose it [feminism] as a choice to be made between two options, work or home, but one that encompasses a diverse spectrum of living".

Gerson, Deborah A. "Is Family Devotion Now Subversive?" Not June Cleaver. Ed. Joanne Meyerowitz. Philidelphia: Temple UP, 1994. 151-176.

The chapter found in the book Not June Cleaver concentrates on one specific group of women in the MaCarthy era who used their power as housewives to help children whose parents had been imprisoned by MaCarthy. The women formed the Families Committee and their purpose was to raise money to help the children of the Smith Act. However, in doing this they placed themselves at risk, eventually being named a Communitst risk. "In 1953 the Families Committee was placed on the attorney general's list of allegedly subversive organizations". The Families Committee was resisting such treatment of children as the FBI deemed necessary to impliment. These measures included harrassing children, preventing them from taking field trips with their classmates, and constant survelence. Since the names and addresses of anyone arrested under the Smith Act appeared in newspapers, these children were also attacked and harrassed outside of their own homes and schools by complete strangers. However, the Families Committee used their lable as mothers and housewives against the FBI's methods.

Hope, Deborah. "Shut Up and Look Pretty." The Australian 12 Nov. 2005. LexisNexis. McGraw-Page Library, Ashland. 24 Feb. 2006. Keyword: Feminism AND Housewives.

In her article, Hope examines a new book which claims feminism to be dead. The book is "Are Men Necessary" by Maurenn Dowd, who claims that "The triumph of Feminism lasted a nanosecond while the backlash has lasted four decades". Maureen Dowd's controversial book has caused a big stir in the feminist community, not to mention among men. her claims are that "Women used to demand equality. Now they demand Botox". Her point is that women have lost sight of what is really important to the feminist movement, using beauty ideals to justify themselves as opposed to the ideals of feminism. She agonizes about the next generation saying, "Nowadays young women want to be 'Mrs. Anonymous Biological Robot in a Docile Mass'. They dream of being rescued; to flirt, to shop, to stay at home and be taken care of. They shop for 'Stepford Fashions' and spend their days in the gym trying for 'Wisteria Lane waistlines'". For Dowd, the new generation has lost the concept of feminism. she claims that Feminism's message was 'don't be a sex object' whereas today's message conversely is 'be a sex object'. Hope then branches into the critics of Dowd book, of which there are many. each has their own spin on Maureen Dowd's version of feminism, but they all boil down to the same message, she is wrong. Men are necessary and women who do what they want to do are celebrating feminism as much, or maybe better, then those who burn their bras. the article concludes with a quote from a conservative man defending feminism, "The sexual confusion that so dismays Dowd is the unexpected consequence of feminism's victory".

Lord, Lewis, Gary Cohen, Brendan I. Koerner, Damon Darlin, Jay Tolson, James Lardner, Linda Kulman, Betsy Streisand, and Amanda Spake. "Overcoming Feminine Bliss." U.S. News & World Report 1999. WilsonWeb. McGraw-Page Library, Ashland. 24 Feb. 2006. Keyword: Feminism AND Housewife.

This article is a retrospective look at the housewife and then at the effects of the second wave of feminism. The article begins with post WWII when Rosie the Riveter takes a back seat to Ozzie's wife Harriet. The whole country was telling women that their place was back in the home, even presidential candidates. "Adlai Stevenson told Smith College's 1955 graduating class to assume 'the humble role of housewife...whether you like the idea or not'". however, by 1960 more and more women were turning to such things as Psychotherapy, tranquilizers and diet pills to "adjust to feminine bliss". However, once Betty Friedan wrote her "Feminine Mystique" more and more women realized that their unhappines was shared by many more women. The article concludes with a short biography of Betty Friedan and her amazement at the difference that she and her book have made in society. "Today at 78, Friedan is amazed that feminism has transformed society so thourougly that young women take for granted that they can do anything".

Friday, February 24, 2006

david sedaris copy cat

this is a bit of a copy cat excercise, when i wrote this i had just been reading one of my favorite authors, David Sedaris, so it is somewhat in his style, not neccessarily copy cat, but definitly in his style.

It was just a normal Tuesday as I walked back to my apartment. I love to walk in Paris, it is such a beautiful city and there are so many things to see. I love to people watch, and in a city like Paris it becomes more than a hobby. Walking back from the gym I saw some familiar faces. They are the people who are simply engrossed in their routine, just as I am engrossed in mine. I walked through the park, a short cut that I love to take, and there I saw the woman with her children. In my five years in Paris I have watched as the boys have grown up, seen how she went from a blushing bride with a newborn, to a harried pregnant mother keeping her toddler at bay, to a relaxed Mama watching her boys run and scream, kissing the occasional boo boo, but never becoming too excited. I have never met them; I simply see them in the park. Their lives and mine are intertwined simply out of habit and consequence. It is jarring when they are not on the bench in the park, and I always create scenarios for them in my own mind as to what has kept them from their post. I passed the family and began to look for the jogger. He is an average man, mid-thirties, modest build, and mousy hair. He jogs around the park exactly three times and then returns home. The most conversation that we have ever shared is a simple ‘bonjour’ and then he is gone; puffing like the big bad wolf. I smiled to myself as he passed, breathing like a dolphin, and entered my building. It is unremarkable, as so many buildings in Paris are. It fascinates me how the unremarkable can coagulate to become the teeming and jovial mass of the city that has been hailed as the most beautiful in the world. I struggled up the stairs to the third floor, my muscles screaming at me for being so cruel after the grueling work out they had so recently been subjected to. As I unlocked my door, I was thinking about which revision of my new novel I should send to my editor. She is always so picky, ‘but that’s why she’s the best’ I reminded myself.
There are no words that can describe how I felt when I saw him sitting on my sofa. Just sitting there, looking expectantly at me as though it was I who was the surprise, I who did not belong.
“Jean-Luc”; I said his name simply because there was nothing else to say. I wasn’t about to give him the satisfaction of screaming and throwing him out again. What good would it do, plus he would be far too amused. He sized me up and said; “You are just back from your exercise” it was a statement, a question and a criticism all in one. He continued with; “I can tell because you always looked so beautiful after your exercise. The cheeks, they are…rosy”. His thick Parisian accent touched a nerve somewhere in me; it made me feel angry and reminiscent at once. I walked into my studio apartment and placed my keys and gym bag on the coffee table. “What do you want?” I asked him, moving further into my home. He seemed not to hear me and continued with his own train of thought. “After ze exercise and just after sleep. Rosy cheeks and ze eyes are squintee” All the time that I have known Jean-Luc he has done this. He holds his own conversation with you, and should you try to steer the conversation in a different direction, he ignores you and moves on. “You always think zat you are not pretty but zis is not so. The exertion makes you gorgeous.” I knew what he was doing, trying to flatter me so that I would lose my train of thought. I was not to be fooled however. “Cut the crap Jean-Luc, what do you want?” he sat back down on the couch and peered at me. “You keep ze extra key above ze door still. This is unwise, a person could break een.” “Like you” I was not in the mood to hear a lecture from an ex-boyfriend, particularly not from him. “Qui. Eet is foolish to keep ze things that are no longer of value”. Feeling that this might have been a dig at me, I tried to keep my composure. “Listen up, you do not live here anymore, and I do not appreciate you telling me what I should and should not do. That being said I’m going to go take a shower, when I come out you can be here, or you can be gone, it is entirely up to you.” He prickled visibly at this and I knew I had stung him where it hurt the most. Jean-Luc is the typical Frenchman; he hates to be ignored. He likes to think that his presence in a room is the only thing that gives it value, so it offended him that I did not care whether he was in my house. “Zis is our downfall, right ‘ere. You never gave me attention!” I whirled around, ready for his verbal assault. “No! Our downfall was that you were sleeping with two other women!” he regained his composure, happy that I had risen to his bait, and settled back on the couch. “I cannot deny this” he gestured in a wide sweeping motion, seemingly happy to oblige me in my horrible mental picture.
By this time I was seething and wanted to get into the shower, but he wouldn’t let me. “I read in ze papers zat you are romanced by a musician, a rock star”. He pronounced the last two words with distain, as if they tasted bad and saying them was not a sensation he wanted to repeat. I wanted to move past the subject of his adultery, so I tried to discuss Adam with as much grace as possible. “Yes, we’ve been dating for about six months”. Jean-Luc’s eyebrows shot up and I was pleased that I was able to surprise him, it takes quite a bit to surprise a Frenchman, they always want to play it cool. “seex mont’”; he mumbled. When Jean-Luc was calculating something he mumbled and his accent got thicker. “Zat ees longer zan I ‘ad expected…zis musician, his name eez what?” I dodged his question with; “Longer than you were expecting? What does that mean? Are you doubtful that I can keep a boyfriend for longer than a month?” his eyebrows shot up again, wondering whether he should take the opening for an insult or to let it go. He let it go and moved on with, “And he is American, jus’ like you. Zat should please you.” Jean-Luc was always annoyed that I compared him with American men. I would say things like ‘an American man would have…’ and he would become angry.
“I spoke with Neecol” he pronounced my sisters name the French way and made her sound like a Parisian gold digger, decked in Hermes and smelling of Chanel. “Nicole. And, what did she say?” He swatted away my attempt at correcting him and moved on with, “she told me that you still were living ‘ere. I thought you would be with your American musician”. I didn’t want to discuss the idea of moving. It was painful to think of leaving the city that I had called home for the past five years and every time Adam brought it up I would quickly change the subject. “Nothings been finalized yet” I mumbled. “ah” was all he had to say. I was becoming increasingly aware of my smell and the sweat that was evaporating off of my neck and legs. “I’m going to take my shower now.” I announced and walked into the bedroom to disrobe. I watched Jean-Luc’s reflection in my mirror through my slightly opened door while I was getting ready; constantly monitoring his movements for any hint of what he might be thinking. He sat there on my sofa staring at nothing. Finally he stood up. By that time I had gotten into a towel and was decent, ready for whatever he might throw at me. “I came here to ask a question.” His voice was low and I wondered what he was feeling. “Yes”, I said, “what is it?” he moved closer and I instinctively backed away. “Do you ever feel that we did the wrong thing?” this infuriated me. I shouldn’t be included in his ‘we’. I had done nothing but love him and he had flitted around Paris with every woman he came in contact with. Tears welled up in my eyes but I forced them back down and shook my head emphatically. “No”, I said, “there was nothing else to do. You chose your path and I had to do what was right for me. There was no other way.” He looked at me for a moment and returned to the sofa.
I went into the bathroom and got into the shower. As I lathered up my loofa sponge I thought about Jean-Luc and myself. My sister had warned me against Frenchmen, but I had dismissed her warnings thinking ‘well, what does she know, she’s never loved a Frenchman.’ She didn’t know how they could sweep you off your feet. She didn’t know how they told you about their feelings as no American man ever would. She didn’t understand that a Frenchman is what every American woman dreams of finding in a lover; someone sensitive who can talk about their feelings. Unfortunately they are ultimately someone who articulates feelings that they do not have. they express love and say things like “mon cherie”, even though their true feelings are not even close to the silky words that entice women. This false security makes the fall down that much harder to bear.
I attacked myself with the loofa, taking out my frustrations and pain on the dead skin cells; trying to eradicate my anger along with the dead skin that clogged my pores. As I was lathering my hair I heard the front door open and close. I knew that he had gone. He left, just like he left almost two years ago after our last fight. I had found out about his other women and he had nothing to say. He wouldn’t even fight with me, he sat on the couch looking like he was holding a cigarette. This is something that the French can do that looks absolutely ridiculous when other nationalities attempt it. Jean-Luc couldn’t smoke in our home, I forbade it, but he could look like he was smoking. His whole demeanor said that he was having a cigarette while the pack and the lighter lay on the other side of the room.
I had screamed. I had cried. I threw things, but nothing made him react. He sat there smoking his metaphorical cigarette and observing me with interest. I finally asked him in between sobs if he had anything to say. He stood up and said “Non”. He crossed the room with his long legs and left. I cried my eyes out, but in the back of my mind I assumed that he would be back in an hour maybe two. An American man would have been. American men are too unsure of themselves and too unsure of their relationships. They want to patch whatever has happened, and perhaps take the blame themselves. Frenchmen are not that way. They are far too proud, and the next time I saw Jean-Luc was a few weeks after the break up. I came home early from a meeting to find him packing up his last box. He looked up at me and said nothing. I burst into tears and tried to talk to him, but nothing I said had any affect on him. Now, in my shower, I knew that I would never see Jean-Luc again. This realization had hit me two years earlier, but now it was not a gut wrenching thought. Now it felt like a weight was lifted. The pain had not healed and I knew it never would, but it had passed and it was no longer the most important part of my heart. Life was moving on, and that made my heart feel lighter than it had in a long time.
Stepping out of the shower I looked around my apartment. It had been my residence for the past five years of my life. It wasn’t anything special, simply the grown-up version of my childhood bedroom. Jean-Luc had left some touches, but two years without him had left his contributions out of place and odd looking. I walked around the room reaching out my hand to touch some of the things that have the most meaning to me; the snow globe from my mother, the Eiffel tower paper weight, my scrapbook from my friends when they learned that I was moving to Paris, finally the picture of Adam and me in the snow. I stopped in the middle of my floor and picked up the phone. My mind was racing as I dialed Adam’s number. I tried to keep myself calm and collected even though my heart was beating a mile a minute. My breath caught in my chest as Adam picked up. “Its me”, I said, “I just wanted to tell you that I’ve made a decision” he sounded worried as he said in his glorious basso profundo; “and that decision is…?” I felt the tears welling up again but this time I let them come. Tears running down my face I blubbered out the words, “Yes, I will marry you.”


this story was an assignment aimed at creating a vivid setting.

Anna strolled through her home, taking it in as she never had before. Every detail jumped out at her. Though she had lived in this town house for a few years, she had never tried to decorate or use things like dust ruffles. If it didn’t have an obvious purpose then it didn’t have a place in her home. The no nonsense approach had created a home that fit Anna like a glove.
Anna stood in her bedroom door and gazed into the room where she dreamed her innermost dreams. It was the room of a woman who never expected a man to see it. The creams and lotions were sitting out in plain sight and the dirty laundry was spilling out from the closet into the rest of the room. Anna felt ashamed at the way that she had lived in this squalor unapologetically for so long. The knick-knacks from her world travels were displayed out in odd and awkward ways, intruders in a land of sensible shoes and control top panty hose.
Moving away from her bedroom Anna moved down the hallway and into the kitchen. Too many take out containers were spilling over her trash can, and the pots and pans that her mother had given her for her birthday last year were dusty and unused. The coffee maker was crusted with old grounds and smelled of use.
Her gaze and her body moved into the living room, seeing for the first time all of the ways that her life was different from the world of her girlfriends and the world of women in general. While the women of her acquaintance had flowery curtains and candles that smelled like candy in their living rooms, Anna’s living room was a shrine to the television. Empty beer bottles littered the floor and coffee table and the only other piece of furniture in the room was the couch. Anna clenched her fists and mentally cursed her apathy. Had she taken a more active stance towards the improvement of her home, then she wouldn’t be in this position.
Suddenly Anna went from despair to a whirlwind. Her brain was unable to comprehend all the work that needed to be done, but what she could comprehend was that the trash should be removed and that was something that she could take care of. The beer bottles and old Kleenex were soon eradicated from the living room followed by the kitchen.
Her bedroom was another matter. Most of the clothes could be shoved back into the closet, but Anna was afraid that she would miss something crucial like a pair of granny panties. The lotions and foot creams could be stuffed in a drawer and the bed could be made with her girliest set of sheets.
After a whirlwind trip to the store for candles and curtains Anna went about the business of decorating to the best of her abilities. She looked around her home at the fruits of her labor. Anna knew that her house was not anywhere near what others would call girly, but at least it was no longer manish. The carpets were vacuumed and there was a throw pillow covering the stain on her couch. She had sprayed the air with a lilac room deodorizer and there were silk flowers on her kitchen counter.
Anna smiled at her new home felt a surge of pride at the way she had taken the plain and clutter filled house and turned it into what she considered to be a runner up for the centerfold in Better Homes and Gardens.
She glanced in every room and nodded to herself. She stopped at the door of her favorite room, her bedroom, and burst into tears.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

romantic rant

i was wondering today about which way my life is going. the whole existencial angst thing is quite passe, but there are times in life where everyone experiences a sense of uncertainty. for me this sensation came in the form of my love life. having been single for all of my college experience, i am starting to feel the effects of the lonliness. i have friends, thats not the issue, the lack of a romantic entanglement is starting to take its toll on me.

to start with, my past relationships have ended poorly. each one had its seperate circumstances, but each one also left a negative stamp on me. if this is the reason that i have essentially been shying away from the romantic side of things, then a part of me is screaming that i should get over it and move on. yet there are things from those past relationships and those past men that i do not want to part with; at least not yet.

what i believe each woman looks for in a man is a friend. first and foremost. so why has it proven so difficult for me to make such a connection in the college arena? perhaps it has to do with the fact that men who are my peers have left me a bit helpless. i have lost my courage to approach men since i approached them, and the relationships (as previously stipulated) ended poorly.

there also exsists the element of society that would tell me that i am simply not ready to find another boyfriend. the bad endings of relationships past could have left a wound that has not fully healed.

in either case, there is some dormant issue that is preventing the development of a new relationship.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

resume cover letter

304 Henry St.
R-MC box 1049
Ashland, Va 23005

February 20, 2006

RECIPIENT (name title, organization and address)


I am applying for a Public Relations internship with your company. I learned about your company from my aunt who works in the St. Louis branch of Fleischman-Hillard. The internship is the ideal position for me, a hard worker with experience in both writing and editing.

I work well in both team situations and independently. I have worked in similar areas in the past and can greatly add to the work environment. I have plenty of experience in writing, from creative writing to formal writing and enjoy it immensely. I am currently enrolled in an expository writing class in which I have a top grade and am honing the skills to both compose and edit documents. My current on campus employment deals specifically with assisting fellow students in the writing process, specifically focusing on content and style. This fall I helped one specific student for the entire semester. Working together she and I composed outlines and analyzed poetry, ultimately bringing her grade up from a D to an A. Please refer to my resume for further information about my past or current employment, and my successes in those fields.

Thank you for your time in reading this letter and attached materials. I hope to hear from you soon in regards to the internship opportunity. Please do not hesitate to call or email me for any additional information that you might require.

Ariel Giraldi
(703) 298- 4520

Monday, February 20, 2006

Brother can you spare a Tie?

“Can I have 20 bucks?” my brother Al asks me for the third time as we are standing around our living room. I reach for my purse which is conveniently sitting on the couch. I try to remember why my purse is on the couch and recall that I dropped it there the night before after lending him $20. My brother and I have two different minds about money and how to spend it. I spend money as soon as I get it, which is why I can never get the things that I truly want. The more expensive items require a consolidation of funds that I simply do not have. Money slips through my fingers and wallet quite easily, and I haven’t done much to stem the tide.
Al on the other hand figured out long ago that if he asks for money and is handed a large bill, the change is never asked for. He requests money on a daily basis, takes the $20 to buy a sandwich, and pockets the change. Through no more wit than a pack rat, my brother can amass money into the hundreds without anyone noticing where all the cash is going.
“What happened to the money I gave you yesterday?” I ask, my hand hesitating above my purse. “It’s gone”, he says looking at my purse expectantly. My brother is a dying breed, he doesn’t mind milking you for all you’ve got, but nothing can induce him to travel into a woman’s bag. I like to think that it is his chivalrous nature, but when pressed he admits that he is frightened of what he might find in the catacombs of my purse. “You don’t know WHATS in there!” he exclaims. Well, I do. And though his fear is unsubstantiated, I still find it amusing and glean great pleasure from “casually” leaving my purse open in a high traffic area, such as the couch.
“Where did it go?”, I am in rare form today, and though he and I both know that I will eventually part with my money, he will not get away without a lecture and some serious eye-rolling. “I had to buy a ticket for Sarah”. Sarah is my brother’s current girlfriend, and though I have never met her, she seems to never have money on hand, though he swears they always PLAN to go Dutch treat. “She didn’t have any money?”, his story seems flaky to me. “No, she had to buy gas, she was low”. Again a mystery in my brother’s relationship with Sarah. Though she is a good two years older than he is and owns a car, she never picks him up or drops him off. It is always up to me to chauffer him back and forth for his dates with the mystery woman.
“So...she needed gas...?” I am skeptical at best, and Al knows that his easy money is falling away from him. There is panic in his eyes as I shift my hand away from my purse and onto my hip. “Yeah, she needed gas…she’s going to…on a road trip tomorrow.” “where is she going?” I love to play this game with Al. He and I both know that his story is crap, but he keeps up the charade in case it might win him points later. “her grandfather’s in the hospital…in Tuscon” I grunt to acknowledge him and make a big show of thinking about this latest piece of information. Finally I ask, “if her grandfather’s in the hospital, why is she going out with you tonight?” Al’s nerves are fraying and he explodes with; “are you gonna give me the money or not?!” I roll my eyes, sigh heavily and delve into my wallet.
Our relationship wasn’t always this way. Sometimes we really hated each other. But as we have grown up, we have developed a sort of clumsy mutual respect for the other’s needs and weird habits.
My brother is an extremely good looking young man. This drives the rest of my family crazy. I am a middle of the road nerd. I can hang out with the jocks and the nerds, morphing from one personality to another with relative ease. Both of my parents were full on geeks. In high school my mother wore a cape to school. Everyday. After riding her bike, WEARING A CAPE. She has always worn glasses, usually styles that went out of fashion during the Harding administration. My father was slightly less geeky, and more, how do I put this, scary. He has a very dark complexion and dark curly hair. The hair stands up on its own so my father usually looks like a small atomic bomb went off somewhere within his ‘fro. He also has a beard and mustache, and has had so far as I can tell, since he was my brother’s age. He also wears glasses, coke-bottles that give him a strange ‘intellectual murderer’ look. My father’s face is very interesting, he has laugh lines, but only when he is amused. When he is tired or irritated, his face becomes a leathery shell with only his eyes to give him away. His eyes are blue, like my mothers, and my brother and I inherited that from both of them. I inherited my mother’s skin, which I am thankful for on most days of my life. My mother has fair skin with a very clear and smooth complexion. Al and I inherited this as well as her nose. My father is tall, and my brother is quickly gaining on him. Put all of these traits together, minus the nerd factor and you get my brother. A strange hybrid who looks as though he would be more at home on a catwalk than in a home like ours.
My parents have watched my brother grow with a morbid fascination. A strange sort of dangerous animal curiosity that a mother bear might exhibit when trying to decide whether this new creature is offspring or lunch. Al on the most part is oblivious to this examination and continues in his life relatively unscathed. He brushes off my parents comments on his appearance and saunters through the throngs of girls on his way to his classes, or band practices.
Al plays the drums and is in several bands, including a Scottish marching band. Al and I have difficulty explaining our heritage, especially when people see Al in a Scottish marching band. Our last name is very Italian, as our father and his whole side of the family are almost right off the boat. My father was born and raised in Washington D.C. as were his siblings and cousins, but the older generation has Italy in their bloodstream. My mother is a corn fed Iowa girl, whose family dates back a couple generations to Scotland. Al and I love to play into both sides of our family lineage and it is just as common to see him in a kilt as it is to see him snorking down spaghetti.
Recently Al has developed a bad habit of lying to me. This became evident when he told a mutual friend that he had gone to a New Years Eve party. This wouldn’t be so bad except that he had told me and my parents that he would be spending the evening at IHOP. As I was railing against him to a good friend, he looked at me and said “What kind of idiot expects a 15 year old boy to spend New Years Eve at IHOP?” I was stunned, but on further reflection I realized that I was that idiot, and I expected it because that’s what I would have done at his age. My nerd impulses prevent me from being a party animal and a night with a good movie and the company of only Ben and Jerry is enough to make me happy. Apparently Al is not so tapped into his nerd impulses. What truly infuriated me though was not that he lied to me, as I am a notorious nag, but that he lied to my parents. I am a nag because the niche was vacant. My parents do not nag. As people they are nerds and proud of it; but as parents they are really cool. Not too many annoying questions and always willing to vacate the premises or purchase alcohol, as long as you listen to the short lecture on safety.
What makes Al’s lie so hurtful is that I know that had he simply told my parents he was going to a party the only thing they would ask would be for the time he would be home and that he keep his cell phone on in case of emergency. That is all. Yet he chose to lie and keep his life from our parents.
I try to tell myself that this is a phase, much like the two year old who climbed out of his crib and into my bed where he proceeded to take off his diaper and take a dump. He grew out of that phase, so I can only hope that this is the next step in his development.
Al and I are friends, which disturbs others. What disturbs my other friends the most is my propensity to dress him. I never really grew out of the whole ‘Barbie’ phase but luckily my brother fills in. Whenever he has an important event to go to, he will stand in front of his closet for a few moments and then yell for me. If I am at home I will come to his aide, but if I am away at college he will call me and I will walk him through the proper ensemble. Should the outfit require a tie there are few options on the table. No matter how many ties I buy for Al, he only wears one. He swears this is because he can’t find the others, but I know the truth. He loses the others purposefully simply to annoy me. “Where’s that nice green silk tie?” I’ll ask him, and his face will become hard as stone and look at me with a completely sincere face and say, “I lost it”. “How could you lose it?” I’ll ask, “I got it for you yesterday”. His expression again becomes etched in stone and he will shrug his shoulders and button his shirt the wrong way. He knows this will distract my attention because I am notorious at fixing other people’s clothing. If there is lint I will pick it, if the collar is folded the wrong way, I will refold it. Al knows that if he begins to button his shirt with mismatching buttons that I will freak out and let him wear his crusty old tie in exchange for correct button order.
Once Al is dressed to the nines he will look at him self in the mirror for a few moments, then turn very dramatically, cock an eyebrow and like silk the words will pour from his mouth; “Can I have 20 bucks?”

Sunday, February 19, 2006

the community controversy that i would like to explore this semester has to do with the feminist community. the specific controversy would be concerning housewifes and stay-at-home moms. the controversy would be;

on the one hand, the women are choosing to not work and to stay at home, caring for thier home and children. on the other hand such a choice could be seen as a step backwards, a step back towards the wife in the home mentality.

i have not made up my mind about this controvery, which is apparently a good thing, however i am leaning a certain direction. i have not delved into the subject formally, i have simply asked the opinion of those women who i am close with. the vary-ing answers puzzle me, so i look foreward to what the formal scholars have to say on the subject.

i believe i will be able to find enough resources to create an opinion and write about the differing sides to the argument, as im sure there are more points to it that i have not yet thought of.

this topic interests me because i do consider myself a feminist, yet there are parts of me that would like to be a housewife, not a working mom. though my mom worked throughout my childhood, i do not see that there should be a certain way to be a feminist. i can see both sides of the argument though. if more and more women are moving back into the home environment then whats to stop them from turning into Donna Reed. a woman with no choice but to make endless strings of perfect casseroles and to wear pearls as she cleans her house?

both arguments intrigue me and i look foreward to exploring them this semester.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Style, Lesson 1

The main point of this chapter, and indeed this book, is that it is good to write clearly. That which is clear to the writer is not necessarily clear to the reader, creating confusion. The chapter also says that legalese and similar “languages” are born from unclear sentences and the idea that if a writer writes with more complex and therefore confusing sentences, he is more intelligent. A big problem with this is that students learn to read these confusing texts and therefore begin to write them, perpetuating the 400 year old problem.

A writer of this sort would tend to believe that their writing only has merit when it is free from grammatical errors. While this is a contributing factor to good writing, it is not the only aspect. The style and clarity of the work is a crucial factor in good writing.

Poor writing is born mostly from those who are writing on unfamiliar topics. When someone is confused or in unfamiliar territory, their writing suffers, and therefore so does the reader.

An important aspect of writing is drafting. A writer is not simply writing, but instead they are crafting. In this light drafting must be a step in the writing process. Williams says, “Perfection is the ideal, but the enemy of done”. In conclusion, Williams says that rules do not help a writer, but principles do.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Walking along the street on campus I passed two professors, both men. I know for a fact that one of these men is gay, and the other is not. One man is wearing a bright pink Hawaiian shirt and bright yellow pants that compliment the shirt. He has his hair styled with gel/mousse, and wears rings on every finger. The other man is wearing a simple green sweater and a pair of Dockers. His hair is a mess and his general demeanor is quite masculine.

To someone who would not be familiar with these two men and were told that one was gay, the other not, the obvious choice would be man #1. His flamboyant appearance announces to the world that he wants to be noticed, one of the stereotypical qualifying factors of a homosexual. However, as you might have guessed, this man is not gay. He is a married man with children.

Most of the students on campus assume that the first man is gay. They make jokes about his outfits and his manner of speech, claiming that he is gay, he just doesn’t know about it yet. I find these sort of remarks extremely cruel. A person’s sexuality is a very personal matter, and it is unnecessarily cruel for a professor to be the object of sexual scrutiny.

The second man is usually overlooked. Though he is a homosexual, not too many people realize, or care. He does not fit into the stereotype, therefore he must not be “really” gay. His quiet poise in the face of probing personal questions never falters, which is a rare thing in this world.

What I think the students on the Randolph-Macon campus fail to realize is that there are many different ways to be a person, no two of which can ever really be the same. If the first professor wore suits every day and did not speak with a lisp, the student body would classify him as straight, since the opposite is the truth, students whisper and mock and are completely disrespectful of the “differently normal”. The second teacher’s sexual identity is largely ignored, evoking only the statement; “I can’t decide whether he’s gay or not” which always seems to end the matter.

The point is, there are so many real problems in the world, deciding which professor is gay and which is straight is a complete waste of time. Especially since the only ways that our culture can tell us prove in this case, to be completely false.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Frog Man Cometh

Have you ever been on a blind date that was so bad that you had to think of complete non-sequitors to keep yourself amused? The items on that list are usually things that when retold are found to be both humorous and numerous. My personal favorites are; counting my teeth (31), listing diseases in alphabetical order (arthritis, bulimia, cataracts, dipsomania…etc.), and the old stand by, listing mentally all the creative ways that you would like to remove the head of the person who set you up on this date.
My blind date experience was a seemingly normal human being, though “seemingly” is a word that always shoots up a little red flag in my brain. He seemed polite, well mannered, and almost interesting. A personal bad habit of mine is to compare someone’s looks mentally to an animal. This guy was a frog. He had an extremely wide mouth, and eyes that were exponentially too large for his head. The nose was practically non-existent and overshadowed entirely by the mustache which was a BAD beauty experiment.
All of this aside, I was determined to at least attempt to have an enjoyable evening. NOPE. Sorry. Thanks for playing, try again real soon. He started the evening by patronizing me and ordering for me. One of my favorite things to do in a restaurant (besides eat) is to order. I’ve enjoyed it since I was a child because I’ve always felt that you and the waiter have a special code. You can decide anything, and then they ask how you want it cooked and what sides and you know exactly without even looking. You are having a very gastrologically intimate discussion with a complete stranger whose name you don’t know, even if they introduced themselves, and you are putting the well being of your FOOD in their hands. To me, a waiter has more power than the president. Sure the president can send us to war, but the waiter can sneeze on your tuna salad.
So after ordering for me, the frog man proceeded to discuss his level of income. As if this wasn’t pathetic enough, it wasn’t even his OWN income he was discussing. It was his parents. That’s right folks, he was bragging about his PARENTS income. I had hoped that after middle school we had matured past the “my dad can beat up your dad” conversation, but apparently not. At this point I was still trying to salvage the evening, and tried to steer the conversation onto a topic, ANY topic, that would at least inspire abstract thought. I asked about religion. CLEARLY not the way to go. His froggy eyes lit up and explained in excruciating detail his circle of friends that got together and shared ideas and feelings, not to mention small monetary donations, and that I should come and meet with them. I wanted to explain to him that I did not want to join his cult, but he seemed so engrossed in the sound of his own voice that it seemed rude to disturb him.
This is where we came in. Counting the teeth, Alphabetical diseases, fastest way to the exit, deciding which men in the restaurant were wearing boxers, which wore briefs, all valid things to keep a bored mind busy.
As I was explaining this encounter to a girlfriend a few days later, we began to discuss what we want in a partner, and what men think we want. We prefer to say ‘men’ vs. ‘guys’ because, though we date ‘guys’ we want ‘men’. Men appreciate all the things that make us beautiful, ‘guys’ want sex. ‘Men’ have the ability to discuss rationalize and probe our minds, ‘guys’ want sex.
And so Julie and I were discussing what we want from men and we realized that not only were our wants irrational, they were fantastical. Our expectations of the male sex were in the realm of science fiction. The perfect man for us must strike an absurd balance of feminine and masculine behaviors that would make Freud crawl onto the floor and cry like a girl. The perfect man must be sensitive, but tough. He must be able to appreciate my mind, but also to turn on like a light bulb. He should be a good dancer, but not a show off. He should have a good sense of fashion, but keep that ball cap that he’s had since high school that we stage mock fights about. He should make a fool out of himself to prove his love for me, but never embarrass me. He should get along with my father, but not too well, we don’t want the baby pictures to come out. He should have a good sense of humor, but not be the class clown (the class clown is traditionally a show off, and show offs are banned as previously stipulated). He should be a good cook, but need my help for ridiculously simple things, like grating cheese. He should be so attractive that other women are envious of me, but not so attractive that they try to take him from me. And there are billions of other stipulations that are just as paradoxical, these were just the tip of the iceberg.
When faced with this mountain of caveats, it is no wonder that Mr. Right eludes so many of us. Due to the media and the vision that the average female holds in her mind of a man, women have shaped men into a different species. Men themselves are fairly simple (so they claim), yet when analyzed by women, their hypothetical selves become essentially ‘butch skipper’. So when I think about the Frog Man in this context, maybe he wasn’t so bad. Although….he really was.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Tourist Season

Something that has always troubled my mind is why some people want to know the exact dimensions of the priceless work of art they are looking at. They don’t see its beauty, they see a picture that would probably be damned hard to clean, and they say this to themselves, to the other people around them and to their tour guide. How many people does it take to carry the statue? Why do all the people in these pictures seem to have lost their clothes? We thought this was a place to bring the family, and here there are all these naked people, im so glad we didn’t bring your mother, she would have been shocked. How long did it take for the curator to find these charming sofas, and how much would it cost to reupholster them all?
These people are usually americans on vacation, and as an american I am deeply embarrassed to call these sorts of people my countrymen. I have never been out of my home country, but have lived my entire life so far in what I believe to be the greatest city in the world; Washington D.C. As a capital city, Washington recieves its fair share of tourists, and probably more than its fair share come to that. I firmly believe that one of the worst sights in the world is a middle aged man probably from somewhere in the midwest, and probably a man who is regarded with some esteem in his circle as a ‘man of the world’, standing in front of a landmark announcing to anyone who will listen that the landmark was named after so-and-so, and was built some very long time ago. This man probably has a nice sensible name like Joe or Bob, and his wife, who is the only person really listening to him, probably thinks of him as a very smart and cunning man, and she is so lucky to have him. Bob is probably wearing some ridiculous outfit so that he might maximize his fun, time, and ability to look like the biggest moron in the world. Khaki shorts one size too small, so that any excess body fat will inevitably spill over the top, a large floppy hat (to keep the sun off of course), a many pocketed vest festooned with pens from the hotel, and pamphlets with interesting sights convieniently circled by the publisher. And to cap his ensemble Bob is most likely wearing dark socks pulled up to his calves with only his hairy and un-tanned knees peering out at the world from beneath his shorts.
Bob and his wife, lets call her Nancy, are out sightseeing and have a grand old time, and causing as much trouble as possible for the natives who are just trying to enjoy their city and their day. They are often asking locals for the time, and making big to-dos about changing their watches and arent things so strange and over-priced in this city? I was once trying to enjoy a visit to the Lincoln Memorial in the spring, which is the most beautiful time of year in Washington, what with all the cherry trees and the glorious weather; when I came across a Bob explaining to a Nancy and a child whom I had great pity for, that the building they were standing in front of was “the capital, that’s where the president lives”. They were standing not ten feet away from me, gazing in their stupidity, at the Lincoln memorial. Most of me wanted to laugh, but some deeper part of me wanted to throw a textbook at these people and tell them that they could be as stupid as they wanted to, but please not out loud thank you very much. The child, a little boy of about 10, looked up briefly, made a face at his father, and went back to his video game.
Bob and Nancy seem to show up whenever it’s tourist season in D.C. and probably when it’s tourist season in any city in the world. Bob wants to see the Historical Buildings, and Nancy wants to see the Gift Shoppes (because all gift shops aimed at tourists add the superfluous P’s and S’s) and the kids want to see The Inside Of Their Eyelids and The Inside Of The Hotel’s Mini-Bar. But Bob won’t allow his children to remove anything from the mini-bar, because as an Experienced Traveler, Bob knows that the mini-bar is full of things he could get at the supermarket, and he did not come all this way to pay $4 for a soda that anyone could get at the grocery store for 89 cents and no one is going to take Bob for a fool, because he is an Experienced Traveler, and no one is going to rip him off, or mug him because they can see him coming and know that he is an Experienced Traveler. And boy do they see him coming. The tourist industry in D.C. must be close to the billion dollar range because of Bob. Bob won’t pay $4 for a soda, but he will pay $25 for a snow globe with the White house in it, and an airplane flying above it, because Bob, as an Experienced Traveler, doesn’t know that airplanes aren’t allowed to fly over the White House, and he has just purchased a $25 dollar piece of crap. Bob won’t allow himself to be mugged, and therefore has most of his belongings tucked into secret zippered compartments in his vest, thus precipitating an agonizing 20 minute search for his wallet so that he might get past security check-points, because Bob will not simply remove his vest and place it on the conveyor belt, Bob must never lose contact with his vest, lest it be stolen.
While locals rejoice in sidewalk artists and listen to their music with interest, and toss a few dollars into their open cases, Bob will stand ten feet away and announce to Nancy at the top of his voice, that these vagrants should get jobs and stop annoying honest people for their hard earned money. What Bob fails to realize is that the ‘vagrants’ are usually art students trying to express themselves and to earn some money outside of the cubicle that they have been forced to toil in during the summer. Bob also fails to realize that while he may be in his own little world, others can hear him, including the vagrant who by now is upset and packing up so that he might find a less annoying corner. The locals look at Bob with the same look that has made the Parisians so famous as snobs, and walk away, a pleasant moment spoiled by an unpleasant man. But Bob is not done with his rant, oh no, hes on a roll, and has found a captive audience in Nancy who firmly believes that Bob is correct in his assumption that all sidewalk preformers are the unworthy poor, and should be spat upon at every opportunity.
D.C.’s answer to the artsy part of town is Adams-Morgan, a piece of D.C. that is reminiscent of Greenwich village in New York. It is a corner of D.C. where the artist and food specialists gather and open galleries and restaurants. Having heard about Adams-Morgan, Bob must investigate. He will walk into a well known local hang out, and order off the menu. The hang outs in Adams-Morgan rarely use menus, and the chef has probably forgotten what exactly is on the menu; so as Bob orders his veal parmesan, the rest of the customers stare in wonder. Many of the places in Adams-Morgan that started out as fancy restaurants have morphed into combinations of a burger place, and coffee bar, so that whoever walks in will get roughly the same thing. Bob’s Veal Parmesan is not what people get. But Bob wants the full experience of Adams-Morgan, so he gets his Veal Parmesan and tries desperately to ignore the blatant stares he is receiving from the other patrons. Somewhere about halfway through his veal (which is not looked upon well by the patrons who are usually all vegetarian, and find it hard to believe that anyone would knowingly eat a baby ANYTHING) Bob will announce to Nancy that this is a really fun part of town, and that they should look around at the “artsy-fartsy” places before heading back to the hotel. As Bob is leaving someone will say something along the lines of “go home stupid tourist”, the other patrons will laugh, and Bob will find the rudeness unbelievable.
Bob and Nancy also find it unbelievable that the city did not wrap itself around them and fall down at their every whim as the hotel staff does. When Bob wants to cross the street, Bob will cross the street. None of this waiting for the light nonsense. The locals must not know the trick, Bob thinks. The trick is to simply stroll out, and the cars will stop, not wanting to hurt innocent people, and wave at him because they are surely glad that he is visiting their lovely city. Bob in for a nasty shock in D.C. where motorists will swerve out of their way to hit Bob. Especially during Tourist season. 50 points are awarded any motorist who successfully hits Bob, 100 if you keep the hat as a trophy. But Bob, although appearances to the contrary, is mighty quick, and is darned hard to hit. Many motorists do make gestures at Bob as well, although they are in no way indicative of the fact that they are happy to see him. Bob is forced to slink back to the sidewalk where about a dozen inhabitants will smile to themselves and secretly hope that they might be able to get some driving in later on. Maybe they’ll be lucky and find a more sluggish tourist on their way home. Because those hats sure do look nice up there above the mantle.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The houses on “Me” street are all different. If they were real houses each one would be not only a different color, but designed in a different archetechtual style. First on the block would be;

Victorian Manor: this house represents my church community. The house is beautiful but still home-like, because my relationships with my church family are homey yet complicated. In the church that I grew up in, the people who surrounded me became my surrogate family, watching myself and my brother while our mother was in chior. Each of my different “mommies” from church has a different personality, though all are mother-like, therefore the house would be painted in many different colors. The house is big, with many rambling rooms, all of which represent a different experience that I have had in the church building, or with my church family. The size of the house also represents the size of my church, which takes up a half of a city block in Alexandria. Yet despite its size, I know every room as if it were my own home, which, in a sense, it is.

Next on “Me” street would be a;

Beach House: this house represents my good friends. I have 3 best friends and some of our best times have been at my beach house in Delaware. Many of the pictures that I have of my best friends are from our trips to the beach. The house is very laid back, one level, a mello color. The beauty of the beach and the beauty of my relationships with my friends is that there is no drama. The whole situation is extrememly mello and relaxing. My three best friends do not judge me or make me feel like I should be something other than what I am.

Villa: the Villa represents my Italian American heritage. On my father’s side of my family I have a very strong Italian connection. On that side of the family our ancestors were nobles who were then kicked out of Italy and became pirates. My heritage has affected me in a big way since I heard all about it while I was growing up. I feel a very strong tie to all things Italian and makes me proud.

Finally on the magical mystery tour of “Me” street;

McMansion: this is an odd addition, especially considering the other houses on the block, but it fits into my street because my extended family gatherings were always at my Aunt Nora’s house. This is not any McMansion, it is my Aunt’s house. The house represents my extended family, which are a major part of who I am. For my entire life a holiday meant heading to Aunt Nora’s house to eat a huge meal and spend the evening chatting. Now that my aunt has moved out of her house and into an even bigger one, I still miss the old house. The house for me meant that I would be fed and loved and I could talk to my heart’s content which is one of my favorite things to do. This house on “Me” street actually represents a house. The house is full of the people that I love including my grandfather who passed away a couple of years ago.

Monday, February 13, 2006

J/Communities list:

Italian American
My grandparents on my fathers side were born and raised in Italy, only coming to America after WWII. This was instilled in me quite early in my life, and has made me very proud to be of Italian descent.

Church Goer
My mother was and is very spiritual, so from the day I was born I have been going to the same church. The people there have watched me grow up and become who I am today, and I feel that they are a part of my family. Even the building itself has affected me because I know it like I know my own home. Though I do not believe the same things that other people who go to church believe, I go because it is my second home.

German Club
In high school the only club that I was a member of was the German club, and that affected me in a very real way. Once I joined the club I realized that I could make friends. I had been a geek, with very few friends, but I became very close with the other members of the German club, and am still friends with many of them today.

Family community
I am always glad to see my extended family and look forward to holidays so that I can hang out with my kooky uncles and gossip with my aunts, and show off for my cousins. Being the oldest cousin, I’ve always really had the center of attention at family gatherings, even when the other cousins were born, and that has given me the ability to take attention in stride, even when I am not entirely comfortable with it.

Good friends community
Each of my good friends adds something to me, and I feel that in each group of friends I have a different role to play. For the most part I am the loud one who always speaks her mind. I also play the clown and keep people laughing.

Literary society
I joined a literary society on campus, though I didn’t really want to. I joined it because a good friend of mine is the president and she needed more members. I guess what that says about me is that I am loyal to my friends and maybe a bit of a push over.

Facebook community
I think my addiction to facebook says something about my personality. To some degree I have an addictive personality, so it might be a good thing that it is being expressed through facebook which doesn’t hurt me or others.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Fever Pitch

I recently watched the movie "Fever Pitch" along with my mother, the
most rabid baseball fan I know. For the most part, the movie touched
on all the elements of a romantic comedy, the whirlwind courtship, the
fight, and the reunion. Yet, "Fever Pitch" had something more going
for it; Baseball.

Growing up with baseball in my home, it was a simple enough movie to
follow. Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, girl likes boy, etc. however,
boy also likes baseball. In fact, this particular boy has an obsession
about baseball. But not just any team, the Red Sox. The team that has
broken more hearts than Elizabeth Taylor. This team attracts more
flat-out loons than a sanitarium, and keeps them all coming back for
more. For the character, the Red Sox are a passion that has kept him
alive since he was seven, and the women in his life tend not to fully
comprehend the addiction.

Enter Drew Barrymore. Though she presented the character in a somewhat
believable fashion, her enunciation and overall acting talents left
something to be desired. Her addition to the film consisted mostly of
her pretty face and fashionable clothing.

The real star of the film was Jimmy Fallon. Mr. Fallon plays the Sox
obsessed Ben, a thirty year old school teacher living and dying for
the game. I must say that his performance made the film. His wit and
charm and sense of humor endeared me to him immediately, putting him
in the limelight of the film. However, once the audience has been
endeared to Jimmy, Drew's whining about his baseball fanaticism cannot
hold any water. The audience has made their choice, and is sticking by
Ben through thick and thin, much like his relationship with his
beloved Red Sox. Once Drew Barrymore starts her crusade to try to fit
both his love for the game and work into her already hectic schedule,
the movie goer has to make the decision; "who am I going to root for
here?". The choice that I made was to root for Ben, which made Drew
seem like a whiny teenager.

On the whole, the movie was predictable, but enjoyable. A real gem of
the film is that it was made the year that the Red Sox won the World
Series. The script had been written that they were to lose, as they
had done for the past 82 years, but once the Sox actually won the
Series, the script was rewritten and the ending changed, painting the
happy couple as the mascots for the Red Sox's victory.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Footloose and fancy free
As a theatre patron I like to watch a show for both its technical and theatrical aspects, good and bad. Some shows are better than others as is to be expected, but shows that one has shelled out $25 or more to see, should live up to their price. Perhaps that’s just my thinking, but that’s how I see it. At the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City there is a theater and they regularly perform shows there. When I was there this past summer, they were playing the musical “Footloose”. I am a long time fan of that show and we bought tickets.
As we were walking in, my friend Denise and I noticed that the patrons were mostly older, meaning blue haired women and men with their socks up to their calves. I commented to Denise that the older people might find the show a bit risqué and that they might not fully understand all of the references. She shrugged and said that they were entitled to have fun at the theater. I agreed, but was still worried that large portions of the plot might be lost on them. We took our seats about 20 minutes before the curtain and as we sat there drinking our mandatory drinks we couldn’t help but overhear snippets of the conversations around us. On her side Denise overheard a woman declaring to her husband that all old people should be sent to Atlantic City so that they could “gamble and not be out on the roads”. This shocked Denise who is generally a cheerleader for the better side of human nature and a consistent optimist.
Finally the show started and the audience finally caught on to the beginning of the show about halfway through the opening number. Once the first song was done a family came and sat in the row in front of us. This didn’t bother me as I could still see as long as the mother and her daughter didn’t move around too much. However, this child must have been as dim as she looked because she had to have everything explained to her by her mother who leaned right into my field of vision to explain the plot to her dense daughter. Mother and daughter weaving in and out of my sight line, I tried desperately to enjoy the show.
This was of course impossible because the rest of the audience was having difficulties following the show as well. Here is an actual excerpt of a conversation I was forced to overhear.
(A new character walks onto the stage)
Shrill woman #1: (at the top of her voice) WHOS HE?
Shrill woman #2: I DON’T KNOW. NORMAN, WHO IS THAT?
Shrill woman #1: WHICH ONE?
Shrill woman #2: I MISSED IT. WHAT DID HE SAY?

It truly shocked me that Albert was able to sleep, and shocked me even more that these people were allowed out of the sanitarium. I wanted to explain to them that all of their questions would be answered if they simply let the play unfold, but they were determined not to miss anything and therefore missed everything.
The parts of the show that I did catch through the octogenarian chorus weren’t very good. Afterward Denise said that it was akin to a high school musical, but without the energy. Perhaps our mandatory drinks didn’t have quite enough alcohol in them, or perhaps the drinks that the performers had had a little too much alcohol. Either way I will blame alcohol. Although I’m not sure it’s quite fair to blame alcohol. It can do some funny things, but I doubt that it could reduce an entire audience of people to mindless zombies and bored slugs. Alcohol can turn seemingly normal humans into blubbering idiots.
About 18 months ago my friend Janis and I were riding the Metro back from Maryland to our homes. We were sitting there in a rather uneventful ride when a very inebriated gentleman boarded the car that we were sitting in. He spotted the empty seat in front of Janis and myself and then spotted us. He started to talk to us, and once he found out that we were students, he decided that we needed to be quizzed. He would ask Janis questions like; “what continent are we on?” and then would ask me how much silt was deposited annually from the second biggest river in South America. When I complained that he was giving her all of the easy questions, he said that I was just jealous because Janis was so much smarter than I was; He then *delighted* us by doing impressions. Actually I should say impression because he only made one face and scolded us for not correctly guessing which one of his identical faces was meant to be Richard Nixon, and which one was meant to be Jimmy Stewart. He then realized that he needed to leave the train and as he left he stuck his head back into the car and made his face to the rest of the car, and announced that he was not a crook. He might not have been, but the alcohol that he had consumed sure was, considering how many of his brain cells had been stolen from him. Janis still claims that the man was not drunk he was simply “high spirited”. She is probably right. He was high on spirits all right.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Essay 1: Reasonable Argument
Audience: Writing teachers in general

The process of writing is different for everyone, yet for some it is more difficult than it is for others. Those who find writing to be easy have what some might call “the gift” of writing and it is clear who has it and who does not.

Writing is a form of art, and though art can be crafted, it cannot be taught in the way that historical facts can be taught. Each piece of art must have behind it a spark of talent, otherwise it would be folly to “teach” the techniques. Once the techniques are mastered then the artist may let his or her true gift shine.

Working within the parameters of basic technique, only the pieces of art that have a talent behind them stand out, others are simply variations on a theme. The distinction that is made between a masterpiece and a mediocre copy is not in the techniques, but in the fire and inspiration behind the work. Therefore it must be assumed that the only way that true art can be produced is though an artist, i.e. one who possesses the gift for art.

Once these limitations are placed on the art of writing in particular it is clear that only those with real talent will ever become writers or artists. All of the different elements can be taught; typing, grammar, sentence structure, spelling, word choice, etc. yet writing is so much more that the sum of its parts. Though a book is made up of sentences and commas, the work itself is so much more. So much exists in the art of writing that no teacher can teach.

Essay 2: Argument from the Heart
Audience: writing teachers in general

Writing is a skill that is honed and crafted over the course of a lifetime; the whole process is one of constant learning. If the teacher can inspire, then the student can produce a document of their best work.

With enough practice and dedication and the tutelage of more experienced writers, even the most mundane writer can produce a document of artistic beauty.

If the student is devoted and truly wants to learn and can take criticism in stride and learn from their mistakes and persevere through their work that is of a lesser standard then I believe that they can and will become a better writer, and even a great writer. Even Einstein failed freshman Algebra, so who’s to say who the next great writer could be, all they need is encouragement and strength of character to evolve in their writing style.

Through constant practice a writer can become better and better at their craft, honing it to produce the best work possible, and it could very possibly be a work of art.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

My Expectations.

I expect this class to address my problems as a writer. For the most part, that is my only expectation. My job is to read and help students with the content of their English papers, and so I then also see many mechanical mistakes, and my inner editor forces me to fix those problems, so I am not looking forward to editing other papers. I am hoping to eventually get a job as a copy editor so peer editing would be good practice for that, and I hope that I can hone that skill a little.

I expected this class to be more like the creative writing class, and am somewhat relieved to see that it is not. I would like to become a better writer, as writing would be my ideal career field. Though I like the looseness of the creative writing class, and the fact that I could write anything that I wanted to, there was not the requirement of writing everyday. Though I will probably complain about it, I do think that writing everyday is a good thing, especially for those of us in the class who actually want to improve. Practice does improve a skill, but no one ever said that practice is fun, and I do think that there will be days when I will not want to write, yet will have to.

I want to leave the class knowing that I am a better writer than I went in as. Since I love to write, it would be quite sad if I realized that I am a bad writer. I hope that I am a good writer, but I will make no such claims until I have gone through the class.

My personal goals for the class are to push myself to write in a better and more polished manner everyday. Though I am a pessimist and know that my writing will probably not improve substantially daily, I do hope to see significant improvement by the end of the semester.

I am looking forward to the Narrative Essay, since that is the type of writing that I enjoy the most and actually do in my spare time. As of yet I do not know what I will be writing about for that essay, but half the fun is to come up with a story and make it your own. I think that each person’s life is a good story, and the only trouble is transforming actions into words that can grip the reader and transfix an audience.

I am least looking forward to the Argument paper. Though I like to put the right word in the right place, I am seldom good at it. The thrill that comes from knowing that you have used the perfect words to express yourself is one that I experience seldomly, so I will have to take my time for that assignment.

I hope that this class pushes me to be a better and more interesting writer. Mostly I want to write in a way that grips an audience, and I think if I apply myself, this class will help me do that.
Why I Write

For many, the process of writing is a painful one. To create something out of nothing is an extremely frightening prospect and it keeps those who are too timid or unsure of their talent from ever truly writing. For me however, writing has always been a cathartic exercise, a way for me to express my feelings or vent a story that has been in my head, waiting for me to write it down.

I believe that my writing is also heavily influenced by what I read. My favorite authors are those who craft words and sentences in ways that inspire me to see the world in different ways. With the right words, even the most mundane activities become works of art.

I believe that one of my weaknesses as a writer is that I tend to bounce from topic to topic, never really resting on any one of them. This is especially true in my formal papers and it is a problem that I really wish to work on. Many professors have commented that my papers lack clear direction, and I believe that this problem stems from the fact that writing is a way to clear my head. Once cleared, more thoughts pop into the forefront of my conciseness that are semi-relevant to the topic at hand, therefore I must include them in the paper.

Writing for me is a process which starts as I sit down at my computer. I do very little, if any, prewriting. Even so, I do use the tools in the word processor to make notations on the page as I type. Most specifically I like to use the highlighting tool to mark places where I need a quote, better sentence structure, an author’s name, or a page number. In this way, I do not write the whole paper at once as soon as I sit down, rather, I write what I can and go back to reorganize or delete moments that, in retrospect, are not as relevant to the topic as they should be.

Because I write this way, I tend not to wait until the last minute to write. Though it has happened, I would much rather give myself time to do the revisions that I know the work will need, and try to present the best that I can.

For the cathartic short stories or essays that I write I tend to write straight through. These works are mostly written because my brain has been composing and editing the story to the point that I must write it down for no other reason than to get it out of my head. Once on paper, my brain lets the story go, and starts writing another one. They usually start with me narrating my life to myself as it happens. Wondering about the clerk in the grocery store leads to the fictitious creation of their background, and a dialogue with their mother. I believe that there can be inspiration in everything, if you look hard enough, and have enough imagination to play with words and situations.

Mostly I like to write for myself. Both the writing and the final product amuse me so why not write?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006