Expository Week of Sept. 23
Journal Mission: Pay Attention
Complete each of the following assignments in your journal each night. Spend approximately 20 minutes on each. Please title and date each entry. Journals will be collected on a spot check basis as well as on pre-assigned dates.
1. LOOK AROUND
Take an imaginary visitor on a tour of your daily route to work, school, or anywhere you habitually travel. Put into words what you see. Describe the eccentric old man who every day leaves the run down mansion on the corner. Give details of the crumbling mansion. Keep adding to your tour as you learn the names of the trees and stores along the route and notice for the first time the zigzag design on the façade of the movie house.
EXAMPLE: The ancient barber with the shop at Main Street and Mackey now opens his shop at 7: 30 AM. He sits, reading the same issue of People magazine, but no customers enter. The nostalgic shop is accentuated with a red and white swirling barbershop sign, faded to pink and gray after years of hairstyles have passed its doors.
Enjoy the overheard details of other people’s lives. Train yourself to remember them. Listen to the words of a couple at a restaurant or a conversation of a grandmother and child at Genovese. Recall this talk later, keeping original language but editing for emphasis. Jot down 5 (min) snatches of overheard conversations that made your head turn.
EXAMPLE: "It was one of those beds that has, like, a canopy."
" But she has both the Cliffs and the Monarchs."
"He scored humongous SATS. That’s his problem."
3. TAKE A BREATH
Put your nose and mind to work. Make a list of approximately 30 animals, objects, and substances that PRODUCE ODOR (sea air, wet wool, dogs, cat boxes, leather, French fries, feet, coffee, soap, etc.). Mix some smells together to suggest a location: …the perfume of women losing layers of soap to the heat, of cardboard pizza, of hand-carried trash, of dogs and strong coffee and a light salt wave from the Hudson river.
You can bring the world into focus, make your surroundings less of a blur, if you make metal snapshots. Remember: the best picture to take may not be of the happy couple cutting the wedding cake, but rather of the pouty ex-boyfriend looking on from the corner. Set a goal of three mental photographs this week that you can reconstruct. For instance, a visitor to the rural coast of Northern California says:
…a decrepit Volkswagen bus covered with peace symbols, its greasy engine parts arrange on the ground, pondered by thin shirtless men with foot long pony-tails… a bulletin board outside a general store announcing in hand printed letters a town meeting, a vegetarian potluck to benefit the school art program, a request for a ride to Mexico…