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Sedaris February 23, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — hvandolsen @ 10:59 pm

I think one of the main things that attracts me to Sedaris’ writing style is his humility and his ability to make light of a somewhat uncomfortable or sensitive subject. We discussed this a lot in class on Wednesday, but when I read back through the stories his light style still stuck with me.  For instance, the subject matter of “A Plague of Tics” is taboo, but he is able to create funny anecdotes that lighten the weight of the delivery. One of my favorite moments that to me is so his voice is on page 368, “Only a confirmed idiot would rather wander the halls of my high school dressed in a floor-length caftan;as for the countless medallions that hung from my neck, I might as well have worn a cowbell.” Sedaris’ humility is so refreshing. My favorite type of humor is self-deprecating humor. I have trouble dealing with people who take themselves to seriously all of the time. Sedaris knows how he was acting was ridiculous and laughs at the image of himself as child. However, in “That’s Amore” he is still able to laugh at himself. Instead of being overly offended by Helen’s ridiculous commentary and views of life, Sedaris simply laughs them off and secretly agrees sometimes too. Sedaris writes, “The woman unfurled a few thick fingers, the way you might when working an equation: 2 young men + 1 bedroom – ugly panelling = fags. ‘Yeah, we met.’ Her voice was heavy with disdain. ‘We met, all right.'” I feel as though this excerpt represents Sedaris’ self-deprecating humor as well. He uses a stereo-type to make fun of himself. Sedaris is now one of my favorite writers and I’m going to read more of his stuff later on.


Reflection on “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” February 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — hvandolsen @ 1:42 pm

For starters, I enjoyed this piece a lot more than Buckley’s piece from yesterday. I believe that this story touches upon an issue that is often times unrecognized. One of the most beautiful parts of this piece was her shift in and out of Spanish itself. I loved how she’d give a Spanish phrase or quotation (translate it of course) mixed in with the rest of the story. I felt that this shift was indicative of her entire argument. In addition, I was unaware that there was a whole different culture of Chicano which had its own separate language and in turn identity. As bad as this may sound, I truly just assumed that there was Spanish and than there was English. However, after reading this story I realized that there could be a blend between the two. This blend came from Spanish individuals living in the U.S. being forced into a different language. What astonished me was how Americans sought to get rid of the accents of the Spanish people. To me this is unbelievably wrong, it is robbing an individual of who she is. It is not that Americans looked to simply encourage immigrants to learn English, they hoped to leave no trace of who these people once were. Their former lives were erased. It saddens me to think that our country which preaches equality and freedom for all would commit such a crime. Buckley’s piece advocating freedom of expression in its own way. I see the parallel between these two pieces because both seek to use language as a form of identity.


30 Minute Writing Assignment January 23, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — hvandolsen @ 5:20 pm

The boardwalk at Rye Beach is a place that is deeply loved by those who know it. It’s worn brown boards are so familiar to me. I’ve heard that is spans a mile back and forth. But I think a large of that is me trying to convince myself that it’s longer when I run there. As a child, going to the boardwalk was almost a daily occurrence. We’d go on walks from our house on two blocks away most of the time with my beagle Molly. Sometimes my brother, sister, and I would take our bikes or rollerblades, but we always, always went. I’ve seen the boardwalk at all different times of day in varying weather. I’ve seen my fair share of deep pinks and oranges meshing with the clouds at sunset. I’ve seen the crisp, gray sky of a winter’s day and the promise of snow. I’ve seen the endless blue of a summer sky when the boardwalk is filled with strangers and visitors looking to the enjoy the beach or Playland amusement park. But my favorite time to go there is on an evening in fall or winer. Perhaps I will see a woman who may or may not have been my neighbor years ago, or the elderly couple that seems to enjoy the boardwalk for all of the same reasons that I do, but sometimes, if I’m lucky, there will be no one there but me. It is amazing to see the vast contrast between the summer months when frisbees fly across the boardwalk and the whine of the choo choo train ride can be heard from blocks away, to the brisk, clear quiet of a fall afternoon when the rusty lock clamps over the entrance to the beach and the lifeguard stands are tipped over in the sand. One my favorite parts of the boardwalk is the smell. Just as the scene changes so drastically in the chaos of the summer to the peacefulness of a quiet October Tuesday on the boardwalk, so does the smell. There is always that clean, lingering smell of salt that tickles my nose and brings back distant memories of summer. However, in the summer the all too familiar smell of Nathan’s french fries and hot dogs eats away at you, mixed with the smell of sunscreen and tanning oil from the group of older ladies who love to set up their beach chairs on the boardwalk and literally bake in the sun. In the fall or winter the smell of the ocean is not polluted with fast food and sunscreen. It stands alone. I often find myself taking longer, deeper breathes to savor the smell of the sea. The boardwalk holds pieces of who I am. As a child, the boardwalk was the path to Playland and excitement would overpower me as I thought  about all of the rides I’d enjoy and the carvel and popcorn I would devour. As an older kid my friends and I would go there for walks or bike rides, an escape from home. And today, after moving farther away from the boardwalk, is it where I go to think. Whenever I’ve had a bad day, I’ll get in my car and it’s autopilot to the boardwalk and my old neighborhood. I’ll park and walk along the same sidewalks I did as a child bumping over each crack with my bike. I feel so comforted by the houses that line the street and the beautiful tree that stands rights before the entrance to the boardwalk. The tip of the boardwalk is my favorite spot. You can look over the span of water and see Long Island. It feels as though if you dove in, you could swim to Long Island in a quick few minutes. As a child, I always imagined another little girl looking across at the ferris wheel at Playland, thinking the same thing as me. Home.


Essay Corrections January 20, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — hvandolsen @ 12:45 am

As I went through all of the comments on my drafts, I realized that a lot of my issues were in structure and organization. I struggle with creating a seamless flow in my essays. Even though these two essays are so different, in the comments the issue of organization is addressed and criticized. It seems that my ideas are not always clear enough to the reader and that I need to work on outlining before I write. I the future, I think that reverse outlining will help me focus on organization as well.  In addition, I sometimes seem to have issues with passive voice. I think I have gotten better at this after learning how to detect passive voice and then change it. Aside from the comments, I know that I find it hard to find the warrants sometimes. I’m working to understand SOAPstone more as well.


Seeing January 8, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — hvandolsen @ 8:48 pm

In a library every item seems to be so plain, so simple. These are items that are not supposed to offer up distraction to the focused student. However, today it seems weird to me. Even though one is supposed to sit and quietly do her work in the library, doesn’t it seem that there should be something, anything really, to give inspiration? The plain white walls, the neatly stacked books, the worn red chairs. I search emptily for something that will spark my attention. I can’t even imagine that my inspiration could be found right before me. What I have failed to realize in the past is that if one truly does look at the simple, peaceful objects in any room, she can find inspiration of perhaps the highest kind. It does not matter if one is looking out at the most stunning of landscapes or looking up from a secluded desk in the library…she can still see more clearly something that she may not have looked at before. 

My eyes jump to one item in particular though, an item that could easily be missed. This item is something that I have never truly thought about. It is open, receptive, looking for something to hold. Its sides create a tall pyramid and sharp angles. The pyramid reaches high to the sky, scanning the clouds. There are no steps in this pyramid. It is a simple slippery slope down the side. It’s deep, warm color is reflective of its purpose. As is its erect and strong stance. Just as the pyramids were created as homes for the sacred remains of powerful pharaohs in Ancient Egypt, this pyramid was created to provide a home for special and important sheets of paper. These papers, books, and magazines are kept for a purpose. Some items appear to be purposeless, but they were created for something. Someone made the item with an idea in mind. An idea of what it would look like or should be like. 



Diving Element in Dillard’s “Total Eclipse” December 13, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — hvandolsen @ 2:11 pm

Dillard first begins to include the diving metaphor subtly in the first part of the piece on page 81 stating, “We…descended several thousand feet into central Washington and the broad Yakima valley…” Dillard’s use of the word “descended” is indictative of a diver slowly going deeper and deeper in the ocean. She continues with this brief introduction of the diving methaphor by stating that their “ears popped” as they descended just as a diver has to equalize or pop his ears as the pressure increases. And then finally within the same paragraph Dillard writes, “I watched the landscape innocently, like a fool, like a diver in the rapture of the deep who plays on the bottom while his air runs out.” As opposed to the earlier references this is a more morbid use of the diving methaphor. Dillard claims that the diver’s “air is running out” as if to say that he is slowly but surely losing oxygen and life. Not only does Dillard claim this but she states that she is like this diver and is innocently waiting for something terrible to happen. This image could be indicative of Dillard’s belief that mankind are perhaps naive and simply swim along until all of a sudden death is a upon them.

The next time that Dillard employs the diving image is on page 89 stasting, “I should have known right then that I was out of my depth.” She explores depth and diving in a different light in this part. Dillard seems to feel out of control or scared and is still anticipating something terrible to happen. Another ascept of the diving methaphor that I picked up on is Dillard’s continuning description of the sky and its blue color. This could be linked to the deep blue of the ocean, “The sky’s blue was deepening, but there was no darkness” (P. 90). The use of the word “deepening” first brought this idea into mind, the sky’s blue color is linked to that of the ocean.

Dillard finally wraps up her use of the diving metaphor on the last page by stating, “From the depths of mystery, and even from the heights of splendor, we bounce back and hurry for the latitudes home” (P. 103) This is the last sentence of the piece that has a lot more positivety than the previous uses of the diving metaphor. Dillard discusses diving as a “mystery” and uses postitive words like “splendor” to describe the wonder that is life and all of the new discoveries that are made each and everyday.


Dillard’s “Death of a Moth” December 11, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — hvandolsen @ 7:47 pm

To be honest at first this piece was very unclear to me. The first time that I read this during class on Friday I found myself extremely confused. However, as some of my questions were answered and the class engaged in a good discussion of the piece, I began to more fully understand it. To me, Dillard’s “Death of a Moth” is an analysis of one’s importance or significance in the world. Dillard seems to be lost and lonely throughout this piece and is searching for something to spark her imagination and ability to write. However, I do not believe it was simply because she is experiencing writer’s block. I believe that Dillard is grappling with death and how troubling it is that some upon their death leave nothing behind. As Dillard watches the moths die she realizes how fleeting life truly is and how in an instant these moths are gone and there is really no trace of their existence. Obviously, there is a difference between a moth’s life and a human’s life, but by using the scope of the moth, Dillard is able to establish her sentiments towards death and what comes after. The gold moth that ignites the fire and serves a purpose after its death is particularly amazing to Dillard. She finds herself mesmerized by this one gold moth. I believe this is because she sees how this one moth is able to leave its mark and is able to be purposeful even after it has died. Dillard seems to want to leave her own trace behind. She does not wish to be forgotten and meaningless like some of the other moths that just pass on in the blink of an eye. Dillard hopes to remembered long after her death and ignite the imagination in others.