Monday, September 29, 2008

Reading Like a Writer #3: The Kiterunner

1. Notice a Passage: This passage comes from The Kiterunner. I just started reading it and already I'm hooked!

2. Passage: "It was an odd thing to see the stone-faced Ali happy, or sad, because only his slanted brown eyes glinted with a smile or welled with sorrow. People say that eyes are windows to the soul. Never was that more true than with Ali, who could only reveal himself through his eyes" (8).

3. Name: The author is using a cliche' to explain how this character, Ali, expresses his emotion.

4. Evaluate: Although I do like this description, I think that using a cliche' isn't always a very effective way to describe things. To really determine this effect works or not I will have to read further into the story to better understand Ali's character. But as of now, this cliche' doesn't work for me. It makes Ali's character seem somewhat trite, rather than the deep character that I believe the author intends him to be. I suppose I will see as I read. Maybe I'll change my mind.

5. Everyone raved about the girls hair. It was golden like honey and as soft as silk. Everywhere she went people couldn't stop stroking her head.

6. Using it: Well in this case, I want to avoid using cliche's when describing important, deep characters. I think that it makes the characters seem more superficial.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Don't Look!

Now you'll read this for sure, right? Because if you really don't want someone to look, you never say "Don't Look!" This was a fact of life that was learned in the 7th grade locker room. Anytime anyone said those magic words, everyone's heads whipped around to see what someone didn't want them to see.

Today I was reminded of the "don't look" concept. Except for me, today was one of those days that I just wish I hadn't looked in the mirror. Then I would be oblivious to the fact that I really do look terrible. Obviously not looking wouldn't change the fact that I still look exhausted and messy, but at least I wouldn't know quite how exhausted and messy I look. Oh Naivety! What a glorious thing. But I looked and now am no longer naive to the utter disarray of my appearance.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

So Tired, So Funny; So Tired, So Dead

Recently it has come to my attention that hilarity comes after 1:00 AM. That is the deadline. After that minute hand clicks past that invisible barrier of time and space and the hilarity begins. It's inevitable.

Two hours of sleep pass....

The new day begins. The day is long. And now it is not so funny. I am dead. Dead tired. Was the hilarity worth it? Yes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Politics. Sometimes politics are confusing. Right now I am trying to figure out what my views really are. The problem: I don't always have enough knowleged to have an educated opinion. With this whole financial crisis. I don't know enough about economics to know the long-term effects of bailing out or letting be. Which is better? I don't know. Sometimes I feel like we have to know EVERYTHING in order to know anything. Confusing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Slightly Frustrated

Want to yell and scream, but that won't do no good
Want to cry and whine, but know I never should

What else can there be to ease the tension out of me?
What else can be done to make this feeling come undone?


Run, Run, Run.

Run away, and there I'll stay.
Hiding out from all this doubt.
Maybe I'll come back again,
but right now, I don't know when.

Monday, September 22, 2008

How I Read

The other day when we read Siddhartha Chapter 4 one passage really struck me: "When anyone reads anything which he wishes to study, he does not despise the letters and punctuation marks, and call them illusion, chance and worthless shells, but he reads them, he studies them and loves them, letter by letter" (32). When I read this passage it hit me. This passage perfectly describes how I read. I am not a fast reader. I never have been and I probably never will be. I know lots of strategies to speed up my reading, but I don't like using them. When I read I like to feel each word, clause, sentence. I like each word to fill my mouth, to fully feel each aspect of the punctuation. That's what makes reading enjoyable. So, I suppose when I'm reading a text book I can use all those speed-up strategies where you read phrases and use your finger as a pacer, but not when I read prose. Nope. Because in prose each individual word deserves attention.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Is Awesome

Yesterday, when I looked at our class blog, I noticed that it read: "Scribbles & Specks Rocks." This was becasue the link shows the title of the blog: Scribbles and Specks, and also the title of the post: which happened to be "Rocks." I kind of liked how the two phrases fit together. So today I decided to title this post "Is Awesome." So that on my other sites the new update will say: "Scribbles & Specks Is Awesome." Words can be so much fun, no?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


If you squeeze a rock in your hand, who get's hurt? That's right. You do. I like this parable, although I have to admit that sometimes it comes back to bite me too. But it's true. Anger, grudges, resentment, etc. can hurt lots of people, but the person they hurt most is the person who is angry, carries the grudge, or is resentful. It's like they keep squeezing that rock. The rock never crumbles. But as I have learned from a book I'm reading Touching Spirit Bear, anger cannot be forgotten. This is true too. I guess we have to learn how to channel our anger.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Reading Like a Writer #2: Caramelo

1. Notice a Passage: This passage comes from Sandra Cisneros' novel Caramelo (yes, this is the book I read for my outside reading assignment).

2. Passage: "I feel like I'm soaked with sadness. Anyone comes near me, or just brushes me with their eyes, I know I'll just fall apart. Like a book left in the rain" (389).

3. Name: In this passage Cisneros uses great imagery and a simile to express the despair of the narrator.

4. Evaluate: I love the imagery of being "soaked with sadness." It makes the reader feel heavy, like when you jump in a pool with all of your clothes on. Then the simile Cisneros uses when she compares her sadness to "like a book left in the rain" really emphasizes the imagery of "soaked with sadness." The book soaked book would be heavy and dripping, but it would also fall apart. This simile and imagery work really well together to show us the grief of the narrator.

5. Darkness consumes me. People come in and turn on the light and I can't see a thing. Like I've been swallowed whole in the cavity of a whale.

6. Using It: I could pair my similes with explicit imagery to make them stand out more and to help show my readers the emotions in my writing, rather than just telling them what things felt like. The imagery and simile help the writing show us the picture and help us feel what the narrator feels.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Blueberry Picking

As you know from the previous post, I was in the great state of Washington this past weekend. And while I was there, I picked blueberries. Picking blueberries. Now, that was relaxing. I liked it a lot. Maybe that sounds weird. Picking blueberries made me think about how sometimes mindless labor-type tasks are so rejuvenating. Pick and talk. Talk and pick. Mindless work needs to be done. Sometimes I actually like doing it. I always like doing it if I have a group of friends or family members with whom to do it. Then it's like a long, rejuvenating break from life. You know, kind of like "A Spoonful of Sugar helps the medicine go down, in the most delightful way." Thanks, Mary Poppins. So, I figure I did pick my share of blueberries. I probably picked a little more than I ate the day before. And yes, they were scrum-didilie-umptous!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Loony Limerick Friday

"Seattle Here I come,"
Said Liz Thack on the run
And she flew through the doors
And triumphant she roars:
"Now it's time for some fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!"

The week is now done;
the next, yet has begun.
I'll fly through time and space
to a new, dazzling place.
But then: home again, I must come.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Too Much Talking

Today I did way too much talking. Talk, talk, talk. Gibber, jabber, smat. I definitely did more talking than I wanted to.

I want to listen. Hear the thunderous sound of silence. quiet. mute.

Tomorrow I will go on talk, talk, talking. I will gibber, jabber, smat some more. And I will talk more than I want to.

The next day I will listen. I will listen, and then I will hear.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lost in Translation

So, in class we are reading Siddhartha. In chapter 1 (well of my translation) there is a beautiful passage with amazing verbs: "Dreams came to him and restless thoughts. They flowed into him from the water of the river, glittered from the night stars, melted out of the rays of the sum. Dreams came and a restless mind, rising in the smoke of the offerings, wafting from the verses of the Rigveda, seeping into him from the teachings of the old brahmins" (5). Beautiful no? flowed, glittered, melted, rising, wafting, seeping. Great verbs. Well, it was quite a shock when I went to show my students this passage and in the school's copy it was not even close the the same. The asthetic beauty was gone. But no fear, I read them the passage from my copy and we talked about translation differences and which passage we liked better and why. Yet, isn't it sad that such beautiful prose could be lost in translation? This reemphasized to me the importance of reading a good translation. Does anyone know a good translation of Anna Karenina?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Good Day

Today was a good day. I didn't feel as rushed between classes--granted I still haven't eaten lunch--but it was better. It just flowed. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that we are studying the calming and go-with-the-flow religion of Buddhism. Maybe. Could be. But I'm glad that today flowed better. It has been hard for me to find the flow of B days. Moving around each class does not contribute to a nice flow. Maybe flow is on the horizon. I hope so. And I'm sure my students do too. Flow on the Horizon. I like that. I think I should use that in a poem or something. Maybe a personal essay. hmm... I'll have to come back to that one.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Survival Mode

One month at a time.
One week at a time.
One day at a time.
One hour at a time.
One minute at a time.
minute by minute;
hour by hour;
day by day;
week by week;
month by month;

Friday, September 5, 2008


Feet Ache
Short on Time

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Missing Thailand

Today I miss my second home. I miss the rice fields that stretch for miles. Green in the summer; Golden in the fall. Well, winter here. As cheesy as it sounds, part of my heart will always be in Thailand. I love all of the smells that wander through the air: curry, fruit, rain, spice. The smells make each street come alive. The sounds too. Vendors pushing carts along the edge of the street tinkling bells, poking horns, or calling out their goods and services; hoping someone will consume.
Thailand. Even within one country it seems like it could be three or four. The chaos and crowds of Bangkok--the city that never sleeps. The laid-back ease of the Isaan, where daily naps on the job are almost mandatory. The small-town melting pot feel to the North, where hundreds of hill tribes and cultures combine to make a whole.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Reading Like A Writer

Remember, five (5) of your writer's notebook entries must evaluate another author's writing.
To read like a writer follow these easy steps:
(1) While you are reading notice passages that jump out at you, or that you just like
(2) Re-read those passages and look at what the author is doing--why did the passage strike you? Is it the words, the imagery, the punctuation? What's going on?
(3) Determine what the author is doing--give the effect a name
(4) Evaluate the effect. Does it work? Why or why not?
(5) When/How will you use (or avoid) this same technique in your writing?

I will demonstrate.

1. This passage comes from the novel Night by Elie Wiesel, it is an autobiographical novel about Wiesel's experience in Auschwitz during the Holocaust.

2. Passage:
"The bread, the soup--those were my entire life. I was nothing but a body. Perhaps even less: a famished stomach" (52).

3. Name: Wiesel is using dashes, colons, and fragments to create certain effects.

4. Evaluate: This passage has a great use of punctuation. When Wiesel places the dash between the phrases "The bread, the soup" and "those were my entire life" he emphasizes the importance of each phrase in relation to each other. The dash creates an important pause. It forces the reader to stop and think about what is on both sides. Then Wiesel goes on with the complete sentence: "I was nothing but a body." This sentence is emphasized because it is followed by a fragment (or an incomplete sentence). The fragment "Perhaps even less: a famished stomach" emphasizes the complete sentence that comes before, but it is also emphasized. This double emphasis is an amazing technique. Wiesel is able to make his readers consider each phrase. Within the fragment, Wiesel uses a colon. The colon has a similar effect to the dash in that it makes the reader pause and think about the phrases on both sides and how they relate to each other. And because this sentence is a fragment the reader must not only consider how the phrases on both sides of the colon relate to each other, but to the complete sentence that comes before them. Wow. Now this is powerful prose.

5. Imitation:
The game, the crowd--those were my entire life. I was the best. Perhaps even more: top notch, a star.

Using it: I can use dashes and colons when I have two related ideas and I want to place an emphasis on both of them. I could also use fragments when I want to keep a point short and help my reader tie it back to the sentence before. Yay for colons, dashes, and fragments!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Let's talk about titles. I thought I might elaborate on the title of this blog. Maybe it's self explanatory, maybe it's not. But here goes my explanation. Even though this is electronic media, I want you to think of these entries as scribbles like I was scribbling down thoughts in a writer's notebook. Rather than scribbling, I am typing. Furiously typing. Specks, well because in all of these scribbles there just might be some speck of truth, some nugget of wisdom, some gem of good writing. They will most likely be only specks however. Specks amidst a mass of static insanity. But Scribbles & Specks, here we go.