For these pairs, I took the pictures, but I didn’t write the sentences. To see the pictures, click on the sentence.  It was MUCH more difficult than I expected to find 10 sentences that I really wish I had written.  Not because there aren’t 10, but because I had to pick only 10, and because it was really hard to remember where I had read things that I love. 

A slavish concern for the composition of words is the sign of a bankrupt intellect. ~ Norton Juster

If we only live, we too will go to sea in a sieve, — to the hills of the Chankly Bore! ~Edward Lear

And his triumph, when he triumphs, is ours. ~James Baldwin

Hone and spread your spirit till you yourself are a sail, whetted, translucent, broadside to the merest puff. ~Annie Dillard

I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck. ~Annie Dillard. Also, look at this one. In a very different sort of way, I think that it fits…

It was an intricate stew of truths and mirages that convulsed the ghost of Jose Arcadio Buendia with impatience and made him wander all through the house even in broad daylight. ~Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Everybody turned into a baby, and all humanity, without exception, conspired biologically to produce two perfect people named Adam and Eve, he supposed. ~Kurt Vonnegut

In this case, the value of the prune lies not in its ontology, but in its ability to serve as a representative for a particular mindset. ~Brother Dear

Give me health and a day, and I will make the pomp of emperors ridiculous. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Don’t you bully me with your politeness! ~Yann Martel

For these pairs, I wrote the sentences, but I did not take the pictures.

The heart still pumps blood, even to imperfections.

They left the bedsheets wrinkled in their enthusiasm to embark on a journey together.

“Wrinkles give character,” he said, as he smiled and his eyes disappeared.

Sometimes, I feel ignorant.

How unexpected when our world disappears! — the only thing to do, I suppose, is make a new one.

Had we fallen, we would have been snatched up and shattered.

He was completely devoted to me, to the sky, and to his hatred.

He was a tease, but he was beautiful so I forgave him.

Because I’m not pushy enough, I never quite got enough food at those big group dinners. (To BG — not at yours though, don’t worry!)

I find, sometimes, a kindred spirit in the most unlikely place.


So we’ve started a project:  100 words every day, and not one more or one less.  Topics prescribed by class members.  Should be interesting!

To find my 100-word exercises, look on the new page (the tab at the top of the screen).

Today we had 2 hours to workshop. Before the workshop, my group members were nice people that I saw for 8 hours a week in the comfy room on the ground floor of Atwater A. After, they had morphed into people with pasts and futures — a pretty incredible transition. I want to know what happens next. The braided essays were so much more meaningful when I heard them read by the writer than when I skimmed through some of them on a computer screen. I was surprised by how so many of the topics chosen were clearly so personal, and I got the feeling sometimes that I wasn’t worthy of being privy to this intimate knowledge. It seems as though the assignment itself has become more of a personal project.

What’s the first thing you say in the silence just after someone has just finished reading her piece, so clearly infused with feeling? Nice threads? I really like how the ending is reminiscent of the beginning? Those things pale in comparison to the topics. Nice deep meaning? Arg. To the people who shared with me today — thanks.

I had trouble with fact vs. fiction in this one. The sledding really did happen, and the two other sections are based on postcards that BG provided as prompts. As for what was actually going on in my head during the sledding/tree experience — no promises. I’m still working on defining that sometimes-fuzzy line between fact and fiction. Also, I suppose that I can’t blame myself too much because I had these three random things that I was supposed to braid together for an essay. I enhanced certain aspects of them and minimized others so that they fit better… Stay tuned.

It’s so strange to see an I-don’t-care-what-you-think expression on someone so young. A dare-you-challenge-me head on a small, shapeless torso and hairless legs.

We were sledding and someone got cold, so the crew decided to call it a night. I wandered down the hill to a giant tree. You can walk inside the tree, and no one knows you’re there.

He forgets that he’s standing on sharp pieces in the sand, that he came to frolic in the surf. You-don’t-matter-to-me.

There’s usually a lot of orange here, seeing as they sell pumpkins, but the color is particularly dominant today. Some pumpkins are smashed and rotting in front of the market. The house behind the market is on fire. The fire and smoke billow, hugely, orange and black. The fire men are there with their truck and their ladder.

Everyone else went inside to get warm except for one kid. I thought he was waiting for me, but it turns out that he had forgotten to bring his key. It was a beautiful evening. I let him wait.

It’s hard to tell whether it’s arrogance or self-confidence or just lifetime. But on one so young? What does he have in his lifetime?

I’m wearing orange also, adding to the brightness. I’m buying a pumpkin for Halloween. I forgot what she told me — round or more ovular? I’ll just see which one looks like it would make a good pie when we’re through.

And if we walk away from that expression, from the youngster who dares us to question him? Will he still be standing there, his feet on the sharp shells, the ocean lonely behind him? Will he challenge the air, or remember that he is young?

I have no responsibility. Let him wait, he can come get me, or someone else will pass by. He’s welcome to join me if he wants, I don’t mind.

After much deliberation, I choose a pumpkin with a nice handle-stem and saunter away.

I lay under the tree looking up toward the sky, and all I really saw were branches.

I-don’t-care-what-you-think, I’ll-do-what-I-want, his expression says to our backs.

My favorite place to do these is on the metro in Washington, D.C., right near the part of Maryland where I live.  It’s particularly interesting on a metro because it levels the playing field — everyone is in the same place, riding to wherever they’re going.  People’s differences (not just those as a result of their different locations) really leap out.  One of my favorite things to do is to figure out what animals people would be if they weren’t people…

 I always wonder whether (and what) people are thinking of me in places like the metro, and during times when I turn around to lock eyes, for a moment, with an unknown person.  If I could tell what people were thinking of me, would I?  Examining my own mind propels me to think that no, I wouldn’t.  

These studies were done in the town of Middlebury and at the Middlebury College library.

He looks as though he’s completely contented in his mother’s arms, being held close and occasionally tasting some of the ice cream.  His upper lip sticks out a bit over his bottom lip – the better to eat ice cream with – and he gets so excited when he gets to “stand” up on Mom’s lap that his whole body launches into quick up and down movement.  He looks a bit like he’s trying to take off from the lap and fly around the restaurant.  He wears multicolored booties, a red shirt with dogs and bones, overalls, and a fuzzy blue hat with a bear peeking out the top.  His diaper is dirty, so in he goes to the carrying case that hangs off Mom’s shoulders.  He wiggles his feet and stares, completely unabashedly, at strangers.


He fills a space with cheerful talking and constant movement.  “Ethan, what’s up, bro?”  He stands on a ledge and reaches over the register to shake hands.  Ethan is a vested man with very little chin.  “You like seafood at all?  Not so much?… Yeah, obviously steak and cheese is awesome… hot pastrami’s really good.”  Ethan’s words are lost in the activity, but not his.  He refers to people by their names as he’s talking to them.  He’s inside, then outside, then back in, lightly kicking a wooden stand with bread on it, crumpling cloths and throwing them back behind the register somewhere.  His arms sway as he walks; he’s gone again, then back and pacing back and forth, talking to the guys behind the counter, joking.  He reaches and picks something from a salad after moving the dish, eats it, spins a pizza dish around, and shows his teeth in a smile.


He’s wearing a black shirt and a white apron, which is folded down so that it covers only his legs.  His goatee matches his shirt, and his teeth, which he shows frequently, match his apron (minus the stains).  His battered San Francisco baseball cap matches his apron also – stains and all. 


He moves constantly and energetically: twirling the pizza pans, walking out, walking in, shaking hands, picking his teeth, and tossing dirty somethings out of view.  He swings his arms and walks with a bounce of energy, even when he’s only walking someplace so that he can turn around and come right back. 


I wonder if we’d be friends if we met outside the restaurant, or if he’d be part of a much more rambunctious social scene.  He looks like the kind of person I could really enjoy DOING things with.  He seems to be a cheerful and active doer – even when what’s he’s doing is wiping spilled food off a counter.      


She’s an old, slender woman with gray hair that suggests blondeness, whose eyes look as though they’ve sunk a centimeter or so into her skull.  When she looks down to type, the skin under her chin gets all wrinkly and her eyes look as though they are closed.  She gets very repetitive.  She takes a sip from the white and green mug, and then she replaces the mug on desk.  She puts her hands in her pockets, which pushes her shoulders into a shrug.  Up comes the right hand to smooth the short hair on the back of her head.  As long as it’s there, it might as well rub her neck.  Smooth and rub, smooth, smooth, smooth.  Her index finger comes up every so often to pet her lips.  Left hand smoothes and rubs.  Footsteps to the right draw her attention and she smiles at the person, who smiles back but does not stop to talk.  My view is blocked.  When it clears, she’s just where I left her.  To a person who does stop by, she speaks in a voice just above a whisper.  She’s sorry the snow is gone.  When he leaves, she looks out the doors ahead of her and down at the computer.  She smoothes and scratches for an uncharacteristically long time aaaaand… there’s the rub.     

Bruce Berger, in Fernando and Marisela, does an excellent job of showing rather than telling how he feels about Marisela. As a result, we as readers truly understand his sentiments, rather than just viewing them as part of a personal anecdote. Berger begins on the same plane as the reader. The first sentence references “drawers of nightstands” and their contents – an impersonal and general mention to which the reader can relate. In the second sentence, Berger refers to Marisela’s photograph as “a piece of litter” – probably how the reader would have seen it. The middle of the story is a journey throughout which Marisela grows in importance. Since the Berger started out by assigning very little importance to Marisela, as we did, we can follow and comprehend her growth. By the end of the story, Marisela is a character as real as the narrator, and Berger leaves readers with a much deeper idea of his sentiments than we would have if he had tried to explain them outright.

When Berger first unfolds the photograph, he spends almost as much time describing the “neutral backdrop” as he does describing Marisela, the subject. He surveys the photo with what seems like bland interest, telling what he sees but offering no commentary. Similarly, Berger shows no emotional response to the content of the note on the back of the photograph. Instead, he moves seamlessly into an examination of the state of the paper itself. He takes more interest in this photograph than he would in another random piece of litter, but Marisela has not yet become important. By the end of the paragraph about the paper, Berger acknowledges that she was alive, and she begins to take on character. Soon after, he transitions from referring to “Marisela’s snapshot” to referring to Marisela herself.

Berger shows Marisela’s next step toward becoming a true character by beginning to speculate about her activities. He has now moved far beyond litter, vague interest, and acknowledging a formless life. “Were Marisela’s friends dyeing their hair that year, or did she do it just for Fernando?” he wonders. He then moves from wonderment to predictions: “She presumably gave him her picture before he headed to find work in a land where the girls were blonde and radiant.” Next, Berger’s predictions become less speculative, so Marisela’s character became more solid. Berger explains how Marisela, in response to Fernando’s feeling trapped, “would turn icy, then accusative.”

Finally, Marisela becomes a character in her own right. Berger addresses her directly and says, “You were right to let your hair grow dark, to embark on adulthood, to forget the worthless Fernando.” He seems as certain of these things as he would be if he knew her. Berger suggests that Marisela remember him if she ever feels alone, as though she knew him also. By the end of the story, Marisela has come a long way – to being a character from being a piece of litter. Readers, who followed her growth from the beginning, can see Marisela as a character just as Berger does. Berger has successfully and completely conveyed his sentiments, without stating them explicitly or leaving the reader behind.

Lost a son in war:

Everything about it is gray. There are windows set back from the fresh air into the grayness, but you can’t see any people — or anything — through them.

Just fallen in love:

There are nuances in the stone – mysteries and treasures ripe for discovery. And so many windows! So much outlet to the world, so much possibility!


This wall pretty much looks the same as any other wall. Nothing special.


It’s huge and heavy and looks like it could crush an army of people if it were to topple. Its grayness tells me, “turn around, don’t go here.”