Tuesday, December 13, 2011


One of the questions we're supposed to ask someone when we interview them is "If your life was a movie, tell us what you think would be one of the most important scenes."

Tonight I had two presentations, one in Early Childhood Development and one at the Oral History Exhibit. The one in my Early Childhood class went relatively well. I used construction paper cut-outs of children to illustrate how kids overcome shyness, and the class seemed to enjoy it. Afterwards, I made posters for The Best Day Ever, cleaned up my room a little, touched up my Spanish Play, took a nap, and then went to Spanish tutoring.

I learned that next semester I would be the only guy in my Spanish class . All of the other males (all three of them) are dropping the class, but I'm staying. I'm excited for next semester though. I will organize study groups and practice more, because honestly Spanish is something I really like doing and I think will be a kick-ass tool that will help me get hired when I graduate with a liberal arts degree.

I talked to my Spanish tutor about Christmas and tried to explain my family history, but she seemed distracted and kind of bored, which is understandable, because over break she's going to Colombia. I asked her for a favor.

"Si tu ves Shakira, la dices que yo di 'hola'." If you see Shakira, tell her I say hello.

After that I ate a quick dinner and went to Stories With Benefits, our Oral History Exhibit in Slonim Living Room. Everyone had their posters and their laptops and food. I set up my poster in the corner with my laptop and some quotes that I propped up with construction paper. I talked for almost thirty minutes straight, explaining my project again and again to people who stopped by to look at it. They laughed, so I think they liked it.

Then we started the program. I went second, after Brazil read an amazing piece about her uncle. I read my piece, a piece I wrote for the prompt "A Story I Thought I Would Never Tell Anyone." I didn't look up at all when I read it. I just said what I wrote and paused to let the audience laugh a couple of times. My friends were there, sitting on the stairs, and a lot of people I didn't know were there, sitting on the couches, and my Oral History teacher was there, and so was Penny Arcade, Penny Arcade who called me out on my Occupy Wall Street article a couple months ago, telling me that it was "cute". And they were all there listening my story, and when I finished it was silent for a moment, and then they all clapped and I felt like they really meant it.

The rest of the program was fantastic. People read their own stories about doing hash, having sex, and pooping on the floor. Penny Arcade did a couple performance pieces and when it was over I played music from my laptop while we cleaned everything up.

Penny Arcade came up to me while I was putting my laptop cords into a box. "I told your story in Alaska. The one about Occupy Wall Street. Everyone really liked it. I just thought I should tell you. Also, I was telling Gerry, I could see you writing for the New Yorker. You're a good writer. Good job."

I thanked her and told her that I loved her performance, but my mind was racing. I packed up my project and walked as fast as I could to Westlands so I could sit down and write about tonight.

In the preface of Truman Capote's "Music For Chameleons", he talks about how he started writing when he was eight, and then one day discovered that there was a difference between good writing, and bad writing, and how from that moment on he worked hard every night, spending hours reading and writing and honing his craft, constantly pushing himself to be the best.

In Early Childhood Development we read an article about motivation, and how the people who succeed in what they do are the ones who are intrinsically motivated to dance or to play piano or write; the ones who love the process of dancing rather than being the best dancer, like Fred Astaire, who claimed that he was not the best dancer in his classes, but simply the one who kept at it.

Today getting a compliment from Penny Arcade was one of the proudest moments of my life. She didn't gush, she didn't tell me that I was hilarious or that I was going to be famous. She told me as-a-matter-of-fact-ly that I was a "good writer." Not a great writer or a bad writer. A good one. With room for growth. Growth that will hopefully help me write for the New Yorker. Heck, growth that will help me write for a living. But that's a given: I'll always be writing for a living.

So today was a good day. I love Sarah Lawrence College, I love everything I have learned in my classes, and I am really really excited for next semester.


Huge shout out to England, Massey, Seattle, Ray (sorry, I don't know where you're from so you have a name), Ohio, Connecticut, and my don for coming to the event. I really appreciated you guys coming out to support me. If I forgot to mention someone, let me know.

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