I guest-taught a creative writing workshop at the College of Staten Island last night. I was early and went to the cafeteria for a bottle of water and got to see what looked like lots of really big high schoolers hanging out in there and let my eyes get used to their slower movements, deeper voices and more adult clothes. I love to imagine my high school students in college. I am sad when I see the evidence of the lack of committment to our public education system, though.
I was in the bookstore, and I distinctly heard a young man ask for Scantrons, and be really bummed when the clerk told him they were out. Huh? I thought. Scantrons are those bubble sheets you fill in for multiple choice tests. Why would a student ask for that? Maybe he was a really really young professor? I asked the clerk about it as I was purchasing goodies for the class, and she said, "Oh yeah, here we're required to provide our own Scantrons for tests."
This reminded me, sadly, of a Department of Education business meeting I had been in just that morning, where the facilitator informed us if we went to the bathroom that there would be no paper towels because "we just don't have enough money."
Drones much? Sigh.
Then I went in to class.
We had a really great time. We set norms first, and talked about what they hoped to get out of the night, and what they really hoped didn't happen, and why. They shared their thoughts about reading crappy, just-written work out loud, the pros and cons of writing in class and out of class, and the pressure and shame they sometimes feel about their work. They said a lot about wondering whether things were good or bad, how to keep being inspired, how to stay committed to a plot, and discussed what might be good about peers eyes on your work and why you might want an expert. I was charmed by their energy and their diverse New York accents.
They also said they wanted to do a Q and A with me at the end about whatever, and asked me questions about careers for English majors, getting published, being a woman in my field and lots of other fun stuff. I told them hey, this is what I do: make shit up, go crazy with everything and not follow instructions that feel asphyxiating. We talked a LOT a LOT A LOT about being published and I told them I had an amaze-balls idea: I would publish whoever wanted to be published, today, on my blog! I told them to text or email me their favorite line from the the night, and I would put it up right here, right now, for more Off Off Site Awesomeness.
So here they are, in no particular order, collected from their freewrites, interview stories, and writing prompts from "Texts from Last Night" and "1000 Places to See Before you Die" -- thank you dear CSI students! ACT UP! FIGHT BACK AGAINST THE DISMANTLING OF PUBLIC EDUCATION! WRITE ON!
Ti Penso Sempre -- Anissa
The flames blazed, reflecting in the eyes of all who stood at the funeral. Odd to have so many candles to commemorate a death by fire, but I was in no place to argue. --Brittany Sinodinos
Let our bones jive, skin melt together, be mine - destroy but don't damage. --Angelina Taddeo
When my solace snaps, my cynicism seems to pick my outlook up off of the floor. --Terri Caputo
take each hour by each moment of that hour and remember to breathe -- Christina Pilato
Honestly Mom! All I remember is waking up under a palm tree with a get well card that I obviously wrote to myself last night while drunk off my ass and now I'm talking to you through a coconut! --Jessica Provenzano
Guy 1: I had a dream that I blew the bartender in the resort, who, in turn, blew me. -- Gabriella Shlyakh
And I jumped
Head first into the storm
And I'm soaring.
Flying high above
Commonality, soft wings
Careen in my stomach
And I've never been
So alive. -- Jena Caputo
I feel him shift; I turn around to see why and he kisses me. I pull away, shocked. Not so much that he kissed me, but because of the surge of energy that ran through my body. From my lips started this intense jolt of fire and ice that moved rapidly to my heart sending it into a fatale pace. It moved through every inch of my body, stopping at my fingertips, which turned numb almost immediately after his lips touched mine. He instinctually apologizes, his face red with embarrassment for the first time I’ve ever seen. Without a word, I grab his face and kiss him again to see if I could feel the same intensity as before. I did and it got more incessant the longer our lips locked. It no longer stopped at my fingers; it went full circle back to my tongue where I swear you could see it transfer to his. This bright, hot light that was so viable to me ... -- Teresa Pulcrano