A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace

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Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky offers incredible insight into the mind of David Foster Wallace.  Lipsky foregoes organizing his book like a standard biography and instead creates a running transcript of conversations he had with Wallace about his life, work, and other random topics.

Over the course of five days, Lipsky tags along at the tail end of the promotional tour for Wallace’s masterpiece Infinite Jest.  He keeps the tape recorder running and catches every word of conversation.  While the transcript format is a little disjointed and sometimes hard to follow, the choice to maintain straight conversation from start to finish proves to be the perfect method for showcasing the talent and personality of Wallace. As expected, Wallace is quirky, unnervingly intelligent, funny, and incredibly honest. He makes no excuses for his mistakes, nor does he flinch from the truth.  Seeing these traits in such a raw format only confirms that Wallace put all he was into his work, right down to obscurely used 15-syllable words and  dry humor.

In addition, Lipsky digs into the darker, troubled Wallace – the one who was plagued by his own demons and insecurities.  His pain is heartbreaking, but it makes his resilience and ability to inspire others all the more remarkable.  Wallace lived for the work of writing, even when it threatened to kill him more than once. He was a man desperate to understand himself, everyone else, and the world around him, yet I’d wager he had a better understanding of all those things than most people could ever hope to achieve. I’ve always believed Wallace sees the world the way it needs to be seen. After spending five days with him in airports, a rental car, and in his home with his dogs I’ve never been more convinced of that belief.

For any David Foster Wallace fan, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace is a must read. Not only for a unique perspective on the man, but also for a little insight on all that went into his work.

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c.b.w. 2012

Listening to the Wall: Part 1

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In Reconstructing the Lennon Wall, I shared the story of a wall in my classroom that has become a strong tradition of young adults using their voices for something positive.  The wall was created to reflect the spirit of the real Lennon Wall in Prague and over the years it has become a symbol optimism and community.

The idea of recreating a wall of peace quickly evolved into a lesson about freedom of expression and leaving a legacy that hopes for a better future.  Young adults are often classified as rebellious, defiant, hormonal, and aggravating, which they can sometimes be, but who isn’t at one time or another?  They have much more to say the most people think and are far more optimistic than they are given credit.  The voice of a teenager is honest, energetic, and full of promise.  Even those who have had a rough start in life or feel oppressed come to life when given the chance to speak.

I believe in both the Lennon Wall and the voices of my students, which is why I am inspired to share the messages they’ve left behind.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting images of Lennon Wall pieces created by my former students.  It is my hope that their artwork will continue to be a powerful reminder of how beautiful the human voice can be.

This week, I selected some pieces that focus on portraying faces.  Two are literal, while the third attempts to shed light on a group of people fighting for equal rights.

Many students have created portraits of John Lennon, but this one is among my favorites.  It came from a student who sat in the back of the room and loved to express herself with color.  She was very quiet, but her creativity and spirit are quite vibrant!

A student drawing of John Lennon, the core inspiration of the Lennon Wall.

This portrait of Bob Marley was done a by a student who had a deep passion for his music.  Her enthusiasm is quite obvious in her bold drawing!  She created the piece using colored pencils, which is pretty remarkable given the solid texture.  While the silhouette is eye catching, I can’t help but be drawn to the quote she selected.

Bob Marley through the eyes of a talented young adult.

Two students worked together to create a moving message in support of a friend who endured a steady stream of bullying throughout the year.   The pieces fit together to promote unity among all people, regardless of orientation.  Wherever you stand on the issue, it is amazing to see fifteen-year-olds respond in such a powerful way.

Two students express their opinion on the importance of equality.

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c.b.w. 2012

The Don’t List

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Being an organized person, I have a number of to-do lists floating around my life.  One by one, I draw a line through each task as its completed – I love the feeling of marking something off the list! While I love the idea of tracking all the “do’s” in my life, I was recently reminded that the “don’ts” are just as important.

A prompt in my writer’s group put forth the idea of making a don’t list.  At first, this seems like a very negative list to make, but its really an opportunity to be positive and consider new possibilities. My don’t list became an itemization of uplifting reminders (and a little bit of humor).

Don’t . . .

. . . give up

. . . give in

. . . be mean

. . .  be negative

. . . be too hard on yourself

. . . listen to your inner critic

. . . stop writing

. . . forget to laugh

. . . get in a snit over stupid stuff

. . . lose a sense of wonder

. . . eat pink jelly beans. They are always gross.

. . . take gossip seriously

. . . limit creativity

. . . let a number define you

. . . leave dishes in the sink

. . . trust GPS completely

. . . buy anything unless you know exactly where it’s going to go

. . . live beyond your means

. . . try to train a cat (unless you want to see an “are you kidding me” face)

. . . leave a mess

. . . eat food that has ingredients you can’t pronounce

. . . listen when someone says, “you can’t”

. . . let go of your inner child

. . . stop traveling

. . . pass up a custard filled doughnut (no matter what diet you’re on)

. . . park your car like an idiot

. . . believe everything you hear

. . . put a book down

. . . forget your dreams

. . . complain about the weather.  It is what it is.

. . . buy shoes if they hurt your feet

. . . throw out what can be reused, recycled, or upcycled

. . . try to be something you’re not

. . . leave chocolate out in the open at work.  Keep a stash that no one can find.

. . . show up late

. . . forsake the little things that matter most

. . . let a day go by without being grateful for something

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What’s on your don’t list?

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c.b.w. 2012

Photography Challenge: Experiments

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The photography challenge I joined continues to be an amazing source of creative inspiration.  This week’s prompts drew me into the realm of experimentation in terms of perspective, color, and movement.

Prompt: Capture something from a different angle.

Photo by: c.b.w.

Prompt: Find something with primary colors.

Photo by: c.b.w.

Prompt: Take a photo of water.

Photo by: c.b.w.

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To see all the details of the photography challenge, go here.

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c.b.w. 2012