Dalya Arussy's Writing New York Blog


Journal Entry 32- Peer Review 4
December 9, 2010, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

A. My thesis is about feeling lost in NYC and feeling like the ‘other’ when actually the city can be everyone’s home. The change I talk about is learning to navigate my way around emotionally and physically. I’m searching for a home in NYC and talk about the vastness of the metropolis that lets everyone find that home. Because everyone is different, no one is different and therefore everyone fits in.

B. I draw upon Whitehead, using him to prove that disappearing and feeling lost in NYC is in the “city charter,” therefore it’s not an uncommon feeling. I also connect him to E.B. White saying this disappearing element is what enables everyone to fit in. Because there is this great diversity in the city, everyone feels like the other and therefore no one does. I use Judith’s preface to Crossing the BLVD to further strengthen that point saying that the stories and different cultures that define the people of NY also define NYC as a whole and therefore anyone (even a suburban girl like Judith and me) can find a place here. I think I do draw enough on my own experiences and those from the texts.

The points about feeling both emotionally and physically lost are well developed. Also my feelings of “me vs. them” I think are interesting and well-developed.

The passage that needs a little more elaboration is the one connecting E.B. White and Whitehead. I haven’t fully developed the idea of how disappearance allows for everyone’s acceptance.

C. The voice I’m presenting is basically my train of thought. It’s very conversational, very much trying to figure out where I am and where I belong which fits well with my thesis.

D. The structure consists of a suspenseful beginning and then becomes chronological. It flows well as I describe my journey that is actually still taking place.

E. The title was a little too generic and should be personalized a bit. The essay opened with a very relatable topic and closed with the journey which I continue to take. I think they worked well with the topic and added both relatable and universal aspects to my essay.

F. There were minor grammatical mistakes but none that were consistent or that can’t be corrected.

G. The in-text citations were done correctly and I have not yet done my works cited.



Journal Entry 31- Reflections
December 7, 2010, 4:10 pm
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I think it really takes time for this feeling to change. I have definitely made progress, but that sense of the ‘other’ is still ingrained in me. I still feel like a suburbs girl. I still feel like New York City is more of a tourist attraction than a home. And I still feel very small among the towering skyscrapers. Nonetheless, I have started to feel more comfortable in the NYC setting. I have learned that many people have this sense of the ‘other’ and through the diversity that I think defines NYC, everyone can find a way to fit in. I think the major change has been that I now see the importance of embracing the feeling of the ‘other’ in order to feel like an insider, because so many others contain that feeling.

A key part of my experience in NYC that I did not mention was my lacking sense of direction, or inability to navigate this dense expanse of land. A major component of my feeling like the ‘other’ stems from my lack of acquaintance with the area, and subsequently my total loss of direction. I have to research destination routes online, pull out maps on the subway, and occasionally ask a passerby for directions. Because I feel physically lost, I therefore feel emotionally lost, not feeling like I belong. This navigation component plays a major role in my experience of the city and thereby plays a crucial part in the changing of that experience. By learning to physically navigate my way around the city, I learn to do so emotionally too. Living in Queens has gotten the wheels turning, but there is still awhile more to go.



Journal Entry 30
December 2, 2010, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

1. My experiences in relation to themes:

The theme of the ‘other’ and isolation is one that is clearly reflected in my experiences in NY. As the large population that makes up the city seems to rush back and forth on the streets of NY, I am left to referencing my subway map for a way to navigate the grid layout. This sort of consistent experience makes me feel isolated as no one else seems to share that sensation. With this lacking sense of direction, comes the lacking sense of belonging that once again these passersby seem to embody. Because I am still learning to navigate and learning the social codes and norms, I feel like there is no community for me in NYC to which I can belong. I don’t even know enough about the communities in NY to search for one. Through Whitehead’s “Brooklyn Bridge” I have discovered that others feel this isolation when standing in this great metropolis. Furthermore, as E.B. White expands, in order to belong and remove yourself from the isolation, you have to find a community which is readily available as NYC is home to a great deal of diversity.

I have also felt the sense of ‘other’ in that way. I am not yet used to the attitude of New Yorkers and therefore instinctively apologize for bumping into people on the street which inevitably happens. I am the ‘other’ in that way as not many NYC residents do the same. In addition, I constantly refer to my subway map, something no proper New Yorker would do as they contain that built-in GPS I am so clearly lacking. I am the ‘other’ in the sense that I do not yet know the social norms and codes that define NY residents or embody that instinctive sense of direction.

2. Think of a personal issue:

I have moved around a lot. Not just houses, but cities, states and even countries, so I have not found a place where I really belong. I have always felt like the ‘other’ everywhere I am, whether it is in a new school, new community, etc. Therefore, it is no surprise that I feel like an ‘other’ in NYC, where I have never actually lived. At the beginning of the semester, during my first days living in NYC, I was absolutely terrified. This physically large area that makes up the great metropolis and the vast number of people that populate it was just overwhelming. Everyone seemed to know what they were doing, where they were going, and how to get there. I on the other hand carried around a subway map which I took out at least once per train ride, and continue to do so even on routes I have taken several times before. Even once I got off the train, as I walked along streets and avenues, I consistently looked up at the street signs to make sure the numbers were still going up and would calculate in my head “Yes 56 is less than 57.”

Despite this, I tried to put a ‘game face’ on, to give the appearance that I knew where I was going. It still amazes me how people can climb out of the subway station and just walk. They cross streets, turn corners, and get to their destinations without seemingly paying attention to their surroundings. I have not lived in any one community long enough to have that sense of direction, so navigating NYC simply scared me, and quite frankly it still does. When everyone else has that built-in GPS and I don’t, I feel isolated, I feel lost, I feel like the ‘other’. I feel intimidated by the mad rush of people passing by, constantly in motion, and feel the need to act the same. So while I walk around pretending to fit in, my inner feelings reflect a far different experience, a more lonely one.

Through my experience not only attempting to navigate this great metropolis, but also discussing various ‘other’ accounts in class, I start to see past walkers’ ‘game faces’. With accounts such as Judith’s in Crossing the BLVD, I am both discouraged by the fact that I have not yet found myself like she has, but also encourage that there is potential. I recognize this isolation that immigrants and other newcomers feel in their initial days in the city. Through their writings and that of Whitehead and E.B. White together I also have learned that the key to surviving in this great metropolis is to find a community in which you belong, a place to which you can disappear. As I have gotten better at navigation and relating to New Yorkers, I still sort of feel a sense of the ‘other’ as I have not yet found my community to which to belong. It is both discomforting and comforting to know that in such a densely populated area, so many feel alone.



Journal Entry 29- The Eyes of the City
December 1, 2010, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

With the amount of people present, it could easily turn into a social scene or at least a meet-and-greet. What I have found, though, is that actually the crowd that forms remains silent and each person refuses to make eye contact with the others as he/she awaits the bus. I have found that during the earlier hours of the day the crowd consists of mainly middle-aged men and women with children waiting to go to work, school, or grocery shopping. There is no interaction between those waiting except for the occasional “parental” remark to one’s anxious child. Contrastingly, at later hours, the area contains mostly college students and teenagers, heading back home or out for the night. They sometimes whisper quietly to their traveling partners, but never to others they don’t know.

What would seem a conversation starter is the glass structure under which many gather either as shade on sunny days or as a roof for the rainy and snowy ones. Interestingly, though, there isn’t much communication between those that squeeze under aside for the periodic, unavoidable body bump. During inclement weather as many people as possible huddle under that 3×6 roof, and yet all eyes remain turned to the left anticipating the bus that should arrive any minute. Those who do not fit inside the structure stand around it, either behind, under the large tree, or on the sidewalk to its left. On some occasions, only a child has the courage to sit on the steps that lead up to the two townhouses that stand on that corner. Otherwise, all remain standing, facing left towards the direction of the anticipated Q64 bus, completely silent, on the junction of Kissena Blvd. and Jewel Ave.



Journal Entry 28- Capitalism and the City
December 1, 2010, 10:10 pm
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Both view capitalism in a negative way discussing the corrupt and unfavorable effects it has on NYC. Gorky, though sees this capitalism as defining NYC and therefore influencing his negative view of the metropolis as a whole. He has an overwhelmingly harsh tone in his descriptions of NYC and capitalism, personifying the inanimate objects that  make up the city while sort of de-personifying the people. Gorky uses capitalism to explain this ‘de-personification’ describing the people as flies and other animals, making them almost soulless. He also uses this analogy of the “yellow devil” in describing capitalism. Through these images he portrays, he paints a sad and dark picture of what he sees in business and NYC as a whole.

Levitch similarly depicts capitalism as he recognizes its corruptness. Quite contrastingly, though, Levitch doesn’t see capitalism as defining the city even though he uses NYC as a prime example of capitalism and the business world. What he sees in capitalism is the lack of intimacy it affects and for which it allows. He uses both a cynical and sarcastic tone, using exaggeration to bring to light serious, and otherwise overlooked, issues. In his interpretation of George Washington’s sculptured outstretched arm as the basis for American history, Levitch exaggerates the details to prove his lack-of-intimacy point. He takes the reader on a tour of Wall Street, through which he manipulates a tour of the effects of capitalism. He describes the different aspects of corrupt business as if they are landmarks in the area and through that description portrays the impact of capitalism on the city. Both Levitch and Gorky use imagery and analogies to really make the reader feel their disgust towards capitalism.



Journal Entry 27- “Mazie”
November 23, 2010, 3:58 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Mazie is a unique example to Wilson’s view of changing the role of women in the city. Mazie maintains the sphinx-like attribute of women in the city that Wilson describes- of being a mystery to those around her as her public image does not reveal her personal one. Wilson presents the dangers of the city as serious dangers specifically to women and stresses the need to embrace it, something Mazie, who specifically lives among those dangers, does. Mazie finds her place among that danger and learns to interact with it in a peaceful way. Mazie takes a definitive and strong stance in her interaction with these dangers, putting herself in a position where she is not concerned with it harming her. Similarly, she learns to manage the chaos and embraces it as a part of her daily life as she seeks out bums in the parks and around her theater and therefore defines Wilson’s proposal against the concern for women among this chaos. I believe she serves as an exceptional example for Wilson’s concerns of the role of women in the city and her proposal for its improvement.

I also think that Mazie takes everything we’ve learned about NYC and incorporates it into her daily urban experience. She has a dream-like view of NYC as she finds the good everywhere and in everyone, but unlike Whitehead, doesn’t leave it at the entrance of the city. Like Judith mentioned in Crossing the Boulevard, Mazie sees the various types of people in the city and really connects to all of them, from famous writers to nuns to bums. She recognizes the potential the city presents to all its members as she owns a movie theater and tries to encourage bums to “shape up”. In this, Mazie finds her place in the great metropolis where so many get lost as Whitehead described. She also learns to embrace the filth and dirt that is the bums and drunkards and sees the beauty in them as she befriends them. (Highet)



Journal Entry 26
November 18, 2010, 4:27 pm
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I think Wilson’s emphasis on embracing the city and the duality and dangers it presents is a major theme in writing and description of NYC. Paris is Burning is a clear example of the gendered aspects of NYC. This sort of male supremacy that Wilson discusses in the city is a major struggle for the drag queens of Paris is Burning as it puts them in the same dangerous position women are said to be in. The “manliness” emphasized in the city puts drag queens in this dangerous position as men may see them as a threat to their macho. Like in Chop Shop, these drag queens are forced to find their own community as they try to navigate the dangers the city presents. And just as Wilson preaches the embrace of the dangers and complexity of the city, the characters of Paris is Burning do just that as they themselves embrace and empower others like them to embrace their position in the diversity of NYC.

Similarly, the Atlantic Yards project revolves largely around this perceived danger of not developing the area versus the perceived danger of developing it. The argument in favor of the project is not necessarily gendered, but does center around the blighted-ness of the area and the prostitution and other illegal activity that was at some point characteristic of that region. The argument against the plan discusses the gentrification of a diverse area and transforming something that was already organically revitalizing itself. In that sense, the opposers of the development are trying to convince people to embrace the diversity and the dangers of the city and recognize that those are integral parts of NYC. Although, the gender and women aspect does not play a key role in the Atlantic Yards debate, the role of duality and recognizing  the difficulties of the city is central to both sides of the argument.



Journal Entry 25- Chop Shop
November 17, 2010, 10:09 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Ale and Izzy are very much typical children in the way they act towards each other and their interests, but due to their situation, sometimes defy this term. Ale enjoys watching sports games and jokes around with his sister while maintaining a certain attitude when it comes to work. Izzy, on the other hand, acts like a child more of the time, as she likes to hang out with her friend Layla, avoids responsibility when it comes to finding a job, and likes new things/clothing. Ale and Izzy both are in a tough situation in which they need to act unusual or extraordinary, but Ale really takes it upon himself to do so. He worries for his older sister, searches for different means of making money, saves up money, and develops skills in car-repair that many adults don’t even have. Both don’t attend school and instead work to get by in life, something very much not characteristic of “typical kids”. Their childhood is in an adult environment, instead of the young one of a school, therefore forcing them to act unusual or extraordinary in contrast to other children.

Ale and Izzy, although both presented with the same situation, contain and obtain different character traits. Ale is more  aware of his situation and its effects, knows how to manage his money,  and is altogether more responsible. He is more assertive and ready to take action, while still being naive and emotional (as kids generally are). Contrastingly, Izzy is more free-spirited and less motivated. It is an interesting contrast as the opposite would be expected since Izzy is the older of the two.

There are many factors that play into their parentless lives as NYC is so complex and diverse. Firstly, because NYC has many people who try to make ends meet, there are several off-the-record jobs available. We see that starting in the first scene where Ale waits with others for a truck to pick them up and take them to work somewhere. Then he sells candy on the subway, works at an auto repair shop, and sells bootlegged DVDs. These businesses are a part of NYC, as there are several people who need a way to make a living but are not necessarily skilled. There is this atmosphere of everyone wanting to succeed and since not everyone has the means, its accepted that many will use whatever they have to reach success. Also, their status as parentless allows them a great deal of freedom, just as NYC does by its immense size. There is this sort of “every man for himself” element of NYC and so Izzy and Ale have the freedom to move around and act as they wish without others caring. No one on the subway questions Carlos and Ale of where their parents are and why they were selling candy. Everyone keeps to their own and that’s what allows Ale and Izzy to really engage in all their different “odd jobs”.



Journal Entry 24- Peer Review 3
November 15, 2010, 12:00 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

A. Thesis: As development in New York City affects the community at large along with the individuals that make up the community, in failing to listen to public interests, New York City is failing to better that community.

Argument: refutation of bypassing the democratic process of ULURP in approving certain developments such as Atlantic Yards.

B. Audience: Mayor Bloomberg

I think this critique of the actions taken by NY government is effective for addressing Mayor Bloomberg. Incorporating all the appeals also will affect the mayor as a politician and as a human being. I think the ethical and emotional appeals are good, but some work needs to be done with the logos as that could further strengthen the argument.

C. My main points are that this action was undemocratic, that it socially is affecting the project and the community, and that it ultimately didn’t pay off. They are not really clear in the structure of the essay so I will need to work on that.

I don’t think there were any ethical, emotional, or logical fallacies or any hint of bias (I tried not to at least…).

Well-developed points: it was undemocratic and that this has its effects on the community.

Confusing/weak points: the structure as a whole doesn’t strongly prove my points. It doesn’t flow in terms of the separation of the components of the evidence. There are also several confusing sentences whose first and second halves don’t seem to be related.

D. Structure: Rogerian. This style allows me to address my hostile audience as I start with common ground and  ease my way into my refutation of the counterargument, followed by my supporting evidence. I think as it stands, the structure does consist of a flow, but not one that strongly supports my ideas. I would like to rearrange the paragraphs in order to effectively argue my three main points.

E. I think my title is very fitting and the opening of the essay draws you straight in to my point. On the other hand, I think my conclusion effectively “shouts” my point although it can by strengthened a little bit.

F. I don’t think there are any consistent grammar mistakes.

G. In-text citations and Works Cited done correctly.



Journal Entry 23- Meta-writing
November 9, 2010, 4:27 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I think one of the most important lessons I can take from Sontag and Shuman is to properly balance my appeals in order to convincingly present my argument. I think Sontag’s biggest flaw was her lack of logic and ethics in comparison to her overpowering emotion. Her piece was published not long after the event and therefore was almost strictly emotion-based, taking away from her controversial argument. As an outsider to the case and having reviewed the facts and details of the plan, I think I can properly balance the different appeals necessary to create a compelling argument (and not override my logical and ethical aspects with emotional ones).

I think Shuman takes a couple of steps forward in his attempt to balance the different appeals and that perspective should influence by attempt at an argument. I think he successfully handles the counterargument and in his doing so, presents a more compelling defense of his position. He writes a couple of months after the fact, providing for more awareness of details of the event and for thinking through personal emotions. In that, Shuman was better able to evaluate the occurrence and take a logical stance on the issue. As this aspect of the passage of time applies to me, I think I have a lot to learn from Shuman who properly incorporates that. In his criticism of his own liberal views, I think Shuman is more effective in his argument as he can properly evaluate the counterargument (because it is so “close to home”), which is another important factor to take into consideration when approaching an issue.




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