Dalya Arussy's Writing New York Blog

Journal Entry 12- Interview
September 28, 2010, 7:35 pm
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Write 10-20 questions to a student at a school (or in a program or major) for an interview.

1. When did you start attending this school?

2. Why did you choose this school? What specifically drew you to the school?

3.Were there any other options you were considering for schooling? If so which?

4. How do you feel your choice affected you as a person? Do you think you’ve changed as a result of your school experience?

5. How was the transition into the school setting?

6. Did you come in knowing other people? If yes, are you still friends with them and how did it affect your friendship with others? If no, what was it like trying to find your “crowd”?

7. How did you develop friendships? Through classes? Through other friends?

8. What are your classes like? Big? Small? Lectures? Interactive?

9. What is your relationship with your teachers? Are they involved in school life outside the classroom? If so, how?

10. What are the social dynamics of the school (cliques, jocks vs. nerds) and how do you feel about it?

11. What kinds of extracurricular activities are there and what type of people engage in them?

12. What is the ethnic make-up of the school and how does it influence the social environment?

13. Are there any distinct figures you look up to (teachers or students)? Why?

14. How do you feel about the overall school experience? Are you satisfied with your classes? Classmates?

15. What is one experience at school that you will never forget?

Journal Entry 11- Community
September 28, 2010, 7:32 pm
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How does community shape identity and vice versa in these two schools?

The community less shapes identity in the scene presented in “Transparent” than identity shapes community. The individuals that make up a community determine the atmosphere of the community in that they form the transgender community by identifying themselves as such and gathering together. The community did, though, allow the identities to build and strengthen. The open environment presented to them allowed for their development as identities. The Queens International High School, similarly, but even more so, shaped the identities of the students as it allowed and encouraged them to identify with their country of origin.

How does the city draw people together?

The city is not necessarily a large area, but definitely a dense area, allowing for many different people to live there. Due to the immense density, it is easy to get lost and lose oneself, therefore people look for others to connect to. People search for something or someone to connect with in overwhelming situations and that’s why the city draws people together.

What kinds of struggles did the students have individually and together?

In “Transparent” many students struggled with the idea of being accepted. Most students’ parents and families disowned them, leaving them to fend for themselves and alone in the world. This common experience presented a common control almost connecting the students. In “Queens International” almost all students struggled with the English language, resulting in groups based on common language. Alternatively, each student struggled with his/her sense of belonging and applying his/her culture to the new American one or the other cultures different students brought to the school.

Journal Entry 10- “Paris is Burning”
September 28, 2010, 12:50 pm
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One major aspect of urban life, especially in NYC, is gangs. As someone noted in the movie, they created “gangs” for drag queens. This community, with the “Ball” at its center, is like its own neighborhood in NYC. Within that neighborhood, are gangs or drag queen “houses”. Just as gangs give people a sense of belonging and a support system, these “houses” provide people in this community with a feeling of acceptance and affiliation. Each person belongs to a “house” in which they take pride and compete for the respect of that “house”. Even more so, these “houses” serve as every individual’s family, just like gangs do. NYC, and urban areas in general, are massive and overwhelming, allowing many people to get lost. This aspect of urban life is what yields the forming of gangs in general, or in this case “houses”.

Another major aspect of NYC is the dream. Several writers have discussed looking at NYC from a distance and having this dream of all the opportunities and glamour it presents. Although, some end up entering the city disappointed, they all agree that there’s this dream with which people enter the great metropolis. “Paris is Burning” presents this aspect of a dream as being the focal point of this community of drag queens. Where the outside world may or may not accept them, within the “Ball” they can always maintain their dream of being respected for who they are. Regardless of whether they are putting on an act or whether their performance is a form of self-expression, the “Ball” is a dream of a place where trophies are handed out and everyone is accepted, in contrast to the city outside the doors.

Journal Entry 9- Peer Review
September 21, 2010, 4:27 pm
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A) Thesis: As both authors recognize, New York City has become a megacity of constant movement and fast-pace motion. This development, however, has come to cause some, like Mumford, to long for the pre-developed days of the city when slowness allowed for its true beauty, and others, like Highet, to be attracted and pulled into this great metropolis through the motion. (The last sentence of the first paragraph.) I’m exploring the idea of movement in NYC and how it affects a person’s view of the beauty of the city.

B)Mumford reflects on a time when constant motion wasn’t a central part of NYC and sees that slowness as contributing and allowing for the vision of beauty of NYC. Highet is attracted to the movement that defines the modern NYC and sees that as representing its beauty.

C) The idea that each comes to appreciate the slowness/motion through the experience of the opposite is interesting because the authors themselves don’t seem to realize it.

Highet’s attraction to the clean tracks representing his attraction to movement is a little bit weak.

I don’t think there were any points that were not supported with references/quotes.

D)Structure: Intro, Mumford’s beauty in slowness, Highet’s beauty in constant motion, Mumford’s slowness through his attraction the the constant motion, Highet’s movement through his experience of slowness, Conclusion.

I think it flows pretty well, but I think I need a different word for “contrastingly” and “motion”/”slowness”.

E)I need a better title, but I think the opening sentence draws you in and subsequently, the conclusion connects you to the first paragraph.

F) I don’t think I have any consistent grammar mistakes.

G)My in-text citations are incorrect but I now know how to fix them.

Journal Entry 8- The Experience Transcends Time
September 16, 2010, 2:50 pm
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I think the most obvious connection is between Mumford and Whitman, not only because Mumford comments specifically on this poem, but also because he describes a similar experience in a very different way. Like Whitman, Mumford is describing an overwhelming and overall exciting experience of crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. They both portray the scene before them and around them by describing the sensations they feel through all five senses.

What is even more interesting is the contrast between them. Whitman is of the opinion that his experiences can transcend time and that all that is visible to him, “fifty years hence… a hundred years hence… others will see.” He repeatedly comments on future generations and how his experience is a shared experience that “distance avails not, and place avails not.” While Whitman focuses on the commonness of his feelings, Mumford stresses the rarity of them. Mumford asserts that “even the most active imagination could hardly evoke now” the sensations that that late 19th century- early 20th century experience created. Not only that, but Mumford writes his “The Brooklyn Bridge” in 1981, several decades after the experience has happened. Whitman, on the other hand, not only writes this around the time of the experience, but also continues to revise his work until his death, as he probably continues to go through that experience of crossing time and time again. Mumford writes his prose as a yearning to a far off time and therefore stresses the rarity and the unlikeliness that it could happen again; whereas Whitman continues to express these ongoing sensations and therefore believes they can transcend time.

Journal Entry 6- Whitman’s Brooklyn Bridge
September 15, 2010, 10:18 pm
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I am not sure I fully agree with Mumford’s assertion that ” even the most active imagination could hardly evoke now” the sensations and experiences Whitman describes in “Crossing Brooklyn Bridge.” I find it ironic that Whitman focuses so much on the idea that his experience is a shared one and one that many others, in future generations, will experience , when that is specifically what Mumford is asserting as not being actualized.

I agree that it is not a common experience as not many people nowadays take the time to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. I believe many of Whitman’s descriptions are things people take for granted in today’s NYC scene as they rush across the bridge in their cars and buses or even miss the view completely as they take a subway underneath it all. Everything he describes is what people see out of the corners of their eyes and therefore it may not produce in them the same sensations Whitman experienced.

On the other hand, I do believe that if someone were to take that leisurely walk across the bridge, he/she may definitely experience similar feelings. The sun, the river and the “reflection of the summer sky in the water” are all still there and can develop in someone the same sensation of having his/her “eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams.” The people are still there and there might just be another person who feels “the men and women I [see are] all near to me.” In my opinion, Whitman’s sensations may be uncommon but not completely out of reach; especially not to a point that “even the most active imagination could hardly evoke [them] now.”

Journal Entry 7- Rukeyser and Hacker
September 15, 2010, 10:18 pm
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Along with Muriel Rukeyser’s name that she includes in her title, “Crepuscule with Muriel,” Marilyn Hacker picks up on the black versus color, or light versus dark, imagery in “Seventh Avenue.” Rukeyser describes not only the “black street” and the overall “blackness” of two o’clock am, but also the “black suit” of the “night-walkers.” She then contrasts that with the colors that are lacking as she portrays the “colors of alcohol” and brings in the opposite of darkness, “light.” Where Rukeyser focuses on the blackness and darkness, Hacker focuses on the “late afternoon light.” She also includes specific colors such as the “light clicks green” and “a plump brown girl in a purple anorak,” to complete the overall “fluvial light of six o’clock.” Like Rukeyser, Hacker contrasts the color, or light, with the black, or darkness. She uses objects such as “blueberry jam that’s almost black” and “a black Lab” to create that contrast.

This imagery really provides the reader with a sense of contrasting moods. The references to light and darkness and the juxtaposition of the two create a better understanding of the contradicting views of NYC of the two poets. Where Rukeyser sees the night activity in NYC and the overall darker mood of “the cripple’s hour” consisting of “the drugstore, the bar…,” Hacker presents a brighter, more colorful and attractive view of the busy NYC life. While both touch upon the idea of this sort of shared free, and almost careless, feeling of NYC’s inhabitants with this contrast of light and dark, Rukeyser presents a more sketchy feeling with her overwhelming “darkness,” whereas Hacker creates a brighter and more welcoming NYC with his “light.”

Journal Entry 5- Hope and Possibility
September 7, 2010, 3:24 pm
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I think in both texts, NYC represents hope and possibility. Diaz, coming from the Dominican Republic, sees this large metropolis in this large country as the epitome of hope and possibility. Even once his father leaves because he didn’t find all that he had hoped for in NYC, Diaz never actually experiences NYC and for that reason does not cease to believe in the hope and possibility he thought NYC offered. His Dominican Republican dream of NYC and his first sight of NYC held that belief in hope and possibility as he remembers seeing NYC at night “like an incubator for stars, where suns are made”. Light, as described here as suns and stars, represents revelation or the creation of something new. Viewing NYC in this manner, as the creator of all light, is the definition of hope and possibility in its purest form. Because this is Diaz’s first impression of NYC, he feels this urge to live there. He does not experience what his father did in NYC and therefore he holds on to that hope and possibility he sees NYC to represent and is pulled right into it.

Mumford also believes in this hope and possibility of NYC in the early 20th century and it may be the failure of that that ultimately drives him away from NYC as he spends his final half century in upstate NY. He describes in his most memorable crossing experience the stepping into the city and the “March wind” that transmitted through him “the promise of the new day that was still to come.” He also explains how “until well into the 1930s we could always see the bright side of the darkest cloud,” how the possibility, the bright side, was always glowing in NYC.

Journal Entry 4- Crossing
September 6, 2010, 9:51 pm
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I think the root of the differences between Mumford and Diaz’s “crossing” experiences is the fact that they lived years apart. Lewis Mumford describes his experience from the beginning of the 20th century, whereas Junot Diaz is writing in the late 20th century. The experiences that take place decades apart are highlighted by the form of transportation each takes across the river. Mumford chooses to take the ferry across and uses the bridges for walking alone. Diaz, on the other hand, describes his experience from the “D” and “step[ping] between the cars.” Although Mumford touches upon the “need for speed” that the world around him is developing with the building of bridges and tunnels, I don’t believe transportation had actually reached the point it does in Diaz’s time.

To Mumford, the beauty of NYC starts with the walk across the bridge or the ferry boat ride and because his body is in motion, and he makes the physical effort to make it into NYC, when he gets there, he feels this energy, this “new confidence” that will lead him through the city (unlike Whitehead who gets lost once he steps off the bridge and into the city). Diaz, on the other hand, takes the train and only experiences some physical exertion as he “step[s] between the cars.”

The technology gap, which develops from the time gap, is further highlighted in the different ways each author experiences the glow of NYC as they cross the river. With every step he takes, Mumford sees the sun shining and illuminating NYC in an almost exaggerated way.  He describes the sun “forming a halo” and “the skyscrapers…becom[ing] slowly honeycombed with lights.” Like his eco-friendly ferry boat rides and walks across the bridges, the glow he sees in NYC comes from nature. Diaz, living in a more technology-friendly age, experiences the glow of NYC through electricity. His experience of light is from his “first night” crossing the river. Although Diaz describes a similar overflow of light coming from NYC, portraying it as “an incubator for stars, where suns are made,” this light doesn’t come from the sun, but rather from the electric lights that turn on at night.

Journal Entry 3- The Subway Chronicles
September 3, 2010, 11:48 am
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“My First Trip (On the D Train)” by Nick Krasnic


I very much relate to this poem as last week was the first time I had taken the subway by myself. With not much else to do and having already read every advertisement hanging in the rail car, I turned to silently examining the people around me. In his poem, Krasnic starts with the entrance into the train that just arrived and as he makes his way into the rail car he describes in great detail the people surrounding him. I specifically chose this poem because I can relate to the feeling of darkness in the underground station that Krasnic describes as “dwellers dwindle in a dungeon of dark tunnels”. His alliteration here also expresses the added feeling of suspense that usually occurs in dark situations as the recurrence of “d”s mimics the “dun, dun, dun” sound that plays in horror films. I also like his almost zoo-like comparison of the subway scene with the train’s horn acting like an “elephant’s trumpet” and people moving “like ants on parade, plow[ing] through the pile of flesh.” Krasnic touches upon the distance present between people as they move past one another in the station but don’t make eye contact. His later description of the various people present in the rail car further highlight this point as he describes them only from a distance and not form any real contact with them.

Krasnic’s description of the subway is similar to Highet’s in the his poem “The Subway Station” and his relation to the people is similar to Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro”. I think Krasnic, though, takes both one step further. Where Highet sees the filth in the inanimate objects, Krasnic sees it in the animate ones, in the people. Where Highet compares his surroundings to human traits, Krasnic compares them to animal, zoo-like traits. Nick Krasnic also takes Pound’s description of “the apparition of these faces” one step further as he takes apart each face and describes each person, but highlights  that each one is his own “ghost”; no one pays attention to the person next to him/her. Like Pound, Krasnic focuses on the people as opposed to the station itself but unlike Pound, it pulls him in so much that “Damn, I just missed my stop”.

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