ENG 162 Fall 2013

ENG 162 at Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor ME, taught by John A. (Don't ever, ever ask!) Goldfine johngoldfine@gmail.com

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Week 2 Theme: Perspective--you don't need a lot of miles on your odometer to do week 2!

A lot of you aren't done your journals (and a few haven't even started!) That's okay: keep the journal for the next few days while you also get to work on week 2. The journal is NOT a semester project; it's a warm-up exercise. When it's done, put it out of your mind.... Here's the week 2 lecturette:

You've kept a journal for a few days, a lot of stuff shooting off this way and that, depending on the kind of days you were having and what you decided you wanted to pluck from the whirling stream and put down on paper. Now, you're going to continue the focus of the first week on yourself. (Why yourself? Because you're the world's greatest expert on only one thing: what you've seen, done, experienced, felt, heard, tried, grasped, and touched. This course aims to link you to your sources of strength.)

This week you will write about yourself in history, about you passing through the larger world, on you embedded in bigger things. Post it on your blog as Theme Week Two.

Think about this.  You're at a community college that came into existence because there were a lot of returning veterans needing training after WW2.  You're living in a severe economic recession that affects each of  your futures and presents.  You live in a country at war, realize it or not.  The price you pay to fill your gas tank, for your morning coffee, and for a burger are all determined by global and historical forces.  The clothing and other stuff you buy at Walmart comes from China, but the state you live in made similar shoes and clothing until very recently--that fact affects you, your job prospects, your lives.  Every single thing around you is part of a much much bigger web--drugs, the way little kids are raised, the locked doors on campus, the way your teachers teach, the phones you carry, everything.  Write about you and some of that.

Here's a sample I wrote which follows me through one decade of my life. I offer some of the big names and events and my connection (or not) to them, and then, not exactly sure why, I focus on my history and evolution in the sixties as told through my shoes. But that's just my weirdness. You don't have to write about your shoes!!!

Here it is:

I crash on the couch and catch the History Channel with a remote in one hand and a bottle of Ballantine Ale in the other. On the screen is JFK: “Ask not what your country can do for you--,” he says in that Boston accent like no other Boston accent I ever heard growing up in Boston. His hair blows in the January wind and the voiceover says a new youth and vigor had come to Washington.

Then it’s Castro and the missile crisis and, whoops, we nearly blew up the world! But it didn’t quite happen so on we go to…

Martin Luther King, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, dreaming his dream, his voice still lifting the hairs on the back of my neck. A little balance needed so we’re given Malcolm X. on some street corner ranting about the white devils which segues into…

The motorcade in Dallas. The horse with the backward boots and no rider. The country in mourning, but not for long because here come the four lads from Liverpool in skinny pants and jackets with no lapels and those sappy harmonies.

Ringo’s drumming turns into distant explosions, machine gun fire and dim figures in the jungle. We get a little ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ for background music, just in case we don’t get the point.

Suddenly, some turkey with a beard to his ankles, tie-dyed tee, and granny glasses is flashing a peace sign. His old lady with indescribably filthy bare feet and center-parted hair says, “If the people would only come together.”

Watts burns, more distant explosions in the jungle, mud at Woodstock and more hippies standing around VW buses talking about peace, justice, and dope. And that’s pretty much the end. See ya, sixties, and hello disco, long gas lines, and Jimmy Carter.

I finish my beer, flick the remote, and lie there in silence, annoyed. That may be tv’s sixties.

It’s certainly the same film footage I saw on tv in the sixties. But it wasn’t the sixties for me. I wasn’t in any of that footage. I didn’t live in those sixties, in some history channel footage with musical backgrounds. My sixties are mine and private and don’t belong to just anyone with a remote.

My sixties begin with white ankle socks and a pair of Weejun penny loafers. They’re just called penny loafers, of course—only a jerk would actually stick pennies in there! My mother fought against buying me those loafers all through the late fifties—did I realize they wouldn’t support my ankles? They’d give me flat feet? That gravel would get in them? That the stitching would tear and the backs would run over. Lace shoes were what I wanted. No, I did not, ma, and finally I got my way.

Of course, it was the early sixties and that meant your parents were generally right, and indeed, my ankles hurt, my stitching tore, and my backs ran over. But I ran with the crowd finally and nothing was cooler or more casual than sitting in school, arching one’s foot and letting the heel of the loafer dangle in the breeze.

However, by the time in the sixties I was ready for college, penny loafers no longer did it. Downstairs in Levine’s Store for Men and Boys on Main Street in Waterville were Maine-made, hand-stitched Bass moccasins—kind of a deconstructed loafer with a rawhide lace running through grommets. All the drawbacks of a loafer and even less distance between me and the road. My mother moaned when she saw them, gave me up as a lost soul. I wore those puppies into the ground, resoling them, restitching them, and when they’d finally head in, heading myself down to Levine’s with my $7.95 for a new pair.

I never gave up on mocs, but the sixties hit me pretty good in 1964 and I got a yen for the pointy toed, elastic sided, stack heeled black boots the Beatles wore. Winkle-pickers, they were called, or Mersey boots. They squeezed a man’s toes like high heels squeeze a woman’s. My mother took one look and sat me down for a serious talk about orthopedics, spinal alignment etc etc etc. Sorry, ma., I said. They’re cool, they’re me, and that’s that.

Except a funny thing happened by 1969. Others might have been running around barefoot or in sandals, but I started working outdoors jobs and when I wasn’t at work I got interested in hiking and being in the woods and swamps around Old Town, and the mocs and winkle-pickers really didn’t fit the bill any more. I found myself in orange-colored Georgia Giant waffle-stompers at work and play. They were comfy, practical, and if they weren’t cool…well, who needed cool? When my ma saw them she cocked her head as if to say, ‘I wish he was in something a little more stylish, but at least these will give him that vital ankle support he hasn’t had since 1959.’

Yes, the sixties began with an impractical 15 year old, trying to look cool and knowing everything and ended with a married man of 25, trying to be practical and wondering what would come next. Man and boy, heel and toe, I walked every step of my way from Dec 31, 1959 to Dec 31 1969.

And here's a corker, same idea, from ace student marciamellow:

Wow..the state basketball tournament is such a high for this little corner of the county, it almost makes us forget about the nightly news… for just a minute. I take the letter off the sweater, and fold up my cheering uniform for the last time while listening to Walter Cronkite tell us about the latest battle in Khe Sanh. The politics aren’t real to my 17 yr old brain, but the pictures of flag draped coffins will never leave my head. I regularly write to friends in the Army and Navy, and pray nightly that they don’t have to go to Nam. I love the biting humor of the Smother’s Brothers, and the silliness of Laugh In. My white sneakers with nylons are absolutely The thing to wear to school…no pants allowed, and skirts must fit the “kneel on the floor” rule..so of course I wait until I get out of sight, and roll the waistband so my knees will show….Cher, the original, is our hero..our fashion maven..I try every cure I read about for my cursed curly hair…Ironing it, using soda cans for rollers, taping it down while it drys…nothing works. At this time in my history, I’ve never heard of Farrah Fawcett, and have no idea that in 10 years, my hair could be the envy of those around me….alas…I won’t be a teenager then, so what does it matter?

The summer brings more California sounds. We all want to be part of the surfer crowd... quite a feat for kids in central Maine, but out comes the “Summer Blonde” for our hair, and huarache sandals too. (they were, after all, in the song) The summer spent at the camp on the lake, drive in movies, roller skating, and dances. Listening to Janis Joplin, and the Mamas and the Papas at the submarine races. Summer ends too soon. My boyfriend leaves for basic training. Two months later, a quick trip to North Carolina for a wedding..not your Bride Magazine , maids in frilly dresses wedding, but one in the judges chambers..the groom’s best friend, also in uniform, standing beside him. The brides older sister, with her. Niece and nephew in the back of the room being fed crackers lest they disrupt the ceremony. Months later, we are so thankful that hubby is sent to Korea, instead of Viet Nam…but he lands there the day the Pueblo is seized by the North Koreans. My closet is showing more flowers, more flowing fabrics. Caught between the idealistic, ‘flower-child-wannabe’, and the wife of an MP. A cap and gown is traded for smocks and a diaper bag. My hospital stay coincides with the funeral of Bobby Kennedy. Later that summer, we watch the news again to learn of King’s death. We move to Maryland during their hottest summer in 50 years. Short shorts and flip flops..Who can believe men are walking on the moon? Going back to Maine, getting caught in a traffic jam on the N.Y. Throughway…what’s with all these hippies in long dresses and dirty hair? The only “Woodstock” I know is in Canada..How confusing!

New closet…new clothes… a fringed vest and hip hugger pants…Kent State on the news …A divided country…I go to work in a shoe factory for the longest 9 months of my life. My clothes always look dirty with shoe cement…always smelling like leather.. For years after, the smell of leather jackets in a store, will turn my stomach. When the July vacation bonus comes, I walk out. Call this my notice. I won’t be back after vacation. I spend the week working on a roadside cleanup of cans and bottles..hot into the environmental movement..

New suit, job interview, no time for vacation..I’m a bank teller. Shorter skirts and higher stacked heels. I can’t imagine now how it must have looked, leaning over the counter of the drive up window. The little old ladies must have clucked their tongues and shook their heads. Saturday nights spent listening to Waylon and Willie..dances at the Red Barn. The end of the 70s brought me the same fashion as the end of the 60s. I had survived a decade of polyester, and was once again pushing a stroller, and watching Sesame Street..Slightly older, wiser and far more settled. Definitely better.

Then there's this from Marlon. Despite being poetry, which is utterly and totally forbidden in 162-land, it is a corker too:

The memory of my history is all about my culture. I miss it the most while I am up here in Maine. Donald Byrd, Ronnie Laws, Confunction, Parliment..........anyways

I'm Black Like:

Playing dominoes and a game of spades
it's night time and I still wear shades
Eatin' watermelon with a fork and some salt
drag my feet every where that I walk

Cook my bacon and I save the grease
even my baggy jeans gotta have a crease
Lettin' the phone ring when somebody's calling
sleepin in and never seeing the morning

Wearing slippers and I bent the heal
seasoning salt, paprika, and a box of cornmeal
Pancakes with a side of scrapple
fried bologna, fried bananas, and fried apples

Ashey skin and my lips get all chapped
my uncle's outta jail, next week he's going back
You think I'm good at every sport
you think that all I smoke is weed or Newports

I'm Black Like:

Saturdays and the Kung Fu flicks
grandad using scissors to get the toe nails clipped
Do rags, hair grease, and straightening combs
pigs feet, cornbread, black eyed peas and neckbones

My Kool-Aide is always to sweet
always wearing socks and never showing my feet
Whiskey and honey makes everything feel better
my corns are singing and I can smell the weather

Never knowing how to end a song
being in church on Sunday and staying too long
Baked macaroni and eatin' a sammich
saying I'm getting money because my hands itch

At the movies always running my mouth
all my cousins live somewhere down south
I'm black like...You can't say that word but I still can
I'm black like..."Who dis?" and saying words like


Anonymous reetplus3 said...

Not afraid to say that I'm not looking forward to this one. I'll have to dig deep. Remembering things in the past are not my forte.....but I'll try. Glad I have a week.

Sunday, January 23, 2011 7:15:00 PM  
Blogger Tara said...


Sunday, January 23, 2011 8:03:00 PM  
Blogger emily said...

It's always good to look back and see where you came from and what got you to where you are today. This should be fun to look back and see what events I have been through. Sometimes when those events are happening you don't notice them as world events until, after you look back at them.

oh. and one more thing, your piece, you were drinking at 15? tisk, tisk. Wild and free days huh?!

Sunday, January 23, 2011 10:46:00 PM  
Blogger johngoldfine said...

Well, no, I wasn't listening to JFK with a beer (that was the adult me watching old news footage), but, yeah, emily, my mom did put make-up on me when I was 17so I could pass for 21 and then sent me out to the local bar ('The Sevens') for a beer.

Monday, January 24, 2011 6:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Morgan said...

Hey, John, this isn't my reaction but I found that quote about semicolons. It's by Vonnegut: "Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college." It still makes me laugh. Just thought I'd share.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 5:49:00 PM  
Blogger johngoldfine said...

I like semicolons--all the stopping power of a period, all the casual cool of a comma.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 6:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Derek P said...

This seems pretty cool but I just think I'll have trouble actually remembering stuff you write about. I agree with reetplus3 that we have a week to do this.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 6:28:00 PM  
Blogger johngoldfine said...

It's not a research paper. It's not even remembering history necessarily--it's looking at everyday things in a global context.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 11:21:00 PM  
Blogger Kristie Grant Canfield said...

so many life experiences so little time...

Thursday, January 27, 2011 8:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Chris Johnson said...

I've been having trouble with this assignment, I rarely pay attention to world events because they are too depressing.

Saturday, January 29, 2011 9:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Morgan said...

I think I am always writing about me in the passing world, or at least characters that do. I do have to say, though, I am struggling with this piece. Trying to think of something to write about. All week I have been trying to think of something and I think I might have it now!

Saturday, January 29, 2011 3:16:00 PM  
Blogger johngoldfine said...

chris--maybe that's your opening: depressing. But world events are not necessarily what this week is about. Whether you watch the news or not, the news is watching you and that IS what the week is about.

Saturday, January 29, 2011 5:38:00 PM  
Blogger johngoldfine said...

Good heavens, morgan--how can a person from Indian Island not have 'something' to write about'? You're not exactly insulated from some of the externalities others might be able to pretend to ignore.

Saturday, January 29, 2011 5:41:00 PM  
Blogger darci said...

I can honestly say John, that this will be my not so favorite week. Having to dig into my thoughts and memories of stuff that I don't want to think about. But, what happens in the past makes the person that we are today.

Saturday, January 29, 2011 6:49:00 PM  
Blogger Erin M said...

I actually decided to dig out that time capsule I wrote about in the prompt to help refresh me on “Erin in history.” I found some things I liked, some things that made me go “awww” and some things that made me throw the whole damn thing on the floor. I’ve been putting a lot of thought into how I want to write this and what angle I want to take but nothing creative is really coming to mind and I don’t want to just shit it out like any old paper. When does this have to be in?

Sunday, January 30, 2011 5:04:00 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

I have to say this one is difficult for me. Nothing seems to be coming.

Sunday, January 30, 2011 10:27:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan G said...

I liked this theme, remembering the past is a good way to remember our mistakes and how not to repeat them.

Sunday, January 30, 2011 11:49:00 PM  
Blogger RJ Perry said...

So... I made a post about my place in history. I'm almost certain that it's no where close to what you wanted but it was the best way i knew how to translate the instructions given into a decent format.

Monday, January 31, 2011 5:47:00 PM  
Blogger Kristie Grant Canfield said...

Looking in that photo album I see....

My high school years were great years. Carefree days, not a worry to be found. Growing up in Millinocket in 1995, was as American as apple pie. Mount Katahdin and Baxter State Park were our back drop. A successful paper mill more than fairly compensated the majority of the town. My parents were caring and loving, but not over bearing. I had freedom and a set of wheels. I light blue Toyota Tercel hatchback to be exact. Duct tape on the back kept the rust at bay. The moon roof opened wide to let in the air and sunshine. My boyfriend at the time had installed a kick butt radio. Oh the places I'd go!

It was the first, but not the best--or was it?

I saw him standing there. Across the parking lot, with his football jersey on. I was 14 and he was gorgeous. He made me blush and giggle and I was smitten. My parents instantly fell in love with him right along with me. We were inseperable for a year and then we did the on again off again thing that comes with being young and jealous and restless. The time finally came for him to go to college and I knew that I wouldn't wait for him.

The stuff I've collected over the years in my hope chest marks every step of my way.

We wrote and called when we he had the money to pay for a phone call or my parents would let me. I dig out my pictures and yearbooks ocassionally and go back in time. What seemed so important back then are mere specks now. My heart was broken and I broke his heart and I wouldn't change a thing.

Monday, January 31, 2011 7:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Melissa said...

hmmmmm this is going to be hard!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011 9:29:00 AM  
Blogger johngoldfine said...

kristie--can you switch this material over into wk 2 prompts?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Carol said...

I actually enjoyed writing about this theme once I had picked out which 'events' to write about. That part wasn't so fun.

Sunday, February 06, 2011 6:43:00 PM  
Blogger Kara said...

Seeing how I am only 21 you think this would be quite easy, but I have read that a lot of people either are not good at remembering things or don't like to remember a lot. Lets see how I can do.

Monday, February 07, 2011 7:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Zoe Little said...

very confused on this one, but I'm going to read others posts and go from there!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011 8:07:00 PM  
Blogger johngoldfine said...

and zoe--check out some of the ones from the old time 162 writers too

Thursday, February 10, 2011 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger Alley Ummer said...

It might be a bit difficult to pick and choose what parts of history to include, but I'm kind of excited to feel this one out and write about it.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012 5:55:00 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Cassidy said...

dang so many memories come flooding back. choosing what to include is the true challenge. I have so many angles and not enough time to write a book. But I must say its brought me many smiles and still moments the good over shadowing the not so good but if I can pull it all together by Monday the piece will truly reveal the woman I am today.

Friday, September 07, 2012 8:34:00 PM  
Blogger Jordan Larrabee said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 4:29:00 PM  
Blogger Jordan Larrabee said...

I really had a great time writing this! I kind of found myself holding back from writing as much because I could've have it go on forever.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 4:29:00 PM  
Blogger Courtney Arrico said...

I feel like this is going to be a lot harder than the rest have been so far. It's going to need a lot of thinking and effort. I feel like it's going to be more difficult to reach this far back and really make it right.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 9:21:00 PM  
Blogger Carol Lewandowski said...

I have often been accused of living in the past, thinking that my best days are behind me and that I am a small meaningless cog in the larger industry of history. This assignment is clever but challenging to me -- Zelig vs. fly on the wall.....Thanks!!

Saturday, August 31, 2013 9:32:00 AM  
Blogger johngoldfine said...

We aim to please, cal.

Saturday, August 31, 2013 1:16:00 PM  

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