Teachers Write! 6/5 Tuesday Quick-Write

Tuesday Quick-Write:
Write for two minutes to describe a very specific place.  If you’re just free-writing, it can be a place that you love, or have visited, or a place that frightens you.

The musty smell hits the minute you walk into the room. The smell of barely-cleaned floors and piled up paper, exacerbated by the lack of windows or, indeed, any control over air circulation at all. The door screams at me as it slams open: Oil me! Oil me! Oil me! I haven’t got much time to think about it, though, because suddenly the room is filled with bodies and noise and the air feels as though it is sucked out of the room. I am surrounded by children and by voices, each clamoring to be heard over each other. The desperation to be noticed is palpable in the air, as well as the b.o.-masked-by-Axe that always seems to drift in with the influx of students. The crush of kids sucks the air out of the room, making it almost feel like I will never have enough oxygen, enough space….

When your two minutes are up, stop writing.

Now…if your place is real and you can go there, go there now.  I’ll wait….

If it’s far away, find a picture of it. If it’s not a real place, put yourself there in your mind. Now write for one minute about each of the following:

Everything you SEE – Pay attention to big things and tiny things. Search for concrete details.
Everything you HEAR – Be specific. Don’t just say “a scraping sound.” Say a “high-pitched, raspity-raspity-screeeeeaking noise.”  You can make up words if you want.If you aren’t in the place, try to find a video. Or guess what you might hear.
Everything you SMELL – Especially pay attention to the smells that surprise you. If you’re not in the place, pictures can help you smell. Look carefully…what would that dumpster smell like?
Everything you FEEL – Weather, wind, things that land on you or brush against you. Again – pictures help you imagine if you’re not there, and if it’s not a real place, try imagining images and then assigning sensations from a similar place that might be real (desert, tundra, etc.)
Now, go back and rewrite that descriptive paragraph. Include your best tiny, surprising details, and work on senses other than sight.

[I was trying to be as descriptive as possible right from the start, so I will add to it and then go back and see what I can do about more detail]

The musty smell hits the minute you walk into the room. The smell of barely-cleaned floors and piled up paper, exacerbated by the lack of windows or, indeed, any control over air circulation at all. The door screams at me as it slams open: Oil me! Oil me! Oil me! I haven’t got much time to think about it, though, because suddenly the room is filled with bodies and noise and the air feels as though it is sucked out of the room. I am surrounded by children and by voices, each clamoring to be heard over each other. The desperation to be noticed is palpable in the air, as well as the b.o.-masked-by-Axe that always seems to drift in with the influx of students. The crush of kids sucks the air out of the room, making it almost feel like I will never have enough oxygen, enough space. When the adolescent wall backs off and sits down, I notice the dingy walls, paint chipped from the annual poster hanging and removal. The floor should be white, but the buildup of dirt over the years has given it a gray cast which is speckled with bits of food that the kids smuggled in. The piles of papers and books on every surface make it all look disorganized and yet everything has a place, however messy it may look… though the slide of papers onto the floor shows that perhaps another organizing system is needed. Scattered whispers move around the room as the dry-erase marker screes across the board, the tangy-sour scent of the ink permeating my nose. Alas it is not to last, because some young man or woman has been unable or unwilling to hold in their digestive issues and as rotting carcass scent of teenager-produced junk food farts permeates every corner, we all spend the next 15 minutes trying to breathe shallowly through our mouths. The air – and the smell – sits heavy in the room as the herky rattle-click of the clock counts off the seconds…

[While I realize that this has a little more time elapsing than might have been in the spirit of the assignment, THIS – all of it – is what crosses my mind as I think of my classroom…]

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