Reading Response #3

Select one of the assigned readings this week (either Lamott chapters or  "Our Perfect Summer"  by David Sedaris), and post a 500-word response below. Be sure to also make a comment on a classmate's response for full credit.

30 thoughts on “Reading Response #3

  1. Andrew Lange

    I very much enjoyed reading a large portion of Lamott’s book as assigned. I found I was able to personally identify with some of her descriptions she uses; much of her material is actually quite witty in nature, and something most people can very much relate to on one level or another. She includes a large number of personal anecdotes, many of which I found amusing and/or relatable to my own life. Finally, much of her work mentions typical daily struggles that most people would encounter; much of what occurs in one’s personal life can also transfer over to and show up in their writing.

    Lamott uses a large amount of humor in her writing. One of my personal favorite moments in the book is her chapter on ‘Radio Station KFKD’, in which she wittily describes a fictitious radio station that plays in her head, the KFKD call letters standing for a branding moniker of ‘K-F***ed’. She describes how this proverbial radio station plays constantly, “in stereo”, airing programming of clashing internal discourses. In one ‘speaker’ might be optimistic self-worth, but in the other ‘speaker’ there might be worries and inhibitions; the voices in her head continually clash. She describes one particular instance in which her brain’s proverbial radio station was airing a call-in program concerning people’s experiences with plane crashes in one ‘speaker’, while in the other side was airing some song that was stuck in her head. I found this incredibly relatable, as someone who frequently finds I have various discourses clashing with each other, or when I find I’m having a difficult time making a particular decision. Descriptions such as this are something most anyone can relate to; everyone has had plenty of experiences in which their inner voices and inhibitions clashed with each other, the result often being unpleasant.

    Lamott uses all manner of rather amusing personal anecdotes to describe various experiences in her life, again in a funny, informal way which most readers can easily relate to, such as trying to amuse her son during an emergency room visit prompted by an asthma attack by staging a pretend sword fight between two giants drawn on index cards brandishing tongue depressors; many readers could easily imagine trying to soothe and amuse their child during an emergency room visit.

    Lamott also goes into a fair amount of detail concerning the process of writing itself, including overcoming the unwelcome pest known as writer’s block, something most everyone encounters at some point. She pushes the idea that perfection doesn’t always come immediately; in fact, she has an entire chapter titles ‘S****y First Drafts’; everyone has to start somewhere, and pulling a perfect story out of thin air isn’t always easy. She even mentions some of her own techniques she personally utilizes, such as carrying index cards and pens wherever she goes, so that if something comes to mind she can jot it down to jog her memory later, before she forgets. Finally, she goes into detail with ideas for character development.

    1. Caitlyn Williams

      Her work really is relatable! I liked her use of words when it came to the ‘speakers’. One side with optimism, and the other with doubt. Everyone has these thoughts, and I thought that chapter was important for writers to read. Some writers often doubt their work, and it’s good not to listen to that speaker. Overthinking is always hard, but the way she worded it made it easier for me, along with others, to turn off the speaker of doubt and listen to my broccoli.

  2. Aubri Stogsdill

    In ‘Our Perfect Summer’ Sedaris does a fantastic job illustrating a point of great disappointment in his personal life. The essay begins with Sedaris and his mother mocking a woman who was more fortunate than they. It was clear based on the language of the woman and her description of her multiple houses, that she felt she was more important than those around her that could not afford such luxuries. In their mocking, it is evident the Sedaris and his mother are in fact envious of this woman’s prosperity, not simply because they are materialistic people. The extra house represents something to them; something that goes beyond material things, that they know they do not have.

    Sedaris’ father is notorious for talking big and then failing to deliver. His mother struggles to hold onto the marriage due to his inconsistency in word and deed. In the moment, the father knows what to say to make everyone happy, but he shatters the dream of the children and the wife, piece by piece. Their father is not someone they can trust, or see fit to depend on. His inability to commit to a plan and follow through on it causes a riff of dissatisfaction and general frustration. Having ones dreams and expectations dashed time and time again is a far from a pleasing feeling.

    Sedaris’ mother initially tries to protect her children from the potential of disappointment when they decide to go speak to a real estate agent in regards to purchasing a beach house. Its almost as if she hopes her husband will follow through, but at the same time there is a voice inside her that believes he wont; that this will just be another broken promise. For the children and the wife, it seems that this beach house was a representation of their family becoming healthy and whole. But, their father’s actions caused any sort of reconciliation and regrowth to be impossible. As the years went by, the family kept tabs on the vacation house that could have been theirs but never really was. As they looked back at this home, it almost as if the were mourning the loss of the happy family that they were never able to be.

    Eventually, the beach house was destroyed by a storm and the land on which it used to sit was sold. In the same way, their parents grew farther and farther apart, and their family was torn to shreds. Sedaris blames his father for this. His mother, on the other hand seems to be somewhat of a saint in his eyes. She and the rest of the family are a victim of their fathers lack of discretion. Sedaris doesn’t see himself or his family as the type that others would look at with envy, because it is obvious to him where his family seems to be lacking, which even years later causes him much pain.

    I thought this was a very interesting read. The title was deceiving and made me think that the story would end on a happy note. Instead it ended rather painfully. Every person understands what it means to feel disappointment, but it terrible when the bulk of that disappointment comes from a figure as prominent and pivotal as ones father.

    1. Jessica Honebein

      I was also pretty deceived by the title, I was thinking it was going to be a happy-go-lucky story. I did like how he made the story relatable though, because not every family is going to agree on everything. I would have to agree that the father being the one that lead the problems is sad, and makes it more impactful. I think that you make a good connection about the land wasting away in correlation to the family. I do however think that the siblings all had good memories from the “house” to look back on though and maybe it was not all bad. I think that even though they may have been disappointed by their father/husband’s decisions they still have a family bond that cannot be broken or at least that they can still tolerate each other.

    2. Katherine Whelchel

      Hi Aubri!
      I agree that the ending is pretty startling. Sedaris seemed to purposely write about a disappointing time in his life, to leave the reader with a sense of reality. The ending to me seemed extremely realistic; some expectation of excitement and them a letdown. It is strange to read an article that leaves you feeling stationary in this world rather than transported to another one.

  3. Jessica Honebein

    Jessica Honebein- Reading Response #3

    “Our Perfect Summer” is a compelling story that explores the feelings of his family and having to share opinions with one another. I think that the story can be relatable for some, taking into account that money is not always available. In the story the narrator wants a new house for their vacation home. The father crushes this hope by deciding to just simply repair and stay in the same home they are in. This sets the stage for conflict to arise and thoughts to spill out. I think that the author has created a story that most of us can relate to. If you are middle class and can afford a place to live etc. but not necessarily a fancy new vacation home you can relate. Depending on how you look at the situation and how you decide to go about it will put you in what character you align with.

    The father in this story was one that sparked hope and dreams within the family. He would bring in ideas that may not be shared similarly, but would make conversation and smiles appear. I think that when promises were not fulfilled to the families liking is when they began to look at him as the boy who cried wolf. I could not say rather he was really doing it to hurt and break up the family as the story ends, because it was being told from a different point of view.

    The narrator and her mother and sisters seems to be suckers for the father’s promises. When they realize that their vision of hope may not be the same this is when the problems begin to occur. I think that the father was almost creating a barrier between himself and the rest of his family by his actions. The way the family handled everything was the end piece that helped to pull the family apart.

    I think that the title was very misleading because as I started reading it was a story that actually had a deep meaning behind it. Honestly I think that this story has truth within it that many families can relate to. Everyone has different opinions and motives, it just depends how they are done that affects not only you but the people around you. I think that this story is so touching because it is a father figure that is picking apart the family. When you think of a father figure they are supposed to lead and along with the mother hold the family together. Yet in this situation he is not doing a good job with either, he is just chasing after what he feels is right.

    Overall, I enjoyed this story I think that it was written to spark emotion in the reader. In some cases I think that it can really hit home to the reader as well, most families have problems (some not as big as others). In the end, just like in the story there is always the good memories that comes out of it all. Families have there hard times, but just like the this family the bonds between them make everything bearable.

    1. Michelle Cordova

      I was left feeling the same way, wondering if the father had ill intentions or truly wanted to pull out a miracle to please his family. Either way, it is a relatable story for many of us, as we tend to want what others have and are angry when things don’t turn out the way we hope. All in all, I thought it was enjoyable as well and found your perspective pleasant to read!

    2. Ben Knapp

      I totally agree! I liked the bonds their family still seemed to have, despite their troubles. Altogether nice essay.

    3. Cassidy Kramer

      I am also curious wondering if the father had those intentions. It’s hard for me to believe though, because I feel like he promised these things to get those fifteen minutes of a “happy family” again. But you’re right, we didn’t get that perspective of the story so we don’t know for sure. Sadly, it ended up just pulling the family apart. I also liked how relatable this story was and people can relate to both sides of the promising, trying to keep one, and hoping someone will keep one. Thank you for your thoughts on it!

  4. Michelle Cordova

    “Our Perfect Summer” was nothing that I expected combined with everything I didn’t know I wanted to hear. The title of this story gives the illusion that pure joy would be the center focus of one particular summer, and although, at times, that was true, I believe that it is meant to be sarcastically amusing. I could feel the excitement and the sadness in David Sedaris’s words as each line drew me in more than the last through his descriptive recollections regarding the highs and lows of the yearly family vacations.

    The story begins with a young boy and his mother admiring a “classy” woman and her perfectly matching attire. It then goes on to illustrate the way in which they mocked her for feeling the need to openly express her dominance through loudly stating that she had multiple homes. They mocked her, yet, in a way, they were jealous. Repeating her sentence, “My home, well, one of my homes” upwards of 50 times that day, attempting to get the words to roll off their tongues in the same superior manner as the nice-looking woman.

    Sedaris then describes the yearly family vacations he, his parents, and siblings took without fail. He recounts rainy and sunny days alike, relating the weather to their luck, and their luck to their behavior as if one thrived off of the other. After years of oceanfront vacations at Emerald Isle, and one unfortunate wooly caterpillar bite to his sister’s cheek, the father proposes an idea out of good feeling while sipping on a gin—and-tonic- to have a beach house all their own. He recalls the family drive to see the perfect cottage and how each member suggested new names for it, and the way they claimed bedrooms and mentally rearranged furniture in their heads of their soon-to-be new residence. However, on one hand, the thought of finally having their own vacation property brought abundant joy to the entire family, while on the other, the thought of another empty promise made by dad weighed heavily on their minds.

    I thoroughly enjoyed, and, in a way, felt as if I connected with this amusing, struggle filled story as Sedaris described the happy times he and his family shared, all while truly believing, in the back of his childhood memories, that most of it was a facade. At the end of his story, the author recalls his father’s seemingly uncontrollable desire to promise things he could not deliver as well as his mother’s heartbreak and crushed spirits relating to the cottage of her dreams, as if owning two houses was her only desire and failing to do so was the sole reason she drifted into another bedroom and further away from his father. Ultimately, we cannot be certain of the family’s financial situation, although it is clear that they were not poor, but the Sedaris perfectly describes the battle his family, along with many others, face when attempting to “keep up with the Joneses,” and live above their means.

  5. Katherine Whelchel

    What an insightful and delightful piece by David Sedaris. “Our Perfect Summer” was so easy to read, yet left me with a resonating train of thought. Sedaris seemed to take this story from his childhood and put it through a fine holed sifter. Only what was necessary came through. It most likely took time for him to achieve optimal simplicity; taking away unnecessary thoughts, emotions, etc. that would have muddied the story. Even with its simplicity, an underlying meaning and deep set of emotion resonated through this article. The way he and his mother repeated what the woman had said about her houses, trying to perfectly recreate it on their tongues, showed the vulnerability of real life. I do that all the time, without even realizing. It seems to go back to the complexity of the relationship between words and emotions, and how they intertwine to express thoughts. Sedaris showed some of this when going into detail about the way the woman spoke, what she said and how she said it that gave him a peek into her mind.
    These were strategically placed details. Sedaris could have left out that time of word repetition with his mother, but it was a true detail that shined in his story. What a tricky balance, sifting a non-fiction story to its bones, yet keeping in all the right details and emotions. This article displays this well in my eyes and gives a new perspective about writing non-fiction. He seamlessly portrayed the deeper meanings of his story, without going into them. As if the obvious story about a summer with his family at the beach was transparent; you could see right through it, down to the core, without actually diving down there.
    The reality of it all hits home as well. Who doesn’t have someone in their life who constantly promises and never delivers? Or felt the excitement as a kid, of living a life you never thought achievable? But David Sedaris did not seem to set out with a plan to write a story about all of this. He just told something from his own life. I think that is what creates a beautifully sifted, non-fiction piece of literature, with just enough details and emotion behind it to lift up the top layer and expose the deeper insides, without delving into a mush of humanness. I can find myself thinking of my life as a story, then I set out to write a deep story about my life, rather than just writing about my life and letting it be what it is. When viewing it in this way, it’s so easy to get caught up in philosophical prose that sounds good, rather than honest writing.
    It all comes back to motivation. You can write anything you want, but what will hit the insightful readers between the eyes is the motivation behind the writing. I’m sure Sedaris still paused while writing and thought, “Man this sounds awesome!” but what he achieved seemed to be honesty with some story-telling charm. Or in different words, really great creative non-fiction.

    1. Aubri Stogsdill

      Yeah, there really was a lot of intentionalities put into which details he included. It seemed like just about everything he said played into our understanding of the story, it wasn’t just a bunch of useless details. I totally agree! This was a really enjoyable piece to read. (:

  6. Caitlyn Williams

    Caitlyn Williams
    Reading Response #3
    31, January 2018

    Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott p 110-161

    So far, I’ve really enjoyed reading this book. The way she uses descriptive words helps me visualise and connect with her content. I hope to be as witty and informational as she is. The way Lammot uses narrative is also impressive. She also uses metaphors to connect with readers, and they’re great. Her overall voice is captivating, and that plays an important part in reading. She keeps it interesting, and it makes you want to find out what happens next.

    This reading sections starts with a metaphor on broccoli. She says that all writers need broccoli, and that we lose it as we grow up. She supports this by saying that when we grow up, we’re ridiculed for thinking originally and using our “broccoli”. I inferred that the broccoli was imagination. Imagination is vital if you’re a writer. She then goes on to write about how our broccoli is best when you don’t shine too much light on it. This means we shouldn’t focus too much on it, and let it flow freely. In the first draft, it’s critical that we don’t pressure ourselves too much and just write something. Then we take a few more looks at it coldly and fix our mistakes. This book is jam-packed with great information hidden in narrative, metaphors, and in little stories or anecdotes that she uses to illustrate a point. She uses different ways of expression, and it impacts me more than a regular story, or a ‘how to’ book would have.

    The voice of the piece being written is super important; if the voice of the story is monotonous and flat, the reader will set the book down, or fall asleep. One of the latter. The way Lammot uses exaggeration is also key to the success of this book, I think. Exaggeration is an important part of creative writing, and it keeps the story rolling. Her different uses of exaggeration make this reading more enjoyable. She seems to write out her exact feelings, and that makes it easier to relate to. One example is when she expresses how she dealt with jealousy. She’s so honest about what she wanted to say and what she actually said. “It can wreak just the tiniest bit of havoc with your self esteem to find that you are hoping for small bad things to happen to this friend- for, say, her head to blow up.”(p123) This quote shows how she uses exaggeration well, and how she writes truthful feelings. This stuck with me, because I imagined that when writing, I could “button up” my writing and put some content in that wasn’t the truth. I learned that the reader may be able to sense untruth, and stop reading. It’s better to have a truth people can relate to, rather than having a semi-perfect setting, and even more perfect people in the story. Life doesn’t work like that, and if it does, well you might just be another uninteresting, ‘perfect’ person.
    Lammot is also unfolding solutions to various problems people have while writing. The chapter on Jealousy especially rang true to this. She reached out to friends and they helped her out of her bout of jealousy and self degradation. Her friends told her not to pretend to be happy for the writers that were successful. This helped her tremendously, and it will help the readers as well. I love this book, and I am glad to have gotten my hands on it.

    1. Aundrea Pierce


      I like your analysis of the Broccoli section, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate how you honed in on the importance of “exaggeration.” I feel drama and exaggeration are the momenta to keep the ball rolling for readers. This is something that needs careful work on because if any of these components get dragged out too long or feels unrealistic, it tends to become dull and monotonous. I’m glad we share a great appreciation for this book! This is definitely a must-read for beginners!

    2. Corbin Knapp

      Hi Aubri!
      I also agree that her book should be a required read for beginners. It is full of great tips and tricks of the trade! I can relate to the chapter “Jealousy” as well especially since one of my friends got his book locally published. I agree with your description of the chapter “Broccoli” and that imagination is important for a good writer. If that is the case then your all set. I enjoyed your essay!

      1. Corbin Knapp

        Sorry Caitlyn! I’m writing this at 11 at night, so sorry for the mistaken name on your comment 🙂
        have a good Sunday.

  7. Leah Rego

    Sedaris begins with what initially seems like a cheerful lighthearted story of summer, but through his story he hints at an underlying sad nostalgia. He said that he and his mother “…wanted what this woman had.” But that “Mocking her made it seem hopelessly unobtainable…” clearly indicating that neither were entirely pleased with their place in life. When they finally go on their beach vacation Sedaris once again hints at the darkness underlying his story when he says, speaking of his father, that“…for the first time in memory even he seemed to enjoy himself.”

    He continues with his tale, and his father’s idea of buying a beach house, but says that “Experience had taught us not to trust him…” clearly indicating that his father often did not deliver well on his own exciting ideas. Of the fifteen minute drive to see the house they had found Sedaris states that “When older, even the crankiest of us would accept them as proof that we were once a happy family.” By this point Sedaris has given enough dark hints that it really comes as no surprise that their dreams of a beach house amount to nothing, that the children are no longer drawn in by their father’s exciting ideas, and that their mother and father slowly drift apart from one another until they don’t even share a room.

    Sedaris’ story isn’t really about that summer, it is anecdotal evidence of the end of childhood dreams, and of his idealization of his father. Prior to that summer the family were willing to buy into the dreams their father tried to sell them, despite his history of letting them down, but the loss of that dream proved to be one too tragic not to deeply affect their view of him.

    1. Naimy Schommer

      I agree that “When older, even the crankiest of us would accept them as proof that we were once a happy family.” is a line that truly nails down the dark tone of the piece. I think you’re extrapolation to the end of childhood dreams is interesting. I didn’t originally read the piece in that light, but I see where that would stem from.

  8. Aundrea Pierce

    I enjoyed reading Lamott’s chapter on Index Cards. Most people can relate to the annoyance of having a flash of something so exciting cross your mind, only to forget it moments later. There are so many times throughout the day that something brilliant pops up in my hectic brain and I tell myself, “Wow, I have jot that down when I get home.” Of course, I get home, and I draw a blank, my brilliant phrase has vanished forever! Rarely does it ever return, and if it did, I don’t remember. I can’t see myself carrying a bunch of index cards and pens around, but I do have my phone glued to me everywhere I go. I’m sure there are writing apps I could download and use to help me catch some of these spontaneous ideas (please comment with any recommendations).
    “Some of the things that happen when you give yourself permission to start writing is that you start thinking like a writer. You start seeing everything as material.”(Lamott, pg.136) I find myself observing things more in-depth and even appreciating what’s going on around me. I’m in no shape a fabulous writer, but I feel the urge to listen, observe and to write a lot more lately; especially since I started this course! I find it rather an exciting challenge full of trips and falls. I love some of Lammot’s humorous metaphors and comparisons. “When a child comes out of your body, it arrives with about a fifth of your brain […]” (Lamott, pg.137) I have given birth twice, so this explains a lot! I find it amazing when someone can make me laugh out loud with such bizarre humor because the majority of the time I feel as if I’m the only oddball in this world! Humour brings out the inner child in us, and it’s the best feeling when you can share the same kind of humor with another stranger.
    Some of Lammot’s irony is a bit outdated or too sophisticated for me, but I do admire her bravery for throwing it all out there. I’m guilty of giving too much credit to my jokes which has made me shy away from spewing it out for fear of looking like a “dork.” She reveals her talents with imagery as she recounts a childhood memory with her Aunt’s “sugar water.” I like her choice of descriptive words; it made me feel I was in the memory myself as an observing friend.
    After finishing Lammot’s work, I’m feeling very inspired and carry a new sense of appreciation. She writes with a genuine tone full of passion. She shows her talent with her writing skills through her encouraging anecdotes and wisdom. My most significant barrier with writing thus far is confidence, and her narrative helped to lift a ton of weight off of my shoulders. I’d be thrilled to partake in one of her writing classes, even though I know I would be that one student who everyone felt pity for.

    Lamott, A. (1995). Bird by Bird. New York: Anchor Books.

    1. Monica Gallagher

      I have had that same thing happen to me with the ah ha moments or really great lines or thoughts and I often miss them as well. Sometimes I’ll get them in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning, and they tend to slip away like a dream. I wish we could take screenshots of our brains sometimes. Other times, not so much. I’ve tried the whole leaving a journal at bedside or carrying around a little notepad, but sometimes it just does not work. I think possibly if I was solely a writer and that was my number one job, maybe. Or maybe Lamott’s passion for writing is just a lot stronger than mine, who knows.
      I had completely spaced the story about the sugar water and I loved that you mentioned it. That is what is so brilliant about every individual person, we all have these incredible experiences and stories in us. Unique as snowflakes!
      I would love to take a writing class of hers as well, just to even hang out with her would be awesome and I’m sure hugely beneficial. Maybe someday in another life when we are both cats. 🙂

  9. Monica Gallagher

    I love how Lamott names her intuition broccoli. She is such a fiery spirit that lets loose in her work as a writer and it unveils itself magically. It happens organically and holds no leashes upon itself. A sort of wild and crazy broccoli. She talks about the intuitive nature as a sort of fickle and airy character. That when you sit down to write you don’t want to scare it away. That you have to just let it flow and allow it to do its own thing. She describes writing as far from being in a box. It’s way more like coloring way outside of the lines. Her openness about divulging the most insane parts of her thought processes are so inspiring. Even one of the most taboo subjects of talking about jealousy of others successes. Not only does she speak on that, but she laughs and rejoices in the imperfections of the human condition.
    The running commentary of the brain that she relates to a radio station is hilarious and completely relatable. The internal thought process of neurosis when she mentions various diseases that she may have due to a sore throat. The descriptive nature and spot on honesty is huge. The chapter on index cards really pulled on my heart strings. On the basic end of it, just being aware and respondent enough to observe the little things throughout the day and have the avenue to jot them down. The more complex and sentimental are the one liners that paint a picture of a memory that will never be forgotten. Those one liners show the side of memory that can recall a huge scope of stories. These stories can not only make up our life but can be shared in little shorts or novels allowing us to make contact with other people in a way that we normally would not.
    The cold call to get information that we otherwise wouldn’t know is a great tool for writing and story making. It seems like such a common-sense thing, but I never thought about it. I think, now more than ever, we are so used to just googling something, that we lose the richness of human description. When we force ourselves to use our imagination and actually think about how something is done or how it looks, it brings a whole different level of depth. Writing and reading renews that in us. It causes us to explore depths and build imagery in our minds. One of my favorite pictures is of someone sitting in a chair reading a book and a thought bubble shows this landscape of adventure that the reader is partaking in. I would hate to think what my thought bubble looks like googling something.
    Lamott’s thoughts on writing books really made me think about this class and how much of a tool it’s already been. Just being an open outlet for writing in itself has caused some growth. The idea of building on that, in a writing group or even continuing with some of Lamott’s suggestions would be even better. I think the biggest think is allowing time and creating a space where your thoughts can be placed on paper. I really love that. I am loving writing and I am loving Lamott.

  10. Corbin Knapp

    Lamott’s book and her unique perspective on writing makes for a very interesting read. My favorite chapter out of the ones assigned to the class this week was “Index Cards.” I tend to forget things easily, so I can totally relate to her predicament. I will see something really interesting, and I tell myself to write that down when I get home, but I always forget what I was supposed to remember before I can make it back! If I did bring index cards with me, I could keep a couple of them in my wallet, and whenever I see something I could whip out one of them and jot down an idea.

    Another chapter that I can relate to is “Jealously.” When I was on the MSST swim team I had a friend that wrote books. He enjoyed writing murder mysteries, and when he was fifteen he got one of his books locally published. I thought that was really cool, and I was happy for him, but I was also kind of jealous that he got a book published. I hadn’t been writing seriously yet, and I had no desire to have any of my ideas published, but I was still jealous of my friend. I don’t know if he published more books after that because I left the swim team the next summer.

    A chapter that resonated with me almost as much as “Index Cards” is “Radio Station KFKD.” I think we all have a little voice in our mind telling us that our writing is worth nothing, and should be burned immediately. I have also been guilty of listening to the other channel of KFKD, and I will sometimes tell myself that this looks okay, I don’t need to revise. Wrong! I do need to revise, but I shouldn’t burn my paper either. Lamott states that to quiet down KFKD she suggests doing some kind of ritual, or focus on breathing and KFKD will eventually quiet down. I have a problem with my mind wandering as well, so reminding myself to get back to work now and then is not a bad idea. I enjoy how she writes that when you hear KFKD you should relax and start focusing on the task at hand.

    Finally, my favorite chapter of the whole book so far is “The Moral Point of View.” She starts off the chapter by telling the reader that if they have pieces that they have never finished they might not be writing about something that they truly care about. She writes that you need to put what you believe is right or true in the center of your essay. I think she means that you don’t have to base your whole story on a single truth, but to truly put part of yourself into your writing. I agree with her statement and I think the best writing comes from people who truly enjoy writing about their topic. I have enjoyed this book immensely and I am looking forward to finishing it next week.

    Work Cited
    Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird. Anchor Books, 1995.

  11. Ben Knapp

    David Sedaris’s essay “Our Perfect Summer” tells the story of the Sedaris family’s wish of buying a beach house, as well as providing an insight into the childhood of David Sedaris. His usual slightly morose writing style is evident, and you can almost hear his sad and ponderous voice as you read along.

    The writing begins with an encounter in a store in which a glamorous woman in line in front of them says “my home, well, one of my homes” (Sedaris 2). Later David and his family would try to imitate the sentence and the manner in which the woman had said it. They would each have their own spin on it, emphasizing different words for different meanings and effects, and the more they practiced, the closer they would get to capturing the way in which the woman talked, as described by Sedaris, “There was, as indicated by the comma, a pause between the words “home” and “well,” a brief moment in which she’d decided, Oh, why not? The following word– “one”–had blown from her mouth as if propelled by a gentle breeze, and this was the difficult part”(2). With his narration of this woman’s manner of speaking, you can almost hear her, although repeating what you think she would sound like could prove difficult.

    After this incident, Sedaris moved on to describing how the state they lived in, North Carolina, had become a tourist center. This led on into the story of their different vacations. He describes in detail how his mother would stand fishing, without really trying to catch anything, and how she would seem to be enjoying herself just standing there by herself. David Sedaris’s description of these events is simple, but somehow so vivid you can almost see her standing there with that pole in her hand.

    His story jumps to the one summer when his father decides to buy a beach house. He provides a description of the 15 minute drive from the restaurant they had eaten at, and how they had tried to think of what to call their new beach house once they had bought it. Anything they could see would become a potential name for them, and you can almost hear the usually somber Sedaris tone lifting a little as he describes what was obviously a happy memory for him.

    This leads me to my favorite part of any writing by Sedaris: his voice. I’m not talking about his actual voice, which also adds to his effect, but his writing voice, which is very evident in any of his writings. Sedaris’s voice is melancholy and almost sad, and at times it is difficult to tell whether or not he is joking.

    In the end, the Sedaris family ends up downsizing their plans, and eventually dropping the idea altogether. This connects with me partially because I often will make grandiose plans, often only to have them fade and be forgotten. David’s experience seems real and his description is elegant.

    Overall, I highly enjoyed reading the piece. It was somber in some places, and humorous in others, and Sedaris’s usual voice is evident. Overall, it is an interesting story with an slightly depressing, but somehow humorous theme.

    Works Cited:
    Sedaris, David. “Our Perfect Summer” Family Album, English 270, Christie Hinrichs, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 16 June, 2003, Accessed 02 February 2018. Class handout.

    1. T Gordon

      I like that you chose to focus on Sedaris’ unique voice. I agree with you that despite the bitter and lingering disappointment with which this summer is associated, Sedaris implants humor throughout. This humor is not forced but comes in through how truthful he is. He details how his behavior changed for the worst with the prospect of having a beach home, and he finds humor in the twists and turns of his parent’s marriage. In truth, while it is cruel to build up your family’s hopes while knowing that you will not follow through on your said plans, the family was lucky to be able to go on vacation every year–Sedaris knows this. It’s funny how quickly our perspective of our lives changes when we want more, and when we find that more potentially lies within reach.

  12. Ben Knapp

    Impending doom is not a feeling I feel often. In fact, I try to never feel it, except for occasions when I have to write about it, such as with this essay. I understand that I have had a good life and it might not be so easy for everyone to avoid feeling impending doom. However, I will say that in most circumstances, I try to keep an optimistic point of view.

    I feel like for me optimism or pessimism is a choice. If something bad happens, or it looks like something bad is going to happen, I could feel disheartened, or worried, but I really don’t want to! If I’m in a bad situation, probably the worst thing to do is to start feeling miserable. It just makes it harder to make a bad situation into a good situation. I believe I can choose whether or not I feel down.

    Once, a couple of summers ago, my family and I were out woodcutting, and we got stuck in the mud with a truck full of wood. I’m not going to lie; things were looking pretty bad to me about then, sitting in the cab of our truck with my brother while our parents went outside to assess the situation. It was getting dark, darker than we usually like to go when we get wood, and the dark clouds that we had noticed as we drove to our usual woodcutting spot had started to rain on us just as we finished loading up our truck. Now the downpour had turned the road into a river of muddy water, and we were stuck in the worst of it.

    So yeah, it wasn’t great. The road was quite literally flowing away, the skies were flashing with lightning, the ice cream we would always eat after our woodcutting trips seemed far, far away, and we were here, in a two wheel drive truck that wouldn’t move, miles away from the highway and with no cell service. It had started to get cold, like, hypothermia cold, and we were started to get worried.

    After a while, we realized that there was no point feeling glum about our situation, so we got out and started cutting down branches to layer in front of our rear wheels. Then we would push the truck while we got sprayed by mud from the tires. All of this was happening in the cold and rain. Over the course of a couple hours, we slowly worked our truck out of the mud. Sure, it wasn’t great, but in the end keeping a positive attitude and working together made the whole experience into a fun memory.

    I don’t pretend to be some precious little spark of happiness that always enjoys himself no matter what, but I hope that in the future I can use the same attitude to look at my situation a little differently. I don’t always have to feel impending doom if I don’t want to. I mean, I got this essay written, didn’t I? When I started I didn’t think that was ever going to happen.

  13. Sierra Russell-McCollum

    While reading “Our Perfect Summer” written by David Sedaris I was very interested in the families lives. I could tell the mother wasn’t happy with the marriage from the moment she was mentioned. Throughout the entire story she is distant from her husband, but it’s understandable. Her husband has the tendency to say he’s going to do something huge for the family and then he doesn’t follow through. For example, in the very beginning he said he would reserve a beach house on the coast but did not follow through. They ended up staying inland. I understand that annoying the mother, if you say you are gonna do something then you should do it. Another example, is when the husband went to a realtor with the mother and they were going to “buy” a beach house. The mother was hesitant to tell her childern about the news. She didn’t want to build up their excitement, because deep down she knew that this could just be an idea and not turned into a reality. But of course her husband made her tell the children.

    From that point the kids where extremely excited and began trying to name their new beach house. They all started to actually believe that the house would be there’s. But when time began passing by the idea began to fade away and the mother and children were disappointed. The father began promising other things that they could do and get but the children no longer got excited. They knew deep down that it was just a dream and wouldn’t be a reality. This ultimately had an effect on the marriage of the mother and father. The mother believed she had to shield the kids from his ideas because they were never put into action and only disappointed them.

    This story was very interesting from the beginning. I could tell from the text that this family always wanted more than what they had. And if they didn’t have it they would create these false lives and tell it to strangers, making them believe that they lived in luxury. It did bug me when the children thought that they were all that because they were gonna have a second house. But that’s because I was raised with very little and taught to appreciate what I have. This family tries so hard to uphold an imaginary image and sometimes while reading this I thought it was too much. For example, when the mother was talking to the man who did not speak English. That kind of annoyed me, but that’s because I was taught not to brag about what I have. Overall though I thought it was a great piece. The author built the story perfectly and introduced the disappointing scenes at the right times. I thought that this piece would end on a happy note but it obviously did not. I liked that. The title is a little bit deceiving and I’ve always loved that about writings. You never know what you are gonna get when they are written like this piece.

  14. T Gordon

    In “Our Perfect Summer,” David Sedaris reveals the inner workings of his family during a summer that would define his family dynamics for years to come. The title may come across as misleading at first; I expected that Sedaris would describe a summer that forever lives in his memory. I instead see that it captures that ephemeral, joyous “we made it” feeling that came and went too fast with the idea of buying a beach home.
    The best of us can relate to the high hopes we hang in the words of our parents, and the equal magnitudes of despair we feel when they let us down; this feeling is especially pronounced when we are children. Our whole world is determined by what our parents can provide for us, and I believe this is why Sedaris remembers his summer so vividly. The tone of his writing cannot be more accurately described than as that lingering and pressing “what should’ve, and what could’ve been.”
    While Sedaris reveals his own family dynamics and sets the scene for further developments in his parents’ relationship, he also seems to have a goal of speaking to the human condition in general. Our outlook on life, and how we interact with the world, can change dramatically depending upon our fiscal state of affairs. Obtaining more than one home is a particularly big change, one that will not go unnoticed even if the family remains hush. We see this play out in “Our Perfect Summer,” with the great contrast in interactions within and outside of the family between the opening of the story and the portion when the family is expecting to purchase a beach house.
    When Sedaris and his mother overhear the “well put together” and “classy” woman at the dry cleaners bragging about her multiple homes, they mock her throughout the rest of the day. At this point in the story, the characters think that such an outright display of good fortune is deserving of mockery. The undertone here is that the family believes such circumstances are not in their reach, and this woman is a bit out of touch with the rest of the world. Later in the story, when Sedaris’ classmates catch on to his family’s plan to purchase a beach home, his classmates begin to court him. He made a game of pitting his classmates against one another as they strived to become his friend. Even as children, we know that our social status and relations with others changes when our family acquires property or money.
    Sedaris sets a great example for aspiring non-fiction writers–we should all set out to compose personal anecdotes that have greater meaning beyond our own experiences. After all, what engages readers is the relatability of our let downs or our moments of feeling like high and mighty vacation home owners. In my own case, “Our Perfect Summer” made me think about the times as a child when I became so excited about something, so expectant of a particular outcome, and ended up feeling disappointed. These disappointments can certainly change you and shape you as an adult. It’s a depressing thought, but a very human concept! No one leaves childhood with a few scars and what-ifs.

  15. Cassidy Kramer

    I was surprised with the way the story “Our Perfect Summer” written by David Sedaris turned out. When I read the first part of the story, I figured it would be about a low-income family being okay with where they live and their circumstances. Like an inspiring story teaching us to be thankful with what we have, and we can still have a great time when surrounded by family and love. But, no. It was not at all what I was expecting. Even so, it was still a disappointedly beautiful story. It relates with the readers by telling a story about a family getting their hopes up too high for a promise that is not going to be kept. I like how Sedaris uses a lot of description in his story, it feels like I am right there in his thoughts knowing in the back of his head that his father is just making a dull promise again. “He spoke in the same tone he used when promising ice cream”, but he doesn’t want himself to believe that it’s not true.
    I thought the part when they were trying to name the beach house was hilarious. I love jokes like that, and I am always hoping I could come up with something just as funny. Just like the writer, I was disappointed that his family didn’t like the “Ship Shape” because I thought it was very clever. I laughed out loud when reading that part because it reminds me of how hard it is to come up with a name for something, and all the funny/dumb suggestions that are made during the process.
    After they were trying to name the new beach house, Sedaris mentions that the fifteen minutes it was taking to get to the beach house, even though it seemed like it was taking forever, was proof that they were once a happy family. I think this moment his family had is what Sedaris meant by “Our Perfect Summer”.
    Sadly, their few days of dreaming of their future summers and years at the beach house were over when their father pulled out the “let’s be practical” phrase, which is every dreamer’s nightmare. The father replaces the idea of the house with a bar in the basement, which has some popularity to it at first, but soon the kids get bored with it and it is barely ever used. I don’t blame the father though. Everyone, or at least I know I have, has had a point in their life where they hype others up with a promise that they are unable to keep. At least the father got them to settle with a bar, and didn’t just leave them hanging.
    The house ended up getting washed away years later. Which could seem as a good thing that they didn’t buy the house because, even though I would love to read it and drowned in Sedaris’s descriptive stories, he might’ve had to write a story titled “Our Worst Summer”.

  16. Naimy Schommer

    Reading Response 3
    Naimy Schommer

    This story is heartbreaking and outlines something we can all relate to–mourning the loss of something that never was ours.
    A friend of mine has loved a particular boy for too long. She has envisioned their wedding, named their children, and arranged their understated but dignified apartment’s living room three or four times as interior design trends change. She once showed me a Pintrest board filled with hairstyles for little girls as she told me she couldn’t wait to do their daughter’s hair before school. She was certain he was perfect for her, and that eventually, he would come to his senses and sweep her off her feet. The thee of us are good friends, and he has never had any idea how she feels. Its hard to watch, but she can’t be swayed.
    Recently he introduced us to his girlfriend over coffee. She is lovely and beautiful and charming and very extremely likable, but as we sat in the empty coffee shop, I could feel my friend’s knuckles getting white around her ceramic mug. My friend was kind and receiving, even complimented her curly hair, but was more quiet than her usual bubbly self, and drank her coffee quickly. I was caught somewhere between my two friends, just trying not to let the pauses in conversation get too long. When we left, she cried in the parking lot.
    Logic tells us we’re not entitled to mourn the loss of something that wasn’t ours, but feelings don’t follow logic’s rules: feelings are roaming and free and cross any natural or social boarder they encounter. My friend essentially suffered through a breakup, much like the author of “Our Perfect Summer,” David Sedaris. Both had to divorce a future they’d become invested in. My friend had imagined a life with this particular boy just as a young David Sedaris imagined his life with more than one home. Both have hurdles and challenges, both can also be overcome. Mourning the loss of something that never happened feels wrong. It feels stupid–like you shouldn’t feel the way you do.
    I really love the passage in this piece where Sedaris illustrates the natural decline of the idea of a beach house. It moves from the house, to land where a potential house could be, to a pool in their existing house, to a bar in the basement where his father indulged alcoholism. I see that slow regress in my friend. Shortly after the coffee date, she deleted her Pinterest account. A few weeks later she threw out her old journal that was full of entries about her love for this particular boy. Most recently, she began hanging out in groups with him again.
    My friend’s situation and David’s are headed in opposite directions but contain the same processes. David’s started from a good situation and moved to a bad, I would say my friend’s mourning is healthy as she moves on to a better place.
    I think it’s interesting how humans can respond so expressively to a dreamed-up cocktail of would-be scenarios.

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