Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Page Rewrite Metacognition

After mulling over possible memoir ideas, I decided to write about a fender bender that I was in a few weeks ago. I felt really passionate about what had happened that day and decided that I could draw a lot of inspiration from it. Honestly, I didn’t really plan much more than that and simply allowed myself to think as I wrote. This plan proved effective because it allowed me to get my initial feelings about the accident to come across in a raw way.

For this project I made a conscious effort not to mimic Sedaris’s writing exactly and just use it as a basis for my own voice to seep through. For example, a typical page in Sedaris’s memoir had only twenty-seven pages, but I just felt so passionately about my memoir that I couldn’t limit my feelings to one page. I did, as the project required, used element of Sedaris’s writing to enhance my own. For example, I used a self-deprecating and brutally honest tone. I also used sarcasm, especially when discussing the cop’s questions. My use of “bad words” isn’t typically but I decided that Sedaris does the same and that they would help create the raw tone. Sedaris tends to be offensive when discussing certain topics. So, when talking about leaving my sister at school, and referring to the man who hit us as an “idiot” even after he apologized, I used a slightly offensive tone. My diction was strategic too. In order to achieve a sarcastic tone I would exaggerate light topics by using negative adjectives to describe them, like the “treacherous” four minute walk home. Also, I transitioned from referring to the officer as “police officer” to “cop” in order to mark my transition from respect to irreverence for him. When I wanted the reader to sympathize with my mom I transitioned from using “mom” to “mother”. I did use italics to differentiate my inner thoughts from what was said out loud. Overall I did an effective job of mixing my own voice and style with those of Sedaris.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim Page Rewrite

Three weeks ago after school I decided to embrace my laziness or what I prefer to call my constitutional “right to relax” by letting my mom drive me home from school. That four minute walk home was too daunting and potentially treacherous. Little did I know, the drive home would prove even more treacherous.

Before we could get home, we had to pick up my sister from elementary school. Despite my numerous failed attempts to convince my mom to just drive home and leave her there (We don’t really need her, she’s just one more mouth to feed.), we continued down Eastern Ave. When we began closing in on the school my mom saw that all the good parking spaces were taking. Not wanting to have to fight another mother for a parking space today, my mom decided to just park a block away from the school. She slowed to a stop and put on her signal light, which last time I checked, sent the message “Pay attention I’m making to park”. Clearly this message was lost in translation because at that moment we were rear-ended. The first thought that popped into my mind was “Damn, my dad just finished paying off the car.” In retrospect I decided that any person with at least half a soul would have thought “Is any one hurt?” before thinking about car payments. As my rage reached the “seething” point, my mom instructed my sister to call the police because the impact was extremely great and we all figured that the accident was severe. At the same time the babbling idiot who had hit us, shuffled up to my mom’s window. He began to rattle of apologizes in Spanish to my mom and she gave a couple Spanish responses, but was in shock from the accident. I decided, at this point, that I liked the guy who had just hit us. One of my personality flaws is that I am easily won over by sappy apologies, something I hate myself for.

Soon a police car rolled up and parked a bit ahead of the accident site.

“Who called the police?” the police officer said.

“I think she did?” was the response from the idiot I now sympathized with.

The officer walked up to our car, swaying his narrow shoulders, thinking that he was something special. We were soon to find out that he in fact was special, in the sense that he was probably the world’s worst cop.

“Why did you call the police?” he questioned.

First of all an “Are you all alright?” may have been appropriate. Second of all, why the hell do you think we called the police?

Although still in shock, my mom gave the greatest response.
“We had an accident.”

The cop went on to explain that minor accidents didn’t require people to call the cops.

Minor? I just saw my life flash before my eyes. I think that’s reason to believe an accident wasn’t minor.

The impact of the accident was so great that we all figured that the damage was severe. Since my mom wasn’t in any shape to get out of the car and there was no way in hell I was getting out to check the damage, none of us knew the extent of the damage. The cop continued to blabber off rules about calling the cops in a tone that was exasperated and borderline angry. By this point I hated him more than the idiot who had hit us. My hate wasn’t unwarranted because A. I’m sure he had nothing better to do, and was probably annoyed that we interrupted the chili luncheon at the station and B. no one talks to my mama like that. Figuring that my word was weak against a police officer’s, I decided not to put up dukes.

Finally after this entire ordeal we got home and checked the damage. Three slight scratches and two minor dents. At least this could be fixed. Unfortunately my rage with the cop would persist for several weeks. (I can hold a grudge.) I also hated myself for not at least telling the cop to please talk to my mother properly. I hated myself for letting her take that crap. So for the next couple of weeks I tended to my bruised ego and hurt heart. Seething, I sat at home radiating a hate for both myself and for the failing police system.