Monday, September 27, 2010


This Week's Edition of Musical Mondays: "Rêverie" by Claude Debussy

Happy Monday!

Mondays can be rather exciting, beckoning us to explore a long and beautifully new week. However, they can also be slightly intimidating: there is so much to be done! How will we ever meet all these deadlines?

That's why I've started Musical Mondays. Sometimes a song can help you make it through a week. It might inspire you while writing, or studying, or commuting to work. What song was the soundtrack of your Monday? Share your song in the comments section below.

Today, I'm sharing "Rêverie" by Claude Debussy. It inspired the following essay I wrote several weeks ago for my college writing class. The assignment: "Tell me about your favorite word, and why it is your favorite word. I don’t want you to explain it to me. Show me instead, by telling me a story." Enjoy!

Sometimes in the afternoon I find myself left all alone. Everyone has gone out; the rooms lie empty and silent. I switch on a piano recording and listen as the music fills the house, puncturing my solitude. I should be studying. I have my books piled in a neat stack on the floor. If I stand up, the stack reaches to my knees. Choosing a book, I flip it open and finger the pages. But my mind is elsewhere. My ears have caught the tune of the music, and the gentle voice of the piano washes over me.

It is a piece by Debussy – a piece so haunting that it distracts me from my schoolwork. Like a small child, I close my eyes and begin to dream. Long ago, I learned that I could dream while I was still awake. Although it is less real than a sleeping dream, it is perhaps more beautiful, for I can manipulate these dreams exactly as I wish. A friend once told me that they did not know how to daydream. I found this shocking -- I always thought that daydreaming was as natural as singing in the shower.

I am sure Debussy was dreaming when he wrote this piano piece. He named it “Reverie.” It is a French word, a synonym for daydream. Dissecting the etymology, I learn that it means a “wandering madman.” Perhaps that is a bit harsh, but I suppose that we who fall into these reveries have something of Don Quixote in us.

Where do I wander in my reverie? Does it matter? It is here alone that I have power over time: I can slip from memory to memory, lingering in the past. Or I can race to the future, imagining what it might be like, looking forward to things not yet written, or spoken, or touched, or seen. The piano piece ends and I am awakened from my thoughts. I must return to my work. Even now I can hear the sound of a car in the driveway: the family has returned. They will fill the house with noise. My reverie is over, leaving me to the busy reality of life. I smile. When we have such little time and so many things to do, I think it is our reveries that keep us all quite sane.

What's your song for Musical Monday? Share it in the comments section.


Posted by Nicole Bianchi at 2:20 PM |

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


In late August, I began going to school in New York City, and soon realized that there is too much to see in this busy metropolis.

But I keep forgetting to bring my camera with me. I wish I could store images in my head like I do on my camera's memory card. Yet, when I go back and try to remember, I find I have lost the important details. Or perhaps it is that I am remembering only the details that stood out to me: the rich mulberry of the art-deco uniforms worn by staff at the Empire State Building, the smell of fresh bread wafting out of Zaro's in Grand Central, the woman who leaves the train with a little white dog peeking his head out of of her pocketbook, the small boy in the subway station who must think it is Carnegie Hall because he has set up his piano keyboard and is playing Mozart's Alla Turca as if his life depended on it...the cracks in the sidewalk, the buildings that you can only see completely if you crane your neck back till it hurts, tourists who feel as if they didn't belong here, thousands of tourists who stop in the middle of sidewalks to check their maps while people who do belong here are pushing past them to get to work, to get to school, to get to a train, to hail a taxi, to do something, to be somewhere, who are happy as long as they keep moving...

"If you imagine an ordinary moment
at an intersection in New York City,
and there is a pause because there is a streetlight,
and some people are stopped and others in motion,
and some cars are stopped and others in motion;
if you were to put that into film terms as a “freeze frame”
and hold everything for a second,
you would realize
that there’s a universe there of totally disparate intentions,
everybody going about his or her business
in the silence of their own minds,
with everybody else
and the street
and the time of day
and the architecture
and the quality of the light
and the nature of the weather
as a kind of background or field for the individual consciousness
and the drama that it is making for itself at that moment,
and you think about that,
that’s what happens in the city,
in that somehow the city can embrace and accept and accommodate
all that disparate intention,
at one and the same time,
not only on that corner,
but on thousands of corners.
It's really an astonishing thing. . . . ." - E. L. Doctorow, New York: A Documentary Film

My favorite book on writing is Flannery O'Connor's Mystery and Manners. If you write or love writing (or are a fan of O'Connor or simply want to enjoy some beautiful prose), read this book. When poring over the book for the second time this summer, one passage in particular stood out to me. O'Connor writes,
I have a friend who is taking acting lessons from a Russian lady who is supposed to be very good at teaching actors. My friend wrote me that the first month they didn't speak a line, they only learned to see. Now learning to see is the basis of all the arts except music. I know a good many fiction writers who paint, not because they're any good at painting, but because it helps their writing. It forces them to look at things. Fiction writing is very seldom a matter of saying things; it is a matter of showing things...Any discipline can help your writing: logic, mathematics, theology, and of course and particularly drawing. Anything that helps you to see, anything that makes you look. The writer should never be ashamed of staring. There is nothing that doesn't require his attention.
Never be ashamed to stare (or eavesdrop, for that matter). It may seem rude, but I'm sure that O'Connor would agree that proper and undetected staring is an art form and most writers can do it quite well. After all, can we truly believe that the stuff of many of O. Henry's short stories was not lifted from the conversations he overheard at Pete's Tavern?

Why do I care about all this? Because here am I, commuting to school in New York City, the largest city in the United States, hoping that these rich and varied noises, these crowds, these buildings will somehow shatter my writer's block.

I will keep my eyes and ears open. I will remember to bring my camera. And I will share what I experience here on this blog.

This quote inspires me:

"Dawn in the big city. There are eight million stories out there." - Metropolitan

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Posted by Nicole Bianchi at 8:58 PM |

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Beginning

I want to start blogging again. I want to write for the sake of writing, to feel the sweet freedom of spilling out one's soul on paper (or a computer screen, as the case may be). Over the past few years I have felt as if my writing were bottled up. I've been writing papers for school; they are graded and returned, and then I either post them on my site or leave them to languish in a lonely computer folder. But what am I writing for? Is it only a grade? Is there an audience besides my professors?

Benjamin Franklin's words are inspiring me, pushing me outside my comfort zone: "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." Can I, perhaps, accomplish both?

It seems as if I blog in spurts. I feel the urge to blog when I start experiencing the world in a new and different way. Then things become dull, common again. My inspiration ebbs. I make excuses and tell myself I simply do not have time to write. Let's change that, shall we? I am feeling optimistic -- about life, about the world, about autumn in New York. I feel as if writing material were everywhere. And I want to write what I want to write about -- not be constricted to the bounds of a writing assignment.

And, so, I have returned. My blog is resurrected. Let the writing begin.


Posted by Nicole Bianchi at 12:32 AM |

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