Monday, July 30, 2007

Being Dull is Hard Work--Story

Sometimes it takes more effort to be dull than it is to be intelligent.

As Schank said, "To put this bluntly, dull people tell you what happened to them, leaving no detail out, and often without point. Intelligent people quickly find the essence of the experience they are conveying and try to relate it to the topic at hand in a way that sheds light on the generalizations between them" (p. 234).

A few times Schank has said that a two-week vacation could be told in two weeks if every moment was remembered. As far as I know, I have never written out or told to that extent. Yet, there have been times that my journal entries caused my wrist to hang down and my writer's bump on my finger to throb and grow. After reading some of these extensive entries, I discover that I merely reported on the events. By writing about seemingly everything, I made a once dramatic experience to a yawn-maker.

At times, I feel like if I don't include everything, I will regret it once I decide to transform the experience into a story. Schank insisted, "Intelligence requires you to forget many things and to ignore most things" (p. 224). With the state of my memory, perhaps my forgetfulness could be used in my favor finally.

Rather than share the whole experience of when Brenda and I journeyed to the Roan State Park last Saturday, I will attempt to "forget many things and to ignore most things"--

Brenda and I looked at the map. From where we were standing, we should have been at the Miller's Homestead.

"All I see is this cemetery, unless this is what they meant," I exclaimed.

We scrunched our faces. For having "Miller's Homestead" in big bold letters on the map, this sure was disappointing.

We headed to the car to see if something else would grab our attention. Something did.

"Do you see that wooden sign? You know, like the ones before you head on a trail?"

Beyond the sign, and deep within a hollow, we saw a farmhouse, chicken coup, spring house, and other early 1900s buildings.

By now it was raining and Brenda and I pulled out our umbrellas. With no one about, we entered the farmhouse. As our sneakers creaked about on the wooden plank floors moving from kitchen to bedroom to the family room, we heard a female voice shout, "You can go upstairs!"

I jumped a little. Not seeing or hearing anyone for a while made it seem like we were trespassing, though the sign said we were welcome to enter.

When we went up the stairs, we looked out the window and heard birds twittering from the treetops. Above was a tin roof with yellowed newspapers to insulate the place.

Then, one door called out to me.

The door wasn't one of the normal entryways for tourists. This door was only as tall as my waist and had a rope loop as a handle. There was a wooden switch to keep it closed. I smiled. I didn't see a lock on it. If the woman over the farmhouse wanted me to stay out, she should have had a sign or something.

By now, Brenda has gone down the stairs so I was the only one in the attic.

I pushed the door in and it went "Creeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaak!"

I looked about. Perhaps the lady who had said, "You can go upstairs!" would rush up the stairs and pull me back. Nothing happened.

I squatted and stuck my head into the place ever so slowly. Unlike the other rooms, this place had dirt and mud caked on the floor as if someone hadn't walked in it for a few decades. Near the door was a wooden ladder flat on the ground with the rungs rotting away.

Then I heard a high-pitched sound. I remembered hearing the birds twittering and I wasn't sure if what I heard was a bunch of "tweets" or "squeaks".

In the center of this room I saw a brick column that went from the floor to the top of the raised ceiling. I wildly, looked about, half expecting some rat or mouse to jump from the ladder rungs or some bat to swoop from the ceiling. My heart pounded faster.

I closed the door, not wanting to do more than stick my head into the room. Then, I asked myself, "Where is your adventurous spirit? Just go in there. At least then you could say that you did it!"

I grunted at myself.

Once more, the door went "Creeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaak!"

I scrunched down on one foot while placing my other foot onto the dirty floor.

I paused. I glanced from side to side.

"Squeak! Squeak!"

I almost pulled out my foot. I gulped. Now I knew I wasn't dealing with a bird, but what?

I gritted my teeth and placed both feet into the small door, bent my back, and stood up in the room. I walked toward the brick column and looked at every wall and corner and ceiling space. Nothing. Nothing.

I breathed out.


A bat with a wingspan as long as my arm flew past me. I had my answer.

I rushed to the door, dove through it, and then slammed it behind me. I placed my back against the door as my left hand reached for the wooden knob so that it remained closed.

Someday, someone else will go in there. It just won't be me.

As I walked out the farmhouse door, I saw the lady who had called out to Brenda and I before. I guiltily smiled, wondering if she knew what had happened.

Later, Brenda had her own adventure driving up the Roan mountain with bikers along the narrow road, but that is another story. Perhaps my story would be dull compared to hers.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
(801) 870-5799

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