My freshman class (The Legacy of Storytelling: Creative Nonfiction) just finished reading the “Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon.” In class, the students made their pillow book zines. Then we curated and made a class one:
Things that create the appearance of deep emotion: Allergies. Yawning. Cutting an onion. Typing in ALL CAPS. Weddings. The death of a grandmother you never knew.
Alarming looking things: A homeless person sleeping on a bench. A woman walking alone at night. Skin peeling from a sunburn.
Repulsive things: Days old food stuck on the side of the sink. The sticky floor as you step on it with socks. A tickle behind your ear, realizing it’s a fly.
Terrifying things: Cactuses. Flying insects. A tarantula darting out from under a dark porch.
Things people despise: wet towels never drying in the winter. Gruesome talk while eating. A building with many stairs but no elevator. Gum on the floor. Getting into a hot car that’s been sitting outside on a hot day. A person wide awake at 7 am on a Monday.
Dispiriting things: no calculators allowed on a calculus test. When your group says, “Oh good, we got a smart one!” It’s 11pm and you have a paper due at 11:59 pm.
Things that fall: the stock market. Leaves in autumn. Eyelids after drinking a warm glass of milk. Rose petals as hose water sprays them. Shadows from a nearby building.
Things that look fresh and pure: a newly made bed. A blank page. An unused book. A clean mirror. A babbling brook in the middle of a forest. A new snow.