Margin Notes



What I Was Reading:

Many English language Arts teachers are familiar with Mari Andrew’s illustrated memoirs Am I There Yet? and My Inner Sky and all the mentor text and quickwrite possibilities they offer. If you don’t already know, she also publishes a fantastic weekly newsletter called Out of the Blue.

In a recent issue, A day in the life (Or, moments in the life), Andrew explains that she is fascinated by the minutiae of other people’s days: “It astounds me how close I can be with a friend, only to stop dead in my tracks 10 years into our friendship and audibly realize, ‘I have no idea what you eat for lunch every day.’” She shares captured moments across a week to give readers a glimpse into her own life.

What Moves I Notice the Author Making:

These captured “moments in the life” are much tmore han a snapshot of Mari Andrew’s daily and weekly routine. The entries also offer a glimpse in her personality because they include backstory, explanation, and commentary.

For example, from Monday 7am we discover that Mari Andrew was once an intern hospital chaplain and that she is still impacted by that experience.

When I was interning as a hospital chaplain, I learned that hearing is the last sense to go as people are dying. That stuck with me, and I took comfort that people can still hear and understand even as their consciousness has seemingly slipped away.

Using that logic, I assume that hearing is particularly meaningful during our transition times: between sleeping and waking, for example. I try to stimulate my hearing before any other sense in the morning, so I turn on a song immediately. I go between this sweet Spanish prayer to Mother Earth, or the Maha Mantra. I lie in bed while I’m listening and either have some kind of half-awake inspiration journey or fall back asleep.

When she picks up her dry cleaning and does some shopping on Wednesday at 2pm, Andrew reflects on how New York City might lose its well-loved neighborhood business if people continue relying on delivery services.

Pick up dry cleaning and a few things from the bodega. These two establishments are so well-loved in my neighborhood. Both of them are covered in postcards and photos from customers, with sweet words like “We’re moving but we will miss you so much!” Another example of how important our community relationships are, and how much we lose if we head toward a city that runs on delivery.

Overall, Mari Andrew is giving us insight into much more than her typical routine. She is also showing us what her routine reveals about her as a person.

Possibilities for Writers:

  • Using Mari Andrew as a mentor, writers can capture a week’s worth of “moments in the life” and include commentary on the action/activity.
  • Writers can follow this model for specific reflections such as moments in their reading or writing lives.
  • They can incorporate this method of documentation during an individual or group project.
  • Reading like writers, students can identify other craft moves and brainstorm addition possibilities for writing inspired by Mari Andrew.


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