A Cohesive Structure of Paragraphs


Maya Osman-Krinsky

Maya Osman-Krinsky

I’m sure I’m not the only one, but it’s hard to crystallize my two weeks at the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio into a cohesive structure of paragraphs somewhere between a testimonial and something that’s actually fun to read. But I’ll try anyway, for the sake of Stephen Lovely (he is really lovely!), Sloth Daddy, Margaret Reges, and the crazy, amazing, passionate, sincere family I found in the middle of a state I never thought I’d be enthusiastic about.

I’m listening to Vanessa Carlton, drinking watery orange juice on an airplane from Cedar Rapids to Minneapolis to New York, from home to somewhere that doesn’t quite fit me anymore. This song reminds me of driving and looking out of the window – but it’s all clouds out there and I find myself wishing Iowa still had a place for me – because I’m almost kind-of home and my roommate hasn’t yet left.

And it’s my twenty-seventh consecutive awake hour and this watery orange juice tastes partly-cloudy, like under-salted eggs and a dull whine. I long for 3 a.m., eating Chinese snacks that taste like shrimp and honey and listening to Stevie Wonder really loudly.

I’m sitting here and willing myself to be back in Iowa City. I find some comfort in knowing that I’ll be back in the state for a debate tournament in a little over two months, but it’s hard to find peace in that when I know that the pictures I take there will be missing some of the most important faces in my life.

I got on the plane to Iowa completely blind as to what I was going into. Well, that’s not quite true. My upstairs neighbor, Anna, was also going, but I always thought she was way too cool to want to have a conversation with me, so we largely avoided anything but awkward smiling and eye contact in the elevator on the way up from school. As we got on the plane to first Detroit, then Cedar Rapids, we were making polite conversation about our assigned reading, whose workshop we were in, what we had to come prepared with, and that sort of thing. We were supposed to find three people named Sean, Violet, and Pearse in Detroit, and luckily we did – Violet and Sean were sitting behind us on the plane and Pearse sauntered over at our Detroit gate, sporting a hilariously small suitcase and a hilariously large camera around his neck.

Fast forward to the van from Cedar Rapids to the Studio – I was one of six in a car with four complete strangers and one Pearse, but I knew that we were all here for the same thing and that we were all bubbling with nervous energy and excitement. I really didn’t know what to make of my situation, and honestly, I still don’t. All I can say is that the Studio taught me things I didn’t even know I didn’t know.

I don’t want to go on and on and drone. Andy Axel (my workshop leader and mustachioed man extraordinaire) taught us that if you remember something in too much detail or too frequently, it gets diluted with bits and pieces you may tack on somewhere between remembering and wishing. But I know that every single person I met in those two weeks was willing to welcome me and whatever poetry I threw at them with open arms, and that they would even love me for it. I know that we will still send each other paper letters and emails, and there’s never not a moment I’m relating something from the workshop to what I’m doing in the moment.

I know that I can never listen to the soundtrack of ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ without thinking of late night writing bursts with my roommate and granola sent from home. I can’t smell peppermint Orbit without remembering long walks around campus, into bookstores and out of the real world. I can’t even think of sloths without remembering our fantastic workshop – our safe haven of desks with the blackboard as our backdrop, sporting quotes from us as proudly as an athlete sports a varsity jacket (but we wouldn’t know. We aren’t sportsy).

It’s really difficult to express just how phenomenal each and every person is. On the very first day, we had to link elbows and realize that whoever was next to us would become our family. We went through countless icebreakers and questions from the Question Hole, made trips to CVS in the rain, spent hours and hours at Java House and Prairie Lights poring over story after story, learned that we had to split pie shakes and that Bohemian Rhapsody karaoke in its entirety burns about 500 calories, and visited the storied Pizza Farm (no, the pizza doesn’t come from the ground, to my disappointment). 

I wish there was a way I could pour my whole experience into a final thought. I’ll leave you with this: if there’s one place that I could say affected me the most, I wouldn’t even hesitate before naming the Studio. It’s the only place I’ve felt my essential self, like I could be sincere and like I didn’t have to hide what I wanted to do because everyone else wanted to do it, too. We no doubt created a bond that will last long after camp is over (CAMP IS NEVER OVER!) and we made friends who will always be willing to read our work, tell us the good and the bad, and who will be there for the rest of our lives (and who will lend us money while we’re writing our magnum opus). We’ll look forward to finding them on the bookshelf, buying their books for our friends and family, or even just pointing and saying “I knew them when!”

Now, please excuse us because we need to speak in private.

Iowa, you don’t know how you’ve changed me. Thank you for everything.

Maya Osman-Krinsky is a junior at the Bronx High School of Science. She attended Session 2, 2015  of the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio.