American University College Writing 101 Spring 2017

Essay 2: Mapping Commonplaces

G E O R G E T O W N, an Acrostic.

Each letter above stands for a word I believe represents Georgetown, a neighborhood in Washington, D.C. The letters above are hyperlinked, leading to a corresponding page on my website. Each website then goes into detail of why I chose each specific word to describe Georgetown. This page, the homepage of my project, I will use to describe each creative choice I made during the process.

I learned the meaning of the word acrostic when I was in first grade. To me, it was a way to show someone how I really cared about them. Each letter represented a characteristic I saw in that person. For Father’s Day, DAD meant Determined, Awesome, and Daring. For Mother’s Day, MOM meant Magical, Outstanding, and Marvelous. Repeat for every birthday card, poster, and hanging door sign.

I was having a difficult time coming up with a form to show what I’ve researched and learned while mapping my commonplace, Georgetown. At first, I wanted to do a Prezi. Then, I learned that we wouldn’t be presenting aloud to our classmates during class. I ditched the Prezi idea because I wanted to be able to incorporate my project into my website. The closer the due date got, the fewer ideas I had. I felt as if everyone was inspired except for me.

Finally, I had a stroke of genius when I went to make a birthday card for a friend from home. Why not make my project a digital acrostic? It would not only convey my love for Georgetown but also teach others why I believe are its most important and relevant aspects. Therefore, after much deliberation, I settled on my ten words (I obviously go into the meaning of each word more in depth on each page):

  1. Growth, to represent the history of Georgetown;
  2. Exterior, to represent the unique architectural elements of M Street;
  3. Ornamentation, to represent the high-end shopping experience;
  4. Race, to bring up the idea of Georgetown as a white pocket of a predominantly African American city;
  5. Georgetown University, to remind readers why Georgetown is on the map at all;
  6. Egotistical, because of the strong connotations associated with being a resident of the Georgetown neighborhood;
  7. Transportation, to remind readers of the difficulty it is to visit Georgetown;
  8. Omnivorous, which I use to represent the variety of food available;
  9. Waterfront, because Georgetown is situated on the Potomac;
  10. Neighborhood, to represent the idea that Georgetown is a community where people live, learn, and grow.

I chose Georgetown as my commonplace for a multitude of reasons, the main one being that I already go to Georgetown at least twice a week. A few Saturdays ago I ventured down, and decided to try to spend the afternoon thinking of it as my first time there. I really wanted to take note of every smell, building, person, and noise. It was then that I realized that the most people are always focused on the corner of M and Wisconsin. Below, I’ve included a journal entry I wrote while visiting Georgetown when taking notes for this project.

“To get to Georgetown, I usually take the Metrobus, because as an American University student I have an unlimited metro and bus pass built into tuition. I hop on one of the 30’s outside of the Container Store in Tenley and ride it all the way to the corner of M and Wisconsin. When I get out, I’m immediately hit by a rush of people all going in different directions. Even though they stretch out along Wisconsin and M, they’re mainly focused to the crosswalk. The golden dome of the PNC Bank shines in the sun, a beacon to lost tourists and friends trying to reconnect with their groups. Each corner is host to a musical talent, whether it being men chanting Eastern religious chants or beggars asking for spare change in exchange for a violin or trumpet serenade. Four distinct smells hit me as I loop the crosswalk: cigarette smoke, fast food, sweat, and a familiar, wet, city smell. No matter what city I’m in, they always smell a variation of the same. The people around me are of all ages, colors, and backgrounds. The largest demographic being preppy, young adults, but that’s most likely because of the close proximity to Georgetown University. Sometimes I find myself wishing I went to GU solely for the fact that I’d be so close to Georgetown. But then I remember how much I love American University and how much larger my credit card statement would be if I lived near all this food and shopping.

Although I’m stuck in my usual routine, (South Block for an açai bowl, then Urban Outfitters, Sephora, Vineyard Vines, and finally Baked and Wired and a photoshoot along the creek), I take a moment to pause and soak up my surroundings. I pretend I’m a tourist and I’ve never been to Georgetown before. My friends hurry me along while I ask myself (and them) two questions: what do I recognize (through the eyes of a first timer to Georgetown)? What don’t I recognize? What stands out when I’m really paying attention? The first thought I have is that each building is unique but also uniform. They’re all three-story townhomes, each made of brick, painted in an array of vibrant colors. I see a lot of exposed brick, wood, and cement. Restaurants are nestled in between upscale boutiques, next door to massive chain stores. Doors never close – good weather and a constant flow of people prevent them.”

Georgetown is one of my favorite neighborhoods in D.C. Although I’ve only been living here for a few months, I’m confident in saying it will always be one of my favorite off-campus excursions. I hope you enjoy my project; please leave any comments and questions you may have!

Also, here is a link that shows a map of all of my classmates’ commonplaces. First semester, there was a theme – Reuben Castaneda’s S Street Rising – so you may recognize many of the locations from the book.

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