English 11: Writing Portfolio

 

Catholic Memorial High School

 

2005-2006

   
   
   
   
   
Research  
   
Creative Writing  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
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The Strange Hook It is a strange and mysterious object. I’ve never seen anything like it before. It puzzles me. What I think it is, it really isn’t. It looks aged and eroded, like it is an artifact of the past. It is thin and long. It holds a rectangular shape, with a hook on one end. I had originally came down to my basement to find a replacement light bulb for my room, but I found myself fascinated by this object. I had planned on finding a replacement light bulb in the boiler room, having been told by my dad that there was a case of 60 watt bulbs there.I had no intention of experiencing anything out of the ordinary that day, but as it turned out, I did. As I proceeded to the boiler room, a shiny object caught my attention. It was the hook being reflected by the light coming through the basement window. I completely forgot about the light bulb and focused my attention on the object. I freed it from being stuck between a couple of cardboard boxes. I held it up, it was a hook.

When I picked it up for the first time, I felt like I was in a complete state of confusion, because that object’s purpose escaped me. Whenever I hold it, my mind races and my head begins to hurt. It gives off a distinct smell. As I hold this object of mystery, it is all that I focus on. I leave reality and become immersed in thought. Since I located this figure, in the storage room in my basement, it was all that my mind was centered on.

Whenever I had come into contact with this object I found myself asking the same questions. A man, as it turns out, sold this house to my family. He called himself Dr. Minkel. He told me everything about this thing, but that still wasn’t enough to answer all of the questions that I had, concerning it. I wanted to know it’s history. I needed to know where it came from, it’s origins. I wanted to know it’s purpose for existence, why it was created, by who, and for what reason.

I have lived in this residence for many years now. It is evident that this object of my concern, my center of attention, was here long before my birth. It has been around for a long while. Its appearance tells much about it’s possible purposes and it’s age. This article has clearly stood the test of time. Minkel told me it has been in this house for ages, probably years before my parents emigrated from Ireland. It appears to have some kind of specific meaning. Could it be something simple, maybe a household device. Could it be something more interesting, possibly a torture device or something of that nature, from the middle ages. It has become a neglected piece of history. Being hidden away from society in a basement has helped me reach this conclusion. It is rarely seen. It is not something looked on as being of great, if any, importance. It is mostly ignored. Nobody, but I, seems to question this commodity’s existence. Are people afraid of it? Does the fact that we know so little about it make it intimidating? Does it possess some form of supernatural power? I have found myself asking this question more often lately. The object can inflict pain. It is a mental pain that develops when the object is held.

When it is held, the mind creates an image, a flashback to the year 1747. It is a warm July day. There is a crowd of people focused on a podium in the center of the street. The houses of the present day have not been built yet. The area is open, and continues for miles. When I walked towards the crowd, the people called me Shane. One man identified himself as John Casserly, my cousin. “Come here and look at this”, he says. I walk closer, past many people until I come to the center of the crowd. There is a Native American, who seems to be of high rank lying dead in the center. I asked John what had happened. He replied “ This morning a tribe tried to attack us. They were going to kill everybody. A few of the men heard the horses coming and grabbed their weapons. We lost four men in the fight but killed eight Indians.”. As I turned around in shock, John tapped me on the shoulder and signaled for me to follow him. So I did. He brought me over by a tree and picked something up from the ground. It was the hook. “Look Mike, I found it after the Indians retreated. Its the Tribal Chief’s weapon. Many have died at the hands of it. He used it to kill anybody who got in his way, and now its mine” Then the image ended , and I returned to reality with only a feeling of dizziness, nothing to prove that I had traveled back in time.

It tells us how we, as a nation, have stood the test of time. This object shows us that we are still evolving and this nation is still being “disovered” as this object is. This objects hidden meaning is meant to educate us on our country. It’s background, how it has stood strong after many years, and still has the power that was instilled in it the day it was created, is to enlighten us ,as Americans, about how this is true of our home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
   
   
   
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Indian Spring Island .For almost a month I have observed the changes in nature. I have studied the effects of seasons changing on a small island at the end of my street. It is a place that bears no name. I began to travel here because of the element of curiosity. I wanted to see why it was here, what it’s purpose was. Beginning on November 26 and ending on December 18, for almost a month I witnessed the changes in nature occur on this place. The first observation, on November 26th, began with me describing the island. It is located at the entrance of Indian Spring Road, just off of Canton Ave., in Milton. It is a small island that is about 20 feet in width by about 30 feet in length. This island is surrounded by trees and has a small paved area in the middle of it. This paved area is only about 5 feet long by 6 feet wide. This place is rarely visited by people. However there are the occasional kids who enter this place due to curiosity. They come here just to check it out and see what this place has to offer. Many different species of animals call this place home. The are many birds that live in these trees along with squirrels, and the like. There are also raccoons, skunks, and sometimes coyotes that have frequented this area. I see this as being the place where nature dwells. This is the place where only nature exists, there is no evidence of human action here. I believed that this place would change as we transitioned from fall to winter. I expected the weather to show its powerful effects on this island. This small piece of the earth would display “Mother Natures” capabilities.

The first observation that I made came with the sight of the island covered with leaves. Many of the trees were bare and the leaves that once sat on these trees were now at the bottom, brushing along the ground. There wasn’t much grass visible on this island as there is in the spring or summer. Most of the ground was covered in leaves. It was quiet on that observation. All that could be heard was he sound of the leaves, both the larger ones and the smaller ones, being lifted from their resting place and moved to another by the wind. The “smell of winter” could be detected in the air. There was a cool, crisp wind that could be felt. As a strong gust of this wind blew I saw a large mass of leaves lift from the ground and travel about 5 feet across the ground. Seeing this made me think about people. People can be moved like the leaves. We can be pushed by someone who has greater power than we do. It is like God pushing us in the right direction. As these leaves were being moved by a greater force, we too are moved by someone who is a greater force than us, God. We sometimes say that, “’Everything happens for a reason”. We can have no control over what will become of us. Like us, these leaves are carried in the direction of the wind. We are lifted and carried as these leaves were.

My Second observation, which took place on November 30th, brought with it, rain. There were some of the branches from the trees scattered along the island. This was evidence that the wind and rain had taken its toll on this place. There were still many wet leaves scattered all over this island puddle of water had collected in the paved part of this island. As I sat on the island, the sounds of cars passing by on Canton Ave. could be heard. The rain, which became heavier as time progressed, could be felt hitting the skin. As the exploration of this place continued, the sight of a branch falling off of a pine tree caught my attention. It was only a small branch, about 3 feet in length. It got me thinking about life and age. At some time we’ll all be let go from our parents, to start on our own. We will “branch off” of the family tree and form our own. As we depart home, this branch does, in the search of a place to root itself in the ground, and gradually grow into its own tree. As this branch was let go from it’s parent tree, at some point in time, in the near future, we will be let go.

On the third observation, a change had taken place on this island. The branches of the trees, the leaves, etc. had been covered. This island had been blanketed in snow. There was no more color visible in this island. It had overnight, undergone a change that took it from the island that it has been since last spring, to the “winter version” of this island. The smell of a cold and wet day could be sensed, along with the feeling of the snow as it would fall from the trees above. You could taste the snow as it hits your mouth after being lifted by the wind. The snow was a heavy, wet mixture. Everywhere that I turned, the vision was the same. The sound of snow plows advancing up the streets could be heard. Seeing this island shrouded in white could in a way be applied to life. At times we can feel like our minds are shrouded in something. This could be something that is constantly on their mind and is all they think about, or it could be the inability to think.

On my fourth observation, I saw nothing but more snow that had collected at this island. I could see snow mounds about four feet in height that acted like a barrier between this island and the rest of the world. These mountains of white covered the front side of this island. It was evidence that a snow plow had operated here. The island appeared more staid that it did the last time I was there. The sun had broken through the clouds, casting some light on this place. The snow on the branches of the trees had begun to thaw when I arrived there. Sounds of drops of water hitting a puddle could be heard, along with the feel of those droplets hitting the skin and clothing. The smell of something burning caught my attention. It was probably someone who had started a fire in their home. The sound of the droplets of water and the thought of the snow thawing can be like something that we can experience. We too can feel as if we are melting away. We can all have days when we just don’t feel right. It may be like we are falling away from society, feeling lethargic and lazy, unable to focus.

On my fifth and last observation, I saw the first signs of wildlife in this place. I hadn’t seen these signs in a long time. I noticed a footprint in the snow. It was about six centimeters in length and four centimeters in width. As I studied this feature, I heard an unusual sound. As I looked to the left, a small mound of snow that had settled on a branch fell and hit the ground. As I proceeded towards it, the feeling of a chilly and brisk gust of wind hit my hands and face. The cool air traveled into my body as I inhaled. The air chilled the inside of my nose and mouth. The snow that had slid off of the branch is a reminder about the hardships that humanity faces. People can fall down in life too. We can all have downfalls in our lifetime. Whether it is a death or we are experiencing a tough time in our lives, we go through hard times in life. People can be put under so much pressure, making it possible to collapse. As the snow tumbled off of the branch, we can all “fall off”. In life we go through periods where we fall out of place.

Through my observation of nature and its effects on this island, I have learned that nature is a lot like that way that humanity is. I witnessed the changes that occurred on this island. These changes transformed this island into, visually, a totally different place. My thesis at the beginning of this project was proven correct in the end. I witnessed, first hand, the changes that this island was put through. I did not just see the physical changes that took place on this island, I also took notice of the “internal changes”. I came to an island that had turned into a different place while I was there. I learned from what I documented that places like these are forgotten. There are not many people who pay much attention to nature in general anymore. On this island, it was possible to see nature in some of its smallest forms, to some of its biggest forms. I took from this experience the fact that nature is a lot like life.

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When compared to other culture’s literature’s, American Literature is still very young. American Literature plays the role of an ever-growing force in the world. Many of the most influential writers have American backgrounds. Take for example, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He has composed many great poems, looked upon as being famous by some of the best literary critics. He was born in 1838 and died in 1915. Throughout his life he composed such poems as, “A Psalm of Life”, and, “The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls”. However, there are great amounts of other poems he wrote that still remain unknown to us. One of the more unique Longfellow poems is, “The Skeleton in Armor”. This poem is an American work but is heavily Norwegian influenced. This poem could easily be mistaken for a piece of Norwegian Literature. At no point in this poem does anything American come into play. Also, there is no point in this this story in which the rhyme is repeated. This fact, and the poems rhyme scheme, are what sets, “The Skeleton in armor”, apart from any other piece of American Literature.

The author of this text, Longfellow, was born and raised in Portland, Maine. He did spend three years in Europe, after graduating from Bowdoin College in 1825. Perhaps it was on this trip that he got the idea to write a piece of American Poetry, but implement a thick Norwegian Influence into it. The setting of this poem is set by Longfellow’s use of Norse language and culture. The author uses Vikings, the legendary Norsemen, and speaks of the setting and it’s surroundings, such as, “Far in the Northern Land, by the Wild Baltic’s Strand”. This is clear evidence from the text that illustrates the area that this story takes place in.

Longfellow’s use of a rhyme scheme conveys a tone about this poetic work. As it is read, the story flows smoothly due to the use of the rhyme scheme. Take for example, “Scarce had I put to sea, Bearing the maid with me, Fairest of all was she Among the Norsemen!”. This quote from the text gives proof of the type of rhyme scheme identified in this poem. Every stanza of this poem has eight lines, and the rhyme scheme is repeated in every stanza in this poem. Not many poets chose to use this style of writing during the time in which Longfellow wrote this text. What Longfellow has done to this poem is not an easy thing to do. There is a new endings to words in every stanza. This type of writing is not something common. Out of the one hundred and sixty lines in this poem, there are no repetitions. Longfellow likes to keep the poem, “Fresh”. You could say that he does this to, “break from the original” and use this to keep the readers interest. This is one of the biggest differences that make this poem anomalous.

This Longfellow poem tends to be more descriptive than some of the other work written by other writers at that time. Longfellow devotes a sizable portion of this poem to descriptions. Take for example, “Oft through the forest dark Followed the were-wolf’s bark, Until the soaring lark Sang from the meadow”. Longfellow gives an ample description of what is happening in this poem. This use of description gives the reader a mental picture of what is happening. This helps when this poem is being read, because a poem of this sort is difficult to read and comprehend. Seeing as this poem was written in a different style than what was normally written at that time, the addition of specific descriptions aid in the study of this piece of literature. This poem is fairly lengthy and it is easy for the reader to get confused as to what is going on at times. However, the accurate descriptions of this poem serve to reiterate what is happening. This literary device can be used as a valuable tool to help convey the meaning of the poem.

This poem has played one of the most important roles as an influence in American Literature. The poem sets the stage for the designation of America as a “melting pot”, because it shows the diversity of America through literature. This poem is unique as opposed to other pieces of writing compiled at the same time as the, “Skeleton in Armor”. This poem serves almost as a record of history, showing the earlier history of this nation, when the Norsemen came to this country. Longfellow’s creation has long served as the foundation for the historical literature that we study today.

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throughout the history of this nation, there have been many factors that have helped to define the way that we live out lives. It is Sport. Sport has always held a place in history as a part of our culture. This nation is athletic. In the United States, sport is a way of life. We have sports such as Football, Baseball, Basketball, and other famous sports. These sports have been the foundation of athleticism in the US. However, these are only a few of the more publicized sports. There are a handful of other sports that do not receive the publicity or recognition as some of the more popular ones do. Why is this? Why are there some sports that are popular, and some sports that go on without recognition or interest? These sports that are less valued in our society are becoming more and more popular by the day. Sports such as telemarking are growing in size and popularity in this country. A sport that was lost for a long period of time is now being revived in new ways. Word of telemarking is reaching new audiences. The American youth is becoming more involved in this unique form of skiing. Sports that were in essence forgotten, like telemarking, are being renewed. Today, we view athletics as an ever-growing force not just in this country, but in the world. With telemarking’s climb, we ask what is the attraction. Why has this sport suddenly began to regain popularity?

Telemarking is a form of skiing in which the “telemark turn” is used. This form of turning is executed by leading the turn with the outside ski. The inside ski is then moved under the skier’s body . The skier’s heels are off of the ground and the knees are bent. Is is a difficult thing to do. A recent article that was published on telemarking stated, “The workout is part of the appeal of telemark. After all, as another pro-telemarking bumper sticker reads:’If it was easy, it would be called snowboarding!’” According to the array of books that have been published concerning the topic of Telemarking, it is a sport that began in Norway in 1868. A man by the name of Sondre Norheim used the telemark turn in a Skiing competition. From 1868, the form of telemark skiing was changed and became a popular form of skiing. This form of turning received its name from the section of Norway known as “Telemark”. Telemarking continued to grow and new ways of turning and also new equipment was us integrated into the original form. Telemarking lost alot of its publicity and popularity during the 1940’s. However, the sport was revived when it began in the US in the 1970’s. Telemarking displays brought this new type of skiing to the attention of the public. We experienced a steady increase in the amount of interest in telemarking as time went on. America gave Telemarking a chance. This goes to show that Americans like to try new and interesting things. The people in this country took to Telemarking with a new attitude towards skiing.

Telemark skiing is still a sport unknown to many. There are people who have neither heard of it nor know it is a sport. There are alot of people amongst our population who have never heard of telemarking, and for the small percentage who have heard of it, many are unable to explain the concept of it. I recently conducted a survey concerning a group of randomly selected peoples’ knowledge of Telemarketing. When asked if he knew a rule or regulation of Telemarking, Paul Politsopolous stated, “You have to ski fast and win”. When this same man was asked whether or not he thought Telemarking was a popular sport here in the US his response was, “No, because it sounds like people are going to call your phone”. This was a common misconception that someof the people surveyed had. Many thought that Telemarking had to do with “Telemarketing”. Another man who took the survey, Kevin Walsh, said that “ In Telemarking, you are not allowed to do jumps, and no, it is not popular because there are not many people who do it”. The majority of the people surveyed, approximetly seventy percent, had little knowledge of what the sport was, let alone knowing the rules and regulations. However, their statements as to why it is unpopular in this country were plausible. A lot of them were true. It seems that only a small percentage of society makes up the telemarking community, but this community is ever-growing. With the growth of this sport will come the growth of a person’s knowledge of telemarking.

However, telemark skiing is currently experiencing an increase in the interest of this once desolate and obscure sport. For example, President George W. Bush’s two daughters, Jenna and Barbara, have been spotted taking telemarking lessons in Vail, Colorado. More and more ski resorts are offering intructive classes on the concept of telemarking. The 2006 World Cup Telemark finals were recently held at the Schweitzer Mountain Resort, located in northern Idaho. The competition took place from March tenth to the twelfth. Previously, it had been three years since the World Cup was held in the United states. Men and women from countries such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Canada, and the United states took part in this competition. The winners of the competition in both the men’s and women’s section were from Norway. Americans are approaching Telemark skiing with a new perspective. America has alot of potential to build on in order to make telemark skiing proficient in this country.

The United States maintains a professional telemarking team. Many members of this team competed at the World Cup earlier this year. The skiers that were fielded played a competitive role and the future of this ever-growing team looks bright. The US national team is made up of telemarkers from all over the country. One in particular is Brett Stein. He is a sixteen year old telemarker from Wayland High School in Wayland, MA. He is one of the few people from across the country whom are chosen to represent the United States in telemark racing Competitions, including the World Cup. When asked why hes competes as a Telemark Racer he responded, “I Telemark Race because I enjoy the positive atmosphere that the other Athletes create while providing friendly competition. The people in this sport are unlike any others one would find at a National level. I also enjoy the thrill of speed and the extra components in telemark ski racing that cannot be found in Alpine racing”. For the 2005-2006 team, eight men and three women were chosen for the A-Team, along with three more men and three more women to structure a B-Team. This year’s team competed in the US Nationals Tournament, the World Cup, and the Canadian Telemark Nationals. The team contended all over the country and internationally. The American professional team has been achieving distinction and making a name for itself as a substantial competitor in the fledgling world of telemarking.

Many writers also have a passion for telemarking. This is evident in the growing amount of articles being written on telemarking. The Wall Street Journal published an article on telemarkers . This article referred to telemark skiing as, “The purest discipline on snow”. The article goes on to talk about the style of Telemarking as it, “Combines the unfixed-heel, straight-line movement of cross-country skiing with the speed-gathering and turning ability of Alpine skiing. It’s graceful and precise, requiring strength and balance.”. Telemark Skiing is on the horizon as being a popular winter sport. We are now starting to see a growth in not only the public interest in this sport, but also publicity and more attention from the media. Clare Innes, a Boston Globe Correspondent, also wrote an article in January 2005 titled, “ Telemarking takes off as aficionados leave the trail”. She talks about the difficulties of learning to display the telemark turn. She also makes a reference to Pied Piper, whom brought telemark skiing to the United States and helped it to revive its popularity in the European theater. The evolution of telemark skiing is also documented in this article. She talks about the growth of telemarking as it continuously evolves, especially here in New England. The American media has been recently using telemarking as a topic of their writings. Some of the most widely read publications in the United States have printed an article, story, etc. that talks about telemarking in general, or a professional telemarker. The American public seems to be expressing a wider interest in the topics that they read about today. With so many stories to cover in our world at the present time, publication competition is growing. Newspapers and magazines are publishing stories and books are being written on things like telemarking, to educate and interest the public in this particular sport that is still foreign to much of our nation’s population. Americans don’t like to read something boring that has no apparent point to it. Americans are drawn to readings that will provoke curiosity and draw their attention to the case at hand.

Telemarking will not grow unless there are people who are willing to step up to the challenge. The U.S. News and World Report said in an article that, “The number of telemarkers has nearly tripled to more than 3 million since 1998”. There are more amateur telemarking clubs being started or growing than ever before. More ski resorts offer telemarking lessons for those thrill seekers eager to learn the sport. This same article features a young man who traded in his snowboard to get a pair of telemark skis. This boy, sixteen year old Chris Sellers, said that, “ It’s not just for hippies anymore. Now it’s even the kids into hop-hop”(issue 21). These amateur telemarkers who are giving this unique sport a try are the new generation of telemarkers. These are the people who will help this sport burgeon. This new breed of telemarker is responsible for the procreation of telemark skiing.

The evolution of telemark skiing does not end here. What we are seeing and experiencing is only the beginning of what is sure to become a more celebrated sport. With no end to the advancement of telemarking on the horizon, we will see more resorts and more people sporting telemark skis. Especially here, in America, will telemarking flourish. Our nation is famous for giving things a chance. This is a great place for the re-birth of telemarking. Americans will give telemarking a chance to evolve. America will be the site of the telemarking comeback. Some of the most celebrated sports in the world trace their beginnings back to the United States. At some point in the near future, telemarking will place itself amongst the ranks of these sports, and it will have America to thank.