English 11: Writing Portfolio

 

Catholic Memorial High School

 

2005-2006

   
   
   
   
   
Research  
   
Creative Writing  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
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This object I’ve noticed on my brother’s dresser has forced me to always question what it was. Ever since my grandmother gave it to him, I never knew exactly what it was supposed to be. I do have a rough idea of what it is. When I first saw it, it was sitting towards the back of the dresser, lonely, and behind all of my brother’s pictures, trophies etc. I didn’t intend to find a rock but did so accidentally, I was shocked to see a piece of gold at that age thinking I was on top of the world finding gold not knowing whether it was real or not. The object had a very unusual and unique texture, but was such a buxom piece of work not too big, not too small and showing much value. When I first picked it up this mysterious object a strong poignant feeling streamed through my hand and fingers causing me to abruptly drop it. I wasn’t too quick to pick it up again but eventually I did, after examining it I noticed a few minor things about the golden rock it was beat up and it did look like it was previously a grayish color. I still get a weird feeling when picking it up though it’s nothing like the first time I held it.

Such a complex piece of nothing at this point is the conclusion I’ve come to. My brother Nick being the consignee and owner of it for so long and has spoke nothing about it, I scrutinized this haggard, golden rock. My forbearance had been pushed to its limit so I asked Nick “What is this thing?” He vastly responded with no hesitation and said! “I don’t know…ask grandma or something!” But there was no way someone like me so interested in this object could take “I don’t know” for an answer. There is something to be found out about this rock and I needed an answer to it. Where does it stand in society, and is there any meaning to it was what needed to be found out. Some type of ‘unknown’ is behind the golden rock. I decided to investigate.

Throughout my research I came upon evidence of where this mysterious rock had come from. While examining it more thoroughly I noticed writing on the back of it, the only words that were clear enough for me to read was the year 1848. So now I was no longer in a predicament, because when the numbers 1848 hit my eyes a bell went off in my head, the discovery of gold in California. Being that one of my grandparents had lived in California I decided to ask my grandmother some questions. She said when she lived in California gold had already been discovered many years before she was born, so she couldn’t have gotten the rock herself. There was something magical about it though, if you ever picked it up you would just get a sharp feeling running through your body.

The rock was first owned by an African American worker from the 1800s who’s name was Fred, a friend of my grandmother’s great grandfather. According to her great grandfather the rock was passed around a lot, being given from person to person as a sign for protection. What kind of sign could this be? It is said that in the 1800s there was a lot of slavery going on, my grandmother’s great grandfather was not a prejudice or racist man, coincidentally he was the last to talk to the man Fred. Fred had given the rock to my grandmother’s great grandfather to show appreciation, this caused the dramatic end to Fred’s life because the gold showed farmers and landowners that Fred was a free slave, a check was done to see who was freed and who were still workers. Fred had no peace of gold to prove he did not have to work. Ever since the death of the man Fred the golden rock has been passed down through generations of my family tree and it was passed from my grandmother to my brother. Grandma says it is not the fact of having a piece of gold or a piece of history, but it’s the simple fact of paying respect to a man who shows bravery in a time where he had to go against the grain of society.

 

   
   
   
   
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As I begin my evaluation of a place that is just so random and pointless to most people I notice that it is a piece of valuable land. At a Loner’s Land it’s a bright day with mild weather, not too cold but not very warm and the wind is blowing softly causing trees and branches to wave back and forth. The first thing that catches my eye is a stump of a tree, three feet long and about one and a half feet wide. I turn it over and the bark begins to peel because of the moistness of the ground. Life is so similar to this because as each year passes one year is peeled from however many years we have left on this earth. The wet leaves under the stump and the peeling bark is evidence of the rain storm that passed the night before, and this area has a very musty smell. A bit of advice is not to pick up a water logged stump with your bare-hands, it’s not the best feeling.

 It is almost four-thirty, the sun is ready to switch shift, around a Loner’s Land is very quiet. I can hear the whistling of the cold, crisp winter winds swirling through the leafless trees. The winter has come and the snow is descending, it reminds me of life, changing dramatically every so often, equivalent to the winter eventually turning into spring, spring to summer and so on. As I approach a Loner’s Land from a different view, tonight I notice little footpaths, and as I followed them, they lead me to a handy house. A human resource, another human has invaded my own personal space, my scenery of natural observation. I don’t appreciate how town officials think nature is a place for storage, a handy house belongs at some type of outdoor get together, not thrown carelessly on a Loner’s Land. The sun has now completely disappeared, the moon lighting the world in its place along with the stars. It’s much harder to observe the beauty of this land, but I find myself walking along another set of footprints, not in any way similar to my feet. I was looking at a twelve-inch footprint sided next to my eight in a half inch sneaker. So too with man, because nature is gargantuan compared to man, in every way. But back to the footprints, they are leading me to believe that there might be an ascetic living in a Loner’s Land. However, I see pigeon faeces and feeding lying around, bread crumbs and what not. It’s like my life, filled with nonsense and a bunch of worthless, scattered and unorganized things. It’s always a better idea to be organized rather than be unorganized and discombobulated.

Marks of footsteps are imprinted in the snow, the rigid zigzag pattern of the bottom of my boots lay stiffened, about twenty zigzag lines. It’s like something I don’t like to think about on the weekends, specifically being in school, and the lined paper we write on. Following the footprints of my previous walks through a Loner’s Land I notice the snow is slowly fading away. And as I approach the furthest part of a Loner’s Land the ground is no longer just a white surface. It’s like the world blended elements of snow, rain, grass, dirt and mud. The randomness of the elements shows me how nature is like a chemistry laboratory for the world, because there is always room for disaster.

The sun beams through the bald branches of these monstrous trees, I cans till smell the dew from the wet bark and moistened grass. A tree is such a beautiful piece of nature, why does man insist on cutting them down, stopping dead in my tracks I can see roughly fifteen trees lifeless and on the ground. I am looking at a Loner’s Land’s “intensive care unit for nature.” On my retreat from a Loner’ Land, tracing my footsteps from where I came from, I’d say a five minute walk, something kept me from leaving. I first see black than a line of white and than two beady eyes and a tail about eight inches. Finally after shock wore off, my brain finally registered that a skunk lies in front of me. I ran and escaped, almost safely until I slipped and fell, who exactly is in charge of laying rock salt?

My journey through a Loner’s Land is ending on this day. Parent like it is hard for me to walk away from it and let it be by its lonesome. It feels like it was yesterday when I first walked through this piece of land, and now I am saying goodbye to it. A Loner’s Land is my high school graduate. Looking back at the first day I met this place, I notice it has come such a long way from just being a piece of useless land, it was green, and now once again as it has happened many times is filled with white. At first I saw a Loner’s Land as a piece of useless land and to tell the truth it was pointless, but I can now see the beauty of it. In the winter it looks like a wintry dream land. Like a child’s imagination. Now I know that this isn’t useless land it is a place for the world’s creation. Never judge a book by its cover!

 

 

   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edgar Allen Poe, a very diverse yet inspirational writer of the 19th century. Gruesome, cryptic, and unusual are words that sum up the style of work he produces. Unusual work such a “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “Annabel Lee,” “The Haunted Palace,” and so on. This specific work “For Annie” is similar to other stories because of the continual theme of death and/or dying, the key here is that this work is also different to all Poe’s other writing. In the poem “For Annie” Edgar Allen Poe does something that he hasn’t done nor that any other author/poet has done, Poe writes from the grave as another person specifically being a female corpse.

“For Annie” is a great example showing Poe’s creativity and diversity in writing. Again, words that you will always hear about Poe’s work and that will also describe “For Annie,” creepy, weird, mysterious, and awkward. However, Edgar Allen Poe has a trick up his sleeve in this specific poem, writing from the grave as a dead women’s corpse…not as himself. This women being Annie whom is the main character and technically the only character. In this poem you can most likely pick any line and fine an example of Poe doing so, i.e. (7 and 8) “Sadly, I know- I am shorn of my strength…” Here “Annie” is describing a characteristic of her dead self.

Poe makes a dichotomy of the so called “characters” in this poem, he secretly makes himself a character, he is toying with his readers, “I’m an author, wait I’m Annie now, no now I’m Annie and the narrator at the same time,” this should be put in fine print at the bottom of this poem, even thought it still wouldn’t make things clearer. (50-52) “In a different bed- And, to sleep, you must slumber- In just such a bed,” take note here of Poe as narrator. Here comes Edgar Allen Poe’s other half (19-21) “The moaning and groaning, The sighing and sobbing are quieted now…” Poe as “Annie.” Unique of Poe..? I’d say so.

It has been made clear that Edgar Allen Poe is mysterious and an unusual writer, Stephen King-esk of this day for the sake of comparison. For this specific reason it is tough to figure out what position Poe is writing from, but in “For Annie” it is obvious that Poe has some sort of feeling for Annie, whether she was a lover of his or even a family member of his. Evidence of this is when Annie says (22-24) “With that horrible throbbing- At heart: - ah, that horrible, Horrible throbbing!” Someone is obviously heart broken and/or just simply can not stand the ups and downs of love.

Edgar Allen Poe should be put into a category of his own, such as an untouchable. Symbolically, no other author can come close to him, metaphorically he is already in a world of his own, literally, some people/critics say that Poe often uses opium while producing poetry and stories. He is just a one of a kind, it is impossible to find another author who can do what Edgar Allen Poe does, i.e. use metaphors, symbols, mystery, love, and rhyme scheme in one poem. No one can because this style of writing is named after the man himself “P O – ETRY."

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The shot put originated in Ancient Greece, A.D393, where the first Olympic Games were ever held. It is not an extremely popular sport in America, especially because it must try to co-exist with sports such as baseball, football, hockey, basketball, and soccer. However, the shot put is some what similar to sports in America because of its high level of competitiveness. The small amount of Americans who compete in this sport is because “it is a sport which proves a person’s masculinity,”…what about the women who participate in shot put events during the Olympics?, which is a large reason why shot putting isn’t popular.

Shot putting seems like a simple sport, but when getting into the rules it tends to gradually become a more complex sport. The geometrical rules are much to blame for the complication of the rules, let’s keep in mind how lazy us Americans are, all we want to do is grab a ball and throw it or grab some time of stick and hit a ball or puck. Americans are into simplicity, rules of shot put are not simple. The main objective is to throw a 16 – 22 lb. ball as far as you can while staying in bounds, which is a circle of 2.135 meters. You must keep the ball within an angle of around thirty degrees. That’s just a quick summary of the rules.

It’s tough to put “shot put” in the same category of sports such as baseball, hockey, football, and basketball, especially in America. Americans don’t necessarily look at shot putting as a sport but more as on part to a track and field meet. When taking a survey of ten peoples opinions and knowledge of the sport 60% of the participants said that shot putting is not popular. And just to add fuel to the fire, when asking high school junior Chris Rooney ‘Why he thought the sport was popular in America,’ he replied with a chuckle “ha…it’s popular…?” When asking the same question to another participant who goes by the name of Steve Polizzi he replied “ shot put is for fat men, all I know is dat you gotta tro’ da’ ball really far.” After hearing that, it showed me the little respect shot putting gets. Surprisingly I stumbled upon some people who knew something about the shot put and luckily three of them were actual shot putters, one being an Olympian. Jacob Smith, a high school student who attends Catholic Memorial H.S and participates in the track and field program gave some decent feedback on the rules of shot putting and why he thinks the sport is or isn’t popular in America. On the rules Smith says “ Um, you cant walk out of the circle,…the ball cant leave your chin when throwing it….ah….oh yea, you cant step over the white metal.” Than Smith also replied to the question on the shot puts popularity in America by saying “I don’t think it’s that popular, I think its just high school mostly.” A less enthusiastic Kevin Feeney explained his thoughts on shot putting, which he also competes in at the high school level. When he heard the words of “shot put,” “America,” and “popularity” in the same sentence he took a step back, grinned and flat out said “It’s not popular.” This cant be too intriguing of a sport if two of its own athletes say that “it is not really popular.”

Adam Nelson, a professional, Olympian (Sydney and Athens), Edmonton World Champion, and Paris’ World Champion, and yes, he is an American shot putter. Nelson lives for the shot put event, participating and dominating this track and field event since he was a teenager in high school. Nelson is known as “Mr.Intensity,” why?...you ask, Nelson said he gets his nickname because of his routing before every meet. In an article of USA Today he takes time out of the interview to mention the struggles of being a shot putter and the popularity of shot putting among all Americans “We've got a group of (U.S.) guys now who are colorful, smart, eloquent when they speak and are performing at the highest levels,” Nelson said. “I think it's time sponsors start changing their minds when they see the support we get internationally and nationally. ... I want to change people's opinions of our event.” Nelson’s statement clearly shows that he knows the sport is not popular and he wants to be the one who makes shot putting stand out and be mentioned among popular American sports such as baseball.

There are many people who can criticize shot put by simply saying it’s not a sport, but maybe like other sports have, maybe some people just don’t see the greatness in this sport. Sometimes we need to set aside the “M.V.P” awards and all the shenanigans such as the money, sponsors, style, and cheating (steroids). Two critics, one from the USA Today magazine and one from the Sports Illustrated magazine, both had very similar perspectives on shot putting. “Enough with the multimillion dollar sponsors, the Greek sprinting fiasco, and the drug cheats. This was about a time and place (Athens Olympics) resurrected from the past for several hours (6)”-Christine Brennan. In comparison to Tim Layden’s Sports Illustrated article he says something very similar in his article “It was free of commerce and awash in sportsmanship, it was like an Olympic event. The shot putters had the 15,000 spectators to themselves, for once they were the stars not just the slideshow in the track and field circus. (43)” This sums up why shot putting is not popular in America, there’s no drama, there’s no Jerry Springer affect in shot putting like there is in typical American sports typically sports that involve occasional or everyday fight and outbursts. Perfect example of a Jerry Springer affect which attracts fans attention is Johnny Damon going to the Yankees during free agency instead of taking less money to play for the Red Sox. Shot putting is a classical event which tests the strength of one person compared to another person. Every other sport is popular mostly because they’re all soap operas.

Phillip Vassalo shows interest in the event of shot putting, in coincidence to a track and field event it is just one part to the ten parts of the poem. Vassallo is the author of the poem ‘Decathlon Poem.’ A simple seven lines “Sixteen pounds, cast iron pressed to five-inch diameter wedged between chin and hand body stooped reared back to forward,upward, outward throws still confined in a ring he heaves, grunts, screams, releases.” Can you say summary of rules? It seems like that’s all people notice about shot putting is the rules and the complexity of the rules. Its just not an American favorite, plain and simple, people can defend it any way they’d like to and many have a good point, unfortunately it will not change the way Americans crave a WWE or Jerry Springer affect.

I don’t see a bright future for this sport in America. The most progress it will make will be the decline from where it stands now in the sports world, the stats say it all. Sixty percent of people asked think that shot putting is not American, forty percent had some interest and some knowledge of this “sport.” Can we predict the future? No, but numbers like these can say a lot if sixty percent of America’s future say things such as “shot put is for fat men only” or “ shot putting is popular..since when?” Shot put isn’t favored by Americans now, its not an ideal sport, and doesn’t look like it will be any time soon unless they decide to force shot putters to start brawls or decide to start paying shot putters an Alex Rodriguez-like paycheck. Or if Adam Nelson gives a shot put official the “ Stone Cold Stunner” any time soon is when shot putting might be on the charts of sports such as water polo or table tennis.