English 10: Writing Portfolio

 

Catholic Memorial High School

 

2006-2007

   
   
   
   
   
Research  
   
Creative Writing  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
  I was rummaging through my attic when I found this strange object, a blacked out painting. This
mysterious object was plain with no text or objects, just completely blacked out. It must have been
Twenty years older or more because the golden frame around it was broken and seemed almost ancient.
The back of the canvas is also black with nothing on it. I asked both of my parents, and neither
had any idea what this weird object was. I was obsessed with finding out the truth behind this
strange object; I had some research to do.

After weeks turned to months, I still knew nothing about this object until one cloudy Saturday afternoon. I was bored so I just held the delicate object.  Then all of the sudden I realized that the back of the painting was peeling and revealed text underneath. I stared dumbfounded at the text; it wasn’t even in my language. I sat there frustrated, realizing I probably would never find the truth. My Grandmother Catherine walked upstairs to see me holding it, looking somewhat depressed. She asked if I needed help and said “No, thanks anyway.” She snatched the painting and began skimming the back as if she knew what is said.  She stared in horror at the painting I had once obsessed over. Then she explained this terrifying story that was in the early 1800’s.


Isabel McNair was the name of the author of this once beautiful painting. She had once been in love with her estranged husband Albert but things had turned for the worse. Isabel was a famous author in the 1800’s; however she disappeared towards the end of the century. She had came home to her husband with another woman and tried to confront him. He tried to explain, but she would not accept his apologies. After he became enraged and violent she fled to the closet to write down her last moments. She wrote her last minutes of despair on this painting.
 

She describes how she he beats on the door and eventually opens it, and then she doesn’t finish the
sentence. Strangely enough, Albert finishes her entry but brutally describing her last moments. He
had killed her with her own painting. He savagely broke apart the frame to repeatedly stab her. He
said that he had to repaint the frame gold, because of the blood residue on it.

It was truly a grim story indeed, which has changed my life in various ways. I still look at the painting occasionally, I wonder if justice got served. I’m assuming that tragically it did not, because of am still in
possession of this gruesome painting. This has been kept in my family, and me and my grandmother
have not spoken about this frightening painting since. I have not turned it into the authorities,
for the simple fact that that sinister man is my great-grandfather.

   
   
   
  .
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
  In an industrialized world, the tranquility and serenity that nature offers us is often hard to come
by. Recently I have become weary of our world that is run by computers, and I wish that I can go
back to the roots of America. I live in a small town that resembles a city in many ways. Parks
near where I live are overrated, and do not even offer a small dose of what real nature is about.
The true essence of the American culture is publicized by nature. I searched around Randolph
looking for a place to hang out and get away from society. At first I went up by the center of
town, but went down random roads to come across a good location. The search was not easy by any
means, and took weeks. Then finally after a frustrating day I wondered onto this location
unexpectedly.


The Rock Factory is a natural setting located in the wooded area of South Randolph. After
going down Stoughton Street, there is a small dirt path that leads to it. It is about a half mile
in, after walking down the path. It is an open clearing with a massive pile of rocks, and it’s
surrounded by high sand dunes. Behind the sand dunes, are the uninhabited wooded areas. The
wooded area seems like it goes on forever, but some leaves are starting to fall. Also, in this
wooded area there is a gigantic rock in the distance that is visible. It is one hundred feet
around (circular). Although it is off a street, it is not really near anything other then one
broken down house that offshoots the path. It is underappreciated, because most people do not even
know where this secluded area is located.


I thought about this undervalued establishment for a few moments, and then I glance over at the
rocks, and saw glimmers of granite in the rocks. Even though the trees are about twenty feet away,
I can smell the sap of the trees. It is silent except for the sound of my body scaling this rock
fortress. I fell down and scraped my hand on the sharp-edged rocks. Although it is very peaceful,
not a lot of wildlife lives there due to the rare environment of the vast sand dunes and sharp rock
piles. Some scattered animals like squirrels run by, but the rest is non existent. Miniature trail
marks appeared as the squirrels ran past, but seem to freeze in there dirt subsequently after. As I
stood in this natural setting I realized that this probably is a setting for younger kids to explore
and laughed at past experiences.


After I finished reminiscing on my childhood adventures in the wilderness, I walked casually over
to the sand piles, and truly admired the height of these random features. I had to no idea why they
were present in a wooded area. I noticed the transition on the ground from sand to dirt and then
eventually to rock shavings. Although the wooded area was a good distance from where I stood,
discarded wood was present on the floor of this area. The discarded wood was less then ten inches,
with a light brown coloring. They seemed to weathered by the New England climate. Below the wood
was the soil of the wooded area that seemed to be almost dead with a very light brown color. The
dirt was also stiff due to coldness. I just then recognized, how similar nature is to humans, how
we turn cold and desolate after drastic changes.


I strolled over to the piles of rocks trying to understand their purpose in this beautiful area.
There was no particular order or shape that I knew of, it seemed to be of a random placement. They
all were a grey color with some granite lodged in them. There were a few larger rocks, but there
were mostly the same size. Although some were sharp-edged, there was one rock that had a flat top.
It made a perfect seating place for me to sit and observe. I did not notice the small rock that was
placed on top, which was painful when I sat on this object, but I quickly brushed it off to the
side. It looked like someone tried to write something on this rock but it was weathered and washed
away. There was an eerie silence in the woods that day as I sat there; it was almost relevant how
sometimes silence can be so profound in the human race.


Later on in my visit I walked over towards the wooded area of the Rock Factory. This desolate area
had broken twigs and leaves everywhere. You couldn’t see the soil because the ground was covered
with nature’s blessings. There was a scent in the air that was displeasing but I did not know what
it was. I saw in a distance a rock that seemed to be about twenty feet high, but it was too far of
a walk for me to manage at the time. I was exhausted after stepping through the discarded thorn
branches, and random sharp objects. The rock was flat at the top although it was almost a straight
vertical path to the top. There was moss growing on this immense bolder in the distance. I could
see with my binoculars that the moss was actually starting to turn brown also. I would even
classify this rock as a cliff due to the extreme drop off. It seemed like it was shaped like a box,
but I couldn’t see the back end of the rock. As I starred off at this colossal rock I realized how
surreal our life is in this vast world.


It was getting late that day and the sun started to set quickly on this cold December day. I
walked past the sand dunes in amazement of the randomness that nature sometimes brings to us. For a
second I stopped and glanced at the mammoth rock pile, and wondered what its purpose was. It was
dark out some I stumbled along the path to get out of this beautiful location. Even on way on the
path out of the Rock Factory I stopped to look back with awe. As I was walking out I truly realized
how cold it was outside, yet I did not even seem to feel it because of this extraordinary day of
nature. This day of observing changed my perspective on nature dramatically. It told me personally
how material objects are not necessary, when you have one of the greatest scenes of nature in the
world, right in your own backyard.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
  .
   
   
   
   
   

 

 

 

 

 


Poetry is of the most unique and creative ways to express ourselves. One poet in particular caught
my attention quickly was- Walt Whitman. By some he is even said to be the greatest American poet.
He lived during the 1800’s and his works are world renown. He is often associated with Civil War
poets but he was sometimes diverse with his works. Some of his first works were poorly received at
first due to the graphic nature that were portrayed through stunning visuals. One of his poems that
really struck my attention was “When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer”. Unlike his other poems,
it did not directly speak of war and is very dissimilar from his other poems. I think that it
really exemplifies the life of a human back when he was living.


Although this might be one of Walt Whitman’s shortest poems at around ten lines, the substance
shown in this poem cannot be rightfully examined by length. The fact that Whitman can tell such an
interesting story in less then ten lines is astonishing. After a second read of this poem, I really
connected with Whitman and his assessment of the life in general. It helped out by giving me a
second aspect on life. Although it is about an astronomer, it covers a much larger spectrum of
life. The free-verse style of this poem fits well with the poem, because it feels like they both
are free flowing. The best feature of this poem is the fact that this story builds from the first
line to the last word. Another important aspect of this poem is the time and setting that it was
placed in, because of the time this portrays the language is so diverse from ours.


Science was an intriguing and developing field that was just blossoming as Walt Whitman grew old.
We can tell through various poems that Whitman was very interested in this mysterious subject. This
poem was one of the first of it’s time period to really survey science up close. Walt was a pioneer
at most things he did like free verse, and this poem further proved this point. Science was still a
controversial subject at the time, but he did not shy away from writing about it. Science is the
most important theme is this poem, because it clearly sets it apart from all of the over poems
written during this century.


Characters are the focal point of most stories and poems because they really give the readers
something to specifically connect to. In “When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer” there are two
main characters. There is a young man, who is also the narrator, who tells the story about how he
is basically behind the scenes making charts and graphs to help the astronomer. The astronomer is
famous and is giving a lecture, and it seems that the man gets angry in jealousy. I also think that
he is irked because he did a lot of the work, and he is getting little to no credit for it. I think
that he feels that he is underappreciated for his work. His anger is shown through the line where
he says “I became tired and sick.”


Poems are unique and creative and cannot be expressed fully without quality themes. In “When I
Heard the Learn'd Astronomer” themes like form, science, and characters play a colossal role in
development of this critically acclaimed poem. The form of free verse gave it a new look, even
though it was not a lengthy poem. Science gave it controversy because most of the beliefs were
still not accepted at the time. The characters of the young man and astronomer are essential to the
development of the poem. It shows the under appreciation and jealousy that sometimes comes out of
all humans. The themes of form, science, and characters all play immense roles in the development
of “When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer.”

   
   
   
   
   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Sports are an important figure in American culture for their abilities of competitiveness and
entertainment. Millions of American practice and play sports daily professionally or as amateurs.
Sport is described as “an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a
competitive nature”, by my Dictionary. They are thousands of sports relative to there respective
countries, and basketball especially. Basketball is often played by young individuals in America
with different rules that range from less foul calling, to fewer players in a lineup for the game.
I feel that the sport basketball has done a great job by literally revolutionizing the United
States. In my own opinion basketball is American because it shows everyone how we work together to
win, just like our nation does with several allies. It ties in well with the United States since;
its birth was here in Springfield, Massachusetts.


Basketball is an exceptionally special sport since there are numerous variations to it that are
used both locally and worldwide. Regulation games are played with two five player lineups that try
to outscore the other team to win the game. There are referees that regulate the game by calling
fouls and make appropriate calls when necessary. Teams often use time-outs to stop the flow of play
and change there lineups. Substitutions are acceptable but not necessary during the game.


To further my studies on the great game of basketball I surveyed several people to get there
opinions on it. I asked ten people if they knew what the game was, and 100 % of the people I asked
agreed that they not only knew what it was, but they have watched or played it. Three people said
that this sport was American because of the fact that it was born in Massachusetts. My father Kevin
Kiley also went as far to say that “It was born here, so it has to be American.” The rest agreed
that because it was on television so frequent that it must be American. When the individuals were
asked how is this sport any different in the rest of the world, six people concurred that we are
just better then the rest. It was often agreed that it helps you to get a better physical shape,
and that it defiantly united our country.


The NBA is one of the highest basketball organizations in the world, and it is an honor just to be
a bench player for any of the teams. To further my studies on basketball, I looked at an interview
with Dennis Rodman, one of the great but craziest basketball players of all-time. Rodman has
sported numerous hair colors, and helped lead the Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan to several world
championships about a decade ago. I thought the most unique part of the interview was where
teamwork was questioned with him and the other players on the team. The question was “What is it
like playing with great players like Michael Jordan?” His response was “On the court, me and
Michael are pretty calm and we can handle conversation. But as far as our lives go, I think he is
moving in one direction and I'm going in the other. I mean, he's goin' north,
I'm goin' south. And then you've got Scottie Pippen right in the middle. He's
sort of the equator.” I think this shows great teamwork. That brings up an interesting correlation
to how basketball is American also.


To get a better perspective on the sport at an amateur level, I asked one of my friends who played
for his local high school Rob Israel. He played at Randolph High school and is now a senior who
finished out his career this year. He said he started out playing basketball at age six for fun
with a few neighbor hood friends, and hopes to play at a collegiate level in the future. Rob said
that his favorite player was Michael Jordan. He even went on to proclaim that “Jordan is the best
player ever.” He told me later on that Americans are so good at this sport because it started out
here. Rob told me that it represents the United States because it shows are unity and how we need
to work as a team to win. When I asked about the future of basketball, all he would talk about was
Lebron James or “King James” as he likes to call him.


From Amateur play to Professional Basketball the case is no different; the media will always write
about this sport. There are many different sources you could go to like websites or television but
my favorite is ESPN. One of the most popular commentators/writers for it is Stephen A. Smith. He
is full of energy and always has something to say about the game. My personal favorite is Stuart
Scott who usually commentates on SportsCenter. Although lately his catchphrases are getting old,
back in the day he used to hilarious. It is also good to know; that he has stated various times
that he writes his own material for Basketball especially.


Another form of media that often uses the theme of Basketball, are novels. One of the most popular
novels/films in the past decade is “Coach Carter”, By Jasmine Jones. This story shows the struggle
of inner city kids that have to choose between basketball, school, and the street life. Another
great novel/film is “Glory Road”, By Don Haskins and Dan Wetzel. This shows a civil rights issue
that intertwines with a Basketball team. Most of the great literary references like novels are
often created into movies due to the increase of popularity.


Although basketball is often portrayed through various media forms like novels and movies, I do not
think it will be America’s sport for much longer. I think that this once primetime event, is slowly
on the way out. Basketball used to be a can’t miss television event, but now the playoff television
ratings are so low that I think that this sport is defiantly falling off the public radar. Although
my survey showed that people know what is, and agree that it is American, I still feel people are
fading to other sports. I think that basketball is an American sport, because of the teamwork that
it presents in games and the ability us Americans have to work together, that often translates to
how well the United States works with other countries.