Writing Portfolio: Five Essays on America


The Missing Petals






























                    The Champion of The Family

        I enjoy watching professional boxing.  Now I have overheard stories during family parties from the older adult’s conversations.  They would discuss mostly trivial matters and I normally wouldn’t be paying attention but once I heard them talking about an old boxer that was in our family.  The name I heard was Kid Doyle.  One night my Dad and I were watching boxing on ESPN and I decided to ask him if we had a boxer in the family?
        My father answered yes we had a boxer in the family but it was a long time ago.  He said it was so long ago that our family was still in Ireland.  The boxer’s name was Battling Kid Doyle my great, great, great, great, great grandfather.  He boxed in the nineteenth century back before boxing gloves.  Back then they boxed bare knuckle, like real men.  Boxing that long ago was like a street fight with little rules and lots of betting it was a popular sport in Ireland.  Battling Kid Doyle was a talented fighter.  He boxed middleweight and would absolutely destroy his opponents.  He kept winning and winning and soon he got a shot for the Boxing Title of Ireland.  He beat his opponent and became the first and only member of my family to be a Boxing Champion of Ireland.  
        As I heard my father telling me this story it made me think of a few things.  The first thing I thought of was that my great, great, great, great, great, grandfather’s life must have been tough always fighting to make a living.  He must also have been exceptionally tough man to his live his life like this.  Even though I don’t know much about his life or what he looked like I can imagine the fame and glory he must have felt after winning the title.  I wondered what he did that night after he won the title did he have a party, or was the doctor taking care of him because of injuries.  A million thoughts ran through my head of how unbelievable his life must have been. Would his name be the talk in the pubs or did his fights draw extra large crowds, or was he a normal man who had a God given talent to fight.  All I could do is imagine.  I didn’t know this man at all but I felt proud of him even though he boxed like two hundred years ago.  I personally felt like dropping everything to go box like he did.  As my father watched the fight that night I couldn’t help but wonder if Kid Doyle could beat the fighters of today.  
















The Missing Petals

        On a main road, in a large town, in a visual spot, lies a wooded bush with white petals.  Ralph Emerson wrote “I find something more dear and connate then in the streets or villages.  In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.”  On this main road, in this large town, I found my own piece of nature to call my own.  Everyday day when I drove to school and everyday when I drove home from school I saw this bush that no one else seemed to notice.  I decided to watch it and write about it and to call it mine.  No else would and no one else seemed to know it even existed.
        Here is this lonely piece of nature and it’s all mine.  It’s an elegant bush with precious white petals that extend off of long wooden branches that are quite brittle, and next to it is a much larger towering tree.  Adjacent to both the bush and the tree lies a construction site building homes for future Walpolians.  All this construction has crept closer and closer but has not touched the bush.  An asphalt road was paved less than ten feet away, but no one bothered to pave over the bush, yet almost all of the other bushes and grass around the bush had been vanquished for this new road.  It’s remained untouched, and unharmed, and anonymous to the hundred of cars, pedestrians, and construction workers from the town of Walpole who travel the road.  Little spots of God’s presence, like a precious bush in today’s society go unnoticed as if it were the wind something that you can’t even see. We seem to be more involved in making money and buying the most expensive and gorgeous things, rather then taking the time out to find them in nature, which has no cost at all.  We rush to work and miss the bush, we rush home to dinner, and miss the bush, we rush out to a friends house and the bush, we miss the great things in life because we don’t take time out of our lives to look at the world around us. We seem to always be in a rush, missing the little things that count the most.  A beautiful object in nature is priceless, but costs’ nothing.  
        Everyday the bush has an overshadowing figure that hunches over it.  This overshadowing figure is a much larger tree.  This tree cast a shadow over the bush all the time.  On sunny days there it is, on cloudy days there it is, no matter what kind of the day shadow is still there.  The bush is America and this shadow is the rest of the world watching over the bush.  The bush can’t do anything without this shadow not being there, like the US can’t do anything without the world seeing it.  If the US has a problem the world knows it.  If petals fall off the bush they fall onto the roots of the tree.  If an action happens in the US the world knows right away.  Anything effecting the US effects the rest of the world.  The tree is much larger, stern, tough, and its’ braches more spread out.  
        The world is much larger, has more problems, is a hard a place live and is very much un-loyal to any of the countries but its own.  The bush is enchanting and the branches are so close they’re almost unified. The US is marvelous place to live, and we are so patriotic and are as together as the tread of my shirt that it makes the country the greatest place in the world.  Let’s say a limb falls off the tree.  Who do you think is there to catch it?  The bush catches it like all of the other problems in the world the US is there to solve the problem.  If the bush isn’t there to catch the limbs they begin to fall off one by one and the tree is bare, and will eventually die.  If the US weren’t there to help out all the global problems the world would soon collapse and self-destruct.  My bush is American.        


















      It was a typical morning in the CM cafeteria nothing unusual occurring.  The normal things were occurring people harassing each other, breakfast eating, and homework.  Yes even though homework is suppose to be done at home it's still done in the café.  People even copy homework.  Yes in this Catholic school such travesties as copying occurs.  It's amazing that such things occur like in Mike and John's case.
       Hey John what's up? Said Mike.
        Nothin much, you?' Said John.
        You know the same old stuff.  Hey, I was wondering if you did the Math homework?   I didn't feel like doin it, I can't stand the teacher.'  Said Mike.
       No, man I didn't do it, I forgot we had any.  Why was it tough?'  Said John.
       No it wasn't hard.   I just didn't feel like doin it.  Let me get yours I know you did it.'  Replied Mike.  
       Dude, I forgot we had any.'  Said John
       See, no you didn't cause I watched you write it down in your little assignment notebook.  You not doing homework is like the sun not coming up in the morning.  You live for school.  Just give me the homework.'  Said an angry Mike.  
       You're right I did it but only a little, I didn't get it.'  Said John.
       You're number three in the entire grade so I know you understand the homework it's probably easy to you, you could probably teach the class.  So come on and let me get the homework.'  Said Mike.
       No, man really I didn't get it.'  Replied John
       Yes you did and you got them all right.'  Said Mike.
       The homework's only half done.'  Said John.
       No it's all done.'   Said mike.
         "No seriously it's only half done.  I have a study third period.'  Said John
       No you don't we have a class then moron, stop being a jerk and give me the homework.'  Said Mike.
       The homework's in my locker.'  Said John finally confessing.  
       But you did it right?'  Said Mike
       It's in my locker.  We have like eight minutes before we got up to homeroom.  I don't feel like going up and getting it.'  Said John.
       You've got to be kidding all this time arguing, when all you had to is go up and get.  You're unbelievable.  That was such a jerk move.  Thanks a lot.'  Replied Mike.




















      The poem Grass by Carl Sandburg is a strikingly deep poem in the eleven lines that it has.  Sandburg hits on a point that concerns everybody no matter age, race, where you live, or what you believe.  The point is we mustn’t forget our past or we may be doomed to repeat it.  Sandburg also shows us how we as a society show no concern for others and are selfish.  Sandburg was in the army and he himself has seen war first hand, so it is only fair that he uses examples from battles to tell us we can’t forget our past.  

        Sandburg purposely contradicts himself about how we as the readers can look at life loss as no big deal.   Sandburg himself saw the awful things war does and the thousands of men’s lives that are lost as a result of it.  Sandburg uses previous wars to illustrate his point.  Sandburg writes:

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work-
I am the grass; I cover all.

At the time when they occurred Waterloo and Austerlitz were major battles when most Europe was at war against the Napoleon lead French.  At Austerlitz the French were outnumbered and won.  At Waterloo the European nations were outnumbered and won.  Both battles suffered great casualties on both sides.  I look at the bodies as being dust and the grass being a carpet.  In some of our houses to get rid of the dust we may sweep it under the carpet.  The dust is forgotten like the lives of the many men who died fighting for their countries.  The grass covers them their faces, bodies, and spirit, as the carpet covers the dust.  Dying for the cause of preventing world domination is bad enough but to die and have another man like Hitler try it again, would make me feel like I died for nothing.    

        Sandburg writes his poem to tell us as Americans that we are selfish and only care about what is good for us.  How many us think about our past and try to learn from it?  Sandburg again writes about battles during a war.  This time it hits a little close to home when he mentions the Civil War and World War One.  Sandburg writes:

        And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under me and let me work.
Two years, ten years and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?

That is a reality that people don’t even know where the battlefield of Gettysburg is or what happen at Gettysburg.  That battle signifies the end slavery.  Sandburg shows in a way the essence of Americans that we are only concerned with what effects us.  Since slavery didn’t effect the majority or rich (whites) it took hundreds of years to finally end.  World War One saw many Americans die but I bet if you asked an average American what happened at the battle of Ypres or Verdun they would have no idea because they weren’t there, it made no difference in their lives. If those battles were lost today’s society would be totally different and then those ignorant people who didn’t care would care quickly.  It is the truth that Americans are selfish and Sandburg illustrates that.

        Sandburg shows that the past is forgotten.  Sandburg named five major battles in the history of the world and many had similarities in common.  If people learned from our Civil War or the battle of Waterloo, Hitler would have never began his assault of the Jews in Europe.  Napoleon like Hitler tried to control all of Europe and was stopped. The U.S. used slavery like the Nazi’s used concentration camps, to help the economy prosper.  The US split up families, beat, and forced the Africans to work.  The Nazi’s split up Jewish families, had labor camps, and massacred 6 million Jews for nothing, but to prove they were a better race.  How is anybody better than anyone else?  Sandburg’s poem is deep if you realize that millions of people died due to the ignorance of not learning or caring about the past.

        Sandburg’s poem is the essence of American culture of selfishness.  We need to help each other out more and care more about our society. When we start caring for each other society as a whole will improve.  The poem also brings the sad feeling that we did repeat the evils of our past when wars were fought twice for the same reasons.  Sandburg it talking to all of us in Grass.        























      Hacky Sack is a wonderful game that challenges your foot skills along with your creativity.  To me a sport is some type of physical activity that challenges some part of you.  Hacky Sack does just that, it challenges you to keep up a small bag filled with little beads.  Hacky Sack was created by a man recovering from knee surgery and his friend.  In 1972 these two men, John Stalberger, and Mike Marshall, created the craze of hacky sack in Oregon City, Oregon (Bellis).  This new game created in the U.S. could be played by anyone.  This game was created to help a person recover is what makes it American.  This simple little bag is a symbol of all Americans that we strive to improve things even in the littlest of ways.  That little bag allowed John to recuperate from his knee surgery properly.
        Rick Reese, a.k.a. Rippin Rick Reese, is a veteran professional hacky sack player.  Reese is a very successful player as well being crowned the Worlds Single Champion in 1998 among many others.  Reese has been playing since his youth and prides himself on freestyling (creatively kicking the hacky sack around).  When asked about freestyling Reese responded by saying “I like freestyle because you can it pretty much anywhere and get a big group of people watching you play.  To me there’s more satisfaction doing that.” Hacky sack is Reese’s true love and he has a passion for the sport.  To get to the level he is at today Reese did one thing, he practiced.  Reese said “I just practiced and practiced by myself.  I had played like 3-4 hours a day, everyday.  I was addicted to it.”  Practicing is how Reese made his game perfect.  Reese is also is a person dedicated to promoting the sport that gets little attention. He’s a member of the elite Big Add Posse, which are the best and most creative people in the sport.  Inventing new moves is always something that takes creativity and style and Reese is up to the challenge of inventing several moves.  A serious believer that the sport needs to grow he said, “If I won the lottery I’d put on the biggest tournament ever.” (Russel) Reese is one the best hacky sack players in the world.  
        Amateur players are located across the globe.  It just so happens that most recreational players are amateurs.  Many amateurs live in the wonderful town of Walpole.  One player in particular, I had the pleasure of discussing the fine game of hacky sack with.  The player’s name is Ian.  I asked Ian a few simple questions.  Ian said “I like the sport because it’s fun.’’  When I asked him how often he plays a week his response was “I don’t know, mostly just when I’m board.”  Living in the town of Walpole that must be quite often.  Ian said “I like freestyling in a large group just kicking the hacky around.  That’s when it’s the most fun.” I asked Ian what is the toughest part of the sport Ian responded “There’s parts to the sport?  I just kick it, so I guess the kicking part is hard sometimes.”  Next I asked Ian if this could be America’s new favorite pastime, he said “No.”(Doyle)  Ian is a true amateur.
        People like Steve Golberg have spent their lives playing hacky sack at the amateur level.  Steve just loves to play hacky sack.  Steve is the founder of the Stanford Footbag Club.  This club is one the biggest clubs in the country along with the second University club in the world.  They also host one the biggest tournaments in the world, The Western Regional Footbag Competition.  They even meet every Tuesdays to practice their skills at Stanford.  Steve has a career in the business world but his true passion is promoting and playing the sport.  Steve is the Executive Director of International Footbag Players Association Inc.  Steve describes himself as “I am a serious footbag fan.”  He says his main goal is “To help change footbag’s reputation and highlight the athleticism of this competitive sport I play and love.” (Goldberg)  Steve is bold man that helps promote such a downplayed sport.
        Hacky Sack has its followers just as any other sports.  Hacky Sack has competitions, world championships, and people who play for fun.  The fact that it isn’t the most popular sport or gets much recognition says a lot about our society.  It says that in this day and age only high scoring extreme sports get the big audiences.  Hacky sack can be exciting and great to watch we just need to get people watching it more.  I believe Hacky Sack can be a main stream sport if more is done to promote the sport.  The only problem is the money it takes to promote something.  People like Golberg or Reese can’t do it themselves they need money.  I think Hacky Sack needs that one little break and it could be huge.  I think it’s going to take a very important figure in society to push hacky sack.  That person could even be an athlete in another sport and if the news catches them playing it, that could be the spark that lights the hacky sack fire.  That little exposure could be huge to the hacky sack nation.  Hacky Sack is a sport that can be just as competitive as football or baseball we just need to give it time and money.  Let’s give Hacky Sack a chance.