Writing Portfolio: Five Essays on America
Contents

Origins

Nature

Humor

Literature

Sport

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I was young, maybe around the age of six or seven I recall my father telling me the story of my great-grandfather coming to America. I distinctly remember being in my grandparent's living room while my father proceeded to go on with the story. My father was telling me telling me the story as it had been told to him by his grandfather when he was younger. My father started the story off by "It all began in Galway, Ireland with a young man by the name of William Ronayne."

Being of such a young age my father had to explain that the person he was speaking of was not he, it was grandfather who had the same name as him. This proved to be of help considering I was unaware of this. "At this time William's family was just barely scraping by on the little food his parents could put on the table. the decision was made that William should venture off to America at the young age of sixteen. By William heading off to the land of oppertunity, he would easily be able to obtain a job in America where jobs were plentiful and the streets were paved with gold, or so he was told.

William had booked his passage to the States on one of the finest vessels known to man, the Titantic, although not first class by any means this was a monumental event for he and his family. The day the Titantic was scheduled to depart for the U.S. Williiam was running late, it just so happened that he missed the departure and was left behind. Little did Wlliam know that this was essential to his coming to America, as we all know now. It was a one week wait until William could gain passage to the States on another vessel.

Much to his displeasure and surprise America was not the ornate land it had been made out to be but beautiful all the same. When job hunting William was often greeted by signs that said 'Irish need not apply' this made him quite uneasy. For about one year William was miserable just barely getting by on the tough streets of Brooklyn with his steel workers job. There was really only one thing that William looked forward to, which was the dances held by the Irish community in a nearby church in Brooklyn. At the dances William would drown away his misery in his drinks with his cronies and socialize with Irish girls from the home counrty. At one dance William met up with one of his old girlfriends from Galway, there they re-united and went to get married and start a family in Boston."

As my father wraps up his accounts of my great-grandfather's voyage to America I begin to realize and appreciate the hardships and sacrafices my great-grandfather made. Without my great-grandfather coming here, I would probably not lead the same tpye of life I live today. By him coming to America it gave him and many generations to come, oppertunity and hope of some day making it big.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to Thoreau “Men think that it is essential that the Nation have commerce, and export ice, and talk through a telegraph, and ride thirty miles an hour.”  From this quote I can assume that Thoreau has taken into account that rapid advancements of man kind, but that he feels there is less and less attention being paid to the world’s natural beauty.  In the past two week I have noticed the details and intricacies of a whole world unto itself.  Everything that goes on in this green space between two roads reflects what goes on outside the boundaries of their curbsides.
     With my continual visits to the parkway a reoccurring theme, being almost thrown in my face by Mother Nature herself, was death.  All around me death was prevalent, I could see death in the damp, yellow leaves on the ground, the very same of leaves filled the air with the aroma of their death, as they were being burnt in an adjacent backyard.  On one particularly cool fall day, while sitting on a morbidly cold rock, I saw a funeral procession go by on a neighboring road.  I could see people’s faces in their cars, they had understandably sad; stern looks on their faces, these facial expressions connected with me, as I felt sympathetic for them and their loss.  While trying to relate the death of grass, leaves, and a squirrel on the parkway, with the death I witnessed in the funeral procession, things start to make more sense.  When death is looked at through nature’s perspective it somewhat rationalized.  Death is a vital component of the circle of life, without death our world would not function properly; therefore it becomes more understandable when we see one of our loved ones pass on, although we still feel the anguish.
     As I stand on the wet grass I can smell the fumes of gasoline in the air this reminds me of the staggering fact that our country is home to more automobiles that any other country in the world.  This represents the booming economy of our nation and our eagerness to push forward in technology.  From the landscape I can see the American flags hanging from most of my neighborhood households, these are all constant reminders of how the West Roxbury Parkway is true a representation of an American place in our society.
     All of my accounts and perceptions of went on at this landscape, over the span of two weeks, including death, are only a small portion of what had actually occurred, there is so much that goes on in nature that we are unable to detect.  What I have presented you with is an analysis of my thoughts and feelings, and what I was able to see and smell.  Although this could probably pass for the description of any other spot in New England, it is mine none-the-less, and it symbolizes a major step I have taken to delve into my surroundings and look past the exterior of nature and examine it with a deeper thought process.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On one typical Friday night, John and Dan are out at the pub having a good time, when all of the sudden Dan breaks up the conversation to take a call on his cell phone.  Normally John would be all right this, but this is the third time that this has happened tonight.  This was the last straw; John knew he had to speak his mind on this one.  Immediately after Dan finished his conversation John addresses the issue promptly.  
"Dude what's up with that" said John
"What?" replied Dan.
"The cell phone is really getting to me man, you've got to give it a rest, OK.
"Dude, it's just a harmless phone call," says Dan.
"Yeah right, but when one harmless phone call turns into like, ten it really pisses me off,"
"Alright then, take it easy," responds Dan. This did little to cool John off so he decided to blow off some more steam.
"Bye the way, what is the deal with you people and your cell phones?  Always with their exasperating little songs ringing over and over again, jeez that gets annoying!"
"Alright man, I get the point OK," responded Dan.
"No Dan I'm not sure you do," remarks John.  At this point Dan realizes he is in for an earful.
"Those aren't the only things that irritate me about people and their cell phones, half the time I swear that people plan for others to call them so that they can enhance their image in front of others by answering their phone.  God! Some times I just want to take their ornate little phones and smash them on the ground, and then see who they want to insult by breaking off a conversation to take a stupid little call!"
"Look man if this is about me taking that call earlier, then I'm sorry alright," said Dan.
"Naw man I just needed to vent a little, I feel a lot better now, thanks for letting me get that off my chest."
"That's cool man I understand."  Moments later Dan took a call on his cell phone much to the displeasure of John.  Dan never finished that call, nor does he own a cell phone, except what's left of the one he had.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     In the peom "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer," by Walt Whitman, he elegantly states his feelings on the scientific viewpoints and perspectives on nature.  In this poem the  transcendentalist viewpoints of Whitman allow us to reevaluat our outlook on nature and the world.  Walt Whitman was a New York native who made ends form printing jobs and newspaper writings.  Later on in his mid twenties Whiatman traveled across the country to New Orleans, observing the diversity of America's landscapes and people.  Subsequently we see his his strong transcendentalist ideas.


         The strongest most prevalent characteristics of the "Learn'd Astronomer" are the underlying roots of transcendentalism that Whitman uses.  Whitman does this masterfully by stating that he is growing "tired and sick" as he is being presented facts, numobers and charts on the stars.  Whitman makes it obvious that he would much rather appreciate the stars for their splendor and their splendor only.  From this we can assume that Whitman is the very much in touch with mother earth and all that has spawned from it.


         Whitman uses parallelism flawlessly in this poem.  He starts each of the first four stanzas with "When."  As Whitman uses parallelism with execution he actually walks the reader through his experience.  In the fifth stanza Whitman presents us with the outcome of his experience, "How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick."  By using this parallelism Whitman explains to us his unhappiness with being presented scientific facts on nature, he would much rather appreciate the stars for their natural beauty.


         Throughout this poem we see Whitman's free verse style, which has niether rhyme nor rythme.  Though this peom does not eattract us with its beat, fit does help the reader to become more closely acquainted with Whitman as a poet.  The free verse in this poem allows us to see Whitman's true love for nature and all of ts qualities.
     

   One of Whitman's true purposes in life was to absorb and comprehend everything that he observed.  This is truly evident when whitman says "I wander'd off by myself ,  In the mystical moist night air."  This quote shows us Whitman's ability to assess his suroundings and present them to the reader.  Whitman's abilty to comprehend his surroundings enhances the quality of reading for the reader, and allows us to grasp the full idea of his experience.


         "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer" is an extrordinary poem because it forces the reader to actually think while reading, rather than just monotonously skim through the poem.  While reading the poem the reader must think to his/her self to reevaluate thier perspective on nature.  Do I look at nature as I would in a biology class or as I would in an art class?  Whitman does not force upon the reader a "corect way" to view nature, rather he allows us to think for ourselves, leaving  his ideas in the poem as an example perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The history of the sport of bowling can be traced as far back as 5200B.C., archaeologists discovered archaic forms of bowling pins and balls in the grave of an Egyptian child. (Web site www.icubed.com)  It wasn’t until the early 1600’s when the Dutch introduced the sport to Americans, when it was called Dutch pins, in what is now called New York City.  To this day there is still a part of NYC that is called “Bowling Green,” hence the name of the college.  
     The definition of the word “sport” in the minds of many Americans would be along the lines of; a game that can be played competitively.  According to that definition bowling would definitely be categorized as a sport.  Ed Quo is living proof that this sport is played competitively; he did it for a living.  In 1992 he won the National singles championship.  This attests to the seriousness that this sport is taken with, Ed and many other individuals have dedicated their lives to the game of bowling.   Though Ed is now retired he still enjoys bowling for fun, he says, “No matter how old I get, I will never lose the passion for the game that has been embedded deep inside me.”  (Found in interview by Bob Cosgrove for NCABA Bowling Magazine).  Words like these coming from such a renowned figure in bowling attests to the popularity and importance the game has for many Americans.
     Not only are professional bowlers responsible for the immense competition of the bowling, it is also the people who cover the sport that focus so much attention on the game itself.  People such as Larry Mathews, the “Bowling Professor,” who have devoted their lives to covering the sport of bowling for several major magazines such as Bowler’s Journal and California Bowling World.  “It’s guys like me, former pros, who just can’t get enough of the game, whether it be teaching or as a spectator, I guess I’m just a junkie.”  (Larry Mathews quoted from “about me” section of his Website)  It is analysts of the game who keep the buzz for the game alive around and keep drawing in new fans.  This holds true for almost all major sports played in America, beat writers help keep the hype around the game.
     There are many people around the world who do not bowl professionally yet they can still have a good time bowling with friends or in a corporate league.  My uncle Jack, is a person who enjoys getting out to the bowling alley and having good time, “It’s a place where I can relieve some of my stress, and sometimes blow off a little steam if I’m in a bad mood”, he says.  In my conversation with my Uncle I come to realize that the game of bowling has been adopted by America as one of our primary recreational sports.  Long ago bowling was just a game, simple as that.  Not until the game was brought to America did it accompany the bowling alley.  It took America to associate the food, refreshments, and video arcades with the game itself.  Bowling alleys have become part of American pop culture, all of us can name at least one movie or TV show where we have seen the couple, or group of friends go out to the bowling alley.
     The popularity of bowling says a lot about America.  Many of the exterior qualities of the game represent what Americans like, such as the score of bowling matches, and the length of the lanes they both are big, Americans are characteristically known for being fond of big things.  The crash of when the ball hits the pins says as Americans we like a crash or any kind of collision or explosion, which is prevalent in the majority of the highest grossing movies in America.  America has taken a liking to the sport of bowling, which has been brought to us from a different culture, yet, that embodies what America is, a melting pot of cultures all of which make up our beautiful country.