Writing Portfolio: Five Essays on America






















It was only a year ago when I found out about the interesting story of my great- grandparents, Rico and Adele Bernazzani. The way this story was happened to be told was, my family and I were attending our family reunion. My father started a conversation with one of his cousins about their grandparents. I was near by and since I never heard any stories about them I joined in on the conversation.

My father knew more about them when they moved to Forest Hills, but it was my Uncle Jerry who knew the stories of when they lived in the north end. They got into one story that caught my attention very quickly when I heard the word "Mafia" brought up. From there this is how I learned of this very interesting story. It all started when my great-great-grandparents immigrated from Italy to Boston, and settled in the north end, around the 1820s. I don't know their names, nor do I know anything about them. The reason why they settled there was because most of the Italian immigrants were going there. In order to run a fruit stand or a corner type store you had to pay money to the "Black Hand", or what we call today the Mafia. When they settled there they started up a fruit stand and like everybody else did they paid what they had to the Black Hand.

Then came my great-grandparents, Rico and Adele Bernazzani. They were young at the time when their parents ran the fruit stands but they were still able to help out. Rico worked with construction, which was something that you didn't have to make payments for because it wasn't one of the things the Black Hand controlled. Adele just helped out her parents with selling the fruit on the corner. This went on until Rico and Adele got married. After a while of staying in the north end they decided to move to the area of Forest Hills.

There they were able to get away from paying such payments to the Black Hand. Rico was able to find a construction company to work for and Adele stayed home with the children. They were happy now and they didn't have to worry about saving extra money to pay off the Black Hand. I find them to have great courage, they were able to just pick up what they had and move to some place where they had no idea if they would able to find work or a nice home. This story not only effected my great-grandparents and other Italian immigrants, but it also can effect Americans today. The way it can do this is, it shows how the Mafia had power over law abiding Italian immigrants or the other people living in the north end at the time, much like it has in this day and age. Americans today can look back on the struggles some of these immigrants took just to settle down and run a business.

I think if people read about this they will understand that we are lucky we don't have to deal with some of these problems today. Also this story effects me in a big way. I am able to look back on this story and use it as a model for how I should act in a time where I have to make some smart decisions. The struggles my great-grandparents went through and the stories behind them are some of the most interesting stories I have ever heard. Looking back on what they did I feel proud to be a Bernazzani and to be apart of this family. I hope in the future that I will be able to hear more stories about Rico and Adele, there stories have something about them that makes me feel special. Since I've heard this story it has influenced me to work harder and to not complain about going to work only three times a week knowing what Rico and Adele had to go through.













Trees are just another element of our everyday lives, we don't really notice them too much. Of course you notice the ones that hang over your house, or the ones that look like they are going to fall over when the next gust of wind comes around, without thinking you know you won't find beauty in those trees or in any trees for that matter, I was proved wrong, though. Through all that time when I thought trees just took up space and had no beauty in them there was a little evergreen tree sitting in my backyard filled with beauty. Emerson said," Nature always wears the colors of the spirit." In the last few weeks when I observed the tree Emerson's quote was proven right by the tree, only sticking three feet out of the ground. Who would have thought a simple tree could reflect the way you felt?

     The tree often looks alone and off by itself, maybe because of the fact that it is in the corner of my backyard and the sunlight doesn't always make it over there. The only time I can think of another human interacting with the tree besides me would be when I
was seven years old, that was when my grandfather planted it. I told my family about the tree and how it made me feel, of course I was made fun of by my brothers, my parents didn't laugh they just looked at me with a weird smirk on their face like I was going nuts.


     I really don't think anyone can understand the things I was able to see by looking at the tree, and if I tried explaining it to them they would probably send me away. I told my father about how he made a slice in the tree when he was mowing the lawn and how he
just kept on going without looking at the tree, and his reply was, "That tree is still there."

     So right there I knew no one interacted with the tree except for the birds, squirrels, and my next door neighbor's cats. When I watched the animals interact with it, that showed me that this tree really serves a purpose, and that it isn't just taking up space.

     There is no doubt in my mind that this tree is an American one. The tree is strong,  its roots dug deep into the ground. It stands tall among everything else in my backyard even though it only stands at three feet tall. Its branches are short and thick but still move
beautifully through the cool autumn breeze. When the sun shines upon it the complexion it gives off can brighten your day in a matter of minutes. It stands abroad like a soldier in front of its general, distinguishing it from any other tree that stands in my backyard.

     When watching the tree everything else around me kind of just shuts down and its just me and the tree. If it was a day without sun the tree would look lonely and somewhat dead, I didn't like those days because after watching the tree it would make me tired and I wouldn't feel like doing much, I usually napped on those days. If it was sunny and a nice day out, and the sun shined upon the tree it would give off this great color that was a beautiful site to watch. It gave of a bright green color with a shade of yellow in it, making my eyes widen when I looked at it, I liked those days.

     I now know that if you actually take your time to look at something that doesn't really appeal to you at first, you can take something away from it. Perhaps a good experience, I don't know. I know I had a good experience looking at the tree in my backyard, it has opened things up to me that I haven't noticed before. I'm thankful that I took the time to look at a true American spot.














I never really saw the big deal in who could hold onto the remote control. It's just something that I never wasted my time with fighting over. In my house it's a different story, my brothers constantly fight over who can hold onto the remote. I honestly think that they enjoy fighting over it, even though if you were to witness one of these fights you wouldn't think that because they get so mad over it. Then when one of them finally gets it the other one is so mad, that he will put it on the channel that he wants and then covers the cable box with something so that you can't change the channel with the remote. Once that happens another fight breaks out. All three of my brothers are older than I, but when I watch one of these fights I kind of feel good about myself because it makes me look older than them. They look like a couple of five year olds fighting over a toy they all want to play with, and it makes you think, how can a little rectangular object cause a twenty-three, twenty-one, and nineteen year old act like such babies. One of these fights occurred the other day when I came home from school.

Adam is my nineteen year old brother and he was just lying on one of the couches watching some movie that was on T.V. Downstairs came Anthony who is twenty-one. "Adam give me the remote," Anthony said.

"No dude I've been down here for like the whole day," Adam said.

"Adam I swear to God you better give me the remote," Anthony yelled out.

Adam cried,"No you do this everytime, I'll be in the middle of watching a movie and you come in and change it, no I'm not giving it to you!"

"I'll give you three seconds to give it up or I'm going to smack you, steal the remote, and steal your seat on the couch," Anthony explained.

"No, not giving it to ya," Adam said.

"One," Anthony started.

Adam yelled,"Anthony, no!"

"Two," Anthony continued.

"I've been down here the whole time," Adam said.

"Three," Anthony finished.

"Dad!Dad!" Adam yelled.

"Ha ha ha ha, he isn't home," Anthony laughed.

That is when the fight breaks out, and continues for about an hour, and it never gets settled because either one will try and cover the cable box with something. It makes no sense what so ever to fight over it because after they are done fighting the person who has the remote can't enjoy the show he wanted to watch because he is either too tired from fighting or whatever he wanted to watch probably ended while he was fighting. I just stay out of it because nothing gets solved and you usually leave the fight with some part of your body hurting. Whether it be the pinches on your arms or the Charlie horses it's just not worth it.

















The poem, "The Brain-is Wider Than the Sky-," is a great depiction of what the
boundaries are for our own minds. The poet, knew exactly what she wanted to accomplish
when writing this poem. She wrote this poem so that it would make us think about the
limits our of minds and that is exactly what she does. The way she goes about doing this is
how she uses metaphors to show how powerful our minds are. Throughout most of her
work she brilliantly uses imagery to add a little edge to each of her poems, especially in
this one. If there were more poems like this written who knows what kind of reviews they
would receive.
In order for her poems to work she made the reader think about every single bit of
detail they read. With her excellent choice of words and by the way she constructs
metaphors Emily Dickinson could turn something with no meaning at all into something
that had endless meaning to it. This was just another way she would make the reader think
about her work. "The Brain is deeper than the sea-," is one of these instances where a lot
of thought is needed to be put into it to figure out what the quotes true meaning is. What I
thought she meant by this was that our mind or thought process is endless and it never
stops, and sometimes you have to search through it like your searching for treasure in an
endless sea, but you should never give up because whatever your looking for it is in there
you just don't know it.
The factor that makes most people think in this poem is how she uses imagery.
When she does this it makes it a lot easier on the reader because it helps them understand
it more because through her words they can form a picture in their mind and from that
they can figure out what she means. "The Brain-is wider than the Sky-," is probably the
best quote in the story that shows this. That is the first line in the poem, too so right away
the reader is thinking. From that quote the picture I tried painting in my head was that
there are no limits or any boundaries that can stop us from thinking, nothing is closed off it
just keeps on going, just like the sky. Sure there are things that get in the way of our
thought process that make things harder on us and make things not look so good, just like
the sky. For instance, storms come and go, and large dark clouds cover up its beauty but
those are things you just have to overcome.
At the end of the poem Emily Dickinson throws a curve ball, she brings religion
into the poem making us think even more. I don't know if she did it intentionally or
whether she just felt it would go right, but it definitely takes the poem to a whole new
level. "The Brain is just the weight of God-," this can be interpreted into many different
ideas. This quote though is much stronger than the others, this metaphor she uses beats
out any other one that is in this poem. To bring God into some what of a simple poem is
taking a big risk, but the result is good because it causes the reader to think strongly about
it. What I thought she was trying to say by this is that the brain is a gift given to us by
God, just like everything we were born with his a gift from Him. The brain, though is far
more important than any other gift, that metaphor is saying that the brain is apiece of God
and it is the judgment that we use in our everyday lives.
With her brilliantly writing skills, excellent use of metaphors, and unending
imagination Emily Dickinson is able to make any person who reads this poem think strong
and hard about the meanings of each line. Away from the meaning of the poem, the poem
itself is set up into three stanzas, four lines in each of them. In each stanza she makes the
second and fourth lines rhyme giving the poem a nice touch. Without imagination where
would we be today, and this poem without imagination I could tell you would be nowhere.

















   Can you think of something better to do than to sit down, relax, and watch a bone
crushing game of rugby? Rugby can be dated all the way back to 1823, and was even
played before that. We can't give the credit to the United States for inventing this game, it
arose in Europe. To me sport is a competition where someone puts forth an effort, or
physical activity in order to win something. The sport always results in a winner or a loser
and that is usually decided by your performance. Rugby without a doubt in my mind fits
my description of sport. My opinion is, Rugby is up there with the top three most physical
sports. For someone that doesn't know too much about it, it can be described as a mix
between basketball, ice hockey, soccer, and football.(Nevin) Non stop action the whole
time with unbelievable hits, bruises, broken bones, and headaches gets me excited just
thinking about it. It upsets me that as great of a game rugby is it hasn't totally been
adopted by Americans. I'm not saying that there is absolutely no one in America who has
played it because there are leagues and people do play it, but it is not nearly as popular as
the mainstream sports are.      
     The requirements of speed of thought, mental toughness, and the ability to takes
hits of incredible ferocity, let people know how this game is made only for battle hardened
professionals.(Pow) Gareth Rees is a professional rugby player that comes from Canada.
Rugby is starting to build up its popularity in Canada more and more. Rees is thirty-two
years old and is the captain of the national rugby team. He has not only impressed people
with his skills but the fact that he is the first man to compete in four straight Rugby World
Cups.(Deacon) What Rees wants to happen is for the sport to blow up and spread like
crazy in Canada because he said," It's funny, we don't get much recognition in Canada, but
some of us are household names over there," talking about in Europe. It's always good to
feel well known in your own country and I can see where he is coming from when he says
he wants the popularity to grow in Canada.
     There are other people in the world that are a lot like Gareth Rees who play rugby,
except for the fact that they treat rugby as a hobby, these people are called amateurs.
Amateurs are the ones that keep the sport going but aren't dedicated to it, they play when
they are off work or have free time. I am very lucky because my Uncle Bobby fits the
description of an amateur rugby player. He played through college and continued to play
in men's leagues on the weekends because he just couldn't give it up. When I asked him
why he liked the sport he answered," Running full speed and knocking guys on their butts
was something I loved doing, and I was good at it too, so that pretty much sums up why I
loved playing." He is getting too old to play now, but he wishes he was still in college
because that was something he will never forget.
     Sports are not just made up of players, the people who write about them play a big
role. These are the people who contribute to the increase in popularity of a certain sport
by writing good things about it. A man much like that is Tony Collins. Tony Collins wrote
the book, Rugby's Great Split: Class, Culture, and the Origins of Rugby League Football.
This book is about the history of the sport, Collins provides even those familiar with the
general history of the split with great details and shocking comments. One great quote that
he says that sums it all is," That ultimately right would prevail and that their game would
be recognized in all its superiority what it truly was: the greatest game of all." That quote
shows you that there are people in the world that love this sport and he couldn't have said
it better right there.
     Rugby's non stop action makes it one of the most exciting sports to watch today.
What makes this sport American is simply by the people involved in it. The men who play
this in America are apart of the regular American working class, the " True Americans,"
they aren't signed to million dollar contracts they are just like everyone else. The
popularity of rugby in the United States isn't that big, but for the ones that do play it, that
watch it, and that write about it, they are the ones that make up that small but increasing
number of Americans involved in the sport. Rugby has a little bit of everything in it so
anyone can find something they like about it by just watching one game. It didn't take me
long to find out what I liked about it, the broken bones and bloody bodies.