Writing Portfolio: Five Essays on America

















Human Temptations

I was nervously sitting in the floor master’s office on a Friday afternoon. I was waiting for the floor master, Mr. Pratt, to lay his academic discipline on me for cutting class. Today, I was supposed to take a huge English exam.

Last night I didn’t study, so naturally I had no intention of taking the exam. My friends told me that I should just skip class and take the test the next day so therefore I opted to cut class and leave school early since English was my last class. However on my way out, Ms. Montez caught me and brought me to Mr. Pratt. So there I was. I had already been questioned by Mr. Pratt and know he returned. I was sentenced to five days in detention. He warned me that if I ever cut class again, the penalty would be a lot worse. Since I didn’t have to start my detentions until tomorrow, I quickly ran to my locker to get my books and after out to the bus.

“Hey Brian”, I called, “I got caught leaving school. Pratt gave me five days.”

Brian replied, “Wow, Mark that’s terrible!”

I sat there on by myself for the remainder of the ride contemplating exactly how my dad would react when I got home. I knew that he would be mad, but most of all he would be disappointed. I admit that I was scared to go home. I got off the bus at my stop and walked up the hill to my house with my neighbor, Pat. I took a deep breath and slumped up the front stairs of my house and into the kitchen where my father patiently awaited me. I could tell that by the way he looked at me, I was in for something bad. Mr. Pratt had called my house after I left his office to tell my dad what had happened. Therefore my dad was aware of me cutting class.

“Sit down, Mark” my father said. I sat down glumly and listened to what he had to say. He asked, “Did I ever tell you the story about when I cut school?”

I replied, “No, you didn’t.”

“Well, Mark”, he continued, “I was walking to St. Augustine in South Boston. I was in first grade and I was only seven years old. It was a beautiful day out. As I walked down the street I noticed a construction site. I suppose that they were building a new house, but I couldn't tell because it was to early in the process. I was fascinated by all the machines and how they worked. I thought that I would just take a peek around and then continue on to school. I marveled at the size of the bulldozer and the trucks. I was so distracted that when I came to my senses, I though that I had spent the entire day there. I thought that for sure school was out, so I headed home, sad to be leaving my construction site. I arrived home and I walked into the kitchen where my father was. I greeted him with a friendly ‘Good Afternoon.’ But he just sat there quietly and said nothing. Then I noticed that none of my siblings were home and I looked at the clock to see if I was early.

"To my surprise it was only 9:30. I had been gone for only two hours, not the entire day. He marched me right out the door and straight to school and said that we would talk later.”

“Mark, I don’t know exactly why you didn’t go to class today. However, I do know that sometimes temptations are to strong hold back and ignore," my dad concluded. He sent me off to my room to do my homework and said that we would talk more at suppertime.

I believe that it is only human nature to make the wrong decisions. I think that no matter how hard people may try to do the right thing, there is always the little devil over our shoulder tempting us to do wrong. In my case, I was tempted by peer pressure. My other friends told me to cut class; therefore I thought that I had to. I thought that skipping class was the cool thing to do. In my father’s case, he was tempted by mere childish curiosity. Even in the Bible, Eve was tempted by her curiosity to eat the apple from the tree from which God commanded her not to eat.

The question remains, how do we as people attempt to avoid these distractions and temptations that seem so inevitable, so unavoidable? We must tell ourselves that we will do the right thing. We must plan out ahead of time exactly what we will do in these situations. Therefore, when we are faced with them, there is no thought into what to do; what is right or wrong; we know what is right, and we just do it.














Most people leave home everyday and go to work, and come home from work everyday from work.  They never miss the familiar warm look that their house gives off; they see it everytime they walk by.  They enjoy every aspect of their home such as the door, the stairway, the garden, and the backyard. Each of these triggers their own memories of family and friends. Thats what makes a house so homely. Thoreau once said, "A familiar name cannot make a man less strange to me." Aspects of a house make the house less strange and more familiar. However I found a place that most people seldom find attractive or important.  It is a place where most people go everyday no matter what.  A place that can offer just the same amount of memories that a backyard or a doorway can offer.  This place is my driveway!

I sat there on the cold black ashpalt surface of my driveway.  it was really windy out and I was hugging myself to keep warm.  My cat was chasing a bird in the yard next to me.  The bird was to quick and flew up into a tree.  My eyes followed the bird and the bright sunlight peirced my eyes so that I had to look away.  Last time that the sun did that to me was last Thanksgiving during a basketball game with my cousin Bobby.  I remeber that I had the ball up top and I tried to drive to the basket but I ran right into Bobby and was knocked to the ground.  I opened my eyes and the sun scorched my eyes as it just had done.

Five days later, I returned to my driveway again only this time I came at a time that the sun could not kill my eyes.  I came at around 9:30 at night.  I started to think about the last time I was out here in the driveway at night.  It was on my sisters birthday when I was seven years old.  I was out in the driveway with my uncle John and my aunt Pamela.  They were having a smoke and I came out to keep them company.  They told me stories about gambling in Vegas and how festive it was there.  They had just come back from a week in Vegas and wanted to brag about their travels.  This was nearly nine years ago but standing there in the driveway made it seem like only yesterday.

Every american family, or atleast most american families, have a driveway.  I am sure that their driveway offer just as good memories that mine gives to me.  However americans neglect and ignore their driveway.  However I know that their driveway will yeild the same amount of enjoyment as an old camecorder recording or a photo album.  I urge every american to take notice of this bed for cars because it will conjure up memories that will last forever.











I had just finished a beautiful weekend at my friend Ethan's house in New York.  It was the end of the summer and I was heading back to my summerhouse on Martha's Vineyard for my last week. I was sad to leave because this meant that vacation was almost over, but I was getting a little homesick.  On that day Ethan had track practice early in the morning, and since he lived about a half-hour outside of the city, his father, Steve, had to drive me into The Port Authority Station.  We thought that we had enough time so Steve decided to park the car about 10 blocks away and walk up to the station from there.  We stopped at Starbucks on the way for coffee, and we reached the station with about 10 minutes until my bus left.  
     "All right, Mark, do you know what gate you are leaving from?", Steve inquired.
     "No, I have no idea," I responded, "but maybe we can ask at the information booth.  There must be one around her somewhere.  Look, that sign says to go downstairs."
     "Let's go" Steve replied. And so we hustled over to the stairwell and down the stairs.  
     When we reached the bottom, I said, "Okay, I don't see an information booth anywhere, Steve."
     "Neither do I, Mark, but that sign says to go upstairs for information." Steve said.
     So we quickly walked over to the adjacent stairwell and ran up the stairs.  I had only five minutes to get to the bus.
     We reached the top, and again there wasn't an information booth in sight, however there was a sign indicating that the booth was downstairs.
     "Gee, What kind of place is this?" Steve began. "One sign directs you downstairs, and then you get there, and it directs you back up. One would logically think that it might be an old sign or something and when you came back up you would see a booth.  But no, they have to be difficult.  Instead there is no booth even though the signs says there is one.  They probably have the guy who walks around to help people if they need it. But where is that guy when you need him? He is probably in the back eating donuts and checking out the girls on the TV monitors. What a job. Who does something like that? Now, Mark you only have 3 minutes to find your gate or your staying for another day and I just got the workout of my life going up and down those stairs."
     I couldn't help but smile and said, " I have no idea Steve, but I'm just going to go from gate to gate."
     I frantically walked down the corridor looking for my gate, and surprisingly found it just in time.  I thanked Steve for having me and bade him goodbye.  I boarded the bus, found a seat and sat down.  I was relieved that I hadn't missed my bus but I couldn't stop thinking about how many people must have missed their buses while looking for the information booth.  Some people might just be that stupid.  I only hoped that they would change that sign soon. so that no one goes crazy over it.  I laid back in my seat, and got comfortable.  I was finally going home.












Walt Whitman was proud of the spirit that Americans showed through their work.  Whitman observed America as it was changing from a predominantly agricultural society to a great industrial economy. Transcendentalists, like Thoreau, saw the industrial revolution as being harmful because it was dehumanizing America, and taking it away far away from nature. They wanted to retain the simple style of life and maintain a greater man-to-nature interaction. On the other hand, Whitman saw that the change from agriculture to industry was in and of itself a natural thing.  To him what was important was the spirit of the American people, and that spirit was best shown thought the work of the people.  “I Hear America Singing” praises that spirit.  
One way that Whitman praises that spirit was by speaking of the beauty he found in every individual’s work, whether it was in the carpenter, or the mechanic, or even the seamstress. That beauty was like a song to him. Sometimes the song must have been real and concrete, like the sound of a carpenter pounding the hammer to a nail, or cutting a piece of wood with a saw.  Other times that beauty must have been abstract as in the women sewing or washing. In any case each worker produced his own individual song; but together they produced one song.  Whitman saw the country as being made up of many individuals, each one a separate body.  But all of those bodies were working together to unite into one body, one people, on nation through the sharing of a common spirit. “- at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly, Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.”
Another way that Whitman praises that spirit is through an analogy of work as song or melody.  He claims he could hear a tune coming from the work of the people as they carried out their job.  The reader can experience this by stopping and listening as people work.  For example the reader could stay laying in bed and listen to the street workers while they hammered the cement to break through to the damaged pipes that lay below.   The hard hammering sound has a sort of beat to it. A beat that is somewhat like playing the drums in a high school band at a holiday concert. It is a form of music that can be heard coming from the hammer as it digs into the earth.
I think that Whitman is wrong in believing that this industrialist growth is good.  Working conditions for these people were unfavorable.  They were subject to long working hours and extremely low pay.  How is this a beautiful idea? Perhaps Whitman did not experience these conditions.  However, the Transcendentalists like Thoreau, indeed did experience them because they were closer to factory towns like Lowell and Waltham.  In any case, this is Whitman’s way of praising America.  Whitman is showing his approval of the growing nation as it changed before him.  He was happy with the changes and saw them proper and necessary for the prosperity of American Society.



























     An American sport is one that is part of every citizens life.  Old men crowd around the television to watch and parents sit on the sidelines and watch as their child runs back and forth.  It is a sport that has high school state title matches that are almost as important as the Red Sox, or the Patriots.  Lacrosse is played in over 2,000 high schools and 500 colleges.  A true American sport is one that originates in America.  One that is started on American soil.  Lacrosse was started by the Tuscarora Iroquois.  The semi-sacred sport was known to them as, “Little Brother of War.”(Conover, 32)  Lacrosse is a sport that has been in the America’s long before the white man set foot on  the continent.  However, Lacrosse's popularity has increased because of the white man’s domination.
     Beth Maher of Milton, states that, “my soccer coach  told me that he thought that I would be good at Lacrosse.” Beth plays for the varsity lacrosse team at Milton High School.  The older men in American society are encouraging the youth to participate in Lacrosse.  They are trying to make Lacrosse into a thriving, popular sport.  They want Lacrosse to become as great an American past time sport as hockey, baseball, or football.  Therefore they start with the youth.  By targeting as many youth as possible, lacrosse will only grow and grow.  
     Steve Toll, a professional lacrosse player for Toronto’s Rocks, says that when he started playing lacrosse he never thought that he would be playing in front of 19,000 people.(Toll, 46)  Toll is aware that his sport was not popular when he started playing when he was younger.  However, he is amazed at the idea that it has grown in popularity since he had played. Toll never thought that he would be playing infront of people that want to watch him play.  Toll feels that he is just as professional as Drew Bledsoe in football, Nomar Garciaparra in baseball, or Pierce in basketball.
     Far removed from the world of pro baseball and hockey, where athletes are lavished with huge salaries and lucrative endorsements, MILL, Major Indoor Lacrosse League, veterans such as Gabrielsen, a center attack-man, have devoted themselves to the sport not for financial gain, but for the sheer love of lacrosse.(Kram, 106) Kram describes that people are not playing lacrosse because they are getting paid the big bucks.  They are playing because they love the sport of lacrosse.  
     Sports are a major part of the everyday life of Americans. They watch the news to see the outcome of the days sports. They read the newspaper to read the statistics. Everyday, I look in the newspaper during the spring and I see the lacrosse section.  I go to school and I hear announcements about the lacrosse team underway in their second season. Lacrosse, although it is not as popular as baseball or football, is still growing more and more.  The people who play it, love it.  The people who watch it, love it.  That makes lacrosse an true American sport.