Writing Portfolio: Five Essays on America
Contents

Origins

A Lost Field

Humor

Literature

Sport

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beginning”

As I walk into my house and I see the picture of all my brothers and sisters at my parents twenty-fifth anniversary, then I move into my dads office and I see the pictures of my mom, I ask myself one question how did this all come about?

Every time my dad talks to my mom I see that he holds her in the highest respect, like he always say’s “I have loved your mom my whole life.” My parents have been together for 30 years they do everything together. But with every great success, there is a great story behind it, and I was itching to find out what that story was. As my father and I sit at the kitchen table, Sunday morning while my mom was cooking breakfast, I figured now was the best time to ask, so I asked my dad when was the first time you and mom met?

Without even thinking about it he responds by saying “It was the fall of 1971, my freshman year in high school at South Boston High, I saw your mother walk by me in the morning, and I immediately said to myself and my friends that she was going to be mine, and they all laughed, but I was determined to find out who she was. My first period class was algebra, and who is sitting next to me but your mother, I was at a loss of words and was almost speechless, but I knew now that if I waited some other guy was going to come along, so I built up enough courage and introduced myself and we started talking and never looked back.

Now hear it is 30 years later I have six kids, and every time I look at your mother I still admire just as much as the first time I saw her.” The ironic thing about this whole story is how my parents both have jobs that are math related, my father is an architect, and my mother is an accountant, now whether they meeting in math class had anything to do with their future I will never know. I realized two things, the first being that true love was really does exist, and my parents experienced it first hand. And second that my dad is truly in love with my mom. I learned that there is somebody out there for all of us, and that when have a good thing, don’t be so quick to through it away, because that might be are only chance. With all the divorce and adultery going on, my parents our living proof that nothing is stronger than love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Lost Field
     
“It’s all a matter of keeping my eyes open. Nature is like one of those line drawings of a tree that are puzzles for children: can you find hidden in the leaves a duck, a house, a boy, a bucket, a zebra, and a boat?” This quote was taken from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard, and it sums up the whole idea of transcendentalism. When we look at nature, we can look at it in two ways, the first is just simply looking at it and accepting it for what it is and nothing more, the other way is to look at it with a deeper perspective, and develop ideas. I watched a simple part of nature, Savin Hill park, and realized that everything is not what it seems, and threw close observation I realized that my whole neighborhood’s attitudes, and being exist in this park.
     As I sit on the bench overlooking my spot I realize that the park is empty, except for the geese coming down and looking for food, this park has been in existence for as long as my neighborhood has been, it sits there with its two baseball fields, the swing set that is slowly rusting away, and the water fountain that hasn’t worked since the stone ages. I look at this spot and I wonder what was here before, could this have been a home for some big Indian tribe, or maybe some great battle took place here, but as time changes so doesn’t nature. But does it really, yes the colors change, and things are built on this land, but who knows? This could have always been a park where people go to have a good time. I observed this spot for twelve days, and each day I realized something different, some days it was just a piece of trash other days it was the smell, but if I picked up that trash it was the same old park, if I took away that smell it was the same old park. This park has never has changed since I have been around, and judging from the people, the community hasn’t really changed.
     As I walk to this open field I look in the corner and I see this water fountain, that it broken, and has not worked for as long as I know. It just sits there decaying away, very much like the kids in this neighborhood; they do nothing with themselves but sit down this park and waste away. Savin Hill has always been known to have talented kids who do nothing with themselves, looking at this water fountain just sitting there, I relate it to them. Never once have I seen this fountain work yet it is still there, and no one does anything to it but just let it sit there and slowly fall apart. I have watched so many kids pass through this neighborhood with so much potential, but they just sit there much like this fountain waiting for something to happen but nothing ever happens, and they slowly waste away. To get anything done in our lifetime, we have to work for it, nothing just happens, this fountain will never just disappear; it will take someone to come along and move it.
     This park is as American as any; it has America written all over it. The baseball fields resemble Americas past time, and the green grass shows how well we respect our country by taking care of it. With America’s striving economy, everything is becoming modernized, but this park has yet to change, and it resembles true American pride with its flagpoles flying our countries colors so proudly, since the tragedy that took place on September 11th.  The colors of the trees changing, resembling that our country it still changing, and the trees getting stronger as the year go by tell people that we are only getting stronger. Its comes down to the old man sitting on the bench everyday just proud to be alive, and more importantly proud to have a place where he can come sit and relax. With all Americas problems, we still have a place like Savin Hill Park where we can go to get away and just enjoy nature.
     Savin Hill Park when looked at can be a simple park, but when thought about it is a very spiritual place with many different meanings. I observed many things about this park but I did not see one big change, but I did realize that nature is related to everyday life, and that when we look at nature with a critical eye, there are many things to be observed. Emerson said, “The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.” We never what we can do unless we try, life is full of opportunities, its up to us to use them.        
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Hey James, let me get a bite? Let me borrow a dollar? Let me have a sip? That is all my friend Paul ever say's to me" Every group of friends has one, but I think my friends have the worst. We call him the "scavenger". In my lifetime he has probably borrowed a thousand dollars from me, taken at least two thousand bites of my food, and drank around six gallons of my beverages. He is the person who is always there and asks the most annoying questions possible. When you ask Paul "when you going to pay me that money you owe me?" His reply "come on kid you know I am good for it."
     Here I am sitting at my kitchen table with a freshly baked Ellios pizza right out of the oven, and there is a knock, who is it but Paul.
" Hey James, what's up dude?" So I gave him my usual response "'nothing much you?" I knew what he wanted by the look in his eyes.
"Im just chilling, im wicked hungry, and I got no food at my house, don't you hate that? Why don't you through me in a piece of Ellios." I replied, "I got no more this was the last one, sorry dude."
"Oh you serious, figures with my luck, let me get half of that slab," Knowing he was going to say that, before he even finished talking I was like dude get a job, get some money.
   Now Paul gives me that look like the guy coming up to your window when you are stuck in a traffic light and say's "fine ok James, you stingy dirtball." Hearing this just gets me even madder.
  "Paul, I am not giving you any food, alright deal with it."
What does Paul do but try to steal a slice of my delicious Ellios pizza and knocks the whole thing on the ground. It lands face down. "Get out you bum, your filthy, don't ever come over here again."  
"My bad dude, alls you had to do was give me a bite."    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     When people think of Walt Whitman they should think two things: worlds greatest poet, and worlds greatest American.  Walt Whitman was as American as they come; we can tell this by his attitude when he is writing.  My whole life I have been waiting for that poem or story that I can read and it really moves me and in “Song of Myself” case gives me a huge sense of nationalism.  Walt Whitman knew what it took to be an American, and in this poem he defines what it means to be American.
     One way in which he defines America is he portrays his great love for this country.  “The atmosphere is not a perfume, it has no taste of the distillation, it is odorless. /  It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it.”  Walt Whitman is referring to America, and how it can sit still not do anything and yet it still grows on you.  This is just one of the many times he shows us his great love for America. In this poem Walt Whitman is building up the emotion in all of us, and trying to persuade us to love America.  He points out every highlight of America; in every paragraph he shows our diversity. Whitman is trying to build up our emotions in this poem; he is in a sense “selling” America.  One of the most important things about this poem is that it shows this great love that Walt Whitman had for America, and how everything he did he took pride in.  “All goes outward, nothing collapses.” Walt Whitman believed in America and he felt that if we had pride, and everyone believed in our country then America would be one and never collapse.
    Another important element in the way Whitman defines America is by telling us that America is easy to adjust to.  “The big doors of the country barn stand open and ready.”  Many people know America as the land of opportunities, and Walt Whitman reassures that in this poem. He explains how the barn gates are open to everyone and he tells us about different jobs, and the different chances that America has to offer.  During the time that he wrote this America was growing, in every area of life.  This poem he tells us about the different areas and explains to us how we are growing, and how we have so much more growing to do.  Whitman was trying to get his point across that America is a growing nation, and that there is opportunity written all over it.  Once again by doing this he is lighting that fire of nationalism that had yet to be lit in America.
   Whitman states the obvious in this poem to define America, but he uses metaphors to hide theses messages.  “Lack one lacks both, and the unseen is proved bye the seen, till that becomes unseen and receives proof in its turn.”  He is telling us that everything he has talked about is right there in front of us; we just have to open our eyes.  There were many things going on when he wrote this, corruption was widespread and to some people they thought America was in trouble.  He could have written 1346 negative lines, but instead he wrote 1346 positive lines.  “I stop somewhere waiting for you.”  Walt Whitman ensures us that at first you maybe lost, in this growing nation, but if we stay strong and keep working we will find the light at the end of the road. And by finding that light we will develop this great love that he has for America.
     America is a country built on principles.  The “self” makes this country great, people like Walt Whitman who dedicate themselves to making sure people appreciate America and what it has to offer.  Walt Whitman’s main objective was to show his deep love for America, but he did more than that.  He took America and all its beliefs and simplified it. By doing that, he also made us love America too.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   The word “sport” is defined as a physical activity engaged in for pleasure, but when it comes to America we take the word sport to a new level. Sport is not just a word in the U.S.A it is a passion, love and probably the most sacred thing in this country.  We our brought up to love sports, to cherish them, and most importantly to respect them.  In this fast pace world we live in everything is about who is better, who is smarter, who is stronger, every one is in constant competition. That is were sports come in, there are no excuses, there is no holding back its all or nothing. Sportswriter and commentator Heywood Brone Ale talked about sports and gave his two cents on what is going on in America. “I talk about the philosophy of sport, the assumption that excellence in sport is a splendid thing to achieve. But those of us who cannot achieve it should not continually attack ourselves on the grounds that we are not going to run the four-minute mile, and a goal slightly above your previous accomplishment is triumph enough. I think we have taken the fun out of sport by insisting that everybody must be a champion or a failure.  Sports do not build character. They reveal it.”(qtd. in Sports Century) The word sport, if had to be summed into three words, would be “respect, dignity, and pride.”
     Boxing is known to be one of the most physical challenging sports for professionals. This sport is the ultimate battle. What else could you ask for then two people not talking just getting the deal done? Although the sports has changed a lot over the years but it is still a battle of the toughest, no matter which way you put it. It has become more modern over the years, if anything it has changed for the better.  In the early 1700’s they fought with no gloves just fists, and they would fight in barrooms all over the country, and was thought more of entertainment, then a sport.(Arnold 5) But even back then the fighters fought for pride, and the champions were treated like kings. There have been many amazing people who have passed through boxing and they were truly great athletes, but even more importantly great people. One name that immediately pops into my head when I here the word boxing is probably the greatest of the great Muhammad Ali. Ali right away claimed himself not only the greatest fighter, but also that he was the prettiest. He brought a new charisma to the sport, with such sayings as “run like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”(Arnold 66) He was a much coincided man, but he knew he was good, when asked about his upcoming fight against the heavily favored George Forman, he said “You think the world was shocked when Nixon resigned?" Ali said. "Wait till I whup George Foreman's behind."(Arnold 65) Ali was known to be Americas champion, Bryant Gumbel was quoted saying “If you had told somebody in 1968 that in 1996 Muhammad Ali would be the most beloved individual on earth, and the mere sight of him holding an Olympic torch would bring people to tears, you'd have won a lot of bets."(qtd. in sports century) This is why America loves the sport of boxing, because the athletes are truly warriors, and it takes them so much to finally hang the gloves up. Muhammad Ali is a perfect example of a warrior, he would have kept fighting until he was sixty, but reality comes in to play. These boxers are physically killing themselves and it begins to wear on them after awhile. Ali when he finally retired suffered brain damage and also has Parkas inns disease, which is a direct result from boxing. He just could not put the gloves down, and he paid for that. It is a shame but it shows us the love for the sport these athletes have.  
Boxing is a grueling sport, and the preparation and dedication it takes is truly amazing. Most boxers only fight twice a year, and the rest of the time is spent training. To be a boxer you have to dedicate your whole life to being the best, and it is not an of and on thing. Professional and long time heavy weight Joe Frazier said “I usually spend six to eight hours a day in the gym. This is my life.”(Arnold 60)  Boxing is a sport because it has all the three key elements. The first being respect, seeing the sport being played is a beautiful thing and the boxers know this. They have watched the greats that have played before them, and their number one rule it to respect the sport and know what a great tradition they are sharing in and how they will never be bigger then the sport. To be a true athlete you have to respect the sport yes, but you have to be honest, that’s were dignity comes in. They realize cheating is wrong and swear to themselves that they will not disobey the rules. And lastly boxing has pride written all over it, people know what time and dedication boxers put it and the they all have such a pride that they are willingly able to dedicate their whole life to the sport.
     Like everything else in this country Americans think that we started it, and if we didn’t start it then we made it better. In boxing case I can honestly say that we improved and made the sport what it is today. The most important thing about boxing that we did was made it public; we took it from just being a drinking barroom thing, to a one of the most beloved pastimes. We did not change the rules, or even touch the sport we just Americanized and spiced things up. We established the ring, and arenas and crowded thousands of people into places and made the boxers celebrities. We divided it up into groups professional and amateurs. Professionals being the highest and most paid, amateurs are they people that love the sport but just don’t have what it takes to hang with the big guys. By doing this we created competition, and made it a survival of the fittest. Boxing is like a little fire burning inside many Americans; take, for instance, Jaamal Mcline. When asked what he was feeling after his first boxing match ever he replied “I want to fight the best in the world"(Rafael). He had only fought once and he thought he was the king of the world. Who knows what happened to him, but after just one fight he felt that passion and pride, that so many fighters feel their whole life. This I just one example of what Americans feel towards boxing. America got the ball rolling in boxing and that ball is still rolling today some hundred years later.
     Does the actual sport boxing define sports? The answer is yes but, does boxing today fit the definition of sport? Boxing has so much history, the memories and people that have passed through its doors is incomparable. And yes in some ways it has got a little crazy, and a little political, but it has changed with the times. America is growing country, and with that comes change in every thing, in every area of life’s and sports is one of them. It seems as if all boxing and any other sport is all about is money, but deep down the most important things are still there. Not one thing is perfect in this world, and with everything you are going to have your problems, but that it expected. Boxing in a way has become a circus, with all these guys doing not so smart stuff but the truth is you still have a great tradition and a great sport with all the foolishness. When Muhammad Ali came out people laughed at him, said he would ruin the sport, but he did not ruin the sport he shredded a different light on it. When it all comes down to it you have two men in a ring, and when that bell rings they both have one intent and that is to knock the other man down. That has not changed and never will. If sports did not modernize people would not want to watch them. Change is not always a bad thing, it just depends how you take it. And in boxing case you have to respect the sport, not the sideshow.
     The boxer does nothing but defines the word sport, and in a sense defines the word American. A person with a goal of being the best and will conqueror anything in his way to get there. Millions of people try but only few make it, along the way it is a hard long fought battle, but in the end you settle for what you got and you realize your accomplishments.  And when every thing is all said and down you leave with pride, dignity, and respect.