Writing Portfolio: Five Essays on America

















I have grandparents, but they are in their eighties and it is very difficult to get one true story from them. The reason for this is that they often join two or three stories into one. So for this reason I decided upon asking my mother for the oldest story that she could possible remember. My mothers name is Eileen, and when I first asked her she seemed almost reluctant to share with me a story, this could be because she was on the way out the door, but eventually I managed to persuade her to start sharing with me the oldest story that she could possibly remember.

My mother started the story by telling me that at the time she was living in Norwood Massachusetts and was around the age of six heading into her first day of 1st grade, the year she said was an estimated 1958. She remembered it as being a very exciting day because she was entering the brand new Cleveland School, and she had all of her closest friends in her class. But her exciting day was about to end. Her school as you know was brand new and there was all sorts of different sized classrooms, my mothers class had three to many students in it. This meant in alphabetical order the first three students in the class would have to go to another classroom with a different teacher and different kids.

Her last name was Crook, and she was the third person on the list who would be going into a different classroom. She went on to say, "I felt like crying", so what does she do, she asks to go to the bathroom upon arriving in her new class. You may be asking yourself, what does that have to do with anything, but what you donít know yet is that she never actually goes into the bathroom, she just walks right out the door. Yes, a six year old first grader is skipping class, so my mother starts her three mile walk home. at around eight thirty in the morning.

She ended up getting picked up by a person who rented one of my grand-fathers apartments and he brought her home, where my grand-mother was visibly upset and brought her back to school. Especially with the events that have been going on in America over these past few weeks, a story like this is almost uplifting. I say this because it is a symbol of American freedom, and our ability to act upon our thoughts and beliefs weather they are right or wrong.












ď I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only
the essential facts of life ,and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I
came to die ,discover that I had not livedĒ Leaves changing color day to day, some of
them ready to take that fall that symbolizes winter is around the corner. A single tree
standing alone in a field of the most beautiful dead leaves you can imagine.It is passed by
hundreds of students that havenít got that feeling you get when you look at like and really
understand it. The tree is like each one of us, the leaves are our everyday day problems
and they evenuatlly go away, or you could say fall off. When you walk by it that twinkle
in your eye  is just the sun as it sets over the tree creating a wonderful painting of images
and feelings. I often wondered at this tree, that people all over the world canít see what I
am seeing right now and they arenít giving the chance to see it, and I am given the
freedom to do so on my own time. That is why this tree is an American Tree.











It all started New Years Day at the McInnis household. A young Jimmy McInnis was pondering how an elderly overweight Santa Clause could possibly squeeze his way down a Chimney that he himself could not fit down. While he is pondering this thought his best friend at the time was over the house.

"Pat", exclaims Jimmy, " Do you believe in Santa Clause"
"Of course not, only little kids believe in Santa"
"Says who" replies an aggravated Jimmy
"Says my parents, they told me like a year ago"

     Jimbo had just about enough with these ridiculous commentaries that Pat was making and decided to go straight to the top to find the real answers. Little does young Jim know that the man with all the answers (in his mind) was his father who was making an attempt at taking a nap after a long New Years eve.

"Dad" screams Jimmy,
"What, I'm tryin to sleep"
"Pat says there's no Santa will you tell him he's lying"
"You can believe what you want to believe replies a frustrated Big Jim"

     Little Jim at this point realized that he shouldn't carry this conversation on any longer with his father or there would be a good chance of it getting ugly quickly. But the topic didn't abruptly end with Pat as it did with Big Jim and soon a fight would break out right there in the confines of the McInnis household. Little Jimmy was no match for a much larger Pat, but that didn't stop him from attacking him over a topic so controversial with the youth of our society.

"Hey, what are you two doin down there" yells Big Jim
" I said what are you two doin"
"Nothin" replies an out of breath Jimmy as Big Jim raced down the stairs

     After Big Jim realized what they had been fighting over he cam to the understanding that this was the time to let young Jimmy in on the whole Santa secret before he embarrassed himself  any further.

"Jimmy there is not Santa" said Big Jim
"So you lied?" replied little Jim
"No, I said that you could believe what you want to believe and you chose to believe in Santa" explained Jim

       For at least an hour straight after this conversation Young Jim cried over this important figure in his life that never really existed in the form that he believed he was existed in.












"Because I could not stop for Death -", is, a poem that can be interpreted into on of the most influential pieces of American Poetry. This poem as you know was written by Emily Dickinson whose works were recognized  posthumously. Throughout Dickinsonís life she encountered a great deal of difficulties but it was her poetry in "Because I could not stop for death-", that I think truly defined her life and her works. The poem reveals in a unique way the three different dimensions of her existence: death, life, and her afterlife.

     The first aspect in which this poem covers is that of the death of the narrator. By starting off with her death instead of her life makes her poem unique in that it does not go in the chronological order of her life. A line from the poem that sets a tone for the rest of the piece is, "The carriage held but just ourselves-/ And  Immortality." I think this is telling us that the Emily is now speaking as if she has died. The reason I say this is because she is referring to her life as now only consisting of her, and the others accompanying her. Emilyís use of the, "-íí,  also leaves the word "ourselves" at the end of the first line hanging in our mouths until we reach the next line where we realize that the company in the carriage with her is a immortality which Emily represents as a human figure.

     Dickinsonís poetry reveals biographical aspects of her life that are unique to her style of writing. I came to this conclusion when I read the line, "We passed the school where children strove", which represented the early stages of Dickinsonís life, soon followed by, "We passed the setting sun", which in my mind represents the ending of Emilyís life. By having the School visual used before the setting sun image I was able to recognize the beginning of Emilyís life due to its association with little children playing at recess, and then I was able to recognize the ending of  Dickinsonís life through the use of the setting sun which is used to represent the ending of a day.

     The use of afterlife in this piece forces the reader to look into it and analyze it. She uses the word "eternity" in place of Heaven. Emily uses this word in the line, "Were toward eternity". From Dickinsonís Calvinistic beliefs we can get a better understanding of why Emily is so sure of her destination after life. The predestination aspect of the Calvinist religion makes for a very confident Emily in a way that never once does she become curious to what might happen if she does not end up in heaven.

     Analyzing this poem allowed me to see a more complete Emily Dickinson, and allowed me in some ways to see what "made her tick". Her life in, "Because I could not stop for Death-", is summed up into a very short Emily Dickinson like poem. I think that we all can relate to a poem like this due to the common language and images that it consists of. This also breaks down the very intimate aspects of Dickinsonís life from a very youthful joyous childhood to a lonely bland adulthood.


















   The Sport of Discus is said to be developed from the ancient Greeks. It was not a sport that sprung itself from a form of fighting but instead it was used to test the strength of a man in the Pentathlon while in the mean time relieving tensions of neighboring city-states. In the Pentathlon the men would compete in five events, Discus, Javelin, Long Jump, a foot race, and Wrestling. A famous quote from Aristotle on the men competing in the Pentathlon, "The Pentathaletes have the most beautiful bodies, because they are constructed for strength and speed together". Aristotle really shows a great example of the respect Ancient Greece as a whole had for these men. But the one sport in particular I am trying to explain in detail is the Sport of Discus both in the modern era as well as the ancient times.
     Ancient competitors in the sport of Discus used a Discus that weighed a great deal more than that of the modern day discus. The modern day discus weighs four pounds while an ancient discus, found at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, weights around fourteen pounds, ten ounces. Modern Day Discus throwers, throw in an area eight feet in diameter, while the area in which ancient Discus throwers use to throw in was called a "balbis"(CTC Web Editors) and was usually quite small. An ancient philosopher called Philostratos wrote that the size of the balbis was small enough so that a large man could stand straight up and be restricted in all areas except the rear. When dealing with the throwing of the Discus the modern record is around two-hundred and thirty feet, and the only record recorded from the ancient times is forty five feet.
     The modern day discus is made out of wood or some other material and not stone or metal as the ancient discusí were made.(CTC Web Editors) When throwing the Discus, the thrower places the Discus in the palm of his or her hand while placing his or her fingertips on the metal rim that circles the discus. Then the competitor spins one and a half times in order to gain power and strength before heaving the discus through the air. By placing the fingertips on the outside of the ring surrounding the middle of the Discus, thus propelling the discus through the air fairly parallel to the ground. Katherine Clifford is a Freshman at Norwood High School and a competitor on the Varsity Track and Field team. She told me, "My release of the Discus is just as important as the power that I throw the it (Discus) with."(K. Clifford) This is a prime example of how kids at the amateur level need to develop a complete understanding of the sport in order to succeed in the highest levels while in other sports you can survive on pure skills.
     The rules in throwing discus resemble the technique of the actual releasing of the discus in many ways. An example of this is the spinning around of your body in order to increase your body strength. This is done because if you step out of the allotted circle your throw is voided in the eyes of the judges. Rules like this one make it easier for less gifted athletes to compete at the highest level. An example of this is Olympic Silver Medalist John Powell. "I do not believe that John (Powell) was that strong, at least compared to his peers at that period, and I was lucky enough to spend time with him in the early 80ís, when he was coaching at Stanford. What separated him from all the others was his work ethic."(S. Pickering) This in itself makes the Sport of Discus available to a broader range of people. The reason for this is that with a little hard work and some skill you can achieve greatness in the sport of Discus. John Powell is a perfect example of this and how hard work really does pay off. Another quote from a critic that I found on a Canadian national track and field web site really emphasizes just how hard and unnatural it is to throw a discus, "The discus throw requires unnatural movements and body positions. Most people don't spin while walking down the street. It's unnatural.(P. Brueske)
       Through the research that I conducted on this sport I have drawn new conclusions on what Discus ,the sport, really is. My uncle, an avid sports observer, said, "Its amazing that a single sport can combine gracefulness with speed and power and still remain largely unknown to the general public."(J. Crook) It is a sport that has been Americanized in many different ways even though its origins were and are very un-American. Much like most sports treasured in the hearts of many Americans the event of Discus is held in different esteems in different regions of both America and the World. So in conclusion sport is to me a way of life in that it shows up in some way shape or form in everything we do. The competitiveness that it brings out of us humans I think shows who we really are.