Writing Portfolio: Five Essays on America
















Family Motto

Sitting at my kitchen table, I began to reflect upon what we talked about in English class, with Mr. McGonegal, that day. The topic was a story about our family in America. During this time, my mother was cooking dinner. It was very hard for me to concentrate while she was cooking her delicious spaghetti.

Then and there, seeing a good opportunity, I decided to ask her the question: "Ma, can you tell me about your first experience in America?" At first, I thought she was trying to avoid answering the question by saying "hold on." But within five minutes, she was done cooking and had settled down after putting the dinner on the table. The aroma of the spaghetti and tomato sauce rose from the bowl.

After putting some of the spaghetti on our plate, we both then took a sthingyful. The taste of the spaghetti was so good, I couldn’t wait to take another bite I thought as I was chewing the first sthingyful. My mother then took this opportunity to answer the question that I have previously asked her.

My mother than began by asking me if I knew the family motto, which was “Education is the Key to Life.” After I responded with a yes, she then said I’m correct and began her story. Her mother, and my grandmother, whose name is Tulia, always used to tell her, and still tells us, and her brothers, whose names are Jean Claude, Guy, and Henri, that when they were younger. Because of this my mother and her three brothers worked hard in school to achieve their goals in life. My grandmother also worked even harder to support the family. My mother came to the United States in her mid twenties. Here she registered and attended college at Mass Bay Community College. She was able to get a good job and support her family in Haiti right here from Boston.













Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a great piece of literature called "Self Reliance," which happened to be one of his most important pieces. This piece, as one may say, makes one think about his or her life and how one lives it. To me, there was one specific question that formed in my mind; am I taking time to appreciate the finer things in life? I will admit this is not the first time that I have thought about the answer to my self-imposed question, but are there other Americans who are thinking the same as me? Obviously there was, and he did ponder about this question long before my time. Emerson once wrote: "A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of  bards and sages." That was the true answer. More time should taken to carefully observe and appreciate life rather than just rush through on the non-stop adventurous roller coaster of life.

             Walking on the side of a big open schoolyard, I heard the familiar voices of children playing after school. Though I do not personally know these kids and their teachers, their voices are a familiar sound to me for I have become accustomed to their merry banter because of the many times I heard them. Something seemed to have caught my attention. To the right of me is a house in which I reside but that is not what capture my interest. For it was a building in the schoolyard behind it. This building structure, called the scout house, was painted all red. There was something encrypted upon the side of this building. Graffiti, some call it art while other call it vandalism. To me, this was a form of art, me being an artist; this is what captured my attention. As I went behind the big red house, I was now in an open area that was a little bigger than the size of the portable classrooms that rest outside Catholic Memorial.
              While standing there and gazing around the terrain I began to realize that this spot was rarely observed and talked about by anyone. But then I thought who really cherishes this piece of land. Is it the police trying to get rid of the graffiti? Is it the people in the community? Or is it the graffiti writers? I disagreeumption was the graffiti writers, because they might have came back here to show their art and talents. But in regard to the unoccupied land… no one paid attention to it. Bikes racks lay rusting, broken bottles, dried leaves scattered, and in the summer time; high weeds and grass which was often cut every month or two. Is this how an American would treat an object, person, or place they loved?
            As I go through life, I often begin to realize things I have never realized before. Even the smallest object or creature has something very interesting about it, whether it be a physical feature or just random information. If there are many interesting things and a lot types of information behind a little bug, imagine what rests uninterrupted and unprotected in my unappreciated place. Have people ever paused to feel the disregarded leaves on the ground. Through time, maybe one day, this priceless piece of nature will be occupied in a positive way.

















Whether it is becoming a fireman or a movie star, goals of Americans today can vary from person to person. Many  people in the world today have or have had, at one time in their life, the dream of becoming a super star. One of the most common goals of people in the United States is to become a movie star, singer, wrestler, and so on. But around my neighborhood the most common goal is to become a Hip Hop/Rap star. This culture misunderstood by outsiders who have yet to experience the effect of the people and their music. Walking down the street in the “Hood” you see people on corners under the lampposts gathered around in a circle. Under that very lamppost was a group of people who were trying to achieve a goal…to become a Hip Hop emcee. The dialogue that these rappers, called “emcees,” speak may not be understood at first by people who are not familiar to the culture.
        As a fact not all people achieve their lifetime goals, and under that lamppost, none of the people were ever going to accomplish their goal of becoming an emcee. The problem is the guys who think that they can really rap really can’t. Under this lamppost no one a future in becoming an emcee as of yet, for they lacked the skills needed. One particular night there were two emcees out under the lamppost in the make believe “cypher,” which is like a realm that rappers are in when they “spit,” meaning rap. Brian and Dan were sitting on the side walk spitting beats and flowing to them.
        “Yo son, wanna’ battle?” said Brain.
        Brian was known for claiming to be the best emcee in Roslindale. With no thought Dan was quickly up for the challenge, and answered by saying;

        “Let’s go right now, I’m ready!”
        Dan decides to spit first. Usually whenever there is a Hip Hop Freestyle battle, there is a crowd of spectators eager to listen. This is just what happened. With a crowd around them under the light post, Dan spits his lyrics out quickly with no hesitation. His freestyle contained a lot of good metaphors which is always good in a hip hop rhyme. Ohhs and Ahhs were heard from the crowd. This meant that they liked the rhymes that Dan said and by the reaction of the crowd the winner will usually be picked.
        It was now Brian’s turn to throw down his lyrics. Usually a rapper would be thinking hard before a freestyle battle because the word “Freestyle” means that all lyrics must come straight from your head and cant be written before the battle. But Brian seemed a little more nervous than usual for he was moving all about like he was trying to avoid the battle.

        “Alright its my turn to annihilate you son,” said Brian “But first I must warm up my vocal cords.”

        “Brian, Brian,” yells Dan, “What are you doing!?”
        Brian wakes up out of a daze only to himself standing in front of Dan’s bed in his pajamas.
In a daze Brian said; “What happened?”
        Dan tells him about how he woke up only to find Brian sleep walking and standing in front of his bed, with teddy bear in hand, singing lullabies.















Emily Dickinson is known as one of the best poets in American society who lived from 1830 to 1886. During these fifty-six years of her life she created her own private society in which she kept herself out of the everyday world. It was during these years, in the later part of her life, when she confined her self to her father’s home that many of her poems were written. Many of her thoughts and feelings might have been put into her poems as her only way of output so people can understand her. The poem “The Brain - is wider than the Sky -” is a poem that I think really intrigued me the most out of all that I have read in the unit on American Poetry. Her main purpose as a poet is to try to make us use our imagination to think rather than our real brains, in other words there is no limit to what the brain can think or do. I consider her poem to best represent all her work as a poet. The poem best defines what all her other poems do.

Emily Dickinson concealed the message of the poem in a place readers usually do not look. The line “The Brain - is wider than the Sky -” is used as the title of the poem as well as the first line of it. What is interesting is that though that is what the poem is called, it is not the real title. Emily Dickinson left her poems untitled but now have been have been titled, along the years, by using the first line of the poem. This, to me, served as an ingredient to the meaning that very poem. “The Brain - is wider than the Sky -” that very line says it all and I agree with it. Here, what she says is that the universe if full of adventures and surprises but some may not have yet or will ever be able to experience it. And by writing her poems without a title makes us use our brains before we even read the poems.

Emily Dickinson had a unique style in her poems never seen before from other poets. This was her style of rhyme, called slant. Most poems usually use a regular rhythmic rhyme scheme. But Emily changes all that by introducing the new rhyme scheme in her poems. She did not use two words that had the same ending but instead she would write something like the following excerpt;

For - hold them - Blue to Blue -
The one the other will absorb -
As Sponges - Buckets - do -

By using a slant rhyme, she is trying to tell us to break apart from the ordinary and not follow others but to take the road less traveled. And the road that she took was never traveled upon except by her.

Another style she brought in was the “random” hyphens at the end of her lines and stanzas. This again like the absence of a title opens up my mind and imagination to find a meaning that would best suit me and my thirst to find the meaning of its position and interaction with the rest of the poem. The answer came to me when I finished reading it for the third or fourth time. If the poem is about knowledge and how our Brain will absorb anything we put into it, then that, once again to me, shows me how she thinks. Hyphens are used to separate a word, phrase, or maybe something else. These lines, found in the second stanza; “The one the other will absorb -/As Sponges - Buckets - do -” (400) contain many hyphens. The hyphens tells me to hold on and have patience, for what she is saying is that she is not yet done. Like an ever pouring stream of feelings it keeps coming. told me that she was not yet done writing her idea. This also went along with the subject of the poem that “The Brain - is wider than the Sky -” because it was like she was trying to tell that there is more to the Brain but it is up to us as the reader to find the meaning for ourselves.

If anyone is unable to capture the essence of Emily Dickinson’s poem its because they have not yet read the first line of this poem. The first line explains it all without you evening having to read the poem. There is no secret meaning behind it, as it stands tall in as the first line. But for those who do not catch it there other things that are in the poem that may intrigue you.






















 Living in America, I have seen many cultures and backgrounds. All these cultures and traditions make up America. These things come from all over the world. We can say that America has adopted all these cultures and traditions. One of the most popular things in the world is sports. Sports serve as entertainment and probably the best way to spend time with others. Though you can find different kinds of sports in different countries, there are many of the same sports that are to be found in other countries as well. The same way that a culture could be brought from one country to another so can sports. For example, discus throwing is a sport adopted by Americans.  
     Discus throwing is a sport in which the player throws a circular piece of wood with a metal rim. In this competition  the competitors throw the discus from a certain spot to see which one throws the farthest. Discus throwing is an event that is included in the overall sport of track and field. Americans have adopted discus throwing, along with the rest of track and field, through-out many years. Track and Field began as part of the Olympics. The series of events that happen during the Olympic are played by competitors from all over the world including America.
     It would not be wrong to say that many Americans have taken the sport of discus throwing and fully indulged themselves in it. Looking at it from a simple perspective, discus throwing is nothing more trying to throw a plate-like object far, skipping rocks across a lake would be a better sport. But no, discus throwing is the ultimate American sport. Football, Baseball, and Hockey are all sport that are played by Americans which require training and practice. Any sport that is to be considered to be a sport has to be practiced and trained for. There is no way that you can conquer the four pound circular disc and launch it over fifty feet without any training. You had to train for discus throwing physically but other training like “Therapy helped. So did self-talk, concentration and relaxation.”(Pickeral) Muscle strength along mental strength was needed in order for a thrower to throw a good distance. This shows that not only physical training is needed, or in some cases required, to play the sport. Through these other ways of training one can become a well rounded thrower and person. After this training and practice you no longer have goals but have records that you have beat or even the first set a special record.
     This sport has been adopted into our American culture and has been welcomed be all ages and races. People that play the sport have been lured or came to play it in different ways. Amateur Discus player Billie Jo Grant, from Arroyo Grande who said “ I was kind of roped into it, but I'm so glad I was."(Ortega) This comes to show that people have adopted this sport in their own way and playing the sport well as if they invented it. It was like it was her destiny to become a discus thrower. She was roped into the sport and is know gripping strongly on to the rope with no intentions of letting go anytime soon. There are always goals to reach and Grant has many to go as a amateur discus thrower. Many of these goals are physical but they also at times the can be mental. Mentally they have huge goals to over come. How can they compete physically when they can’t do it mentally? The mental goal that Grant, and many other discus throwers, have to over come is that they must be able to push themselves to go out and perform. "I am pleased to have reached 66 meters at this stage of the season,"(AP Worldstream) said Frantz Kruger, an Olympic discus thrower.
     The way that Americans are able to accept to accept and adopt other cultures is remarkable. Men, women, and teenagers play this sport like it was some sort of tradition. Though Discus throwing is not as popular as football and baseball, it still has a fan base that spread all around the United States. This says that America is really the land of opportunity. I say this because the discus was not invented in America it came from a distant land and yet we still accept and play it, hard.