Writing Portfolio: Five Essays on America



















At our annual family gathering at Christmas time, each person tries to remember one of his most fondue memories about a significant event in their life. When it came to be my grandfather's turn, everyone gathered around him and listened intensely to what he was about to say. He told the story about how he and Eleanor, my grandmother, fell in love.

A young Italian boy, named Tony immigrated to America in the summer of 1938. He was only seventeen at the time. Upon arriving in the country, he settled in Roxbury, Massachusetts but spoke little English. Tony had a tremendously difficult time interacting with people since he could not communicate with them. While attending school the following year, he was introduced to a young lady named Eleanor. When Tony met her, he thought that she was very pretty and wanted to get to know her better.

Eleanor however, had a slightly different mindset. She did not want to associate with Tony until he could speak the English language fluently. Tony was deeply depressed but made it a goal for him to learn the language. During the next few months of the school year, Tony was able to pick up words and even talk some - what good English because his teachers helped him and by just hearing other people talk. With him being almost fluent with the language, he tried approaching Eleanor once again. This time however, she talked to him. They got to know each other by asking questions about how Tony came to America and if he liked it here.

Likewise, Tony asked Eleanor personal questions as well. Within a few days, Tony drew up enough courage and asked Eleanor out on a date, which she accepted. There first date was to the movies which they both enjoyed a great deal. From this moment on, they became best of friends and eventually spouses to each other. With my grandparents coming from different styles of living during their earlier childhood, I have a unique sense of the different cultures that they grew up with. Both now speak fluent English and Italian and try to teach me some Italian when they have a chance to. Tony brought his customs over from Italy and he still celebrates them even in today's world.

With this, I have a broader sense of what it was like for Tony, and Eleanor for that matter, to grow up in a different style of living. My view of the world has been shaped differently because of Tony's customs and nationality. He brings his Italian background to the Irish background of the Devlin family. This allows both nationalities to gain knowledge of the other and teaches me many knew things in life.












   Emerson said, " I must be myself, I can not break myself any longer for you, or you.  If you can love me for what I am, we shall be happier."  There is a spot of land fifteen feet wide between a brick wall, chain - link fence, and multiple rocks that form my house, that can not change itself to please different people.  This spot is not respected by humans but is the habitat of snakes and worms living in the soil.  I viewed this area for a period if two weeks and observed all of the changes that took place over that time period. The habitats living there and the surrounding natural world changes over time, this certain area of land, remains the same throughout the year.  It changes its shape for no one.      

     When leaving the back door of my house and walking twenty yards to the brick wall that ends the reign of property we obtain, I pass over countless pieces of grass to reach my observation destination. Upon reaching the area, I hear young children from the next yard over yelling and playing catch with each other on their own property.  For all of the fifteen years that I have lived in my house, I don’t think I have ever played catch in this area of my yard.  The only human interactions that have ever taken place have been pulling weeds out when trying to plant new plants in this area.  "Man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature", as also stated by Emerson.  In pulling weeds out, and planting new plants, the area becomes refreshed and nourished with new living partners.  The planter sees this area as a special place to grow plants and for them to flourish in this area.  He proves that nature is beautiful in its own way and we need to help nature express itself by planting new plants.  The only close encounter I could say I have had with the area is mowing the lawn right in front of it.  When I mow the lawn, I pass by the area without thinking twice about what I am doing.  I feel that this area becomes lonely and unloved by humans because no human gives it the time of day it deserves.  
     An American spot in my perspective is one where new plants and flowers can be planted to help make the area livelier.  Nature can show itself in a new form.  When pulling the weeds out at one point, the area looked alive and well again.  It changed from looking old and rotted to looking refreshed and rejuvenated.  Since the Midwest is and was considered the Heartland of America, where crops were grown, this in comparison can be called the Heartland of my Backyard, where new plants are grown.  The plants express the planters ideas and thoughts about how they want the area to look like as well as how they want nature to look.  With the planting and the later growing of the new plants, the planters can express their joy of their new plants as a prize for finding this sacred area in their mind.
     With the changing in the color of the soil from day to day, ants and snakes crawled in and out of the soil.  Some days they were moving around ontop while other days they were underneath the soil.  Some humans had poor perspectives towards this area and towards nature in general.  Since I saw trash one day, it showed how some people do not respect the earth at all; they only care about their own personal hygiene.  In response to this, the wind blew the trash away and the spot was clean again for all snakes and ants to crawl about in.  In response to the area not being respected by humans, I am going to try and make this spot one that is respected and cared about.  With me doing this, the spot will be apart of miraculous changes in its appearance and it will be known to other people, not just myself.












One of the biggest problems facing today's common driver is a stop sign.  Many times, when no one is around, people will blow by them as if they are not even there at all.  This is the case on Mt. Vernon Street in West Roxbury, Massachusetts nearly everyday.
     "This stop sign is in the worst spot and is completely pointless, there is only one side street adjacent to Mt. Vernon and no one can speed because the road is to narrow", exclaimed Phil Tracy, an inhabitant of this street.  
     On Friday February 1, 2002, at approximately 11:59, Phil's son, Chris had to be home at midnight because his father knows about like state law that states that no one under the age of eighteen can be out driving passed midnight on any night.  Chris, knowing his father will watch the clock when he gets in, knows he has to hurry to get in on time.  After taking the left from Center Street to his street, Mt. Vernon, he travels at about thirty miles per hour and doesn't make a complete stop at the stop sign.  This was Chris' worst move of the night.  A cop car was on the corner of Mt. Vernon and Westmount Street just sitting there waiting for his prey on a young teenager.  The cop throws his sirens on and Chris was forced to pull over.  Chris, knowing exactly what he had done, pulls over quickly to make it seem like he knew what he did wrong and hopefully the cop will cut him some slack.
     "You didn't make a full stop at the stop sign, can I see some license and registration please?"
     "Yeah I have it all but see I was just trying to get home before midnight so because I didn't wanna break the law of being out past midnight, I live right there in that big yellow house."
     The time was 12:59 and Chris was sweating while in his car being questioned by the cop.  Then the cop kindly stated, "Ok I can see from your license that you do live right there in that house, so I'll just give you a warning and let you go off free of charge."
     Chris was so ecstatic that he pulled into his driveway with a huge smile on his face.  However, that smile was about to wear off momentarily.  Phil came storming out of the house yelling at Chris for coming home later then midnight. Chris tried his hardest to explain the situation to his father but Phil would have none of it.  
     Phil yelled, "Not only did you come home past midnight, but you got pulled over for breaking another state law.  That's two in one night.  You are grounded."
     Chris now being mad about what he had done went to his room and would stay there for the rest of the weekend.
     A simple, yet stupid stop sign, in some people's perspective, can end up hurting you in more ways then one might imagine.












     T.S. Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1888 and attended Harvard University in 1910.  He received his master's degree in philosophy as he completed "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock".  When World War I started, he moved to England where he married Ezra Pound, a young American poet, whom helped Eliot greatly with his works.  Famous works by Eliot include the "Waste Land", "Four Quartets", and "The thingytail Party".  His most famous work, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" consists of a man being insecure about himself about the simplest things in life.  

   The main character of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" questions every aspect of his life and everything that he does in his life because he does not want people to think less of him.  The man has trouble making important decisions about what he should and should not do in life.  The biggest question which he encounters is whether to go to a party or not and see the woman of his dream.  His overall answer to this question is to not go because he thought she would laugh in his face.  The man has no self - confidence that can be seen as he asked himself repeatedly, "Do I dare?"  He does not want to attempt to do anything that people might be able to remember him by, whether it is good or bad.  

     Eliot shows how a man's loving affection for a woman can alter how a man thinks about his actions in life.  Prufrock doesn't want to embarrass himself in front on of the woman who he is in love with.  Prufrock, when getting ready to go to the party, asks himself, "Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare eat a peach?"  This shows that he loves the woman so much that he doesn't want any part of his body to be criticized for anything at all.

     The “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” shows men's dreams through real life situations and how men respond to them.  For example, "We have lingered in the chambers of the sea by sea - girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown till human voices wake us, and we drown."  This shows that everything that Prufrock questioned was in his dream.  He was never going to a party or to meet a woman.  In his dream he did all these things but Prufrock let his mind take control of his bodily functions.  

     This poem makes the reader think about the little things we do in life, how we want to look in front of the opposite sex, what to eat, drink, wear, and think.  It shows how the woman in society dominates men because we have to impress them.  Men, who want to try and get a woman’s attention, have to try much harder to get the woman’s attention then the woman does on any given day.  Most men are attracted to women by their looks at first, and then when getting to know them, men appreciate their personality much more.  Women usually do not approach men when it comes to dating, it is usually the man approaching the women.  Therefore, men have much more stress and feel rejected many more times than women do in life.  This proves why Prufrock would question what he does in life, because he does not want to be rejected.















 A sport consists of exercise, showing energy, emotion, a love for it, and competing at a high level.  Kickball is a sport that contains all of these elements.  The game of kickball is played by many across the United States, young and old alike.  Youngsters start to play it in gym class of their second year of school and all the way up to the amateur level.  In gym class at the elementary level, the games are emotional because no student wants to lose to their classmates, this results in highly competitive action, even at a young age.    
                  The leagues out there are called the Bay Area Kickball League, NWA Kickball, and the most famous World Adult Kickball Association.  The World Kickball Association has a strange root to it.  The association was started by a group of friends at a bar in Washington D.C.  While at the bar, the conversation between the friends started as,
“'Hey, what do you want to do this weekend?' to 'Hey, let's play kickball,' from there, we moved to 'Why don't we form a kickball league?' and the next thing you know, we were saying, 'Why don't we take over the world?'” ‘Said Jimmy Walicek, director of division relations for the World Adult Kickball Association’ (qtd. in Brooks).  

                  Kickball seems to be simple to play, but is harder than one might imagine.  The game of kickball consists on minimum twenty players per team, with two teams.  Each team gets three outs per inning with as many batters getting up as possible.  While at bat, the batter gets three strikes or four foul balls before he is out automatically.  If the batter hits the ball, it becomes like the game of baseball.  He would run to first base, second base, third base, and the goal is to get home.  The team with the most runs with the game.  However, there is a catch to it, unlike baseball, the team in the field can throw the ball at the runner in order to get him out.  If the ball reaches the base or if the runner in pegged before reaching the base, he is out.  The game consists of five full innings containing six outs total.  A complete game may have only of three full innings before it can be called off.  Kickball is played on a square field with equal sides of 60 feet. The pitching mound is 42 feet and 5.5 inches from home plate in the center of the diamond. The strike zone is a one-foot cube on either side of home base and one foot above it (Brooks and The World Adult Kickball Association). The leagues are competitive and open to all players off all different ages.      
                          In addition to the game of kickball, there is a game called crazy kickball.  This game is an intramural sport played in gym classes of high school level students and in the college grades.  This game also consists of two teams with twenty players each as well.  It is mainly the same rules with three out per team per inning and five innings.  However, there is a catch, there are no bases.  The game is played inside a gymnasium and when the batter hits the ball, he runs to the other side of the gym.  When the other side is reached, he tries to reach the place of where he originally kicked the ball.  To get the runner out, he must be pegged with the ball.  If pegged on his way to the opposite wall, or to the original wall, he is out (Crazy Kickball – A Fun And Exciting New Sport).  
                  An amateur player of the game of kickball was my sister, Nicole.  She played kickball in elementary school while attending Mount Alvernia Academy in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.  The played kickball for six years, first grade through sixth grade.  She said,
   “Kickball was great to play in gym class.  It was so much fun.  We were always so competitive and never wanted to lose to our classmates.  Going back to class after playing kickball was terrible because we were always so sweaty and disgusting.  I miss playing it (kickball) in the schoolyard during gym class”(Devlin)  

                       Kickball is an American sport because the United States is the only country that has it at the amateur level.  In foreign countries, soccer is the main sport and kickball is not liked by all.  In the U.S., people of various ages love to play the game.  This shows that Americans adore this sport more than any other country does, which makes us the best players at this sport.