Writing Portfolio: Five Essays on America















I was sitting down on my couch watching television. I was only 6 years old at the time, and I didn’t know what was going on. My mom got a phone call and she started crying historically.

I looked at her in awe. I said “Mom why are you crying?”

She managed to say, “My father died.”

At this point in my life I didn’t know anybody that had died before, so I didn’t really understand what was going on. The next day I looked at a picture on my wall of my grandfather dressed in his army uniform. I asked my mother “ Was grandpa ever in a war?”

My mom smiled and said, “Yes he fought in World War II.”

I was all excited when I heard this. My mom began to explain how her father told her about what it was like when he fought in France during the war. My grandfather explained to my mother a story about one of his experiences on the battlefield. He told her that you don’t realize what war is like until you actually fight in a battle, and can see the people dying all around you. My grandfather told my mom how one of his friends was shot and killed directly in front of him.

He explained how at that moment he never saw war in the same view that he had before. At the time when I heard this story I didn’t realize that the good guys, or Americans, actually died in war. Today I can relate to this story because I know that there are many Americans who sacrifice their lives for the United States, not just people in the army, but firemen and police officers as well. I also realize that even though I do not directly know these people who sacrificed their lives that it still affects me. These brave people that sacrifice their lives are the people that keep our country free.









Emerson said, “There I feel that nothing can befall me in life-no disgrace, no calamity (leaving my eyes), which nature can not repair.  Standing on the bare ground-uplifted into infinite space- all mean egotism vanishes.”  This reminds me of the everlasting crab-apple tree sitting calmly by itself in the cool breeze.  Its knowledge, like that of our Founding Fathers, is swept away in the breeze from the materialistic society of today.
    Sitting on the frigid curb I stared in wonder at the phenomenon.  Tears fell gently to the ground as the seasons changed, leaving the tree naked of its leaves and crabapples.  I focused on the roots to grasp a sense of the tree’s beginnings.  This sparked the notion that nature is similar to human life, in the sense that there are cycles in life.  
    After the final tear has fallen, a new cycle begins giving the tree hope and inspiration in life.  The growth of the new crabapples put a rose color on the tree’s face.  People smile at the tree as it shows of its exuberant colors of cherry red, lime and forest green, and a deep dark brown.  Once this season of life ends the tears flow to the hard ground again.  
    The roots of the ancient crabapple tree, planted by my great grandfather, reflect the independence of America.  The tree relates to humans in life as did from the revolution to this very day.  It shows strength, wisdom, pain, and the beauty in its life as Americans do everyday.
    Standing its ground and facing problems as we do, this unique tree relates each and every one of us.  As I look up at the spectacle of nature, I can see my ancestors before me, I can see human feelings, and I can see the true purpose of the tree intended by Mother Nature.












My friend Andy was telling me about how when he came

back from the bathroom he saw his dad, who had never used

the internet before, looking at his online conversation

with John.  Andy told me his dad couldn't understand half

of the instant message conversation.  His dad, asking

questions about every line because of the abbreviations,

began to read it out loud:

John23:      hey sup kid?
Andy64:      nuttin u?
John23:      nada whens da chem lab du?
Andy64:      i tink tommora not sure tho
John23:      atleast I started haha
Andy64:      lol cuz dat class isnt wick easy
John23:      lol what ru up2 sat night?
Andy64:      not pos u
John23:      u wanna goto the pats game
Andy64:      no way u got tickets ill def go
John23:      ya my dad got them from sum guy in work
Andy64:      dats sweet kid im there  
Andy64:      my dad bet a 100 dolla on the raiders
John23:      noway hes done the pats r gonna destroy em
John23:      hey my sis wants needs da phone I g/g kid ttyl
Andy64:      aight lata guy
John23:      oh ya can i grab a ride 2 hock pract
Andy64:      ya prob cya kid

Andy's dad told him he was gooing to stick to the phone

instead of dealing with all of these crazy terms and

abbreviations like "i g/g", "ttyl", and "lol".















Longfellow transcended universal messages that he had dealt with in his life onto other people, which helped them cope with a better understanding of life through his poetry. At an earlier age Henry Longfellow wrote the inspirational poem “A Psalm a Life”, but as his age changed the tone of his later poem “The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls” changed as well to the acceptance of death. Longfellow linked nature’s reoccurring tides to man’s death through imagery, the repetition of lines, and symbolism, allowing the reader to discover a greater meaning within the poem.

Longfellow used the repetition of the opening line to stress the importance of his theme in that death is natural. Repeating the line “ And the tide rises, the tide falls” imprints a notion into the reader’s mind that death is apart of life. It is natural for the tides to rise and fall everyday like it is a natural part of life for humans to die everyday. This line foreshadowed the rest of the poem’s theme of the traveler’s journey into death. The reoccurring line in the poem was a symbolic message not to fear death, but rather to accept the inevitable end to your life.

Longfellow not only used symbolism in his repeated line, but also throughout the entire poem. Longfellow foreshadowed death through imagery and symbolism. “The twilight darkens, the curlew calls” used the imagery of a bird calling to be symbolic of death calling. The traveler represented everyman’s eventual calling to death. “Efface the footprints in the sands”, suggested that the traveler had died. In the line “But the sea, the sea in the darkness calls”, the sea represented death coming to take everyman. Longfellow transcended a soft tone in this poem through his ability to portray death through the symbolism of nature. These images captured the approaching and actual death for a living man without actually writing about death.

Longfellow stressed the importance to accept death from his own experiences as apart of life through imagery and symbolism that portrayed death in lighter terms, allowing the reader to discover a greater meaning within the poem. Well writing this poem Longfellow was coping with the idea of death, being in his seventies, which was transparent in the poem’s message. This personal experience linked the writer in a unique way to the reader. This poem reached to new lengths in the world of poetry by serving as a piece of literature that people could turn to for comfort. In the line “ The little waves, with their soft, white hands”, Longfellow used soothing and peaceful images to make a comforting light of death. The “white hands” represented God’s hands accepting the traveler into heaven. Through Longfellow’s unique approach to soothing the reader through nature and his own life experiences, the reader gained an easier ability to deal with the acceptance of death. This poem’s soothing imagery reached out to the reader on a deeper level that they could understand without fearing the harsh reality of death.

Throughout the poem “The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls” Longfellow used his own life experience to influence unique imagery and symbolism that softened the tone of the heavy subject of death. This is one of the best poems because of its ability to draw the reader in and create an actual relationship with the author as a result Longfellow’s writing style. Poets today have Longfellow to thank for creating a new level of poetry, which can change a person’s feelings towards life.




























When most people think of wiffleball they view it as a game they played growing up in their backyards, but it has grown out of a game into a sport. Recently the game of wiffleball has expanded from leisure wiffleball leagues and backyard activities to a major league sport, known as Major League Wiffleball, which started in 2000 and is played just outside of Albany, New York.  The game originated as a knock off from baseball in America’s backyards to form its own sport played by people of all ages, ranging from children who dream of being professional baseball players onto men who are living their dream as professional wiffleball players.  
    A sport can be described as a game played at the most competitive level, where you face a challenge based with rules and regulations, in that you must defeat an opponent. Wiffleball can be taken either lightheartedly as a game or as serious as the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  It is when wiffleball is played with a competitive edge where it becomes a sport.  Ray Francel, a player in the Bedford League, which is an amateur wiffleball league, wrote a column describing wiffleball best as “ A game that relies mostly on sports’ ultimate one-on-one war, the pitcher-batter duel. A battle of mental means with a physical touch. This is as raw as it gets, my friends.”  Ray attests to the competitive nature of the game.   This mentality of the game truly expresses the passion in what it takes wiffleball to be considered a sport.  
    Quentin Jensen was voted MVP in the 2001-2002 season of Major League Wiffleball. He said, “Once you get to the big leagues its no backyard game anymore.”  Jensen wants people to realize that wiffleball, though thought of as a leisure activity by the American public, is actually a sport to be taken seriously.  He is the most respected player in his field, yet people do not know his name because of the lack of media attention. However, the MLW is only two seasons old, and is such a popular sport that it is only an amount of time until it catches on in America.  Major League Wiffleball, being a new professional sport, popularity is rising, and as a result has driven the league to publish player statistics, game summaries, player cards, and it has also started a World Series.          
    Matt O’Connor, a sophomore at Providence College who loves to play wiffleball, represents every college kid in America.  I asked him why is wiffleball so fun.  He said, “Because I am a terrible athlete, but I’m nasty at wiffleball.”  He told me “It’s so easy to get games started up. I yell in the dorm room hall wiffleball game, and before you know it there are twenty kids lined up outside.  Wiffleball gives us something to do when we’re bored, and we always have a goodtime.”  There are millions of Americans just like Matt who are not athletic but still have a passion for sports.  The simplicity of hitting the plastic baseball allows athletes to associate with non-athletes, which is a unique aspect to the game.  Wiffleball is a relaxing activity for college kids, who want to get their minds off studying.  
    Through the game of wiffleball children across America try to live out their dreams, in the midst of growing up.  A sports analyst from the Los Angeles Times said,  “Every little boy dreams of coming to bat in the ninth inning with the bases loaded in the seventh game of the World Series.  You play imaginary wiffleball games in the backyard with your best friend (Green).”  Wiffleball gives us the opportunity to relate to our role models, showing us the great pride that America’s children take in a simple sport. This sport creates social interaction between people of all ages.  A second grader’s future friendships are set up by a game of wiffleball at recess when deciding who to pick to be on their team.  Schoolyard fights take place because of the game.  Children experience pain and embarrassment from defeat and joy and a sense of superiority from being the victor.  One kid becomes popular because of a hit while another is ridiculed and made fun of for striking out.  Wiffleball helps us see the character of our youth in America.  From the schoolyard, to a family barbecue, to a professional game wiffleball is played with emotion. Wiffleball represents the dreams of America’s children.  Through the sport, parents can bond with their children or the start of a new friendship could arise.  Like any true sport, emotions, dreams, expectations, and a sense of fulfillment are experienced in wiffleball running out from America’s past and future.
    Unlike other major league sports, wiffleball became a professional sport through its popularity.  The love for the game has swept through the nation, from the backyards of West Roxbury kids, playing in the street and using the telephone pole as the fowl pole, to the Major League Wiffleball players who play on fields designed for wifflesball’s sole use.  Wiffleball says a lot about what it means to be American.  Wiffleball teaches us how American’s have a need to grasp to childhood dreams.  It shows us how people can unite through a common sport.