I think of my family's background, I am often faced with the question: how
and why did my grandmother come to America? I first posed this inquiry to
my mother when I was young, and since then, I have heard the story many
times. By now, I can recite it from memory, because it has become a part
of me that is inseparable, for it is very important to my heritage, and
more importantly, it defines who I am.
In 1935, my grandmother,
Winifred Greene, was seventeen years old. She lived in Ireland, where
conditions were very bleak. Children often had to work to help support
their families. My grandmother was one of these children, working to put
food on the table for her younger brothers and sisters. She dreamed of
coming to America, but, however, her family came first. Later that year,
her father died, so she had to work longer hours to help her family. This
meant that she had to drop out of school to get a second job. She was only
in the fifth grade. Nevertheless, she was able to begin saving a small
amount each year. Eventually, in 1939, she had earned enough to be able to
secure passage to America, the land of her dreams. She was now twenty-one
The boat to America departed from the city of Dublin. When
she arrived at the emigration office, she had a physical examination.
Unfortunately, she failed the eye exam, and was sent away. If she didn't
have glasses by the time the passengers boarded, she would not be allowed
to get on the ship. Therefore, she wandered the streets, searching blindly
for an optometrist. Fortunately, a kind stranger pointed her in the right
direction, and she was able to get a pair of glasses.
She returned to
the office, and passed the exam. Then, she was given her ticket, and
assigned to the steerage section of the boat. She was extremely nervous,
for this was the first time she had seen the ocean. The Trans-Atlantic
trip lasted two grueling weeks. Since no one there had been on a boat
before, the entire group was seasick. After the period of agony, her
anxious eyes were rewarded, for she could make out the silhouette of the
Statue of Liberty; they had reached Ellis Island.
When she got off the
boat, she realized why so many of her people had wanted to make the trip
over. Everyone had the opportunity to start a new life, and hopefully,
improve his or her status. After reflecting on this insight, she found her
way to the train station, and left for Boston. There, she met her unknown
aunt, and moved into her small house. The next day, she got a job as a
cook in a wealthy home in Brookline. She worked several hours a day, and
made herself a living. A countless number of Americans have made the same
emigration from Ireland that my grandmother did. Each hoped for the
opportunity to achieve financial security by getting a job, which would
allow them to provide sufficient food and housing for themselves.
retrospect, Irish-Americans are one of many ethnic groups that make our
country what it is today. Immigrants, in general, have enhanced our nation
in both the past and present. The fact that they all can unite and work
together under common goals, without fear of persecution, is what makes
America 'the land of opportunity.' It is this opportunity that millions of
immigrants have dreamed about, and the lifestyle that we have the fortune
to experience every day.
During my lifetime, I have discovered a gap of nature that
is greatly unappreciated: the abandoned parking area of a former flower
shop, just a stone's throw from my house. When I was young, my mother and
I often visited the spot . Once there, we toured the disheveled nursery,
gazed at the plants, and played with the kitten. However, the most
significant part of the shop was not to be found within its four thin,
crumbling walls. Rather, I believed the keystone of the nursery was the
small grove of oak trees growing next to the lot. When I first saw them as
a child, they were still in pots, and were two or three feet tall. These
scrawny trees looked in very poor health, yet, ironically, they seemed to
personify the condition of the store, because they too were not in the
best condition. Since they would never be purchased, the owners decided to
plant them next to the dirt parking lot. It wasn't until this recent
autumn that I paid another visit to the grove, and what a surprise awaited
me! The sickly little trees had blossomed into gorgeous works of nature.
They had nearly quadrupled in size, and their leaves were breathtakingly
beautiful. In the words of Thoreau, "No wonder that the earth expresses
itself outwardly in leaves, it so labors with the idea inwardly." Gazing
intently, it appeared that the trees were trying to reveal a message to
me. It seemed they were saying that they may have been scrawny in the
past, but now, they are giants. Thus, Nature was urging me to not take
anything for granted, because, over time, anything can happen. Through the
decorative foliage, nature was revealing a part of her plan to me.
When I arrived at the gap one day, I recalled a quote of Ralph Waldo
Emerson: "The greatest delight the woods minister is the suggestion of an
occult relation between man and the vegetable…. Nature always wears the
colors of the spirit." That day, above all others, I felt that I had
somehow related with nature. Despite sounding cliché, I had become one
with nature, because, for that special period, I could understand how she
was expressing herself to me. She was empathizing with the way that I felt
that day. Since I was somewhat down in the dumps, the leaves at first
appeared brown and decayed. They ominously warned that the gloomy winter
was creeping upon us, thereby seeming to match my mood. However, a few
moments later, I looked up again, as several of the sun's rays penetrated
through the taller branches of the surrounding trees, thus illuminating
the oak's leaves for what they truly were. I beheld a spectacle of colors,
ranging from a brilliant red to a fiery orange to pallid yellow. At this
time, my mood became lighter, as the leaves became brighter. The tree
somehow knew that I needed cheering up, so it reached out and gave me
support. Although Nature's instructions to conquer my obstacles in life
weren't clear, the incident gave me the confidence I needed to continue on
with the week. From that day on, I knew that I could count on Nature to
support me in my endeavors.
During my lifetime, I have become a transparent eyeball; and in the
process of doing so, noticed how American a place this gap is. The history
of the grove of trees can be traced back to the original owners of the
floral shop. The husband and wife were two immigrants who came to our
nation in order to achieve a better lifestyle. They were attempting to
live out the American dream, by providing themselves with a successful
workplace. Much like the originally frail trees, these people started from
the bottom and worked their way up. In the process of doing so, they, too,
faced several roadblocks, for the financial security wasn't put in their
hands; instead, they had to work hard to overcome.
Years after establishing a successful business, the special oak
trees came into the picture. Rather than disposing of the seemingly ill
fated trees, the family decided to plant them next to the parking lot. It
seemed there was little chance they would survive through the winter.
Nevertheless, the determined trees persisted, and developed into strong,
hearty bodies. In a way, these trees also lived out the American dream.
They were originally poor and miserable in a world where only the strong
survive. Against the odds, they established themselves as durable works of
Nature, and then persisted in order to stay alive. To this day, I am left
with the question: did God look down upon these trees with grace, and give
them will to persevere in spite of difficulties faced? I may never learn
the answer, yet I will forever associate the natural with the spirituality
of divine preservation.
I know you've heard that twins customarily look the
same, but they're often more alike than you think. Take for example my
twin cousins, John and Joe. When growing up, the two were inseparable, and
their likeness and habits were so exact that you couldn't tell one from
the other. For example, each had the same exact lunch every day from
kindergarten until college: a bologna sandwich and a bag of cookies. Their
personalities were very much the same too, for like most American kids
growing up, they just wanted to have fun and live life to the fullest.
They carried this type of attitude their entire lives. However, they let
nothing get in the way of their schoolwork, for they can still remember
how their nagging mother used to remind them:
"School before sports…. Now hit the books!"
Although linked by a common work and play ethic, they started to grow
apart, as each developed a unique character at adulthood.
A few weeks before Christmas, Joe brought a bracelet home to his
mother to wrap for his girlfriend, Jen. She put it in a box, and hid it in
a drawer. A week later, John showed up with a gift for his girlfriend,
too. She asked:
"So who's the special girl?"
John responded with, "Forget about it, you'll meet her at the
Christmas party. Oh, by the way, I changed my mind about my gift for her.
A sweater's kinda lame, so I got her this instead."
He whipped open the box, so she could giver her opinion. When she saw what
was inside, her heart skipped: it was the same exact bracelet his twin
brother had purchased at the store.
She said, "John, why'd you get the same gift as your brother? I thought
you would get her something original."
John responded to her by saying, "Whataya mean that Joe got the same gift
as me?! I had no idea that he was gettin' her a bracelet too."
To satisfy son number two, she showed him his brother's gift. John was
shocked beyond belief. Surprisingly, this wasn’t the only eerie
When Christmas came around, the twins brought their girlfriends over
to meet the family. What happened next was very confusing. Joe arrived
first, with his girlfriend close behind, carrying all of the gifts. He was
habitually laid back, and, well, lazy. He entered the living room and
"Everyone, this is my girlfriend Jen."
She then sat down and told us a little about herself. A few minutes later,
the doorbell rang. It was John. John lugged the gifts up the walkway, and
held the door for his girlfriend--at times he was more thoughtful than his
brother. He walked up the stairs, and with a sweeping motion, gestured
towards his girlfriend, and said,
"Everybody, this is Jen."
You can imagine our shock after hearing this. I actually think we offended
her, because our only response was to stare at her blankly. Not only did
she have the same name as Joe's girlfriend, but also the two looked
exactly the same. They were both blondes with similar facial features.
Joe's short-tempered Jen saw the other girl and said:
"Jenny, what're you doin' here, I thought you were goin' over to meet
your fiancée's family. What are you, some kind of creepy stalker?"
After this, a dazed John remarked: "Fiancée?! I wasn’t gonna propose
to you until New Year's!"
However, no one paid any attention to him during the heat of the argument.
Jenny retorted: "Jennifer, I am here with my fiancée. This is his
family, and his family's party, NOT yours. So why the heck are you here?"
Jennifer said, "I'm here with my new boyfriend, Joe."
At that point, Joe came in from the kitchen, and Jenny shrieked,
"Oh my god, there are two of you!"
At this, Joe dropped his plate of chocolate cake all over the rug, as
Jenny hysterically glanced back and forth, from John to Joe, Joe to John,
and back again. At the height of the confusion, my calm and collected aunt
"I think the four of you need to sit down."
They all headed for the couch, and sat. John and Joe started at the same
time, and one said what resembled,
"I thought I told you I had a twin brother." At which point, twins
Jenny and Jennifer said,
"No, we're positive you didn't."
John said, "Whoops, it must've slipped my mind."
Then Joe, "Sorry about that.... Now, who wants cake?"
And so, amidst the confusion, the rest of the party was a blast. We had
plenty to talk about, and there were plenty of people to talk to; my
mother's seven brothers and sisters were there, including all of their
children--none of whom were twins. All in all, this turned into a
Christmas that we would never forget. As for John and Joe, Jen and Jen
loved their matching bracelets. Both couples got engaged, and they
arranged for a double wedding next fall. Even today we still cannot
distinguish between which twin is marrying which twin.
The life of Emily Dickinson was frequently
plagued with the specter of death. At a rather young age, she lost several
loved ones, and as a result, her perception of the afterlife greatly
differed from traditional interpretation. In her works, Dickinson often
hinted at a modernistic view of death. Moreover, in some poems, she
defiantly opposed what was considered to be the standard view of the
afterlife. This original outlook was best portrayed in one of her more
distinguished poems, "Because I Could Not Stop For Death--." This
composition was a thought-provoking analysis of the end of life,
incorporating a modernist style of thought that none of her predecessors
had ever dreamed possible. Through the use of vivid imagery, she presented
life's final stages in very appropriate ways. Also, Dickinson left the
poem open to interpretation, as she allowed the reader to translate her
message in unique ways.
In the poem, Dickinson attempted to explain the unexplainable and
comprehend the incomprehensible by using both literal and figurative
symbols of life and death. By recalling specific stages of vitality on
earth, the speaker reminisced about her ephemeral life, viewing these
events from a higher awareness, both literally and figuratively.
Literally, the carriage picked her up and carried her towards heaven.
Figuratively, the poem symbolized the three stages of life: school and
childhood, maturity, and old age. By viewing the progression of the stages
of life to death to eternity, Dickinson gave these incomprehensible events
some meaning. This denotation was upheld by illustrative details of the
death process. Since it is our destiny to expire at a certain time unknown
to us, death comes unexpectedly. The line "He kindly stopped for me"
reflects upon the fact that we will continue living our lives to the
fullest, even when death is lurking nearby. Once death's carriage takes
us, our life's stages flash before our eyes while we travel towards
Dickinson had a unique breed of stanza and form in "Because I Could
Not Stop For Death--." She wrote in perfect quatrains, where each stanza
contained lines of 8-6-8-6 syllables. In addition to her unorthodox use of
dashes, she made her poem unparalleled in other ways. She knowingly
inverted the fourth stanza, as the syllabic lines were altered to sound
6-8-8-6. This verse, which began the second half of the poem, was a
transition from the beginning of the poem to the end. When describing her
nighttime attire, Dickinson indirectly informed the reader that she was
not prepared for the weather she met along the journey. In retrospect, she
implied that people are never prepared for what they will meet at death.
It is a common association that death always comes as a shock to the
party. This transitional thought carried the reader across the threshold
into the second half of the poem.
The poem represented a revolutionary way of looking at death. When
she said, "Or rather-He passed us-," it signified that death is always
present and moving with us in our lives. However, when life stops, death
keeps moving. Caught up in the crosswinds, the soul is whisked away,
causing the body to fall dead. Rushing alongside death, the soul is
carried towards eternity. On the way there, your life flashes before your
eyes, and then vanishes, all at once. Additionally, "Because I Could Not
Stop For Death--" was written in Dickinson's original concept of slant
rhyme, where the words at the ends of lines sound similar, but do not
actually rhyme. An example of this is "And I had put away…//…For His
Civility." This is a modernistic style that shocked the world of poetry,
for no renowned poet ever considered writing a quatrain that didn't rhyme
"Because I Could Not Stop For Death--" was a revolutionary work of
poetry that used personification to lead the reader to various
interpretations. It appeared that Dickinson was writing this poem from the
afterlife, presenting a completely new way of thinking at this time
period. The entire poem seemed to be ironic, because people generally
viewed death as something terrible and hideous, which should be feared.
Dickinson, however, portrayed death as kind, and also personified it as a
patient carriage driver who was very polite and civil. The poet
interpreted eternity as a state of being instead of a fictional time
period. She believed in an eternity after death, and creatively presented
her feelings of immortality in this poem. Thus, eternity was the last
stage of mere existence, immediately following death. Dickinson described
her death process using many symbols, which caused the reader to infer
what actually occurred. When she said, "I had put away my labor and my
leisure too…" it meant that those were the only earthly characteristics
and possessions that she could take with her to heaven. All worldly
possessions would be meaningless, except for these two conflicting
Emily Dickinson's "Because I Could Not Stop For Death--" was a
descriptive poem, which, through the use of imagery, presented the stages
of death in suitable ways. She used remembered images of the past in order
to clarify infinite conceptions of a relationship between life and death,
the known and the unknown. In addition, the images and ideas made a
statement about dying that appealed to our emotions and feelings,
convincing us to make a response. These were the explicit qualities that
made her pensive poem a masterpiece with eerie haunting powers.
When I think of the word "sport," I immediately
think of a fun game with rules. The sport of cricket is ideal for my
explanation, because it's really entertaining to watch, and even more
interesting to play, since there are hundreds and hundreds of rules.
Modern cricket was formalized during the 1780s in England, and the first
cricket clubs in the United States were established shortly thereafter.
Originally played by British Army officers with American locals, cricket
became a major recreation of American gentlemen. Many of the founding
fathers of the United States were known to be avid cricket players,
including John Adams. Before progressing into the existence of modern day
cricket, it seems necessary to explain the basic rules of the sport.
In a regular cricket match there are two teams with eleven players
on each side. Each squad is up twice, and whoever scores the most runs
wins. Contrary to common belief, two batsmen of a team are up at a time,
not one. They stand a distance away from each other, and continue to bat
until one gets out. The opposing pitcher, called a bowler, rolls the ball
to the batsmen, who try to protect the wicket behind them. The wicket is a
wooden pole about three feet high. If this gets hit, the batter is out,
and is replaced by a teammate. If he hits the ball with the flat edge of
the bat, he and the other batter run and change places. Every time they do
so, a run is scored. Batting and fielding are much more involved than in
baseball, so matches can range anywhere from ten hours to five days.
In recent years, a movement has been growing to bring one of the
dominantly English sports into the American mainstream. This progress for
American cricket might just succeed. However, most Americans ultimately
view cricket as an English amusement -- less a sport than an erratic kind
of picnic, and as puzzling as wallpaper on the ceiling. To comprehend
this sport, it is only natural for Americans to compare it with its
domestic rival, baseball. What most Americans don't realize is that
baseball evolved from the game of cricket. Just think of the similarities
between them. Since the sports are so alike, it is logical for local
cricketers to practice on a field adjoining a baseball diamond. However,
even though they are right next door, cricketers and baseball players
exist in two different worlds, separated by a very distinguishable
barrier. When night descends, cricket players gaze enviously at the
baseball players' expensive floodlights, batting cages, and the perfectly
level green. Looking with disgust at their cramped and distorted playing
surface, they hope that display will be theirs someday.
Surprisingly, cricket has been played in Seattle for over a hundred
years, and in places like Boston and Philadelphia for far longer than
that. It grew so fast that in the 1850s, cricket was the most popular
team sport in America. At Bloomingdale Park in New York, ten thousand
spectators would spend a hundred and fifty thousand dollars - a fortune
back then - gambling on the outcome of a cricket match. But as cricket
turned professional in England and Australia in the 1880s, it remained on
amateur footing in America. By the 1920s, it was eclipsed by the
secessionist sport of baseball. Deb K. Das, a cricket sportswriter and
promoter, said, "This is a global age, and cricket has gone global."
Indeed, the populations of all the cricket-obsessed countries add up to
more than 1.5 billion people, roughly six times the population of the
United States. In some countries, you breathe cricket, but she and many
others have noticed that this isn't so in America.
Many wonder why cricket hasn't caught on with Americans. The main
reason is that the sport doesn't get the attention it deserves. It is
ignored by both the media and the masses. Bill McKibben, author of
several books and a part-time columnist, said:
Like the sport of soccer in the early eighties,
cricket is viewed as alien. However, today
there are 18 million US soccer players, and
the presence of a professional soccer league
in the nation. (McKibben 1)
These statistics provide some hope, but cricket supporters are still few
and far between. The sport of cricket hopes to emulate the success of
soccer, but even in the Northwest, where it was established in America,
the modest fan base is extremely low. Despite Microsoft's support for
cricketing leagues for its engineers and employees in the Seattle area,
Microsoft Word's spellchecker still underlines 'cricketer' in red as a
nonexistent word. Sadly, the word cricket, in addition to the sport
itself, is hardly ever in circulation nowadays.
A person who would support this fact is Allan Wise, an amateur
cricketer from Melbourne, Australia. He stated that,
After playing a few seasons, I've noticed
how much cricket is growing in traditional
non-European nations, but the quality is
just not the same in the United States….
Wise plays in a casual league, and plans to play in Europe or the United
States soon. He hopes to compose a documentary and write a book on the
rise of cricket in Western Europe, also mentioning its demise in the
United States. He too wonders how and why cricket is not making a big
impact in America. Considering the circumstances, Wise made several
proposals on how to improve the popularity of cricket. His most prominent
suggestion is in agreement with another cricketer, Manish Prahbu.
They both resolved that the best way to make a difference for
cricket in America would be to increase exposure to it. Manish Prabhu, a
professional cricket player, recalled his boyhood journeying from Bombay
to his grandmother's village, a place without electricity.
Years ago, I would try to play cricket with
the village children, but they weren't
interested. When I returned to that village
recently, electricity and TV had made a
difference. The kids were playing the game
every minute, everywhere. (Prahbu 1)
By broadcasting it on general TV, not just pay-per-view, Americans would
get to know the game and start to develop an appreciation for it. As a
result, people would undergo a complete change for the better. This
scenario could be repeated thousands of times here in the US with a little
media attention. Cricket is already at the nadir of its popularity. It
has nowhere to go but up…. So just think of the possibilities.