Writing Portfolio: Five Essays on America


Forgotten Nature















It was on a Easter Sunday, and everyone was going around the table telling stories of what they remember as a kid. We were all laughing at the embarrassing and yet still funny stories. My Nana and Grampa were telling the grandchildren how their parents acted when they were kids, and how they weren't perfect themselves, despite what they may have told them.

The stories started to die down and the food was served. Then my little cousin Emily, said, "Nana, how come we haven't heard any stories about when you were a kid?" Everyone laughed and my Grampa said, "I have a good one that I bet nobody has ever heard." "One day, on a Sunday afternoon after church, my grandmother, Betty, and her family sat down for dinner. All day her and her brothers and sisters, Alice, Mary, Johnny, and Richard, had been fooling around and it was angering their mother, my great-grandmother. The five of them were giggling during the service and doing other things to make their mother mad. She then warned the kids to stop the nonsense or they would get in trouble. So as they sat down for dinner, Betty had continued to act up, making faces at her siblings and other things to make them laugh.

Once you get one of them going, it's like a snowball effect and they all get going again. Their mother was fed up with their behavior and told them that it was their last warning or they would be punished. The rest of the kids settled down, however, Betty just couldn't stop. Their mother quietly left the table, as if to get second helpings from the kitchen for the kids, and a few seconds later turned the corner with a huge pumpkin pie covered with whip cream. Before she even realized what was happening, Betty got the pie right in her face, and the rest of them burst out laughing. My great-grandmother was not one to waste food, being a woman of large size. So when Betty started to peel off the pie from her face, almost mocking her mother, she became even more outraged and made all of the kids get on the ground and clean up the mess that she had made.

As they were cleaning up the floor she went around smacking all of their butts, as if to move them along, this time she was the one laughing." My family is very close and we get together on all holidays. We feel that we should spend as much time as we can together because we don't know how long that we are going to be able to have this time together, so we make the best out of it. This is how all families should be, close-knit and enjoy being with each other. However, things like divorce and other problems such as abuse, tear families apart and that affects the way a child is brought up. A child learns by what it sees, and it picks up on things even if you don't realize they are.

So if they grow up in tough conditions they will most likely feel as if they know no other life and therefore, will raise their kids the same way. After what happened on September 11, 2001, we should feel even closer to our families because that was a perfect example of those who lost loved ones without eve it ever crossing their mind that it could happen so quickly and unexpected. They are there one minute and gone the next and u take that for granted. So having a close family is something special that all people should have and despite difficulties that may occur, a family should be you should still try their best to live a happy and healthy life.













Forgotten Nature

     Sometimes in life, there are things that we take for granted, and look past.  In the woods, in the back of my house, there is a large rock, that my friends and I refer to as Big Ben.  I spent a couple weeks observing, and trying to find what makes this deserted boulder unique, and serve a purpose.  Emerson said, "There I feel that nothing can befall me in life - no disgrace, no calamity (leaving me my eyes), which nature cannot repair."  When I was with Big Ben I felt secure, and that I could be myself.
     As I sat and took in my surroundings, I realized how lucky I really am.  Like Thoreau said, "Wherever I sat, there I might live, and the landscape radiated from me accordingly."  The house that I lived in, the things that I own, and a spot such as Big Ben where I can just go to without any reason, are all things that should be given more though too, and show more thanks.  I just had a sense, or feeling that the nature around, like the bushes and the trees, finally made clear the true meaning of life.
     Spending time with Bog Ben, let me realize how lonely, not only people are, but natural things as well.  One may see this rock as a rough, gray object that serves no purpose, which is why it is never given any thought.  However, I believe that it is gray because it is lonely and views itself as a n outcast from humanity.  One day, I just emptied the grass from the lawn mower at the base of Big Ben.  Now that I think about that, maybe as the rock saw me coming towards it, it developed a little joy that it was being noticed.  Then when I just disposed of something I didn't want, maybe Ben felt ignored as if he weren't wanted.
     Big Ben can be seen as American in a few ways.  Wherever you go, whether it be California or Wisconsin, there are always going to be things in nature that are taken for granted like Big Ben.  One that sits there just waiting to be talked to, or comforted.  Also because this particular rock has his own special qualities, even though you may tell yourself that rocks don't do anything.  He knows what he is good at, and is just waiting for that opportunity for someone to let him open his feelings.
     Sometimes in life the things that we take for granted are the little things.  Annie Dillard said, "It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won't stoop to pick up a penny."  If we took more excitement or joy in finding a penny instead of always hoping for a ten dollar bill, then maybe these little things will come to life for us.  They could turn out to be your friend who will listen to your problems, or just comfort you in time of need.  You will never know unless you look deep down instead of using the outer qualities for your reasoning.













On a Friday afternoon before vacation, two high school students were found in a bathroom stall with stolen paraphernalia.  The two were sentenced to a weeks worth of J.U.G., and frowned upon by the faculty.  
  "These two are always up to no good," said Mr. Cawthorne "it was only a matter of time until something to this extreme was going to happen."
  The two boys, Scott and Steve (last names will remain confidential for the sake of the families), were anxious kids who just couldn't wait to get out for their break.
  "I have like no homework for this study," said Scott.
  "I know. Me neither, whatta ya wanna do?" replied Steve.
  "oh, doesn't Bill have Gym this period?"
  "Yea why?
  "Well, I know what we can do to keep busy.  We can go into the locker room and take Bill's school shoes."
  Steve laughs saying, "Ha ha, yeah 'cuz he wouldn't be able to go back to class without them."
  So Scott and Steve went into the locker rooom and took Bill's shoes.  As they were about to leave, they heard Mr. Cawthorne, coming down with his class, so they ran into the bathroom.
  Mr. Cawthorne said, "See ya lata when ya dressed," and kids started drifting out.  This is when the catastrophe occurred.
  Bill said, "Okay Matt, real funny, where are my shoes?"
  "What are you talkin' about I didn't touch them," he responded bitterly.
  So Bill goes over to Mr. Cawthorne, who was talking to himself and flexing in the mirror, as the bell rang.  
  "Mr. Cawthorne, somebody took my shoes and I have a test next period."
  "I don't know what to tell ya kid," he replied.
  Just then they heard laughing from the bathroom stalls, so Mr. Cawthorne and Bill went over and found Scott and Steve, standing on the toilets, laughing with Bill's shoes.
  "Real funny, you jerks," Bill yelled.
  Mr Cawthorne replied, "Don't worry I'll write you a pass and these two boneheads will serve J.U.G. at 2:20."
  Bill chuckled and went to class, while Steve and Scott stood in disbelief.  
  When asked by reporters how he handled such a terrible incident, Mr. Cathorne replied, "Well I have parking lot duty in the morning so I'm well-prepared for crazy things such as these which the day has instore for me."













     Living a quiet and secretly for most of her life, Emily Dickinson was able to write 7,500 poems.  Dickinson wrote for the love of poetry, not wanting anything in return for her skill.  When she died, she wanted all of her poems burned, so that nobody could ever read them.  However, her poems were published despite her plea, and is now one of the most popular women writers ever.  One poem that especially stands out in my mind is, "Because I Could Not Stop For Death," by Emily Dickinson.  I like her unique style of writing that gives the reader her perspective of what it is like to be dead.  There are three interesting things that can be found in this poem.  She depicts Death as a person rather than a happening, or way of life.  After Death comes for her on the carriage, they travel through her childhood, reminiscing of her younger days.  Lastly, she uses images of bature to convey the character's inner landscape.  With these three topics, Dickinson portrayed the meaning of Death as unescapable or inevitable.

    Dickinson personifies Death as a visitor into her life.  "Because I could not stop for Death-/ He kindly stopped for me-"  As seen from the first two lines of the poem, Emily Dickinson views Death as someone that has come take her away.  It is not an occurrence, that happens naturally, but instead Death had come on a carriage to pick her up and bring her to her destination (in this case, her after-life).  It can also be determined that because Dickinson refers to Death as "He," then she is talking about God.  She feels that when it has come her time to die, that God, Himself will personally arrive and lead her wherever it may be.

    Dickinson brings you on a journey through what seems like her childhood on her way to heaven.  "We passed the School, where Children strove/ At Recess- in the Ring-"  I interpret this as your whole life is one big journey until the end, and when it has come your time, you see what life had to offer you.  It is like when somebody says, "I just saw my life flash before my eyes."  This occurs on a dangerous experience, in which this time you have avoided Death, but when your time to die has come, then you will be brought on a longer, more prolonged journey through your life and your experiences.

    Lastly, Dickinson uses images of nature to convey the character's inner landscape.  "We passed the Fields of Grazing Grain-/ We passed the Setting Sun-"  The "Grazing Grain" may signify all of the people that had influenced her life in any way.  This is so because she helped and then moved on, just as she is moving on to another place after she has helped in her life.  The "Setting Sun" signifies the end of the day in relation to the end of her life.  Everyday the sun comes and goes, and this is true among people as well, so that we must move on and continue with our lives.  Deaths occur and they are painful, but it is not something to dwell on rather one should move on with their life.

   "Beacuse I Could Not Stop For Death" by Emily Dickinson portrays many intersting ideas that are particularly important to me.  They allow me to view not only the poem on the outside, but also the author themself from the inside.  All poems have a meaning, and it is up to you to figure out the point that the poet is trying to get across.  At first, it may bot be apparent, but it can be found with a little incite.
















 Sports are extremely popular in America today, for the main reason of interest and pleasure.  Americans buy, and watch things that are going to keep their interest, and things that allow them to enjoy daily.  This is why sports in America are so highly looked upon, as not only forms of recreation, but also a way to make a living.  Karate is no exception to popularity.  Although it may not be as highly watched as say baseball or football, in its own, it grabs the interest of many for the main reason of discipline and self-defense.
     Karate is very much so a sport by definition. It is an event taken place competitively by many people, yet resulting in a form of entertainment.  Karate is a form of martial arts, which is intended not only for defense but recreation as well.  People may engage in karate for defensive skills at first, but often find a greater love that makes then continue and reach their goals.  It is also a source of diversion, in terms that it can be a good way to get away from stress and problems that you may encounter in everyday life.  Karate can be an addictive sport and in most cases, a healthy one, allowing you not only to grow physically but mature mentally as well.
     Brandon Fitzgerald is a young boy who loves the sport of karate, and practices it often.  For him it is not only a means of recreation, but it does more than that. “I feel stronger, faster, and more disciplined.  I am also a lot more confident” (Fitzgerald).  Karate, like many sports, has been Americanized from its original form.  Karate came from Japan as a means martial arts, used in hand-to-hand combat.  Men were trained to be able to protect themselves against invaders and enemies, using only hands and feet.  However, in America, karate is used for self-defense, but also now more of a disciplinary activity. It not only helps you defend yourself but also allows you to mature at a younger age because of the obedience needed to be portrayed to the masters.
     Lastly, at this time of tragedy, and tough stages in American History, more and more people look to karate as a way of strengthening against enemies individually and also as an entire nation.  My cousin Chris, who is a black belt and very much a professional said, “Because of the mental strength the martial arts develops, students get so absorbed in Cardio Karate class, their problems seem a million miles away” (Puleo). Karate is seen as a way to bring people together as a means of common goals.  People want to be ready in tough or unexpected situations, and karate is a sport that teaches you to be alert at all times.  Unity and discipline are a huge part of strength, and they are both combined in karate.
     Karate is a sport that fits the definition, and attends to many willing participants.  It has come a long way from the old Japanese teachings to the more Americanized way forms and techniques.  Because of the tragic time we are in karate is also coming back in popularity as a means of unity and discipline, which is why karate is an American sport.