Writing Portfolio: Five Essays on America
Contents

Origins

Nature

Humor

Literature

Sport

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

can remember being young, maybe six or seven years old after watching a movie called “Mouse on the Mayflower” one Thanksgiving day. After watching the movie about the pilgrims making their journey to America to escape Religious persecution, I began to wonder if I too ever crossed the ocean on a boat to come to my new home.

So with much curiosity, I went to my mother and asked her if we ever went across the ocean on a boat, but my mother told me that we didn’t, but her mother did, and told me the story of what happened. About ten years later I was asked to find the earliest story of my family, and I immediately thought of that story my mother told me when I was young. Now, I will tell that story to you. My grandmother Mary Walsh was born in County Cork, Ireland. In 1929, her father John came to the United States to earn some money for a home and for his family to come over as well. My Great Grandfather worked at SWISS, a local slaughterhouse in the Boston area at the time. He worked long, tiring hours for approximately six months until he had come up with enough money to buy an apartment in a duplex home in Allston Massachusetts.

Soon after he bought a place to stay, he paid for his wife Mary, his daughter Mary, his Brother Jerry and son Jerry to come live with him here in America. They boarded a boat in Ireland which would take approximately ten days to cross the Atlantic where they would then live happily in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Despite the joys of moving to America, this trip was the longest ten days of their lives. The days simply dragged along and the nights were so cold that it made sleeping extremely difficult below the deck of the boat. And during those long days which never seemed to end, many of the people on board became so ill from the motion of the ocean that some thought they had somehow contracted the second Back Plague. Close to everyone on board vomited everyday from these rough waters, including the crew, but nobody had it quite as bad as my Grandmother did.

One of the days on board she had been sick throughout the entire course of the day, almost throwing up non-stop. The crew actually began to feel terrible for this little girl, and the captain actually allowed her to come to the bridge and help him steer the boat. Finally, the boat docked here in Boston, and they lived in the home in Allston as a happy Irish-American family. When Mary’s parents had died, she was left the house, where she then raised her children, my mother included.

To this very day my Aunt Pat lives in the very apartment. I like to think of this story as a story which can be used as an inspiration to anyone today. My great grandfather was by no means a rich man that could afford to sail across the ocean with his family and buy a luxury home and live happily ever after. His dream, which he accomplished, took time to achieve, and it took much hard work and a substantial amount of love for his family. Thus, this story could be an inspiration to all who read it because this story proves that with a lot of hard work, determination and the right mind set, dreams can come true.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    The Catholic Church teaches that the human body is a temple in which a spirit lives in. For a little less than two weeks, when I ,daily, walked to the end of the grass yard at St. Theresa’s Church and passed through the rusted chain linked fence, it was as if I had entered a temple with many spirits carousing about. For years I had been here; hid here when playing hide and seek, cutting down bushes and shrubs to make more room for our “hangout” or just sitting around back there shooting the breeze. But never in my eleven years of walking through it or playing in it had I ever appreciated it for its natural beauty but instead appreciated it for what it could do for me. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing, I see all.” As I for twelve days entered and exited this temple, I indeed became a transparent eyeball, seeing all that was going on in nature, but nature not paying any attention to me, as if I weren’t even there, going on about its business like nobody was even watching, like it had nothing to hide or fear. I for once had the opportunity and privilege to be a spectator of all of natures beauty in between the seasons. For twelve days I watched the spirits of nature interact with the world, and what I observed I hope now to relay back to you.


    It was about mid November.  I had just come in from a grueling football practice, and just as the Sun had begun to set beneath the horizon, I decided to take my dog for a walk. I could tell she liked the idea of a quick walk just by the way she galloped my way when I had called for her at our front door. We walked down Landseer St, and turned onto the terrace toward St. Theresa’s Church. We made our way into the Church yard and walked across the more brown than green grass. We had made our way down towards the end of the grass to the point where we were in about ten feet proximity to Centre St. As we were about to cut through the bushes Monsignor Helmick so generously paid for, I looked quickly to my right hand side and saw a place I hadn’t been in a few years now. I saw the hole in the old rusty fence that me and my friends used to pass nearly everyday to enter the place that we could escape to whenever we felt we needed to. As I made my way through, I couldn’t believe what my eyes were relaying back to my brain. So much had changed over so little time.


    The old hollow tree had fallen down and was broken into two halves; the bushes I personally cut through to make room for our hangout had grown back, and wildly at that. As I entered all that I had seen into my memory, it reminded me of the part in the movie Hook, the story of Peter Pan returning to Neverland, when Peter enters his old childhood fort, only to find that it had been torched and was covered over with years of vines and leaves. Coming back, behind the Copley, as we used to call it,  I began to reminisce of the days of yore; hide and seek, snowball fights, climbing trees and hauling rocks at poor defenseless animals all came to mind. This place and I truly had a bit of a past.


    As most people are when they are reunited with something very special to them, I was excited and enthusiastic about returning. So I did just that and returned, the very next day as a matter of fact, and as I made my way through my childhood, I was surprised to see that even more had changed since the last time I had been there. Still, the bushes were regenerating out of control and still lay the old hollow tree in two halves, but overnight still, my childhood play place had changed. During the night, rain had fallen, not exactly a torrential downpour, but enough to soak the trees and shrubs and enough to make you submerge a ways into the soil when you walked on it.My feet, drenched. Again, the Sun was setting and the sky had turned to that pinkish orange that usually triggers the old adage:” Pink sky at night, sailors delight; pink sky in morning, sailors take warning”. Upon my arrival that evening, the pink sky I spoke of was gleaming through the near leafless tree, giving the leaves with droplets of water on them a radiant glow so perfect, that extravagant luminescence that you’d only see in the Heavens above.  This isn’t much of a change to some, but it was to me. Upon seeing this I began to ponder, is it possible for nature to interact with people such as myself? I asked this because as I came back that day, I felt as if nature was looking me dead in the eye and saying “hello”, I felt like it were saying “welcome back”.

   It was Thanksgiving Day the next time that I returned. When I arrived to the silent comfort of the this locale, I found that mother nature had stripped her children of their clothing. All the trees were naked. As a result of the trees nudity, the ground was covered in close to its entirety. The ground was no longer that dirty, brown, ordinary color that the ground usually is, but it was an inordinate mixture of reds, oranges and golds.

But I began to try to explain to myself why the tress leaves were taken from them. Did they do something  that mother nature felt punishment was necessary for their wrong doings? Did she want to show us all that there are consequences when a wrong is committed?  Or was she merely letting go of her children like all mothers must someday do, and leave her beloved children to fend for themselves in the wild? Whatever the reason, I was glad I had a warm home to which I could  return.


    During the twelve days that I now refer to as the return to the Copley, I before my very eyes watched the effects of arguably the most beautiful season of the year unfold. Just as I was standing there, nature, not afraid  nor shy, acted out the season of fall as if it were a person performing in a play. Just as I sat there in awe of what was going on, my eyes wide open as a teens upon viewing his first playmates calendar, I saw that nature may very well, as I thought, have a spirit of its own, much like me. I learned that nature isn’t just trees and flowers, but that it is a lot like humanity; it reinvents itself each year and, over time, whether you want it to or not, it changes. Nature, like a humanity, has a spirit which lives, and whether you notice it or not, it speaks to us all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was time to change classes, wed leave homeroom to go to Math class, then to the Science and Social Studies teacher, and then back to homeroom for English class.  My Math teacher was Mrs. Sullivan, and her class was so easy it would have been moronic not to do well in her class.  After forty-five minutes of long division and exponents, it was off to science and social studies. What shed be teaching was a mystery because she had no system at all for deciding which class to teach. She was really nice and funny, but the thing we found funniest about her was the fact that she was hundreds of pounds overweight, and that if you took the last letter off her first name, it spelled deli.
    But then, it was over. It was back to homeroom, or was it prison. Fact is, Miss St. Charles was the most feared teacher in all of the school. She was even worse than my second grade teacher, Mrs. Sheridan, who made kids soil themselves if they didnt know the correct answer. Miss St. Charles was known to be a great teacher, she just tought in a different way. She would make you feel stupid so that next time you would get the answer right, and for some it worked, it was just that many of us were extremely intimidated by her. I sat in the way back of the class with my friend, Kevin, to be kept from the torture of being called on.
Hey Kev, did you do the homework?  I asked in a soft tone.
What was it? he asked back.
Remember, we had to diagram the sentences on page ninety-four?
Oh yeah, I did the first half, and then said screw it, and that Id get the rest from you.
Tough break kid, I said the same thing.
What do you mean you said the same thing? he asked while his face got all red.
What I mean is I did one through eight, and said Id get nine through sixteen from you.
That wasnt the plan, I was going to do the first half and wed exchange answers in class.he exclaimed.
Sorry buddy, but its just the opposite, you said it yourself yesterday on the way home, you said Ill do the first half and you will do the second part.
Yeah, thats what I said alright, only when I said Ill do the first half, I meant Ill do the first half, you finish up the second part, now we both have the first part done and no clue about the second. he yelled.
You and your bright ideas. I am definatly the brains of this operation. Ever notice how when I call the shots about copying eachothers work, we always get it done and never get caught. But when you take charge, we get sixteen answers done, but theyre all the same questions. I said now getting angry.
Quiet you, I put in just as much to this team as you do. And its not my fault you thought you were I and I were you? he said.
Does that make sense? I said in response.
Oh sweet .....
EXCUSE ME! Who just took the Lords name in vein she said in that scratchy voice everyone feared.
    She stopped calling people up to the board to put up their homework. She began walking around the room to get a good look at us all,wondering which one of us said it. She walked until she was standing right over the heater, which was blowing out all the cold air it could to try and keep us somewhat cool. She stood there, as the air blew through her hair, actually lifting the backside of her wig off her head. The class began roaring with laughter, and she immediatly assumed it was Kevin and I who started the commotion.
You two, again. Its always this corner causing all of the ruckus in here. If you two want to be clowns, be clowns at the front of the classroom and put your answers for number ten and eleven on the board.she uttered.
Id love to, only I finished up to number eight. Kevin mouthed backed.
We would have done the last eight, if you taught us howI responded in a clam manner.
    It sounded really good when it came out, but then I thought about it for a minute, I had just sassed the most demanding old lady in the school, and  that meant either write a letter to my parents, or stay in from recess with her at lunch time. I chose to stay in at lunch. Because Kevin laughed when I said it, he was told to stay in too. It was just the three of us, for the longest forty five minutes ever.
    When everyone had left, Kev and I just stayed there waiting for our instructions. We had asked if we could eat, but she said if we wanted to eat we would have done our homework.
Now you two have been nothing but trouble since September. Ive moved you apart, still trouble, Ive sent the letters home, no change. Now I have you right where I want you, and for these next forty five minutes, I want it completely silent. she said as she began to hack away at her sandwich.
But why am I here, I didnt even do anything. Kevin said trying to save himself.
You want to know why your here. Because for too long you have been getting away with not doing your homework, and what do you have to show for it. These blocks in the wall, are smarter than you are, the leaves on the trees outside have a larger IQ than the two of you combined, thats why your here, to teach you that things will be very different next year if you dont shape up. Now quiet, I like to eat in silence and alone.
But if you like to eat alone, why have you kept us here? Kevin asked.
Oh please, I do not want you two beasts here by any means.
Well thats not true, the first thing you said to us is that now you have us right where you want us, am I right?I questioned.
GET OUT! It is impossible to teach you two. Now just leave me alone
Well if you wanted to be alone, was this the smartest thing? Kev interrogated.
    After he asked that, we didnt take any chances.  We took off in a hurry. We couldnt be sure, but we figured she was pretty irate. She may have been livid, but Id rather say she flipped her wig.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Among many poets we have read throughout the last unit, one sticks out most in my memory. That poet is Emily Dickinson, a Massachusetts native born in 1830 who by the time she had died in 1886 had written 1,775 poems to her credit. Dickinson stands out most to me because she dared to be different in diversified ways, which had people question her way of writing, and her way of thinking. Many of these questions were asked of the poem, "I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died". This poet’s writing ideals are far from that of any of the poets of the time. Emily Dickinson took literary aspects never seen before and fit them into her writing as a norm.


Dickinson is known for her unconventional writing style, but what made her so different from other poets was her use of slant rhyme. Slant rhyme is when the final vowel sounds are similar but not identical. A prime example of this unorthodox rhyme scheme is seen in this excerpt from the first stanza of "I Heard a Fly Buzz":


I heard a fly buzz when I died,
The stillness in the room,
Was like stillness in the air,
Between the Heaves of Storm. (p. 396)


As seen in the following line, Dickinson knows that the reader is waiting after the first line to come across at some point in that stanza a word which rhymes with "died" or "room," however, no words in that stanza rhyme exactly with "died". Instead, she slants it and makes the sounds seem similar but not exact. This rhyme scheme was very strange to see back in the time of Dickinson.
In "I heard a Fly Buzz," Dickinson shows an eccentric use of punctuation. The punctuation she uses in bulk is not what most people would think, and that is what Dickinson does best, she keeps the reader guessing. She overly uses the hyphen in her poetry . In almost every line of her writing the hyphen appears at least once. An example can be seen in the following stanza:


The eyes around-had wrung them dry-
And breaths were gathering firm,
For that last Onset-when the king,
Be witnessed-in the room- (p.396)


The hyphen in most cases is used to show a pause of some kind, but those who study literature seem to believe that Dickinson’s use of the hyphen is to let the reader know that she is not done and there is something else she has to say. Dickinson’s way of writing is a lot like no other because of the topic which re-occurs in many of her poems, death. The average person alive today lives in fear of dieing, so why would somebody write about it? Not only does she write about death, but she actually writes from beyond the grave, as if she was writing the poems while she were dead. You can see this in the poems opening line: "I heard a fly buzz-when I died-." This is very unique because it is a proven fact that after death it would be impossible for Dickinson to pick up a pen and begin writing or even brainstorm what to write down, but it also makes you think of what she is trying to get across through her writing. We believe that writing after death is impossible, but does Emily know something that we do not?


"I heard a fly buzz" contains the three major elements which make her writing so unusual. Dickinson took a chance when writing and made a fine effort to be bold using frightening topics like death to make her point, whatever it may have been. Also, she goes against the old saying: "Give the people what they want." Her slant rhyme does just the opposite, and admirable is her drive to go against the standard set and dare to be in a league all by herself. And lastly the excessive use of hyphens. Nobody can be sure why they are there, but I like how she makes use of them. Not only do they break up the poem nicely, but they also make her poems easy to distinguish from poems of other writers. I like her way of getting the people to know her work. Emily Dickinson’s "I heard a fly buzz" caught my eye because it was so different from poems I had previously read. Usually if the sounds were similar, they were exact rhymes, never had I seen her slant rhyme and never had I read poetry from the other side. For the fact that she made an honest attempt to be distant from other writers, her poetry is easily distinguishable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If there were ever a sport which involved constant physical contact, that sport would be Rugby. Originating back in 1823 at the Rugby School in England when William Webb Ellis picked up and ran with the ball during a Soccer game, Rugby is today played in over one hundred countries, some even at the professional level. For years Americans have been playing the sport in place of Football hoping to get the same hard hitting action from Rugby. Something that has puzzled many is how a sport which is not American by any means has become so popular in so little time. What is it about Rugby that is so fascinating and so exciting that people from all around the United States have forgotten about Basketball and thrown out their Baseball mitts so they could concentrate on a sport which came from Europe?
    Before one can discuss the game, one must understand first the rules and regulations of the game. The object of the game is similar to that of Football. One player on the field with fourteen teammates must carry a larger version of a football down the field and attempt to get the ball into the opposing teams in goal. The player with the ball can throw it to a teammate either behind or parallel to him, forward passes are not allowed. The player can also kick the ball to another teammate or ground it to him (kicking it to a player, only having the ball hit the ground first).  Carrying the ball or kicking it into the in goal is known as a try and is worth five points. A goal kicked over the crossbar, as a penalty kick is worth three points. The ball must be dropped and it must hit the ground before kicking it. A goal scored after a try, equivalent to football’s extra point, by kicking it over the crossbar is worth two points. The team with the most points at the end of regulation wins the match. Rugby in essence is football with a few minor changes, such as the use of protective equipment.
    On April 12, 2002, former CM student and captain of the Harvard Rugby team, John Mazza, led the Crimson into the 2002 Ivy League Rugby tournament. After coming out on top of their first two matches, Mazza and Harvard ended up with a third place finish in the tourney. John had the following to say about their finish when I spoke with him after watching s practice on April 16th: "Given the rowdy nature of the game, we sustained a lot of injuries. When we played Brown I ended up rolling my ankle and my roommate took a disgusting hit and nearly dislocated his shoulder, just naming a few. Because its all a part of the game, you brush it off and you go back to work. All in all we did pretty well, we took third in the Ivy’s, but I still believe if we were healthy we would have won the whole thing." As seen in John’s quote, Rugby is not a sport to take lightly. When your out on the field, you better believe that your going to get hit and after the game is through, your going to feel it in the morning. Also you can see that a healthy team is a winning team. In football small injuries can be dealt with, but if your not at your best at all times, victory will not come at all easy, if at all. In an attempt to discover what it is about Rugby that is so great, I asked him how he got involved with it. "For years I had been playing and refereeing soccer. I had always loved and wanted to play football but was never big enough. Rugby took my two favorite sports (Football/Soccer) and turned them into one. I was skeptical about trying out for the team given my size, but when I had noticed guys half my size were out on the field I said I’d give it a shot." I also had a chance to get John’s input on the physical toughness one must have in order to play. "Don’t get me wrong. Mental toughness is a key factor in most sports, but if your body is not physically tough enough to take a hit from as many as six or seven people at a time continuously throughout the game without any pads to absorb the pain, this is not your sport. It’s a great time and I’d encourage all to try it, but if your not into black and blue, I’d stick to soccer." To play a sport like football, muscle is needed to beat out the competition. However, in John’s case, size did not matter. John succeeded with his speed advantage, mental power and ability to walk on through a series of cruel, relentless beatings.
    Collegiate level Rugby must be hard enough, but imagine it at a level even above that. Yes, there is a professional Rugby League. It hasn’t yet hit America like the lower ranks have, but Americans have actually left the country to play the game. A prime example is Ian Roberts. Ian was born in the States but currently lives in Sydney, Australia and plays at the professional level. Roberts is a legend in Australia for his immense ability, setting the stage for how a player should play the game. "I try to run faster, hit harder, kick farther and play better every time I go out to play." Ian however has endured his share of the aches, having had major knee surgery and nearly calling it quits do to the dangers of losing a leg. "I’ve thought of going into acting, maybe calling the games from a press box, but in the end I know I’ll be playing the game until I cease to get out of bed in the morning." If the game isn’t as good as people like Ian have it out to be, them I am missing something.
    So why do Americans crave playing the game of Rugby? Since receiving the assignment I have made attempts at playing pick-up Rugby games with my friends just to see what it’s like, and it is nothing less than intense. Watching is one thing, playing is a whole new ballgame. Perhaps it is the toughness one must have to play the game which attracts Americans to the game, toughness and the need to be number one at everything which Americans have always craved. Maybe football players just want to keep playing football, but because their season is over they attempt the next best thing. Because I am not too big on having my knees crippled and shoulders dislocated, Rugby isn’t the sport for me, but many American males are drawn to this sport like bees to honey. This European sport has become an American fad because it gives the people what they want: fast paced, hard hitting, bumped and bruised action. It takes football and removes the pads and adds a European accent that makes the average American athlete look like a titan.