Writing Portfolio: Five Essays on America



A Ride Home

























The Cookout of a Lifetime

One day I asked my mother as we were sitting in our living room how she and my father met. She claimed she did not remember but I persisted about the topic until she finally woke up out of her half sleep on the couch. I had to coax the information out of her and she eventually woke up and told me the story “I met Donald at a 4th of July cookout part in 1980. I was invited to the cookout at a friends house in Weymouth. I did not know many people that were going but I decided to go anyway, and it’s a good thing I did. While I was there I just hung around talking to people and meeting new people that my friend knew.

A while later I was sitting alone on the front steps of my friends house drinking some lemonade. Everybody else was drinking alcohol and I don’t really like the taste of it so I made some lemonade and camped out on the steps for a while. That’s when your dad came up to me. We started conversation and he asked me what was in the cup. I told him it was lemonade but he didn’t believe me so he took a sip. He then found out it really was lemonade and we got to talking. The party was kind of boring so we decided to walk to the store.

We talked all the way to the store, asking each other questions, talking about random things, and basically just got to know each other. When we got to the store we just looked around and we each bought a soda. He bought mine along with his o I bought us a pack of gum. Then he walked me back to the party where we went our separate ways, but not without each others numbers. After that night and the next days after, we saw more and more of each other.”

This story goes to show what America can truly do. If not for the Forth of July, there would have never been a party, and I may not be writing this right now. I’m sure many other relationships were forged on a Forth of July afternoon at a community party and that the nation, unwittingly, brought together many couples to populate the nation that brought them together.











Nature is constantly changing. A continuous battle between night and day, light and darkness, good and evil. I am just an insignificant observer of the ordered chaos of Nature. “I am part or parcel of God” Emerson said, and this is what I am, too. I only observe God's creations in the shape of a barren yard behind a house in constant motion. I can only hope and dream of becoming godly enough to command Nature in its ruthlessness.

This barren battlefield, unknown, unheard, and left to its own demise, this yard, ever-changing, lives and dies in days and seasons. There is green covering it, fighting, struggling to stay alive against the constant assault of the furious winter. As the leaves fall, the green dies. Brown, dead leaves cover the green in a death shroud. The leaves are blown around, wrestling with the ground in the ultimate struggle for supremacy. Eventually, after the battle is over, the shroud is pulled back, revealing naked, barren rock, tribute to the deadly thoroughness of winter. Not a single animal can be seen or heard, as if in fear of being drawn into the void of death in the yard. Trash and papers litter the sacred place, mocking nature for its valiant struggle. This battle field is nothing but a “yard” to the eyes of the people around it.

Americans are a busy people. Thoreau said “still we live meanly, like ants; though the fable tells us that we were long ago changed into men.” We are “superior” as Americans, yet we can only look at a small piece of life often leaving out Nature. This great part of life is often ignored by us because of our American lives. This land is on American soil, yet it is so much more than land. The land is who we are as a society, preferring monotonous, controllable plastic and concrete to the ever-changing, uncontrollable yard.

I have seen Nature, I have seen American life. Both are better in their own ways, but both are incompatible. We are about control in our lives, yet Nature needs chaos. Nature needs small backyard battlefields to survive and do what it does best: change.





On a long boring car ride Chris, Stephanie, and Jenn began talking about all the fast food chains dotting the side of the road. Jenn asked “how many different chains are there? It seems like there is one on every corner.” This led to a heated debate between Chris and Stephanie about which has the best food. Then Jenn began talking oblivious to Chris and Stephanie’s conversation. Soon Jenn was talking to herself and lulling Stephanie and Chris into a sleep by naming pointless facts she has heard about certain fast food chains.
     Chris yawned very loudly when Jenn stopped to catch her breath and made it very clear that he didn’t care about the pointless facts.Jenn then exclaimed "if you dont start listening or even pretending to car I'm gonna throw you out of this car at very hig speeds and make sure the back wheels get you as they go by!". This comment brought Stephanie and Chris wide awake and they began talking about the restaurants. When they ran out of things about the restaurants Stephanie asked with a sarcastic tone “OK Jenn, if your so smart, what are the facts about 711?” Before Jenn could respond Chris blurted out “its their hours, everybody knows that. They open at 7am and close at 11pm. They are only closed 2 hours.” Before Chris had a chance to respond to his off-the mark remark Jenn began making fun of him. It seems that she was getting him back for the yawn earlier because she didn’t stop until they got home and he finally got away from her.














Walt Whitman wrote many poems in a style called free-verse. Other authors expanded on his writing technique and established stream of thought poetry. Whitman’s poems were predominantly in free verse but he had an exception to his writing. “O Captain! My Captain!” is not in free verse, rather it follows the rules set up by previous poets. It incorporates his trademark thoughts on paper and his patriotic view but also follows a slightly more traditional path he usually takes.

     O Captain! My Captain! Is like a free verse poem by the fact that it tells a story. It was written for the assassination of President Lincoln.
      “My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,  My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will, The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,”

     This is a key example of Whitman’s free verse. It is not a play on words, rather a cut and dry scene of Lincoln dead. He describes, with vivid detail and with a  thought process that continues, the death of Lincoln. There is no set rhyme scheme or a set amount of syllables. It is just a continuous stream of conscience. It is more of a short story within a poem than a true poem. Whitman does not follow a clear cut set of rules, rather he makes them up and critiques them to the part of the poem is he writing. The only rule he uses is one that he made himself; Honor our great President Lincoln.

     Whitman also goes on to show that he can use forms of poetry and is not confined to just free verse. He uses a rhyme scheme and to some extent makes use of repetition. For instance, “O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done,/ The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won,” is a great example of Whitman using a rhyme scheme. The words done and won at the end of each line respectively rhymes creating a rhythm to the poem. “It is some dream that on the deck/ You’ve fallen cold and dead” is another example of Whitman incorporating rhyme scheme into his poem. The word Captain is used in the first line of every stanza which is a concrete foundation in which the poem is built and sculpted from. Also the phrase “my captain” is used three times to stress that Lincoln was Americas own. This is Whitman using repetition within the borders or his work.

     Patriotism is a key factor in this poem because of our undying love for Freedom and justice. The poem still rings true today because every American is still very patriotic and supportive of the United States. It is based on the assassination of President Lincoln and that end of the Civil War. “The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won” is a perfect example of the patriotism. America has survived the Civil war. The prize, equality for all, has been achieved. Whitman sees this as a great accomplishment by Lincoln and sees his death as a sacrifice for the prize achieved by Americans. Also Whitman speaks for every American in his poem, not just himself.

     Whitman uses his free verse to some extent which enriches the poem and gives it a distinctive quality but also plays with word choice to achieve a certain rhyme scheme within the poem. Patriotism is evident like most of his poems and he speaks for the broad group of Americans not just himself. Whitman tells a compelling and tragic story for all Americans to bear witness to no matter how young or old.

























   Golf is a classic sport. It has been around for ages carrying with it a graceful elegance. It is an international “gentlemen’s sport” but has only appealed generally to a select few. Golf games range from get-together friendly activities to  professional outings with millions of dollars at stake.
     If  sport is a competition between two opposing teams and it combines sportsmanship, competition, and teamwork then golf fits this definition to a tee. It is highly competitive with the winner taking home millions while the loser takes home a pair of sore feet for walking all day. It is considered a gentlemen’s sport  so sportsmanship is given the highest regard on the green, and in the rough. Golf is also a sport of teamwork. Whether it be between the caddy and the player or a multi-man team, teamwork is essential in winning the game.
     There are many different types of people that play golf. Some play, some try to play, and some just watch. The ones that play, the professionals make up only a small percentage of the total number of golfers in the United States. They are a select few that know exactly what they are doing and dedicate their lives to it. Tiger Woods, who is a professional golfer, said "Don't make a mental mistake. Think your way around the golf course. If you can just hang around near the lead, anything can happen." (Shipnuck 42) This is a mindset of a world champion professional golfer. He has a concentration that isn’t just a good-time attitude like amateurs. Woods is the premiere golfer and this strategy earned him that title.
     In comparison a regular person can just play for fun and to have a good time. Steve Lee, an amateur of the sport said “I would go golfing just to relax and have and good time. It is not something that requires a lot of time and effort.” This is a very large difference to the mind set of Tiger Woods showing the difference the game is played on each level. While one is a job and a challenge the latter is a recreation and a sport.
     Critics can often be cruel and insensitive or they can be sweet and charming. Rick Reilly said  “There never has been, never will be, a killer like Tiger Woods. Not then, not now, not ever. The boy is a man now, and the man is as unstoppable as winter. He has all the empathy of a Luger. His mind is a lockbox, his will a Russian tank. He is a finisher, in the manner of Luca Brasi or Babyface Nelson. He is the kind of man who buries you, then comes to your grave on your birthday and kicks over your tombstone.” (Reilly 40) In this case the Reilly is cold as stone to every golfer besides tiger but sweet as honey to Woods. Critics of a sport often have many enemies in the form of the players and few friends. They analyze the game and give a direct upfront view of the sport and player. Their evaluations are often terse and to the point but get the players overall effectiveness across. This is the case of Reilly’s comment on Tiger Woods. He is a great golfer that seems unstoppable and Reilly tells people this.
     The sport can be seen all across the country in the form of country clubs with well manicured greens. Americans pride themselves as being sophisticated and classy so they naturally gravitate to Golf. Golf is an elite sport in which wealthy people are often associated therefore every American wishes to be seen playing golf so they can seem wealthy. This mentality has given golf players an aristocratic air about them in the United States. It makes many men want to grow up and be a golf player and earn lots of money like their famous hero’s.