Tuesday, February 12. 2013
NOTE: This isn't yet finished, but I'll open it now and keep updating until it's done.
For writers, this was where some sort of dusty magic lived, and people came looking for it as if visiting a religious shrine, leaving an offering and hoping something intangible would be given in return.
We covered three short pieces of literature over the course of our first Nesting Doll Day last week: W.C. Heinz’s Death of a Racehorse, Gare Joyce’s The Cult of Death of a Racehorse, and Wright Thompson’s Four Nights at Elaine’s: The Last Will and Testament of a Great Saloon. Each of these works will thread their way throughout the semester in the form of references and connections to our larger works (i.e., our novels and films). On their own, however, their immediate value lies in the writing prompts they’ve provided for us.
I gave you a different prompt last Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I’ve replicated each here for your benefit below.
Tuesday: The Mirror
A couple of years back, I set about re-reading American Mirror, and only then did I think about the title. When I bought the book, one of my life’s great bargains, I presumed that it was your basic metaphor: the author holding up a mirror to look at brave men. That, it turned out, was too obvious, too easy. No, what Heinz did was a little more complex: He handed the mirror to others and captured them looking in it.
Many of my past students have insisted that they don’t want their funerals to be sad, dire affairs. They’d prefer for those who gather to honor their passing to celebrate the life they were able to lead, to remember their times together fondly and take comfort in having known them while they could. It’s a noble sentiment, and one that Wright Thompson seems to subscribe to: when Elaine’s closes, his friends go to celebrate, not just the bar, but their pasts, presents, and futures: “It felt like the end of something, and a beginning, too.”
I’ve often wondered whether those students, so intent on having their existences celebrated, had taken the time to consider how they would be celebrated, what would be celebrated – whether, indeed, they’d lived lives worthy of celebration. (It’s one thing to assume, rightly, that people will miss you if you go…but have you pursued a course that would have people saluting you in absentia?)
Thompson raises his glass to Elaine, to Willie Morris, because he had something to say about each. In Elaine’s case, he shares a small anecdote – the “Did I do good?” tale – that captures a snapshot of that particular woman’s nature. In Morris’s, he’s toasting a man whose accomplishments he admired and whose influence helped shape the course of his own career. Joyce raises his glass to W.C. Heinz, a man he felt – strongly – deserved more recognition than he’d received. And similarly, Heinz documents Air Lift’s demise in order to preserve a memory of a life that’d otherwise have been forgotten.
If we’re raising our glasses to you, how would our toasts unfold? What would we say?
(NOTE: No sarcasm, biting humor, withering self-deprecation, etc. The prompt concerns celebration specifically; if you’re going to share something, it needs to fit the prompt.)
Wednesday: Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices
A bar is its own world from the sidewalk, with blurry figures and muffled laughter, the melodic little music of whiskey and ice. The door is never as heavy as you expect it to be.
Thursday: Light Something
…The next morning, I told my parents about [North Toward Home]. My mom smiled. It was one of her favorite books, too. My dad was friends with Willie [Morris], so a few days later, my own copy arrived with an inscription. He also sent me New York Days, in which he talked about his writing life, and a lot about a bar called Elaine’s. Those two books lit something…
…I thought about reading North Toward Home almost 20 years ago, setting into motion everything that’s happened since. I thought about the places writing has taken me, and the places I’ve yet to go. I thought about Elaine.
The guidelines for this specific post are as follows:
Title your piece in two parts. To the left of the colon, identify which of the three prompts you’re responding to; to the right of it, give your piece its actual title. (For example: Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Where the Streets Have No Name)
The piece you post needs to clearly be superior to whatever you would’ve produced by hand during the 25 minutes or so of class time I allowed you to dedicate to your rough draft. Your post should be at least three seven-sentence paragraphs long, and punctuation, grammar, and mechanics all count towards your grade: Please try to post insightful, specific, and polished pieces.
Make sure you include a note to the person who offered you suggestions and feedback during the drafting stage. Name them explicitly: “To Iris: I took your advice regarding my discussion of my father. I think you’ll find the new portrayal more rewarding and complex; in retrospect, I agree that I sketched him a bit shallowly. Thanks as well for the suggestion regarding my introduction; I kept most of it because I liked it, but you’ll see that the transition between it and my first body paragraph is substantially smoother.”
Written feedback for at least two of your peers is required! Congratulate them, praise them, ask them questions...reach out! There’s no comment limit for this thread, so if you feel like talking to your peers, follow your instincts! Check your work to see if someone left feedback for you, and start conversations with your readers – and classmates!
(Note: While the feedback posts don’t have to contain praise, you shouldn’t worry about offering grammar fixes and critical suggestions regarding repairs. Discuss the ideas and substance of the post. If you feel compelled to comment on someone else’s form, it should be because you want to express your appreciation for some nifty mechanical trick they pulled off. Leave the writing instruction to me, please.)
One more thing: as you develop as writers, your pieces should look more and more constructed. By that, I mean they should demonstrate not simply knowledge of writing as a craft, but an awareness of how to make your work truly profound. As we move through the semester, practice writing not simply as students, but as creators. Experiment with writing, in other words, as writers do.
Finally, please remember to nominate two of your peers for their excellent work.
The due dates for the respective components of the assignment are as follows:
+ Your main post is due to both the blog and Turnitin.com by 11:59pm on Thursday, February 14th.
+ Your feedback is due by 11:59pm on Friday, February 15th.
+ Your nominations are due by 11:59pm on Sunday, February 17th. (It’s a three-day weekend. Don’t forget!)
As always, write well, think well…and good luck.
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Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: The Wash
Sophomore summer, a fun summer.
A summer of amends.
A summer of renewal.
A summer of freedom.
I had finished the dread of sophomore year at Arcadia High School. A school year of hearts breaks, conflict, experience, loss of friendships and gains of others.
Summer school at Monrovia had begun. Making up a freshman year English class, it was quite easy to get 110% on everything I did. Friends from Arcadia High came along with me to Monrovia High summer school. They had classes they had to make up as well. But, it was towards the end of the day that the real memories began.
My group of friends consisted of John Jacobsen, Anthony Nappier, Joshua Duarte, Sidd Rajpoot, Kyle Barajas, Amanda Mansoorbakht and Kristyn Williams. When we weren’t spending our summer days watching new episodes of Teen Wolf or performing crazy stunts on a wannabe Jackass, we were taking our bikes or long boards down Monrovia towards El Monte.
Towards a place where we can be free…
… The Wash
A dam located by a lake with a bike trail. The water level would change every day depending on the weather or amount of rainfall. If you had a bike or board, you were able to go down the side of the dam at a speed of at least 25 miles per hour. Some of us would “eat dirt”. Some of us wouldn’t. I did a few times. The feeling of going down the dam was a sensation, a rush. The wind would blow in your face as adrenaline pumped through your veins. The rush you would feel when you hit the bottom of the dam and end up covered in dust. We would hang out at the top of the damn. We would sit and talk about anything. We were free from the daily hassles of life, and that’s a feeling not many were blessed with.
The trip to the Wash was just as fun as being there. We would start off from my house, or John’s, and take our rides down there. The sun would blaze down on us as the cool, summer breeze blew through our hair while we skate down 10th street. Once we hit the bike road, the beauty of the lake became apparent to us. The water would reflect the sun.
The talks we would have as we biked through the trail.
We felt happiness.
We felt free.
We were all together, and nothing there would come between us. It was a place we shared, a place we loved. It was a place we looked forward to as we waited for dreadful summer school to end. It was the place that meant something to all of us…
… The Wash
To Nick P. and Nick S.:
I would like to thank the two of you for helping me put my paper together. You guys emphasized that I should include more descriptive words and I did. Nick Pulciano, you told me to explain what made the wash so special and what we did and so i made sure to include it. Nick Sergi, you emphasized about how I need to follow up in my writing, and so i did. Thank you guys so much. You helped me piece this together.
Hey Jeremy, it's awesome that I can relate to your blog because I have a connection with the same place! Over the summer my friends and I would stock up on 2 liter sodas at the liquor store close to the entrance of the bike trail, then we would spend our whole day at the lake. We built the bike jumps across the golf course and go airsofting in the small forest along the lake. We are still planing on some "Jacka**" stunts as well like building a jump into the lake and boogie boarding down the steep section of the wash. It is hard to find a place where we live like the wash where you can feel free to do what you want. There are still many adventures that await us there!
Woow jeremy I really liked it, I could'nt help stop thinking how that wash looks like. I think you did a really good job with the details.
Hey Jeremy. In cross country we run down the wash quite often. I gotta say, it feels amazing when you get to run down that bike trail and see that sparkling dam. The wash is just so tucked away and hidden that you feel like you can escape the world just for a bit.
From the high school, the lake is about the four mile mark, and about when the runner's high starts to kick in for me. That, combined with the scene of the lake is just so surreal. Thanks for bringing the wash to the blog!
I love how your post was straight to the point and very well-organized. After reading about the wash, it makes me so eager to see how one's trip there can be so memorable.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Where You Must Go
At first, I couldn’t think of a special place that had a largely significant meaning to me. Of course there was my home, as described previously, but everyone has a place called home that they hold dear to them. Home is not unique because everyone has one. For everywhere else, I try not to get too attached to a place because I know nothing lasts forever and I’d have to part with it eventually.
I hate saying goodbye.
However, upon further contemplation, it dawned on me that there is one place that has more meaning to me than any other place I have ever been to so far. It’s the place where I think I have done almost everything. It’s the place where I sleep, eat, study, sing, dance, cry, live. It’s there where my entire childhood took place and where I’ve seen the place change with me. In there, as time rolls on, things get older, layers of dust settle, paint chips, furniture moves, songs are written, ideas are scratched, walls are repainted, pictures added, food spills, games are played, and lives begin and end.
Saying goodbye is the most hated part, the hardest part. I don’t know how I will react seeing the area clear of its contents. I don’t want to know what it will feel like having the knowledge that there exists a hollow hole in the side of living space without the usual boy inside it, or that most of the things will be in brown boxes and sent over to another living space where everything seems foreign.
There may be the same contents, but a different environment makes all the difference.
I’ve built memories and stored them all in one location. From day one until now, I build and build and build and then throw it all in one place to start over again because what I’ve built can’t get any taller. Everything that I can’t seem to remember is in that place so that at a glance I can remember and have proof of the event. It’s so crowded in there that I guess I’m supposed to move away from it and start anew. I don’t want to leave; I’m not quite ready yet.
But, it’s better if I leave, that way, my life will go on.
I want to thank Natalia Chang for telling me what she liked and disliked about my Light Something article. It was a little boring and not well thought out so I decided to write about Blurry Figures and Muffles Voices. Also, thank you for helping me think of a special place where I'd want to revisit so that I have something to write about.
Hi Daryl, I totally agree with your points. The place you described is definitely somewhere I should visit. Great job!
I'm really glad you took my advice into consideration, it's really nicely written. I'm glad I that you thought my advice was useful. Great job on the post! I really liked it.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Knotts Just a Theme Park
If everything I once cherished was to be demolished, there is one place I would jump at the chance to revisit (above most of the rest). Knotts Berry Farm. It was probably the first amusement park I ever enjoyed going to, considering my extreme hatred of roller coasters, and grueling fear of heights.
As a kid, my mom would constantly force me onto rides like “Batman” at Six Flags, or the “Matterhorn” at Disney Land (I know it is not a scary ride… but I used to think it was), resulting in the usual struggle and my arms and legs wrapped around a post of some kind. Knotts was different. It was the first time I ever went to an amusement park without being forced to ride a hellish coaster.
In the eighth grade, my entire grade level got to go on a field trip to Knotts Berry Farm. We split into groups of friends and toured around the grand park. We rode some rides, that did not make me feel like passing out, ate some funnel cakes topped with powdered sugar and boysenberries, and met up with our favorite Peanuts characters. I always loved Charlie Brown. It was here that I realized that I had never really been anywhere with my friends before. I had never really hung out with them. Knotts changed that, it gave me a chance to see my friends outside of a school setting. Something I will never forget, nor reflect badly upon.
Years later, I returned to Knotts with new friends. My expectations were high, but they were still met, surpassed even. We rode the log ride and were greeted by the most horrifying elf figures, their faces chipped and paled from the sun and wind. We rode a spinning ride that crushed those sitting on an outside seat and watched laughing as a dear friend was crunched beneath the weight of another friend. We rode a rapids ride to escape from walking, only to get soaked to the bone as the sun set. I even witnessed a family friend get stuck on a ride, and called out for calling Lucy’s hair messy during the Peanuts show. I shared many laughs at that park. It means a lot to me. It is a place I where I am free to be myself and have fun. It is the place where I learned what being a friend truly meant. It is a place I can proudly declare to be the foundation of some of my best memories.
To Kristina: Thank you for reading my "Light Something" idea, I appreciated it a lot. You were right about my lack of summery, it would have been a confusing read. I had forgotten many details about that book, so many in fact, that I decided to change to topics to "Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices." Thanks again for the advice, and sorry I did not choose that topic. Hopefully I made up for it by using more recent memories, and a more meaningful topic (to me).
The description of the park and funnel cakes made me wish i was at Knotts right now! I had this field trip too but it did not mean as much to me as it did to you, it's great to see how anything can impact a person's life...it just depends on how we look at it.
Don't stop with the descriptions!
First, I would like to acknowledge you for having such an amazing and funny title. In fact, that was what first drew me to your post.
I can totally relate to you about your extreme fear of heights. I'm the same way. Heights are my biggest fear and I can never seem to overcome it, even when I want to. In fact, Knotts Berry Farm was the place where I first faced my fear of heights. I decided to ride on Ghostrider for the first time when I went for my birthday four years ago. I was scared out of my mind. I clung onto my best friend who was sitting next to me and screamed at the top of my lungs. But that feeling of beating your fear of heights and being in a place that feels magical is something I can relate to.
I also love how you wrote about all of your memories in a childlike way. It made me think back to the times I've spent at the park and the memories I have formed there throughout my visits.
i am so glad you mentioned Ghost Rider! My friends convinced me that it was not as bad as it looked, so I rode it too. They definitely lied to me... but I had fun... in an odd terrified sort of way. Ghost Rider was my first ride too!
I'm glad you have a place like Knott's Berry Farm where you have such fond memories. I also went on this field trip in 8th grade, but I didn't have the same experiences you did (in fact, I had some bad memories). I hope you can go back soon and revive and make some new memories!
Hi Kayla, I understand the feelings you have when you go to on the rides. I personally love roller coasters since I was little, and every time I go there it would litereally bring back my childhood memories. Thanks for the great post and memories you shared!
Nice job on the descriptions you used in your post! I felt you were really able to bring Knotts to life in your post with such vivid detail.
I really loved your post because I can relate to your feelings. Knotts has become such a special place for us, and I'm glad I got to share those memories with you. I hope we can continue making more memories in the future.
I loved this post! I have fears of heights and roller coaster too. The way you describe your memories brings alot warmth to me and I think invoking that makes your post a winner.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: The seaside trail
The gravel crunches beneath my Nike tennis shoes and the sea breeze runs through my tangled hair, as I walk along the old worn trail. An old worn path that winds along the shore along the rusted old train tracks. This place holds many memories of lazy afternoons I spent hiking with my aunt and my sister. I used to collect the sea shells on the sandy shore and try to cram them all into my jacket pockets. We would laugh if a few shells were completely smashed by the end of the journey.
The path was hidden, scarcely anybody walked along the dusty dirt road. I liked this better; it was like a hidden gem. On sunny days, you could see the dolphins swimming in an endless sapphire blue ocean. On overcast days there would be mist and fog along the dull black waves. Each time we walked the trail we saw something new. A dog that looked like a small bear, a fish jumping clean out of the water and even a kid dressed like a robot.
Walking along the train tracks was also good fun. I used to try to balance along the rails until I heard the wailing of the train nearby. Then I would dash off of the tracks and into the piles of rocks that surrounded the tracks and scare away a few striped little lizards that were sunbathing nearby. Along that old trail were small areas where you could just stare into the deep blue sea. Some days it would be impossible to see where the sky ended and the ocean began. Other days the surf would be busy with surfers and kite surfers as well as paddle boarders.
It is here that my memories bring me. To the long walks I took with just my aunt and my sister. To the glimmering sea beside a worn old trail. This place just seems a part of me; I would always like to return to this natural wonder of a path, this hidden jewel. This would be the place I visit one last time, this would be the memory I want to preserve.
Kayla read my Light Something post but not my Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices entry. I thank her for her criticisms and because of them I decided I liked this post better. My Light Something post was not very detailed as she pointed out, and was not as fun, which made me make the decision to change my entry altogether.
Thank you for your criticisms Kayla, you were right about the lack of detail and depth. I feel much better with this post
Great post! I love how you described your hidden path, it contained great imagery and I hope I will see this place someday! Good job!
I liked the way you used your imagery to help with how this place was important to you. I also like how you talk about all the treasured memories that are brought back to you by this trail
I love your vivid description of this place; it really made the place seem lively. Hope to visit this amazing place in the near future. Thanks for the read!
I am amazed with the detail and imagery that you used! I was able to picture myself be the seaside trail. Your language was simple, yet direct and it carried me through the rest of your entry. Good job!
I really enjoyed reading your blog because it took me to a location where I have not been to before. Although I have been to the beach, the way you described the location was beautiful. It makes me want to go to the beach again just to relax and to enjoy the breeze if the ocean. Good job!
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: A World of My Own
Daily life gets overwhelming – unfulfilled desires and frustrations take a toll on rapidly aging minds. You think about that test you failed, the frustration that comes with the sport you love, the girlfriend who has been acting strangely. Few people have the luxury of peace of mind, and for certain I am not one of those people, despite how well I like to think I am able to control my mind. However, I have a personal remedy for it all: my special place – my place where I can go to forget my problems and my insecurities, if only for a short while. It seems terribly cliché to describe it as magical, but it most accurately describes the effect the place has on my mind. Troubles vanish like dreams shortly after waking; I cannot remember them if I try. Being there is living your most nostalgic of daydreams – it is a renewal of happiness, of the past, and of the hope for a bright future.
I am lucky enough to sneak a visit to my place nearly every week, sometimes with my family, sometimes with my girlfriend, sometimes alone. I savor every stifled voice in the crowd, every note of nostalgic music. I often enjoy sitting with my eyes closed, letting my sense of hearing and smell paint the masterpiece on the canvas inside my eyelids. It seems to me that all scents in this place are unique to it. The smells cannot be tagged with names either, the blend of sugar, popcorn, musty water, flowers, pastries, rocks and wood, mechanical grease, motor exhaust, fire, and other undeterminable scents should be bottled up and sold; it is the most delightful combination to ever pass through nostrils. There is so much to see and to learn; something new every single time I’m there. When I am there it is my own world – my own world devoid of trouble, with the impossibility of disappointment. To take this away from me would be to destroy a part of me that has grown since I was a young boy, like taking an arm or a leg.
Nearly everyone knows my place, and nearly every one of that nearly everyone has experienced at least a small portion of the bliss that I describe. Far less however take pleasure in the details as I do.
It seems impossible to be sad or alone. Even when I am there alone it does not diminish the tranquility. After all it has been deemed as the Happiest Place on Earth.
“To all that come to this happy place: welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future.” – Walt Disney on Disneyland’s opening day ( July 17, 1955)
“I don't want the public to see the world they live in while they're in the Park. I want to feel they're in *another world*.” – Walt Disney
Note: I scratched my original Blurry Figures and Muffled voices and began this one on my own.
I like the detail you go into describing Disneyland and how YOU take it in (the smells and scents descriptions were great!). At first, I was wondering what place you initially were talking about (where you can "escape"), but by the end I knew you were obviously talking about Disneyland! It really kept me wanting to read more. I also enjoy how you talked about how you went there as a kid and that Disneyland is your place where you can get away from it all. As a child I went there a ton too and as a fellow, avid D-land lover, I truly enjoyed reading your entry. Great work!
I really liked this piece! I mean I already know you are the biggest Disneyland freak around and I love talking to you about Disneyland because it gets me so excited. I can see how this place is truely your world. IT where you feel like you can be yourself at the happiest place on earth. This was really well written and very discriptive. I loved it!
P.S. We still need to go to Disneyland
I totally agree with what you are saying! Disneyland is honestly magical. I loved it as a kid and I still love it now. We should definitely go with our girls or something sometime. Great blog though buddy. I like the scent description. I know that exact scent.
I loved the way you started, calling "me" out, making it interactive and engaging. I also really liked your tone of appreciation when you described your place,"I am lucky enough to sneak a visit to my place nearly every week." You are obviously a great writer, there were so many awesome elements in your piece, such as the complex description of smell. However, if there is one suggestion I may make, the quotes at the end threw me off a little, they just felt a little random.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Once Upon a Time & Happily Ever After
Once upon a time, there was a house I lived in - it was a house where all of my adolescent fantasies came true, a truly magical house.
The house was neatly tucked behind beautifully mowed lawns, with flower hedges peeking at the edges of the delicate sidewalk. A row of cordially tended flower bushes lined up harmoniously in front of the lawn, singing the mellow song of springtime.
A bare tree with the crisp white bark peeling off of the rich brown core sat comfortably at the edge of the lawn. My brother and I used to climb on the tree - play on it. My brother pretended to be a pirate, and I, a beautiful princess. Together we sailed the wild seven seas on our grand vessel - the tree. On that tree, we warded off evil and saved countless lives of innocent civilians; on that tree, we were heroes.
After I got tired of sailing the harsh seas, I would use the bolstering branches to climb onto the roof of my house. I knew very well I was banned from climbing onto the roof, but the scenery from the roof was breathtaking. It was a risk worth taking. As the daytime light meandered lazily towards night, the skyline and clouds would be ignited with fiery reds, temperate oranges, and a sensational pink; creating the most natural and ethereal combination of warm colors. It was truly a stunning sight, a sight worth getting in trouble for.
This house was my wonderland. And sometimes in wonderland, contingent chances for both the good and bad would occur. On the arbitrary chances of good happening, my father would find his way home. Whenever he saw me, he would swing me up into his arms and twirl me through air that would be filled with my buoyant laughter. On the arbitrary chances of bad happening, my father would disappear for a few months, and my mother would throw tantrums because of accumulated stress from work, and a missing husband.
Things started to change. The contingency for the good manifested less, and instead the contingency for the bad accrued, hoarding my fantastical lifestyle with devious vigor. My father came home less, my mother’s tantrums exploded on a daily basis, and suddenly my secret spot on the roof soon became a haven for my tears.
The house was sold. My parents divorced.
In that house, I left behind my childish fantasies. I grew up and forgot how to use my imagination to see trees as magnificent ships. Reality hit me, and I no longer pretended to be the princess of my house. I immersed myself in my school studies, and stopped looking for dwellings where I could revere over the grace of nature.
I miss those days. I miss those fantasies.
The house was sold a couple of times afterwards. The most recent owners extended the roof upwards, added a T.V cable receiver on the roof, and chopped off the beautiful white tree I used to fantasize on. Yellow patches of grass blotch the untidily shaved lawn, and piles of dirt lump repulsively around the edges of the gum infested sidewalks. The row of flower bushes stand naked, screaming the doleful song of dereliction. The walls of the house are brimmed with small erosions, and abhorrent weeds creep up on the yellowing foundation of the house.
Even after the house has been assailed with the imprudent care of the current owners, I still view the house with the same fiery and passionate gaze. Even after the house has spiraled to a whole new exterior, I can still see my once-upon-a-time castle where everything came true. Even if I have left behind my childish fantasies, and stopped searching for the charms of nature, I still stop by this house every once in awhile. I stop by to admire the house that has made me appreciate the priceless moments in the life, and realize that these moments will one day become snapshots to memories worth remembering.
We all have somewhere, some place that has impacted our lives - that somewhere has filled our lives with memories worth remembering. These memories are what make the fleeting vivacities of life worth living for, and these enticing vivacities of life are what create memories worth looking back at. And sometimes life moves too fast to be appreciated, but when that happens I take my time to stop by my old house to remember that these memories of our life is what begin our once-upon-a-times and make our lives worth living to our happily-ever-afters.
To Cindy: Thank you for suggesting that I somehow elaborate more of the detail of my house, and suggesting I appeal more to the senses of my readers. I also thank you for suggesting that I should somehow subtly tie my father into the story of my special place. I took on your suggestions and they have made my blog more connectable and understandable, thank you again.
I'm speechless. This has more color and flavor than my favorite supreme pizza experience...and that's a lot.
This is a very good piece of writing. I commend your risk taking, and writing such a personable blog. You are a very good writer. I was enganged for every second of the blog.!
Your story moves my heart. When I was reading it, I could feel the sadness and happiness you described vividly. I could even see the beautiful sky view on your old house's roof in my imagination. Thank you for sharing this. I wish you a happily-ever-after!!
Wow, I really enjoyed reading this blog of yours. It kept me on the edge of my chair wanting to read more and more. Thank you for posting such a good blog
I really loved your first few paragraphs. They were so descriptive and I felt like I could actually see what you are describing. Props to you for being so brave as to write about your personal life and things that are often hard to speak of; I admire that.
I can relate to how your house is now mistreated by new owners. At times, I also drive by my old house and I just can’t believe that I actually lived there - the new owners stripped away the beauty and memories that I held so dearly to my heart.
Nonetheless, great job on your post! I can see that you put a lot of heart into this!
I like your story because I know how it feels, my parents divorced few years ago. Sometimes, I miss how closed and happy my family were. Everything became memories now, I want to go back but I can't.
Hi Nina, thank you for writing this wonderful post. It really got me into it. The decriptions you used were really great and it was enough to picture in my heart. I pray that you will make greater memories from where you are.
I'v lived in the same house my whole life, so I never could figure out why my dad had to stop every once in a while to show me his childhood homes. He grew up in Arcadia, and graduated Arcadia High Class of 74. And he always takes me by his old homes, one on Magna Vista, and the other on third. I found it annoying that we always had to detour to see these random houses, and sometimes my sister and I mock him for it. But now I get why. Thank you for helping me understand my dad better.
I'm glad that my blog has made you understand your father more, that really means a lot to me that my blog can actually relate to my readers.
Thank you for taking your time to read my blog
Even if your first couple of paragraphs reek of Deliciousness.
I really enjoyed reading your blog post this week, it really made me wonder about my previous homes and I'm glad you shared this with all of us. I know it's extremely difficult to talk about your personal life, but I appreciate what you wrote.
wow you're writing style and how you describe things actually creates images in my head because its so good. I like your statement about how we all have places that has affected us. I've enjoyed reading your post! thanks.
Very nice wording and very descriptive! Sorry about the divorce, truly a wonderful piece of work you done!
Thanks for taking your time to read my post! Your complement means a lot to me.
I always enjoy reading your post Nina!! I like how your posts are always descriptive. I can almost picture every single thing you wrote. Thank You for the great post!
Hi Jenny thanks for reading my blog! I'm glad you can picture my house through my words, that means a lot to me
Wow! Another great post, Nina! I really enjoy reading your post. I can't imagine the sorrow and pain you'd been through. You expressed your feeling in a way that I could feel your emotion channeling through your descriptive and vivacious writings. Keep up the good work and thanks for the read!
Just wanted to know that you are an absolutely fantastic writer. All the descriptions and vivid images came together so seamlessly to form one big story, and I was immediately captivated from your very first sentence. I can tell that your former house meant a lot to you, and that touches me particularly because I, too, have had a very strong connection to my previous home. Keep up the good work!
Just wanted to know that you are an absolutely fantastic writer. All the descriptions and vivid images came together so seamlessly to form one big story, and I was immediately captivated from your very first sentence. I can tell that your former house meant a lot to you, and that touches me particularly because I, too, have had a very strong connection to my previous home. Keep up the good work!
Nina, I think you are a really creative writer. The blogs you post are so interesting and it really draws me into reading the whole thing word by word. I enjoy reading all of your blogs and you did a good job on this one. Keep up the good work.
I think you are a GREAT writer! When I read your post, it kept making me want to read more. I like how you describe the sky and everything else. I enjoyed reading this, great job!
When I started reading this I was expecting another post of pure imagery and no message, but I was pleasantly surprised. The imagery was beautiful but the message you managed to convey and the topics you managed to cover were very well integrated into your piece. You never fail to impress, Nina . That's another nomination your way.
Light Something : Bridging Reality with Fudge
Often the first theme that appears in my head would be fantasy if I was approached with the topic of books. Non-fiction and realism in stories always struck tones of boredom to the mind of mine. Nothing magical ever happens. No dragons or knights in shining armor, no archery or old-wizened men with beards that reached to their toes. Classic fairytales in medieval wonderlands simply surrounded much of my reading youth. It later broadened my capacity to explore the natural world through science books rather than stay home and peruse my already played list of video games. The thought of exploring the unknown became my prime drive and motive, yet I wished none of it to happen physically to me. I fulfilled that desire within the dark banks of my room and den, exploring without going anywhere in encyclopedias and save-the-princess stories.
Elementary school English was a natural breeze for a kid who was at least open-minded to the concept of reading. Like all students, book reports were a required minimum to the class curriculum. Unlike my peers, I had the upper hand. Fantasy books quickly became my go-to weapon for conquering the nasty, boring paper write-ups, mainly for their similarity in theme. Each story was focused on an epic quest or objective, and simply summarizing them in great detail was enough for my teachers to move me past the ranks of 4’s to E’s. My 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Keene, wasn’t too keen about letting me abuse this advantage much longer. After noticing my trend of never-ending fantasy stories for her reports, she pulled me out and insisted I try something different for a change. I was asked to stop reading the books I liked, and instead start plowing through books I held with distaste. I didn’t refuse the challenge, but I had nowhere to start and quickly reached a point of complete loss on what to do for the next report.
If my capacity to read was given by a plentiful source or fountain, then my mom would be that structure. She encouraged me to read at a very early age, and had supported me ever since with frequent trips to the library to pick out new novels and series for me. I never backed down from any of the stories she offered unless it was non-fiction, and now seemed to be the time to break that streak. I informed her of my predicament, and in the days that passed she recommended a perfect tale to begin my journey into the normalcy of literature. It was a decent sized paper-back, with white backgrounds and a curious image of two boys and a myna bird. Emblazoned from side to side were the words “Fudge-a-mania” by Judy Blume.
The story followed the life of an average Joe surrounded by a family that would drive anyone off the deep-end. It caught me with comedic chapters and scenes, and explored the life I didn’t live here in Arcadia, sheltered by the Asian culture we up bring ourselves into. One of the characters even had a pet bird and obsessed over it frequently, much like how I did with my two parakeets. It felt real, yet unreal as the events that occurred across the novel were both far-fetched and easy to grasp as something that could happen every day. My mind first explored how it would be to live the life and childhood of another, in pure green jealousy that my youth fully expressed. I wanted to be like Peter Thatcher, and have an insane brother by the name of Fudge rather than my boring older brother who insisted that teasing me was fun.
I finished that book report not a day too late for the deadline. Mrs. Keene was pleased, and I was pleased. In the days that followed, I opened the door to one of the world of Eragon and began reading it furiously, but I never failed to forget Peter, Fudge, and the old house in Maine in which they lived. The natural blend and appreciation of both sides of the spectrum allowed me to easily adapt to the steam-punk, apocalyptic era of books that would later follow across the years. But I’ll always remember the story that captivated me into the ordinances of everyday life, and the fascination of realism in literature that would soon follow its course.
Props to my mother for finding the book in the first place. I recently discovered it while doing a mass clean-up of my room for the carpet-cleaners. The waves of nostalgia are non-ending, and I have no objections to keep them coming. Shout-out to Scott and Max who were in the same predicament as I who had merely an introduction of our stories to actually give much opinion or critic to any of our tales. It’s the effort that counts, and I thank you for the compliments you gave after reading what wasn’t much.
i also enjoyed the books by Judy Blume they were short and interesting. reading this post really brings back memories.
Oh my goodness! Your post brings me such nostalgia! I read those Judy Blume books with Mrs. Lee-Navarate in fourth grade and I too remember enjoying those books very much. In fact, after she read us the second book, I told my parents to buy me the entire series. I'm glad this was a book that changed your perspective on reading.
Keep up the good work!
I loved reading your blog, i can really relate to what you were getting at. Job well done
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: My Kingdom
The air is cool during the summer; the best time to go outside; not humid but not dry. Every once in a while you could feel a quiet breeze on your face and see it in the tall leafy green boughs of maple, oak, chestnut, and pine. It was a place where time was meaningless. Every moment was a joy so why bother keep track.
The land itself was mostly green with healthy grass except for the deciduous forest that engulfed it. In one corner of the property, you would find a towering hedge. It was perfect for spying on your neighbor without being seen. To travel to the opposite corner of the quarter acre, you had two options.
Both were uphill.
The path going to the right of the house seems slightly shorter and majestically more boring while the other was an adventure of its own. The first option was a short flight up a gravel path to the back-yard lawn and then you practically there. My brother and I never went that way when we started our day. It just wasn’t right. Instead, every single day, we would start on the left. It was an odd area looking back on it. Not unlike a forest by itself, it was a sloped dirt area filled with pine bushes, medium sized mountain rocks, bigger pine bushes that could hide a car, and small trees with low limbs that my brother and I would climb. You couldn't quite see the house thirty feet away because of the taller pine trees on that side of that odd place. I liked it that way. It was my home ten yards from home. It was where I could start my daily adventures and end them. It was far enough that I could focus on imagination without being reminded that I was still home, but close enough to my parents that I still felt safe. Even the dirt was inviting. It was moist where I wanted to dig a hole, and it was dry where I sat. The consistency was a delightful mix of black soil, small dry roots, worms (oh how I loved the worms), and tan muddy clay.
The sky was always blue.
The air was always clean.
And the day was always new.
Around seven o'clock every morning, my older brother and I would go outside, sometimes still in our pajamas, grab our homemade bows and arrows, and work our way from that comfortable wilderness to the South. This is where the adrenaline would start pumping in my four year old body. There was a line of grey boulders running East to West with each one getting larger and larger. They weren't flat top rocks, although I think one of them was, but most were slanted with rough edges and small footholds to keep your balance. Having gone this way the day before, and the day before that, and the day before that one...I was already familiar with each rock and where the best spots were to place my small but strong feet.
It was all forest on both sides. The house was nowhere to be seen. It was an open tunnel that started low and ended high. My brother and I would bound across each rock like Native Americans stalking their prey...still in our pajamas. Needless to say, we didn't care about fashion.
After crossing a bridge that spanned two rocks we could not jump, we reach the half-way point. Sometimes I would point out to my brother that we could just as easily walk on the leaves but Josh never liked that idea.
At the end of the line, we would reach the largest back-yard boulder I have ever seen. To this day, I have yet to see anything bigger. It was mini mountain range all by itself.
You could only see one side of it. The other was embedded in the Earth that was level to its highest crest. We had no idea where the bottom of this rock was. The grey, moss covered hump of limestone met the grass as Mt. Fuji would meet the trees; suddenly.
We had reached our destination.
After surveying the enemy at the bottom, realizing that we were outnumbered 5:1, realizing we didn't care and it was more fun this way, we would charge down the slope and attack whatever it was that day. Most of the time they were evil city-dwellers.
I loved that place. I still love it. It was a relatively spread out community. There were no such things as city blocks, stoplights, or streetlamps. Though there might have been lamps if there was a sidewalk. But there was no need for that either. In my opinion, the worn road with its thin moist layer of dirt and gravel was perfect. You wouldn't find real roads unless you went down the mountain on Break Neck Rd. I don't really know why it’s called that. Maybe it’s just fun to intimidate newcomers and passerbyers.
But it wasn’t that scary. It only took a couple minutes. You start at the top and weave sharp turns down several hundred feet in elevation at 40+ mph with two solid yellow lines to divide two lanes of incoming traffic around the next invisible mountain bend. School buses were prohibited by law to travel on it.
I liked it.
That road served as a barrier between my adventures, and places like school and market businesses. The real world. Today the barrier is 3,000 miles and thirteen years. But it still feels like I can go back at anytime and relive these memories.
I can't really describe the effect my childhood kingdom has on me. It gives me peace when I think back on it, encourages me when I'm down, and emboldens me to explore; to live life to its fullest meaning.
Though the place has changed more than I care to admit, mostly because hard-core New Yorkers bought the house and failed to maintain the yard, it's not the place itself the matters the most to me; it's the wisdom and values that that it planted in me, like a forest putting its precious seeds into the ground before the winter of time takes hold and the frost of reality freezes the dirt...and the worms (oh how I love those worms).
To Elizabeth: thanks for your compliments on my other blog, even if I didn't use that one
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Like the good old days…
Back when I was in elementary school, I lived in an apartment with a big parking lot in front of it and a circular road wrapping all the way around the apartment. The apartment itself was relatively small for a family of 5, so my brother and I were dying to get out of the house most of the time. Now this was before I could drive and not get tired by walking to school that was 10 minutes away. So we had to find fun in the parking lot and the road.
The road became a racetrack for when we wanted to bike. I don’t know how many time trials we had between us and even by myself sometimes. It was extremely fun to draw all the cyclists in front of you so you could beat them. It would go the same for roller-skating too. The speed bumps were the biggest challenge sometimes, as I had to obtain the skill of smoothly riding over it without falling on my face. I eventually got the skill down but it was quite the challenge.
The huge parking lot would become a great soccer stadium. Setting up the cones that were lying around as goals, I would get my friends who lived right next to me and we would play 4v4 games. We would play until it got dark and we couldn’t see 10 feet in front of us. My cleats never lasted too long because we played on asphalt. Didn’t matter though. Fun was all I needed.
As I look back on all this, I get a bit sad. The little things that used to be my joy don’t really excite me anymore. The speed bump, the wrapping road and the parking lot stadium seem like normal things now. Sure I’ve grown up and I’ve found new joys that are appropriate to my age, but it seems like my creativity for fun has diminished. Fun for me is now electronics, and occasionally a pick up game of soccer. My brother and I don’t have the same fun like we used to.
I know for a fact that if I were to go back to that apartment, there won’t be any kids playing in the streets. There won’t be bike racing, soccer matches, or any sort of outdoor activity. The smart phones and the computers have taken over kids these days. Sometimes I just wish that we can all go back and have fun like we used to. Just like the good old days…
Brian, I think we have the same feeling. I did not know how to describe the "Blurry Figure and Muffled Voices", but your comment and your story really inspired me. I think it's the memory of "good old days"; in my words, they represent the sweet childhood and happiest time in my life. People often forget about the enjoyable moments in their lives and remember the misery. The "Blurry Figure" recalls our memory of those enjoyable moments. Thank you, I may write about it in my comment.
it's "Blurred Figures", sorry for the typo here.
I really likes your statement about the "good old days." I think what you say is true, that we find ourselves happier when we were children and that now we wish to go back to a simpler time when we didn't have to worry about what life had in store for us. It's sad that technology rules our lives nowadays and you're right about kids needing to spend more time outdoors.
I really like your story, it seems like you had a great childhood. I used to hangout with my old childhood friends or cousins everywhere, and I had so much fun with them. I miss the old days.
"The little things that used to be my joy don’t really excite me anymore." I totally agree with this, because I don't know since when I don't really feel exciting for things that used to be my joy.... and it makes sad.... I hope I still have that simple life and happiness.
I like your story! Especially the title - "good old days."
Memories are invaluable, and these "good old days" are things that stay in our memories forever.
I agree with you. I also miss the old days when boys would usually go outdoor and play actively. However, we can't go back to that past. I guess those days will just stay in our memories.
thank you guys for reading my post! its great that we can relate back to the same things!
Hi Brian, I like your post very much. It let me think of the people that I used to hangout when I was little. The neighborhood that i used to live in I had so much fun there. Great post!
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: The Old White House
Ridiculously cold in the winter, unbearably hot in the summer; this was the old, small, white house my grandmother bought when she moved to the United States. The house really needed a new paint job, but our family always pushed it off. Then we got to the point where the chipped paint was just part of the norm. We paid no attention to the walls, but they still bothered me.
I remember always finding crickets in the house after sundown. They would always hide in between the cracks, and jump out to terrify my eight year old self. It was never quiet in that house, considering we had quite a few family members living there. My older guy cousins always acted like the mean siblings I never had. My girl cousins were so sweet, like the older sisters I had always wanted. My grandmother had the best green thumb. I would love getting on the ladder to help her pick the fruit off the multiple trees we had. From plums, to pomegranate, to Korean pears, we had it all.
It was amazing. Amazing how someone can have so many memories of a single house.
The memories of a broken arm, falling into a ditch my older cousin dug, watching my cousins kill lizards, bathing in the freezing water outside after we swam in our pool, seeing my family cook an entire pig head for the first time, and tears from teasing. Oh, there were lots and lots of tears.
I also remember being thrown into the pool, so I could learn how to swim faster. The daring pirate games and star wars fantasies we would always play would get us into so much trouble. Being able to eat all the fruit I wanted in the summer, and swimming till my skin looked like a prune; that was fun. Watching my family make kimchi, and skipping the training wheels altogether on my bike because my older cousin knew he could teach me; that was amazing.
Then it all reached a sudden halt. Our family went through some tough times, and all of a sudden we couldn’t afford it anymore. We couldn’t afford the garden my grandmother slaved over, the freezing water we bathed in, the chipped walls, the couch I broke my arm on, the pool where I ate my fruit, the patio where we made kimchi.
Nothing… absolutely nothing.
My mother told me that nothing would change, not really. We would still be together, and we could start making new memories at our new place.
My cousins moved all the way to Fontana. I only get to see them during special holidays now, and even that’s rare. It’s been three years since we moved, and three years since I’ve last made kimchi.
Sometimes we would drive by the old house, and I find myself staring at the newly painted walls. Wishing there was some way we could go back to those chipped walls that really needed a new coat of paint.
To Daryl: Thanks for telling me to write about something more meaningful, I added more memories that I was fond of. That seemed to help out a lot. Thanks again.
Okay, now this is what I was talking about. I'm glad you decided to write about something that has more meaning to you. I'm sure these ideas came to you much more naturally and truthfully than what you were going to post about before. I understand your feelings of wanting to go back to a time when you were younger so that you could relive fun memories. I wish that too sometimes and it's hard to see and know that you may never relive moments like that ever again.
I really liked your use of imagery such as the peeling paint on the house. I felt the same way as you when I moved out of my old house, now every time I pass it, it gets uglier. From fresh electric blue paint to a really tall wooden fence. All of the little anecdotes were fun and meaningful although they were small. I really liked this post Good job Natalia (Kaiba).
Hi Natalia, after reading your post, it reminds me of my old house in Taiwan. We moved out because we bought a new one but the memories was not able to bring from place to place. I still missed my old house where it stored all my childhood memories. Great job!
You seem to have so many memories from your house. I also have cousins who moved away who used to be really close to me. I find myself thinking of the old times we used to have as well. Great post!
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Verdure
Expansive and paved with gravelly, oatmeal-like soil, most months it stays dusty and brown, with only dry clumps of grass temporarily dotting the landscape amidst the more permanent palms and walls of hibiscus flowers.
After the rain, ethereal sprigs of wispy, spearmint-colored grass burst forth. The air is crisp and the often dead lawn becomes a lush, green carpet softened by dew. I cannot bear to set foot on those fragile stalks, for, through no fault of either of us, they would be crushed and broken. Walking barefoot across the moist earth, I feel as if I am both intruding and welcome in the presence of the quiet roar of the morning sky.
I can sense the yard’s veiled hostility in the spiny, whiplike trees and the deceptively verdant ranks of stinging nettles. Always on vigilant defense, they creep slowly into the arms of more benevolent plants, only to be hacked away or to recede slowly back into the shadows of the safe concrete wall like a dark, poisonous tide. Like the tide, the ebb and flow reaches its apex of beauty and destruction on turbulent, windy nights under the lunar sea. They thrash about violently at imagined foes, finally gathering the resolve to attack at those who would trespass.
Soon, the quieter vegetation joins in. Palm fronds tear from parent trees, leaves gather themselves into a churning maelstrom of dirt and foliage, not out of a desire to take part in the mêlée, no, but as if it is some grand celebration of life and vitality in the darkness, the wind rousing them from a deep, dull slumber. Oblivious to the land beyond the manmade confines of their world, they flail around with complete abandon, for once, free and alive.
Morning comes, as it always does. Evidence of the night’s festivities lay strewn across the groggy forest floor. Ripe lemons drip from branches like rueful sweat on a drunkard’s brow. The vines and shrubs huddle together, as if ashamed of their conduct from just a few hours prior. The nettles, however, resume their training exercises anew, only slightly grateful for the mass of leaf litter now laid before them, ready for consumption.
I go here to escape. As moody and inconsistent as I am, it is the one place in my world that experiences seasons, analogous to my own mood swings. In a week’s time, the lawn may desiccate and blow away, a whole tree wither and die. Fickle and apathetic, at a moment’s notice it can choose to crack open and erupt armies of carpenter ants led by hordes of virgin queens. Just as often, the barren field becomes a land of magic when blood red butterflies pirouette together and alight on tropical flowers in full bloom.
Every foray presents something new or changed, an adventure in miniature. Even the smallest discoveries are worth it.
But never, never does it disappoint.
Thank you Amy, for reading my Muffled Voices and Light Something drafts and helping me realize the better one.
Your descriptions are incredible! It feels as though I am I am right there with you, experiencing the same thrill of childhood adventure. Ants and bugs were my obsession as a child, I'm just glad i am not the only one who found them worthy of attention. Beautiful scenery, and amazing style. Great job!
I enjoyed reading your story. I love the imagery you used. It was very descriptive. Overall, Good job.
I was very amazed with your use of words. Your diction is really powerful as it really creates a vivid image of the setting in my mind. Although I don't understand all of the words, you seem to be on the right track for writing passages like these. I also agree with you that small discoveries are worth it, because we might never know what we'll find. Keep up the good work!.
Aw, thanks for the kind words everyone! They mean more to me than you think.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: House of Memoirs
Up until this year, I didn’t really have much of a social life outside of school. I would like to blame the rigors of junior year, but in truth, I just didn’t have the chance to explore more. I didn’t know a life of which I’m experiencing this year was possible, not to me at least. So if you would have asked me for a place which I attribute the most memories to, before this school year, my answer would probably have been something mundane. But as of now, I consider my friend’s house as the place which I feel is the most memorable.
It’s ironic how I listed a friend’s house, which I’ve only started going to this year, instead of my own home. But saying otherwise would be a complete lie. At first I was a bit nervous entering his house for the first time. I would follow his steps perfectly as he entered the house. I noted exactly where to take off my shoes, stood by his couch until he insisted that I sit, and even greeted his parents with a mix of waves, bows, and hellos. It may have looked a bit awkward but my mind couldn’t choose the proper way of greeting, so I just did them all. In fact, I didn’t really get used to being at his house all too quickly. I remember I would hold in my hunger and thirst rather asking him for food and drinks and when I was cold I would use my backpack as a cover instead of asking for one of his blankets. But slowly as I went to his house more and more, I got a lot more comfortable. During finals week, I went to his house every single day including the days we had off, including the weekend. It was during this time that I made most of the memories. From awkward truth and dare games to dance battles, I had a ton fun.
Although the excitement and fun was because I was with my friends rather than being in the actual house itself, I feel that the house was definitely a catalyst to our enjoyment. When he told me he was moving to a new house after senior year, I had mixed feelings. Even though the current house wasn’t an architectural masterpiece, it holds many memories of friends and fun times. So, however selfish it may sound, part of me will be sad that he’s moving. To me it’s more than just a house; it’s a symbol of my group of friends and how I spent my last year of high school.
Thanks to Brandon Y. for helping me choose my best story and he pointed out all the good points in my story which I noted and kept while revising my post.
I really like your story, because I can totally relate to the first time entering a friend's house. I am just as awkward, if not more, when first going to a friend's house, so reading your story about finally ending the awkwardness appealed to me. Thanks for sharing, and sorry your friend is moving. Hopefully you guys will create even more great memories at his new house!
Light Something: Overcoming.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! Help me! Save me! Please…” It was on February 21, 2011, during a Light of Love Mission Church retreat (at Big Bear). I was a victim of a huge bus crash accident. On our way down, the bus’ break would not work which prohibited the bus driver from controlling the increasing speed of the vehicle. We sped down a steep cliff and crashed into numerous trees. Overall, there were 22 students severely injured and one deceased body. It was disaster and one thing that I will never ever forget. It was so painful that I can still clearly imagine what I have gone through and what I witnessed.
Our bus flew up and all of the glasses shattered into me. That moment in the air is the time that I cannot forget. It was like watching my entire 16 years of life in that short period of time. After the bus landed on the ground it rushed down to the trees and it was stopped by the gigantic tree. I passed out for 30 minutes and when I woke up, I saw everything that was happening in the bus. It was something that I should have not seen. People were piled up in front of the bus, screamed out for help, bled all over the place, and cried out to God. Just imagine the situation, if I describe the scene in one word than I would say “hell.” From this accident, I fractured lumber bone, two open wound on my leg and forehead.
After I was discharged, I was sent back home in wheelchair and had to stay in bed for two months. Doctor said luckily the broken bone from the lumbar did not damage the spinal cord, if it did I would be paralysis. Even though I was so lucky, everything was difficult for me to accept the situation. The fact that I cannot move and I was involved in bus crash dragged me into the depression. I was so dead, Harrison was gone.
Meanwhile, I had chance to read a book called “I love you Ji-Sun.” Well I am a type of a person who likes to watch not read, but did you know that if you watch too much than you get sick of it. So I started to read without knowing what would happen to me. It was about lady who was in car accident and burned almost fifty percent of the body. At first, I thought that this book will be like a mundane book that I have read, but it was little different. The book described what kind of hardship she went through and shared how she healed her inner problems and overcame her stumbling blocks. While I was reading the book, I felt like I was reading my own story. Every single word she said was my word. It started to change me, one book that I decided to read started to bring me back. I started to accept my situations and I was able to think positive. I was not sad anymore; I started to dance and wave. I began to enjoy my injuries. I always thought that I lost too much things after my incidents, but now when I rethink about it, I learned so many things. I was able to find the true answers with the book “I love you Ji-Sun.” I still remember this line from the book. “You are loved, blessed, and comforted by God, things happen because there are reasons." After realizing the amazing truths, I was no longer victim but I was a blessed one who got chance to experience the bus crash. By overcoming this time period I was matured and able to advance.
After my growth in attitude, I became a new person. I give my best in every single moment. Now, I am completely healed physically and mentally and I am ready to face bigger obstacles that will lie in my life. I believe that there will be harder problems that I will face, but like what the author said “you can do it.” I believe that I will overcome because I already stood back up from the bus accident.
Thank you for reading my story. Your comment really helped me to improve my blog. I hope this post satisfiy you.
Hey Harrison. I like the dialogue you used. I remember when this incident happened, it troubled a lot of us. I was very glad to find out when you were back to normal. And about your writing, I really liked the smooth connections you made in your story. It was towards the end I felt a little awkward. Maybe smooth out the ending next time? I'm happy you got a chance to realize reading is fun!
Wow, your writing drew me in, I kept wanting to read more. I can't begin to understand what you experienced but thanks for sharing your story. I'm also glad to hear that you're doing well.
I reallly liked the tone of your overall story. It flowed smoothly and i'm deeply sorry for your accident.
Hey Harrison, I really enjoyed reading your blog- I was glued to my computer the whole time! I'm sorry for your accident and I'm glad that you're okay now.
I'm glad you learned so much from what happened and I'm glad that you found peace in God afterwords. It was a good read!
I really enjoyed reading it. I am glad that you overcame this incident. I am sure that it wasn't easy. Also glad to here that you are healthy now.
I remember hearing about this and I'm so sorry it happened. I think its great that you recovered from this tragic event.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: My Favorite Park
I will never forget this large green area next to the canal and the waves of the sea breeze blowing from time to time.
It is a place where I had my last favorite memories with my family and my dog.
We always come here to enjoy a leisurely evening time during the weekend, spending our time together walking around and flying kites, or watching our dog running on the grass enjoying himself. My family’s happy faces and laughter are my favorite parts; the smiles and the sound will be stamped in my heart forever and ever.
Sometimes, we would even take some time to watch that romantic sunset. With the wind lightly blowing across the field, we sit side by side under the reddening glowing sky. The puff sound of a motor, the wind blowing on my face, the beautiful sunset at harbor and sea are the memories I will never forget. Waiting for the fishing boat one after another into the territory, this scene is what I will never forget.
To my family, this park is like paradise, a break from the constant urban hustle and bustle, a breath of fresh air. I realize that I do not have to worry about anything while I was in the park because I was enjoying this generous gift from nature with the people I love the most in the world.
These were the reasons that I was looking forward to each and every weekend. Going to the night market and eat dinner together first, then come to this park together has already become a habit over the weekend.
When we came to the park at the night time, we could always see the night views and walk with those beautiful lights in the sky.
No matter how beautiful the lights were, they were not what I truly loved......
What I truly loved is how my family being together with me. I enjoyed our small talks, our innocent laughs, and nothing about money or burdens in the city.
This park is a paradise to me, because I feel like it is the only place where my family and I can truly become isolated from the rest of the world, from the ugly reality.
The horrible truth is that my parents fought a lot when I was little, it was hard to find family love in my childhood. I was insecure because I had already known too much ugly truths at such a young age.
Money and reality were my biggest enemies because my parents always fought over them....
The park was open to the public for free, but it seemed like the most valuable place to me because the family love I felt while I was in the park is something I will never be able to buy.
Everything is too good before they're gone!
This is my fairy tale, my happily ever after ending, how can I let it go?
My parents got divorced, my dog passed away, my brother grew up, and I am no longer the same little girl. Even though, I constantly go back to this park, I can never feel the same way anymore. The same sky, the same grass, the same breeze,
but I have already lost everything.
People do not stay, but the memories do.
This place will stay in my heart forever and ever, it will never disappear.
To Bella: Thank you for read my rough draft in the class, and reminded me to check my check my verb tense, past tense or present tense, and make sure they are maintain the same. I am glad that you like my story and gave me compliments, I really appreciated it.
I'm sorry you lost so much, but I'm glad you had this experience as it has already given you an idea of what is truly important in life. I hope you will be able to find everything you are looking for and I enjoyed reading this!
Though you had experienced many losses, you still have your truly, lovely memories in your mind which will stay around you forever
You described the park really well, I like it. Well, it's not your fault that fairy tale disappeared, but you can create you own!
I'm glad that I can help you with your post.
Most of the times we like a place because there has our wonderful memories.
Blurry Figues and Muffled Voices: Those days now gone.
It started when I was much younger in my middle school years. It started on those hot summer days at a summer camp program. Those days started then and in a flash, gone.
That one broken liquor store, no different from any other. It was equipped with your common "Open" sign, a galore of junk food, and plentiful refreshments, and don't forget your lazy store clerk. Dirty and displeasing to the eyes would be your initial judgement. I would go there, of course, for the junk food and refreshments that we kids love to bask in. I came out with something much more.
Every day under the blazing sun, that liquor store offered comfort. Friends, teachers, and sometimes just plain strangers were able to offer one the most memorable moments of my life at the liquor store. The frustration of failing your test are in a matter of moments ,gone, at the liquor store. The frustration of failing losing a game of basketball, gone, at the liquor store. Frustrations; gone in a matter of moments, here at the liquor store.
What I got out of this liquor store was its unique ability to create comfort and enjoyment. Under those summer days, the liquor store offered refreshments and a shelter from the bustling life thrown at me. It was an island away from the hectic life of a child trying to find a place under the sun. That liquor store with its dirty and displeasing look gave me precious comfort and protection from what was to come, the hectic future. That liquor store was my diamond in the haystack, like that one shiny penny you find in a pile of scuffed and dirtied pennies, you'll never find it again.
Those summer days under the hot sun, those summer days under the liquor store, those days I miss, those days now gone.
Im guessing you went to FA. Glad you could share your experiences and it seems like quite a fun one
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices : The memories dwelling in my heart
Taiwan, a place that shaped me as an unique individual, a place that I used to know the most, a place that holds everything I had, is now fading away as time goes by. I will never forget my originality even I am now part of the United States now. The thing I missed the most about my homeland is its school system which is also the thing that depressed me the most when I moved here.
The school system in Taiwan has a huge disparity compare to United States. Students here all have different schedules and different periods while students in Taiwan are sorted into a class size of 30 to 40 people and they would stay in their designated classroom for the whole day. School for me was just like my home and my peers were just like my family. We were bounded together for three consecutive years. From strangers to best friends, our friendships became stronger and more stable as years passed by. Although enmity and resentment occurred between classmates, but they always get resolved at the end.
Not only the three year boundary makes us a family but also all sorts of activities that strengthen our friendships even more. I remember once we had a tug of war competition among different classes and the winner gets promoted to compete with other winners in the nation. Our class practiced everyday afterschool and even weekends, we searched up the internet to watch videos and learned the tactics of how to conserve our energy while having the greatest force at the same time. Never thought we could make it into the nationals however, our dreams came true at the day of competition. We not only won the scholarships for our class but also the chance of competing for the first place in nation. Unfortunately, other schools had classes that were designed to train future athletes; we were eliminated on day one. The important lesson we learned was not how to do better in tug of war, but that each one of us obtained a precious memory that reminds us we are a family.
However, after I moved to United States, the system lessens the boundaries between students. I always see people act like best friends in first semester and suddenly become strangers in second semester. Of course, this surely gives us a wider range of resource, but the line of friendships is easier to cut off once they have different classes. This is why the memories of my old friends impacted me the most when I immigrated to this country.
I like my life now but I would definitely love to go back if I were to have the chance. Indeed, being educated here is far more preferable to Taiwan and education sometimes determines where one will stand in society in the future, but the connection between people is also an important lesson that all of us must learn.
To Tristen : Thanks for reminding me to put in the activities we did together, I felt like I was missing something and you pointed that out. Thank you very much!
I like your story, because it reminds me of my classmates in Taiwan. I agree with you, friendship is so much easier in Taiwan. I had the same class with same people and same teachers everyday, we were like a big family. I learned so much from them.
" I always see people act like best friends in first semester and suddenly become strangers in second semester." I agree, and this makes me sad.
Hello Joseph I read your story and when I came to the U.S. I saw the same things you did, I don't know how people give up there friends that easily.
I really liked your blog! I feel the same way. I miss fun school activities and my friends. I truly felt school was like my home, but not anymore.
Speaking from experience as I've attended grade school in Taiwan until fourth grade, I also miss the system where I'm with the same group of 30 or so people in every class since there would only be one classroom for the entire day. I definitely had stronger bonds with people back there compared to my classmates now. Great story by the way, it really brought back memories for me.
Hi Joseph. I like your story very much because it reminded me of how things before I came to the US. Great post!
The Figures and Muffled Voices: New Starts
Saturday morning. It was nine in the morning and the fog outside remained dense as a wall. As I opened the door to my backyard, my husky weaved through my legs to quickly escape the warmth of my house. I pause time for a moment, it was powerful; birds chirped, laughter traveled from the park across my house, and I felt all this random energy flowing around me. It gave me a sense of security because nothing has changed. This new house has been worked on by my father and mother that it has become something heartwarming. My father personally wired the internet connection all over house by crawling under the foundation weaving through all the pipes. Both my parents have spent their weekends planting beautiful fruits and flowers in hope of creating their own garden. They have poured all their strength working to make their dream house. It is not a large house, but is big enough to hold our memories here. I would say the house is their favorite place too.
My new home was where I could create memories that would last forever. I best memory so far is my room. It is where I sleep and where my dog sleeps right next to me in her own bed. There, I spend most of my days studying, relaxing, and teaching my dog new tricks. When I sneak around at night, I cringe at every squeak and groan my wooden floors make. The bamboo floor is completely new, so I wonder why they even squeak. As for my dog she loves sleeping on the cold floor rather than the warm bed I bought for her. The only reason I could get a dog was moving to this new house. I love my dog and that is partially why I love my new home. There are so many memories already made, even if it’s only been 3 months.
To Jesse: Thank you for reminding me to elaborate my story and develop a clearer image.
I really enjoyed your story. By reading your descriptions of your house, I was able imagineyour place. I am sure that your house is filled with love amd warmth. I hope you make more memories that you will not forget after you move out for college.
Very descriptive wording on your house, it creates a visual of your house in my mind and i think you did a wonderful job!
Hey Maurice, I loved the way you described the morning scenery, your room, your new house, it makes me remember when we were neighbors haha. Good job!
Great use of imagery in your post, it made me feel like I was right beside you as you describe your house! Keep it up
I'm really impressed about the new house you live in! I would like to once visit! I especially want to see the beautiful garden your parents made!
Light Something: Flight
Up in the Air is a film that is centered around a man and his life philosophy of avoiding “baggage” in life. In a display of his dedicated detachment, his work is to fire people, flying “270 days a year,” from coast to coast to do so because, “bosses don't have the [guts] to sack their own employees.” His only aspiration in life is to hit a 10 million flier miles milestone. His occasional calls home are the only semblance of maintained relationship. Everything that he physically owns fits inside a small, roller suitcase.
As the plot progresses, the philosophy that he literally preaches to others comes into question: He is paired with a new employee who verbally strikes upon the flaws of his “foolish” philosophy. He talks his soon-to-be brother-in-law out of cold feet on wedding day and into marriage. Seeing the happiness of the wedding, he decides to pursue a woman that he fell in love with, only to discover she already has a family and he is nothing but “a parenthesis” in her life. On his returning flight from this, the man hits his 10 million flier mile goal and, despite having waited for the moment from the beginning of his career, shows little emotion and, for once, has nothing to say.
The easiest conclusion to take from the film is that being burdened by obligations is worth it solely because, “life’s better with company.” The man’s ironic fate is that he now realizes this, but is stung by his own beliefs. I’ve re-watched this movie five or six times and this conclusions seems too obvious. Lining up the arguments of the conflicting philosophies, I can relate to some truth in both:
I want to establish meaningful, life-long relationships with others yet also yearn for freedom from burdens, stresses and and obligations. Possibly above all this, I want to be sure of myself if I compromise one to attain the other.
As a high-schooler, it’s easy for me to list what I want in life. It’s simply difficult to know what I would do and how I would live my life in order to succeed. Deep down I hoped that a future “me” would succeed in forging a solid life philosophy that would whisk away all these doubts and unknowns.
Yet every time the opening credits roll and I am introduced to a Mr. Ryan Bingham, a confident, smooth-talking, experienced professional with a sure personal ideology and peace of mind, who is a shining exception among the sea of uncertain workers that he lives to fire.
And every time the film closes, the final shot is of a Mr. Ryan Bingham but of a different man, one with a crumbling philosophy and an uncertain future of his own, standing in a familiar airport terminal with his small, roller suitcase.
I’ve come to take a vaguer message from the film. One that dispels my idea that inevitably I will forge a foolproof set of ideals. One that notes with certainty that life itself is an uncertainty and that sometimes even the most self-assured of minds get tossed into the wind. For, at the end of the day, everything that we have built will simply be
Up in the Air.
Note: I scratched out my original draft of Light Something and wrote this.
The post's nice and informing and all, but I didn't see what you really got out of the film. If anything, you should have kept that first draft, and work with it to make it better, not write something that felt a completely different turn. Similar to how I sketch, sometimes the next line you make will be better than the last. Of course, if you keep building on what needs to be fixed, it'll come out better than before. I'm not feeling the "you" in this post this time.
Thanks for the input! I felt kind of detached while writing this and I'll try to put more of my own style next time.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: The Backyard
The last day of school when your mind has shut down and all that comes to mind is 3 months of whatever the [heck] you want. It is the final day where all you hear is an upheaval of shrieks and vigorous footsteps once the bell rings, as young kids rush home bearing the heat.
It is the time when your skin is moist and attracts mosquitoes and all you can bear, but notice is their presence in your house… swarming around waiting for you to sleep. But that’s just what makes it fun.
However, there were always the unfortunate ones that didn’t look at summer the same way and had their summers laid out for them. Planned out perfectly from loving parents that only hoped for the best.
I could never imagine summers to be a drag and it shouldn’t be if you had plans you made on your own. However, because I was an adolescent it was only “right” that my summers for the year were to be devoted to how my parents wanted me to spend it. If I could remember straight, all my elementary years were the same and it couldn’t have been any more boring. Every year was the same, at least for elementary it was.
The first month heading to the warehouse with my dad everyday wasn’t what I had in mind, but it was for them. All I believe I did there was help lift some things, sleep, or just run around being a bother. Don’t get me wrong. I love helping my dad and things have changed, however, the problem was that I was still a kid at the time and all I wanted to do was go out and fool around.
After that month ended, I never had to go to work anymore but that was because summer school was to begin.
Summer school at Dana from mornings till 3. I would come home either by walking or the transit. Homework, T.V., and keeping cool was all I did if my mom let me loose and most of the time T.V had nothing good on. Despite all that, this summer of 3rd grade was where it all changed for me. I come to thank my boredom because if it weren’t for that, I would never discover the enjoyment provided just behind my house.
It was the year of 2004, the year when I knew my house and what was hidden behind it all this time
A square glass window is bolted adjacent to my dishwasher, pointed in the direction to what lay back there. Out of all the times I had to wash dishes, it was strange that I never looked out carefully enough. I glanced outside to see my backyard this once and suddenly I observed what was out there in a more defining perspective.
Tall pine trees, two red patios, a vibrant blue swimming pool, two tiger statues, fruit trees, my dog, and a ripped hammock lay back there. Untouched and Undiscovered.
It was then that exploring the back came to my attention.
I rounded my siblings to join me in the visit to the backyard, and after that day it all changed for me.
Obviously the swimming pool is what we all wanted to do first. At the time we didn’t have the slightest clue of how to swim so we never considered using the pool. I feared the water and that summer it wasn’t until my dad was home, when I first entered it. My siblings and I held onto the brick walls that day, kicking and practicing on the low ends as our dad observed. It wasn’t long until we earned the trust to swim on our own and play by the deep end by ourselves.
Playing shark and fishes was always fun and swimming became the afterschool thing. Hot or not we always went swimming and when the sun was out, we bathed in its rays, lieing on the floor until the water dried completely from our skin. After that we would then repeat, hopping in all over again.
It was awesome
As I stated before I called my backyard a jungle because it actually looks like one. With tall trees scattered across the area, there are two patios that rest in there as well as a hammock tied to two trees. It is a great place to flee and hide and we did just that. Whenever we craved for a snack after hopping out from the water swimming, we knew exactly where to pick fruits to eat. From then till now, there is still a line of trees in the back, each with different kinds of fruits. I saw a lively one with a tangy orange peel which caught my attention first. It had small furry pricks and felt as soft as a peach. It had become my favorite fruit from the first time I tried it. The apricot which proved superior to all the other fruits such as the apples and persimmons would be tossed in the pool to be cleansed and soon after devoured by me especially.
At the end of the day came the hammock.
My siblings and I would rush to the ripped hammock and cram all but one into its body and wrap ourselves. Although it was torn a bit, I felt secure with my siblings and I couldn’t care less that it was old and beat up. This hammock soon served as my place to just lay and think or swing upon for my enjoyment. We swung as high as we possibly could and the breeze flung our bodies left and right. I loved this time as it lasted through my elementary years until the beginning of middle school.
Sadly, all that has gone away over the years. As we stopped heading back more often and watering the trees, most of it hasn’t stayed for us. The fruit trees have died and the one with the apricots has withered away and has never provided anymore apricots for me to eat. The hammock was later taken down and all that is left is the swimming pool which isn’t as pure as the time we used it. Despite that all this has been taken away and gone, the memories I still have is what I can keep and not forget. It was the backyard of my house that made my summer great and all it provided. Until this day I can remember the hammock and the shrieks we made when we were having the time of our lives.
Shrieks of laughter
Shrieks of Joy
Shrieks of the best summer ever and for those to come.
To Clay: Thank you for reading my final draft in class and telling me to post it right away. I would also like to thank you for revising my rough draft, however, I decided to not use it and integrate some parts from it into my final instead.
Now that I'm back here I immediately reread your post. I almost forgot how great it is. When you showed me this in class that day, I remember how seriously impressed (and jealous) I was of your writing in this post.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Triple K
There is a small piece of land up in the hills of Arcadia where I have frequented more and more as the years have gone by. A sign is attached to the entrance gate that says “Private Property”, but it has been ignored so many times that “trespassers” lost count. A short paved roads leads from the gate of the property to a small area where orange trees grow by the dozen.
I have called this place ‘The Plantation’, and when the orange trees are in season, their fruit tastes absolutely delicious. A little farther on is a small fenced area, which is the reason behind the name of the place; Triple K. I am still not sure as to why this small fenced area exists, but it has proven to be very useful for my adventures. Past the fenced area is a long stretch of land, which is roughly the length of a football field, known to me as The Forest. It is populated by trees and flanked by tall steep hills that lead to the surrounding houses. If you dare to go past the Forest, you will start walking on a small trail, which leads to several rock walls.
If you have a little experience and enough daring, you can easily scale these rock walls and eventually reach a sheer rock wall that is impossible to climb. I have been to the rock wall several times, the last one almost ending in my death. I have vowed to never go that far ever again, and have so far kept that vow.
The Forest is where I have spent the most time, and where I have the most memories. I have had several air soft wars there with my friends, and have had several adventures exploring the rocky terrain. There are many plants that have grown out of control, which just adds to the fun of climbing around. We would put all of our guns and ammo in the fenced area and then embark on an all out war against each other. Sometimes, these wars took place in The Plantation, but they never lasted as long as those that took place in the Forest. We usually just ended up sitting around eating the plentiful oranges, laughing about how someone shot someone else in the face.
Triple K is very special to me because it is one of the rare places that my friends and I can be our true selves and actually enjoy the freedoms that come with being teenagers. I realized a long time ago that almost everyone gets annoyed with our childish antics, and this place, Triple K, is somewhere we can be as wild as we want. Somewhere where we can act as immature as we want and just have fun.
Because isn’t that the point of life, to have fun?
Triple K offers that to us, and we have so gladly accepted it. Unfortunately, we got caught the last time we went, because it is, after all, private property; thus, we haven’t been able to go since. It saddens me that a place that has been abandoned for so long, a place that has offered us, as well as so many others, a chance to let out true selves run free from the judging eyes of others, has been blocked from the harmlessness of our innocent shenanigans.
We never mistreated that land. We have never left even a scrap of litter behind.
Unfortunately, it isn’t our land, and we must follow what the law says. But Triple K, the Plantation, the Forest, even the rock climbing area, has offered me countless hours of fun with my friends that I will never forget.
When I grow older, I plan to pool together money with this same group of friends and purchase the land so that we can open it up to the public as a place that is open for fun and games for all. Maybe it will just be another public park to some, but hopefully to others, it will have the same effect as it does to me. It will be that place where you can be yourself and just have fun.
To David Huang: Thank you for donating your time to helping me construct my blog post. I know you have your art center portfolio that you are preparing, so thank you for helping me. And thanks for letting me go to your house to work on it. I really liked the advice you gave and the corrections you offered as well as the suggestions. I took your advice on keeping the original content and followed your suggestion about rewording some of the sentences. Thanks again!
I meant to comment on your post last time but other people's posts have worn me out. So before I got too tired, I read your post!
Ha! It doesn't surprise me that much since I know it is going to be good. I really do wish to go to triple K, the forest, and the plantation. On the other note, that place sound so beautiful and peaceful. I really wish my house is at the foot of the mountain instead of on a main street. I do wish I would share that part of memory of triple K if not I would still have backyard with my chicken...Laugh out loud.
Thank you for the read.
This place seems really cool. I wish could go see it for myself.
Thanks for sharing your post, I really enjoyed reading it. The forest really seems like somewhere you can open up and enjoy yourself, I have places like that too.
I think it is an amazing idea that you and your friends plan to put together some money to purchase the piece of land to open it up to the public.
It really seems like a place worth opening up to, and I'm glad you have shared this place on this blog with us. Thanks for posting such a great post.
I guess it's not just coincidence that you and Matej chose to write about the same thing. You two must share a very special connection over this property to unknowingly mirror each other.
Hey Paul, I didn't even realize we wrote about the same thing. That only proves how meaningful that place really is to us. Don't worry there is still hope fore keeping that place alive, Jin and I recently found out they are extending a hiking trail that passes directly through the top of the property, and we believe they will turn the lot into a nature center area!
Light Something: There Is Actually More to the Story...
Reading as a pastime? More often than not, I would pass. Reading was never a favorite of mine. Sure, when I was little, reading a Magic Tree House or an Amelia Bedelia or even a Junie B. Jones book was exciting! I never really had to dig deep to find themes and symbols - I just had to enjoy it and throw my head back in laughter or just intensely read the book until it was way past my bedtime. But as I grew older, I was forced to read books that I did not voluntarily choose or even had a slight interest in, so... slowly but surely, I lost interest in reading altogether. I always despised being told what to do.
Junior year English? Three words, four syllables: The Great Gatsby. I initially fell in love with the book because of the romance within it. A self-made man: rising up in the world just for a girl he has always loved - what was more romantic than that? I have been told I am a hopeless romantic... I cannot really say that I disagree. It was the first book after many tedious high school books that I did not want to put down. Page after page, all I wanted was to read ahead. Excited for each day of English class, just to discuss what has happened in the book. Was it so wrong that I was also desperately excited for the upcoming film?
The real meaning of the book? On the surface, the novel always seemed like it was written merely for romantics (at least that was what I thought), like me. But surely, the high school curriculum would never allow for just that. As we sped through the novel, there was much more content hidden within the novel than meets the eye. I honestly thought I would get bored of the book, not really wanting to continue with all the impending hackneyed themes, symbols, and motifs. But as always, I read the book anyway, since I kind of had to. Who knew Jay Gatsby was more than just a man hopelessly in love?
The American Dream? Jay Gatsby represented the epitome of the American Dream. Hard work - it brought him success; sure he did it through illegal means... but he still attained success. Some found this idea unattainable and unrealistic... and that may be so - but not for my family. What I loved so much about this novel was that for once, I had something to connect to. My parents came to America from Vietnam, wanting to escape the poverty stricken community. They wanted more opportunities, they wanted hope for their future family, they wanted a different and new lifestyle. Through years and years of hard work, my parents were finally able to get married and have a family. Success? I think so.
Being a fool? Though I cannot recall the exact quote, I specifically remember Daisy Buchanan wanting her daughter to be a “beautiful fool.” This line in the novel automatically caught my attention and it also caught me off guard. Why would anyone want their daughter to be a fool? Whenever I imagined having a daughter, I always wanted her to be the smartest of them all. Well, for protection, of course. Daisy wanted her precious daughter to escape the evils of the human race and to stay oblivious - she does not want her daughter to be hurt, like how she has been hurt. The love of Daisy reminds me much of my own mother. In her own way, my mother has always been there for me, protecting me against everything that came my way.
Greed? Selfishness? Skepticism? The Great Gatsby shines a light onto the evils of human nature. These universal characteristics are apparent in every day people. Such relatable and interesting topics to discuss during class just drew me in. Yes, I am greedy at times - but who isn’t? Yes, I am selfish at times - but who isn’t? Yes, I am skeptical at times - but who isn’t?
Is The Great Gatsby my favorite book of all time? No. But is it close? Yes. Surprisingly, it made reading not as torturous as it used to be. After reading this novel, it allowed me to get out of my dislike of reading “funk.” I am more open to reading and I have actually encountered a few that are worth remembering. Kudos to F. Scott Fitzgerald.
To Joey: Thank you for suggesting that I elaborate on pretty much all aspects of what I originally had in my rough draft. I edited what I originally had and put in more details here and there. I agree that my first write-up was kind of vague, glad you gave me the feedback. Hopefully this surpasses what you originally saw.
Hi Cindy! I really enjoyed the voice that you established in your blog post. It felt like a very natural conversation instead of an essay. I can also relate to your disillusionment with reading, and I'm glad that you rediscovered your love for reading again! Nice job!
Thank you for such nice feedback! Loved your post as well!
At first, I saw how some-what long this was, and almost looked past it. Like you, I haven't really been able to enjoy reading since entering high-school. But my eyes caught the words "magic treehouse" and instantly, I was hooked. I really liked this, because it's totally relatable. I still have some of my magic treehouse books. I too, couldn't really read much. I hope you find that love for reading again. I also like how you managed to tie all these lessons into your life, how one book meant so much to you!
Keep being amazing,
Hey Nathanael, I’m glad my post caught your attention! I agree that some of the longer posts discourage me to read them but something always catches my eye as well.
But yeah, I still have a lot of childhood books and looking at them brings back so many good memories! Glad you found this post relatable! Also, thanks for all the nice compliments!
I really enjoyed reading your post. I actually loved reading the Great Gatsby, as well, even though other people disliked it last year... Anyway, I love how comfortable you were with your audience and how easily your post flowed. I also liked how you went into talking about the book without summarizing it and making it sound boring! You really dissected it and made it personal and relatable to yourself. You had tons of voice and added great personal touches to this post. GREAT WORK!!
Yay, I’m glad someone else likes The Great Gatsby, too! Thanks for taking the time to read my post and for all the feedback! It means so much to me!
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: The Second Star to the Right
There is place where dreams come true.
It’s my favorite place to be.
It’s a place filled with adventure and excitement.
It’s a place where astonishing memories are created. The kind of memories that stay imprinted in your heart forever; you’ll never forget them.
I enjoy listening to my mom tell me stories from my baby days. It’s a cute stroll down memory lane. One of my favorite stories is the one of my first visit to Disneyland at the age of 3 years old. There was no doubt that it wasn’t love at first sight waddling into that place. There was so much to do as well as see, even for a tiny little toddler like me. I got to see all the Disney characters. I took pictures and got signatures from characters, such as, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Cinderella and more. I was also able to go on a few rides, such as, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, and my favorite, Casey Jr. Circus Train. I was having so much fun. Although, when it came time to leave I didn’t react like most toddlers; I didn’t cry or whine. Instead I had, what seemed to be, the best part of my day. I wobbled down Main Street and sat on nearly every inch of the sidewalk. I had the hugest smile on my face and I was giggling uncontrollably. My parents had a fun time watching me and wondering why I was having so much fun. They said that it was an, “unforgettable memory”. They kept saying, “Haley, come on let’s go”, and I would get up, take a few steps, and then sit on the sidewalk again.
We’ll never know why those sidewalks intrigued me so much, but I love that story.
Ever since my first visit to Disneyland, I’ve gone back many, many times and created more memories with family and friends.
Every year in January my immediate family (18 family members between the ages of 3 and 65) and I go to their together. We have the best time, and it’s truly a blessing to be able to spend it all together. I cherish those small moments, especially when all of us fit in one whole boat on The Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
I grew up a Disney girl, and I will always be a Disney girl.
Disneyland is a place that means a lot to me.
The Happiest Place in the World.
Baby time stories are always interesting and memorable. Sometimes, it can effect our lives.
Just like you, from a Disney baby to a Disney girl and will always be a Disney girl.
Haley, I am a boy, and Disneyland was also my dream when I was a child. It's really surprising that many people here share the same ideas about this "blurry figures"; childhood, good old days, dreams... We are same after all. I really like your comment and your story, and I totally agree with you.
I am also a huge Disney fan myself and I loved reading your post about the happiest place on Earth. Disneyland is so magical and some of my favorite memories are from my visits to that theme park. I love how you talked about the little things -- such as sitting on the sidewalk -- made your visit that much more memorable. I especially love how you have this tradition with your family members to go to Disneyland every year. I can't imagine how many memories and laughs would be exchanged every year.
Great post! Disneyland is the best.
p.s. Casey Jr. Circus train was also my favorite ride when I was a little kid visiting Disneyland.
Hi Haley! I love how you were able to appreciate and cherish the little moments in life... especially with your family. And indeed, Disneyland has always been and always will be the happiest place on earth! Great post!
I loved your story! Baby stories always tend to be the cutest and the funniest. When you mentioned your family, it automatically reminded me of my family when we go to amusement parks together. As I read your story, I was able to picture it in my head. Great Job!
I'm sure everyone remembers their first Disneyland trip. This entry sure made me reminisce of those days.
I imagine the park and the Disney characters signing the autograph books. I could relate to your story because I too am a Disney girl.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Childhood and Past
Recalling the story of the past is like seeing something through dense fog. My memory about childhood is not very clear, but I know that it was the sweetest time of my life. Childhood is always beautiful, but people don’t realize it until they grow up. In dreams, what we see is blurred and what we hear is muffled, same to our memory. Childhood was like a beautiful dream, a paradise where people want to go back. When I think about the past, I see colors, the vivid colors on old photographs. The shapes are not clear, and I am not able to tell what it really looks like. Since I was three years old, when I started to memorize things, I have been fascinated by this world, but as I see and hear more, the old feelings and dreams about beautiful world are gone.
Sometimes I think what my childhood was like? I remember when I was four, I saw Disneyland on television; it was like a dreamland for children, so I shouted, “I want to go to America one day!”; when I was six, terrorists attacked New York, and every was shocked, but I was the only one who could not understand, so I asked my parents and cousins, “why you seem so shocked? Don’t people die everyday?”, and I don’t remember their answers; when I was eight, SARS struck China, and my school had to examine each student everyday, which never happened before, and all children in school thought it was fun rather than scary. Childhood was beautiful because of naivete. When I was a child, I would not really care about something or listen to someone, that’s why the memory about childhood is “blurred and muffled”
After I grew up, I found that Disneyland is not that impressive as what I imagined; I realized that 9/11 attack was the event that changed world history; I heard that SARS is one of the most threatening disease. The reality is not like what I thought, but I still like to dream about the good old days, when the trees were green, people were kind and honest, and the world was waiting to be explored. I don’t remember what people said when I was little; I didn’t understand, so I would not memorize.
Sometimes, I like to explore the past; I think it’s really fascinating to recall the memory and see how I have changed in these years. I like to read history because I think it’s same as recalling my own story. When I read about the glorious Roman Empire, the dark Middle Ages, the mysterious civilizations that once flourished, I can’t stop to picture the scenes: how people dressed back then, how they talked, what was their cities look like … . In the spiritual world with blurred figures and muffled voices, things are beautiful.
Note: Peter, you comment reminds me my childhood and stories of the past. I have read Brian's comment, and I think you two share the same ideas about the "Blurred Figures". I think you can write more and make your story more detailed.
I liked your post and i agree with your "the dream is better than the reality" perspective. I was the same way when the twin towers came down; I couldn't figure out why everyone was so sad and afraid. Great work!
Than you for your reply! I am happy that we had same experience and feel the same about dream and reality.
Blog #2: The Mirror: Little Things
He lived a humble life, filled with simple hopes and dreams. Is there anything wrong with that? Absolutely not. In fact, perhaps there is a lesson to be learned from Harrison’s life.
Harrison’s life can be characterized as carefree. He, more than anyone, lived and loved without worry, even when there was something to worry about. At his core, Harrison was an optimist. No matter how deep the pit of despair, Harrison saw a light at the end of the tunnel. I remember when he was fighting to beat the deadline to turn in his Letter of Intent as well as his amazing blog; an arduous task to be sure. Yet, he still approached the task with enthusiasm and determination, knowing that it was for his own benefit, and ultimately accomplishing the task.
Harrison was stubborn. He never asked for help, despite the most difficult of circumstances. Some may view stubbornness as a flaw, and perhaps it was at times in his life. However, seeing Harrison rise to the occasion by himself was an admirable sight. There is something to be said about the feeling of satisfaction after accomplishing a goal, purely by one’s own effort. It is indescribable .
While Harrison was carefree, that is not to say he did not care. His kind-hearted nature is what drew people to him and it was obvious how deeply he cared for his friends and family. Harrison strove to support his family and friends to the utmost, even when he, himself, needed support as well. There were the actions seen - encouraging and listening during times of need - as well as the actions unseen - fastidiously praying for them every day. These little things, compounded over a life time, have had a substantial impact on the lives of his loved ones.
Harrison’s legacy is defined by the little things. These nuances should serve as a reminder that even the little things can be great. So here’s to the little things.
Note: Thanks Matt for helping me fix all the grammar errors and cutting out the “fluff”!
I literaly laughed aloud when I read the part of your post about how you beat the deadline to submit your amazing blog. And I agree that it is amazing, i thought it sounded very much like a really funeral toast would; somber, yet you find a smile forming at the end of your lips. Nice post!
I really enjoyed reading your blog, being stubborn can have its negatives and positives. It's good that you see it as a positive, as well as I. In my eyes, being stubborn is just not giving up no matter how hard the situation is.
I, too, am sort of the same way.
I really liked reading your toast and caught myself smiling on the deadline part. It was nice that you put a little bit of humor into your post. Harrison sounds like a pretty enjoyable and relatable person. Good job!
I really liked reading your toast and caught myself smiling on the deadline part. It was nice that you put a little bit of humor into your post. Harrison sounds like a pretty enjoyable and relatable person. Good job!
Thanks everyone! I really appreciate the feedback. I actually wasn't too sure how the deadline part would work out.
Like everyone else, I really enjoyed the humor in this post! It kind of brought the post to life. I could hear a lot of voice in this and it gave me a sense of what kind of person you are.
All the things you are celebrating in your toast, I think they are worth toasting! Kudos to you for recognizing such great qualities and showing them off.
Great job on your post!
I only saw your draft when it was partially finished, but I really enjoyed how it came together. You summed up exactly how you knew yourself with your unique voice. Also, cheers to the little things in life.
Quinn thinks that Harrison can write a pretty dang good epitaph for himself as well as throw in a good humerous bit or two. Quinn thinks he might go ahead and die first and tell the speaker to just steal this thing exactly.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: There Was Once a Woodchuck
It was a winter evening, the sun was setting, the wind was blowing and the leaves were falling. Why was the sky so nice? Why did the weather seem so much better than yesterdays?
“Alright hun, let's go to the park before it gets dark.” My mom said.
“Hurry up and go grab your jacket.” She said.
I quickly ran into my room, put on my jacket, and got my shoes.
As I stuck my right foot into my shoe... there was a woodchuck.
“It must have been there since last the time I went to the park...” I whispered in my head seven years ago.
Now, whenever I try to picture or even think about that certain park, the main thing that pops into my head are just woodchucks. Everything else around it is nothing but a blurred image. I can't seem to fit the puzzle pieces together as to how the park actually looked like. Something that was once so clear, is just a faded image now. And the worst part, I can only recall the little bits of it.
How can a place that meant so much to me easily deteriorate in my mind just like that? I'm supposed to remember every part of it – but I don't.
There was a trail.Yes.
There was a monkey bar. Yes.
There was a swing set. Yes.
There was a slide. Yes.
There were woodchucks. Yes.
Sure, this park sounds just like every other park, but to me, this park wasn't just “any other one.” I spent my whole childhood growing up in this park. Whenever I felt like being alone, it was my friend. Whenever I felt the need to get away, this was the first place that I went to. Most importantly, the park stayed the same while the whole world around it was constantly changing.
Though, there was one thing that I certainly did not forget...
There was a metal climber thing that I climbed and climbed until I reached the very top. It felt as if my hands were in Antarctica every time I touched it. You'd think that I was supposed to feel scared and terrified of how high I was, but I felt the complete opposite. I felt as if no one had the ability to reach up and get me. I felt so superior because I was able to see everything below me regardless how high up I was. I felt... safe.
To Eliza Wu: I appreciate the time you took for helping me choose this particular prompt to write about, as you said, it was my strongest one out of all three. I thank you for telling me to go more in-depth with what I was writing about.
I really enjoyed your post! I can really relate b/c I too loved playing on the playground as a kid. What is this park called, and do you still visit it?
I enjoyed reading your post, and thanks for sharing your story. I understand the feeling when I stay on the top and looking to the people who under me. Good Job!
I love the way you organized your post! Great Job!
Hey Karen! I really enjoyed reading your post because it reminded me of when I was in kindergarten and my mom would always take me to this one park to play as I waited for my afternoon class. Thanks for the flashback to my past.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: The Rose Garden
I generally do not like to revisit the same place twice because it is nothing new to me after I have already visited it. However, there is one place that I can visit a hundred and thousand times, and I still love to go.
As I am still new to this city, nothing in this city is familiar to me. Volunteering at the Arboretum garden was the first place I visited beside my home and school. I go to the Arboretum every Saturday at 9 am. That is the best time to go to the Arboretum – with all the fresh air, just right amount of sunshine, and green plants. It is a wonderful place to hang out with my friends during my spare time.
We used to volunteer at the front garden. One day, while we were waiting for my mom to pick us up, I walked through the gardens with my friend. Then, we found the rose garden which was not located at the center of the garden, but at a corner. We just loved that place when we first entered it. When one enters the garden, there are several benches on the left side with white trellis on the back and vines entwined on them. Right in front of the benches, there is a big grass lawn and several roses on the side. I find it beautiful.
After our discovery, we used to stay in the rose garden for a whole afternoon during the weekend. We would bring some books to read, cards, and other things to play with; we could stay there for a whole afternoon.
Food is usually a thing that we need to worry about when we go outside. However, staying in that rose garden, food is no longer a problem. Right on the left side of the rose garden are several orange trees. I can say that the oranges on these trees have the best taste I have ever tried. We also discovered that half of the trees have sweet oranges, and the other half are sour oranges. If you do not like oranges, there are also loquats!
This is a place where we can stay alone to quietly do our work, but also can have fun with friends. Sometimes, when you walk through that garden, you might see some weird people eating oranges or playing cards or just lying on the ground enjoying the sunshine. That might be us.
To Xiaoling: Thank you for telling me that I need to add more detail about the rose garden. I went back to the garden last Saturday, and add more description about the garden.
The Mirror: A Toast to Remember
We gather here to celebrate the death of _____, a beginning and an end, an end of a person who smiled every time a big rock fell in his path, he took it as a challenge but not as a disadvantage, and I hope that we will all learn from that and become like him. He was a young man who tried to inspire people to be who they are rather than who they want to be like.
However to every good thing there is an end, thus we are here today to celebrate his end with a toast with all his friends and loved ones. So join me by raising your glass.
To the child of Feraco,
I do want to know who this inspiring young man is. And I am glad that you set yourself as if in the real funeral. While I was reading, I was imagine the picture you tried to describe here. Great job.
But I believe such brave young man is able to achieve more than what you just wrote. If he has the capability of "lifting the big rock" then I believe he is able to write more than 2 paragraphs of his life. And I sure believe that his life would be more challenging and interesting than this.
Be brave. You can only go wrong you don't do it. If you do it, make is "big", awesome and memorable.
Thank you for the great read.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Emerald Sea
Adults see a park, a green blob on a map, a place to let kids play and dogs run, an opportunity to finally get a break. Adults see this because they’ve lost the ability to see how it truly is. The green grass has been replaced with raindrops of alternating green integers on a computer monitor. Yes, that was a Matrix reference; after all, adults have had a lie pulled over their eyes, blinding them from the beauty of the world around them.
But it’s different for children.
Children don’t see the park.
The park is a canvas to the mind of a child, and they don’t hesitate to paint it as they please.
A vicious sea of emerald sets the tone for the entire landscape. Charcoal colored sea monsters protrude from the depths, their tentacles shooting to the sky. A shining yellow citadel composed of interlocking iron rods and smooth plastic towers over a pool of lava, ultimately taking the shape of monkey-bars, swings, slides, and ladders.
Most people are thinking “What the [heck] are you talking about, Clay?” Exactly, we’ve already outgrown our childish minds, and we can’t return. When we go to the park what do we see?
Somehow this park isn’t home.
I love how your post isn't really about one specific place, but about many places that are equally as special. I completely agree with you that we lose our childish imaginations as we grow older, and I believe that a lot of people think that having a wild imagination means you're immature. Unfortunately, this is the world we live in. But hopefully parks stay more than just parks to us as we grow older. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Breath Taking! I was absolutely captivated by your post, and I absolutely agree with you. Now, I find myself thinking like an "adult" instead of thinking it as a child, in a pure and happy way. You're voice is awesome and do not ever quell it!
Well done on showing how our mindset changes as we grow older. I found it rather heartbreaking because I've been clinging on desperately to that childlike wonder that keeps the grass a emerald sea.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: My Old Room
When I think of my childhood, only one place touches my heart.
My old room.
It was the only place where I felt I could escape from the harsh realities of the world. At the time, I was about 5-12 years old but the memories made there will last a lifetime. This room was hardly my room anyways. I had to share it with my brother, who is six years older than me so he had the upper hand on EVERYTHING. I, not knowing better, would do everything he told me to do because was older. To me, the older brother called the shots while the little brother did all the dirty work. The funny thing was, it was never this way between him and I. He would hold me as equal to him and although I had to have a certain amount of higher respect towards him, he never made it feel that way. It was because of our relationship that made that room so special.
We would what little kids do in that room, run home from school to play Mario Kart while eating Cheetos and drinking Coca Cola. We would jump off the top of the bunk bed; I even remember landing on a chair and hitting my eye, giving me a black eye. We had that carpet that EVERY young boy had. You know, the one that had the city with the buildings and street imprinted so that every boy could use it as land for his cars. We had a big closet at the end of the room and because we both liked to play soccer, one of us would be goalie while the other would try to score by kicking the ball into the closet. We broke a couple of pictures and lamps which caused us to be grounded but we never regretted it. It was a typical room for two young brothers to play and have a fun time.
I realize now that it was not exactly the room itself which made the memories but the relationship that the room gave us which made the memories. I’m proud to say that, even though most teenagers don’t agree, I wish I could share a room with my brother again. Not because I feel lonely or need someone to talk to at all times but because of the relationship that I would have with my brother is one that not most people are able to have and I would like to make the most of it.
It isn’t the room that I miss. It’s what the room did for me, the memories it made, it gave my brother and I a place to be ourselves, and gave me my childhood memories.
To Brian: Thanks for helping me think deeper and making me realize what this place really meant to me. It made this blog a lot easier!
I love your descriptions, especially the one about the carpet! I know the exact one you mentioned! Also, I really admire the relationship you have with your brother, most siblings just fight and yell, but you guys had respect for each other. Your message was beautiful and relate-able, excellent work!
I can relate to your story since I share a room with my brother too. We still play soccer with those imaginary goals.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: It's Just an Old Choir Room
Initially I wasn’t impressed. My first day in the building and I was already judging the place. The room seemed outdated and cramped- nothing to write home about. The pictures of past groups stretched all the way back to the eighties. Each picture barely hung on the wall with a thick coat of dust around each frame. I hardly wanted to breathe for fear that any sudden movement would make the room collapse- but not the returning members. While I was busy thinking of ways to update the room they were drinking in every inch of their beloved choir room. Whenever they spoke of the choir room their voices took on a reverent tone, like a pastor on a Sunday morning. Their eyes portrayed a beautiful mixture of gentleness and loyalty. Their entire composure changed. Yet I, an immature sophomore, scoffed at the returning members on my first day in class. “How can they be so enamored with an old choir room? It’s just a room.” Deep down I knew they had a connection with this room that I didn’t have- yet. In the moment it just seemed so foreign.
The dingy maroon curtains, the scuffed white and black tile floors, the risers that we never seemed to put together quite securely. Long school nights and multiple Saturdays spent in a small building with a broken heater and a fire alarm that rings when it’s a lock down and a lock down alarm that rings when it’s a fire drill. The not-so-quiet rattle of the air conditioner, the notoriously freezing girls back room, the dust that dances silently on the tops of our trophies, the Julliard mug with exactly 2 pencils, 1 pen, and a pair of scissors that sits on our Yamaha piano, and the electric clock with numbers as red as our blood shot eyes after a 9am-9pm rehearsal. It’s really nothing special.
Despite all the times we are forced to be in that room (for last minute rehearsals, sectionals, and meetings) we still willingly choose to spend our free time there.
Why? We could leave after school and thank the good Lord for time away from the musical prison.
Yet we willingly choose to come back- time after time after time..
Three years later and now I love that building- completely and unashamedly love the place.
We’ve all made memories there. We’ve shed tears there. We’ve all made mistakes there and we’ve picked ourselves up there. Mostly we’ve walked through high school with our closest friends there. The moments we’ve all shared there make this room priceless. The moment when I finally have to sever my ties with this room will not come easily. But where I’m at now is a great place to be. I have hit a point where I am grateful and appreciative of every painstakingly long practice I ever had there and the rehearsals we slaved over.
It’s no longer just an old choir room. It’s so much more than that- it’s our old choir room.
To Melanie: Thank you for encouraging me to use this prompt! I didn’t think any of my ideas were particularly strong, but after reading your comment about how you liked this one the best I decided to go with it. I took your advice and elaborated more on the certain details that made me really connect to the choir room. Thanks again, I appreciate it.
I really like your use of the imagery. I used to have the same feeling at the beginning of high school. Until later the more I understand the more I was engaged.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Hiding in Plain View
Divided into four sections: Slanted, Zigzag, flat, and walled.
Different levels of flat planes
All have identical dull-gray colors.
If you didn’t know that it was there, you would miss it.
This is my escape.
I found it on accident. I was home and my family was fighting, yelling and screaming at each other, again. I felt like I was trapped inside the walls slowly pressing in on me. I couldn’t breathe. I fled to my front yard, and didn’t stop. I kept on running till I was at a familiar place. (I will not name where this place is for the sake of it remaining mine.) I looked up at the different levels of its flat roof, and saw the limitless sky beyond it.
I don’t know why I was never able to climb up before. I have spent countless days here. Maybe because when ever I came before the continuous crowd dissuaded me. Maybe it was because I never even truly noticed it before, I just thought of it as a roof. Maybe it was the situation I was in and my desperation to escape. No matter, that was the first day I ventured up to my heaven on earth.
I was amazed. Everything was so clear. I could see everything from my perch. I felt invincible. I felt open. I felt peaceful. I felt free.
At that moment, nothing else mattered to me. I explored each different level and spent hours in the sky.
The slanted level is the one closest to the street, but it like most roofs where it will reach a peak and descend toward the ground. If you lay on the descending side, then you will be hidden in plain view. I can spend hours there, but my favorite time is during night. I will be stretched out under the limitless sky counting the stars.
The zigzag level is a risk. It bridges the slanted and the flat. It is a short, but open stretch. I always run this part. Down then up, down then up. There are three small peaks. When I reach a peak, I feel like I am flying. Sometimes I continue running back and fourth on this level just to keep the sensation going. I am able to fly, hidden in plain view.
The flat level is my entrance and exit. There are poles along the edges and in one section there is a little gap. To get up, I pull my self up the pole till I reach the ledge. To get down, I will crouch low, grab on to the edge, swing to the pole and shimmy safely to the ground. Even though I do not spend much time on this section, I do not overlook its importance because it is the gateway to my escape.
The walled level is my favorite of all levels. This is where you are truly hidden in plain view. This is proof of how important my roof really is. How it is an escape, how it represents freedom, and how you can express yourself without anyone’s judgment. This level shows undeniable evidence of how my roof has served others before me. The walls are covered in a collage of art. There are different colors of spray paint that liter the wall to make different pictures. They range in size and color. There are some that are more brightly colored than others. Some newer ones overlap the older faded ones.
My favorite is a lone peanut man with a monocle and a cane. It is bigger than myself. A little faded over the years due to weathering, but what is amazing is that all this time, it has remained untouched by the newer artists that have come. I spend most of my time up here. I will bring up a book and read until the sun goes down. I will bring a journal and write whatever thoughts run through my head. I will bring a tennis ball and bounce it off the walls. And, yes I do admit to leaving my own mark; my last name symbol in red, painted in an unmarked corner.
I hope that one day when I am done with my heaven on earth, someone else will discover this place. I hope that they will eventually leave their own mark just as all the others before and myself have done. I hope they will spend hours up here to escape their own world, to be hidden in plain view.
I would like to thank Jacob Young for editing my post. He gave me the suggestion to go more into depth in describing the other levels of my roof, instead of just the walled level. At first I didn’t want to because I wanted to focus just on that section, but then I realized that my readers would not fill in all the details that I automatically fill in whenever I think of the different levels. Thank you for your input!
Thats so cool that you have this special place to go to! I think we all long for something like that.
I hate being ignored.
I hate being silenced.
You’ll always know that I’m never the type to cower and give in.
The type of writing that I myself try to mimic is one that has a strong stand and one that isn’t afraid to put everything on their mind onto paper. I love the writers who are able to say what they need to even if it would be considered obscene or explicit. The critics might have a great time reviewing and criticizing these types of authors but they are the ones that people like me look up to.
A specific author that I try to mimic and follow is JD Salinger of Catcher in the Rye. What caught my eye the first time I read this novel was the narrative. It seemed so real and relatable. It seemed like the author wrote exactly how a teenager would talk. It sounded genuine and the author wasn’t afraid to cuss when it was necessary, use fragments when it was called for and used just about anything and everything that would convey his message.
What I loved besides the narrative was the symbolism behind the book.
The green dress.
The ducks at central park.
The Museum of Natural History.
The phonies that Holden encountered.
All these simple symbols tied together a novel that created a theme that was simple enough for everyone to understand. It takes skills to tie together a novel and make it make sense to hundreds and thousands of children around the world.
I know that this book has influenced. I hope to be able to write at the level he’s at someday and I hope that someday this writing will be the norm.
To Daniel: Thanks for giving me more information and telling me to go into greater detail about the book. It made a huge difference in the outcome of the blog.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: The Worlds I Carry With Me
Sweat dribbled down my forehead and drenched my white shirt clear. Sunlight filtered through the windows beating down on my back. Yet I didn’t notice any of that. Instead, I heard voices screaming all around. “Crucio! Stupefy!” I saw flashes of red and green as jets of light flew from the ends of dozens of wants. I felt my heart pounding as I chased Bellatrix Lestrange, fury propelling me forward. Pointing my wand, I uttered, “CRU-” * BANG *
Cool air flooded into the car. I looked up and found my mom standing over me, her eyes smoldering. “What do you think you doing?!” she demanded. Mumbling a few excuses, I quickly picked myself up from the floor of the car and gently closed my book, carefully marking the page I had been stopped at. I could feel the anger rolling off my mom, and I knew it wouldn't stay silent for long. This had been the 3rd time this week where I had completely lost track of my surroundings while reading my book. Before she could explode into a rant, I darted into my room and closed the door. Jumping onto my bed, I plucked another book from my shelf.
Staring at the cover, it was like looking at a closed door waiting to be opened. Excitement coursed through my veins. Another book, another world- full of mystery, yet so familiar at the same time. Beyond the cover, I could hear the many voices lying in the world unknown beckoning to me- whispering my name. Nate. Nate. Breath held, hands trembling in anticipation, I opened the door and immersed myself into the world of imagination. The world of words .
My special place isn’t a physical room or area. Not the park where I’ve run thousands of miles, or the basketball court where I’ve spent countless hours shooting hundreds shots. It’s where I bring my books. Stitched between the 2 covers, each book carries a different world in itself, and when I read, I find myself lost in that realm. The real world ceases to exist, or at least I cease to exist in it, because in my mind, I’m in the book. And the book is reality . Wherever I go, near or far, old or new, I know I’ll always be able to bring a place of comfort along. Cause in every book, there’s a special place waiting with me.
Mitch: Thanks for not laughing at my idea. Instead, you heard me out, gave it a thought, and then encouraged me to keep going with it. I expressed my fears that this would be a really random and bad idea, but you just told me that if I really liked the idea, and believed in it, to go for it. You told me to write whatever came to mind, and have pride in it. So I did. This one’s for you Mitch! Thanks!
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voice: The Grass Was Greener On The Other Side
The grass was greener on the other side, literally. In the simmering days of summer when I was young, I was dragged along to summer school so I wouldn't fry my brain playing video games all day. My summer school took us to field trips in the afternoons in contrast to the dull work and lessons in the mornings. Across the street there was a field of grazing grass in middle of two apartment buildings. We would go to this park a few days a week to get away from the torturous learning environment to a place we were free.
We were free.
It wasn't a park, there wasn't a playground or even trees, it was what we wanted it to be. It was whatever we wanted this place to be, a place of harmony to do whatever we desired.
We sharpened sticks into swords and bushes into shields, we had transformed this ordinary park into our playground. From sword battles to playing tag, we had the time of our lives that we didn't ever feel before. Joy could not explain the expressions on our faces, we were ecstatic. As dawn sets and our parents arriving for our departure, we dragged our feet knowing that we must leave, but we felt rejuvenated.
As life moved on, I no longer went to that summer school as I had grown out of it, but the memories still remain. The field where we once played still remains as it once was, nothing has changed except for us not playing there anymore. Like Spongebob said, "We don't need television as long as we have imagination". We turned a field of nothing into something we would cherish in our hearts forever.
Truly, the grass was greener on the other side.
I trashed my original idea from the one in class so I don't have anyone to credit.
Hey Brandon, I really liked your story. It reminds me of when I was a child. Your story brought back some fun memories, thanks!
I really enjoyed reading this piece of your writing, it made me smile and I could clearly visualize what you were saying exactly. Thank you for sharing!
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Little Tokyo
Red and White paper lanterns hung all over the place, lighting up the night sky. The air was a little chilly, but it didn’t bother me as long as I kept walking. I held on tightly to my dad’s hand as we walked to the different shops. The scent of miso soup and teriyaki sauce leaked out from the restaurant windows and lingered in the air. Someone was playing the shamisen (4-string musical instrument) to advertise their new CD and upcoming performances.
Ever since I was a little girl, I had dreamed of traveling to different countries. Japan was number one on my list. I grew up watching “Anime” (Japanese animation) and I listened to japanese music because of my older cousins. Since then, I wanted to travel to Japan to see what it was like. I have never been to Japan or Tokyo until this day, but the Little Tokyo in Los Angeles was the closest I could get to the real deal. The busy crowded walkways, shops, oriental music and Japanese food stands and bystanders that spoke japanese made it seem like the real thing.
I used to go to Little Tokyo, the artificial Japan. Everything there was colorful, lively and pleasant to the eyes of a girl who had always wanted to travel to Japan. Restaurant and shop signs flashed and twinkled. I remember always making “Mikawaya’s Mochi Ice Cream Shop” my first stop. I would buy 5 of them. Mango, strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, and green tea. After buying them, I would them with my dad and we would eat them along the way.
“Dad, I want to go to the anime store!” I would always say. My dad always had a difficult time saying no to me, especially when my eyes twinkled with delight. I would buy a figurine or a toy of some kind to add to my collection. Our last stop would be a sushi house. I would leave Little Tokyo with a smile, and I would hold tightly on to the bag that had the merchandise I purchased.
As years passed, I changed. I stopped watching anime and stopped listening to japanese music. I grew up. I remember the times when I used to get excited and jittery as a little girl when I saw the sign “Little Tokyo next exit” on the free way. It all changed for me though; being a high school senior whose thoughts were more focused on graduating with high grades, and getting into college-- I didn’t have those same feelings. I was far from the little girl I used to be years ago.
Every now and then when my dad would drive me to LA for one of my music performances, my dad would ask, “Do you want to stop by Little Tokyo after your performance?” As much as I wanted to, I thought that I could hold off going back there for a while. During that time, I might even be able to visit the real Tokyo before I make another visit to Little Tokyo--hopefully.
“Maybe some other time Dad.”
i really liked that post. reading it, i can picture the beautiful lights and taste the ice cream; though i was not there, i can say it must be amazing.
Krystle! I really enjoyed reading your blog. It was very touching and in many ways I was able to relate to it. It was very well written and had a lot of personality in it! Keep up the good work!!!
The Mirror: The Legacy of Nick
We gather today to celebrate the death of my good friend Nick Pulciano.
As much as it was a tragic to lose such a great son, brother, and friend, God always has a plan. It may not seem justified right now, but beyond living on this planet is a much bigger picture.
I know Nick wouldn’t want us to mourn over his loss, but rather celebrate on his accomplishments. He was a hard working student that dedicated his time to school, family, church, and athletics. Nick’s genuine nature and charisma lead him to get out of any situation (good or bad). I remember a day in third grade that can describe Nick’s personality that he carried with him throughout his whole 17 years here on earth.
It is my honor to share a story that captures Nick’s true nature all in one day during his grade school years.
Every year in Mrs. Fasick’s class, there was an annual “GOODY STORE”. Once a year, the class would have the opportunity to buy some gifts from the money they have been saving throughout the entire year. That day, Nick bought each of his family members a gift, not leaving one present for himself. As the rest of the kids played with their new toys, Nick prepared little notes to give to each family member along with the each gift. When Nick got home he gave his presents to all six family members, leaving them happy and grateful for such a great sibling/son.
A simple story describing Nick nine years ago, describes Nick today.
Nick, Nicholas, Pooch, Pouch, Poochie, Ponciano, Pullciano, were all names we grown to call him over the years. Nick’s attitude to strive for the best and shoot for the stars was going to lead Nick to do big things. I am certain to say, that he will be remembered forever and always.
I remember Nick saying that if he were to die at any moment, he would not care. By not caring, he explained that if he knew at any moment that his life was going to be taken, and he had the power to stop it, he wouldn’t. Furthering his explanation, he told me that when he died, he would be reunited with his grandfather.
The person that shaped the way Nick did every thing. The way he acted, talked, performed, and presented.
Nick dedicated everything he did to his grandfather, and when successful, passed the glory to him. You could always find Nick kicking a field goal, following a routine that ended with him looking up. I am certain that was his way of thanking God and his grandfather for giving him talents to enable.
Being his closest friend/brother, I know Nick left Earth with an unfinished bucket list. It was his wildest dream to play D1 football and become a doctor. But now Nick has the angels to play football with, and his grandfather to play operator with.
I know Nick is looking down on us right now, and is finally happy. Nick’s death brings tears to all of us, but somewhere up there, he is satisfied.
So, a toast to Nick!
Jeremy: Thank you for reading my rough draft, and helping pick which one best fits me. I did throw some of your ideas into my final piece; that you mentioned would be good to say. I appreciate your honesty when talking about my writing, and I thank you for making me a better writer.
Nick S.: Thank you for reading my drafts as well. Also thank you for reading it out loud. You helped me realize that I had a lot of work to do, resulting in my final draft being MUCH better. Your constuctive criticism shaped my final draft to what I feel is good. Thank you!
I remember when Nick read it in class, I already thought you had a really great start to this - I was actually hoping you would turn it into your actual blog. And I’m glad you did!
Reading this, I could actually imagine the type of person you are. I don’t really know you but by reading this, you seem like a fantastic person. Many parts of this also made me laugh! This was a great post, good job!
Man...If we were back in Schultz's class, even he'd have to give you an A for this. A work worthy of the angels .
Keep writing with heart,
I really enjoyed reading your post. It was interesting to know what kind of person you are and you also have a sense of humor! It really got me in to it! Thanks
Nick! I really enjoyed reading your blog. Sine we are good friends, I already know a lot about you! Your toast seems to be fairly accurate and it truly captures what nick Pulciano is all about! Well done! I look forward to reading more of your blogs!!
Light Something: The Giver
I am not a person who reads for enjoyment on their free time. I normally just read the books that my English teachers tell me to read. My mother, being an ex-teacher, did not like this. When I was in fourth grade, my mom had me read The Giver. I was in need of a book for some type of book report and she gave me that book to read instead of me not doing the report at all. All she told me was that I was to read that book and do the report on that. Being an obedient son I had done so, but I didn’t realize how that book was going to significantly change my life.
The book opens in a small community that is suppose to be a perfect society. Everyone was converted to a “sameness” ideal to eliminate the evils in the world. To give you an idea what this is like, think of a world with no color at all. Everything is in black, white and many shades of grey. There is no emotion in the world. Spouses are matched up based on compatibility and only allowing two children per family, one boy one girl. There is no love between the members in each family. The main character, Jonas, is this twelve year old boy who looses his innocence in a way we all can never relate too. He discovers emotion. He gains the knowledge that everyone in his community lacks. Jonas eventually learns about death and all of the memories of pain and suffering. When his friends played a cops and robbers type game and pretended to shoot each other and fall over dead, he could not bear to watch. A childhood game that he used to love was corrupted with his newly acquired knowledge of death.
My favorite scene in this book is probably the most depressing scene I have ever read. Jonas discovers love and no one else can feel it.
He asked both of his parents “Do you love me?”
His father sarcastically remarked that the word “love” is meaningless. It has become so meaningless that it is obsolete. His parents provided other ways to repeat Jonas’s question.
“Do you enjoy me?” or “Do you take pride in my accomplishments?”
This is the kind of lack of emotion that spoke to me in this book. This book was the key to opening my mind. It was essentially my loss of innocence. I learned how precious life really was and how we spend it is immensely important. I learned that death was inevitable that it would happen eventually to most everyone in my life. I learned the true meaning of all emotions and how important love really was. I can’t tell you how many times I have said the words “I love you too mom and dad” and not actually know the true underlying meaning of what I was saying. That was before reading this book. Now, I understand the significance of those words and will never diminish that meaning.
I truly love your 'book report' since I have read The Giver before and I got the same feelings as you did while reading this book. Indeed, the book teaches us a lot about an imaginary world without anything that we are having now in reality as necessity for life.
Although we all dislike death and disasters, excessive peace may make people feel lost, empty and emotionless.
Which means I am feeling really lucky to live a 'dystopian' world !
Blurry Figures and Muffles Voices: Tarjay
Turning right into the parking lot where all the cars are coming in and out. The big red target on the wall or the commercials of the dog with the target on his eye or maybe the awkward songs for the back to school commercials make me want to come here every day.
People with strollers walking into the store and people with carts full of goodies walking out of it. Everything is big and red. The smell of popcorn popping with the smell of coffee brewing at the same time. This is a lame place to have memories at, but they were the best memories.
All these memories of Christmas shopping, birthday gifts, shopping sprees, and a typical hangout place with friends. Who needs the mall when you have your little Sephora section on the side with the label “Beauty.” As a child, I would always come here with my mom to buy my first Tamagotchi, the little egg shaped handheld digital pet; my first makeup eye shadows to play with; my first piggy bank. Now that they have a grocery section, this store is now my favorite store in the world.
Now that I have grown up, with a license and all, I am able to go to this big red store to buy the special needs I need. I can spend hours and hours at the dollar section. It was my escape when I did not want to go home. I would tell my mom I didn’t want to go home because it was so boring and she would agree to take me because it was better for me to go to Target than to stay at home watching television. Sometimes I’d even throw tantrums because I wanted to just walk around the big white and red store to let out all my anger from being held up at home.
Walking into the store gives me a good feeling. I don’t need to worry about spending too much at this store because everything is at a decent price. I would always start at the beauty section and work around going counter-clockwise around the store. Satisfying food cravings of lunchables and looking for cupcake mixed for people’s birthdays at the food section. Going on expeditions through the boys section with their cool sword toys and ant farms or maybe going to the guys section to find some clothing because they are so awesome.
I don’t know what I would do if I lost this store. It is like a mini Costco where all the things you need is there. Not many people know Target like I do, some might have never even been there.
The big Tarjay is a place I will never want to leave. It is my home.
To Kevin Kua: Thanks for reading my piece and saying telling me it was weird to talk about Target because it's just a store. I thought about it more and added how much this place means to me instead of just describing it.
I gotta say...I love this. It's so simple, yet so elegantly written. I love how even though you realized some might think this was lame, you still wrote it and put your heart into it. Personally, I think nothing can make something you write with your heart poured in lame. It was honest, and really captured your feelings for this place.
Keep writing true and with heart,
Nice description of Target! I think I've been to Target so many times but yet I never thought of it like you did. You made me want to visit Target again just to look at it from your point of view. Good Job.
I have to say reading your post was quite a delight. You clearly conveyed that this store holds a very dear place in your heart and I love how whimsically you put this into words. Great post!
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Room
I read everyone’s blogs and they all seem to have their own exciting places. I got pretty jealous when I was reading. I wanted to have a cool inspirational place to brag about. I actually thought about visiting the garden here at Arcadia I mean hey who doesn’t like flowers. In the end I didn’t go. There’s just something about my room I like better than anywhere else. As a boy growing up, I was quite spoiled. My parents took me everywhere, to the beach, Disney land, arcades, playgrounds, but if given the choice I would rather stay home. It’s not that I don’t like the outdoors, I just feels attached to my room, to the old glass table and creaking chair. It’s where I wrote all my high school essays and did my homework, where I talked to friends and read good stories.
I feel relaxed in my room; it’s not too fancy I feel distant yet not too simple I feel bored. It’s not too messy so I can find everything I’m looking for but not too tidy it feels stiff. I feel like Goldie Locks finding just the right place.
I don’t have exciting memories to share. I never had an epiphany that changed my life in my room. In fact my memories here blend together. It’s relaxing. I can take things at my own pace.
I find it interesting that you chose your room as your topic for this blog. You gave me a different perspective to my room- it's not just a place where I sleep, but it is indeed a place where a lot of my memories belong. I've never looked at my room this way before, so thanks for the new point of view!
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Risky Situations
From the street all what we could see was a driveway hidden in the trees going up into the mountains and a sign that clearly read "Private Property, No Trespassing". We ignored it and passed the gate, adrenalin kicking in as we ran through the trees. A few deer ran across the never-ending driveway as we came to something that resembled a dam. We kept moving as we passed an overgrown orchard with oranges rotting on the ground. At this point we were almost half a mile into the lot when we realized we were safe and nobody could hear us. We settled down and started exploring the unknown area, unaware of how much this place will mean to us.
"Dude, how are we going to get down? That's like a thirty foot cliff!" Paul yelled out as we were trying to escape the rain.
We were about a mile in when the path started narrowing into a small canal from the water eroding it over the years. As we kept going up the mountain we ran into a cliff that we had to climb up in order to keep going, and now that we climbed it and realized that the ravine ended we were stuck and couldn't get back down.
"Don't worry guys, look what I got" Jin said as he pulled out his prized Bear Grylls Knife. He started cutting the mysterious hose that was partially buried in the sandy ground. He quickly tied it around a tree and we used it to aid in descending the cliff. It made a crunching sound as we put our weight on it as if it was about to give, but we all made it.
"ADEE that was too risky!" We all agreed laughing it off with the funny feeling you get when you think you beat death. The rain was pouring harder as we ran through the trees to our "base camp", a hut made out of fence with a roof made out of decomposing leaves that have collected over the years.
We came back a month later, this time early in the morning to escape the heat so we can airsoft. It was the ideal place because of the multiple acres of land and plenty of cover, and the best part: it was all to ourselves. We pulled out our concealed weapons from our backpacks and began our skirmishes, setting up different missions as if it was a real battle. My heart started pounding knowing that I could be ambushed at any moment from the tall grass, when suddenly a man jumped out of a bush and started yelling at us. How was that possible, we have been there for the past few hours and we haven't seen anyone coming? We booked it as fast as we could out of the property, when we remembered that we left our supplies. The man started chasing us yelling "It's cool guys" and we had to go back anyway so we started talking to him and he told us how he goes to college close by, then he started talking about parakeets, then Big Bear. He was clearly on drugs so we decided to ignore him since he wasn't affecting us.
A few minutes later we heard him screaming for help as he ran down the mountain with a dog chasing him. He pulled out his phone to call the police and screams how a dog is killing him and gives out the location. We began to panic so we grabbed our things and ran out and down the street. A few minutes later the cops passed by and we snuck away.
The lot has become a symbolic place for me where my friends and I could hang out and let go, something rare in the city we live in. There has never been a time we went to the property without something dangerous happening, but the risk is what makes it so much better. Some of my favorite stories have come from this mysterious place, and I hope there are plenty more to come.
I would like to thank Quinn Cole for helping me structure the base of the blog, it didn't make much sense to talk about a situation I was stuck in without giving it some background information. I also took your advice to talk about the man who was on drugs to clarify how mysterious this place really is.
I enjoyed reading your post because it has an adventurous/innocent type of feel to it. I also found the part about the guy calling the cops pretty funny. Thanks for the read!
I think Jin's told me about that cliff before in his list of near death experiences. You guys are crazy!
Light Something: Now and Then
Books have a special effect; they grow as the person grows. The content changes with the person, and its power resonates. No matter how many times a person reads it, the words remain new, exciting, and meaningful.
I remember the first time Mitch Albom’s For One More Day landed in my hands. Back when I was still in Taiwan attending Kaishong’s American School, my father felt obligated to “expand my English”(That’s what he called it). So I was forced-fed English novels every week, Albom’s being one of them.When a book is forced into you system, words become stale blobs of ink. Thus even after finishing the book, the book escaped my mind.
Despite my bad first impression of the book, For One More Day strangely made it onto my packing list. I guessed that the book would have made a nice “room decorative” with its beautiful covers and unmarked pages. So, I brought it to America and left it on the lone bookshelf. It was a beautiful to look at.
It wasn’t until two years later that I grabbed the spine of this book. I opened it up and tried to read it, but could not make it past the third page without my heart twisting into knots. The story felt foggy in my head: Something about a ghost and forgiveness? Something about an ungrateful son and a neglected mother? I found the book impossible to read. For a small part, I was lazy and skipped from chapter to chapter, butchering the story. But for the most part, I didn’t want to admit how similar I was to that ungrateful son, with my constant quarreling with my mother over ridiculous things and hurting her badly in the process. I didn’t want to admit how selfish I was not appreciating the sacrifices she has made taking care of me, far far away from her love. The more the character reminded me of myself, the more dreadful it became to read. So I slammed the book shut and avoided it at all cost.
Now, I’ve grown up. I’m half way to adulthood and almost out of high school. I’ve experienced many things from friendship to religion. I have faith and direction. I can muster up the strength and actually finish Albom’s book and own up to my awful past.
So, I picked the book up and started reading. I soon became absorbed by the story, and could not stop. I finally understood what the book wanted to tell me, after all these years. It taught me that we all unintentionally hurt those we love, and wish to have one more day to make things right. It is only what we do after realizing our faults that truly defines redemption.
This book no longer stands alone on the shelf but with me at all times. It’s my lucky charm, reminding me of the precious time I still have to cherish my loved ones and forget the past.
(Notes - Thank you Paul W. for looking over my drafts and fixing the innumerable mistakes I’ve had)
I really enjoyed the effect of how the book travels with you through life, even today. The transition from finding the book impossible to read into finding the book impossible not to read is a short way of showing your growth over those years.
Also, Mitch Albom’s For One More Day was my restroom read. Loved the book.
Hey David H, your post inspired me to pick up the books I neglected to read in the past. I loved the fact that you mentioned yourself growing with the book, and understanding what the author is trying to tell you. A book you love so much that it turned it your lucky charm. Excellent!
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: A Nameless 茶餐廳
It’s been six years, but I can still taste it.
Every Friday after school, I would eagerly wait for my mom to come home so we could go on our weekly dates at our favorite 茶餐廳 (cha chaan teng, or tea restaurant/cafe). Friday night was a huge deal—it was the only night of the week that I could see my mom, so as much as I despised it because I was a tomboy, I would let my nanny dress me in my frilly pink dress and tie little rainbow hair bands and braids to my hair.
The café was where my parents met, where they dated, and now, where my mom and I have our Friday night dates.
And to be honest, I don’t even know what the name of the 茶餐廳 is.
As we walked out of our tiny apartment door, I tightly grabbed my mom’s hand as we strolled on the swarming streets of Kowloon, Hong Kong. We would trek up the hilly roads and browse through the knickknacks sold by street vendors. Occasionally, we stopped by the local playground, and I would beg my mom to push me on the swings. Even if she was exhausted from her 12 hour work day, she never refused.
Maybe after an hour or two, we would finally arrive at the 茶餐廳. The same waiter that has taken my parents’ orders when they were dating would take our orders. He seated us at the table we always sat at, and I always ate the exact same thing—the silky and creamy milk pudding, the milk tea that I drowned with sweetened-condensed milk, and the macaroni soup with an extra order of spam. My mom would get her regular hot green tea and the wonton noodle soup. Everything was always exactly the same.
Because we barely saw each other, we exchanged anecdotes with each other while we ate. I would talk about the new friends I’ve made, and she would tell me little bits of her love life with my dad when they were dating. I remember how she told me that they used to be in a long distance relationship, and that my dad used to send her three letters a day to win her heart. My mom would never tell me the whole story all at once, because she always wanted me to look forward to our next date. It worked every single time.
I haven’t been back there in six years. To be honest, I don’t even know if the cafe even exists anymore. When I go back to Hong Kong this summer for the first time in seven years, I hope to go back to that 茶餐廳 to revive the old memories, and of course, to make new ones.
(Johnny: I took your advice and added some details about my parents' love story, but I didn't want to go into it too much since I didn't want to get sidetracked! Thanks for the advice!)
Your story, and the story about 'how you mom met your dad' are really cool and romantic!
The 茶餐廳 is also one of my favorite places when I was in China because I loved the food they served and the people who worked in the 茶餐廳 since I was their regulars and they would usually charge me less. How kind they were!
Anyways, I love your story.
Hi Mandy, your post is very touching, can't believe you haven't gone back for 7 years. I remembered the first time I went back to Taiwan after 3 years, I was so shocked by how much everything has changed, my place, my friends, and everything. But to them, I am the one who changed to most. That feeling is very unique, I hope you have a great trip this summer!
Thanks for sharing your memories, and how u felt the 茶餐廳 that you have been there. That 茶餐廳 was a meaningful place for your parent, and it was a valuable place for yourself either. Hope you will see 茶餐廳 again, and have a good time.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Mirror Maze
The San Francisco bay area: the part of the big city that lies right next to the sea. Even though I’ve only been there twice, I’m definitely going to remember it for the rest of my life. I remember the street performers. I remember the wonderful homeless people who would jump out at people passing by on the sidewalk as a form of entertainment merely to earn even a single penny. I even remember the delicious clam chowder within that bowl made of sourdough bread. Out of all my memories of San Francisco’s famous bay area, I remember the mirror maze most of all.
I remember being trapped within the dark maze, which was located on the second floor of some random candy shop. The darkness of the maze gave me the feeling of fright, but also excitement at the same time. It was frightening because it was so dark, and everywhere you turned was a mirror. It made me feel lost for the first time. It was exciting because it was so fun. It was so fun that I kept going back in. I would go in from the side labelled “ENTRANCE” to find the side labelled “EXIT,” and then go through the opposite way. That mirror maze is most certainly the perfect place for playing hide-and-seek.
The mirror maze is the most fun place I have been to in the San Francisco bay area. I do not regret spending 13 dollars on it because it was completely worth it. I know that there are many other places with their own mirror mazes, but this maze was the first maze I’ve ever been in. It was an awesome experience, and I would definitely like to go back there…as long as the candy shop on its first floor hasn’t closed yet.
Light Something: A Children's Book
Everyone knows those classic lines from their favorite children's books.
“I do not eat green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam I am.”
“I think I can, I think I can.”
“He huffed and he puffed and he blew the house down.”
Now, we have all read children's books before. You know...the stories of princes and princess, of dragons and trolls, of gumdrops and bubblegum.
But a short children's book is not always what it seems. There may be an underlying message that can only be seen when you look past the magic and monsters.
In second grade I read a short children's book written by Tomie DePaola. A story about a grandfather and a grandson. The grandfather suddenly becomes ill and has a stroke. He can barely remember anything – or even do anything. The book goes on and talks about the grandfather's road to recovery and how he gets to relive some of the things that the grandson and grandfather used to do together. The grandson helps his grandfather play with blocks, write, and even eat. But the main part of the book was the grandson re-teaching his grandfather how to walk.
I had forgotten about the book. I had not then comprehended the amazing message that I would soon take out of it.
But sometimes, things find their way back to you...
One day my sister came home from the library with five books in her arms. Among the five was the Tomie DePaola book I had read so long ago. I grabbed the book and started reading it with childlike excitement. But this time when I read it, I didn't read about a grandson helping his grandfather how to walk again.
I read something much more valuable; a theme that seemed to leap off the page, desperate for me to find it. It was clear. This story was not about a grandson and a grandfather; it's about the realization that something – or someone – can be taken away from you at any point, at any instant. You must cherish what you have now, and the time you have now, because what you have now may not be the same as what you have tomorrow.
Nothing will ever be consistent or last forever. Live in each moment. Never take your loved ones for granted because you don't know when they are going to leave your life. You don't know when the day will come when you will have to say “goodbye.”
Emily Lim: Thanks for giving me such great advice regarding my blog. I did decide to shorten the summary of the book which ended up improving my blog. I also did break up one paragraph regarding what I learned from the book. Thanks for you help and input!
I really enjoyed reading your post. I used to have a book like that as well called "Harold and the purple crayon", I just never realized it could mean so much until I was older. I loved how you told us what the book taught you after you first read it and after you re-read it. Awesome post!
I really enjoyed reading your post. Not many people, including me, pick up books they read a long time ago. Its cool how you found a new underlying theme. Nice job!
Your epiphany after rereading the story exemplifies how much we can gain from looking back, and the message is fantastically poignant as well.
Ah, just imagine if the rest of the world would follow your example and return to the literature of their youth!
The Mirror: Children of Mine!
I want to be remembered for many things. But I would have to say that playing the guitar and my love for playing with kids define a large part of who I am. I want to focus on one of these things, so I've decided to start off with a introduction of a guitar that leads to my story of volunteering at VBS.
Playing my guitar is a hobby of mine and at times a tool of self-comfort. I love the fact that a small change in the fingering can completely change the sound of the chord. Each guitar fret that my fingers press onto affects the sounds of the other frets surrounding it.
People can be compared to the frets on a guitar's neck, each having their own sounds, sizes, and the ability to affect those around them. I volunteer annually at my church's Vacation Bible Study for kids ranging from 3 to 10 years of age. Every year, I put a check mark on the box next to "crew leader" whenever the time comes to choose our role.
A crew leader's job is to lead a group of 10 to 15 kids from station to station while simultaneously making sure everyone stays together. My first time volunteering at VBS was not of my own wish, but I had to give in because I could not handle the constant nagging of my parents. At my arrival to church, I honestly did not expect much. I led the kids around from station to station as if it were a chore, and I attempted to eat away from them as far as possible during dinner time. However, on the last day an unexpected thing happened. It was time for me to part with my group of kids and yet I did not receive a feeling of joy like I had expected. Instead, deep inside I had a feeling of regret, because I had not taken care of them wholeheartedly. I decided then to attend the following year's VBS to redeem myself.
The following year I made it my goal to play with the kids and take care them with full effort. When I opened my heart toward the kids, I began to have genuine fun. I found myself having more fun than the kids themselves and as a result time flew by whenever I arrived at church for VBS every night. Soon, the time came for me to part with the kids again, but this time I was proud of the fact that I engaged myself with the kids. I didn't feel the regret that I had felt in my first time volunteering. One of the important things I felt then was that I received joy from watching them grow and because of this I knew then to continue volunteering every year. I knew at the moment. I loved playing with kids. This was one of those sudden realization of life at the least expected time. I mean, I liked kids, but I had never felt the joy that I felt while volunteering at VBS. To this day, I'm so glad that I made the decision to give VBS another try.
When I die in the future, people will remember me for all the accomplishments that I've made. But most importantly, they'll remember me for being a loving father to his kids.
Note: Daniel helped me with reading my first draft. But I changed to The Mirror when I came home to actually post the blog. But I still want to thank him for taking the time to read my writing.
Wow, I can tell you really worked hard on this one. Good job!
Blurry Figures and Muffled voices: Sandy Beaches
The beach is a place to spend every minute enjoying tanning, boogie boarding with friends, riding bikes on the sidewalk, and watching the beautiful sunset as it falls. The beach house filled with long time friends. Laughing and telling story’s about the year past. The smell of the smoke rising from the barbeque makes my mouth water. The flavors remind me of being a kid. Our tummies full and our excitement high we end our day. Anxious for another day we get a good night sleep.
The sun is high in the sky and the sand is hot. The smell of coconut fills the air as we lay baking in the suns rays. Hot to the touch we know its time to turn over. Once we are fried we hit the blue cool water. The waves pushing and shoving and pushing us further out to the sea. We ride the waves in and find ourselves safely back on shore. The sun begins to fall and the sky changes shades from blue to orange.
Orange sky and cool salty breezes change the atmosphere. No more sun burnt bodies lying among the warm sand. Warmth to coolness as the day ends and the evening begins. The sky fills with a bright white moon the seagulls begin their flights home for the night. Walking the board walk, skateboarders zigzag through the crowd causing the night to come alive. The restaurants are filled with people, loud conversation, and laughter. As the music begins to fade I become restless for another day.
I felt that you made the post short and sweet, yet expressed so many themes in your writing. Every aspect of the beach you explained, I can relate to! Especially getting sunburned! Good post!
"Shattered Skies." A story about fighter pilots told from a little boy's point of view. This story is actually from a game call "Ace Combat 4" Each chapter of the story would be read to the player after they completed a number of stages. The story starts with the main character with his family. There was a war being fought somewhere. As a child, the little boy didn’t really understand what war really is. To him, it was just a show on TV of something that happened at some far away land. But one day, war came to him.
One day on his way to school. A battle took place in the sky above his town. He watched as a plane crashed into his house, killing his whole family. He went to live with his uncle, and found a job at the town bar. The story goes on as the boy accidently found the pilot who indirectly killed his whole family. He eventually became very close to that pilot "Yellow 13". As time goes on, the little boy began to admire him, seeing him as mentor.
The story ends with the death of Yellow 13. This story is very touching. The word choice and the way it was told just went to my heart. It totally opened up my mind and a new way to write. As I was listening to the story. It made me feel like I was the little boy, and Yellow 13 is right next to me. I will never forget the feeling I had when Yellow 13 was shot down over my head, and left the realm of reality like a dream.
Light Something: Calvin, The Boy I Envy
I remember the little Scholastic book ordering forms that we would get in elementary school. These forms would often depict a picture of the book, a small description, and sometimes they would come with an awesome toy like spy gadgets. It was the Amazon of my childhood. I bet my teachers back then must have hated me because whenever I ordered a book, because I would bug them everyday until the books came. Through these book order forms I got my first Calvin and Hobbes book. What caught my attention to these books were just how simply amazing the illustration.
Calvin and Hobbes have changed my life more than I realize. I learned to like drawing and I became an artist solely for the fact I wanted to learn how to draw Hobbes. Hobbes was a simple creature to draw but no matter how much I drew him, I was never able to make it look exactly like Bill Watterson did. I currently own the entire collect of Calvin and Hobbes and the more I read them, the more I notice it was not just a nice picture but rather dealt with more adult themes and sometimes they were cynical. I remember reading a strip of Calvin creating snowmen based on people he hated and how “The ones I really hate are small, so they'll go faster.” I didn't pay to much attention to it but as I got older I noticed that it was really quite evil.
Reading Calvin and Hobbes as kid was that I struggled to understand the complex relationship Calvin and Hobbes had. In Calvin’s mind Hobbes was a real tiger and his best friend, but to others Hobbes was just a stuff plush tiger. In panels with just Calvin and Hobbes, Hobbes would be taller than Calvin but if anther character other than Calvin was in it, Hobbes remains a stuff tiger, relatively the same height as Calvin. This made me question the reality of Hobbes, whether he was real or not. Till this day I am not sure whether Hobbes was real or not but I know that Hobbes’s reality didn't matter to him because the way Calvin saw him was as a best friend. Calvin cared little for what others thought of him and didn't live by reality’s standards because to him, Hobbes was real. I wish to live my life like him, to be able to live my life without care from outside pressures, and hope to never see a day where a bulky women would ask me “*Then...is your tiger really alive?*”.
To Mandy for helping me choose which prompt to write, fix my grammar errors, and advise on including an example from the comic into the blog!
Johnny, I remember Calvin and Hobbes and how enjoyable it was to read. It is amazing how this comic book inspired you to become such a great artist and draw.
Hey Johnny, just through reading this post I can tell that you are great artist. (I saw you mural last year!). The fact that you start drawing after reading a book astonishes me. Great work!
Light Something: Henry my Brother
I love reading, I don’t do it enough and I do it very slowly, but I love it. Early in my elementary years I was like all other five to eight year olds, hyperactive with the attention span of a goldfish, so naturally reading time was not the most exciting to me. Reading time to me was in every way related to something bad. Reading time always began right after recess ended which gave me the idea that it was the end of play time and the start of work. Reading was given as homework every day which told me that it was a labor that had to be forced. I hated reading, so I didn’t do it.
As the rest of the kids and I drudged back into the room from recess and glumly sat back into our chairs, the teacher would announce “alright class it’s reading time” which was always followed by a collective groan. As the other kids picked up their books and obediently began reading, I would keep still, more content within my own imagination than I ever would’ve with a book in my hand. For some reason the teacher would always grab a book out of the bookshelf and hand it to me demanding I read it. I would oblige for about a paragraph but then I would soon lose interest and space out again but this time the teacher didn’t say anything. Well, I thought, maybe the teacher just doesn’t care anymore, so I repeated the same semi defiant action of not acting to pick up a book and fell away into my own imagination knowing that the teacher didn’t actually care if I read, but that dang lady shoved another book in my hands and once again I just sat there with the book open having drifted away into my thoughts until reading time ended. After repeating this process several more times I was finally able to work out that the teacher just didn’t realize that I wasn’t reading as long as I had a book open. So continued my days of reading/imagination time, but like all good plans I had as a second grader a certain woman name Mom found a way to put an end to it.
Along with these “reading times” my teacher would assign me half an hour of reading as homework every night or as I saw it a half hour of time-out every day. So I would follow the same procedure of opening a book and spacing out but somehow my mom actually noticed when I would “read” for half an hour without turning a single page, this was not her first rodeo. Apparently each of my four older brothers had tried the exact same thing but alas none of us had been able to outsmart her. When I informed my mother that reading was just too boring, she sent me on a hunt for a book that I actually did find interesting. My mother relentlessly had me read through what seemed every book we had until one day I finally ended up with Henry and Mudge in my hands.
The bond I had with this book was instant. I don’t know what sparked my interest so much with this book, maybe I related to this boy Henry to some deep extent, maybe the thoughts of the book ebbed and flowed along the lines of what I would imagine for myself or maybe it was a book that was finally able to challenge my superior intellect to the echelon where it deserved to be read, all I really knew was that I loved it. I no longer sat and stared as my classmates read, I would dive in to the book wholeheartedly. I became so attached in mind and spirit to this imaginary boy named Henry that I almost cried when he almost lost his dog then cheered for joy as much as Henry did when the dog came back to him. When the book finally ended I went crazy in search of more that this boy Henry has done with his life so I read every book that author wrote. I found out that Henry was really an off character in a series of books about a little girl named Ramona yet I would still pour over the pages in search of my spirit brother Henry and would soak in every word about him. When I had read through every book of that series I was older and yearned for a new “Henry” that had grown with me. As I grew older I read books going from series to series finding my Henry in the protagonist in each book, expounding on his character more and more. Every book I read I learn more about Henry and how he’s been growing up along side of me. As I grow older and older I realize more and more that Henry continues to learn more and have more experience just as I do. I see more and more the parallels between him and me. I learn from him and he learns from me. Henry is my brother.
To Matej: Thank you I made sure to keep those things you pointed out and expounded on those Ideas that you pointed out
I really liked your small beginnings with Henry. I like how you didn't "inceptionze" your struggle with keeping your interest in reading. I personally like how you mentioned how your mom knew your trick since your brothers used it.
Blurry Figures and Muffed Voice: The quadrangle dwellings
My favorite place is the old house I had lived from four to ten. It was an old three-floor quadrangle dwelling. The structure of it is like a stadium; the place where audience sit is the apartments located, and the field is the courtyard where children can hangout. In the center of the courtyard, there are two giant fig trees which provided delicious figs and shade place every summer. We usually had a competition on taking off the fig from the tree during summer.
Quadrangle dwelling is one type traditional house in China. The apartments in there are small; usually people share kitchens and restrooms. There were approximately thirty families. We were just like a big family; everyone knew each other and helped each other. On weekends, every morning before breakfast, men had a “tea party” in the courtyard. Wives often shared their cooking during the day.
We children hangout in the courtyard everyday after school, we played games, did homework, bought snacks, and told stories. We often went to friends’ house and watched TV together, especially during summer. When we went to friends’ house, our friends’ mom always gave us fruit or snacks to eat. When someone’s parents wanted to get the kid go back to home, they just yelled the name in the courtyard, so we could hear that and get home as soon as possible.
I had learned and seen bunch of good qualities from my neighbors. When I was a child; when everything in the world was beautiful to me; when the reality was not that cruel; my best memory built up in that quadrangle dwelling.
The quadrangle dwelling does not exist any more. Instead, several tall apartment buildings are built. Right now, people who live there don’t know each other. It doesn’t like a big family any more. The distances among people are getting farther and stranger. I miss the life in quadrangle dwelling.
To Sylvia: Thank you for the advises. I add more details in my story, and I correct the grammar error.
I thought your post was very beautiful and sentimental. Your description of the quadrangle dwelling was very clear- I could picture everything and felt warm towards it due to your description of the children, the men having tea, and the fig trees. It was a happy image and something I'd never seen before in my own experience but I felt a sense of attachment due to your perspective. I'm sorry that it doesn't exist anymore but thank you for sharing.
Blurry Figures and Muffles Voices: The Beach
Hearing the sounds of waves tumbling onto the shores, the feeling of sand touching between my toes, and the wind blowing through my hair are the memories that I will always cherish. I love coming to the beach. It’s such a beautiful place to hang out with my friends and family. I love watching the seagulls fly over the crowd of people as they screech among us and hearing families play games and having a good time. The best part about the beach is watching the beautiful sun beam go down on us.
Ever since I was a little girl, I always visited the beach every weekend. As a child, I remembered camping at the beach with my family, playing games, and having an awesome time there. At night, I will always go sit on the beach to watch the beautiful sunset and think about my plans for the future. Sitting there in the sand alone and watching the waves makes me feel very relax and comfortable because I am able to completely clear my head and let loose. I have no interruptions from anything or anyone. It’s just me and the waves.
I grew up coming to the beach. All the memories I made with my friends and family will always be kept in my heart. I will never forget the moment I started coming to the beach. The beach means a lot to me. It is like my second home. I can never imagine myself living away from it for too long.
Note: Nobody corrected this entry because I decided to do this at the last minute.
Hi I like your blog! This makes me want to go to the beach.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: The old house
I used to live in china, where there are buildings higher than two stories around. My parents owned a house in the countryside where I used to hang out at during the summer when I was a child.
I would sit on counters of the balcony and had my little legs dangling. I watched farmers farm, people catching fish in the river and people feeding their animals in the barns.
I miss the house, it is not just a place where I miss it because I had fun there, and it is also because I learned a lot there when growing up.
There was a back yard behind the five story house and I remember having memories and fun my grandpa and my maternal cousins. That is where I learn how to ride a bike. When I was three, my grandpa taught me how to ride a bike at the backyard. He would hold my back he somehow manage to catch me every time before I lose balance and fell.
My two cousins who are both three years older than me taught me how to play soccer and basketball at the backyard. They would be teaching me how to dribble how to shoot a basketball and how to pass a soccer ball. We would play for the whole day until grandma comes out and yell at us. We would bring our sweaty body in the house and grab a drink and sit at the backyard and watch the sunset.
There was a little pond at the back yard where my cousins and I would jump in during the summer. That was also where I learned swimming. It was not that deep, maybe four feet at the deepest point. Memories of me learning how to swim are still vivid. Most people would take a few swimming lessons before getting down to the water; my mom would just throw me in the pond and wait for my natural instinct to kick in.
The house was gone now, it was taking down because of cities expanding, and the governments buying land from the countryside and developing them. The place where I used to hang out during the summer, where I learn how to ride a bike, where I had many memories, was gone.
To Mandy: Thanks for showing me your essay and giving me an idea of how to write this because honestly I do not really understand the prompt of the assignment.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: House up in a Tree
“1..2..3..4..5..” the high pitch voice of my little brother counting can be heard all across the backyard. I’m waiting quietly, and then I hear it, “READY OR NOT HERE I COME!” I sit in silence, resisting any urge to bust up laughing. l don’t want to give up my hiding place. There are dead leaves and broken twigs, and the room smells so strongly of tree sap. Spider webs are found in every corner, and a single layer of dirt rests calmly all over the splintering walls. A tiny ant begins to make its way across my bare toes, and I can’t help but squeal! I gasp because I know that my brother has found me. I can hear foot steps stomping as he makes is way up the latter. My heart begins to beat faster and faster until eventually His little head pops up out of the square door and he exclaims with excitement, “I found you! You’re it!”
Hide and seek was the game my brother and I played almost daily as kids and the tree house in our backyard was my favorite hiding place. Actually, the tree house was my favorite place in general. I loved that tree house.
I was about five years old when my dad had decided that his summer project was to make a tree house in our backyard tree for me and my three siblings. I remember how excited we all were. We all jumped around, screaming and laughing out of joy, all ready to work and help dad with his project. I remember all the numerous errand runs we made to Home Depot to get wood and nails and whatever else we needed for the house. Immediately my dad got started and spent several hours working and building the house. As the days went on and we got closer and closer to the end of summer, several hours turned into a couple, and eventually none. School and work had started again, and the project was put on hold. All we had was a half built tree house, that had no way of actually getting inside it. It was sad. My dreams of having a usable tree house as a kid had been crushed.
Five years past and it was summer again. I don’t know what, but something had inspired my dad to finish the tree house before work would take over his life. I remember the day he finished it. I remember being with him and helping him hammer in that last nail. I was so thrilled to finally have a usable tree house. I was ten by that time. Still young with a vibrant imagination. I was so ready to just begin playing and enjoying my time that was sure to spent in my brand new tree house.
For the first month, I spent nearly every day in that tree house. It was more then just a tree in a house. Each day it was something different. Sometimes it was a rocket ship that would fly me into space, a doctors office where my brother was my patient, a kitchen where I could cook rainbow spaghetti with star sprinkles. It was anything I wanted it to be. As I grew older and lost touch with my creative imagination, I still found myself using the tree house quite often. I would go there to do homework, read a book, eat a snack, paint my nails, escape from my family and chores, or even just thinking about things. Think about life. I loved that tree house. It was my favorite place.
The days went one and the amount of time spent in that tree house gradually got smaller and smaller. I grew older and found myself spending more time with friends doing social things and more mature things then sitting in a little kids play space. At age 15, my parents decided to sell the house and move to another location across town. I no longer had a tree house to escape to. My favorite place was now gone.
From time to time, I find myself driving back to my old home. The tree house can be seen from the street. It pleases me to see that the new house owners haven’t removed it or chopped it down. Sometimes, I’ll just sit there, parked in my car, staring at the tree house, trying to remember all the good times spent in my favorite place.
To Krystle: Thank you for reading my blog entries and helping me choose the best one! I really appreciated your notes and comments. They really helped me improve my blog and make my writing better!
Wow, I really felt your emotions through these words. I can see that this place was a very special place to you. Maybe one day when you have a family I your own you can build a treehouse for your children. I'm sure they would enjoy the same things you enjoyed as a kid. Good job!
All gloves are off on the soccer field.
When I walk onto the pitch, it’s like I’m in my own world. At Dana, nobody ever goes on the weekend, so the fields, along with the rest of the campus, are almost always baron. It’s not a bad thing, however; the emptiness is peaceful, relaxing even. As I sit on the worn in grass putting on my cleats I stare out at the rest of the field and the openness of it all calms me down. There are goals to use, but the frame is weak and the nets are torn; they are used more as markers for where to shoot, with me relying on the back wall to rebound the ball rather than have the net catch it for me.
It’s a stress reliever.
I can always depend on the field to take away my frustrations, angers, or disappointments. The nice thing about the pitch was it never asked for anything in return. I could do whatever I wanted there. Some days I would sit next to the goal up against the cold wall talking to my friends about everything that’s been on my mind, others I would be yelling my heart out at the ball, kicking it furiously against the goal over and over again putting all of my power into my shots and just having the ball come back to me every time. Some days I would just sprint laps around the dirt track. Some days I would just sit. Whatever would happen at Dana, I knew that it would help me.
It is my place. My escape.
Shoot forgot the title and comment...
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voiced: The Faded Pitch
To Arianna: I would like to thank you for helping me with the imagery of the entry, she encouraged me to focus on how the place actually looked and I hope I improved in that manner! Also thank you for the editing of small word choice/structure to make it a better piece!
I really enjoy your post which related to my memory. For me, my living room is my kingdom, and I can release my anger and unhappiness. There is nothing can disturb me that is where I feel no stress.
Hey Jacob. I too wrote about my area of practice for my sport. When you look back at it, it just holds this tranquility and escape. It's indescribable to the unathletic, but the rest of the athletes will know exactly what we're talking about. I really admired your imagery, it reminded me of what it's like to be training, and working yourself hard.
I remember playing sports as a young child, taking out all of my frustrations on the game (and trust me, i had plenty of frustrations). what i like about your post is that it is honest. I can't count on my hands how many times I've just gone out and hit people in lacrosse because i wanted to prove myself to ,my teammates. Of course i got penalized, but when it was all said and done me and my teammates laughed about it because we all went through that experience.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: What's Mine is Yours
It is circular.
It is big.
It is bouncy.
It is a trampoline.
It never came close to my mind that an item like this could take my pain away or my stress away; Never in a million years did I think that an item like *this*, could change my life.
Sophomore year was when this special item became a special place for me. Everyday after school my best friend and I would sprint as fast as we could to the backyard, dodge over and around her two pugs, Pumba and Louie, and climb on top of a broken, white, plastic chair that was missing half a leg, and into the elastic circle.
We would jump on it. We would run around in it. We would do flips and cartwheels all over the place. We would bounce each other off of the sides. We would lay there all through the night with a warm cup of hot cocoa and gaze at the stars, just talking.
At that time, I knew that the old, beaten down trampoline was my place. My place to hang out, relax, and even get a good exercise. Although it was not physically at my own home, it was at my second home and I kind of considered it mine and my best friend’s little ‘speakeasy’, minus the alcohol of course. Not just anyone could come in here, only if they had a secret code. Just kidding, we just didn’t like people coming into our trampoline.
I guess it’s was so special to us because, we shared it. We never went into the trampoline without each other, it just wasn’t the same. There was always this connection we had only specifically in that trampoline rather than anywhere else. We could honestly talk for hours, deep or random. Sometimes, her parents would even have to call us to come inside because we were dying of laughter- even though we were at least twenty feet away from the house. We would write stories, make up and sing songs, and make stupid, pointless, and useless videos. Occasionally, one of us would have had a rough week, or even the both of us, and we’d just bawl and let out our frustrations. We talked about how we were going to be like in the future; thinking about if we were still going to be best friends or just acquaintances. Sometimes, we would even sneak out of her house quietly to go to the trampoline and sleep there snuggled in blankets, letting the night breeze tingle through our bodies. (Strange, because we had to sneak out of her house to go to her house, if that makes any sense at all.)
I know I was supposed to describe a place that is mine, but this trampoline wouldn’t be mine if it wasn’t hers also. People might not clearly understand why this place is so important or so special to me because it’s a trampoline, all you do is jump on it, get tired, sit down, repeat, then eventually get off. To me, it isn’t like that at all, it is a place where I can be all sorts of different personalities and still be me.
It is circular.
It is big.
It is bouncy.
It is our trampoline.
Oops, forgot the comment.
To Kristina P: Thank you for helping me search deep within myself to find this special place of mine, I really appreciate it, without your help I wouldn't have been able to finish this blog!
I like your formatting and the specific examples. When i read your lines, it seems like i can see the trampoline right in front of my eyes. Nicely done.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Home and Movie Theater
My grandparents’ home in Taiwan was the most special place to me. It was not only a home, and it was also a movie theater. There was a huge family of my relatives there, and I always liked to go there and did many activities with my cousins. When I was child, I spent a lot of the time on watching the free movie with free snacks, and my cousins usually invited me to play the video games. In my memory, I had some special events in my grandparents’ theater that I had never experienced. The first special event is that I have saw Ang Lee who is the famous movie director once and I also got his signature on my T-Shirt. When Ang Lee was high school student, he usually went to my grandparents’ theater to watch the movie, and that is why I could have the chance to see him. The other event is that a man who borrowed the theater to make an offer of marriage to his girlfriend. Though I did not know that guy, I still joined to his plan. During watching the movie, the men used the time while he went to restroom to change clothes, and the movie changed to his proposes video. The small and beautiful candles with fire were placed in the both sides of road, and his girlfriend stood in front of the theater and accepted him. At the end, this event was posted on the newspaper. These special events are really amazing to me.
I had great memories of my childhood in my grandparents’ home, and I really enjoy the time of staying there. Though I am in America now, I will not forget my most special place in Taiwan. It is a place where I could get pleasure and unique memories, and it also made my childhood became amazingly and completely.
I wish I had a free movie theater to go to. It sounds so much fun. And I can tell those are like the best time of your childhood, a place that signifies your growth. Good job on the post.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Swings, Slides, and Monkeybars
The last year as an elementary school student was the time I found my home. The good old days of sixth grade brings back memories. Unlike in Arcadia where 6th grade is the beginning of middle school, it was the end of elementary school in Rosemead. You would be the kings and queens of the playground, the basketball courts, and the benches in the cafeteria. Life was great unless you were the new kid. It was nearly impossible to make friends as the new kid.
It isn’t easy to go up to a basketball court and ask if you can join when they’ve had the same team with the same players for the past couple years or so. It also isn’t fun walking around during recess alone either. The only place that was possible to have fun was the playground.
Walking towards the playground all I could hear was, “Tag! You’re it! Tag! You’re it!” It was unbelievable seeing a game of tag that consisted of more than 20 people. As I continued walking around the playground I noticed the rest of the kids.
Some would be waiting in line for the monkey bars. Although everyone got a chance, not many of them were able to get across. There were also others on the swings, some being daredevils and some too scared of falling off. Although everyone was different, no one was being put down or made fun of. Whether it was on the swings, on the monkey bars, or even on running around playing tag, everyone would still be having fun. These things were the things that made everyone bond at the playground. There was no skill required or popularity.
It was a place where everyone is accepted and a place where everyone could have fun together. It is a place that helped me fit in with the others.
This place which was once a place I was new to is now a place I’d call home.
Note- Thank You Kevin for helping me the best one to submit for the blog and correcting my mistakes.
I enjoyed reading your story because of how well I was able to relate to it. I did mine on a playground also if you want to check it out.
I like you post. It makes me recall the days when I was in elementary school, a time without stress and hard choices in life. Thank you for your great post!
I enjoyed reading your post. It brought back old memories when I was in elementary school. Overall, Great post!
Light Something: The Beginning of a New Me.
Six years ago, when I was starting seventh grade, I was a very different student from the person I am today. I showed no or few interest to academic subjects, I wasn’t really involved in school activities, and not very interested. With indifference toward learning, I hated reading. At that point, I actually have never read a picture-less book that is more than 100 pages not assigned by a teacher. I always read picture book before. Back then; I shuddered at the impossible task of reading all 450 pages of a novel while my friends are playing outside. One might think how do this guy get through high school, but it all changed when I saw Harry Potter: The Goblet of Fire lying on my brother’s desk.
It was a boring Sunday, and I had nothing to do, so I thought a little bit of reading won’t hurt. I skimmed through the first chapter. At first, the intimidating mass of words tired me. But gradually, the interactions between the characters and the playful uses of adjectives became quite interesting. I then went on to the 2nd chapter; which as I read, a few images pop up in my mind. Reading the third chapter, I made some sense of the plot and started to think about the possible endings. On the 4th chapter, I had images of a movie playing inside my brain; where the characters and their dialogues seem so real. After that book, I would start reading the whole Harry Potter series, then onto J.K. Rowling’s other works, then onto other British books like Great Expectations.
After reading these books, I developed a strong love for reading. Every time I read after reading The Goblet of Fire, I can imagine a short movie of that book playing in my mind. I gained a better vocabulary as a result of all those reading, and with that improvement, I tackled more advanced books like textbooks. With those reading, I increased my knowledge of many academic subjects, and found myself really involved in school by the end of 7th grade. I continued to be that kind of students from then on, all the way to today, and I still do outside reading to improve myself. If I have not open The Goblet of Fire, I probably won’t be the curious and inquisitive the student that I am today.
To Jeffrey Ng: Thank you for giving me suggestions while reading my draft. Without your revisions, the passage I have right now would have been very emotionless and wouldn’t really have the idea of why that book is so important to me.
Max- I like how you've managed to improve your post since I read it in class last week. Your story sounds much more human and personal now, and you clearly showed how your attitude on reading (and by extension learning) was changed. Nice job!
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: On the Other Side of the World
Usually, I start my morning with “Walk in the Forest,” the smooth, melodic alarm sound I set my phone to play every morning. This noise, however, was different. Not only did it lack the electronic touch, it also had lyrics. “Who would ever set an alarm with cacophonous noises,” I thought to myself. Then, as any reasonable human being would do, I opened my eyes. I looked at my phone, laying perfecting still next to me without any signs of being in use. I looked on the other side, and there they were: three young faces smiling expectantly at me. Then I remembered. I am no longer on American soil. I was actually tremendously far from it, many thousands of miles away. I am at Burma.
A lot of you probably have never even heard of this place until your history teacher briefly went over the topic for five minutes in your social science class. Even now, you probably only know, like most of my friends, that it’s a country somewhere far, far from here. You’ve probably heard rumors of the horrible conditions, the poverty, the dirtiness, and the anarchical government that exists over there. Let me assure you, those rumors are pretty darn accurate. All those negatives aspects, however, mean little to me and I will still voluntarily choose to spend my summers visiting that place. I don’t go there for vacation, or the unique Burmese food. I go there for my family.
Every day, I would always wake up to the sounds of my younger cousins. Unlike them, I rather sleep in until either I get tired of sleeping or I have something planned in the morning. I never comprehended how they can wake up so early every day full of energy, but that was how I was like before too. They would wake me up, three of them, simply because they wanted to play with me. They were all around the same age and attending grade school, so I guess they were excited to have someone older yet willing to play with them around. I enjoyed their presence, too. I need moments with children like them to remind myself that there is no rush in growing up, and that I should grasp every opportunities at having fun and doing not-so-mature things more often. My younger cousins aren’t the only ones I look forward to reuniting. My uncles, aunts, and my 93 year old grandmother all live in Burma too. Unlike Burma, I literally have no relatives here. I was the only one out of my whole family, both mother’s and father’s side, to move to America. I enjoy visiting them and spending quality time with them as much as they enjoy seeing me, and that is why I would never complain about going to Burma.
It never was about the land or the food.
It was, and always will be, about family.
To David: Thank you for giving me some pointers in my essay. I know it was hard because I haven’t written much at that time and it was near impossible to give me any constructive feedback, but you still gave me ideas on how to expand my essay and possible ideas. Again, thank you!
Hey Steven, I really like the fact that you went back to help your family. Although I have never though of the experience of how it would be like to be there, You gave me a little understanding. Great job!
I'm glad you enjoyed my story and that it gave you a taste of how Burma is like!
It's great that you meet your relatives in a distant country every summer. During the summer, I would always travel to China and Taiwan to meet with my relatives. Like you, my parents and I are the only ones here in USA. After college, I plan to constantly travel to and back Asia and the US, in order to meet with my family. And I wonder if you'll do the same?
There definitely are several people out there like us with their parents as the sole family who moved here. I'll also visit them after college for sure, but probably only once or twice a year.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: City of Mystic
Suddenly, it seems like the history is reenacting before my eyes. The incandescent sun light piercing my skin like laser beam, the crowded people hollering over the old, rusty engine sound of modern automobiles, which seems inconstantly strange amid the noisy and traditional market located in the heart of Egypt, Cairo, all these only acts as a catalyst that provokes my curiosity and my adventurous spirit. With only a cap that draws the boundary between the lethal heat ray and my frail eyes, I stand and immerge myself into the scent that adds but an layer to the mystique this place gives off.
I’d travelled to different foreign countries around the world when I was at a young age, witnessing things that extended my vision and more importantly, broadened my narrow mind. Even though after countless times of visiting, I still consider my tour in Cairo the pivotal highlight in my life, mainly due to the mysterious and fascinating culture and history.
Cairo was special.
What’s the best way to travel in the blazing hot desert when there’s no road lying in front of you?
The answer? A camel with the most repulsive breath I’d ever smelt in my life so far. It’s truly a life changing experience.
I was taken aback when this 8 feet tall 1200 pounds colossal creature dropped to its knees and twisted its head toward me again with its everlasting and inviting breath. But after overcoming it, I mounted on its back and waited. Had I not held the rein like my life depended on it I would’ve brought back with me a souvenir on my head because, thanks to its swaying and strange gait, it ascended like a beanstalk shooting to the sky, with no seat belt to restrain me. After the first few minutes where I stayed in a state of constant nervousness, there came a moment of tranquility. The blue sky stretched all the way to the join the horizon line with the imposing pyramids sitting right below. It’s an awe inspiring moment that astonished me.
It was moment like this that had an impact on me during my visit in Cairo. It opened me a door to a place where the culture and the scenery were so amazing and beautiful. To this day, the memory is still fresh in my mind. It’s as if it had been engraved onto my brain picture by picture- never going to go away.
THIS POST IS AMAZING!
TO the child of Feraco,
I have no idea why you want to remain anonymous. This is like best post so far I have read. You integrated your experience of Cairo and some insightful message there. I see at least 3 star points right there: enlightenment, security, independence. I love that your narrative. I felt like I was in Cairo with you. I felt that the pyramid was in front of me while I was reading it. I felt I was riding a camel. Man, this is good.
I am almost speechless. And if you know me, I can never be speechless. And I think thats the best compliment I can give it to you. Thank you for the great read.
You're post was so beautifully descriptive. I can picture the cars and the people right in front of me. Heck, I can even smell the dry air. Great Post Child of Feraco! You rock!
This post is amazing! Your word choice is amazing! I feel like you really used a lot of detail and it really brought your post to life. I loved it!
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: The Community Park and Kaman
I hazily remembered that, due to some reasons, my family moved our “home” from one community to the other community frequently since the day I was born. As I turned five, we eventually settled down in a high-rise apartment, and had stayed there for seven years.
Under the tall building, there was a small community park for the kids who lived in the apartment. Naturally, the community park became the place where we kids had all kinds of activities and games; it had also been the place that preserved all of the past memories of my childhood.
There I met my first best friend Kaman, and this is the twelfth year since the year we met each other and became friends.
The play zone consisted of a slid and a teeter tooter; it was that simple.
Just as other teenager enjoyed doing when they were very little: playing house, hide-and-seek, hopscotch, etc. She and I loved playing these games as well; yet we two were a bit easier to get bored of cliché games than other kids; so we created our own games and rules ourselves with childish but whimsical imaginations. Up to this time, however, those rules of the games already partly disappeared in my brain.
Two years ago, I went back to this old place before flying back to America again; most parts of the neighborhood were changed: the external wall of the building was painted to brownish color; the owner of the grocery and her family disappeared; the streets became bald because the big trees were cut… but the slide and the teeter tooter, were still standing there alone. I was so glad that no one had moved or rebuilt the play zone. Dimly, I saw two little girls hiding under the slide safely because one of them was scared of going home---I didn’t know what kinds of horrible mistakes she had made at the time that caused her mom’s anger, but she would always catch [trouble] from her mother for no reason.
After I came to the U.S., I had lost contact with her. She was one year older than me, so I guessed she might become a college student already. I am losing most of my memories because I am a forgetful person and these things were mostly covered by my present life.
No matter how things will go, who we will become; I will try harder to remember the play zone, the secrets between us, and the things we had experienced as kids…
They will always reside in my mind.
To the child of Feraco,
I shall applaud you for your beautiful piece of work. I enjoyed it very much. And I am sorry that you lost contact with such a good friend. I remember when I was little I had a friend who has always been there for me too. Our friendship last for 10 years. We knew each other ever since Kindergarten. But I had to move to this other city in China so we stopped talking to each other after a while. Bu you know what, we can still go out and grab food with no hesitation if we see each other again. That's the beauty of a real good friendship. It lasts forever. And I hope you will find another best friend in the present or in the future.
Thank you for the read.
When I first flip the page of the book “Lock and Key” which was written by Sarah Dissen, it draws me in immeditly. This book is a combination of family and frendship, I finished 476 pages in one and half week. since english is my second language, is really hard for me to read an english book. “Lock and Key” is the first english book that I completely finished.
I still remember clearly, in this book the mean character Ruby is a poor little girl; her sister move out and have no connections with Ruby and her mom after she graduate from college. Ruby’s mother is a drunker, she sleep in her coach everyday with bottles of alcohols. The book start with Ruby’s landlord discover that Ruby had been lived alone for almost two months, her mom disappeared for no reason; they send Ruby to live with her older sister and her brother-in-law.
During the first week of school, Ruby met Nick who had become her best friend in high school. They’d been through a lot of things together during their high school. Ruby helped Nick get physical abuse from he's dad. And Nick helped Ruby find a job also helped to get back together with Ruby’s sister and walk her out from the past.
At the end both of them, get into the college they want it to get in. They achieve their goal, it was a fairly happy end. It also give me a chance to rethink about my life, goal and friendship.
Child of Feraco,
I do believe that book sounds way better than the first novel I finished after I came to America. I still remember the time I finished that first novel. I thought "Man. American Authors are awesome" But as time goes, I have no idea how I think that book was the best book I have read at the time.
it was "Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn". Yes, I went from the last book to the first one. No, I am not a fun of vampire. So, "Lock and Key" already sounds more profound than "breaking dawn" and its vampires. Great job on choosing your first book. On the other hand, I believe "The Host" is actually a better work than any of Meyer's vampire creatures. Sorry if I offend any team Jacob or team Edward.
Anyway. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Great job.
“It will fade someday, sometime”,
My grandpa used to tell me that. He never spoke a word of what he was referring to, but now I think I got my own definition of “it”. “it” can be everything or anything.
I always keep in mind what I felt like the first day I stepped in that elementary school. My grandparents sent me to school half an hour before the bell rang. They wanted me to walk around the building and get my own very first impression of the place I was going to get my formal education for the first time. Actually, my mistake, there were no such thing as stepped in because there was no gate back in the 2000 something. I guess shall call it stepped on the play ground in front of the school. It was a bad impression; the surroundings were disgusting because so many trashes were left behind by the morning market. Not a lot of people understand the sign said “no littering or 100yuan fine”, too sad for their illiterate, I had a bitter tongue. However it did not interrupt my excitement of becoming a student. I spent those half hours wandering around daydreamed about my future. I dreamed about wearing that big red flower on my chest, becoming the class monitor, and the absolute sweet heart of the teacher. I had to stopped thinking, the bell rang, and I blamed the bell for not given me an extra minute for my dreams.
After days of wake up at six, go to school at seven, first period at eight, lunch at eleven and over at four in the afternoon, school became bored for me. After the broke of the dreams, I lost my direction. Every single day after repeating my schedule over and over, the excitement vanished.
Whenever I went through my childhood again, I received stronger realization of the fact that it faded. I once thought everything was going to be better, that was the start of my high school. As a freshman, I used laugh, talked at high volume, running and chasing with my friends all over the place to tell the world about our age. It faded when I realized I stopped my questions about what and why. I stopped running and my participation in PE even though I used to get so pumped up for that class. Of course what made me realized the fact that I am no longer who I used to be was the increasing amount of time spent in front of mirror.
That is what grew up cost me, a childhood faded. In these days I always envy about freshmen simply because of their energy. I cannot imagine myself to live like that anymore.
A Seventeen years old with a childhood faded.
Lovely Grace Tang,
Thank you for the awesome advices given to me in class. Also thanks for controlled my Y fantasies that were absolutely embarrassing to think about it now.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Even Gravity Can’t Hold Me
From this point and above there are no rain and thunders here; no tears and sorrow.
But no birdsong and flowers; no extreme colors can distract me, either.
It’s clear and clean, only with white, black and blue.
The cars and people on the ground become smaller and smaller and then disappear. The low engine noise becomes louder and louder from where my feet are, shaking my body and my mind to wake them up from staying on the earth for too long – it was too heavy, too complex.
“Ding.” No seat belt anymore. I can be totally free now.
There is always a sense of peace and comfort in this quite white space which makes me relaxed and able to clear out all the trifles in my mind. It seems like all the worries and problems are solved and gone – at least for now, my heart is lighter.
I haven’t been here many times, maybe once or twice a year, or maybe just one time within a few years because I don’t live here, and I don’t belong here.
If I stay up here for too long, my heart will burst because of the high air pressure and perhaps because of all the relaxing enjoyments – luxury of ordinary life.
I love being on the airplane not only because of all the food and drinks which seem unlimited, but also the fact that I don’t waste my time on just sitting comfortably and doing nothing, instead, I have a place to go, a destination to be at - and I am on my way.
It is the closest feeling I can get similarly to flying in the sky. Although there are no worries and distractions, my thoughtful brain usually starts working again after the first few hours of the flight.
Looking at the sea of the white puffy clouds, I remember how I always imagine them as animals, houses, trees, and people in my life, and I like to make stories with my imagination for the characters I create. I learn to treasure these stories and the magical moments because they enable me to discover my potential to dream and imagine as a child again.
Most of the stories I make are based on the blue of Pacific Ocean because before I moved to America, I almost came here from Taiwan to visit my grandparents every summer. It is strange to have the familiar experience of landing on the foreign land again and again. However, my emotion is different every time depending on the situation and the purpose of the trip – I could be leaving my home with tears, going to somewhere else to start a new life; I could be leaving all the troubles and sadness behind, heading on the way to a rewarding trip; or I could be carrying my successful accomplishments, ready to go home to share my stories.
The destination printed on the ticket reminds me where I came from and where I am going to – a direction of my life.
During the night time, there is nothing but darkness outside of the tiny window. What I can see is my face reflecting on the black mirror only. Who am I? – Perhaps I can figure it out in the next four hours, or perhaps I can find the answer in my dream.
The amazing night view of both Taipei and Los Angeles always stun me; it is so beautiful that can bring people tears, and wows. However, it is hard to be captured in a picture; I can only catch the image and print it on my heart. As time goes by, the joyful memory will sink to the bottom of my heart, and sometimes reminds me how I enjoyed the flight, what did I think , and what story did I make during that meaningful journey.
The cars and people become bigger and bigger. The engines roll louder and louder from where my feet are, shaking my body and my mind to wake up from the dreams I had – it was too vague, too far away from where I belong to.
I really liked how you described your flight. I agree with you that when you are in a plane you feel free because you distance yourself from the city and you get a chance to day dream. The times I've been on a plane, I have felt relaxed so I understand how you might have felt. Great descriptions!
Blurry Figures and Muffled voices: Faded Colors
Have you ever had a time where you see something which just gives you that feeling that you just cannot possibly explain? That feeling you feel throughout your entire body. You try to pick words to describe the feeling but you always end up thinking “No. That’s not it.”
That feeling is what I feel when I step on the sandy shore of Crystal Cove beach.
There really isn’t anything special about it when you lay eyes on it.Though to me, it is much more than a plain old beach.
I only get the chance to go once a year with my cross country team to run a ridiculous amount of miles on the sand. Even though I am expected to be in the front pack with my other team mates, I always find myself slowly making my way to the back of the pack, alone, no one in sight.
What do we define as beautiful? Beautiful is something that stands out from everything else, unique. It is either something full of light and color, something magnificent.
Crystal Cove isn’t beautiful to you, trust me. Yet to me, it is.
Every couple of seconds a breeze will pass by, followed by a slight chill. The air taste like salt and makes your hands feel sticky and moist. When you look out into the water, the waves slowly crash onto the shore with a sibilant whisper, as the water flows back to its main body. Up in the sky, overcast covers the light blue sky that we are all so used to seeing here in Arcadia. The beach sends a calm and solitary vibe.
How’s this beach any different from any other beach? It has waves, sand and salty air.
Yet it is different. On the side opposite from the water, there are old beach houses. Torn apart and empty, but yet still in shape. Big signs of “PRIVATE PROPERTY” are placed at least twice on the fences right before entering the house.
When you look at the houses, you can tell they were once beautiful. Once bright colorful houses of yellow and blue, that has now faded from the wood.
When I want to be alone, I close my eyes and imagine myself there. In front of those faded houses.
Something about them, the faded colors and broken wooden stairs, give me that unexplainable feeling. That feeling that I can honestly say I have never felt, before stepping onto Crystal Cover Beach. It is somewhere that I can stay forever, alone, in peace.
Crystal Cove is seriously my favorite beach! It's the best beach to go for run on! You feel free and alone and all your worries are no more. The houses are historically beautiful and I hope one day they are able to restore them all to their natural beauty. One day you and I will go down there and run I love it there. You did a very nice job of desribing the beach and still being able to keep it different from all other beaches. You did great!
I think your post was really vivid. I can tell that this beach is very important to you even though you've never really been there. Hopefully you'll get to visit those beach houses soon!
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Strange
There was a ladies’ room right next to another ladies’ room. For a moment, I hesitated to choose which one to enter because I thought one of the signs must have been wrong. From my experience, a men’s room was supposed to be there making a perfect pair with a ladies’ room. Surprisingly, I could see a pair of two ladies’ rooms on every floor. I was feeling like I found myself in a new world. Although I thought the new world was weird, I was somehow captivated by the strange world. I was consumed with curiosity. The new, strange world was my first high school, a girl’s high school.
My school was small. However, over three thousand girls were on campus as three girls’ schools shared one campus. It was unusual to see three thousand girls gathered in one place but I got used to it fast. The strange world became my world. In the world, all bonds with friends were strong and special.
In spring, girls liked to have small picnics under the cherry blossom trees during lunch. Three different colors of uniforms and the cherry blossoms made up a spectacular view. When the summer came, everybody got excited to plan for the first summer vacation with new friends. In fall, all girls made a great effort happily to rake the endless amount of leaves every morning. When the first snow of the year finally fell, everybody shouted for joy seeing the snow-covered trees.
I spent only one year in that school. When I became really attached to the school, I had to leave my beloved world. I dream of visiting the strange, warm, beautiful world again.
Nobody read my draft of Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices[, but] I want to thank everybody who gave me advice to choose this prompt!
Yo, child of Feraco,
great opening there. For a second, I was like that is weird.....why isn't there any boys bathroom. Until later, I start seeing your point. It is interesting to see somebody share her experience in a all girl school which I can never see myself in. Laugh out loud..I don't do well with girls.
I am glad that you are willing to share your past. And I do hope you will find a new "strange" place and still cherish your old memories. THank you for the read.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: The System
When I was a little younger, I used to love to get lost in a tiny world. The people there are no more than four inches tall. Little four-inch businessmen are headed into work at the 12-foot Empire State Building and drive across the 20-foot Golden Gate in 7-inch cars. A moment in time has been captured in eight American cities, caricaturized, and shrunk by a factor of 36. The world is in miniature.
Legoland California is not a theme park because I never went to go on rides. If you go there for rides, you're wasting your time. I could just go to Six Flags with my friends if I wanted a roller coaster.
I went there to learn. It's the weird hobby that I have that no-one really understands. I could describe any Lego piece with a couple of words, and any arrangement in a few sentences. And that's what I did when I got to Legoland. I took notes on the architectural details that the geniuses down there work into every model of every size, so that I could work them into my own models when I got home. I took notes, and for some reason that sounds strange to people. The Lego System of Studs and Tubes is a series of thousands of interlocking pieces cast in specialized shapes from high-density plastic. I admire all the time at its complexity. The employees at Legoland are really good at what they do, and they love doing it. They bend rigid pieces to their will, and I have much respect for that. They've made it into Art, the Art deserves someone who really cares about it. But most of the people there have little kids, and they just blow through Miniland in an hour or so on their way to other attractions. Years of exposure to the sun have been hard on the models, also. Any piece of colored plastic will fade in the sunlight. The enamel coating meant to protect the models has long ago peeled and flaked off. No-one replaces it.
I remember how crestfallen I was to see a crushed porch on a cabin in the Louisiana swamps, probably brought down by a bird or earthquake. I returned a year later, and it still hadn’t been fixed.
Lego pieces are toys, to be sure, but they are not children's toys. They are wasted in the hands of children. They're a pastime, a way for me to exercise my brain. The boundless possibilities of the miniature world and the limitations of the System present problems than can only be solved with patience and engineering principles.
I haven't really built anything in a couple of years. Part of the reason is lack of time; another part is the stigma of Legos as child's play that drives me away from them. I feel like I should move on from them, like somehow being over six feet tall precludes one from toys.
But given the opportunity, I would still sit for hours on end, taking a tour of America with my eyes. I would write things in my notebook like "bley, plate modified, 1x2 with 4.5mm handle." I see stuff like that in my notes and I recognize it, years later, even if the Lego Company changed that part in 2009. So that's my special little world. I can shut out the big people, tourists passing through Miniland on their way out, while I focus on the little people, just going about the business of their day.
In class, you steered me away from a subject I couldn't write about because I was not inspired by it. At home, you accepted my late-night phone call as I panicked about the blog, and helped me in the best way possible. You simply pointed me in the right direction and let me write. You graciously offered further assistance, and I'm glad I didn't need it, but it was very much appreciated. Thank you so much.
The first paragraph was really strange to me and I had no idea what you were talking about - in a good way! Four inch tall people? It was so interesting in a way that I really wanted to keep reading to see what you were actually talking about, and I’m glad I did.
I’ve never been to Legoland but the way you describe it, Miniland sounds so fun! It’s amazing to know that even years later, you remember such complicated sounding things such as “bley, plate modified, 1x2 with 4.5mm handle.” It just shows how passionate you are about this. Great post, and I’m looking forward to your future ones! Thanks for a great read.
Thank you for sharing your ideas Mitchell!
Through your words I could really how attached you are to legoland. I really enjoyed your post.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Childhood freedom
“How the heck did this end up inside of your hand?” my mom asked me as she tried to remove the pen cap-sized wood chip lodged deep in the lower left corner of my right hand. It was the result of me jumping off the moving swings onto the wood chips palm first.
My splinter didn’t stop me from going back to the park. It didn’t even give me second thoughts about going back to the swings the very next day. Or jumping off of it again.
A few months later, I was climbing the monkey bars when my hand suddenly slipped. I fell and landed arm first. The popping sound it made was excruciating. After finding out I had dislocated my good arm, I was back a week or two later to redeem my lost playing time. That’s when I realized I wasn’t at the park to climb the monkey bars or to go on the swings. I was there just to be there; I enjoyed the atmosphere and feeling it gave me.
The park was a very memorable place to me in my childhood. Whether or not I had a rough or good day, I’d ask my mom to take me to the park. There I would roam freely across the playground and field of grass. I remember I would often attempt to find and catch squirrels while my mom watched me from the bench. I’ve never caught one, but I would always get the ecstatic feeling that I was going to get lucky that day.
The park was a great place. It was the only times I would feel free; to do what I wanted without someone telling me it was “too unsafe”.
The most memorable times were probably the walks I would take with my entire family. I can’t say much about these walks; they were just regular walks but they were probably the only times we would spend real family time together back then.
I still take walks with my family every now and then at the park. The memories are always coming back to me when I set foot there. I felt that the memories made at the park have shaped me into the person I am today. Even the injuries.
I could definitely say that it was very important to me.
I want to thank Josh for reading my blog and letting me know what kind of details I could add to improve it.
Light Something: My Best Life Now
It was one year ago. I crouched on my bed and sighed, asking myself what I am going to do. It was very important year for me. Since I am a junior golfer, I needed it to perform well in golf tournaments in order to get recruited into Division 1 College. For me, playing golf in college has been a big deal. It is one of my goals that I want to achieve before accomplishing my final goal, PGA tour. However, I was performing poorly. I kept finishing around last places in tournaments. Therefore, I worked harder and harder every day. Standing out in the blazing hot sun for 10 hours made me realize how it feels to get “cooked.” When my friends met me at night, they didn't notice me and thought I was black because I was too tanned. Hitting 800 balls per day made blisters and calluses all over my hand. I thought only way to improve my golf game was practice, practice, and practice. Well, did I improve? No. I didn't improve at all. I felt hopeless and realize how bad I was in golf. I told myself that I suck every time I hit a poor shot. I didn't want to play golf anymore. I lost all the enjoyment of golf that I had before.
One day, my mom gave me this book called Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen. This book is about how to live at full potential and to stay positive. I wasn't very fond of reading so I just put it on my bookshelf and left it there. Couple months later, after another terrible tournament, I came home and crouched on bed again hopelessly. I was thinking about actually quitting golf. Then I saw something smiling at me. It was Joel Osteen’s photo on the front cover of the book. Then I picked up the book and blew the dust away that was on the book. After reading couple pages, it inspired and made me realize how stupid I was. “Quit worrying about how everything is going to turn out. Live one day at a time; better yet, make the most of this moment.” This quote made me realize that I was thinking way ahead of time and pushing myself way too much. I was afraid of playing poorly in tournaments and not getting recruited that I forgot to enjoy playing golf which I had done before. Since then, I started to think positive, and try to enjoy playing golf at that moment rather than thinking about the results. I gradually improved. It was more effective than practicing 10 hours per day. I started finishing in better places and talking to some Division 1 coaches. My problem was solved.
I was very negative and fearful person before reading this book. Now, I am positive and have confidence to face other challenges. Also, I have learned to cherish the present moment of my life. It is good to think about your future goals but from my experience, thinking too ahead can prevent you from realizing the importance of present. I think that is why the present is called the present, as in a gift. This book has changed my life.
I liked your post because I am familiar with Joel Osteen's message and love hearing about people who really listen to his inspiring and faith based ideas. I appreciate your testimony about golfing and found your specific circumstance very interesting because I am totally unfamiliar with golf and have never been in a situation similar to yours yet I am familiar with the attitude that Joel Osteen supports and was thrilled to see that you applied his message.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: MY HEART DRAWS A DREAM
If I could return to somewhere that were going to be demolished soon, I would go back to a stadium. To elaborate a little more, a stadium that was built in 1958 which held the 1964 summer Olympics. The stadium itself does not possess any special meaning to me, but what took place there does.
Does anyone remember how devastating the second semester of junior year felt like?
The first thing I did every morning was to check PowerSchool.
The last thing I did each night was to check PowerSchool.
The topic that came up most frequent during became “SAT” “GPA” “AP Testing” without anyone noticing the change.
What kept me up three in the morning was often not schoolwork. Sometimes, most times, it was the anxiety of uncertain life goals.
When I needed a chance to gain some perspective, I had one.
After month of negotiation with my parents, I had a chance of going to my favorite band’s 20th anniversary concert in the summer. The experience at the stadium painted over what has become my daily life like a brush stained with a bright color.
The cool summer breeze blew against the skin in the open-air stadium.
The fabulous blue sky as the vocalists’ voice pierced through the air.
The 55000 strangers of different age came from different places sang, waved, and cheered together.
The rainbow fireworks flew across the night sky.
The tears sparkled in everyone’s eyes under the flashing of light sticks.
Those things reminded me how much I enjoyed going to concerts.
The stadium showed me another side of life that I have almost forgot. No matter how painful the present may seem to be, a limitless future continues before you.
To Natalia Chang: Thank you for advicing to choose this topic, I had fun with it.
I love your post. The situation you describe in detail on the stress in junior year is so vivid and accurate that I feel a close connection while reading your post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Good job!
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices : The Halls of Old
If somebody had told me on the last day of middle school that I would find myself missing it as much as I came to, I would have laughed at them. Sure, I had fond memories of Dana, but I was eager to leave, excited to be moving on to the larger high school and taking on more responsibility, to move ever-closer to freedom and adulthood. So, on that final day, the sky cloudy with June gloom, when I looked back at Dana for the last time as an attending student, I thought not of the middle school, but rather the future that awaited me.
It is said that absence makes the heart grow fonder; of Dana, this is most certainly true. I realized almost immediately after starting at AHS that I missed what I'd had at that old middle school. There were so many new people here; many new friends were made, but at the same time, too many old ones began to drift away. I found my heart yearning for the simpler times when we would all sit under the shade of the oak tree in the September heat and talk, of when my friends and I would joke around in the lunch pavilion.
There were other, simpler reasons I found myself longing for the past, of course. The simple fact was middle school was easier than high school; as the time spent on homework seemed to grow at an almost exponential rate as the years went by at AHS, I found myself looking back on my time at Dana as a golden age of sorts, when the times were good, spent in a paradise full of close friends, fun times, and comparatively little work. Over time, I have come to see Dana as an old place of comfort, for the buildings and halls of that school made me feel more at home when I walked among them than those of AHS ever have. I think what attracted me most was how I felt about my old school; as the years went by and I found myself looking back to the past amidst periods of turmoil, I slowly realized that what I'd felt at Dana was true happiness. My life back then had a simplicity that it now lacked, close-knit relationships with friends that had all but gone from my life, and a deeper sort of inner peace and innocence that was now utterly lost in the turmoil of my increasingly complex issues.
Sometimes, I would go back to visit. At times, I would simply be walking around the neighborhood and go back on a whim. Other times, particularly when I was troubled, I would go back to think and reflect. I think, in some regards, Dana came to be to me what a church is to some of my friends. They would go to church to try to reflect and gain access to some greater truth; I would go to Dana to try to tap into the old feelings of peace and happiness I had felt there. At my lowest points in the past few years, I inevitably found myself standing in front of that massive brown anchor, denying the present in favor of my memories of the past, trying to find a solution to whatever my current problem was when everything else had failed.
Of course, the old Dana has become my own personal paradise lost. The march of time is relentless; that place no longer exists as it was anywhere but in my memories and in my heart. The last few times I visited, I have been struck by the sheer change. The old oak tree is gone; I assume that with it goes the old 8th grade privilege in lunch seating in the surrounding area. New buildings have sprung up from the ground seemingly overnight; portables stand where before there was open blacktop; a track desecrates my memories of an old, yellow-green field of grass. The new gym clashes with my recollections of a wall of ivy, and to top it all off, a massive black security fence now surrounds the school; once, upon seeing this newest monstrosity, I joked to a friend that our middle school had been changed into “DanaMax Prison”.
It would be safe to say that the place I once remembered is now so different that it is essentially no longer the same place. For all my indignation at the changes, they are actually quite alright. Times change, and Dana is no longer my school; it hasn't been for nearly four years. This does not mean that it has lost importance to me. Rather, the place that I remember and cherish no longer physically exists, but resides and lives on in my heart and mind. Those hallowed halls might not be the same in the real world anymore, but to me they'll exist just as they did when I used to walk through them.
Shoutout time: Jeffrey and Max, thank you for the suggestions. I did change the chosen prompt from Light Something to Blurry Figures mostly because I found that I had a hard time reducing the time explaining the book's plot in favor of my own personal feelings towards it; I'd like to think that this resulting post is a good argument in favor of that change.
Your post really got me thinking. Although I don't feel the same way about my middle school, I wonder if I (we) will feel this way about AHS after we graduate. There IS a lot of construction going on and still more to come- in a couple of years, the campus will look completely different from what it looks like now. Going from high school to college will be similar to the transition between middle school and high school. We will take on more responsibility and have even more work to do. What do you think?
Thanks for commenting! I sort of thing the same thing might happen after high school, but at the same time, there's a few important differences (at least in my opinion). A lot of my positive feelings towards middle school were due to qualities it had that I feel high school somewhat lacks; while I'm sure I will miss AHS as I go on in life, I'm not sure I'll miss it quit the same way as I miss Dana.
Nicely written post. I really enjoyed reading your story not only because it was easy to relate to, but because your word choice made the story so much better. I also agree with Chris in that as a senior, im already starting to feel the longing of AHS when we go off to college next year. I know I will miss my friends and how simple and carefree high school is compared to college. Great job.
Nicely written post. I really enjoyed reading your story not only because it was easy to relate to, but because your word choice made the story so much better. I also agree with Chris in that as a senior, im already starting to feel the longing of AHS when we go off to college next year. I know I will miss my friends and how simple and carefree high school is compared to college. Great job.
There's definitely perks that I miss to middle school. Yet, there's also things that I want out of my memory entirely. First Avenue has gone through essentially the same phase as Dana: new structures and buildings to replace it's old halls, black gates, and a futuristic music building out of the blue. There's a lot I kinda feel gimped on for not being able to be in middle school when all that stuff happened, but I'll still remember the good times shared with my friends there. It'll stay the same First Avenue, no matter how much it physically changes.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: The Stone Table
It’s not a very special place. In fact I think I’m the only person who has any emotional attachments for this place. The place I speak of is just a small patio with a stone table that's located in a middle school named First Avenue. I came to discover this place in 7th grade along with meeting my group of friends. For the first time I finally felt welcomed in Arcadia when I found a place where I could be happy and be surrounded by friends.
It was a place of comfort for my last two years in middle school. I’d head right to there when lunch started. It was a little far from where most of the regular benches were but that’s what made it feel more special for me. It was a place my friends and I could call our own. When 8th grade started we immediately dashed towards that stone table claiming it before someone else tried to take it from us.
When the time came to say goodbye to this place, I couldn’t bear to think that some other group of people would be sitting at that table. It was the place that brought my friends and I closer and where we created so many memories. I knew that in high school we probably wouldn't find such a place we could call our own. That’s when it occurred to me. This table will be bringing another group of friends closer together just like how it did for me. Having that last thought brought me happiness knowing that this place will continue making memories for other people. It’s just an ordinary stone table but for me it was something more.
To David: Thanks for reading over it and spotting a few errors.
I also went to First Ave Middle School and I remember exactly what you are talking about. I enjoyed reading your story as it brought back a lot of memories for me.
Hi Kenneth, I really like your story. I graduated from First Ave too, and I always miss those tables where we always eat lunch.
The Mirror: The people, the bonds
My life is just like a messy notebook, full of scratch marks, doodling’s, and incomprehensible writings.
Since I could remember, 5 year old, I was only a little pre-school kid who had nothing to do except going to school and waste my day. Until that one day, a baby girl joined the family; she was my responsibility. I am proud to be the mother, I mean, the big sister of her. I have a big sister too. Biologically we are cousins, but in this family we are sisters.
I can still remember that first day she was brought back to home, so tiny and soft like a fragile doll. I started taking care of her, fed her, and played with her. It was my job to look after her. When she could walk, I held her hands everywhere we go. When she could talk, I taught her the names while feeding her. When she could think, I used tomatoes to teach her math. Just like me, my big sister had to take care of me. She said she had to make the milk for me to drink. She said she had to hold my hands too. She said I peed on her homework one time. Well, I don’t remember.
12 year old, I came to the US. It was harsh at first, but I survived. I met many different people and made new friends. Although my friends sometimes do crazy stuff, they are still cool. We can be swagger walking down the street in downtown LA. We can be sweet watching Disney movie together. They are real, meaning we treat each other well from our hearts.
Some people may see this as an insipid rambling. My point is that I am proud to have these people in my life. Not because of their accomplishments, but what we have accomplished. I am proud of our bonds. My life would not be the same without them.
To Elizabeth Y: I took your advice of giving more details. Thank you for the grammar check. Thank you for the idea of friend! I was stuck on writhing, thanks for helping me.
"my friends sometimes do crazy stuff, they are still cool. We can be swagger walking down the street in downtown LA. We can be sweet watching Disney movie together. They are real, meaning we treat each other well from our hearts."
My favorite part great post Emily!
the part I love the most of this post is the comparison between life and a messy notebook because that is pretty much what my life looks like. My life is like yarn balls messed up by kitties.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices
Memories are the stories of your life told over and over again in your mind. Stories that are filled with both good and bad, that are precious and unforgettable that tell a story of who you are and what you'll become. Although most people would choose a memory of home with their parents or an exotic place they had visited and cherished, the most defining memories was at my grandmas house.
My Dad worked at 3:30pm so picking me up and driving all the way in Inland Empire had to be done quick and always dropped me off at my grandmother's home each day before work and picked up at 7.00pm each night by my mom who just got off of work. My grandmother became my second mother, always fretting about me while she cooked my meals as I spent the day lazing around watching television living the typical child's life. She had known I struggled with my school work during my middle school years but came from a poor village in China and had not received any education but still encouraged me each day to work harder at mine. There was a time when my father and I had fought when I refused to listen to him and my grandmother took me in. She had always been there for me and I could never have asked for more.
My Grandmother was always moving around the house, working hard at whatever needed to be done. She was a avid gardener and didn't stop even as she grew older and more frail. She was a proud woman and I knew she'd never ask for help so even at a young age, I knew to always be by her side to assist her. As she got older she had trouble getting around the house and had fallen once when I wasn't around and had hurt herself to the point where she needed a cane to get around. That had affected her life because she could not do the same things she had once done on her leisure. I took on more responsibilities without animosity and helped care for her as I grew from an elementary student to the brink of a high school-er.
Weeks before I was to start at Arcadia High School, I was told of my grandmothers passing. I then knew the meaning of what it was like to “cry your heart out”. I was terrified, what would my life be without her? I was paralyzed with grief and refused to believe that she was gone forever. I later found out she had died peacefully in her favorite chair and found solace in the fact that she didn't suffer in her last moments. Though I had came to peace with her passing it had shaken me, forever changing who I became. I will always cherish our time together and remember everything that she had taught me and will continue to make her proud because I know she is watching me right now in heaven.
(*Light Something: The One Habit of a Highly Effective Daniel*)
Maybe it was fate.
My sophomore year had started out on an extremely low note, and my priorities, along with my life were in a jumble. After receiving horrendous grades first semester and taking it with an equally horrendous attitude, my pastor bestowed upon me a book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.
Even now I can't remember all seven of them, as I am still a ways off from mastering the first one. Yet the first habit, being proactive, has made all the difference in my life; It has given me a paradigm shift on myself as a person, the people around me, and adversity.
The book describes the concept of being proactive in very simple term: Instead of simply reacting to whatever is thrown your way, you instead think ahead and prepare for what might be coming. Being proactive is portrayed as a pause button; when something is or will be hurtling your way, press your pause button, and think before you act.
It was quite enlightening to see that when presented with an obstacle or challenge, I would instinctively react. Test too hard? Obviously the teacher's fault, and I've got to whine to everybody about how unfair life is. Guy cut me off while driving. I've got to make sure that I honk first then flip him off, so he'll turn around and see me giving him the bird. Mom's yelling at me? She has absolutely no clue what I'm going through, much less understand me.
What I didn't realize was that I didn't score well on the test because I spent all my time playing League of Legends instead of legitimately studying for the test, and that the test was in fact, extremely fair to those who had done their work. What I didn't realize was that maybe the guy was having a bad day and his woes had distracted him; He could have just gotten fired, dumped, or bestowed with terrible news, and I might have just added on to his stress and worries. What I didn't realize that my mom was indeed all-knowing, and that she simply had my future more in mind than I ever had, and that she wanted the best for me. But because I was reactive, I couldn't see any of this.
I begin to reexamine my life with this new weapon I was gifted with, and found that I reacted to nearly everything. Not only did I react to other people and our interactions, but I also reacted to inanimate objects and tasks. Homework that was “too long” was thrown aside because there was no way I could finish it. Larger projects that were too complicated were tossed over my head like a basketball, because they would take an eternity. And if a track workout was hard, I was gone, almost as quickly as a gazelle upon sighting it's mortal enemy, the cheetah. But because I was reactive, I never saw the value in these tasks. Sure they were difficult, there was no denying it, but these tasks weren't simply created to keep me busy. Homework and assignments were there to benefit me, to help me learn and prepare for greater schooling. Track workouts were there to transform myself into an agile athlete. But without the insight, without being proactive, I was unable to see all this, and could only instead react to the tasks thrown at me.
And so through baby steps I began to learn how to put on my proactive frame of mind, and to press my pause button. It was difficult at first, and a lot of times, I would literally bite my tongue to stop those retorts, or force myself to sit down and work while constantly reminding myself that it was for the betterment of my future. I also began to plot out weekly goals on a small, whiteboard, and bit by bit, the jigsaw pieces of my life began to fall into place.
To this day, I am proud to say that I am still not a proactive person, as it is human to err. However I seek to better myself day to day, and I thoroughly believe that because of The 7 Habits of Highly Teens, I am a far more efficient and understanding person than I was two years ago.
Thanks to Allen Miao for suggesting that I elaborate more on what the book itself actually said about being proactive.
Daniel, I also read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens so I totally understand your points.
That's awesome, hope you found it as valuable as I did. Thanks for the feedback Jason!
Loved that you incorporated all of my suggestions! I am so happy that you've been able to grow so much in the past few years, and I feel like it takes a lot of guts to be able to admit to yourself your past mistakes and rectify them. Keep up the good work!
Light Something: A Child Called It.
When young, our interests are usually keeping up with latest fashion trends or playing outdoors with our friends. Who's ever heard of a group of middle schoolers raving about a book?
It rarely ever happens, but in seventh grade, all my friends raved about this one book. At first, I wasn't intrigued. A book was just a book then, and typically, like our English books, they were all boring. However, one of my friends brought his copy to school and decided to have a story time during lunch. Hearing the story actually caught my attention and led me to check out a copy at my city library.
The book was called A Child Called It. Written as an autobiography, Dave Pelzer wrote about his torturous, abusive childhood. The book contained graphic memories of Dave's life, lived in constant fear for the numerous times his mother would creatively think of a new way to torture him. With a father who didn't stand up for him, Dave was on his own to endure the abusive moments of his life when his mother fed him garbage as punishment, burned the side of his face with an electric stove, and submerged his head in water until he couldn't breathe.
Though only 200 pages, it left a deep impression on everyone who read it. Until then, I'd never really paid attention to children who were abused and neglected because it didn't affect me. Through horrifying details of the book, I learned to be grateful of my own life. In comparison to Dave, I had the childhood he dreamed of. Yet, I complained and only asked for more. The fact that he was able to persevere through such a nightmare not only made me thankful for a happy childhood, but also made me admire his strong sense of courage and perseverance. It's amazing how one thin paperback book can impact a life so deeply, but I guess the saying is true. "Great things come in small packages."
Even though I never read this book before, simply judge by your description I am glad for my life and having the best mother on earth who always protects me under her arms. Many people do not realize how great their lives are compare to others. They “complained and only asked for more,” never to be satisfied. Great post Eliza!
Blurry Figures and Muffled voices: Warm place to be...
I cannot forget the feeling of being welcomed by people. It was raining so hard and our apartment was dark brown carpeted and our family did not have anything except four small luggage that contained our clothes and two big luggage that had our blankets. The small apartment looked big and it was cold and empty. Our family lived with having only six luggage more than a month because it took more than a month to transfer our furnishings we had in Korea to America.
I was lonely. I missed my friends and my relatives and I missed talking with them in Korean. I was homesick. I went outside of the apartment hoping to find any Koreans but I couldn't. My family and I stayed at home and only went to the nearby market because we didn't have a car. On the first week of Sunday in America my dad’s friend who lived in LA came to Arcadia and took us to the Korean church in LA. My family and I first open the door of the main sanctuary and we were surprised by the number of Koreans that were in the worship service because we didn't know that we can find so many Koreans in America. After the service a lot of people welcomed our family. I cannot forget the feeling of being welcomed by people. I realized that being welcomed by the people is the true bless from God. Going to this church became our family’s only happiness when we first moved to America; there we can meet people and no longer feel lonely and homesick. It was a warm place to be, always welcoming us.
The members of this church welcomed us whenever we went to the church and they helped us to settle well in America. They taught us the American law, helped our family to buy a car and helped me to find the school. I got really attached to this church and the people there.
However, I moved to different church last year July because of my dad; he was appointed to different church. Now it’s the opposite at our new church. People at our new church expect our family to help them. Also expect me to welcome them and serve them especially the elders because I have the title of pastor’s kid. I understand that now it is time for me to welcome others. However, I still wish to go back to my old church where we got most of the help when we first came to America and always welcomed us and cared for us. It was warm place to be...
To: Sieun J. Thank for reading my rough draft and I took your advice! Thank You!
Light Something - Lighting the Inspiration
The first book I have ever read in my whole life. It influenced my life, changing my view on reading and all the other different types of literature.
I was in 9th grade. Unlike other kids in school, I found no interest in reading. Hating story time for all my elementary school years, I haven't read any book for the 14 years of my life. I felt my life is complete without books. All the writings about the benefits and capability of books was denied by my consciousness. To complete the reading task in school, I uses sparknotes and other internet resources to pass my test. However, it was not until I read this book that I realized the joy of reading books.
On my 14th birthday, my cousin bought something for me. Unlike other presents, her gift was incredibly heavy and carefully wrapped. I was more than just excited to open the box when I got it from her. However, the instant I opened the gift box, I was deeply disappointed -- a blue book as thick as dictionary with thousands of words packed in one single line, staring at me.
“Don’t tell me you are giving me a book,” my emotion suddenly shifted to the lowest.
“Yes! This is one of the first issues of ‘_’! I know you will enjoy reading it!” apparently unable to detect my sudden drop of interest, my cousin replied.
Although I was sad, almost irritated, I did accept her present and placed it on my desk. It wasn’t three months later that I opened the first page of this book, when I was bored had nothing else to do. The reading is not a difficult one. Lines by lines, before I realized, I have already finished the first chapter of the book.
Further interest was drawn into reading this book for the next few nights. As soon as I got the hold of the book, I could not stop reading.
The book led me to a different world, to an imaginary place that seems realer than reality. I finished this book in a few days, which lead to my interest in reading. Later in life, I started reading more books: serious literature, science fiction, even long boring poems that is required by school. I started enjoying reading, appreciating the voice of each distinct character that shine through the lines.
However, it was this book that led me to the world of literature, to appreciate the art of words and to understand other people’s life and experience through reading.
Until today, I could still see this book laying proudly in my upper shelf, looking over my shoulder and inspiring me to read more literary works.
The book is titled-- “Harry Potter.”
Alex: Thank you for editing my grammar errors and giving me valuable advice on the organization of the passage.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Thing's Change
It's weird to think that my favorite place to go to was my eighth grade history classroom.
But what I loved about that classroom goes beyond the lessons and books that Ms. Strauss taught us.
She helped me grow both as a student and as a person. I finally had someone that I could open up to, but never did I think it would end up being my teacher. Every time we'd talk it would be enlightening for my little eighth grade mind and everyday I left learning a little bit more about myself.
I started to grow comfortable in the class and started to come in after school, along with everyone else. The class was barely ever empty and everyone was free to socialize. The good vibes came from a mix of her pervious students and current students.
Little did I know, I found myself going there everyday and sometimes I would even stay until it was dinner time. It definitely beat staying home alone.
Eventually, I moved on to high school and I thought that things could no longer be the same but my visit on the first day of school proved me wrong. It felt like such a relief to be back in there again like how things use to be. Except that now I was the older kid that went in and visited.
As more time passed, the less people went back to Oak Ave. to gather after school. And as I matured and gained more priorities, it was hard to go back to visit as frequently. I feel incredibly thankful to have had somewhere to go to when I was having a bad day or when I was just simply bored.
Although as things and circumstances change, its comforting to know that I can still visit when I'm in a desperate need of guidance. Until this day, Ms. Strauss is still that one person that knows me better than I do.
Thank you to Karen Xiao for looking over my work and giving me helpful feedback!
The Mirror: Her Passions
Let us make a toast to the happy life Cindy lived and for the opportunity she got to be a daughter, sister, niece, aunt, cousin, god daughter, and a great friend. The last time you saw Cindy or talked to her, she was most likely had make-up on, was laughing, or was dancing. It is hard to remember her without remembering her doing any of her three passions.
Ever since she was a little girl she had an interest for colors. When she would color in her coloring book, she made sure she combined colors properly to make the drawing look nice. She was also careful not to color outside the dark lines. She liked everything looking smooth and clean. As she grew older, she set her crayons, makers, and color pencils down and picked up make-up brushes and colored eyeshadows. She then began applying colors in her eyelids with eyeshadows she borrowed from her mom. Just as she would be careful in paper she was even more careful in her eyelids. From that point on, she practiced and practiced until she procured great skills and was able to create trendy looks. When her friends and relatives noticed her talent, she was immediately was asked to do their make-up for winter formal, prom, quinceañeras, and even weddings. Cindy loved doing this so much that she never charged for the amazing work she did. It was her passion.
Before she turned fifthteen her parents prohibited Cindy to dance when people were around (family tradition). Her parents wanted her waltz in her quinceañera to be the very first time she danced in public. She granted that wish for her parents. It was not easy. In fact, it was one of the most difficult things she had to do because she had “happy feet” every time she would hear music she liked, her feet automatically started moving. Once she had her quinceañera, she was free as a bird. She always went to family dances and would hardly rest. Then she got bored of those usual family dances and decided to take a step further. The weekend she turned 18, she went clubbing. MJs Night Club (Home Sweet Home) as she would call it was the club she went to the most. Her six inch heels were her “babies” and without them she would feel weird. So every time she went dancing, she liked wearing different “babies”. Regardless of whether she was tired or didn’t have a new outfit, she was always be down to go dance. It was her passion.
Anyone that got the opportunity to hang out with Cindy knows how much she loved to laugh, play tricks on people, and make jokes. During silent or awkward moments, it would be Cindy that would start laughing out of nowhere with what she called her “dumb laugh”. Cindy was just a very cheerful girl who you hardly saw in a bad mood. If she noticed you were in a bad mood, she would burst out with a dumb joke just to put a smile on your face. She enjoyed being happy and making people happy. It was her passion.
Unfortunately, Cindy is no longer with us. God took her to heaven with him and we have no choice but to except it and be happy for her that she is in a better place. So lets remember her as the happy, humble, and talented person she was and treasure all the memories we have with her. She will forever remain in our hearts along with her passions.
Cheers to Cindy and may her rest in peace!
I totally agree with that you are a really cheerful girl who puts smile on her face all the time. I am so glad to meet you this semester because your laughter always makes my last period so easy and happy. Thank you for sharing you passions in your life. Great post!
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Water
My parents have always told me stories about me when I was little. Mom would always tell me how much I would scare her whenever she was giving me a bath while I was a baby. I would intentionally sink myself into the water and just stare back at her, from beneath.
I learned to swim at around the age of four. Ever since I learned how to swim, I have always been excited to go swimming, whether it was at the swimming pool at my dad’s school, or the swimming pool in the nearby park. Swimming is not just a sport or a hobby anymore, swimming has become something more to me; it has become a place to escape.
Whenever I am in the water, the repetitive motions, the excessive breathing, excitement flows through my mind. As I move through the water, everything that has been on my mind has been wiped away. Directing my focus all in the motions on my strokes, perfecting every kick and every pull, I find relief and strength as I see the things that I am capable of. As I pull each stroke, I think of fantasies that could become. How I wish they were real.
Aside from all the dreams that I would think of, it is the perfect place to express your feelings. Anger, sadness, happiness, everything can be expressed.
As you beat down on the water over a bad score, the water does not complain, the water does not resist.
As tears roll down your eyes, the water embraces, it does not judge.
The swimming pool is not just a place for workouts anymore. It has been a place that I escape to, my own comfort zone. Everything that I ever wanted to express, I can do it in the pool. No matter how shallow, or deep I go, I can feel free. Whether it be yelling from the bottom of my lungs at twelve feet under, or splashing for joy at the surface, the water embraces and accompanies me.
Never judging, never leaving.
To Keith: Thanks for the advice on the story line. Although I ended up taking a different approach with a different story, i still took your advice with this one. Thanks!
Hey David, even though I know you personally, I never understood why you spent so much time in the water. I remember you telling me you had to swim when I asked you to hang out. I really like how you described what swimming means to you and how it can affect you. Its amazing how swimming has impacts your life. Anyways great post!
Light Something: The Giving Tree
When I was in second grade, my teacher at the time had said that her most beloved children’s book was “The Giving Tree”. She made big talk about it and pointed to where she mounted it on a pedestal in her dinky little library in the back corner of the classroom. My eyes locked on the green cover and my mind kept telling me I needed to read that book.
As soon as she released us for SSR (Self-Selected Reading) I dashed to the back of the classroom eager to read--which was odd because I definitely wasn’t someone who was fond of reading--but to my dismay, the book was already in the grubby hands of another boy. And this boy saw the desperation in my face, and he exploited it--you were allowed to check books out in the teacher’s library and keep it for one week--but being the impatient child that I was, one week was equivalent to a month, so I asked the boy what I could do for him to give me that book. He took full advantage of the situation and made me tie his shoes, let him cut in line for lunch, push him on the swings, and the list goes on. Bottom line was that he worked my but off for me to get that book.
The next SSR session, he begrudgingly gave it to me, and I received it as if it were the holy grail of all books. I opened the rather worn pages and began to read. I tore through the book and finished it somewhat disappointed. I didn’t think it was a terrible story, but I definitely didn’t think it was worthy of being received as the holy grail of all books.
I didn’t think too critically about the book analyzing symbols and interpreting imagery other than my initial impression was to take pity on the tree. As ridiculous as it sounds, I sort of wanted to find a magical tree friend that would feed me when I was hungry, play with me when I was bored, and answer all of life’s daunting questions, but I put the book down and never thought about it again...
Until it found its way back into my hands when I was waiting for a friend at Border’s in the Santa Anita Mall. At this point in time, I was around 13 years old and was to some extent capable of deciphering deep meanings behind stories so I decided to take another crack at reading Shel Silverstein’s distinguished children’s book.
That was undoubtedly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. That time I read it it made a lasting impression. I realized that I didn’t need some miraculous tree to give me nourishment, a place to seek refuge, and share thoughtful advice. My parents give me all those things for the same exact reasons that the tree had--unconditional love. In the story, the tree so selflessly gives everything she has to the boy and yet she remains happy because she’s made the boy happy. And it took reading this book to make me realize parents do the same exact things. They work arduous jobs and sacrifice all their time all for their kids.
I gained a new profound reverence for my parents and not just my parents, but parents in general--and trees. Mr. Silverstein also inspired me to be selfless for not for my own gain--to be perceived as a martyr or generous person--but to simply do it for the good of others. Thanks Shel.
To Jonathan: Thanks for telling me to elaborate more on why this book was so life-changing.
I think it's so cool how you saw the book so differently the second time you read it. I can totally relate. The message of unconditional love touched my heart.
Hi Melanie! Reading your post made me reminisce that same book from my childhood too. I remember the rave about that particular book but found that I didn't really like it at the time. I like that you picked it up the second time and gave it a try again because it makes me want to do the same.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: A Convenient Place
The store on the corner of a dead end street with no name flashes brightly in my mind. I can’t seem to recall the name of the store despite going there so many times. Its plain white walls filled with things hanging all over it. The pencils and tools are to the left of the store. The party decorations and holiday decorations are to the right of the store. The cashier and owner is right up at the front by the door to the left just clicking away and imputing things into the cash register. Every customer always greeted with a polite smile and cheerful hello.
Click. Click. Click. Goes the register
Ding Dong, Ding Dong goes the doorbell as each new customer enters the store.
I, being a little girl, go straight to the candy section, right across from the cashier. I browse through all the candy salivating about all the sweets I will be getting. The cashier greets me, in Cambodian, asking how my grandfather is and how the rest of my family is doing and I always answer the same way. My family is doing fine and my grandpa is doing wonderfully but he is still smoking, a fact that I hated the most about him. Then I continue browsing the aisles, looking at all the cool things, at least at the time, in the store. Suddenly I realized that I shouldn’t be there alone, I wasn’t supposed to walk across the street by myself. “*OH NO!* I am in big trouble”, I thought to myself, “My mom is going to be very mad at me”. “What am I going to do, what am I going to do?” “Bye Ms. I will see you later,” I hurriedly yelled at the cashier as I ran out the door.
Despite being at the store many times before, that was the first time I was there without adult supervision. Usually my grandpa or uncle or someone else would bring me there, but this time I went without them. Although I got into a lot of trouble that night, my mother finally realized that it was time to let me grow up. She finally realized that I knew how to walk across the street by myself without getting hurt. Even though she was worried that bad things might happen she finally let me walk across the street alone.
To this day, the store still crosses my mind when I think of my childhood. It provided the catalyst for my mom to finally allow me to walk across the street alone. It brought me happiness every time I went inside it because I always got a warm greeting. It showed me how always being nice to people will brighten their day and it taught me that you should always tell someone where you are going so they don’t get worried.
To Alex Tu: thank you for reading my paper and ultimately helping me in deciding to pick this one to do as my blog. Also thank you for making me realize that i needed to change my story a bit to make it work better and to add more details to the story.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: The New Jersey House
11 Monica Drive. The first house where I memorized the actual address. The second home that I lived in. The home where I remembered one of my dreams for the first time. Although these are not that significant or special traits of a typical “home”, these are just a few that stick out to me and that I find unique. As a child, these traits are so distinctive for one to achieve and a home is a place that is safe for a young child. The New Jersey House is still my favorite house.
This house was everything I ever loved as a child. Even though I lived there when I was only about four and up until the age of five, I loved every single thing about this home. There were three stories in the home. The first floor had many rooms including a comfy family room (with the TV, of course), the kitchen, a dining room, one bathroom, and a room where a red futon was and where my brother and I played in, the “playroom”. The second floor was just one large room, from what I can remember, that had a large, rectangular glass coffee table, an assortment of navy IKEA furniture, and hardwood floors. This is the room where the Christmas tree was put up every year and where my family and I would open presents together on Christmas morning. The next story up was where all the bedrooms were. My room was spacious and well lit and my walls were painted pink. Growing up as a tomboy, I hated anything ‘girly’, so I strongly disliked the color on my wall. Now that I think about it, I think I would appreciate that color now. That was all ‘three’ stories. But wait, there’s more! There is one final room that was such a special touch to the New Jersey House: “The Yankee Room”. My father is an extremely avid Yankee fan (as well as the rest of my family!). All of us were born in New York and had lived there before moving to the New Jersey House. This extraordinary room served as an office space for my dad, but also housed tons of priceless New York Yankees memorabilia. The Yankee Room was one of a kind.
The moment my parents sat my brother and me down to tell us that we were moving to California is still vividly embedded in my mind. We were told in the family room. As soon as the last word muttered out of my parents’ mouths’, my brother and I looked at each other and began to cry uncontrollably. I am still surprised that I still remember this in such detail.
Not that I dislike or hate the house I live in currently (I love the house I live in now, for the record!), it is just that the New Jersey House is a place I always held a close to my heart. Though, it is as if nothing truly is the same. When I first moved into the house I live in now, I began comparing all the rooms to the ones in the New Jersey House. There were no pink walls in my bedroom; the wallpaper in my new room even scared me a little. There were two stories in this house and this new house was and seemed much older than the New Jersey House… Most importantly, there was no Yankee Room.
Of course, by now I have memorized the address of my new home in California; I’ve lived here for about 12 years now how could I not. Although, I love both of these homes deeply, they are for separate and different reasons. Was it time that made me grow fonder of the house I currently live in? Or was it that we compare what we are used to, to the new thing we must adapt to? To this day, I still do not know what attached me so much to the New Jersey House, but I hope to find out some day.
I decided to take out my original “Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices” and started with a new one from scratch. BUT- thank you to Megan Eng for helping me revise my original work!
The Mirror – Silent Reflection
In life, we work and strive to be successful. Children go to school to earn the credential to pursue their future career. Some adults work simply to maintain their family, while others work ambitiously to climb onto a higher social echelon. Every individual in our society has a distinctive set of objectives, obligations, and/or responsibilities that he/she aims to achieve. But no matter what the incentives behind their dreams are, people work for one common accomplishment: to be remembered.
If the memories of me perish in the minds of others when my final time comes, I would rather die now than to one day suffer through the ugly side of life. I mean, if my mark is going to be erased along with my presence on this world, what is the point of even living? We live to be remembered, we live to make a lasting mark, and if we fail to do so, life is meaningless.
After I die, I will be remembered; remembered for my worthiness, individuality, charisma and the buckets of hearts I have poured out to my loved ones. At my funeral, friends and families, close and distant, will raise their glasses and unfold their toast saying “To Mingshi, the one and only, who has been so close to us and so tremendous to the world.” They will begin recall my face not because of the familiarity of my name but the train of memories I share with each and every one of them. They will cheer not because they had lost me but because they had me. They will love eternally not only for the things I rewarded them but to others as well.
“Mingshi has died but he will be remembered forever for the difference he had made in our lives.”
I will then, in my death, know that I had actually lived, that I had accomplished the one wish everyone so desperately covets: to be remembered; to be worth y of his/her epitaph.
I agree with you; while there is no chance I am going to be world famous and remembered by everyone, I, like you, want to be remembered by the ones I loved, and want to leave a lasting impression on them. Great job!
First of all, great post! The first paragraph really stood out to me, especially the last sentence. Seems like you really know where you are going with your life and I am sure you are living one that is worthy of being remembered!
The Mirror: Laughter Heard And A Face To Remember
No more tears. There’s no need for them. I’ve come a long way and I survived until now so instead of mourning about what I could about, talk about who I was and by that I mean for who I am and not who you guys wanted me to be.
No sadness at my funeral, only sounds of laughter. Think about it like this, I’m sitting up above or below (I still have no idea what happens after death) and all I hear are sobs. Do you think that’s what I want to hear after I die? Of course not. I want them to talk about all the great adventures I’ve had throughout my life. I want them to talk about all my hilarious and embarrassing things I’ve done throughout the years. I want to send a shout out to a few of my friends for helping me: Joanne Kim, Leonid Khoroshev, Krystle Ocdamia, Caroline Tang, and Logan Pribyl. I asked them all the same question, “What’s the weirdest/funniest thing you remember me doing?” Joanne said, “Those moments where I’m looking at my phone and I turn my head to see you right there next to my face and scaring the crap outta me”. Leo said, “Summer, when we got our grades passed back, and I imitated a little dance... and I didn't know you... and you did it with me.” Krystle said, “When you missed your mouth when you were trying to drink hot soup, and you ended up burning your chin”, definitely one of the most embarrassing days of my life at school. Logan or as I call him by his minecraft username, Captain said, “When we first met.” That is another embarrassing yet hilarious story. I first met him at the Renaissance Fair last summer. Natalia was the only one who knew him, the first time I met him was literally the first time I met and heard of him. She’s was speaking with him while I was being my stereotypical girl self and thought, “Hey this guy isn’t that bad looking.” So, thinking I would never see this guy again, I went over to him and said, “Natalia who is this attractive looking boy.” It was funny, but still awkward especially because now we’re as close as can be. The last one that I’m going to mention is from Caroline. I asked her the question and her response was this, “The weirdest thing I’ve seen you do is be you.” The reason I bring up all these memories is because none of these memories aren’t what “normal” people do. Normal people wouldn’t dance in front of classrooms with people they don’t know, and normal people aren’t as.. blunt as I am and since I am not as “normal” as others, it makes it easier to remember me because people usually remember weird and strange things than boring conversations about homework.
I think I will be remembered as many because of who I am.
Special thanks to the people listed.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Good Times
When I started going to elementary school, my parents signed me up for Japanese school on Saturdays where I was anxious of going. My anxiety came from the ability of my Japanese skills since I thought I was pretty bad at speaking it. Also at that time, I was still not used to being with other people, since I was a hesitant child. However, few weeks after I started attending class, I felt really foolish about how I was anxious of going to Japanese school.
This was when one of my greatest memories was created, Japanese school.
Every time I had bad times a day before Japanese school, my friends there all soothed my feelings and made me forget all the bad things in the past. It seemed like they literally knew everything about me. Even though I disliked the work we did in class, I could say Japanese school is one of the biggest unforgettable memories.
Every Saturday after school, I went to Brian Wada’s house who is one of the triplets and currently a junior in Arcadia High School. Before we got into middle school, we only hung out indoors since my parents were extremely strict about treating other people respectfully. After middle school, most of the people in class became really close and formed a “family”. As a family, we all successfully graduated, meeting all the graduation requirements, and sang the Japanese National Anthem. All the girls cried and hugged all the teachers we had in the last nine years of school. With this many people, we went to places such Round One Bowling, Six Flags, and Knotts Berry Farm.
Knotts Berry Farm was the last fun event we, as a whole class, did a week after graduation. The only event in Japanese event I cried for. I was partly embarrassed because I was the only boy who was crying, but I also thought it was not weird at the same time. I cannot remember how many pictures we took. At the time the pictures were taken, I thought it was annoying but I currently feel happy about how much memories we created.
I strongly wish I could be with them forever, but we cannot be in Japanese school forever. I feel sad sometimes when I think about them, but at the same time, I feel happy about how many strangers I’ve became friends with.
Good times, good times.
This was really fun to read! It wasn’t too jumbled up or anything and I could really hear your voice through this.
It’s good to know that you turned a negative into such a great positive! Japanese school sounds so special to you, and I think it’s great that you admitted that you cried at Knotts Berry Farm! It just shows how meaningful the people and the memories are to you.
Great job on this post!
The Mirror: What I See
As I look back at my eighteen years of existence I proud of the life I lived. I can’t say everything has been smooth sailing but for the most part life has been good. What sticks out the most to me was my childhood where I remembered being a very happy child. It was easy to make me laugh and smile and also I was very chunky baby. Many people would probably remember me as the little boy who smiled a lot.
There are times when I like to pretend I was dead and how the world around me would be affected. I think my mom would mourn the loss of me most. I could see her at my grave with tears rolling down her cheek as the rain fell. My sister would be leaning on my brother sharing an umbrella. Everyone’s faces would have a blank stare gazing off into the distance. When it was time to leave there would be someone on their knees saying a prayer for me.
My dad would be the last one to cry. I’ve only seen him cry a couple times in my life. I sure he would hold back most of his tears in front of others. My mom though would get really upset and take it out on the rest of the family. She would worry me the most if I was gone. I cause her the most trouble, give her the most worries, and nag her the most. She might regret some of the times she got angry at me and yelled at me but more likely she’d be sad that she never got to see me all grown up.
My sister is tricky, I’m not the closest person to her so I’m not certain how she would remember me. There were the times when we played house together and played restaurant. Ten years ago I would say we were like best friends talking about everything but that is gone. She would be like my dad in that she would not express much emotion. She would be sitting there at the funeral thinking about a place away from here.
My brother would remember me for all the nights we stayed up together playing videogames until out eyes could no longer stay open. Being the little brother it was customary to get the bottom screen and the off branded controllers. He would beat me in just about every game until I got older and he went to college. I remember the times when we were little and we pretended to shoot imaginary dinosaurs with our Nerf guns. I would get the little red gun with a broken trigger and he would get the big super soaker that was much bigger than me.
If I had one wish before I die, I wish to be remembered as a good person despite my mistakes.
Thank you for reading and thank you to Simon for helping me brain storm ideas.
I really love the way how you formatted this blog, the way you go through how each of your family member would take your death. good job and keep up the good work
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: High Haven
Remember that one special place as a child? It’s the place where you remember yourself smiling, laughing, and running around being free. The place where faint memories are forever fixed into your brain. You know you remember it but you can’t exactly pin point where that place actually was. The place that was completely insignificant to someone else, but in your eyes, it was everything.
It was a warm Saturday morning in the middle of my summer after third grade. My friend had asked me if I had wanted to go on a hike with her and her mother and I quickly agreed to this little wilderness adventure. It would be my first time hiking and I was so excited to make my way up those trails. I’ll never forget the view the first time I went up there.
Years went by, and the memory of this place slowly faded.
Arcadia High School, sophomore year: I was home with friends, bored, on a Friday night. My two friends and I had nothing to do and we looking for a little adventure. My friend said he had an idea but we had to trust him. The next thing I knew we were parked in the mountains right outside of a little trail. The starting point looked familiar but the night was dark and I pushed those thoughts aside. We then traveled up the trail, in the dead of night, with only our cell phones to light the way. After what had seemed like a long time, we reached a clearing in the trail and there it was.
As I was overlooking the city below me, I knew I had found my place.
Right now, as I type this, I’m sitting in my spot, in my place, overlooking my world below me. There’s no way I would be able to write this without actually sitting here. How I feel here is how I’ll never feel anywhere else. So now the question is…
What is it about this place that is so special to me?
When the people are asleep, everything else in the world comes to life. While I sit on a fuzzy blanket, I can feel the little rocks push through to my skin, the dirt develop beneath my fingernails, and the breeze softly touch the back of my neck. The sound of cars flying by on the freeway, the rustling bushes of the night critters, the wind whistling through the mountains, and the voices coming from every direction, so clear you can actually hear the conversation. I can taste the frosty, fresh air on the tip of my tongue and smell the earth beneath me. Now what I see is a sight that will never fail to comfort me. As I look down upon the world, it suddenly appears perfect. The city lights flicker on and off, car lights blur on the freeway, the stadium lights brighten the track of the late night runners, the airplanes’ blue and red lights flash in the night sky, and stars shine brilliantly over the bright world.
All I see a perfectly lit world.
I call this place High Haven. Nighttime is the only time I come visit. It’s the best time because it shows me that even in darkness there is still light. This is the place I come when I’m going through a difficult time. I come in the middle of the night looking for answers, looking for clarity. It’s a place when I can clear my mind from all the stresses of the world. This is where I feel safe, secure, and completely at peace. This is my shelter high above the evils of the world. I come to a little trail in the mountains just to feel that sense of protection and this why I call it High Haven.
This place is so special to me. I keep it a secret from everyone I know because I want it to be my own place of comfort. If you know this place, then I’ve shared it with you. I’ve only brought a select few of whom I trust up to this place and I tell them how sacred it is to me. I want them to feel the way I do when I look down at the city. I want them, even for the slightest moment, to feel that they live in a perfect world. To feel like they’ve escaped the painful realities of life. To feel that this is the reason why they wake up every morning and continue their day. To feel like they are invincible. So if one day you find this place, and you feel like there is nothing out there that can defeat you, then you’ll know where you are.
My High Haven.
To Chris Lum: Thanks so much for all the comments! they really helped me with describing how i felt and where I was. Thanks Chris
hey dominique, i really like this blog of yours. although i do not know where this place is, i can feel how much peace this place brings to you. as we grow up, there are more and more things in life that will trouble us, but having a special place like this allows you to clear you mind sometimes and get yourself together and move on. the languages you used were simple but forceful. i love it!
I'm really glad you liked my blog. Sometimes everyone needs a place they can call their own. Thank you for commenting
I loved how you used such detail in your post! I get what you mean where you feel like nothing can defeat you, just by looking down on the city at night. There is just something about those lights that get to you. Good job! Made me feel as if I was really there!
Thanks for reading my post. This place is incredibly special to me and I love being there. Its the best place to think. Thanks Glindy glad you liked it
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: The Once In A Lifetime Experience
I'll never forget that place.
I’ll never forget the darken skies, long trees and fresh air.
I’ll never forget singing songs along with my camp leader.
OSS was a camp in the mountains where I experienced and lived outdoors for an entire week.
I was in 7th grade when I spent an entire week there. It was my first time that i've been away from my parents for that long.
When I think of my time at OSS, the first thing that pops into my head are the long hiking lectures. Even though some of the hiking lectures were long and boring, it was amazing to be in nature. There were so many trees that it covered the entire campsite to where it was impossible to see the cities. It was the first time I had lived away from the cities without any technology. I remember the dorms were really small and we had to sleep in bunk beds. I became good friends with a couple of students since the dorms were so small and we all ate with each other every single day.
There was a night I remember particularly well during my stay at OSS. It was pitch black dark outside to the point where I couldn't even see my hands. It was around eight o'clock and I was getting ready to go on a night hike with my camp leader. The whole point behind the night hike was to train our eyes in ways to where it can adapt to the darkest. However, I eventually learned that it was no ordinary hiking trip, but a setup in order for our teachers to scare us in the dark. I heard multiple shrieks near the distance and I was pretty scared even though my camp leader tried to calm us down. My camp leader led a group of us to an area where there was no path. He informed us to walk straight until we saw two trees even though I knew something was about to happen. I started off walking slowly then once I heard a few sounds, I began to run until a figure popped in front of me and yelled! “BOO!” I ran off immediately and was in shock for the entire night. I eventually found out it was my science teacher that scared me to death that night.
To me OSS isn't like any other place. Its not like an amusement park that you can visit anytime. I've only gone to OSS once and will probably only go there once, but even then its still one of my favorite places because its so unique.
To Elizabeth Yu: Thanks for helping me remember the things I done over the course of that one week.
Hi Simon! I remember going to OSS in 7th grade and I absolutely loved it. The fact that you've mentioned it made me realize how much I miss it. Awesome post!
Reading your post takes me back to that special moment that I'll never forget either. I remember that dark hike too! It's cool that OSS had such an impact on you, as it did me.
They gleamed like diamonds amongst pebbles. They were perfect. With two and a half feet of black, glossy, sleek leather and a stiletto heel that demanded everyone’s attention, these were the boots that Megan had been dreaming about. Her hands carefully caressed the smooth surface, running her fingers along the carefully sculpted body, she envisioned herself wearing these breathtaking shoes with the boy of her dreams, probably a young, rich, self-made business owner, while everyone looked on with awe and jealousy. This wonderful vision was soon interrupted as Megan felt the magical shoes plucked from her arms.
“These are beautiful,” gushed Andrea, Megan’s older, fashionable sister.
“Yes, why yes they are.”
A thick cloud of tension quickly formed. They both attempted to completely ignore it, and carried on as if everything was normal.
“Honestly, these thigh-high boots for this price. Where can you find that? Should I get these Megs? I should totally get them.”
Megan was boiling. She had seen them first! This was the unspoken rule of shopping! However, she couldn’t stop thinking it was more than that. Andrea didn’t think twice about her getting them, because she was older, bolder, more confident, and more impactful on the world. Megan could already hear her ask the question she so often used to dominate the situation,” But where would YOU even wear them to?” Yes, it was true, it wasn’t like Megan was going to attend some upscale trendy club, art exhibit, or fancy party any time soon. These boots were a statement, and couldn’t be wasted on a silly girl’s night out or even some date with a high school boy that she would flirt with occasionally. They would simply demolish him.
She sighed, knowing deep down in her heart that her sister was right. It just wasn’t fair though! What if this was her time to shine? How would anyone take her seriously if she didn’t demand her presence and be confident in what she wanted? She had seen them first and so they were hers.
“So should I get them Megs? I’ve been looking for something like this for a long time, and I think they would be perfect for Olivia’s dinner party tonight.”
Megan stared at her sister’s eyes, earnest and hopeful. She wasn’t doing this on purpose. Her sister didn’t mean to be so dominant and confident. She just was that way. And that was what Megan liked best about her sister, who, although could be overpowering sometimes, was a genuinely good person who loved her family more than anything else. This was silly. There would be other shoes, and her sister would probably end up using them more than she would. Saving a big fight, Megan smiled and said,” You should get them. They’re made for you.”
To Erika Eng: Thanks for telling me to go into detail and elaborate. I tried to give this piece more voice and more character, so you could really get a better understanding of me and actually hear my voice when you read it.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: County Park
As another weekday afternoon winds to an end, us cross country runners can be found sitting on the grass in the Arcadia County Park, tugging blades of it out of the ground then pulling them apart, solemnly listening to Coach O’Brien’s daily speech.
I think there are two kinds of people out there; people that run cross country, and people that don’t ever go into the park. More often than not, the park will serve as the course for at least a portion of our workouts throughout the week. This is rightfully so, as it has all the aspects of a great running area. It’s amazing how much you can form an attachment with a place in half a year. From repeats to long runs to meets, we’ve had and run them there in that park. It holds some of the best memories I’ve got with my teammates from XC, the laughs, the pains, and the problems sorted out during my runs there.
I won’t say that the park has a magical barrier where once I step over the line all my worries are washed away immediately. No, it’s been more of a place of escape for me. As I spend more time there in my day, anything weighing on my mind just gradually melts away for the moment. When I was a “troubled” middle schooler (or so I thought), I would take walks there, or just skate on the concrete in the park. As a senior in high school, runs for XC postpone the stress just for the moment, long enough for me to enjoy it at least. The fresh air and overall atmosphere of the park contributes to a sense of tranquility.
I live in essentially the center of Arcadia, which means I live right next to the park. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I’ve gotten as attached to it as I have this year, my senior year, when I started running cross country. Having to come to the park in the early morning, the hot afternoon, and the freezing night I think means that I have gotten associated with this place quite well now. I’ve had intense races, crazy workouts, hilarious chats, and hideous thoughts here.
Everybody seems to just be in a better, more relaxed mood when they’re at Arcadia County Park. After all, isn’t the purpose of a park to provide relaxation or areas of exercise to a city’s citizens? Hell, even Frank Felasco (one of the town drunks) looks relaxed as ever and in a good mood when I say hey to him at the park. I don’t think it would be far-fetched to say that the park keeps me true to myself. It reminds me to enjoy the little things in life, such as the green trees, soft grass, and smell of fresh air, all accompanied by a sunset. My peers may or may not know that I’m a guy with extremely simple tastes. I enjoy a nice setting, with good atmosphere, and good company. The many meets, races, and walks I’ve had at the park fit my bill just perfectly. That’s right, as referenced to in my previous blog post, this too is another home of mine- I’ve enjoyed many a sunset sitting with my teammates in that grassy park. From the “Home Course”, to the “figure eight”, to the “Apache Invite course”, this park has given me and my teammates countless reasons to fight for home and pride at meets and races held here.
Thanks Julie, for helping me to organize this whole load of info. It was really garbled prior, wasn't it?
Hey Kevin. Its awesome that you found a place where you can relax the stress of the day away by doing something that brings you joy. Everyone's happy place is different and its great that you found yours.
Arcadia County Park is really a nice place to hang out and to take a walk. It is really nice that you can enjoy racing at your favorite place. Thank you for sharing.
I was a girl who tried everything to become a totally different person. When I first read the story at eighth grade, it didn’t really appeal to me. But when it showed up again during my sophomore year, I realized how much I have changed just like this girl, Amy, in “Fish Cheeks.”
I have never been embarrassed by my family like Amy did, but deep inside my heart, I have always wanted to know how it feels to have pale skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes. My family will take me to Disneyland on my birthday and we spend every summer at my grandparents’ house by the beach, all these images of lifestyle that I pieced together from years of film illusion.
What I have is never good enough.
I didn’t get my first taste of American life in California, it was at Big Apple. If you would like to ask me, the Big Apple has the most complicated taste I have ever tasted. Somebody once told me that “In New York city, paradise and hell are just inches away.”
I couldn’t agree more.
When I lived in New York City, I had to take 70 minutes of train to get to my school in lower Manhattan. Frankly, this 70 minutes ride was the most interesting part of my day. Why? I lived in a “New Chinatown” in the city called Flushing, but my school was at lower west side of Manhattan. I took “7 train” every single day to go from Queens to Time Square, and the orange line from midtown Manhattan to lower Manhattan. I can tell where I was even if the windows are all blocked and the announcer doesn’t work. How? By observing who got off the train. The 70 minute train ride is like a filtration process. The white men and women with suits got filtered out first. After we passed Queensboro Plaza, the Mexican fellows started getting filtered out. In the end, all there left were people like me, Asians.
I felt embarrassed on the train when there were old Asian women or men who talked so loudly like there was nobody around. I tried not to sit with them because I did not want others to think we are related. I did not like to go out except for going to school, because the streets were dirty and the people were rude. I prayed that one day I could get out of there and live in Manhattan where all the white people are.
Manhattan was my paradise, and Flushing was my hell.
Now that I look back, the things I remembered about Flushing were the stands with delicious and cheap foods. The convenient stores where I can get anything I need. Restaurants that open until midnight so I can get food after it’s dark. There was no other place that is as convenient and familiar to me like Flushing. I do not think I would be able to survive in a White community during the first year after I moved to U.S.
Now that I thought of what Mama Tan said, “you must be proud you are different, your only shame is to have shame.” I understand what she was trying to tell Amy. I will never be able to change who I am, so all I have to do is to be the best that I can be. When I am able to do that, I will have no shame in me no matter how other people are.
Thank you emily wu for suggested me to use single sentence to separate the paragraphs. I think it was a good idea! And clarify the details of the story where I did not explain very well. Thanks!
First of all no problem! Then I really like your descriptions for New York. I also like the idea of the taste of a big apple. I can imagine the way you live. I also like the idea of the taste of a big apple.
Hi Wei Shuo! I love the story Fish Cheeks as well and I also lived in New York. Reading this made me nostalgic. It made me think of all the memories I had when I lived in new york. Anyways great post! keep it up!
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Under the Oak Tree
In Dana Middle School, there used to be a lunch area strictly for eighth graders. The tables were situated under the great oak tree at our school. Its branches stretched out in all directions as if it were flexing its leaf-ridden muscles. Underclassmen wouldn’t dare come near the tree. It felt good sitting there upon my throne of power.
I rule this school…
It wasn’t just about the authority. We ate lunch, played cards, made jokes, gossiped, and bonded under the tree. From start to end of lunch, it was home for me and my friends. When it rained, the branches and leaves kept us from getting too wet. When it was hot, the looming shadow of the tree protected us from the sweltering sun.
I think the best time to eat under the tree was when it was in the fall when it was windy. The various leaves fell slowly onto the surrounding tables and onto the ground beneath us. It was beautiful. Shades of orange, yellow, brown and the occasional green would color the floor as we sat and chatted.
Sometimes I just sit back and start thinking about the old times. If I were to start over, it would be here, the pinnacle of middle school. Everyone else has probably moved on to better things in the 3 years that we’ve been in Arcadia High, but I can’t help but want to go back to the way things were. Soon, we’ll all be headed in all sorts of directions, but that one place where we started won’t leave our memories.
I hear the oak tree was removed a couple years ago. I just hope that we don’t forget our humble beginnings.
I read your post and I really enjoyed it, because I can relate to you and your special spot under the Oak Tree.
I came from Foothills, and there was also a place that was specifically made for eighth graders, and at that place my friends and I also bonded together. To me, it was a special place, and I thought the bonds I made with my friends there would last. But, high school rolled around and now I find myself passing by those friends as if they're strangers to me.
I haven't forgotten them, and the beginnings that bonded us together, and still to today I treasure the bonds I have made in the lunch area at Foothills.
Thanks for sharing your post, it was a great read.
Hey Jesse, your post was very descriptive and enjoyable to read. Memories that I have from middle school immediately started to flutter my mind. I too, find myself wanting to go back to the way things were because things were so much simpler back then. Overall great post!
Thanks for sharing your story. I still miss the table where I always eat lunch with my friends in middle school.
Even though this was one of the shorter posts I saw while scrolling , it said what it had to do in the short amount of sentences which I think is in a triumph in itself. This is a good post cause everyone at school has their sport and their zone.Good job!
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Memories of Insects
My favorite place was a park next to an apartment I use to live. It is place, a place I built memories with my family. In fact, it is the only place I can remember of my hometown, Korea. This park holds the memories of the 6 year old me discovering new insects living in the park; which is ironic because I now hate insects. This is the place where I developed the fear spiders, learned to catch dragonflies, collected rare praying mantis, listened to the chirps of cicadas. Growing up I always wanted to do the things that my brother did, and catching insects was one of them. My brother would always come home with a “rare” dragonfly, or praying mantis, or some insects I’ve never seen before.
This park has two giant trees surrounded by many little ones, and you have to be small enough to walk through them. I remember the park with the trees with bright yellow and red leaves. In the summer all you can hear are the chirps of cicadas, and thousands of sparrows singing. In the winter, and I made my first snowman with the help of my brother (I still have the picture). It is a location I ran after my brother with a spider on my left leg crying my eyes out, begging him to take it off me. It is where I caught praying mantises and watched them fight each other.
It is a location that holds my very first accomplishment, catching a dragonfly all by myself. It was the day I saw joy in both of my parents’ eyes for one last time. This is my favorite place that I still wish it’s still there, and one hope to visit
Steven: Thanks for telling me to describe the location in detail, without the details I would gave my readers the correct picture.
Thanks for sharing your memory. I missed the time when I was young playing in the park with my parents too.
Thanks for sharing the insects you liked! I would like to go to Korea just to look at these interesting insects!
great job on your post!
"Light Something: The First Rule About Fight Club is..."
When I first heard someone utter in awe the phrase “Fight Club” I was five and it was from my father. My brother repeated it five seconds later in the same voice. It was on television and I guess we watched it but I didn’t remember any details. That phrase came up rarely but in the exact same voice of awe every time. Typically it would be from men or boys. In response to any inquiry, all fans I encountered would reference Tyler Durden’s famous line “You don’t talk about fight club” when description threatened to go beyond “It’s an awesome movie” or “it’s about this guy that makes fight clubs”. Nobody would really ever divulge on any other details even though each person seemed very affected by this movie. Sometimes their eyes would glaze over, their breathing would steady, their mouths would hang slightly agape. I supposed it was something I had to watch to experience fully for myself but first, I decided to read the book by Chuck Palaphiuk before watching the movie (yes, there is a book). I wanted to better and fully understand the mystifying phenomenon that is “Fight Club”.
In “Fight Club”, the dissatisfaction with a capitalist society drives working men to find peace in violence and solace in chaos. Unable to find fulfillment in fitting into a corporate work system to chase material things, they meet an innovative Tyler Durden who helps them fully realize the short comings of a capitalist society. He creates a therapeutic outlet for angst in the formation of underground clubs where men beat the heck out of each other. But the clubs are more than outlets of aggression- they are a part of Tyler’s whole philosophy- that fulfillment, self-realization, and spirituality come from the destruction of everything else that controls us. He believes in demolishing civilization and hopes for complete societal chaos in order for true zen to be acheived. Eventually this paradoxical idea fuels the transformation of these clubs into a terrorist group. The aim of this group is to “destroy what is beautiful”. Activities include blowing up museums, and the lines “wipe my  on the Mona Lisa” pops up a couple times. Tyler also describes his utopia as he fantasizes of hunting for his next meal amongst the litter and rubble of what used to be Manhattan.
Though this book might sound profound, I couldn’t see how anyone could not realize how terrible and haunting some of these ideas were. I had talked with someone about the pretty true-to-the-book movie, and he replied that he found a scene in which a good looking man whose face is beaten to a bloody pulp was inspiring because, he quoted theatrically, “It was destroying something beautiful”. He explained that it was the perfect description of exactly why it was so satisfying and profound. “Destroying something beautiful” was freeing to him. Tyler Durden’s idea of improvement is the demolition of all innovations made by man- whose idea of a step forward toward a better society is destroying a museum and “wiping his  on the Mona Lisa”. Tyler Durden, aside from being anti-consumerist, anti-capitalist, and anti-civillization, is anti-culture, anti-art, anti-moral, anti-innovation. I understood the desire to be free from money, to be free from a corporate system, to be free from material things which prevent true fulfillment and zen but I do not believe that art, ethics, and innovation strangle our spirits. Rather, they prove it, and they encourage the growth of the spirit. The creation of something beautiful is not oppressive to our true selves- it liberates us and allows us to move forward as a civilization into something that is more intelligent than the primitive beings we once were who simply lived to survive, whose value on anything was placed only on what was necessary. That primitive state, however, was what Tyler was desired to achieve and what all his ideas were based on. He wanted society to revert, not improve. His message was to destroy not only the frivolities of man but the beauty of man as well.
I did not understand how anyone could really agree with the message of “Fight Club”. I heard people praising Tyler Durden whenever they mentioned the movie. They “wanted to be him”. They thought he was so “bad”. I was confused and appalled. But I realized that most of the people I talked to had only seen the movie, a more diluted version of the book that had enough vagueness for the full realization of it’s message to escape people. Atleast that is what I thought… Upon further research, I learned of terrorsit attacks inspired by the book and carried out by avid fans. I learned that the book had a huge following. Then, I thought, maybe it was just that people hadn’t really analyzed what Tyler’s message was. And an even more fearful thought popped up- maybe people knew exactly what Tyler’s message was and agreed completely. Perhaps the desire to revert to the most minimal state of survival satisfied something innate in man that had primitive urges- afterall, is that not the whole nature of animals? “Fight Club” made me realize that man has proved his improvement from animal to something spiritual. Man has striven to connect himself to God, and to other-worldliness through his maintenance and desire for ethics. He has proven he is something more than simply animal and primitive through his art- his ability to surpass only living to survive is proven through something beautiful, and something unnecessary. Yes, man has also connected himself to money and materialistic things, but it can’t be ignored the progress made toward a more spiritual self. “Fight Club” made me realize that although I have critiques about the systems present in a capitalist society and it’s marketed idea of happiness, I can’t ignore the achievement that man has made through art whether it be through art in thoughts or art in music- all of it. But even more, understanding the phenomenon of “Fight Club” has made me realize the existence of the remnants of a primitive being. It’s a part of us that is the opposite of our spirit, equivalent to the nature of animals. May we always be in a struggle to satisfy our spirits rather than our primitive desires. May we always seek to maintain beauty painstakingly rather than relish in the primitive ecstasy of destruction. May we always seek for improvement and stability rather than the freedom of animals. May we always improve.
To Alex, thanks for telling me that you didn't know anything about fight club and that you were confused after reading my first draft. It made me explain the themes of the book more specifically and explain the character of Tyler more. I had thought that everyone had seen the movie!
I loved the movie fight club so i was naturally curious about ur blog post when i read the title. Great title by the way, sure caught my attention! I love how you go so in depth with the theme. Keep up the great work Catherine
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Cherry Valley
As I strolled down the wide dirt path, I was startled by the first of many loud explosions that emanated from .22 rifles. I then passed by the archery range where I watched my friends shoot bow and arrows. The road curved into two separate paths: I chose to go right, passing by the cafeteria and trekking up a steep hill to reach the trading post. It was here that I always bought a few packs of sour skittles in addition to supplies required to complete my merit badge classes. As I continued on my way, I passed though the main rally grounds where the flag ceremony and announcements were held every morning and evening. My favorite area of camp was where the road ended and where the water met the shore. I could feel the wind gently blow into my face, as the familiar view of the shoreline came into view.
There was a newly built lighthouse that overlooked the shore and to the left of it, a retired silver mining cave. To the right and up another hill, was the place where we had campfires. I still remember sitting on the steps after a night of entertaining skits, singing “On My Honor.” It was such a surreal moment. I looked down at cove, watching the ebb and flow of the water and the boats rock back and forth. Occasionally, the ocean breeze would pass, but the heat from the campfire kept me warm. It was serene. Everything felt right.
I went to Camp Cherry Valley, a week long summer Boy Scout camp. I will always remember this place because it is where I made some of the best memories. Camp Cherry Valley was perfect for me- for anyone who loved to explore and adventure. It had a cove, so the waters were calm enough for snorkeling and small boat sailing. We were also able to kayak and canoe. There were six different trails we could take for day hikes ranging from 5 miles to 21 miles. This camp had everything.
After four well spent weeks, I will never be able to go back.
Megan: thanks for your positive feedback on what I originally wrote. I felt like what I had before didn't have enough detail, so I decided to write about something else.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Where Music and History Were Made
Arcadia High School. Home of nearly 4,000 students, spanning over 40-acres in this small yet vibrant city, and with over 60 years of rich history. Tens of thousands have graced the halls of this one school, and while much has changed in over six decades, one room has stood the test of time and remains untouched.
This room is where my high school journey began. This room is where records and milestones were broken. This room was where history was made. This room was MB1.
Situated in the northwest corner of campus, MB1 often goes completely unnoticed by the thousands of students that walk by each day. The building is relatively isolated and has a rather unwelcoming feel to it. Engulfed in white stucco, the only way in and out are through three, enormous red doors on the sides. There are no windows. There are no decorations. It’s easy to see how it could appear just like any other structure on campus.
I remember the first time I set my eyes on the building was as a 13-year-old fresh out of middle school. I stopped by after a music rehearsal in the North Gym to catch a glimpse of a room that held over 50 years of the school’s greatest moments and achievements. From the outside, the room commanded respect and power. This one room, I knew, was where a tradition of excellence was established years before my parents were born. I didn’t get a chance to explore the interior, but my heart was racing for the chance I’d get to one day set foot inside.
June 2009. I had just graduated from First Avenue Middle School, and I was now ready to embark on my first journey of new marcher’s camp. Incoming freshman, including myself, from all three middle schools gathered on the lush, grassy lawn to the north of MB1, awaiting further instruction as we prepared for our first day. As the clock hit 6:00, we were greeted by the drum major of the marching band. Baton and whistle in hand, he ushered us inside the room to be met by the directors and our future section leaders.
The image I saw next left me speechless and has remained in my mind since.
MB1 was, to say the least, epic. The room had evidently just been cleaned, but the hollowness of the interior greatly amplified its enormity to all those who were seeing it for the very first time. Layered on shelves that spanned the entire width of the room were hundreds and hundreds of trophies and plaques, all collected in the past 50 years. Red, sound-muffling mats stuck out from the smooth white wall and gave the room its only touch of color.
But what struck me most were not the many features of this spectacle. I was not only greeted by a structure of epic history and traditions, but by a circle of individuals who I would soon recognized to be my leaders, my role models. They, I realized, were what made this room as powerful as it was. They were the ones who created the history along with all those before them.
For the next six months, that room became my home. We spent hours every week in the summer and fall rehearsing music, both in sections and ensembles, in this one very room. Soon, the coarse, maroon carpet became every individual’s favorite resting spot, and the smell of brassy instruments and sweat became all but too familiar. Once a week, we would cram over 400 kids, almost suffocating each individual as we tried to rehearse as one collective ensemble. Conditions were definitely far from ideal, but it did not matter to any of us. We knew what we had to do. For that, the room was perfect.
A lot has changed since I first set foot in MB1 three years ago. Now, there are no grassy lawns are giant trees to the north of the building. The concrete benches that used to surround various plants outside have now been replaced by a tiled walkway for students. In a few years to come, this room will be refurbished as the rest of the school is slowly remodeled.
Even after so much has changed, I always greet MB1 with the same air of respect and pride as I did for all my other three years of high school. It is a place where I have made friends, where I have shared tears of joy with my peers, and where I have created memories. As musicians, MB1 was our haven to create works of art. We moved all those who walked by us to hear us play. But for those that did the playing, nothing could match the feeling of the last chord reverberating off the wall after that final release.
I know that this room’s history will live on forever in the halls of Arcadia High. In the hearts of all that have seen it both inside and out, MB1 will never be forgotten.
I'd like to thank Daniel Ting for encouraging me to elaborate on my ideas and for providing more detailed accounts of my experiences.
I loved all the detail and vivid imagery you gave in this post, and I thought it was very well written. I felt like it suited the prompt perfectly, as it was indeed a home away from home you visited daily; because of it, you met people that changed your life. Great job!
It's good to see people around here who share the same interest as me in band. I was also stunned on the first day of New Marchers camp when I went in the band room. The intensity and aura in that room at that time was just unbelievable, in a good way of course. Keep up the good work!
I liked the flow of your piece. It smoothly progressed form point to point and never skipped a beat. It was one of the more enjoyable pieces that i read.
Hey Allen, I really liked your relation to band. I never knew it meant that much to you. I personally felt the exact same way about the band room in arroyo. Yet, i somehow envy your affection to ours. Great post.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: the Dusty yet Memorable Printing House
When I was little, the most interesting I did at grandmother’s printing house was to watch the Youqing cutting the giant sheet of papers into proper A4 papers. I would always sit on a small chair and stare at the Youqing. Holding the stack of giant paper, lifting it with the help of knee, tossing all of the papers on the cutting machine, adjusting the positions with valve, leveling up the blades, and pulling the final mechanism were like the best Kongfu fight in an action movie. A stack of paper usually took up three same processes to reduce to A4 papers. While the Youqing cut the papers, I always asked him to let me do the final pull which the blade cut the paper right in half. Youqing rejected me most of time due to the potential danger the machine might cause, but every time he rejected me, I always thought of trying cutting things myself.
Sometimes when Youqing cut papers, he had to cut them into special dimensions that always left extra slips of papers which he threw in the back on the machine. Therefore, my cousin and I named it the graveyard of the abandoned, which later I found it familiar to Valley of Ashes in the Great Gatsby. Here and there, we would find some thin yet long slips and ask grandma to fold them into stars. It was actually very scary to search for papers in the “graveyard” for the spiders sometimes hid on the other side of papers.
Every month, people who bought wasted papers came and clean the back corner of the machine. Right after the person cleaned it, cousin and I would move our chairs to the back of the machine and watch Youqing cutting papers from the back of the machine and get papers thrown on top of us.
About five years ago, grandma bought a new cutting machine and replaced the old one. The new machine operated much faster and much cleaner leaving nothing interesting to watch anymore. I miss the old machine, the machine that carries my childhood memory.
To Joseph Cheng:
Thank you for spotting some little grammar errors and suggesting for word choices. Also thank you for talking to me about the old memories of childhood.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: The Secluded Paradise.
Looking from the top, I have a panoramic view of life in the San Gabriel valley. I gaze down at the 210 freeway with the winter breeze nipping at my bare shoulders. I can see everything from the Santa Fe dam to the Palos Verdes peninsula far off on the horizon. I stand atop a small hill, past the north ending of Las Lomas Blvd., which is caged off by a dilapidated fence. This place was my island. The hill was a window, allowing me to look out upon the scenery below while being concealed from view.
In the 8th grade, I was a very isolated person. I had friends, but I wasn't the social butterfly that flocked to parties and hangouts. I would march up to the hill because it reminded me, oddly enough, of myself. It was an entity that stood in the same place every day and it never changed. It went through the motions not expecting anyone to notice it. But it stood in its place uniquely. It was a monumental figure that provided me with the same backdrop of our everyday lives. It provided for me a consistency. It was a place of relief. The hill was a place that I could depend on when I needed to be by myself.
It let me be myself in my own way.
I weathered through the motions of daily life not expecting anyone to notice me. I was, however, always there for those who needed me. This hill -like me- was a shoulder to lean on. It was a harmonious place that allowed me retreat to my own thoughts. It was an open space where I could be or speak anything I desired without question.
I would stand atop this place when time permitted me to, savoring every moment that I could enjoy sitting atop this secluded paradise.
Nonetheless, as I grew older the hill would grow farther apart from me. I moved away less than two years after I had discovered this place. The dilapidated fence was replaced by a new one I could not even think to climb over. The freedom of being alone was replaced by several new high-tech security cameras. The hill had grown away from me. It wanted me to move on and explore new places. I found these “places” in the form of friends, who were even stronger, more compassionate shoulders that I could lean on.
They became the true paradise that I was looking for all along.
Light Something: Stay on Your Feet
As kids, there’s nothing more influential than a good book. Every kid has their favorite and their reason why. Even before spending most of my weeks editing, filming, and commentating at sports for Apache News, I had an interest in sports novels. The persistence and discipline of athletes always inspired me in ways heroic knights battling dragons couldn't.
On the first Friday of every month, my mom and I used to head to the Arcadia Public Library and check out three books that I would read that month. I was an avid reader at that age. After skimming through the sports novel section, I somehow stumbled onto a book with a cover of two feet in motion to look as if they were running. I thought, “Great! I haven’t read a story about a runner yet!” This story was called Maniac Magee.
Maniac Magee follows the life of Jeffrey Lionel Magee, an orphaned boy, seeking a home. At an early age, his parents were killed by a drunk driver while riding in a trolley. He was then sent off to his Aunt and Uncle, whose relationship was so strained, they never talked to each other. One day Maniac Magee was so fed up with this type of life, he just ran away from it all. A trek of two hundred miles and a year later, he arrives at Two Mills, a segregated town, where the whites lived in the west end the blacks lived in the east. This separation wasn't complete without a border and anyone who dared step past it, was surely looking for trouble. In this town, he meets a lot of new friends and family on both borders, but never really settles down. When he finally found his first home after leaving his broken one, his new black family was bullied for housing a white child. After that, he found a nice groundskeeper who took him in. He then died of old age. The story ends with him living in a bull pen trying to be persuaded to live in a home.
Besides having the same name as the protagonist, I connected with the book and Maniac Magee on many levels. For what I believed to be a children’s book at the time, it explored very mature themes. Death, being orphaned, racism, religion and even the caste system that is so pervasive in society. The whole book was one big social commentary and at the time, I understood nothing about racism. It was an unheard concept to me, but the insight I gained from reading this however was nothing short of enlightening.
What I took away from this book besides an eye-opening acknowledgement of racism, was a sense of perseverance. This kid, through all odds, survived and even thrived. He brought a sense of fresh ideals and dreams into a broken community. He crossed borders he wasn't allowed to cross and taught an old grounds keeper how to read before his eventual death. You couldn't help but not only feel, but root for the guy also. You wanted him to pull through. You wanted to see how someone in such a negative situation could bring positive to everyone else.
This type of mentality inspired me to strive for the people I cared about and to bring positivity not only to my life, but to others too. Jeffrey Lionel Magee’s humanity and selfness became the basis of my moral integrity.
This was the first book to bring out these types of emotions in me. Being the virgin explorer of these emotional territories, this book secured a special place in my heart. It’ll forever decorate any present and future bookshelves of mine.
When I was a freshman in high school, it was also my first year to America, I wanted to improve my English, and my friends told me that I should do more reading to improve it. They recommended a book to me It was called Shanghai Girls written by Lisa See. The thing I need to mention is I am a Shanghai girl too, Shanghai is my first hometown, and it’s a place I stayed for 15 years. I love Shanghai of course, so obviously this book attracted me a lot and only by its title.
I started to read it, although there were some difficult parts to understand but I still love it under the dictionary help. It was a story about back in 1900s, the war between China and Japan started, the innocent people got involved, there were two pretty sisters called May and Pearl. Even with those hard conditions, they were still strong enough and fight for their life. After read this, I was really thinking a lot, because they were living a same Shanghai with me, same but so different. I really felt I am living a good place, I should feel happiness, and not just always complain my life. Shanghai Girl taught me I should treasure the life I have now and I love it so much.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Where I belong to?
Prosperous city would be my favorite place, and that’s what my hometown is like. When the holidays came, people would love to hang out with their family or who they care about, and every street filled with people, brushing against each other. Everyone was like a big family. They treated each other like families; even when they just met and had no idea who they are and what they do for living. I spent my childhood with these fun loving and friendly people in my hometown the prosperous city.
Do I belong to this prosperous city?
When my family moved to America, I lived in this new place and began another life style that was totally different from what I had before. Should I change? I feel quiet and ordinary here. A lonely street lamp stands at night on the quiet street as waiting someone to see it. People are leaving work and are going back home in the evening, grab a drink and sit wherever they feel comfortable and enjoy their TV show. Each one of them has their warm family, leaving the city with silence and peace. Do I want to keep living an ordinary and quite life like what everyone else did? The silent city and the busy street, which one do I belong to? I think both of them fit me well as long as I’m safe and happy.
When I was in Elementary School back in Taiwan I remember this one park that me and my friends go very often. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t big but it was the only park around my house. We used to play baseball, basketball, fly kites and ride bikes; it has a lot of memories.
Every morning when I have to get to the bus station I will always pass through park. Lots of old people were exercising and parents who didn’t have time for their children during the afternoon would hang out with them in the morning at the park. When holidays comes along, adult would gather around and BBQ, get to know each other, and for us kids was to play hide and seek at night where we can barely see each other and made it more challenging. I loved it, it was the only time where everyone can stop what they were doing either at work or school and relax while having fun.
The park wasn’t big, it wasn’t pretty but it was all that we had and all that we need.
Blurry Figures and Muffled Voices: Dark World with New Species
We spend time in the theater to look for a relaxation of our souls. I like to go to the theater by myself because there will be no pressure and worry to care about other people.
I enjoyed sitting on the lowest row, raising my head, and laughing in the dark room as loud as I could. It is the most relax time in my life.
Sitting in a dark room with all kinds of people, I feel like I'm in another world. The world that everyone shares the same interest.
Every movie teaches me some life experiences when I watch it.
Theater gives us all kinds of stories.
The Mirror; Half as Dark, Twice as Bright
Well he always said he wouldn’t go down without a fight…
He was a young man who believed in retribution. Always learning from his mistakes, and looking into the sun with vigor. He always had a certain aura about him. That kind that just attracted good people, they found him interesting. Maybe it was his always smiling face that rarely frowned. Maybe it was that never give up attitude of his, he really didn’t care much about odds. You could see he wanted to come out stronger after each ordeal. He thrived on becoming stronger and bursting limits. He always believed humanity was filled with more good than bad. That was his inspiration, knowing he could achieve more and wanted to improve the world along with himself.
He had this uncanny habit of just walking up to help people when he had the chance. It was his special way of trying to lighten up someone’s day. He just liked to connect to others, and encouraged those around him to do the same. He would always have “Brave New World” in his iPod and would jam out during his ride to track meets. The funny thing is he liked the rhythm of the song so much that he looked up the translation (The song was in Japanese). He loved the meaning of the song even more.
Underestimating him was the worst thing you could do.
He was becoming a man… He stood up for what he believed in. The ones who gave him another chance were rewarded. I never gave up on him; he just came back two times harder. He forged his own path; he cringed at the thought of “pre-determined fate”. He almost looked like he would topple any god who viewed him as a pawn.
Falls as a pawn comes back as a knight.
It’s funny, the moment anyone doubted him he always say “Have faith in me…I won’t let you down”. Letting people down wasn’t something he was fine with doing. It was that strong sense of justice that’s always guided him. He always listened to his heart, his code. I wish I can be true to myself; I don’t want to leave as another person.
We miss you, and admire you Marcelo. Your legacy will live on through us and the others you have influenced. Well help you create a brave new world.
I'd like to thank Keith M for helping me with creative language to help convey my Epitaph
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