Science Leadership Academy Learn · Create · Lead

Blog Feed

Sergei Mass- The Things They Carried- Q2 BM

Analytical Essay:


“Those who have had any such experience as the author will see its truthfulness at once, and to all other readers it is commended as a statements of actual things by one who experienced them to the fullest.” - John Ransom’s Andersonville Diary. With the world constantly changing, people tend to get lost, distressed, and totally confused about the curveballs and hard times in life. It could be economic struggles, emotional differences within a relationship, or in this case war. Like Tim O’Brien, the therapeutic way of dealing with the changing world is imagining things and painting a new story like how Tim did by writing The Things They Carried.


The Vietnam war was known to be the most devastating in US history due to the uncivilized and jurassic tactics that the Vietnamese used against us. Such as using children to fight for them and women. The soldiers had different forms of comfort to help them through the hard times. Some might have been imagining loved ones were there like James Cross in ‘The Things They Carried’, “Lieutenant Cross gazed at the tunnel. But she was not there. He was buried with Martha under the white sand at the Jersey shore. They were pressed together, and the pebble in his mouth was her tongue.” (pg 18 Ebook). Jimmy Cross had a long going love for this girl of his back at home. At night to escape from the living hell of the Vietnam War, he would imagine the times that him and his girl had back at home. It was almost like a therapeutic act to do it at night. It would remind him all of the good times he had and let him know that something was waiting for him at home. Martha sent him a pebble from the Jersey shore to remember her by and he had that with him at all time. He would put the stone in his mouth to synthesize Martha’s tongue. As odd as it may sound, it worked for him.


Some of the soldiers took with them sentimental items with them. Some would use it as a device of comfort. With the treturous missions came big risks, that they would not make it home alive; to be shipped back stateside in a wooden box. With the flag draped across the top. Even the biggest of warriors had their charms and sentimental pieces. “ The pantyhose, he said, had the properties of a good-luck charm. He liked putting his nose into the nylon and breathing in the scent of his girlfriend's body; he liked the memories this inspired; he sometimes slept with the stockings up against his face, the way an infant sleeps with a flannel blanket, secure and peaceful.” (pg 82 Ebook). The little things are what kept some of the soldiers sane. The stocking in this case was used as a device to cope and remember about the good times spent with the soldiers girl friend. The one that he left at home to help fight for their freedom and to help support the countries endeavors. The simplest things like the pantyhose and the stone reminded the soldiers what they were fighting for and that they had someone or something.


One can ask veterans of the Vietnam War and the majority of them would describe it as hell. Tim O’Brien the author of The Things They Carried wrote a lot about his war experiences. In one interview with a news company he said "Imagination is important in a couple of ways. One way is as a psychological means of escape. If one can lose themselves in a fantasy, then they would be no longer trapped in the horror of, say, Vietnam." Escaping while being in the Vietnam war was a huge thing. Some resulted in drug and alcohol abuse the numb the pain and horrors encountered while being there. While others used this as a time to imagine their loved ones and used certain sentimental objects to help the imagination some to life.


With the world constantly changing, people tend to get lost, distressed, and totally confused with all of the curveballs and hard times in life. It could be economic struggles, relationships with others, or in this case war. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien holds great proof that imagination is a great use for a type of therapeutic healing.






Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. New York: Broadway, 1998. Print.


Sawyer, Scott. "In the Name of Love: An Interview With Tim O'Brien." Mars Hill Review. LeaderU.com (Links to an external site.). Winter/Spring 1996. Web. October 20 2009.


















Narrative Essay:


Growing up as an only child is the definition of the struggle. Having no one to ever play with was the worst thing I could think of. When friends were not over, being bored was a huge problem. Boredom would result in me either getting hurt or doing something that I should not do. Imagination started to play a huge role in my childhood days.


About when I turned 4 I would believe that my cat named Bobby would drive me to Pre-School in my fathers Corvette. It had to be one of the most outrageous things, but it was definitely kept me occupied. When I told kids as school this, they were instantly amazed, except for this kid Jeremy, but he didn’t last long there after he bit my arm and I hit him. Anyways, when I would get home, I would put my cat Bobby in my huge model car. Bringing him around the house as he was deathly terrified. Its crazy to think back now that for hours on end I would do this, It would really keep me amused. I would also play Madden 03’ with my cat on my PS2. I would think that he would be playing. I would plug in the controller and put it in front of him, but majority of the time, Bobby would run away.


Also as a younger child, I had a teddy bear by the name of Teddy. How original? Right, anyways I won him at Sesame Place when I was 4 years old. Now he was not just any ordinary teddy bear, he was high quality and never ripped or was torn open. About a day after my adventures of Sesame Place, I had gotten very sick from the food there. I had Teddy with me the whole time I was in bed, out of bed running to the bathroom, and then back into bed. He was the one that was there for me the whole time. When I was 7 we had a series of bad thunderstorms during the Summer and trees were falling all over our neighborhood. I would constantly cry, but when I got teddy in my arms I would calm down. It’s as if Teddy was my coping tool with certain things in my childhood.


As time went on and I grew up, my phone turned into a huge support device and just a way to kinda almost escape. Whether it be music, facebook, instagram, something sneaker or Kanye related, or talking to someone; it is a great thing. Just listening to music for countless hours on end can help a bunch when in certain situations. Then also having the ability to contact anyone you know in the matter of seconds to talk to them about something is great as well. I remember when I was about 10 when my parents were getting divorced. There was a bunch of constant fighting back and forth with my parents. I would call my grandmother to talk to because she was the easiest person to talk to. She also helped me through a bunch of things at that time like school work and advice. I had gotten some of the best advice of my life over the phone from her. My phone lead into a different way form of comfort, one that is almost constant.


3 Comments

Eamon Kelly - The Things they Carried - Q3 Benchmark

Analytical Essay:


When people talk about fate, their first instinct immediately tells them that they are in control of their own lives and not fate. In Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried,” many soldiers show their interactions with one another by opening up to each other and trying to work together as a team. The relationship between the self and the changing world is that the the world is aware of individuals and revolves around them.

O’Brien uses a certain small character, named Curt Lemon, in one of the chapters of The Things They Carried to show how the character handled one of his fears in front of his fellow soldiers. In a small chapter of the book, the soldiers are scheduled to have their teeth cleaned by the dentist. When Curt Lemon finds out about this, his attitude changes completely. He switches from being “the tough guy” to spending some time alone in silence. “No way. Count me out. Nobody messes with these teeth.” (pg. 87) Curt Lemon was always playing the “tough guy” role, always bossing people around. But Lemon also kept mostly to himself, which made most of the other soldiers feel confused. Curt Lemon was one of those kinds of people who are good at hiding their true emotions. He used authority to hide his fear of the dentist from the others. The changing world set up the situation with the dentist in order to help Lemon cope with his feelings and open up. Though he didn’t actually admit to being afraid, it was clear to the others that the dentist has caused Lemon’s “assertive” role to disappear.

When soldiers return from their service in war, they usually have many wonderful stories to tell. Some of the stories may sound small to others, but these stories will stick to soldiers for a very long time. The main character, Tim, is reflecting on the stories that get passed around by their friends, and from generation to generation. “Vietnam was full of strange stories, some improbable, some well beyond that, but the stories that will last forever are those that swirl back and forth...between trivia and bedlam...” (pg. 89) The Soldiers who return from war do not realise that war can actually help them discover new traits about themselves, since the war is part of the changing world. The stories that they tell may sound small and meaningless, but in reality, these stories mean a lot to them. War is one of those rare places and situations that causes the soldiers to not only work together as a team, but to also discover hidden traits about them.

Tim O’Brien, the author of The Things They Carried, was actually drafted into Vietnam, which was most likely where his inspiration for the book came from. He based many of his characters on his fellow soldiers who fought alongside with him. “After all, I lived with them for five years while I was writing. In Vietnam people were being rotated constantly, so men you served with you would know six or eight months. These characters are the people I know best.'' (Tim O’Brien; ‘A Storyteller For the War That Won’t End’) The changing world sets itself up to allow people to open up about themselves. Because of this, the people will never forget their true personalities. After O’Brien returned from being drafted into war, he never forgot the “characters” het met during his service. His fellow soldiers inspired O’Brien to create the characters in The Things They Carried based off of them, because their traits and true emotions always stuck with him.


Soldiers play a big part in this novel to prove to some people who may not believe that fate exists. Everyone has their own little world revolving around them and is aware of every move they make. Although fate may not seem important or alive to lots of people, it should concern anyone that wonders how they got to where they are in life, especially soldiers returning from war.



Works Cited for Analytical Essay:





Narrative Essay:


Every person likes to believe that they have the world revolving around them, but many of them do not believe in fate. Lots of people do not like the idea of not being in control of their own life, but they do however believe that everything happens for a reason. I am one of those people who prefer to keep their emotions hidden. People keep their emotions hidden by either acting like a jerk, or being the “funny guy.”

When I entered high school, I wanted to be mature and responsible. So, I hid all of my true emotions – my sadness, my anger towards others, and my love towards others. I hid my feelings by acting very funny, so that no one would believe that I have feelings besides happiness. However, looking back on it, there were still some moments in the last few years where I believed that fate exists. I believed that every situation I’ve been in with my friends was set up in order to get me to open up about my true emotions. Or, the decisions I’ve made helped me get to where I am today.

I was eleven when I became interested in filmmaking, and now I am learning more and more today. Whenever I have time, I stop what I’m doing and remember the journey to how I got here. The day I was interviewed to see if I would get accepted to Science Leadership Academy, my current high school, I presented to the teacher a short film I directed when I was thirteen. They looked very impressed with the final product.

“What was the process like? What was the most challenging part of production?“ they asked, desperate to hear my answers.

Every answer I gave them probably increased my chances of getting accepted, and I indeed did get accepted. I keep reflecting on what I said to them during my interview. I explained thoroughly what the process was like with my small film crew and the equipment we used and how we shot it. A lot of my friends presented science projects in their interviews, which were very interesting, but I think that in a school where there are usually a lot of science projects, it was one film I directed that got me in Science Leadership Academy. And now, When I look at the amazing friends I have here, I now treasure the film I made a few years ago, as it is what got me to be close friends with a lot of awesome people in high school.

The stories do not end there however, because now I’ve had moments with my friends that have caused me to think that maybe fate actually exists. It is as if there is a schedule that I don’t see, but it is there. In my sophomore year of high school, I met someone at school who had somewhat similar interests as me, thought I thought he was really annoying. In the beginning of this year, we ended up in the same video elective class. We were also in the same group to produce a short film for an assignment. I was not looking forward to working with him, but much to my surprise…I was right.

Filming took a long time when it could’ve taken much less time, and he kept bugging me about the editing process. However, now that the assignment is over, I now realize that this project actually gave me new tips on film techniques. I already knew a lot of what my partner was doing, but now I make sure to have pre-production finished before filming begins. This made me think that fate made me work with him in order to increase my filmmaking skills.

Whenever people ask me if I believe in fate, my first instinct would be to say no. Once I have a few seconds to analyze the question, I would turn to saying that it does exist. The changing world that I am characterizing is my growing friendships. They are the ones that move my story forward. My world is aware of me and creates these “scenarios” that create the path of my life. Everyone has their own world that revolves around them, and it shows clear situation examples of how fate can exist.


Be the first to comment

Angelica Owens- "The things they carried" Benchmark

Analytical Essay:


Once trust gets broken, it is hard for it to be repaired. Trusting people with too many things is where people in the society goes wrong. In the book “The things they carried”, Tim O’Brien talks about trusting people. At times, O’Brien trusted people that he originally didn’t get along with or people that he really liked. Once you learn to trust someone you will be more open to facing obstacles.


Enemies can become friends, all it takes is to think positive and learn to trust them. With Dave Jensen and Lee Strunk, this happened for their relationship. They started out as enemies but it didn’t stay like this. “They did learn to trust each other. Over the next month, they teamed up on ambushes. They covered each other on patrol, shared a fox-hole and took turns pulling guard at night (O’Brien; page 65).” At first Jensen and Strunk didn’t start off as friends but that all changed. They built a level of trust for each other that showed they could face certain obstacles together. When they were enemies without trust, they wouldn’t have done those things with each other but with trust building, they were able to take risks by doing those things for each other.


When love is a factor with someone, you trust them with a lot of things and that’s what happened with Cross and Martha. On the first page of the book, O’Brien says that “more than anything he wanted her to love him as he loved her, but the letters were mainly chatty, elusive on the matter of love.” Cross trusted Martha with things that he never did with anyone. He trusted her to love him and by trusting her to do that, he was facing obstacles. He faced the possibility of her not loving him as he wanted her to love him.


Writing things on paper can help remember the trust that was built between two people. That is what Jensen and Strunk did. On page 65, “they drew it up on paper, signing their names and asking a couple of guys to act as witnesses (O’Brien).” The trust they built was reconfirmed by writing it on paper for one another. Once they trusted each other, they wrote it down on paper so that they knew they really trusted each other. Before building trust, Jensen and Strunk wouldn’t have asked guys to act as witnesses which they took the risk of facing that obstacle.


In Tim O’Brien’s shock of being drafted, he explains how he felt and how he reacted when he heard he was drafted into the war, which wasn’t a good reaction. He stated that he pounded on the typewriter when he heard it. He also said that “It was the most terrible summer of my life, worse than being in the war. My conscience kept telling me not to go, but my whole upbringing told me I had to.”  While O’Brien was scared of being drafted, he decided to follow his mind and trust his conscience. They say follow your conscience because it will never let anyone down but in his case, he followed what he was brought up to do. That told him he had to go so he went and hoped for the best. He trusted that he would be safe. By doing that, he was open to facing more obstacles. Once he said he was going to go, there is no turning back which caused him to take risks and face every obstacle that there was so that he could get home safe.


Works Cited for Analytical Essay:


"Tim O'Brien Article #1." N.p., n.d. Web. <https%3A%2F%2Fscienceleadership.instructure.com%2Fcourses%2F862%2Fpages%2Ftim-obrien-article-number-1%3Fmodule_item_id%3D66183>.




Narrative Essay:



“Trust is like a mirror. Once it’s broken it’s never seen the same again & no matter how much you try to put it back together, the cracks will always show.” said Ms. Bickley, my 8th grade writing teacher wrote on the chalkboard

In Middle School, I had a bad tendency of trusting people and them constantly letting me down so I stopped trusting people. I realized I had to trust people because trusting is the key to everything. If someone lets you down then that’s their fault. I started the school in 6th grade but my best friends until this day Salia and Kayla started the school in 7th grade. I had a guard up and didn’t want to trust them with anything or any of my business. Eventually we had a deep conversation and I told them everything about me. All the faults I think I have and all the positive things and they disagreed. The point that I will remember most is when I came out to them about my sexuality in 8th grade, they didn’t tell a soul. They were two people that I remember when I said “keep it as a secret,” they kept it as a secret while I told other people and when I told them that they went around and told the whole grade about me. People started looking at me strange and made rumors about me at that same time but I knew then I could trust them with everything and if I told them not to tell anyone, they wouldn’t tell anyone and I can trust them.  Before this experience I had trust issues in ways but I still thought the people I called my friends would never let me down. Most of them did prove me wrong. Luckily, after this incident happened I knew who I could trust and most the people that went around school telling people were not on my list of trustworthy people. Going into Middle School as one of the only people who didn’t know anyone, I had a lot of hopes that I would be able to trust more people and it took me all of my middle school career to learn that I couldn’t trust everyone. Even when I came into High School, I still had problems with trusting the wrong people but as I started growing into my High School career, I learned once again I can’t trust everybody and how many times people let me down. Now, I am very careful in who I trust because so many people have let me down in the past and I don’t want to go through that again. Having close people in my life that I know 100 percent that I can trust has made me be more open minded of things and that if I need to talk to someone I can always count on them to be by my side. Learning how to trust people has made me more open to facing obstacles because even though numerous people have let me down, I still try to trust other people so that they can prove to me if I should trust them in the future.  


Be the first to comment

The Changing World Essay - Ilker Erkut

Changing World Essay


War is a life changing experience.  People go to war as one person and leave as another; confused and unsure.  Soldiers are taught to kill anyone that is not one of them.  They make killing a second nature.  While in a war, there are various stages that people will go through to cope with the feelings of being  home sick or scared.  In the book “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’ Brian. The men go through the many stages of denial, hoping they do not become killing monsters like the war wants them to be.  They want to come home after war unchanged.  When in a new setting, sometimes it is hard to get comfortable.  Living a life in war, there are many opportunities where there has to be something that no one wants to do.  When alone if the same situation arises, it will go differently because people do not want to become monsters from their line of work.  They are breaking protocol to do the right thing.  There is a lot of adapting to new scenarios and trying to fit in.  People tend to make up their own rules to survive and feel better about themselves.

The first thing that is taught to people who are going into war, is to kill.  It becomes muscle memory and happens constantly to the point where people are beside themselves, trying to put pieces of themselves together and not losing all normal aspects of themselves.  It becomes very hard to leave war unharmed mentally unless the soldiers use the denial to keep them sane.  “You’re right” he said  “All you can do is be nice.  Treat them decent you know?”(Page 123)   The last thing soldiers need is another dead body.  They go through so much hardship getting used to the fact that killing is okay.  The less kills, the better it is for their mental state of the mind.  It keeps them human.  The rule is that if a citizen is seen they have to be killed because they could go back to wherever they live and tell everyone that Americans are here with guns.  The man who was quoted is Henry Dobbins.  He is one of the characters in “The Things They Carried.   So Henry Dobbins sparing the two men in the church was risky but necessary.

          In some situations disobeying could have two positive reactions.  In “The Things They Carried Dave Jensen and Lee Shrunk were not very close, but they went through a series of events them allowed them to grow as partners.  They respected each other.  There agreement was that if one in a near death situation because they got shot etc, the other would kill them to put them out of the misery.  “In late August they made a pact that if one of them should ever get totally fucked up-- a wheelchair wound--the other guy would automatically find a way to end it.”(Page 66) Jenson disobeyed Strunk, but not because he was doing the right thing but because he was scared to kill his friend.  He was very lucky to find out that his friend was dead because that was Jensen's original wish.  He disobeyed him because he knew that if he survived he could still live with one leg.  But the fact that he died was still pleasing because Jenson’s wish was granted.

There are many symbols of respect in the world.  It real respect when its someone that there is no knowledge of.  When Henry Dobbins was in the church with two older men.  The rule is to kill anyone on site because they could report to others that Americans are in their territory.  Henry trusted these two men enough to risk the whole operation because of their hospitality.    The two older men gave the soldiers a place to stay for a little bit.  Out of respect he made a washing hands symbol.  “Henry Dobbins made the washing motion with his hands.”(Page 123)  Dobbins is given specific orders than any foreigners seen should be shot on sight, but he finds a spot in his heart for the people at the church for helping them even though the war is going on. It is as if he was cleansing himself for all the killings and crimes committed in Henry’s time as a soldier.  He shows them a sign of respect and spares their lives.

Many people will find it hard to read this book because of the lying and mixed memories.  Through out the book Tim tells stories.  He is constantly throwing in hints that he is not sure of the story.  But by the end it is obvious that he is lying for a great amount of it.  Whats real and whats not?  “A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth.” Throughout the book Tim O’Brien is lying about his life to the audience.  He writes stories that many people believe to be real until people realize that he is just writing stories that are made up.  It makes people feel that they cannot believe what they read.  Tim O'Brien cannot tell truth from lie.  He was doing this because he was trying to get the viewers to understand how he felt after the war.  His mind was fuzzy.  He had been through a great deal of danger and tragedy.  

There are stories about war and how many people were saved and lots of great things happen.  But when put under the scope, the way people turn out after war is more visible.  The pain, weakness, death and living standards are what makes it hard.  Death becomes second nature, a sixth cent and something to be used to.  Many soldiers feel the need to shoot themselves because they cannot handle the pressure and lifestyle.  These soldiers get dishonorably let go and become frowned upon by anyone that has met them in the war.  As great as it is to get away, it feels just as bad to be bullied because they aren’t tough enough.  The only way to stay true to yourself is to disobey and keep things as normal as possible where they can.   There is a lot of adapting to new scenarios and trying to fit in.  People tend to make up their own rules to survive and feel better about themselves.


Narrative

I remember one day, years ago in spring and I was getting ready for school.  As soon as I was finished and ready to go to the door and leave, I realized I should close all the windows just in case.  I was very skeptical about everything.  I thought about the worst.  It gave me a little sense of adventure.  I went back to the door after closing all the windows.  I was just about to leave when my dad asked “Who closed all the window?”  I told him that I did it because I did not want anything coming in while we were out.  I was a very skeptical kid growing up.  I did not want to be robbed, kidnapped etc.  I wanted to feel as safe as possible.  I always did little things like closing the windows or locking my bedroom door.  I put so much thought into everything I did because I knew one day I would be ready for anything.  He said in a very frustrated voice that he did not need me to do that and that we would be fine.  I found it interesting that he said that because he normally closes the windows himself.  I was not sure why he was mad but I apologized and left.  I went to school wondering what the big fuss was about leaving it open.  On the way home it started raining a lot.  There were things flying through the air.  It was like a mini hurricane.  Luckily for me I did not live very far so I ran to my house.  Once I stepped inside I panicked.  Every window was open.  At the time we also did not have screens because we were planning on getting new ones.  I calmed myself down and decided to close the window closest to the door.  Then I ran down to my living room.  It was like a pool.  I went to close all the windows.   I knew that all of our belongings would have been soaked.  I ended cleaning up the mess by myself for about 2 hours.  When my dad got home I did not expect an apology.  It really was not that big of a deal to him.  But I knew I did the right that and that if he just listened to me our house wouldn’t be so destroyed.  

Henry Dobbins is in a place where not following orders and or trying to leave the base is considered a wimp.  It is considered disrespectful to the service and he would probably be hated for the rest of his time there.  He was given direct orders to kill anyone seen, but the people at the church, he knew were harmless and he did not kill them because of that.  The old men that knew the Americans intentions gave them shelter and food to live.  It was very noble and risky chance to take.  But in the end it worked out.  There are many experiences where I broke the rules and cut corners for the right reasons.  No matter what people said I knew I had the right intent and that in the end it would be fine.  I felt a connection with that he did and I agreed with his decision to keep them alive.



Works Cited for Analytical Essay:


http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/2330.Tim_O_Brien


"Tim O'Brien Quotes." Tim O'Brien Quotes (Author of The Things They Carried). Good Reads, n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2015.


The Book “The Things They Carried”


O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. New York: Broadway, 1998. Print.


1 Comment

The Self vs The Changing World

Analytical Essay:


Depression and anxiety are common emotions experienced by people when their world changes in a non favorable way. People develop different habits in order to cope with what they are experiencing. Sleeping is one way to cope with it. It is very common due to the fact that people attempt to have happy dreams of what their life used to be before their world changed. It provides people with a pass time to get over with their change. In the book, The Things They Carried, by Tim O'brien, people cope with the changing world by attempting to dream because then they avoid having to consciously think about their troubles and can make their own fantasy.

In the chapter “Lives of the Dead”, Tim O’brien talks about how he coped with the death of his friend Linda who died of brain cancer. After her death he slept a lot more often. This is when his mom started a conversation with him to see if he was alright. He responded, “‘Nothing. I just need sleep, that's all.’ I didn't dare tell the truth. It was embarrassing, I suppose, but it was also a precious secret, like a magic trick, where if I tried to explain it, or even talk about it, the thrill and mystery would be gone. I didn't want to lose Linda.” (244) This shows that events that cause depression are sometimes dealt with by dreaming and therefore sleeping in order to make a place where the real world changes that caused the depression is no longer there. He really believes it is a successful way of coping with it, even though he doesn’t understand how something so simple can be so joyful. The reason for dreaming as opposed to eating or some other way of coping is because while eating takes you away from what happened, it does not take you back to when that change happened, whereas dreaming does. Also, there are less adverse side effects to sleeping than to excessive eating such as weight gain and risk for heart disease and several others diseases that are life threatening which are common side effects of excessive eating.

In the chapter “On the Rainy River”, O’brien was staying at a lodge owned by Elroy Berdahl in Minnesota near the border between the United States and Canada. O’brien had sleeping problems because of his anxiety of being drafted into the Vietnam War. He was tempted into going to Canada to escape his draft order but was too scared to. “I couldn't sleep; I couldn't lie still. At night I'd toss around in bed, half awake, half dreaming, imagining how I'd sneak down to the beach and quietly push one of the old man's boats out into the river and start paddling my way toward Canada.” (50) Here is an example of a time when a character desperately tried to sleep in order to avoid their real world change. While he was not fully asleep, he even mentions the fact that when he was “half awake, half dreaming” he dreamed about doing what he was too afraid to do in real life which was going into Canada. This show that even when one cannot successfully sleep, if they are in a half dream state, they can at least experience part of what they would if they were fully asleep.

In the chapter “Enemies”, soldiers Dave Jensen and Lee Strunk got into a fight. Jensen being larger in size, was victorious and ended up breaking Strunk’s nose. After that event Strunk was always on edge at night while trying to sleep. “At night he had trouble sleeping—a skittish feeling—always on guard, hearing strange noises in the dark, imagining a grenade rolling into his foxhole or the tickle of a knife against his ear.” (63)  While he was never able to successfully go to sleep, this does show what happens when you are awake and worry about the changing world. In this case while he was awake he stressed out always thinking Jensen was waiting to kill him. His attempt at sleeping in order to dream would have proved as a good way of coping if we was able to. It is certain that him being awake made him not able to think about anything other than the possibility of Jensen killing him.

During an interview with Mars Hill Review (MHR), Tim O’brien was asked why  he thought imagining was crucial to him as a soldier and a person. He responded, “Imagination is important in a couple of ways. One way is as a psychological means of escape. If you can lose yourself in a fantasy, then you're no longer trapped in the horror of, say, Vietnam.” Dreaming is when one’s imagination is at its fullest so it would make sense that most of that imagination came from dreaming. In your dreams its much easy to escape reality because its when things seem most real but actually aren’t.

While there are many different ways to cope with the changing world dreaming is one of the most easy and common that provides escape. It gives people the ability to experience the most realistic feeling of places that isn’t real yet can mimic a person’s desire for things to be how they were before the world changed. While people cannot always controls what happens in their dreams, just the hope of them being able to experience their better past life is something for them to look forward to. Without dreaming, many people wouldn’t have something to look forward to in order for them to be in a happy place.



Works Cited for Analytical Essay:


O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. New York: Broadway, 1998. Print.


Sawyer, Scott. "In the Name of Love: An Interview With Tim O'Brien." Mars Hill Review. LeaderU.com (Links to an external site.). Winter/Spring 1996. Web. October 20 2009.



Narrative Essay:

“Nebil are you okay?” my mom would usually ask.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m just tired” was my response.

Under the covers of my bed, I was in a place of comfort. I preferred to sleep facing my window, so I wouldn’t be looking at anyone who came in my room. I either stared at something in the room or out of the window before I slept. Sometimes I slept from twelve noon until 8 at night and often times much more erratic sleeping patterns.

Sleeping was my way of coping with something that happened to me, whether it be that I was a mad at my parents or friends or whether I was depressed about something. This time I slept because I was depressed about my grades in class. I used to always be stressed about my grades and thinking they had a big snowball effect on my future. I used to think that if I got a B in Math for even just one quarter my chances of getting into an Ivy League instantly dropped to nothing. Pressure from academics like that always used to get to me. I used to see a lot of my friends getting much better grades than I was, and they were worried about their own future which made me think I should be even more worried about my own. The stress from worrying about my future and classes often times required for me to sleep.

The reason I slept was because when I slept, I didn’t think about anything. I was free from the worries that encompassed me while I was awake. In my dreams I did what I normally did while not thinking about what I would have to when I woke. I guess I like that feeling of being care free or unaware. It relieves me of stress and allows me to enjoy myself. After waking up I am usually much more alive than I was before I slept. I still would keep that feeling of being carefree for a while after I woke up. That is until my friends say something about homework, projects, colleges, and SATs.

Aside from my parents, my friends started to worry about me too. At first on school nights I would usually chat with them on skype. When I went to sleep early because I was angry, stressed, or depressed, they often ask me what’s wrong. “Hey Nebil, what’s wrong?” someone usually says in school when they see my head down.

“Nothing, I’m just not feeling great. I just need some sleep.” was my usual response.

“Okay, hope you feel better?” they could tell I was lying, but it’s not like I would put much effort into it anyway.

My sleeping habits started to become unhealthy. I used to sleep in school very often. In my sophomore year, in almost every History class for the first quarter, I slept through just because I couldn’t stand some of the ignorant comments that were said from across the classroom. It was so bad that it got to the point where the teacher took me out of class and asked why I was sleeping so much. My response was the same to him as well.

My sleeping habits only got worse. I started to sleep in on weekends. Whenever my friends asked me if I  wanted to go with them some where, I would come up with some excuse and tell them that yesterday was rough I wasn’t feeling good. I got too used to dreaming as a way of escape. While initially it seemed harmless, I later realized I was desocializing myself from the world. The few times I didn’t make an excuse and went with them somewhere, I would hear them converse about funny events that I missed because I didn’t go with them the previous time. At first I made nothing of it, but later I realized I asked the question, “What are you guys talking about?” a little too often because I didn’t meet with them as often as I previously did.

I tried to stop myself from sleeping by doing something else to cope with my stress. Eating didn’t work at all because I didn’t like to eat while I was angry, stressed or depressed. While I liked exercising, I was never in the mood to do it for the same reasons I didn’t eat. In the end I just went back to sleeping and pushed the thoughts of my friends, parents, and teachers worrying about me to the back of my head.

One of my friends who I talked to often always told me not to worry about school because I was doing just fine in school. They told me that I was getting all A’s so there was really nothing to worry about. While it was nice that they did that, it was hard to take them seriously because they were doing much better than me in school and much more outside of school to have things to put on their resumé.

Since then, that friend has kept on telling me that I’m at an okay place. Ever since then, I started believing what they said more and more as believed their sincerity. To this day I still do sleep when I’m depressed but I noticed that I sleep less. It’s not because I found a different way to cope with stress, depression, and anger, but now I don’t experience those emotions as often because my friends helped take those emotions off of me. I found out that my friends have become a more important tool for me to deal with an uncomfortably changing world.
2 Comments

Changing World Essay

Lindsey Jones 1/13/15

A Changing World




The world is a forever changing place, physically and metaphorically for each human being. Events that dramatically affect that the way a person lives their life can trigger many different reactions in the human psyche. People can be  unsure about how to react to change during this time. One reaction is to try to gain control. When someone does not want to accept change, they grasp onto as much control of their lives as possible, even when everything seems to be out of control. People cope with change in theirs lives by controlling aspects of it.

The novel, the Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers contains the round trip journey of a young man named Bartle to and from the war in Iraq. Bartle, and several of his comrades deal with the power of change that the war creates. Bartle, unsure about his place in the war, and reason he enlisted, tries to gain control of himself by confiding in a younger comrade, Murph, one of the youngest and most naive in the group, suffers the ultimate fate when he isn’t able to gain control of his condition. Sterling, the most openly aggressive and confident in the war, uses this as his method to stay in control of the forever weighing war.


In the beginning of the book, Bartle opens with a tired and cryptic position about the war. He is in the middle of his service of the war, and he mentions how it was one of the several days that the war tried to kill him. It was just another day in his mind. Murph and Bartle are the middle of shootout against the enemy and just when he was about to panic, he remembers Murph.


”Murph’s breath was a steady comfort to my right. I had grown accustomed to it” Page 6.

Bartle uses Murph as a comfort during his time in war. His mindset the entire time, being depressed about the war and only trying to survive is his way of reacting to the condition he has been put in. Bartle is in a completely new world which he has no control over. But with Murph’s presence, he feels soothed. Murph is Bartle’s symbol of control. He initially starts out not knowing who Murph is, but uses Murph as his entire motivation to continue in the war. Behind almost every decision and thought he has, is Murph’s well being is in mind.


Aside from Bartle using Murph as a pacification for the change in his life, Sterling uses his own stamina. Sterling comes across as aggressive and unlikeable when he is first introduced. The condition that the war has caused for he and his comrades seem to be completely natural for him. This is why when Murph disappears and stops talking to the group, Sterling seems to be above addressing it. Bartle, worried and wanting to comfort Murph, is told to stop by Sterling.


“If you get back to the States in your head before your ass if there too, then you are fucking dead man. I’m you. You don’t where Murph keeps going, but I do.”-Sterling, page 156


In this quote, he bad mouths Murph for losing his own control of himself. Based on this, Sterling clearly understands the effects of what not adjusting to the changing world means. People will lose themselves. This is Sterling’s sense of control in the changing world. He puts off feeling the emotions and natural reactions of shooting a gun or seeing a decapitated body and takes it in stride instead. He sees Murph as an example of what could happen if the control is lost.

The effects of the changing world take a toll on Bartle’s life. Murph breaks down and ends up dying a gruesome death after he completely loses himself in the war; which in turn affects Bartle. Sterling and Bartle both do not want Murph’s body to return to the U.S. in such a condition and get rid of the body by dumping it in a river, which later lands Bartle in jail for the not returning the body. Bartle’s mind is in another place during these events. He doesn’t seem to care that he is in jail or what the world is like outside. When Murph’s mother comes to confront him, he feels unworthy of seeing her.


“I eventually accepted the fact that everything eventually falls away from everything else” page 217.


Bartle begins to question everything. Murph, his only symbol of control is gone, and now he is in a new environment where the only thing he can control is his mind. Bartle succumbs to the idea that everything is the way it is because of has to be. Regardless of the obstacles that interfere with destiny, nothing is permanent, not even the control he had over the change in his life.


Kevin Powers, the author, wrote Yellow Birds during his service in the war. His position on his participation and reasoning for being in the war is similar to Bartles, unsure. Despite the book being a work of fiction, Powers definitely expressed his stance on the changing world and himself.


I didn't know that I was allowed to be a writer. I thought of it as something other people were able to do. I knew that I liked writing, but that felt meaningless. We didn't have a ton of money, and I certainly wasn't going to get a scholarship of any kind. My high school sweetheart's father was an army recruiter. We're still in touch.


My dad had served in the army, and both my grandfathers had served in the Second World War. I was fairly idealistic at the time.”


It was never Kevin Powers’ plan to enlist in the army; he was expected to go. This expectation extended from several generations of his family. His father, a military veteran, and both of his grandfathers were veterans of World War II, the beaming expectation for him to enlist made him feel that he didn’t have a choice in the matter. This signified the first part of change and loss of control within his originally comfortable world. While only being in Iraq for a few months, Powers found serenity in writing. He would lock himself in his bunk and write about his experiences in the war as well as his particular mind frame. It is clear that Powers was not used to the change in his life, as he was already unwilling and unsure about himself being in the war from the beginning. Writing was his control mechanism, and he was about to write several different characters that either learned how they could keep control on lose it.  


The forever changing world only gives people to either accept or fall apart. When people realize their world finally changing, good or bad, finding control is the only method of staying complete and together. The characters Bartle, Murph and Sterling are all embodiments of the changing world and what happens when you lose control. Kevin Powers used his own talent to escape the world of war and the possible changes it would bring him. Taking control of something or someone is the only way to keep from falling apart.



Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

Powers, Kevin. The Yellow Birds: A Novel. New York: Little, Brown, 2012. Print


Whitman, Alice. "Printing - Kevin Powers, In and Out of Conflict - Interview Magazine." Printing - Kevin Powers, In and Out of Conflict - Interview Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2015. <http://www.interviewmagazine.com/culture/kevin-powers-letter-composed-during-a-lull-in-the-fighting/print/>.







Life has always been pretty consistent. I’ve always expected for my days to be an ever repeating cycle until some brash or sudden miracle would occur  that would make a dramatic change for me. But this isn’t to go without saying that nothing earth shattering or different has happened in my life that hasn’t made me have to change who I am or how I think or do things.


A key moment in my life where I experienced change was when my mom gave away her car and she and I had to reduce to riding in a tiny truck to school and work every morning.

This change might seem miniscule or unparalleled to those changes faced by Kevin Powers (author of the Yellow Birds) and Bart (main character from the Yellow Birds), but to me the effect of the change is no different.

When I first realized I had to be in such a small and confined space every morning, I would complain and find any reason to make the ride more difficult than it had to be.


“Don’t worry, it’ll just be for the winter.” Mom would say.


But time went on. I realized this change was going to last for some time and I needed to gain a sense of control in a suffocating environment. This triggered me to crack the window a tiny bit every morning ride. When the window was cracked, I felt like a bit of the vast world was being invited into the small space within the car. It calmed my nerves and helped me forget about the uncomfortable predicament. No one seemed to notice this, except for once:


It was below zero outside and the cold hugged my lungs with big grandma hugs, making it hurt to breathe. Walking 20 feet to the car was hassle that made it feel like sudden deathe was in the midst. I went through the usual routine making sure the car window was cracked and ready for the ride. My mother turned the key ignition and the dark dashboard came to life. She waited for a few seconds and then turned the heat on. But she noticed something different.

The windows were becoming frosted. She turned to me and say “Put the window up, it’s making the windows foggy.”

I quickly began rolling the handing. I knew she would say that. Darn frost. I watched as the window inched it’s way to the end of the frame and then stopped. I didn’t let it reach all the way. I pressed my face against the window and looked closely into the tiny corner where the window had about a few centimeters to go; I kept it like that. If I had twined that handle bar anymore and I would have been on the road to insanity in the teeny tiny clown car. Mother had her windows unfrosted and I still had the window crack to keep me comfortable. We were both happy.


This control gave me the leverage to ignore and eventually accept the change in my life. Similar to both the situations Kevin Powers and Bart were in. Powers’ love for writing allowed him to create a world bigger than the war zone he lived in and Bart’s love for his best friend and need for him to survive gave him a reason for moving on in the war.
2 Comments

Ameer's Q2 Benchmark -- Changing World Essay

Quotes on the Book


On a large scale, the world changing has little impact on the outcome of the universe. Of the 7 billion people on earth, a person’s impact to the Earth has even smaller impact. While the impact a person has on the universe may be very little, as a collective group, the impact it has on the world in which they live is very large. However true this may be, their efforts are done without true purpose, and are for the most part, done for the sake of doing it. The truth of the matter is, in real life not everyone is a main character.  

Within the first couple of pages, the story that The Yellow Birds had constructed so far had begun to build up a character. It seemed like he wasn’t just any random character, but instead somebody with a name, and a family. Malik was a student of literature, indigenous to Iraq, and the university of which he studied closed. With little opportunity to further his education he turned to America to become a translator for the U.S. troops. Malik, on the side he thought just, putting himself and his family’s life on the line, died shortly after first meeting the troops. Malik died and that was that, as if his entire back story didn’t matter. “ I didn’t think about Malik much after that.” (pg. 12, Bartle). No one cared about the death of Malik. Even though he had left himself vulnerable, and became acquainted with them, in the end his life didn’t make any impact. A living being took use of his talents and services, but when all was said and done, nothing really would have changed that much if he wasn’t even there at all. He was forgotten about, anyhow.

In the author’s note of the book I pulled out a quote that leads to answering the question of what it was like in war “over there”. In answering this question the author noted that war was pretty much unique, being only like itself. While noticing war’s uniqueness, he also noticed something about people.  “People, however, are all the same...” (Reading group guide pg. 2, Authors Note). The author, Kevin Powers, explained that in order to understand what it was like “over there” you must first understand that essentially all experiences are the same. No matter how different our experiences may seem, we are all as alike as our “breath and blood”. There is very little difference in any task we perform, because it really is in no way unique or special. This raises the thought, everything is just a repetition of itself. If it has already been done or felt before, there is really no sake in doing it.

Taking a step back from main characters, and how not everyone is one, we can take a look at one of the main characters of the book. Looking at the character Murph, it is easy to decode a sense of acting without true purpose. Going through the war, ending a countless number of lives, he died. The young man still had much of his youth, he had a life to return to after the war, much more he could have accomplished. Still he died, and life would have to reshape itself around that fact. Though, life had not reshaped that much, because the only way to deal with his death was to pretend “like it never happened Bartle. That’s the only way.” (pg. 211, Sterling.) This is what Sterling said to Bartle after they witness their comrade's dead body floating down the river. Murph’s life must have been of little importance if the only way to deal with his passing was to erase his very being from the existence of the earth. All Murph had done in the war must really have been for nothing.

The author explains a sort of powerlessness in Bartle through a few interviews he had based on this book. Bartle was not able to be good. Out of this inability to do (whatever he thought was) good, it can be said that he did didn’t have the impact he wanted it to have. This specifically is not to say that he was completely impactless, but it does say to him that his actions were meaningless. The quote states, “the root of his guilt was that he wanted to be good, and he tried to be good, but he failed. His conflict is between his desire to redeem that failure and his acceptance of complete powerlessness.” Powerlessness accurately describes a person failure to impact, thus describing Bartle’s ultimate meaningless even as a main character. This article explains how little Bartle’s impact on the world was, while in another article he mentions how impactless everything is in relation to any other thing. In this article he says, “It's trying to allow for multiple things to be happening at the same time…” “to be very narrowly focused on the interior experience, but also to have a sense of expansiveness…” “I find this push-pull between the microscopic and the telescopic…” “I'm trying to evoke that clash of small and large scales, and the difficulties of locating oneself. I'm interested in, Where am I?” When answering the question of why he moved around a lot in the book, Kevin Powers answered with “difficulties of locating oneself.” This quote brings a realization that many things are happening at one time. There is no one point in time, no one place on a map. In this expansiveness of a collective of the Universe, there is no one person qualified to be a main character. Kevin powers wanted to answer the question “where am I” in writing this book, and during this process he choose to write about characters with complete powerlessness. He chose to write about people who, in the end never really mattered. He chose to do so because in finding one’s self, you find that you aren’t the most important person in the world. You find that in reality, you’re powerlessness has little impact in the grand scheme of things, despite where you are or where you may end up to be.


The point of the thesis is to help people understand that no one is really that special, and that while it may seem that someone’s life doesn’t have any meaning and may be pointless; it can become clearer to understand that no one’s life really has any meaning. Everyone is in the same boat. There is not true importance to meaningness, because in reality there is no true point to anything at all.


Works Cited

Kevin Powers, The yellow birds


"Kevin Powers, In and Out of Conflict." Interview Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2015.

http://www.interviewmagazine.com/culture/kevin-powers-letter-composed-during-a-lull-in-the-fighting#_


"An Exclusive Interview with Kevin Powers, Poet and Iraq War Veteran, about His Debut Novel, The Yellow Birds." Foyles. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2015.




Personal Narrative


In the book the yellow birds, I became attached to a character in less than a page. I enjoyed this character, because even though I didn’t really know him, I didn’t really know the other characters either. I liked this character because he was something different. He wasn't just an ordinary U.S. Soldier. However,  just because I thought he was unique didn't mean he was important in any way and he died. This sort of thing I can relate to a special person who is no longer in my life. My mom's mom always made me call her Nana. She said because she didn't want me to call her grandmom because it made her sound old. I stressed to her that it made her sound older anyway. She ended up dying when I was young even though I didn't want her to. Now that I think about it, I think over all her contributions in life and how very little I can think of. To me her greatest contribution was making me happy, but what does that really mean to the world? I don't think that question really matters. Not everybody has to be a main character.


My Nana was about 20 years older than my mother. My mother is about 20 years older than me. When I was about five or six she was probably just leaving her 40’s. Despite her age she would watch cartoons with me every saturday I came over her house. We’d play a game of  Yu-Gi-Oh (cards) occasionally, because Yu-Gi-Oh was one of our favorite shows. She often called me sweet pea and called my mom shug (I thought of it as sugar). To me she was probably one of the sweetest old lady’s you could ever meet, but many would say she was neither sweet nor old. She smoked menthol lights and was one of the few people of the 21st century who still kept a tab at bars. She’d swear at least 100 times a day and didn’t bother to kill roaches when they crawled across her coffee. She was wonderful to me, and I would have fun every moment I spent with her, regardless of if we were at bingo or even a thrift store.


I went to live with my Nana around the middle of the first grade. My mom wanted to move out of her apartment but she had to save up some money first. There were only two bedrooms in the hose, and the one I slept in with my mom didn’t have a bed. The first night we slept there I was almost certain I would sleep on the floor. That’s when Nana made both of us bed cots from folding a blanket a couple of times. I thought it was genius, and that there was nothing my Nana didn’t know. Of course I couldn’t sleep without my night light, no matter how much it bothered the light sleeper, my mom. Around these times I never really thought of anyone as a main character. Life was about life, and I never really thought there was a purpose to it. However, as a child, my purpose never really important anyways. I always focused on the now.


Just around my middle school years was when Nana died. By that time the only real time I spent with her was when she was in the hospital or going to dialysis. Smoking caused her to have kidney failure, plus all the other  problems that came along with it. There were still times when we had fun, as though she was 40 again. I remember one time we wandered around Penn’s Landing. It was warm out with a black sky from the dark of night. That night was the fourth of July, and we had just gotten off the buss to see some fire works. The thing that stood out the most to me that night was not those fire works. However, it was the fact that Nana wasn’t wearing any shoes. There was broken glass all along the curb, and the asphalt was scorching when I knelt to feel it. Curious, I asked why she didn’t have shoes on. She said something I only vaguely remember. Something about her dialysis treatment and other things about her lungs and physical health. None of the glass or the hot asphalt bothered her, because her feet were so swollen from liquid she couldn’t really feel it. It was her bad kidney’s fault. Even though this was a completely horrible thing, in my child state of mind I thought it was cool. How hardcore would it be to feel numb to the pains of sharp objects and scorching surfaces. Despite how cool I thought she was; if I was bored the time I spent with her seemed pointless.


Up to her passing moment I felt it tedious to go to her hospital bedside. I felt gratitude in sleeping in the car while my mother was the only one to go in and visit. I remember the smile she had every time she saw me, and how she always talked about telling other old people about me. Still, as a child this did not make me want to hug her. I would smile with full attention for one second, and then quickly avert my attention to whatever I randomly felt like looking at. It isn’t as though I didn’t smile every time I saw her. It isn’t like I didn’t wish she would get better. Though, better to me meant at her house on a saturday morning playing a game of Yu-Gi-Oh. It isn’t like I didn’t cry at her funeral (though more so from the pressure of people expecting me to cry); but I wished for the rush of the casket to be in it’s grave when that time came. It’s because when that time came, my feet were starting to hurt, and the lengthiness of the funeral had become boring. I felt this way because as a child I always felt as though I was the main character without even thinking about it. It took maturing for me to realize life is not all about me.



Now as I am older I wish I had spent more time with my Nana. The details of her face are slowly fading away from my memory, and I wish I could have made her happier in her last moments. I could have brought a deck of Yu-Gi-Oh cards with me to the hospital. I could have watched cartoons with her as she lay there without visitors on a saturday morning. Maybe that would have made her want to live a little bit longer. Maybe she would have smoked a little bit less… because I don't’ remember her as the woman who smoked herself to her deathbed. I remember her as an old friend, Evelyn Harris, who loved me and became a child again every second I spent with her. Even though I feel as though neither of us was the main character; and that each of our existences on this earth is without true motive and pointless; we didn’t need a purpose to be happy.

1 Comment

Self and the Changing World Essay

Analytical Essay:


Everyone has a past. Everyone is also emotionally connected to their past in some way or another. The past can be what one willingly holds onto or what one is forever haunted by. Either way, these emotional burdens, stemming from someone’s past, always have some sort of effect on their life going forward and the lives of those around them. In most situations, it can be what one uses to help make life altering decisions. The emotional burdens others carry around are often used as motivations in their everyday life, positively and negatively affecting everyone in their path along with themselves.

In the middle of war it makes sense for soldiers to hold onto their past, considering their present isn’t something anyone would want to be living and their future isn’t guaranteed. Lieutenant Jimmy Cross held onto Martha, a lover from his past in which he used as motivation to get through the war. This motivation soon turned into a distraction, which wasn’t what was best for him and his men in the middle of a war zone. “Trouble, he thought - a cave-in maybe. And then suddenly, without willing it, he was thinking about Martha.” (page 11) In this situation, Martha is no longer the motivation to help get him through the war, but is a distraction to take him away from it. Because Cross is not fully present in the middle of this raid, as his mind takes him away from it to think of Martha, one of his men are killed. Cross forever blames himself for the death of Ted Lavender and he now has to learn to deal with this guilt for the rest of his life, showing how the emotional burden from his past negatively affected his and Ted Lavender’s futures.

Making the decision to head to war is a hard one and without some sort of motivation one might never make it. Sometimes the patriotic need to protect one’s country is enough motivation in itself to enlist, but for Tim O’Brien this wasn’t the case. He didn’t believe in the war and found no need to take part in it, but the shame he would feel of himself and of his reputation after his family, friends, and hometown found out that he fled from the war was enough motivation for him. “And right then I submitted. I would go to the war - I  would kill and maybe die - because I was too embarrassed not to.” (page 59) O’Brien was already on the run when he made his decision, he could have avoided it all and was close to it. But the people from his past and what they might think of him became his emotional burden, motivating him into the war. There, though, he met new people, experienced new things, and made friendships to last a lifetime, showing how the emotional burden from his past did, in a way, positively affect his future.

Tim O’Brien’s life wasn’t just affected by that one emotional burden, but a few, that seemed to have a trickle down effect. First, once again, it was being drafted.“My conscience kept telling me not to go, but my whole upbringing told me I had to. That horrible summer made me a writer. I don't know what I wrote. I've still got it, reams of it, but I'm not willing to look at it. It was just stuff - bitter, bitter stuff, and it's probably full of self-pity. But that was the beginning.''  The first emotional burden of thinking about being drafted motivated O’Brien to become a writer. It started it all. Then, when in doubt, the emotional burden of what his reputation would be if he fled caused for him to go to the war. There, he experienced things and people in which whose stories he could then let live on through his writing. Without either of these burdens many soldiers’ stories would have never been told.

War is a terrible thing, but surviving it can sometimes be even worse. For most survivors, war itself is enough of an emotional burden to affect their futures. Things they’ve seen and things they’ve done can’t be erased and it can replay in their minds for the rest of their lives. This can be a deadly past to have haunt someone. Norman Bowker was dealing with this burden every day since the war. The death of his war buddy, Kiowa, hit him hard and he never recovered. “ “Speaking of Courage” was written in 1975 at the suggestion of Norman Bowker, who three years later hanged himself in the locker room of a YMCA in his hometown in Central Iowa.” (page 155) This situation has its good and its bad. The emotional burden of the war left Norman in such a bad state that suicide became an option, one that he took, showing how it all had affected his life in such a negative way. But at the same time, the burden helped him motivate O’Brien to write a book full of the war stories Norman thought people had to know. After the war, O’Brien receives a letter from Norman Bowker describing how he doesn’t know how to make his life meaningful after the war. It also included the suggestion for him to write “Speaking of Courage”, telling the stories of good men who could no longer tell them themselves. Norman’s emotional burden did have some positive effects on the lives of others.

Sometimes the past is there to help, and sometimes, to haunt. In all scenarios, though, its effects are inevitable. The emotional burdens can positively and negatively affect someone’s life, and can sometimes even cause something bad for one but great for another. Either way, these burdens from the past can’t be escaped, whether it’s the person holding onto them, or, the person running from them. But it is always up to the person on how they will allow their past to affect and motivate their future.



Narrative Essay:


Entering the front door, I already knew what it was. Before I even seen the ripped up envelope on the counter addressed to my name, or the thick letter, folded into three sections, in his hand, I knew. I could just tell by the look on his face. I had never seen him so happy or so proud. This was supposed to be what I wanted, but I couldn’t shake that feeling of wishing that letter had got lost in the mail, wishing that it would never reach my house so I would not have to deal with the choice that was about to be laid out for me.

Ever since I was little I looked up to my father. I wanted to be everything he was and everything he wanted. One of the two I seemed to strive to accomplish early, whereas the other, I would never be able to.

My father is smart, he always was. And I wanted to be just like him. My father admired it. I think it’s because he feels he had created the monster. I remember, probably as clear as he does, my tiny, toddler body always crawling my way to his book shelves filled with all his old college books. Sitting on the fuzzy carpet in the living room, legs spread, back against the wall, book in lap covering my entire body, I pretended to know what the words said. Flipping through pages and spending enough time on each to make one actually question whether or not I understood some of it. He would tell my mother that I would grow up to be smart. I never had much trouble accomplishing that part, but the fact that besides wanting me to be smart, wanting me to have been a son made it impossible to please him.

Basketball shorts, a t-shirt, sneakers, along with my hair in the ponytail that it never left, was the everyday attire. Choosing to wrestle or throw the football around with the boys on the street while ignoring all the little girls having so much fun with their dolls as my dad watched from the step became a habit. He was as proud as my mother was appalled at the sight of my scraped knees, especially when I was forced to show them in the few occasions I had to wear a dress. But as hard as I tried to be the son that he wanted, there were always those incidents in which I would come running to him crying about something that apparently a little boy just would’ve shaken off, causing for the constant 8 words, “It would’ve been so much easier with sons”. My sister paid no mind to it, but every time he said it was a constant reminder that that was just something I could never achieve.

So I had to stick with being smart and trying my very best in school while also doing good in sports, even though he’d much rather be going to boys’ basketball games, to make him happy, and I did. But even that seemed to get old to him after a while. Running home with another honor roll ribbon on report card day or with stories from the game after a great win went from being responded to with such praise and interest to little “Good Jobs!” just to get me to shut up. Sometimes I wondered if he even realized how hard I tried at everything and just for him. It all never seemed to be good enough. And that is what seem to put a dent in our relationship.

I went from telling him every perk from my day to barely saying a word to him. I don’t even know if he noticed the change. His eyes still never left his laptop in which he worked on all hours of the day, and sometimes I felt that he was relieved he could now avoid the after school conversations in which he would have to pretend to care about. We began to fight about everything, we couldn’t even be in the same room as one another at times. Everyone else in the family said it was because we were the same person and that we were too much alike. This only made me want to show everyone that they were wrong. I now wanted to be nothing like him, which makes little sense saying out loud considering I still continued to do everything he wanted of me, always secretly trying to impress him, only now acting as if I could care less if he noticed. And for this I would never understand. Why I would still want to be like and impress someone who I had grown to hate at times was beyond me.

Our relationship only got worse, but I couldn’t shake the old habit of always feeling the need to impress him or make him proud. What he thought of me was in my head with every decision I made. But I was getting older now, and the decision began to get harder. Impressing him began to conflict with what I wanted.

It was the end of eighth grade now and the transition to high school was all anyone could talk about. The excitement of being in someplace new along with the expectations caused by the constant reminder from anyone looking back trying to relive the better days that “High school are the best years of your life!” made the last few months of grade school seem so long. But I sometimes tended to be more conflicted than excited. The best friends that I had grown up had known since the start of their schooling that they would attend Saint Neumann and Goretti high school to further the Catholic education we had since kids, but my parents were never really sure what they wanted me to do. But my father became very sure of it really fast. He became set on the idea of me going to a Science Leadership Academy in which I would know no one and essentially be surrounded with nerds, but “would receive the best education around”.

Then the letter came. I applied figuring I probably wouldn’t get in, always doubting. Just seeing his face I knew I got in. I hated the idea of it. I wanted to spend the best years of my life with my friends, but the habit of impressing him in the past became a burden I couldn’t shake. It still affected every decision I made, and it wouldn’t be any different for this one. I told him I would go without even thinking, the words just came out.

A junior now, getting straight A’s at one of the best schools around and having the best colleges as real possibilities for myself makes me realize that the choice I had made on the spot, without thinking, years ago had turned out to be a good one. High school is turning out to be some of the best years of my life by still being as close as ever with my Catholic school friends, and by also making some new ones with the “nerds” in which I never would have expected. It turns out that burden from my father had motivated me to make a decision that not only made us both happy in the end, but one that would be responsible for all of the positive things that happen in my future.


4 Comments

Net Neutrality/// Gerveni


​Net neutrality is very important. Why? It's because it teaches teens about the internet. It teaches them more than they think they know the internet. Net neutrality is when all data is produced equally to everyone. Net neutrality is treating the internet equally. The internet is a mess and we need net neutrality to organize it.


Net neutrality reads the ISP. ISP (Internet Service Provider) is a company that provides you with access to the Internet for a fee. ISPs are middle men. ISPs receive the internet and sell it to customers for higher prices. They shorten the speed and its access. The more you pay, the faster your internet.


The FCC (The Federal Communications Commission) is a government created agency. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates interstate communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. It is an independent U.S. government agency overseen by Congress. Its works on facing economic opportunities and challenges associated with advances in global communications. Provides leadership in strengthening the defense of the nation's communications infrastructure.


topic_net-neutrality
Be the first to comment

essays

Analytical Essay:


One’s self is determined directly by the world around them. The self, a person's conscience, is built off of how the person reacts to the changing world. If the person is reactionless to the changes around them than there consciousness is built off of the impact that these changes have brought to their lives. Either by reaction or lack thereof the self is constantly being forced to change. Theses changes can be extreme or very miniscule but ultimately no one can escape them because they are what makes each and every individual who he or she is.

What is the changing world? It is everything that affects an individual. Every decision that they make or that is made for them. Whether they decided to get out of bed at 7:50 rather than 6:50, or if their mom made pancakes instead of waffles. Every moving second of an individual's life makes up the changing world. There is not a single moment where the world does not change. This is why the changing world is so crucial in determining a person’s self. How they deal with the small changes such as losing a favorite toy when they are younger coincidentally is similar to how they would deal with major changes such as the loss of a loved one or even getting their car stolen.

One can be affected by huge changes in the changing world in two different ways. By either reacting to a change, or by the impact that the change brought on their life. Both ways leave the individual completely anew. For example, in the book the The Things They Carried when one of Sergeant Jimmy Cross’s soldiers were shot and killed he reacted to this change by erasing his emotional attachment to a girl back home named Martha. “Jimmy Cross crouched at the bottom of his foxhole and burned Martha’s letters”. (pg23) This reaction to death changed the self of Jimmy Cross. He was now a more stringent leader. He “He was now determined to perform his duties firmly and without negligence… On the march he would impose strict field discipline. He would be careful to send out flank security, to prevent straggling or bunching up, to keep his troops moving at the proper pace and at the proper interval. He would insist on clean weapons. He would confiscate the remainder of Lavender's dope.” (pg25)  This new mentality was forced upon the sergeant by this new change is his world.

On the other hand the more subliminal effect of the changing world is also demonstrated in the book. In the same scenario, the other soldiers under Cross’s command are a bewildered but they do not react to the change. When one of the soldiers utters "Oh shit, the guy's dead. I mean really" (Pg13) after examining the body it shows that he has dealt with this change by accepting the reality of it. This changed the self by making it more mentally prepared to handle situations similar to the death of a comrade. Also, by the author using the phrase to end the scene really stressed the how the self dealt with this change.

The author Tim O’Brien constantly showed in the book connections between the self and the changing world. He did this through stories which were sometimes true and sometimes fabricated. When asked in an interview about this he said “Stories, retold, carry the force of legend.” What the author is saying is that the legend in the stories is changed based on what the storyteller wants to portray. This portrayal is directed to the self of the person being told the story. In this example the changing world is the story being told in different variations to stimulate a different change in the self of the person.

A changing world will always force the change of the self. This is portrayed extensively in the book as well as in interview with the author. Through the examples provided one can see the dependency, because in a world that is constantly changing the self will always react or deal with these changes.  


Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin, 1990. Print.


Bourne, Daniel, and Shostak, Debra. "A Conversation with Tim O'Brien." The College of Wooster. October 2, 1991. Web. October 20, 2009.






Narrative Essay:


“It is hard to get an A at SLA” where Mrs. Martin’s words to me on the first day at this new school.

Catholic is nothing like public school. It was very straightforward. Go to school, and do all my homework, and do well on the test. Just like that high academic achievement was easily attained by me during my time there. I was in my own world, and nothing could have prepared me for my recent transferal from catholic school to public school. I was astonished. The sheer freedom that the public school students received over catholic school students blew my mind. Things like: no dress code, freedom to eat in class, and non-assigned seats were very new to me. Coming from this hardcore and strict background I was got carried away and began to procrastinate on my work at this new school. What happened to me was, this change in my world required me to change my self in order to progress. Instead I let the change happen without me reacting to it and it lead to various issues with my teachers during my first few weeks.

The biggest and most important change that I faced was the change in how work was given and graded. Previously assignments at catholic school were very straightforward. My new school called Science Leadership Academy, where everything is project based really was new to me. Due to my lazy attitude towards school I put almost all of the first assignments and projects off to the last minute. This impacted my first quarter report card severely where I received a C in math which has constantly been my most consistent grade throughout high school, with an high A.

After that first quarter report card I realized that I never reacted to the change of my new school, and all I did was just deal with it. I thought back to my conversation with Mrs. Martin. I thought of the mountain of work it required to excel here and almost caved in from the challenge. I came to the conclusion that my grades were receiving a hit because of two reasons: Handing in assignments on time and the quality of the assignments I hand it.

To improve my grades I had to react to this change and change my self. I had to put more time into papers I write making sure that they are thorough. I had to not lose homework papers and write neater. Rushing was now off the table for me, everything I now did for school I took my time and gave a one hundred percent effort.

Through this monumental change in my life during my critical junior year my world change around me. I thought just allowing it to happen would be the best way to cope, but I was wrong. I found out later that I had react to the change in my world. My self was changed through this experience I was now a more productive student and that will definitely help me get to the college of my dreams.
4 Comments

Self and the Changing World Essay

Analytical Essay:

As circumstances change around someone, so does their role in the world, and with the people around them. For example, as a former student goes to war, such as in the case of Jimmy Cross from The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, their role needs to change. Through the “obscenity and evil” of war, as the author O’Brien put it, Jimmy became the battle-hardened leader he was meant to be for his men.  As the world changes, the “self” changes and adapts to the world around itself, for example, creating strong leaders out of insecure dreamers like Jimmy Cross.


Jimmy Cross goes to war unprepared, he was still in the mindset of a college student who had fallen desperately in love. However, he was too weak with the leadership role he had been placed in, that one of his men died. “After Ted Lavender’s death [Jimmy Cross] reminded himself that his obligation was not to be loved, but to lead.” With the shock that comes from Lavender’s death, Lt. Cross takes the blame upon himself for what happened. He now sees what how he has to change himself, in order to handle the change around him. Up until that point, he wasn’t really the leader of Alpha Company, but a death was what made him “snap” and know what he had to do, and that he had to fulfill his obligations. He understood that his connection to Martha, among other things, made him too immature to fulfill his duty. He loved a far away woman who did not love him back far more than he cared for the men he was responsible for.


As Jimmy realizes that he has to forget about Martha, and fulfill his duty in Vietnam, he ponders about the many things he carries with him, from his love of Martha, to his good luck pebble. “It was very sad, he thought. The things men carried inside. The things men did or felt they had to do.” As the world changes around them, soldiers are often forced by circumstance to do things that in the end are caused by a mixture of pent up anger, sadness, and, most importantly, fear. War, especially, consists of situations where soldiers have to choose between doing the “wrong” thing and surviving, or losing a battle/life while staying true to their original morals.


In the beginning, when Tim O’Brien describes how soldiers carry things through war, he describes the emotional baggage carried by soldiers. They carried the common secret of cowardice barely restrained, the instinct to run or freeze or hide, and in many respects this was the heaviest burden of all, for it could never be put down, it required perfect balance and perfect posture. They carried their reputations. They carried the soldier's greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to.” As the world changes around them, soldiers are often not really fit for this change. Basic training will teach you how to use a gun, but it won’t teach you how to deal with all the obscenity and death around you. Adapting to being forced to go to Vietnam, men altered themselves to be able to kill and die, if only out of cowardice and fear. They didn’t want to be next. Jimmy, for example, had to become a leader to make sure he and his company weren't next.


Tim O’Brien, the author himself, went through extensive changes in his life when he was drafted into the Vietnam War, as well as witnessing his comrades go through such changes  as well. “Storytelling preceded war for Mr. O'Brien, or at least some kind of writing did. He grew up in the southern Minnesota town of Worthington -''the Turkey Capital of the World'' -and was there, a month out of Macalester College in St. Paul, when his draft notice arrived. He had always liked fiction, and books, but he had majored in political science and certainly had no intention to be a writer. His reaction to the draft notice still surprises him... ...That horrible summer made me a writer. I don't know what I wrote. I've still got it, reams of it, but I'm not willing to look at it. It was just stuff - bitter, bitter stuff, and it's probably full of self-pity. But that was the beginning.'' The war forced O’Brien to change. O’Brien had to now understand what life really was, and he had to learn who he was. He had to adapt to the changing circumstances around him, going from being a Political Science major, to a soldier in Vietnam. He went from being a carefree student, to someone who now had to be a soldier in order to truly face the realities of war.

Change in the world around the self is the primary catalyst for change and evolution in the self. For example, as a former student goes to war, such as in the case of Jimmy Cross from The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, their role needs to change. Through the “obscenity and evil” of war, as the author O’Brien put it, Jimmy became the battle-hardened leader he was meant to be for his men.



Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

Bruckner, D.J. "A Storyteller For the War That Won't End." New York Times Online. The New York Times. April 3, 1990. Web. October 20, 2009.

O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. New York: Broadway, 1998. Print.



Narrative Essay:

Willpower. Leadership. Adaptation. Duty. Obligation. These are the traits of not only many people throughout history, but also Lieutenant Jimmy Cross. Jimmy stands for the people that have had no choice, but to change, stand up, and fulfill their duty. I personally identify with Jimmy Cross the most, because I have had to learn how to lead a group of people, and I had to change myself and the way I look at the world in order to do it effectively. We have to learn to adapt to our circumstances, in order to make the most of them.


Around May of last year, I was put in charge, made student leader, of an ambitious TFI youth program, where a group of SLA students design and build exhibit prototypes using new Virtual Reality technology. I personally chose most of them for the project. I was given my position due to extensive familiarity with necessary technologies, as well as the drive to communicate with those who could support us. I thought I could do this. I mean, if I had given them tasks, they should do them, like teachers do in school right?


I was always shy and meek, even in the beginning of high school. Me, a leader? Who would have thought? I was able to navigate the intricacies of the non-profit bureaucracy, granted I was able to keep my wits about me, but the actual implementation was the hard part. It’s really hard to get people to be committed to something. It’s hard to properly organize without things eventually devolving into barking orders, unless you know what you’re doing.

We weren’t really productive in the beginning. I had made a roadmap, and standard operation procedures. But really, who just wanted to follow tasks, unless it was for a grade? And all I could think was, why wasn’t this working? But those early days were valuable, if only for the experience provided.


I was then given the advice by my mentor, that Leadership was achieved by inspiring others to do things, not telling them to do things. I thought about it for a bit, and then everything made sense. People had to have a personal stake in what they were doing. They had to care about it. So I went back the next day, and I set to work inspiring morale. I used fun activities, and I focused on valuing everyone's opinion.


I was made a leader by the circumstances at hand, not because of innate natural ability. At the end of the day, this process is applied to many other roles, but the core lesson is this, you become what the world needs you to be as time goes on. And I have thus evolved from the technological savant to the “brilliant” and “charismatic” leader I supposedly am today. Hell, recently I was called a “real ball of fire” who’s “going to become a great corporate leader one day”.


1 Comment

Self and the Changing World Benchmark

Analytical Essay

Each day decisions are made, and whether a person chooses right or left, there are always consequences. In a rapidly changing world, decisions become harder to make, especially when it comes to the question of adaptation. A changing world expels the individual from their comfort zone, often completely alienating them from the people or things they are used to. That alienation only  allows for two decisions: adaption or a refusal to accept the change. Either way decisive action must be taken, but a resistance to adapt often results in poor actions.

Towards the middle of the book O’Brien writes the story of how his character was shot. The platoon was taking on heavy fire and Tim was shot in his backside. The medic on call was a new soldier and he didn’t know how to handle treating a bullet wound while under fire just yet. So, he accidentally let Tim slip into shock. Tim was sent to a sort of base camp, far from the action, where he recovered. The first time that he sees his former comrades, he has this to say, “In a way I envied him--all of them. Their deep bush tans, the sores and blisters, the stories, the in-togetherness. I felt close to them, yes, but I also felt a new sense of separation...You become a civilian. You forfeit membership in the family, the blood fraternity, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t pretend to be part of it. That’s how I felt--like a civilian--and it made me sad. These guys had been my brothers. We’d loved on another.”(pg.194) This is the first time O’Brien has been with his fellow soldiers since he was discharged with his injury. His world has changed dramatically because he isn’t an active soldier anymore. However, he did not expect to feel so outside and outcast from the people that he describes as his “blood brothers.” This sends him into a small sort of depression. All the times that they are together he still feels outside of the group. Because of the change in his world he still feels lonely even in a room full of his former brothers. People crave consistency in others. O’Brien thought that these men would stand by him always, under any given circumstances. Their new camaraderie with the medic that so drastically changed his world sends O’Brien into a tailspin. Instead of accepting that Bobby Jorgenson (medic) was now a part of the group and that he was not, he lashed out violently against Jorgenson. He can’t accept his new world, so he fights it. This only further shows the difference between him and the other soldiers, as Jorgenson is now one of them and they treat him like a “blood brother.” Tim does not get back on the inside and he fractures the relationships more than they were in the first place.

O’Brien writes a story close to his own in the book about the summer when he got drafted. As a smart college kid, destined to go to Harvard on a full scholarship, he didn’t deal with the draft notice well. “I was too good for this war. Too smart, too compassionate, too everything. It couldn’t happen I was above it...The emotions went from outrage to terror to bewilderment to guilt to sorrow and then back again to outrage. I felt a sickness inside me. Real disease.” (pg.41 & 46) This summer was the biggest change of his life, even bigger than actually being in the war, because it was a waiting game with himself to see what he would do. In this chapter of the book he talks about how he ran away to a river in the north with the thought of escaping to Canada. There, he met a man and stayed at his inn, and contemplates the future ahead of him. He couldn’t allow himself to run away and eventually returned home for fear of being shamed in the community if he didn’t go to war. The real change he fought against in this scenario was not whether or not to fight in war, but how the people of his community would view him. In his heart, he knew that he  should have stayed and dealt with how the people of his town would view him. It would have meant a better life for him. But in fighting that change he accepted his draft and went to Vietnam. O’Brien writes, “I was a coward. I went to the war.” On the Rainy River was of course just an exaggeration of his own story. When O’Brien was actually drafted he said, “I went to my room and started pounding on the typewriter...It was the most the most terrible summer of my life, worse than being in the war. My conscience kept telling me not to go, but my whole upbringing told me I had to.” (The Shock of Being Drafted) The change to be accepted was within his own community and family, but he refused to accept that change and so the action he took was to go to war.

One of the saddest stories in the book is the story of Norman Bowker. The action he took was finite and even if he wanted to, he couldn’t take it back. Norman Bowker lived in guilt after he left the war for not saving his friend Kiowa. O’Brien received a letter from Bowker before he killed himself, “...Norman Bowker, who three years later hanged himself in the locker room of a YMCA in his hometown in central Iowa...I received a long, disjointed letter in which Bowker described the problem of finding meaningful use for his life after the war...At one point he had enrolled in the junior college in his hometown, but the coursework, he said, seemed too abstract, too distant, with nothing real or tangible at stake, certainly not the stakes of a war.” (pg. 155) Norman found that adapting to the change of being in war was much easier than adapting to the change of being a civilian. He goes on in the letter to say that every job he worked felt meaningless. He felt isolated in his town by his experiences. He didn’t have anyone to talk to about his story because nobody really wanted to know. He could not move on from the war and even through trying to adapt he found the new change was too much for him. His refusal to adapt led to such a drastic and poor action.

Tim O’Brien talks a lot about his process for writing The Things They Carried. One of the biggest tools he uses is imagination. Imagining how his characters would react in certain situations and imagining what would happen if things were different is crucial to telling war stories. When asked in an interview about why he chooses to continually write war stories he answered, “After each of my books about the war has appeared, I thought it might be the last, but I've stopped saying that to myself. There are just too many stories left to tell -in fact, more all the time. I suppose that for the sake of my career, I ought to turn in another direction. And the novel I am working on now is about life in the north country of Minnesota. But I know more war stories will come out. They have to.” The way he has adapted to the change of going to war and then the additional change of going home is to write about it. He doesn’t limit himself because this is his way of getting all of his stories to the public. Just as Norman Bowker craved an audience to listen to what he’d been through, O’Brien has found his. Not everyone can use this method of adaptation. Imagination is helpful because it allows people to continue to live in their “new world” while still imagining the life they used to lead. In the case of O’Brien, he has adapted to being a civilian and is a functional and successful member of society. However, his imagination allows him to escape back into the world he was once used to.  

Adaptation to a rapidly changing world is necessary. Refusal to grow with a new world leads to decisions that are harmful. Some can be short term, and others even permanent. In the case of O’Brien he went to a war he didn’t belong in where he could’ve gotten killed. For Norman Bowker, the refusal to adapt meant ending his life.


Works Cited

Bruckner, D.J. "A Storyteller For the War That Won't End." New York Times Online. The New York Times. April 3, 1990. Web. October 20, 2009.


O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. New York: Broadway, 1998. Print.


Sawyer, Scott. "In the Name of Love: An Interview With Tim O'Brien." Mars Hill Review. LeaderU.com (Links to an external site.). Winter/Spring 1996. Web. October 20 2009.



Narrative Essay

Flying has always been a cathartic endeavor for me. I’ve always enjoyed soaring into a blue sky surrounded by sunny splendor. It’s peaceful, to watch clouds below you for once. There has only been one instance that flying did not signify adventuring to a new place. When I was forced to move to Philadelphia, the plane ride was horrible. With each passing minute I felt myself being further ripped from all the things I knew and loved. Kentucky had been my home for 13 years and when my mother told me we’d be moving to Philadelphia I was crushed. I tried to beg, borrow, and steal to stay. I made powerpoints and pleaded just to finish out middle school with all of my friends. I was denied, and so I found myself on a plane that I desperately did not want to be on.

We moved to a tiny one bedroom apartment right next to South street so that I could attend Meredith Elementary School (which was K-8). My bed was situated in the living room, just a few steps away from the kitchen. My mom took the bedroom. The only place I could escape for privacy was the bathroom and when that was needed, the closet. It was dimly lit and had an undertone of dissatisfaction. I’d never expected to be here. I was used to my little house, with an open backyard with a deck, my own wonderful room. All these things were missing and to fill the gap, all I had was a bed. A new school proved to be an even more difficult transition. Coming in as a new student in eighth grade with kids who have been together since Kindergarten is no easy task. I rose early, eager to make a solid first impression.

Upon arrival I found it to be so different than my old school. We all had to gather in the cafeteria and wait to be escorted to our first class. I sat in the cafeteria by myself and felt the eyes on me. The points and whispers, “Who’s the new girl.” A few people came up and introduced themselves and asked me what my name was. There were also a few who didn’t hide their disdain for my presence in their school. There was only one class switch, when I was used to having six classes in a day. That promoted a sense of restlessness. I would gaze out the window, familiarizing myself with my new surroundings and wishing that I could be back home. I remember those first few months passing in a melancholy blur. Without many friends (except a very friendly Lindsey Jones) I read almost constantly. When I would call home and hear about all the fun things my friends were doing in Kentucky I sank into a depression that sort of morphed into an outrage. I hated my mother for making me move and I vowed to spend everyday hating Philadelphia and Meredith and my little one bedroom apartment. I consciously would not call it “home.” It was always, “I’m going to the apartment later.” As if by distancing myself from it, I wouldn’t actually have to live there. By doing all of these things I became more miserable. My relationship with my mom deteriorated because of our constant fighting and my incessant jabs at her for making me move. Everything was awful, and that’s when I started making different choices.

It started with just a peaked curiosity when I went home to Kentucky for winter break. My friends had just entered the typical “curious teen” stage, almost all of them had experimented with alcohol. I had always been considered the Debbie Downer of the group, but not this time. This time I had something to prove. I was back with the people I loved and I wanted to do something outlandish before I had to return to my Philadelphian hell. So, on my birthday, when all my friends begged to steal some of the basement stash, I obliged. Nothing got crazy, it was a myriad of 14 year old girl giggles and over-dramatic gestures of inebriation. After that point things went a little more downhill. When I returned to Philadelphia I was even more upset. Now I knew what I was missing. My friends were growing and changing and becoming closer without me. I was stuck in a school where very few people liked me and I didn’t fit in with most. I became closer friends with a girl that wasn’t on the same path as I was. As I continued to refuse the move, I continued to make bad decisions.

Towards the end of the year I was told that I was to be valedictorian that year. I was honestly a little upset with the decision at first because I had not wanted any special recognition. I already had problems with the other students and I didn’t want to make myself a target. I also didn’t want to be doing well in Philadelphia. I wanted my mom to feel like her decision was wrong for me and that we should have moved back home. Of course, all of these feelings were subconscious at the time, I just knew I felt a little uncomfortable even while I was still proud of myself. In my refusal to adapt to the new world I lived in I made a very stupid choice. The same girl I had started hanging out with brought a four loko in a Propel bottle to school. When she offered me a taste I accepted. I thought I was being cool and showing that I was going to rebel and do what I wanted if we continued to live in this new place. All I did was jeopardize my chances at valedictorian, lose my mother’s trust in me, and out myself about my winter party.

My anger at my new situation got me into a few bad spots my eighth grade year. There were plenty of times that I made decisions just fueled by an unnecessary hatred. It took me a that whole year to get used to where I was. I just had to accept that it would be an adjustment. After I did that I came to love Philadelphia and opportunities started opening up to me that I never would have had in Kentucky. If I had continued to fight this life I would have done more harm to myself than good. Moving was difficult and I still miss my friends and family everyday, but I have learned to make the most of the situation and now I am a happy person. I have amazing friends and have created a whole new branch of people I can love and will support me. Sometimes the seemingly catastrophic events are the ones you can benefit most from, if you accept that they are happening and grow with your new changing world.

9 Comments

Changing World

Analytical Essay:


Trauma can have serious effects on a person. People are place under high levels of stress, and this stress makes the experience difficult to handle. Often times if the stress is high enough, and can affect after the event had occurred, sometimes for long periods of time. And can change the person, and their perception. If a person is placed in a new environment the stress of trauma can make it difficult for them to readjust. After a traumatic experience, it can be difficult for a person to adjust to their world’s changing.

The novel, “The Yellow Birds” written by Kevin Powers, depicts a fictional character named John Bartle, who is  soldier fighting in the Iraq war. John experiences a lot of emotional trauma during the war, and has a difficult time readjusting to civilian life. When he returns to America, it is completely different for him. People in America have a different perception on the war than he has. At an airport bar, shortly after he returns to the U.S. Bartle is given a free drink by a Bartender.  

“ On me”. He smiled “It’s the least I can do.”

“Forget it. I want to pay.” I didn’t want to smile and say thanks. Didn’t want to pretend I’d done anything except survive.” (p.107)

The Bartender thinks that Bartel has done a great service to his country, but Bartle just feels guilty about it. This makes him feel alone in this new world, and shows how it is difficult for him to adjust to it.   

Fighting in a war is often very traumatic for soldiers. The stress of risking one's life, ending others, and witnessing death can weigh heavily on a person. The stress, anxiety and guilt are common emotions that soldiers experience under extreme circumstances. After returning from war, many soldiers experience a condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is evident in “The Yellow Birds” that Bartle is suffering from PTSD because he is emotionally damaged after returning from the war. This condition is a mental health issue in which the person feels the anxiety and stress of war long after combat when they aren’t in any real danger. The stress of a traumatic experience stays with the person long after it occurred. This changes them, and thus changes the world around them in their perspective.

Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs long after a traumatic event, or series of events has occurred. It harmfully affects the mental state of the person. In “ The Yellow Birds” Bartle had PTSD. He closes himself off from other people, and spends most his time isolated in his home. He wallows in his unhappiness, and does little physical activity. “ I had deteriorated more than one might expect in the short time I’d been home.” (p.131) Both his mental and his physical state are being harmed by PTSD. He is not adjusting well to his new world because it is difficult to do so.

Dealing with PTSD cans be difficult, and sometimes people with them can fall into depression. Bartle gets depressed in “The Yellow Birds”. He is depressed for a long time, and eventually it just becomes a way of life for him. He has adjusted to his new world, but in the wrong way. He has given up on trying to make things better, by accepting that they will be bad, and just living with it. “ There were times I’d been pleased with my ability to give up, to forget, to wait” (p.181) He is using this method to deal with his changing world.

The author of the Yellow Birds, Kevin Powers is an Iraq war veteran. “The Yellow Birds” is fictional novel about a fictional group of soldiers, and is not directly based on Powers’s war experience, the author did have knowledge of what it is like to fight in the Iraq war, which were incorporated into the book. Powers experienced many of the post war emotions that Bartle experience. Bartle’s inability to accept that he has a problem and give up was experienced by Powers as well. In an interview he stated “It's always easier, in the short term, to pretend like nothing's wrong.” But in the long term, this is an unhealthy way of dealing with PTSD. Kevin Powers’s war experience allowed him to accurately describe the post war emotions of soldiers in his novel.

The same world can be different to different people if it is seen with a fresh perspective. If something happened in that person’s life before returning to this old world, their view on life may be different. Trauma can sometimes cause this. In war, soldiers returning home often have to adjust to seeing their old world through a new perspective, effectively making it new world for them. Thus can be challenging to handle, as shown in Kevin Powers’s “ The Yellow birds”. The stress of trauma makes it more difficult to readjust to a changing world.





Works Cited for Analytical Essay:


Powers, Kevin. The Yellow Birds: A Novel. New York: Little, Brown, 2012. Print.


Powers, Kevin. "KEVIN POWERS, IN AND OUT OF CONFLICT." Interview by Alice Whitwham. DKNY n.d.: n. pag. Print.



Narrative Essay:


After going through something stressful or nerve racking, a place where someone used to feel comfortable can make a person feel tense and on edge. This can happen after something bad happens there, and the person fears that it will happen again. This happened to me when I walking in the woods. When I was thirteen, I spent a lot of time walking in the woods alone. It was a place to escape from the world and relax. But one day, that relaxed atmosphere changed. I encountered a dangerous situation in the woods, which after the event had occurred had made me anxious. This turned my relaxing retreat into a danger zone. My traumatic event changing my world in the woods.


When I was thirteen, I spent a lot of time wandering the woods alone. I did it because I enjoyed the outdoors, and it was relaxing. I could let my mind wander, and escape the daily stresses of being a teenager. But on a cold snowy day in january, this relaxing place became dangerous. I encountered a pair of aggressive stray dogs, which although not very traumatising, left me a bit shaken, and nervous about returning to this place.


There was maybe three inches of snow on the ground on that cold winter day. Despite the relatively light snowfall, school had been canceled for the day. Since there wasn’t enough snow to sled in, I decided to spend my afternoon hiking in the woods. It may have been cold and miserable outside, but I wanted to take advantage of the emptiness and the amazing view of the snow on the forest floor and trees. This tranquil hike would actually prove to be stressful and nerve racking.

With my jacket and boots on, and a granola bar in my pocket, I set out for a particularly scenic trail, high up on a steep hillside overlooking the creek. The hike was relaxing until I saw that my path was blocked by two huskies, standing there looking at me. Huskies are actually one of my favorite dogs, they are normally loving and friendly. I expecting hem to start wagging their tails and come over to me but they just stood there and stared meaningfully. The larger one started to bark and growl. I knew that they were not going to be friendly. Now nervous, I anxiously waited for their owner to arrive, but they never did. I was alone in a snowy forest, with two large feral dogs, and they were angry.

I decided to turn around and walk away, to avoid confrontation. I dogs followed. I gradually quickened my pace, and then broke in run. This was a foolish mistake, the dogs began to run, and soon caught up with me. One barked loudly and barred it’s teeth, with no other options, I just yelled at it. It stepped back, but did not leave. The two dogs kept pursuing me for about a mile, catching up to me, trying to bite and then backing down. I remained unhurt, but they were waiting for their chance to sink their teeth into me.

Eventually I made it to a parking lot where a group of cross country skiers were hanging out. The dogs were nervous about this large number of people and watched us from behind the trees. Feeling safe at last, I quickly walked home. I didn’t want to go back to the woods for fear that the dogs would still be their. I was clearly encroaching on their territory, and I feared being met with the same retaliation if I did it again. I eventually did go back, but I was always looking over my shoulder, fearing that the dogs would find me. The calm, relaxing forest was no seemed dangerous. My mind didn’t wander as easily, because so much as the snap of a twig would make me anxious.

Eventually I adjusted to this new world. I did some research on dog attacks, and I started carrying branches and even a knife in my pocket with me on hikes for defense. Eventually when spring came, more pedestrians also began hiking in the woods again, so I assumed that the dogs good scared and left, or that someone reported them to animal control or something. My world was safe again, but not just because the problem was eliminated. I no longer feared any animal, because I knew that I could handle it. Learning to cope with the situation allowed me to adjust to world that had changed after a dangerous experience.

When the dangerous situation occurred, I realized that stray dog attacks were a legitimate danger of the local woods. Upon realizing this, something that I never even thought about became a fear of mine. This brought fear into this world of mine, and that changed it. I had difficulty adjusting to this fear. The only way to adjust to this new risk that had presented itself was to stop fearing it. I did this by preparing myself, and having confidence in the fact that I could overcome it. By not fearing the recurrence trauma, one can adjust to a new world that changed by it.


3 Comments

Changing World Essay

Analytical Essay:


The world is constantly changing anywhere from advancements in technology to changes in the environment. Humans are also always changing mentally and physically. When the men in “The Things They Carry” get drafted into war they are forced to face many changes in their lives. To cope with all of these changes many people shut them out and ignore them. Ignoring or not embracing change is one of the worst mistakes a person could make.

Dave Jensen and Lee Strunk didn’t start off as friends at all. However, based off of this story, when a person is at war they need to learn to trust people extremely fast. The two men made a pact that if either of them ever got critically injured in battle, than the other would kill him. They signed a document and had witnesses. When Lee got his leg blown off this pact went out the window. Lee said “But you’ve got to promise. Swear it to me--Swear you won't kill me. Jensen nodded his head and said “I swear,”...” Lee died shortly after that. In this scenario Jensen embraced change extremely quickly and went back on his written word. The two men changed their pact. Many people would have stuck with it because they wouldn’t want to change what they said. Jensen wouldn’t kill his friend because he didn’t want to have that burden.

Before Lieutenant Jimmy Cross went to war he met a woman named Martha. He quickly fell in love with Martha. Throughout the beginning of the book he could not stop thinking of her. This caused him to lead his men into a bad situation and someone got killed. “He felt shame. He hated himself. He had loved martha more than his men, and as a consequence Lavender was now dead, and this was something he would have to carry in his stomach for the rest of the war.” Soon after that he came to a realization “... and because he realized that she did not love him and never would.” When Jimmy Cross went into the war he wasn’t ready to embrace the change of leaving Martha behind. Jimmy hung onto Martha like a little kid with a pacifier who just isn’t ready to give it up. Him going into battle with his mind full of thoughts about Martha got one of his men killed. He now needs to live with that. He got a man killed because he wasn’t ready to embrace change. By the time he finally realized the truth about Martha and his relationship, it was too late.

''I went to my room in the basement and started pounding the typewriter,'' he recalled. ''I did it all summer. It was the most terrible summer of my life, worse than being in the war. My conscience kept telling me not to go, but my whole upbringing told me I had to. That horrible summer made me a writer. I don't know what I wrote. I've still got it, reams of it, but I'm not willing to look at it. It was just stuff - bitter, bitter stuff, and it's probably full of self-pity. But that was the beginning.'' Tim O’Brien getting drafted into the war seemed like the worst thing possible to him. However, he embraced this change. By coming to the realization that he should just accept this life changing encounter instead of pushing it away. By accepting it, it made him the writer he is today. He vented his anger but acceptance of this change by writing and it made into an extremely successful author.

When people are faced with change they either choose to embrace it or ignore it. By ignoring change people put themselves into situations that aren’t always the best. It’s best to embrace change instead of completely ignoring it.


Narrative Essay:


It was finally December and that meant it was almost Christmas! Christmas time meant a million phone calls from every family member asking what I wanted. One call was special though. It was the phone call from my grandmom that always stuck out to me. We had a great relationship but many people would call it strange. For starters, I didn’t call her my grandmom. I called her my aunt. I did this because she always said she was to young to be a grandmom. She wanted me to call her Aunt Jan so that’s what I did. She was also a very open person. Anything that was on her mind she would say. That’s what I loved, but sometimes hated, about her. She had a saying “Lord keep one hand on my shoulder, and the other on my mouth.” So back to the phone call. It always started with a “how was your day?” I’d say “Good, what about you?” Then it would go on to “So Bella you know it’s that time of the year right.” We’d talk about how I’ve already talked to a billion people and told them all the same thing, I just want money. After finally telling her something different than money, we’d hang up. When Christmas came along I would go to her house in the morning, still wearing my pajamas. I would see all the things I asked for but every year there was always one extra thing. It was the same thing every year just a little different. It was a Victoria Secret sweat suit. The only difference between this years and last years was the color. She never got me the same color two years in a row. The last sweat suit I ever got from her was purple, one of her favorite colors.

A few months before the Christmas of 2012 we got some bad news. Aunt Jan got diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a really hard thing for all of us to wrap our heads around because none of us saw it coming. My grandmom fought hard and beat cancer once. When Christmas of 2012 came nothing changed. We had our same phone call. I still went there in the morning, just our usual Christmas.

After Christmas her cancer came back, and it came back stronger than before. Unfortunately, on one sad day in May of 2013, my grandmom lost her battle to breast cancer. Cancer had gotten the best of her and none of us could believe it. We all knew that she wasn't going to make it because that's what the doctors told us but we still had hope that she would beat it again. None of us were ready to accept the fact that she would be gone, especially me.

I saw her the night before she died. I looked at her and she looked back at me with a very particular look. A look that said the words I never wanted to hear, without even saying them. A look that was certain that her time here was over. It hurt to bad to agree with her.

After her death I wasn't ready to accept all the changes that were about to happen. I started to let my life fall apart. In my eyes the only way to really deal with my problems was to drink. Where I live teen drinking is a pretty normal thing. Almost everyone teenager drinks to have fun. That's not why I started though. Sure it might of seemed like I was having fun in the moment, but when I got home and it was just me it wasn't fun anymore. I called her phone almost every night and listened to her voicemail over and over again. I left long messages of the things I never got to say. I hoped that one day maybe, just maybe, she would answer.

I knew that it was time to finally accept that she was gone. The final realization was when Christmas of 2014 came along. I didn't get that phone call I usually got. When I went there in the morning, there wasn't a sweatsuit waiting for me to change into. The house felt empty and not whole. All the things that we did together, I would now have to do by myself.

When I finally accepted this change I realized that everything was going to be okay. I knew that she wouldn't want me to let my life fall apart just because she isn't here anymore. I knew that if she were here she would ask me what the hell I was doing with myself. Whenever I felt down I would just ask myself how she would react if she were still here. By accepting the fact that just because she's gone physically, doesn't mean she's gone spiritually. I know that she's always there watching over me and I'm now able to accept that and be a better person because of it.


Works Cited for Analytical Essay:


Bruckner, D.J. "A Storyteller For the War That Won't End." New York Times Online. The New York Times. April 3, 1990. Web. October 20, 2009.


O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. New York: Broadway, 1998. Print.

2 Comments

Changing World Essay

Analytical Essay:


Friendship is a mutual bond between two or more people, a stronger form of an interpersonal bond than an association (Wikipedia). Such a dry definition does not give the concept of friendship justice. Friendship is putting someone else first, and it is not a large theme in The Yellow Birds. The relationship between the two main characters, Bartle and Murph is not one of close friendship. It is difficult to define their relationship. The main reason that Bartle concerns himself with Murph at all is because of a promise that he made to Murph’s mother, he promised her he would look out for her son, and bring him home from the war. Despite the fact that they were almost complete strangers. Still, he felt obligated to keep his promise, regardless of the fact that he despises keeping it. Bartle spends a fair amount of time thinking about how much he doesn’t want to be responsible for Murph. After Murph dies, Bartle looks back on the moments that he didn’t comfort Murph, or ignored his behavior, and wonders that if he had comforted and consoled him, could there have been a chance that he could’ve saved him? Reliving each moment and thinking of different scenarios is what caused Bartle to become so depressed after he was discharged, but the root of it was that he did not keep his promise.  

Although it feels like a memoir when reading it, all of the characters are fictional and the story is fictional. Author Kevin Powers enlisted in the army when he was seventeen years old, he fought in Iraq as a machine gunner assigned to an engineer unit. "I think I had to come to terms with my own experience before I was able to contend with it in writing," Powers said in an interview with The Guardian. The Yellow Birds is Powers’s answer to the wider question of "what it was like over there.” He set out, he says, with the aim of "seeing if it would be possible to paint a portrait of the war looking out from inside of this one soldier" (The Guardian) The focus of the book, very personal, going back and forth between the war, and Bartle’s life after in Virginia, he switches, sometimes mid-sentence, between the two places.

“The root of his guilt is that he wanted to be good, and he tried to be good, but he failed. His conflict is between his desire to redeem that failure and his acceptance of complete powerlessness.” (Kevin Powers) This is about where all of  Bartle’s guilt really comes from, he does feel guilt from Murph’s death, and from his survival, but the root of it all is the fact that Barle never actually kept his promise to watch out for Murph, and bring him home.


"What Is Friendship? - HowStuffWorks." HowStuffWorks. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2015. <http://people.howstuffworks.com/what-is-friendship.htm>.
Percy, Benjamin. "On the Ground." The New York Times. The New York Times, 06 Oct. 2012. Web. 13 Jan. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/07/books/review/the-yellow-birds-by-kevin-powers.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0>.



3 Comments

Bella Mezzaroba The Self and the Changing World

Analytical Essay:


Human’s have a variety of coping mechanisms that allow them to continue living after something life changing has happened. It’s human nature to survive, so therefore, humans must find ways to keep living when life becomes difficult to handle. In order to deal with tragedy, loss, or difficult times, humans detach themselves from the situation at hand in order to cope. Different personality types detach themselves differently but overall, people dehumanize suffering in order to get through it.

In  Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, the men have rituals that they carry out when they come across a dead Vietnamese soldier. The men do things like shake hands with the dead, toast the dead, and speak to the dead as if they were as alive as they. In this specific example, O’Brien’s talking about the way the men toast to a dead man they found. “It was more than mockery. There was a formality to it, like a funeral without sadness.” Most of the men aren’t rude about death. However, by removing the sadness from the atmosphere of death, they’re not associating their own emotions with the situation. Removing sadness from the equation removes the sense of attachment to the circumstances. By acting as if death is a game, the men not only separate themselves from the grief, but separate themselves from the guilt of taking another man’s life.   

O’Brien, in one of his interviews, says, “The one way to psychologically endure it all is to escape in your head.” O’Brien’s speaking about retreating into his imagination to mentally survive a hardship such as war. That was his specific way of detaching. It was also a way he expressed through the actions of many of the soldiers in his story. O’Brien writes a character named Kiowa, a native american young man who hasn’t let the war change his outlook on life. By staying true to his pre-war self, Kiowa lives in an illusion. He’s escaping into his mind, into what he was before he was surrounded by death and destruction in Vietnam. By refusing to change who he is, Kiowa is building a mental wall that keeps the war from destroying him psychologically.

In The Things They Carried, there is a chapter titled, The Man I Killed. The entire chapter is describing a man O’Brien shot and the backstory he imagined for the man.  O’Brien, when describing what the man looked like after he shot him, says “...and his other eye was a star-shaped hole.” This phrase, “star shaped hole” is used throughout the not only the rest of the chapter but the rest of the book. The repetition gives a sense of importance to the phrase. By saying it often, O’Brien is showing how difficult it is to separate your life from a death you caused

Later on, in the last chapter of The Things They Carried, O’Brien describes his first experience with death. His childhood love, a girl named Linda, died of cancer when she was nine. O’Brien refuses to accept she’s dead so he begins to see her in his imagination, so that she’ll never really be gone. “And at night time, I’d slide into bed knowing that Linda would be there waiting for me.” This is a direct example of coping with death through denial and detachment. The young O’Brien imagines his childhood love as alive even though she is very much dead because he can’t cope with reality. These coping mechanisms of separating oneself from reality don’t only apply to dire circumstances such as war. These coping strategies are used for everyday tragedies, such as the death of Linda.

These psychological coping mechanisms aren’t only relevant to soldiers, veterans or enlistees. These detachment methods are used, sometimes unknowingly, in everyday tragedies like death of a family member or loss of a job. Even children will employ these methods when faced with school bullies, ostracization or, more serious, parental abuse. Everyone will handle their grief differently but in general, humans will detach themselves and dehumanize their suffering in order to get through it.

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:


O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990. Print.


"In the Name of Love." In the Name of Love. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2015.


Narrative Essay:


I attended Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry for 10 years. I know, it’s a little longer than most students spend at Hogwarts but I was a special case. Due to having to live a double life, as a wizard and a muggle. I started off at Hogwarts a lot younger than most, around the age of 4. Ironically enough, it was the same year my mom enrolled me in Pre-K at Epiphany of Our Lord Catholic Grade School, but between you and me that was more of a side gig. My real focus was on spells and magic, I never cared much for storytime or coloring books. I did a good job of keeping my magic life separate from my muggle life. I hid my Hogwarts school books with Cloaking Charms, I practiced my Hovering Charms while simultaneously doing my muggle homework with a levitating pencil. No one expected a thing.

For years, I studied the wizarding basics. How to brew a basic potion and how to transfigure a matchstick into a needle. Sometimes, Catholic school would interfere with my studies. Like in 3rd grade, when the teacher told me I was too young to be reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, a required reading at Hogwarts. I explained to her that I must read it, as Professor Binns had assigned it as homework, due the following week. I suppose she didn’t appreciate that I was putting my magical studies before her class and she forbade me from reading it again. I began having to do my Hogwarts homework in secret at home, instead of in Catholic school where I usually did it.

What these Catholic School folks didn’t understand is, I put their school secondary to Hogwarts. I only went to Epiphany because those gosh darn muggles required all children to attend their schools. I didn’t see why I needed math to solve problems when I could brew a perfectly good potion or cast a spell instead.

As I continued through my education, I continued juggling my muggle work and my wizarding work rather successfully. Around 5th grade, however, things became more complicated. I loved Hogwarts, not only because the coursework was so exciting, but because everyone was my friend there. Whether someone was Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, or Hufflepuff, I was friends with them. In the muggle world, though, things were a little different. In 5th grade, all the other kids started having big birthday parties or weekend get togethers. I was rarely invited. I was so busy at Hogwarts though, I probably wouldn’t have found the time anyway. People started whispering about me being friendless. Obviously, I wasn’t, I had so many friends at Hogwarts, more than I could count! But... I couldn’t tell the muggles about that. It’s all part of the Wizarding Decree of Secrecy.

In time, I began to learn more complicated magic. I was succeeding in Hogwarts in ways unimaginable. I received 8 O.W.Ls, Ordinary Wizarding Levels, a type of wizarding certification that allowed me to further my education in my chosen fields of magic. I was Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team and was leading my team toward the Quidditch Cup for the third year in a row. Things were really working out for me in Hogwarts.

In the muggle world, however, I faced more challenges. Teachers were getting aggravated with me, claiming I wasn’t paying enough attention in their classes. If I could only have explained the situation to them but I had learned my lesson in 3rd grade. If only I could have mastered that Replicating Charm, I could have been in two places at once! Alas, it seemed I was doomed to this double life.

Around my 9th year at Hogwarts and my 7th year at muggle school, everything became so hectic that my two lives began to merge. How I longed for simpler days of Wingardium Leviosa and times tables! I started getting confused. I couldn’t tell the difference between my American History textbook and my copy of A History of Magic. I was lagging behind at Hogwarts and my title of Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team was revoked. I started to loose my friends, I started to forget what they even looked like. My memories were fleeting and far and few between. I forgot my schedule, my spells, charms, hexes, potion recipes, and even the hallways of Hogwarts.

I had no trouble recalling my math homework or when the next Religion test was. I knew the names of everyone in my class and how to navigate the halls. I no longer swished and flicked my pencils, practicing the motions for spellcasting, because I no longer remembered how to cast a spell. I was becoming a muggle.

I left Catholic School the same day I should have graduated Hogwarts. It’s funny how things change. I graduated from the muggle school the way I meant to have graduated Hogwarts; top marks and a future lying ahead of me. I left Hogwarts though, a few months prior. No self respecting witch forgets how to perform basic spells, as I had. After ten great years, I lost my imagination. I lost my Hogwarts and I lost my magic. I had to face reality.


5 Comments

The Self vs. The Changing World

Analytical Essay:


Depression and anxiety are common emotions experienced by people when their world changes in a non favorable way. People develop different habits in order to cope with what they are experiencing. Sleeping is one way to cope with it. It is very common due to the fact that people attempt to have happy dreams of what their life used to be before their world changed. It provides people with a pass time to get over with their change. In the book, The Things They Carried, by Tim O'brien, people cope with the changing world by attempting to dream because then they avoid having to consciously think about their troubles and can make their own fantasy.

In the chapter “Lives of the Dead”, Tim O’brien talks about how he coped with the death of his friend Linda who died of brain cancer. After her death he slept a lot more often. This is when his mom started a conversation with him to see if he was alright. He responded, “‘Nothing. I just need sleep, that's all.’ I didn't dare tell the truth. It was embarrassing, I suppose, but it was also a precious secret, like a magic trick, where if I tried to explain it, or even talk about it, the thrill and mystery would be gone. I didn't want to lose Linda.” (244) This shows that events that cause depression are sometimes dealt with by dreaming and therefore sleeping in order to make a place where the real world changes that caused the depression is no longer there. He really believes it is a successful way of coping with it, even though he doesn’t understand how something so simple can be so joyful. The reason for dreaming as opposed to eating or some other way of coping is because while eating takes you away from what happened, it does not take you back to when that change happened, whereas dreaming does. Also, there are less adverse side effects to sleeping than to excessive eating such as weight gain and risk for heart disease and several others diseases that are life threatening which are common side effects of excessive eating.

In the chapter “On the Rainy River”, O’brien was staying at a lodge owned by Elroy Berdahl in Minnesota near the border between the United States and Canada. O’brien had sleeping problems because of his anxiety of being drafted into the Vietnam War. He was tempted into going to Canada to escape his draft order but was too scared to. “I couldn't sleep; I couldn't lie still. At night I'd toss around in bed, half awake, half dreaming, imagining how I'd sneak down to the beach and quietly push one of the old man's boats out into the river and start paddling my way toward Canada.” (50) Here is an example of a time when a character desperately tried to sleep in order to avoid their real world change. While he was not fully asleep, he even mentions the fact that when he was “half awake, half dreaming” he dreamed about doing what he was too afraid to do in real life which was going into Canada. This show that even when one cannot successfully sleep, if they are in a half dream state, they can at least experience part of what they would if they were fully asleep.

In the chapter “Enemies”, soldiers Dave Jensen and Lee Strunk got into a fight. Jensen being larger in size, was victorious and ended up breaking Strunk’s nose. After that event Strunk was always on edge at night while trying to sleep. “At night he had trouble sleeping—a skittish feeling—always on guard, hearing strange noises in the dark, imagining a grenade rolling into his foxhole or the tickle of a knife against his ear.” (63)  While he was never able to successfully go to sleep, this does show what happens when you are awake and worry about the changing world. In this case while he was awake he stressed out always thinking Jensen was waiting to kill him. His attempt at sleeping in order to dream would have proved as a good way of coping if we was able to. It is certain that him being awake made him not able to think about anything other than the possibility of Jensen killing him.

During an interview with Mars Hill Review (MHR), Tim O’brien was asked why  he thought imagining was crucial to him as a soldier and a person. He responded, “Imagination is important in a couple of ways. One way is as a psychological means of escape. If you can lose yourself in a fantasy, then you're no longer trapped in the horror of, say, Vietnam.” Dreaming is when one’s imagination is at its fullest so it would make sense that most of that imagination came from dreaming. In your dreams its much easy to escape reality because its when things seem most real but actually aren’t.

While there are many different ways to cope with the changing world dreaming is one of the most easy and common that provides escape. It gives people the ability to experience the most realistic feeling of places that isn’t real yet can mimic a person’s desire for things to be how they were before the world changed. While people cannot always controls what happens in their dreams, just the hope of them being able to experience their better past life is something for them to look forward to. Without dreaming, many people wouldn’t have something to look forward to in order for them to be in a happy place.



Works Cited for Analytical Essay:


O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. New York: Broadway, 1998. Print.


Sawyer, Scott. "In the Name of Love: An Interview With Tim O'Brien." Mars Hill Review. LeaderU.com (Links to an external site.). Winter/Spring 1996. Web. October 20 2009.



Narrative Essay:

“Nebil are you okay?” my mom would usually ask.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m just tired” was my response.

Under the covers of my bed, I was in a place of comfort. I preferred to sleep facing my window, so I wouldn’t be looking at anyone who came in my room. I either stared at something in the room or out of the window before I slept. Sometimes I slept from twelve noon until 8 at night and often times much more erratic sleeping patterns.

Sleeping was my way of coping with something that happened to me, whether it be that I was a mad at my parents or friends or whether I was depressed about something. This time I slept because I was depressed about my grades in class. I used to always be stressed about my grades and thinking they had a big snowball effect on my future. I used to think that if I got a B in Math for even just one quarter my chances of getting into an Ivy League instantly dropped to nothing. Pressure from academics like that always used to get to me. I used to see a lot of my friends getting much better grades than I was, and they were worried about their own future which made me think I should be even more worried about my own. The stress from worrying about my future and classes often times required for me to sleep.

The reason I slept was because when I slept, I didn’t think about anything. I was free from the worries that encompassed me while I was awake. In my dreams I did what I normally did while not thinking about what I would have to when I woke. I guess I like that feeling of being care free or unaware. It relieves me of stress and allows me to enjoy myself. After waking up I am usually much more alive than I was before I slept. I still would keep that feeling of being carefree for a while after I woke up. That is until my friends say something about homework, projects, colleges, and SATs.

Aside from my parents, my friends started to worry about me too. At first on school nights I would usually chat with them on skype. When I went to sleep early because I was angry, stressed, or depressed, they often ask me what’s wrong. “Hey Nebil, what’s wrong?” someone usually says in school when they see my head down.

“Nothing, I’m just not feeling great. I just need some sleep.” was my usual response.

“Okay, hope you feel better?” they could tell I was lying, but it’s not like I would put much effort into it anyway.

My sleeping habits started to become unhealthy. I used to sleep in school very often. In my sophomore year, in almost every History class for the first quarter, I slept through just because I couldn’t stand some of the ignorant comments that were said from across the classroom. It was so bad that it got to the point where the teacher took me out of class and asked why I was sleeping so much. My response was the same to him as well.

My sleeping habits only got worse. I started to sleep in on weekends. Whenever my friends asked me if I  wanted to go with them some where, I would come up with some excuse and tell them that yesterday was rough I wasn’t feeling good. I got too used to dreaming as a way of escape. While initially it seemed harmless, I later realized I was desocializing myself from the world. The few times I didn’t make an excuse and went with them somewhere, I would hear them converse about funny events that I missed because I didn’t go with them the previous time. At first I made nothing of it, but later I realized I asked the question, “What are you guys talking about?” a little too often because I didn’t meet with them as often as I previously did.

I tried to stop myself from sleeping by doing something else to cope with my stress. Eating didn’t work at all because I didn’t like to eat while I was angry, stressed or depressed. While I liked exercising, I was never in the mood to do it for the same reasons I didn’t eat. In the end I just went back to sleeping and pushed the thoughts of my friends, parents, and teachers worrying about me to the back of my head.

One of my friends who I talked to often always told me not to worry about school because I was doing just fine in school. They told me that I was getting all A’s so there was really nothing to worry about. While it was nice that they did that, it was hard to take them seriously because they were doing much better than me in school and much more outside of school to have things to put on their resumé.

Since then, that friend has kept on telling me that I’m at an okay place. Ever since then, I started believing what they said more and more as believed their sincerity. To this day I still do sleep when I’m depressed but I noticed that I sleep less. It’s not because I found a different way to cope with stress, depression, and anger, but now I don’t experience those emotions as often because my friends helped take those emotions off of me. I found out that my friends have become a more important tool for me to deal with an uncomfortably changing world.


3 Comments

The Changing World vs. The Self

Analytical:

Many things can change within a given amount of time, throughout life there are many situations where you have to adapt to get through to the next task, to the next day. The individual has to change themselves in a positive or negative way to be able to get through the pressing situation in their lives,and the changing world evolves based on past mistakes. The changing world and “the self” are related through a mutual bond of pain and adaptation.  Generally the bond of pain has to do with loss or negative issues within the world, and the adaptation is how the world and individual change within themselves.

Throughout the book, “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, the characters change based on the unfortunate things that happen to them. One of the best examples of this is at the beginning of the book, while O’Brien is still introducing the characters, saying their names and what they carry. In this moment the author is talking about a soldier named Jimmy Cross and how he deals with having to be in the war while the love of his life is elsewhere. “They were called legs or grunts. To carry something was to hump it, as when Lieutenant Jimmy Cross humped his love for Martha up the hills and through the swamps.” (Pg 3)

The soldiers have to learn to adapt to the new weight of their equipment, which obviously puts new weight on their backs plus the strain of being in a new place. This causes them physical pain (at least a little). And they have to learn to deal with the pain/strain and move on. They must trudge on through the new environment they are in and adapt to everything they go through to stay alive so they can get home. The changing world is were they actually are (in the field aka Vietnam), and the self is exactly that (inside all their heads/how they feel). This is really personified throughout this quote, even though it is pretty short, just by Jimmy deciding to focus more on ‘humping’ his weight and the job he has to do rather than Matha at home. He’s adapting to his situation by blocking out the part of his life that is causing the biggest problem; Martha is making his service difficult, so he decided to block her out and think more about what he has to do, rather than what he misses. And the over all changing world just goes on through the war it is already in, which is the personification of pain for the world. The fact that its getting destroyed over territory and politics etc.

Tim's explanations of what the men have to deal with show more examples of how the men adapt He makes their characters seem more human so can connect with them and sort of feel their pain.(Pg 21) “They were tough. They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing- these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had terrible weight.”Again the soldiers have to deal with all the different issues/situations they go through in the war, and everything that also doesn’t happen. Like all the men that don’t survive, all the people they can’t see everyday, all the battles they don’t win etc. They also have to deal with everything bad that may or may not have happened to them before they even went into the service. The changing world in this situation is again where they are, but more specifically being in the military (U.S Army). The self is also within the subject, more exactly, were the individual is in their mind. Mostly involving their acceptance of past events (Emotional stability). Just generally meaning that the world changes its scenery and location, while the individual changes as a person to adapt to changes around them.

While in the war a soldier named Rat Kiley writes a letter to the sister of his best friend, who was just killed in battle. He does this because they were so close during their service and he thought it would be better than her just getting the Killed In Action notice. After he sends the letter out she never writes back, and this is Rat’s reaction to her lack of a response, “Listen to Rat Kiley. Cooze, he says. He does not say bitch. He certainly does not say woman, or girl. He says cooze. Then he spits and stares. He’s nineteen years old- it’s too much for him- so he looks at you with those big sad gentle killer eyes and says cooze, because his friend is dead, and because it’s incredibly sad and true: she never wrote back.”(Pg 69)

This proves the point that the changing world and “the self” are related through a mutual bond of pain and adaptation. It illustrates that the ‘characters’ or soldiers in the real world will adapt each other’s stories for one another and tell them as their own. Effectively this makes their coping go over easier. Although they still feel the need to tell the stories, which is a way of expressing the emotions they felt in order to adapt. In most situations the emotions they’re expressing, his pain from past war experiences.

Even throughout different interviews with the author of “The Things They Carried” Tim O’Brien alludes to the issues he and his fellow soldiers had during the war that he touches on in the books, even though most of the characters in the book are fictional they are based off real people he met.

''We all wondered why the place was so hostile. We did not know there had been a massacre there a year earlier. The news about that only came out later, while we were there, and then we knew. There is a monument in My Lai now and I want to see it.''

This is probably the most obvious and literal quote that could be found. The changing world having to go through a massacre, a large loss of life in a certain area, then having that area be physically changed into a memorial for those who lost their lives during that tragedy. The individual being the people that were affected, the killed, their families, the community members. Then those individuals somehow having to adapt in order to cope with all the changes caused by the massacre itself.

During this same interview with New York Times, O’Brien was speaking to the interviewer about how he felt getting drafted, the shock he felt and what he did after receiving the notice himself.

“His reaction to the draft notice still surprises him. ''I went to my room in the basement and started pounding the typewriter,'' he recalled. ''I did it all summer. It was the most terrible summer of my life, worse than being in the war. My conscience kept telling me not to go, but my whole upbringing told me I had to. That horrible summer made me a writer. I don't know what I wrote. I've still got it, reams of it, but I'm not willing to look at it. It was just stuff - bitter, bitter stuff, and it's probably full of self-pity. But that was the beginning.''”

Tim openly admits to how he felt as his life changed around him. The war becoming worse to the point where the military needed more bodies to the point where more men were drafted into service. He changed in himself, based on the fear and shock he felt at having to go into a situation that could possibly lead to his death.


O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. New York: Broadway, 1998. Print.

Bruckner, D.J. "A Storyteller For the War That Won't End." New York Times Online. The New York Times. April 3, 1990. Web. October 20, 2009.


Narrative:

Most of my family is involved with the Military, and even those who aren’t work for the government. My father was in the Army, My uncle was in the Marine Core, My aunt in the Navy, and my mother, grandmother, great-aunt, and uncle, all work for the IRS. Reading Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” was very helpful in putting everything they had to go through into perspective.

More so my uncle Ray honestly. He came home about four years ago, but he was flown overseas and served in Iraq. Dropped into an unfamiliar place, fresh outta high school and dead set on bringing the family honor. Although thats not really what happened. He doesn’t suffer from PTSD or any other of the myriad of psychological issues he very well could from being in the war.

Although if you go through his phone you’ll see pictures of what its like, and he has buried many friends while he was in the war. Which is touched on very often throughout the book and also in interviews with the author himself. “The Things They Carried”, shows how the soldiers felt doing what they were ordered, and how they reacted to all the death and destruction around them.

That was always something I wanted to better understand, because I knew that my uncle had seen dead bodies, and buildings crumble. Seeing those things can completely change a person and their point of view on life, so I wondered how that affected Ray. I could never actually ask him though, because even if it tore him apart inside he would put on a brave face and act like it didn't phase him in the slightest.

Tim opened my eyes to the fact, that sometimes people in the service just can’t talk about those things, that I can’t just expect anyone to pour out everything they ever saw in the field to me. That sometimes its better not to ask, and just let your imagination assume the worst, and try to be as kind as you can. Just show them all the love you have, so they don’t forget its there when they need it. Just always be happy when they make it home, and try to be the best family you can when they do. Give them support. Everything you can, but not too much so you don’t overwhelm them into thinking there is something wrong with them. Just in general, take everything in stride and don’t think about it too hard, just love the person that comes back as much as you loved them before they were deployed.

1 Comment

How The World Changes The Self

Analytical Essay:

The world is constantly changing.  When people are young they don’t catch on to the change as easily.  Once those people get older they start to question whether they’ve changed as well or is the world just changing drastically around you.  Though many people believe that either the world changes a person or they change the world, the truth is that both happen simultaneously, with each being affected by the other's changes.


War is something that has been on and off between countries for many many years.  “The Yellow Birds” by Kevin Powers is a fictional story about the Iraq war.  Powers was a soldier who fought in the war so he used his first hand experience to make the story as realistic as possible.  "I was not surprised by the cruelty of my ambivalence back then. Nothing seemed more natural than someone getting killed."  This is a quote from “The Yellow Birds.”  The character saying the quote proves that the world is starting to change him and how it has changed him since then.  During the war he got used to death because it happened so frequently.  Since he’s talking about how he thought of death during that time in the past tense it is assumed he no longer is so numb to death.  The world may have changed his outlook on death atleast twice in his lifetime.  


The Yellow Birds really shows how numb the war makes soldiers.  the way almost every character talks about war makes it seem so common.  “People are going to die,' he said flatly. 'It's statistics.' Then he got up and left the room."  This quote proves that not only does this particular soldier look at death as a common thing, but also shows that life itself loses its quality and is not as valuable.  He views people’s lives as statistics or numbers.  Soldiers thought that if they’re numb to loss then they’ll survive the war, but they didn’t survive the war at all spiritually.  They turned numb to loss and almost lost the emotion of sadness.  Losing any emotion is like partially losing a quality of life, or losing something that proves a person is a healthy, living human being.


The last quote from “The Yellow Birds” isn’t like the other quotes.  The other two quotes do not occur when a death happens, but this quote does.  "I'll yell, I thought. I'll tell him they are old, let them pass... I said nothing.  Holy sh**, that bit** got murdered... there was no grief, or anguish, or joy, or pity in that statement. There was no judgement made. He was just surprised."  This quote proves that this particular soldier doesn’t grief the death of the woman at all.  He only feels surprised that she died, and will most likely get over it by the next day.  The world around him has changed soldiers outlook on death and life in general.  

In an interview, the author of “The Yellow Birds” Kevin Powers said “ I wonder why people are the way they are. I wonder how do we justify the things that we do, because it always seems like we are doing terrible things. But the stories that we tell ourselves are always about our goodness and our idealism and that contradiction has been interesting to me throughout my whole life.” This is an example of how people change the world or how it’s looked at by other people.  If all people hear about is good things in the news or any source, then they’ll believe the world is a good place and change its reputation everyone has of it.  When all the news talks about is negative things going on in the world it changes people’s outlook on it in a negative way.  Some may be concerned with the world when it’s in this state and some may just lose hope in the people around them.

There’s lots of different ways the world changes people physically, mentally, and emotionally.  People can only change the world physically and how other people look at it.  “The Yellow Birds” depicts a very negative and sad world where the soldiers are fighting emotionlessly and are not phased by anything going on around them. In a world like that the people will not continue to prosper and do great things like they have continued to do for centuries.





Works Cited for Analytical Essay:


Powers, Kevin. The Yellow Birds: A Novel. New York: Little, Brown, 2012. Print.

"An Exclusive Interview with Kevin Powers, Poet and Iraq War Veteran, about His Debut Novel, The Yellow Birds." Foyles. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2015

Narrative Essay:

Growing up I never had to worry about money.  My parents always gave me money in exchange for doing things they ask of me.  Then once I got a little older, like any other kid my demand for money became higher and higher.  When I asked for a cell phone my parents told me the only way I could get one is if I can pay the bill.  So I got a paper route and started delivering papers. I got paid enough to pay my bills and occasionally some spending money for a week or two.  In the summer I’d do landscaping jobs with my friend Stephen just because my demand for spending money is higher when I have more free time. Last year I realized that I needed more money than Both a paper route or mowing lawns could provide, so as soon as I turned 17 I started looking for a job.  I didn’t find a job until around June.  I started working at a nursing home in Andorra called “Cathedral Village”.  I didn’t care how much they paid me hourly I just wanted money in my pocket over the summer especially since I had a girlfriend I knew dates would be expensive.  

As I got older a lot changed.  The things I bought, the amount of food I ate.  I just would not be able to make $40 last a whole month.  My world changed around me in that sense because prices of things I liked such as food, video games, and hockey equipment all went up in price.  The price of things is constantly changing because there is more of a demand or less of a demand for them.

Once I got a job it definitely impacted my weekly routine.  In the summer I worked about 24 hours a week.  When I used to delivers the newspaper I had to only work once a week for an hour.  I wasn’t used to having that little amount of free time, especially in the summer.  When I was younger I barely knew what day of the week it was in the summer.  But now I constantly have to keep track of it.  It was a real adjustment for me.  Getting a job was entering the real world for me.  A world I had previously not even thought about.  My world felt like it was moving too fast and because of that I had to change things I did and when I did them, like sleeping.  I stay up late and sleep late in the summer.  With a job I couldn’t do that because if I slept from 4am-4pm every day then I wouldn’t get to see any friends or my girlfriend on days I worked.  So I slept at a decent hour and still got to see friends and my girlfriend.  

The world changing around me resulted in me changing to adjust to the real world. Prices of things I wanted went up and I needed money if I really wanted those things.  I also plan to drive this year so I’ll need money for insurance, gas, and eventually a car.  Having a job matured me.  It got me used to working long days.  My world will continue to constantly change and I’ll change with it.  The key is to take everything day by day and one thing at a time.  


2 Comments

Self and Changing World

Analytical Essay:


In the Yellow Bird’s, war changes the lives of many soldiers. PTSD is an outcome of the war. While the world remains ignorant to the war’s side effects, the soldiers continue to experience a change that will change their lives forever. There should be sympathy and understanding in the heart of every American when there’s a discussion of people at war.


“I was not surprised by the cruelty of my ambivalence back then. Nothing seemed more natural than someone getting killed... I had to see the world with clear eyes, to focus on the essential. We only pay attention to the rare things, and death was not rare.” p.11 People at war are stripped of morals and codes that they were taught at a young age. When in war, what’s wrong becomes right and what’s right becomes wrong. Killing is wrong, any type of violence is. Love is taught to be given to everyone, including your enemies because it’s the right thing to do. People at war are not allowed to have a heart or to show emotions because when they do, they show weakness, they’re supposed to be ruthless and be able to kill when demanded. For some, holding a gun is scary enough, but asking them to pull the trigger is another story. When Americans look at people who have been in war, compassion should be racing through their hearts because the soldiers did it so no one else had to. If soldiers were given sympathy, that would show that there is understanding. Having someone understand what you’ve been through can go a long way.


“As human beings, we have the blessing and the curse that we’re able to adapt to almost anything. No matter how extreme the circumstances you’re in, they become normal.” Because humans adapt, they don't understand. At one point, after readapting and readapting, humans stop. Some soldiers become adapted to the war lifestyle, so when they come home they can no longer readapt. As people try to understand people in war, they often figure out that war is something that needs to be experienced to understand. Once given the opportunity to walk a mile in their shoes, then there will be an understanding.


“I realized, as I stood there in the church, that there was a sharp distinction between what was remembered, what was told , and what was true. And I didn’t think I’d ever figure out which was which.” PTSD gives soldiers a fight or flight instinct caused by fear that’s stuck in their heads from war. This feeling that they have comes, even when they may not be in danger which may make them seem crazy. It comes with experience from physical harm.


“I wonder why people are the way they are. I wonder how do we justify the things that we do, because it always seems like we are doing terrible things. But the stories that we tell ourselves are always about our goodness and our idealism and that contradiction has been interesting to me throughout my whole life.” Humans try to come up with an explanation for everything. They’re always trying to fix something. Some things in life just can't be fixed. Life does not owe anyone an explanation, somethings you can only wonder why they happen.

There should be sympathy and understanding in the heart of every American when there’s a discussion of people at war. They do they job no one else wants to do. To label them as crazy is wrong, they should only be labeled heroic.


Narrative Essay:


From a small child, I was always told to reach for the stars.  “You can do anything you want in life, you just have to want it and work for it.” I remember being asked what I wanted to be when I was 9. At nine years old, you don’t the variety of jobs that are offered in the world. “I wanna work at McDonalds, it’s my favorite fast food restaurant.”

The conversation stopped. “You wanna struggle your whole life?

“You won’t even be able to support your family?”

Questions were being thrown at me. I’m just a kid, I don’t understand what I’m saying and why I’m saying. I honestly thought people at McDonalds were very kind people. Who else wants to stand at a window and wait on people. Jobs like this should be appreciated, not shunned upon.

I remember when my brother said he wanted to be a cop. My mom wanted to know why none of us wanted to be a doctor. She said McDonalds workers aren’t paid enough and being a cop is a dangerous job. All of a sudden, that statement about being whatever we want turns out to be false.

You can be anything that isn’t a danger and pays well. Society has conjured up what is an acceptable job and what isn’t. Everyone plays a part in the way the world is now, but before you can play a part, you have to find a part. In The Yellow Birds, the main character found his part in becoming a soldier.

Bartle forgot the importance if his role. He began to build a friendship with Murphy. He promised his mother that he would bring Murphy back safe and sound. The thing about promises is that you can’t make one unless it’s something you can control, you can't control death and who it strikes. That’s what the world revolves around; control. Some are born with control, some are born without it. People can’t control what they’re born into but they can control what they do with it and whether they want to work a McDonald’s job or be a doctor, it’s their decision. They should be appreciated regardless.


Be the first to comment

Self and the Changing World

Analytical Essay:

There comes a time in everyone’s life when there are decisions that have to be made. For some deciding whether or not to do certain things can be a difficult and grueling process. Sometimes decision are only minor while other times that can be extremely difficult and even life altering. Decisions like not going to the college or not standing up for what you believe in put up a large amount of pressure on people to make the decisions. People tend to take on and act out certain roles according to the expectations placed upon them by the culture they come from. As a result, they let the fear of societal expectation rule them, which turns them into cowards in the face of big changes or decisions.

Tim O’Brien, in The Things They Carried, described his experience in Vietnam as a soldier. At the age of 21, he was drafted to fight in a war that he had always hated. In the book, O’Brien described himself as young and politically naive. He also talked about how he viewed the American war in Vietnam as nefarious. At the end of “On the Rainy River”, he describes his feelings after returning from the war, “I survived, but it is not a happy ending. I was a coward. I went to the war.” (The Things They Carried Pg. 61) This basically finalizes the chapter and it is a very vital quote to the book because it has an ironic meaning. Usually, those who go to the war are considered to be heroes; brave men who fight for their country. Meanwhile, those who run from difficult tasks are often associated with cowardice. Tim O’Brien recalls himself, in this quote, as ‘a coward’ for going in the first place. He was cowardly for fighting. He wasn’t capable of escaping and leaving something he didn’t believe in behind. He wasn’t capable of standing up for his beliefs and his conscience. Instead, he let shame, fear, and society win over his beliefs. Looking from a different angle, this quote shows a different meaning of bravery as well, where it’s not about how much one can fight against the enemy, but how much strength and courage they have for following their dreams and going against the fear of embarrassment. The society, the fear of embarrassment pressured him to go the war which he always hated.

The author of this book discusses the similar problems that every soldier faced. “They did not submit to the obvious alternative, which was simply to close the eyes and fall.. It was not courage, exactly; the object was not valor. Rather, they were too frightened to be cowards.” (The Things They Carried Pg. 21) This quote not only emphasizes the ‘soldier’ experience but also the experience of every person as a human being. Tim O’Brien used this quote to describe how it is inevitable to live within a society that constructs expectations for certain roles that humans must fill, regardless of their choices. The soldiers in general feared and their instinct to run had to be restrained due to the fear of being made fun by friends and being called a coward. They all carried that burden. “It was what had brought them to the war in the first place, nothing positive, no dreams of glory, or honor, just to avoid the blush of dishonor” (The Things They Carried Pg. 21) The war changed them and forced them to do certain things that they wouldn’t basically do because they were ashamed. But in the end, they sort of embraced their reputations, which become more important than the life itself. They would do anything to avoid the dishonor and trampled their own hopes and dreams.  

Tim O’Brien, the author of the book gave an interview to the Mars Hill Review where he talked about creating a fictional story based on true facts and his harrowing over the fear of embarrassment. “So I made up the Rainy River story-going to the Canadian border, agonizing over whether to go across it or not-because it's a way of getting at a truth that's in my heart but that isn't in the actual world. It's the truth of a real dilemma: “What should I do? I'm caught up in this terrible bind. I hate the war and I shouldn't go to it. But at the same time I love my country, and I'm terrified of the embarrassment if I don't go. So, what should I do?" (O’Brien Article #2) Tim O’Brien had to live up to social expectations where he had to follow their plans for him without regard to who he was, what he wanted, or that dying fire inside of him that used to be a spirit. But unfortunately everything turned in the opposite direction. The individuality he once possessed was stripped from him by the time he reached an age where the society was confident in turning him into something different. Furthermore he added,“My conscience kept telling me not to go, but my whole upbringing told me I had to.” (O’Brien Article #1) He was afraid that if he didn’t follow the ‘rules’ then he might somehow be a loser or even an outcast.

Many Soldiers like Tim O’Brien might have faced the similar problem where they had to be coward, adopt the social norms and tailor their behavior to meet certain expectations. They were afraid of being ostracized from the community. They didn’t live up to their expectations. As a result, they decided to change themselves fundamentally for social expectations that they didn’t believe, they eliminated any little possibility of self-esteem or happiness.


Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

"Social Roles and Social Norms | Simply Psychology." Social Roles and Social Norms | Simply Psychology. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2015. <http://www.simplypsychology.org/social-roles.html>.


O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. New York: Broadway, 1998. Print.


Sawyer, Scott. "An Interview with Tim O'Brien." In the Name of Love. Mars Hill Review 4, n.d. Web. 8 Jan. 2015. <http://www.leaderu.com/marshill/mhr04/tim1.html


"SOCIAL BEHAVIOR, EXPECTATIONS." SOCIAL BEHAVIOR, EXPECTATIONS. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2015. <https://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/DPF.CHAP18.HTM>.


Narrative Essay:

When I first made the announcement they didn’t say anything, and this raised my hopes. But then, just as I turned onto my side to stretch out and sleep. Dad got up, grabbed me by the arm, and pushed me out of the room. “You are not welcome back until you have gone to the school,” he said coldly. I stood there and stared at the door. Then, before the cold floor could freeze my feet, I heard someone outside. Opening the door, I saw that it was my uncle’s friend, whom my dad hired sometimes on the coldest days to give me a ride to the school. Feeling resigned, I grabbed my book bag and rushed towards the car. As we rode to the school, I began to think of a million other things I’d rather be doing. I could sit and play card games with friends. I could go and swim near the lush green fields, or watch Indian movies, or drink glasses of sugarcane juice spiced with ginger and lemon or get a case of mangoes. What I didn’t want to do was to sit in the classroom in the stale sleepiness of early morning to the late afternoon. Nor did I want to sit there for long lectures. I missed the old life I had before. The days of playing cricket with friends, dreaming of becoming a fighter. The afternoon when I would go outside and make a fort and call myself Saladin the Liberator, spilling oil onto the Crusaders’ armies, withstanding a siege by Richard the Lionheart, and doing diplomacy with him during which I impressed him with my warrior prowess by throwing a piece of cloth in the air and then cutting it in two perfect halves with my sword. I wanted to live in my imagination - not as a spindly-legged spider in the cryptograms of Math or any other subject. Within half an hour we got to the school. I got out of the car and waved back to him until he disappeared. I decided to ditch again and took the local bus and came back.

When I got home the power was out, as was often the case midday, and so the heat was off and everyone was just in a bad mood. Dad sat on the couch staring at the window while Mama was upstairs. He had just finished eating mangoes; a tray of emptied plate sat near him. A cup filled with lassi, a yogurt drink, sat in front of the table. The fact he had eaten mangoes without me made me think he was decadent, and that made me even more upset. He looked up, surprised to see me at home when I should have been in school.

“I’m not going to the school!!,” I announced, trying to sound even more this time. “If you make me go, I’ll run away to Lahore. I have learned where the bus leaves.” I sat down and began drinking the leftover lassi. Even though it was warm and salty, it felt really good going down. I felt in charge. When I’d finished and had burped loudly, a slap the back of my head and sent me hurtling toward the door. “I told you,” He said. “You cannot come home until you’ve been to the school.” He wasn’t messing around this time though. Normally I would have cried a little bit and made a scene and ended up in grandmother’s arms, but this wasn’t the time for empathy. I had to up the ante.

“Well, that seals the deal.” I said, standing up. “I’m going to run away from home. I’m going to take the bus that goes to Lahore. Then I’m going to start doing the child labor. That means you will never see me again. This is what you reap for sending me to the school. Khuda Hafiz.” I added in farewell. My Mom listened to everything, she hurled the bedroom door and came down. “Come on, Huzaifah. There is no such reason to run away. Just be a good boy and go the school. No deal.”

Dad stayed quiet for a while. Then he spoke up rigidly; “All right. Run away, then. We won’t stop you.”
“You don’t believe me do you? All right. Forget running away. Instead of getting in the bus, I’ll just let it run me over. Do you still want me to go to the school?
“Yes” He said. “Do it.”
“You don’t care if I die?” I shouted. “Fine! I’ll just kill myself right here, in this house. So that my blood is on your hands. I’m going to suffocate myself in the bathroom.” I went to the bathroom and slammed the door. Turned on the hot water so the steam would vaporize . Thinking that if the door stayed closed from some time I would run out of air. While inside I realized that the bathroom had a big window that was always open, so the chances of suffocation were low. I also realized that going back outside to retrieve a tool with which to kill myself would take the fire out of my revolt. “This bathroom will be my grave!” I shouted in a last-ditch effort. Much to my satisfaction, I heard mom right outside the door. “No, my son” She urged. “Don’t do such thing!”

“You know what? Why should I wait till I’m suffocated to die? I’ll just drink this shampoo here and make it quick.” Just to show I was serious I spilled some of it underneath the door. Now mama banged on the door loudly. “I know I’m a horrible mother, but even horrible mothers don’t deserve to lose their children. Come out of there, my son!” There was a complete silence of about 1 minute and then I decided to come out. My Mom’s words hit me hard. Soon I began to realize the fact that I’m her only precious son so there is no point of doing such stupid act. I had to avoid the blush of honor and show the world that I’m brave enough to do anything. It was also a fear of embarrassment because students in my age group had really good grades and their parents were proud of them as well. I wanted to the same thing, I wanted to my make my parents proud so I promised with myself to go the school regularly.


3 Comments

The Changing World Essay

Analytical Essay:


      In the words of Chinese Philosopher, Lao Tzu “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow.”  Life has a multitude of change, which most of the time is almost unavoidable. Something leads to change, then the person affected by the change  is left to process what happened. It is not the easiest thing to do, especially if the change is formidable. The fact of the matter is, Bartle is almost forced into a changing world. Things happen that aren’t always ideal, and the more one thinks about it, man is merely a small piece in an even bigger picture, and no matter how hard one tries, the reaction is never going to be a good one.

Things happen all the time. It’s a fact of life people have come to accept. It’s not always good, but it isn’t always terrible. Kevin Powers explores this in his book, The Yellow Birds, a story set through the duration of the Iraq war. “And you can’t explain it, but, it’s just, like, fuck you, but then you signed up to go so it’s all your fault, really, because you went on purpose so you are in the end, doubly fucked, so why not find a spot and curl up and die and let’s make it as painless as possible because you really are a coward.” Some of the worst things that can happen to someone is dealt by the person themselves. Often times dealing with a sudden change  is carried out with the best intentions in mind, however, as quickly as the world can change, so can everything in it, and the ultimate reaction to all this can be pretty shocking. The world isn’t a nice place, especially if one gets too caught up in all the small things.

Reacting to change can almost be fitted into stages. Someone can either react with some deal of emotion, or with none at all. In this circumstance, its more or less a personal struggle, rather than something against whatever change is occurring. “The closer I got to reconstructing him in my mind, the more the picture I was trying to recreate receded.” This quote, taken from Bartle, describes his process of attempting to recollect his memories after coming home from the war. When things slowly begin breaking down, and Bartle begins attempting to process what  happened, everything else begins distancing from whoever him . This is dangerous in an ever changing world, because when someone finds themselves so caught up in previous events and ideas, they’re almost slipping away from what's actually going on, ignoring whatever change may be happening.

Sometimes after situations such as this, one becomes desensitized with the rest of the world. Forgetting everything else in favor their own feelings. “At one time you could of asked me if I thought the snow meant something. I would’ve said yes. I might have thought there was some significance to the fact that there had been snow on the day that Murph had come into my life and snow on the day I willed myself into the one that had been taken from him.” Once things begin changing, it almost seems like nothing else begins to matter.Bartle’s world changes after the death of his best friend. Small things, things that he never really paid much attention to slowly became a trigger to him. Things he barely looked at became something of detachment.

Kevin Powers associates most of his writing toward generating a genuine recollection of what happens during wartime. That being said, the relationship between both past experiences in real life, and through the war, are almost parallel toward the idea of change. I've always had a certain level of comfort with the dark part of the human experience. It hasn't had an attraction, but it has certainly had a fascination.”

Change often brings a variety of difference into a situation, and these experiences aren’t always so bright. The dark part of human experiences that the author is talking about relates back to how one can react to the change in the rest of the world.



Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

Powers, Kevin. The Yellow Birds: A Novel. New York: Little, Brown, 2012. Print.

Lewis, Tim. "Fiction: Meet The Author." TheGuardian.com. The Guardian, 23 June 2013. Web. 11 Jan. 2015. <www.theguardian.com%2Fbooks%2F2013%2Fjun%2F23%2Fkevin-powers-interview-yellow-birds>



Narrative



In my opinion the real world is terrible, and I’d rather not deal with it at all.   Considering the fact that I’m always one incident away from full blown insanity, I try to change whenever I feel necessary, rather than changing with the rest of the world. Life is too short to try and keep up with small things. You’re either moving whenever things feel right, or you’re caught up in something you’ll end up forgetting later.

And that’s how I figured out I was manic-depressive.


For me,the  only real worldly changes that have to be looked out for are whether or not someone is still going to be there five years from now or how badly an episode is going to affect anyone else. I can’t react to a constantly changing world, because that’s another source of anxiety and bad feelings in and of itself, so I’d rather not worry about something thats going to cause me pain in the end.


Then there are small moments that aren’t the epitome of being completely miserable. Those idealistic pieces of memorabilia aren’t easily found, but once they do, everything changes, and for one day, everything feels alright, and in those moments, you can feel amazing. You can do anything, and nothing can make you feel any less real. That’s called mania.

But hey, who said it’s not okay to feel subsequently human?


I digress, really, depending on how bad the situation, sometimes things are easier to bounce back from, but as a whole, to put it lightly, life has quite literally made me it’s bitch, and there’s nothing I can do about it. The insanity was never my fault, but it didn’t bother me anyway.


Let the rest of the world change, I’m perfectly fine in my own little bubble.


But you wanted to know how it feels like, right? Waking up in the morning realizing you’re the very thing that makes you hate your own reflection, and every ounce of love someone ever had for you is now gone because you’re unstable, and cut up arms are always prettier than soft ones.


Let’s reiterate one last time. I’m finished with the rest of the world. Things can change, but I won’t.

But’s that’s just my illness talking.

And that’s also what happens during the lower parts of the depression, which is almost like the ‘world,’ changing me, if that makes any sense. I react differently to certain things than others do. I say things that other people may find unusual. This is because I had to grow up much faster then most people.


It’s no one’s real fault, because when you’re born, your parents aren’t, (hopefully,) sitting around you saying how much they’d like to see you suffer. But sometimes someone does something stupid. And that stupidity grows into something much larger, and because you’re already impressionable, you’re holding all of that in, until you reach a certain age and look back at your life. Then you realize that something went wrong, and that you’re no longer the only thing you’re supposed to keep safe. Because sometimes, those monsters that your parents told you never existed, suddenly become real. And they’re everywhere, but nobody can make them go away. And the rest of the world sits back and judges you for not being able to let go of things that aren’t real to them.


But you really aren’t crazy. It’s the world’s way of protecting yourself. It keeps you safe, even if you’re doing stupid things. You learn that you’re actually not a good person, and because of that, nobody loves you. And you know what? It’s okay to feel these things. You just can’t hurt yourself over them, or life sucks even more than it used to. You’re actually a half decent person when you’re not threatening to kill yourself every five minutes.

You just can’t let the monsters of the world tell you otherwise.



2 Comments