In class we watched a show by Frontline called Digital Nation and Growing Up Online. The show was about how the Internet is becoming more of a part of our lives and how it influences us, our jobs, and our military. The most memorable thing about this show is the story about Ryan and how he committed suicide because of the things that people said about him online. It was very interesting and scary to see how something so useful like the internet can be used in so many bad ways. It is important to watch shows like this so that we do not have to repeat the things that happened and so we can prevent things like this from happening. As of now, I do not know how I am going to protect my future family for a simple reason. Since technology is progressing SO fast, I do not know what to expect from the internet and technology in general twenty years from now. But I do know that I will be monitoring all internet usage. The internet is a very dangerous thing. Even though the internet can be very helpful in more than one circumstance, it can be used for many bad purposes. Some advice I would give to parents is to make sure their kids are not involved in anything suspicious. Also I would advise them to make sure their children know about all of the dangers of the internet.
I am a rower. It is the very definition of who I am, at my core, where my body and my mind meet to create my character. Standing here at 6’2” in height, I weigh just a little bit more than I would want to share, but I know that those extra pounds are all those toned and honed muscles in my neck, back, arms and legs that have been painstakingly strengthened through years of sweat-drenching work-outs that sometimes still leave me falling asleep face-first into my dinner plate. And yet, even at my most exhausted, when raising my eyelids feels harder than it might to lift the Titanic off the floor of the Atlantic ocean floor, I row. So when anyone asks who I am, I have just one answer for them: I am a rower.
I do not see myself first as a daughter or a sister or even a typical teenager, always at the ready with the perfectly practiced eye-roll, hair-toss combination. I am not just another girl with long blondish waves, dead at the ends because of an unbreakable bond with a curling iron’s 400 degree heat setting, who loves a just a little-too bloody rare hamburger smothered in ketchup and the tangy taste of a midnight Pink Berry - plain vanilla, chocolate dipped, no nuts, please. I can spend all day under a duvet with kittens criss-crossing the headboard while I wave a laser pointer around the room trying to get the little bundles of soft fur to pounce on it’s dancing beam. I can text for hours with my friends, holding together bits and pieces of a hundred different conversation threads or snapchat seconds of silly stunts that send me into fits of laughter for days. But in the end, when the day is done, from its dawn to its goodnight moon and setting sun, I am a rower. The outside of me is flesh and bone and thoughts and deeds, good hair days and bad skin days, while inside of me will always beat the heart at the pace of a race.
I think it’s because I’m a rower that I chose to read the Yellow Birds rather than The Things They Carried. The title of the book comes from a military marching cadence and as a rower, I know just how important cadence is in helping to drive a boat forward in the water, from catch to extraction. It is the rhythmic beat of every rower’s oar working in unison, every body synchronized to that one particular cadence, that helps us maintain a consistent stroke - oars in, oars out, feathering at a tempo that would make a symphony conductor proud, or, a drill sergeant, in this case, his troops, left-righting in harmony as a single unit from one end of a battlefield to the other.
Without the violence and bloodshed and death that defines war, when all of the horror of it is taking out of the equation, war, at its core, like rowing, is a matter of wanting to win and hating to lose. What actually separates a soldier from a rower? We’re both the grunts on the ground and in the boats while our generals and our coaches watch, comment and command from the sidelines. A war, like a race, tries to kill us, if not literally, then definitely figuratively. It pushes us as hard as it physically can,“through the tall grass on faith, kneading paths into the windswept growth like pioneers,” as Kevin Power’s so eloquently described, towards a finish line, towards the promise and hope of a win, even if getting there leaves us too weak to even climb up the podium to collect our prize, And if we don’t win, we are given a moment’s rest, a short reprieve, before the call to re-arm and re-oar is made and we are back in the depths again, sweeping our way around the next bend, praying with every stroke that we don’t capsize or cramp out or simply “die” of exhaustion.
Like soldiers, we do not question, we do not talk back, we accept our orders from our superiors and we follow them. We do it because there is a thrill in a victory, a need to succeed, and especially a desire for praise. We want to be heroes. We all want to be heroes, soldiers and rowers alike.
And yet we all know that not every one of us will walk away with a medal or a trophy. So we lie to ourselves. We lie to each other. We lie to everyone around us. It’s the lies we tell that propel us to back to battle. We assure ourselves that it’ll be ‘next time, next race. We weren’t ready. We didn’t know this river. The other boats were newer, better, their rowers stronger, faster. The weather, it’s always the weather against us.” The key to the excuses: the we’s and the us’s. Even in a loss, it is still us against them, a sisterhood of teammates who fight together to the finish line.
I’ve always heard of soldiers being referred to as a “band of brothers,” bonded by bloodshed if not by blood. It’s a camaraderie of combatants who keep each other alive while bullets try to pick them apart and bring them down. But in Bartle, I saw a soldier who was as much intent on his own personal survival as he was in his “brother,” Murph’s. As the war saw soldier after soldier die, violent, senseless deaths, readers saw Bartle realize the hopelessness of the promise he made to Murph’s mother to “bring her son home.” Then Bartle saw it himself. And so the brotherhood disbanded in favor of Bartle being able to take one more breath. War makes one thing very clear, it doesn’t matter how many others come home, as long as you do. And Bartle turned his and Murph’s “us” into his own, personal “you.” The guilt of Murph’s death would torture Bartle forever after that, but the fact remained that he lived to feel that guilt every day.
No matter the circumstances, be it war or race, it seems that it comes down to the survival of self. The self that survives, survives not only to tell the tale, but tell their version of it, with no dispute from the silent, still form no longer capable of speech. They can easily create of themselves, victim, villain or hero, without opposition.
We rowing sisterhood are no different. Teammates until the end when, back on shore, behind backs and in silent whispers, we point a finger at someone’s wrongdoing. The “us” of our lies in a loss become the “hers” and “shes” of self-preservation. “Her’ stroke was off. “She” fell behind. Not my fault, “hers.” Catty and bitchy, too much like actual blood-sisters, we fight individually for our seats on that boat. There may be a next time, a next race, but it needs to be with me at the helm. The challenge is always to return. And who am I if I am not challenged by a challenge? I am, after all, a rower.
2. My film test uses the following criteria to see if it is non-biased.
- There is more than one named female character in the movie.
- At least one of the female characters is a strong, proud, brave, independent woman who isn't content with being a background prop.
- At least one of the female characters is someone who is every intelligent and doesn't exemplify the "women are intellectually inferior to men" cliche.
Every year at the end of the summer there was always a family member that would invite us to their block party. Generally they would would get permission from whoever and block off the street for a couple of hours. It was almost customary for everyone on the block to bring their grills in the middle of the street and everyone would have their doors open and blast their own music, and there was also that rare occasion where someone would pay for a dj. But every summer it was always the same thing.
I only enjoyed these sorts of events for two main reasons; it was the only time of the year where I could walk in the street, and you could literally go to anyone’s house on the block and eat their food without it being weird. I was either 4 about to turn 5 or 5 about to turn 6 and it was a big deal. Being as though I am my father’s only child, each new stage in my life is also new for him as a parent. After days of my mother trying to convince my dad that I was finally old to play with the other kids without so much supervision, my dad decided to give in and let and have very serious talk with me. He sat me down before the cookout and made me promise that I would a.) stay in front of the house b.) try not to talk to strangers and c.) stay out of trouble. At first this seemed like a very simple and very fair agreement. I figuratively signed my name in blood when I nodded my head yes in agreement with the terms and conditions that my father set forth.
Term number one: Tianna McNair is not allowed to move from in front of the house owned by Angela and Darrel Sykes. Any violation will result in extreme lecturing and confinement in Angela and Darrel Sykes home until further notice. Did Tianna live up to the terms of this agreement: Nope. As we were pulling up the my aunt’s house any normal person would be able to see a block party but all that I could see was my own new found freedom. I made my rounds of hellos and quick pecks on the cheek and I finally made it out the house with my sanity. I tried playing with my cousins but they were all boys and had no interest in babysitting a little girl. I then took it upon my own hands to find some people who I could relate to, people who were young and adventurous like me. So I walked up the street and found a group of kids playing tag. This back and forth and back and forth became way too repetitive in a short amount of time. Suddenly someone brought out their brand new razor scooter with the blue accent pieces. We all stood there in awe of this beautiful scooter as the shiny rails glisten in the sun. At the time having a razor scooter made you cool so this was a big deal. Everyone one was in a trance and our young instincts made us violent. Everyone began fighting over the scooter. After we came to the general consensus we all got in line and waited our turn to use it. It was finally my turn. As I took my first couple of steps towards to scooter I hadn’t realized that the fat kid behind me had his own agenda. He pushed me out of the way and as I tried to get up the scooter hit me in the head causing my head to crush into the ground. When I stood up everyone was staring at me weirdly then I looked down and saw blood on the ground that was coming from my busted lip.
Term number two: Tianna McNair is not permitted to talk strangers. Any violation will result in more extreme lecturing if she is not already in danger from the interaction with the stranger. I however forgot about this part of the agreement as people rushed over to help me. I don’t remember crying but I do remember being confused. One teenager boy came over to me and asked,”Do you live around here?” I was trying to process the question that was being presented to me. I mean technically no I did not live around there but my aunt lived on this block. Also I could even remember which house belonged to my family because they all looked the same and I didn’t know how far away I drifted. The boy tried again by asking,” Where is your house?” Again this wasn’t as simple as he thought I was just visiting so was interested in taking me to my actual house or is he wanted to bring me to my aunt’s house. All of my confusion stopped me from forming sentences and before I knew it my tiny finger pointed in the direction in which you had to take in order to get to my actual house which was in southwest Philly while we were all the way in north Philly. I guess the confusion got to him to so he just took me across the street, completely ignoring my directions. When we got there, all of the ladies that were sitting out ran over to me throwing a bunch of questions. I can’t even remember what I said or if I even said anything at all but all I knew was that what was about to happen was even worse than talking to strangers.
Term number three: Tianna McNair is supposed to stay out of trouble by any means necessary. Any violation will result in more trouble and harm. All I could do was think about all the trouble I was going to be in as the group of people from that one house attempted to help me find my family. We all marched around in a large group circling the entire neighborhood but little did they know they were doing more harm than good. We were actually getting farther and farther away from the house. But what I didn’t know was that in that moment my father's intuition kicked in and he organized his own search party to find me. As we were walking up the street my family was walking towards us. I was so happy I couldn't help but run to my mom. One of the ladies that I was with explained the situation to my father.While I was reading “The Yellow Birds” I really connected to the main character Bartle who absent mildly made an agreement with his friend’s mother to protect him and make sure that he wasn't killed in the war. What he agreed to was out of his control just like my busting my lip and getting lost in a matter of minutes. Just like Bartle I felt guilty for not keeping my promise but only now do I realize that it was not my fault. And that my father is always going to look out for me when I’m in trouble and that I should always trust his better judgement.
There are days that I feel that I’m not really here. Like I'm looking through a still pond out the eyes of someone else. Or I feel that i'm just not brave enough to deal with my own problems, so I lock my emotion away, that way it hurts less when things happen. I put my headphones in and just focus on the words, trying to play over my thoughts and problems like they aren’t there. "I will not be forgotten.This is my time to shine. I've got the scars to prove it. Only the strong survive. I'm not afraid of dying. Everyone has their time. Life never favored weakness. Welcome to the pride". “Yeah, why you believing the propaganda?
Why everybody sound like they wanna be from Atlanta? Are you the voice or the echo? Are you the nail or the hammer? I be talking while chewing my beats, I don't mind my manners. Choruses that fit the opera, that's why I need phantoms. I got my doubt at gunpoint, that's why I need ransoms. I find it much easier to zone out then to have to be there, to say it in other words just a machine that has a job to do and it gets it done.
There are time that I try to fix my mind on one thing saying that this is way I don’t need to show or have my emotions get in the way of my work. Sometimes it’s get to hard to be in that zone and I just feel like I just there for no reason only for the one that I put in my head, join the army have no fear and no emotion just get the job done and don't asks too many question and I'll be good.
At times that is the only thing that goes through my head day after day or something more on the line of I'm an athlete so I can keep on working and working and I'll be fine. I work hard I’ll be placed at the top so I don’t care about the pain or what I have to give up. I just did to remember don't give up on. Even if I pass my goal I still give it my all.
every day I go to the gym or find a way to get my body ready to join the army one of the things on my mind that’s a target. So when I walk up it’s early I get out of bed that a deep breather and get right into the work, Max lunges, squats, calf raise, push-ups,crunches, burpees, mountain climbers, flutter kick, cherry pickers, and others that I want to do that day, Times I want to make up a challenge for myself so I do, so like the “1000”, You start with “500” the day before you pick 5 workouts you want to do and do a 100 for all five. Then the next day you pick 10 and do a 100 of each. while doing a workout I can really say that I'm pushing myself to get something done. Also when I work out it get me to think about the physical pain not mental, so when I get tired it’s easy to forget about it.
Other times in my life I have days where I just don't like being in one place and need to be on the move so I spend time just walking around the city or biking. I do it just to clear my mind if I feel like i've lost my way and need to try to get that light that I held back in my life. When I walk by windows I look at myself but it doesn't feel like I'm looking back at me or it’s not really me on the other side. Most times that I look at my reflection I see something that would only make sense in my dreams. Something that I would see myself doing but on a whole different level, something way passed what I can do so I act like it need had and keep moving on thinking that I don't need my emotion they only get in my way and slow me down.
there’s just days that I can go to school and ya have a good time with people around me but at the end of the day it’s just me in my head and a lot of emptiness. so I just deal with it, true that my family tells me they got my back so I plan it off and put on a smile because it’s the only thing that gets people to stop and just shut up but at the end of the day when I set in my room aint no one there but my other half. I has me feeling that it’s the person I want to be but can never get close enough so I just give up because it;s really the only thing in life I’m good at.
Times I write down what I need to remember a feel just so I can remember the plan the loss or the sadness that I felt. Times I write not just the bad but the good, just in my book that I tell many not to look at or we just done, I don't speak to them I block them from everything I don't care even if they step right in front of me they get run down and when they say something or other say something about it I just say I don't care.
(The book Yellow birds"His life had been entirely contingent, like a body in orbit, only seen on account of the way it wobbles around its star.It says that his life was something that he didn't really have control of he just was there unable to do what he wanted to do. so when he looked inside of himself he saw nothing but a single light. so there was something that he cared for that held he in place in his own place, and sometimes he would lose sight of it or start to let it go that's way it says on the account of the way it wobbles around. As he tried to make something or try to change his ways that was like a wobble in his life
"They carried the sky. The whole atmosphere, they carried it, the humidity, the monsoons, the stink of fungus and decay, all of it, they carried gravity.” this quote makes it sound like the soldier had not just the weight of their equipment but the weight of everyone that they had ever meet and more. looking inside theyself that might have come to the same thing and that was there drive even as they saw one another death. To hold the sky it to be the ones that protect it and the people under it. they had to stand up against the heat. have to fight something from the ground was like they trying to fight the demon inside of them but they knew they had to do it. the water that they had to cross over. so the demon in they might have had they think about running away but they had nowhere to run but in to a battle that they were submerged in. they had to go through death and the smell of their falling friends and brother and the bodies of their enemy’s. then the last part they carried gravity itself to me that’s like helping other move on and get through anything that was to hard for them himself to go through and that take and sound mind and body to get that job done.This is what people in the army have to go through every day think about not only him/herself and what they themselves are going through but have to put that to the side to get the job done to keep their friends and family safe from whatever it is. Also that it’s not easy to look at what's under a human, somewhere deep down there is a demon inside and to fight it.
I just feel that once my body fails me and I can move forwards then it’s over for me that’s why I put so much in to my sports and workouts. I’ll still keep working on getting to a higher rep that’s why I don't have a set number to get to I go till I can’t them move on to the next workout.
A girl named Corinthia, with prissy nature in all that she did, an imaginative mind that’d wished for beautiful impossible things, and a sweet heart that’d worry for everyone else‘s but her own, woke up with this feeling of pain. When all seemed wonderful for her, with a mommy and daddy that were back together, two twin sisters to play with and a ducky that she always held and slept with, no longer seemed wonderful anymore because of this sickness.
“What’s wrong?” her mother asks.
“My tummy hurts.”, she groaned.
“Ahww. Okay, just rest some more, and I’ll make you some tea.”
“Hmkay” she replied.
This kind of day she woke up on, became into the rest of the days she woke up on making all worry, to send her to medical attention. Powders were poured into her drinks before drinking, pills were swallowed before eating, and only certain foods were eaten, which made the girl very sad.
It began when I was eleven. It was during the 5th grade when I was sick. I’d had this sickness that made me have trouble eating and digesting my food. I always had this feeling that eating was wrong, which made me not eat normally when I was supposed to. I then became thinner and a bit below the average weight for my age then. I was 72 pounds in the 5th grade, and eating wasn’t my favorite thing.
“Krin you have to go to school. You can’t stay home all day”, my mother says.
“I don’t know, but maybe I’ll try.”
“Okay, get dressed.”
I was missing lots of school because of this, or when I did go, I’d always have the school nurse call to be picked up early. Soon I had to be hospitalized. I was diagnosed with a serious intestine issue that made me not be able to eat normally or go to the the bathroom normally, and always feel terrible pain. The pain I felt was this feeling of something choking the lower part of my tummy.
“The ultrasound monitor shows a lot of unwanted stool that’s worsening the problem, so we’ll have to keep her for at least three days for treatment.”
“What kind of treatment?”, my mother says.
“Well, it's not easy, but when the doctor returns, we’ll show you.”
“It’s simple, but difficult if she can’t handle it. All we’ll do is fill you up with a laxative but it requires this tube down your nostril, so you’ll need to be really still”, says the doctor.
The feeling of this thick string winding down inside of me happened. I then sat there looking at the ceiling while hearing the flow of liquid come within me. The time I was in the hospital made me scared not only because the reasons of why I was there, but from how I saw other children just like me who were also sick, making me wonder if I were to get better and become well or if I were not to get better. I also wondered about when I could return to school, and I then began to remember some of my friends from school that were worried about me, which made me question “why couldn’t I be healthy like them? Why am I this way?” I just simply questioned reasons for not being normal, realizing I wasn’t like everyone else, and that I was me, sick. Laying with me on my hospital bed was my stuffed duck, named Ducky. I had him ever since my 7th birthday, and seeing him gave me comfort that I would return home and that there wouldn’t be another birthday party but some other kind of celebration for just me.
When I left the hospital, my sisters greeted me home, happy to see I was feeling better, and I started to feel happy too because I was feeling better. At home I was also given gifts of more stuffed animals, cozy pajamas, and get well cards from family. When I returned to school, the same thing happened. Everyone in my class wrote me a huge “happy you’re back” card and my teacher even gave me this huge green and pink stuffed caterpillar. But after feeling temporarily happy, I still wasn’t happy because I still had to recover and become healthy like I once was before. I then felt as if I’d always be this “food freak” person and not eat the things that were my favorite before. These were my first stages of depression.
From this something that makes a clear connection unto the book, The Yellow Birds, is how I was similarly connected to the main character, Burtle. He carried his guilt home from the war and I carried my sadness from my sickness. I soon then grew into a fear of becoming sick again, so I started to avoid people because I started to feel anxious near them. To me they seemed like cluttering crowds of beings filled with germs that could soon trigger a stomach ache later for me. So whenever I’d ride a bus with my Nama or was in public, I was scared. This was similar to Bartle. He tried avoiding other people, simply to rid of his grief and the memory of his actions. I as well, tried to rid of my memory of being sick by avoiding other breathing humans.
As time passed, with my depression I soon noticed that my imagination of beautiful impossible things began to strengthen. I began having these visions of worlds I’ve never seen before. Whenever I’d closed my eyes, I’d find these fading colors, swirling shades of darkness and these mystical beings I couldn’t ever truly explain. So I soon decide to express these things with the use of poetry and artwork. Which helped me release things on my heart, making my spirit feel better. Soon I then slowly began to recover and I could finally love food and the things again as before. Today I’m fully recovered from this Intestine issue but not the scars it left on me. I still have to have a speacial certain kinds of foods to be eaten and I still experience depression and fear of people. I now no longer believe in this “perfect healthy person” that I’d always wished to be but this person “continuously in growth” that’ll one day be all that she’s meant to be, I do believe in.
Bonds that can never be Forgotten
You are standing outside of the large auditorium at the entrance to school looking for your friend. You are waiting and hoping that that person’s bus is just late, and that this won’t be another day when he doesn’t show up. Another day when you wander the halls, hoping to see his face peeking around the corner. Your eyes look over all the students trying to find that one person you could catch with one look. Then the first sound of the clanging morning bell rings and the teachers force you to go in; if you don’t, they will get mad. You linger, sitting at the doorway, hoping, waiting, staring at the door.
Finally, you make your way into the auditorium. As the assembly ends, you finally see it: the old ratty shoes with holes and that sweatshirt that needs to be cleaned. Giving a small wave the person you been waiting for since the beginning of the day comes in. Your smile grows and although it's a subtle nod, it floods you with a feeling of relief that it’s another day with someone who hates being in school just like you do. A person can’t change everything you are feeling, but this particular person can make all the feelings of dark matter go away, even if only for a few moments. No adult can change the friendship you share. You fight like siblings, but you both care so much about each other.
On a freezing Tuesday at the start of winter, that person you care so much about walks in with a look that can’t be explained, but the eyes full of pain are evident. You step away worried. You say nothing and that same person flashes a fake smile to some other students, but you can’t help but be scared so that day you choose not to join and sit far away in the auditorium and cafe. During a lunch period a few weeks later, you find out there is some very difficult news you don’t want to hear. However, you listen as you should and this friend tells you that there is some abuse in the home, not anything physical but mental.
You know that this person’s anger stems from this family situation and it comes out with a fiery temper that can be very scary, but if you know why there is anger and where it comes from it changes the perspective of a person. Why is this happening? Why is there so much pain in the eyes of the one person you feel so close to? Why can’t you take the pain away? It’s not right for anyone to hurt your friend and all you can do is stand by their side.
A mouse will always be caught by snake if it chooses not to pay attention. That is what happened one day when I was told that my friend Nathan would be sent off to a camp/school for his anger problems. He would keep getting angry and he would pick fights with students but never got in trouble for his actions until the day a teacher witnessed one of his fights. It upset me that he chose to keep exhibiting the same behavior even after he got caught and it became clear that a punishment was not going to change his attitude. In the following weeks, Nathan would be out at least once a week. He used any excuse he could get out of school, including being sick, having to watch his younger sibling and even faking an injury. I always knew he was a hard head but I didn’t see how hard it was until that moment. He would later tell me that he was going to be sent to a camp to help him deal with the anger find ways to express himself other than fighting. I asked him how long he would be gone for, but he never gave me a clear answer and we never bring it up again. I quickly learned that Nathan would be the mouse and his drama was the snake that would catch him every time.
There were some bold statements we tried to make about the culture of the school. I found out later the real ways the school should have been handling certain things but that would be three years after Nathan left my life. I questioned why this person would be taken away from me. He was the rock who, at the time, I believed was holding me together. To me he was the friend who cared and the friend who would listen to the problems I had, which all seemed so small in comparison to what he was going through. I still hold him in high regard as a person and friend who has had an impact on my life.. Nathan was not perfect not even close to an angel, but he had fire that no one at the time could get out. Under that fire was some who wanted just to be heard and I was able to listen.
Nathan and I had bond that I felt and still feel could never be broken. My relation was like a character from The Things they Carried. The character was named Rat Kiley who told a story about a letter he wrote to a fallen soldier sister to tell how great the soldier was as a friend and person. The difference in this story is that this story is not a letter but the idea of what is written is the same. At the time I was going through a lot just like he was at home. There was never abuse like the way he had but stress I could feel. I was very unhappy life to me was not going well. I will never feel different from what he gave me was joy to be a friend. He stood by my side and I stood by his. His actions and reactions did make our stand against time. We would not be physical friends for long but he would stand in my memory for a long time.
You don’t wake up one day and say that person is going to impact the way your life is. That is impossible. But as humans we do look back a lot more than people believe. There is a sense of specific events that are woven together to make us who we are. When flashing back into the past Nathan is one of the first choices who impacted a life that is not perfect.
“The world makes liars of us all.” Truer words have never been said. I was raised to believe that telling the truth is always the right thing, so tell me why every time that I tell the truth I’m the bad guy. I have always carried around the title of being mean. People would ask me for my honest opinion and well...I gave just that. In fact in my middle school days I got sent to the dean for telling this girl in my class the truth. She asked me if she was pretty and I told her the full unbridled truth. Long story short I said no , well I didn’t just say no but I said not to me which was the truth. She didn’t take it too well and actually told the teacher on me. I was sent me to the dean and we had a nice long conversation. Thankfully he wasn’t going to tell my mom or dad but what he told me that I should be more considerate of other people's feelings. That bothered me for a long time as I was contemplating on how the truth wasn’t considered being considerate. I mean I could have lied and said yes she was very pretty, like everyone else around her which would have hurt her in the long run but I decided to be nice and tell her that wasn’t ideal to me at the very least. Anyway that's how my title of mean came to be and for awhile I wore it as a badge of honor. It felt like I lived in a world of liars who would rather secretly hurt people than be truthful, so I didn't care.
I’m the one who looks like the jerk who’s out to hurt people’s feelings. What I’ve noticed is that this world is a place where you are taught one thing but everyone preaches the other. Where people say you should be 100% with somebody, but said person then scolds you for being too honest. This has been the story of my life For as long as I can remember, I’ve told the truth and either got sideways glances or shocked faces, like people couldn’t believe that I just said what I had said. I can say this though, my experiences have all been real eye openers for me. I’ve gotten to see how people act in different situations and each time I’ve noticed one thing they all have in common, people always lie. No matter what the reason may be; to protect, to harm or to just have an excuse in this world people lie. When I was younger I couldn't see how lying in any circumstance was a good thing. I was standing still while the world changed and moved on without me.
Way back when I was younger, my dad and I would catch the bus to my school so he could drop me off. Now to anyone else, this bus was like any other ordinary septa bus; kind of trashy, with no seats because people didn’t like sitting next to other people, and the occasional homeless person walking on asking for a free ride. However, this bus had one thing that made it more painful than any other septa bus. Our bus had a lady. I understand what you’re thinking right now, “what? Every bus has a lady on it.” That may be true, but most buses don’t have this lady. This particular lady had what I would like to call an acquired smell about her. This woman’s scent would travel all throughout the bus, assaulting anyone who dared to take a breath. No one would say anything about the smell. Everyone would just sit there quietly, pretending not to even notice the unbearable stench. Even the bus driver ignored it! This kept up until one day when I decided to tell her. I walked up to the the lady and said, “ you smell like fish.” Everyone looked at me,shocked, but at the same time, silently pleased with what had transpired.
The lady looked angry, but with herself more so than me. She got up and got off the bus, never to return. I looked around the bus, and people were giving me thumbs up and smiling. From that point on, The bus driver even got free bus rides, but I couldn’t understand why. I did what they should’ve done in the first place. They let that poor women sit there, wrapped in the lie that she was fine, but in reality she wasn’t. Looking back I cannot place the blame her, but on the people around her. I took their silence on the matter as a lie in itself. The other passengers were attempting to dodge telling the truth in order to keep that woman from feeling hurt, but was that really helpful in the long run? Withholding the truth from her just made it so when the truth was told, it was seen as rude and hurtful even though it is the reality of the situation. The world I live in is so afraid of the truth that people would rather lie as long as they think it keeps the other person safe.
As I grow older and hold on to the ideals of truth first in mind, the world around me is continually progressing into one where the truth becomes based on the situation and as each day goes by, I feel my mindset change into one where my truth becomes based upon each individual. I, as one who believes that the truth should be raw and uncut, find myself lying, and stating that I’m doing so in order to protect people. In english class I was given a book called the yellow birds by kevin power and at first I felt no connection but after I continued to read the book taught me valuable lessons about truth telling. What really resonated with me in said book is the main characters named Bartle. Bartle writes letters to his friends mom pretending to be him even though he had passed away. The letter packed with fallacies strung together by sentences. Bartle sent the letter under false pretenses and yet this seemed to make Murphy’s mother happy. This made me realize that even though it wasn’t the truth, it made her happy. At some point, she knew it wasn’t her son but most likely read them anyway. In this instant, unlike every other time, I’ve seen the lie actually helped in the long run. It helped Murphy’s mom settle into the fact that her son was dead and yes this was done by lying but this lie was born from good intent, even if unknowingly by Bartle.
I’ve come to terms with the whole lying thing. I still prefer the truth but I see knowing that only telling part of it is enough. I’ve realized that I’ve begun to grow accustomed to the situational truth, guess I caught up with my world at last.
When I was younger my family was very religious. We attended church daily and I was baptized by a very young age. Not one Sunday session was missed. I was taught that there was more to it then dying. Once we passed away we would finally be able to sit with our Lord in his holy kingdom. Heaven was the paradise you were seeking for. I was told death should not be frowned upon, it just meant that God was calling you back to him to live your days beside him for eternity. As a child I accepted that. This gave me reassurance that even once everyone I knew would be gone from this world I would be greeted by them once again.
As soon as I woke up I prayed giving thanks for waking up every morning. Even when we went to church I would daydream, imagining angels flying around the building watching us as we prayed trying to answer our calls. At first everything felt very clear to me. There was no higher power than God, he was all knowing and granted life or death. Then around the third grade I began to dive into my learning. Trying to absorb as much as I could. I wasn't like most normal kids I rarely watched cartoons. Most of the time I would watched channels like Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and the History Channel. The only thing that seemed to peak my interest was how did we work and where did we come from. The bible says the Lord but science says monkeys. I just had to know who was correct . Once I learned that we may not have come from Adam and Eve but actually single celled organisms, I started to have second thoughts on what happens once one dies. There was no evidence to back up that one rose to heaven only an assumption. I felt like I needed someone to tell me that they had been to heaven, it was real. One thing I have yet to understand is how do scientists balance religion with science. They don't go hand and hand and constantly contradict one another. Even now I still believe in God and heaven but I also believe in science.
From ages 6-9 I had problems with sleeping. They did not happen often only once and awhile but when they did they stopped me in my tracks. You would think it's normal to be scared of the dark for my age. But the reason why I was scared was unique. I was scared not because of the menacing monsters crawling around me but because my mind would wander, and I would ask myself would one day will my family leave me, is this what death feels like eternal darkness. And as I began this dark descent into the holes of my mind. My body would become heavier, with each passing thought the air was sucked from my lungs. My chest pounded, I had beads of sweat running down my face. Then it all ended. As though I was separated from my body my conscious floated in the dark. Until I couldn't take anymore I called out to my mom in that void. The world around me began to reveal itself and I lay in my bed. My mom would wipe my tears away telling me that death is only what you make of it. She would say a little boy your age shouldn't be thinking of death, there are so many more years ahead of you. I told her I was terrified at the thought of not having her or my family around me. She’d lay beside me in my bed and we would lay in the dark talking and telling jokes until I would fall asleep. I guess she realized that I just needed someone to hear someone. I needed to know that I wasn't alone.
Fast forward to my seventh grade year. During this year my grandfather had fallen down the steps and was in the hospital. Thinking it was a little fall I didn't pay much attention to it, I fall all the time and bounce right back up. But in the month of June something happened. I remember this specific day because this was the day that I went horseback riding with the boy scouts. We had finished and I learned I was terrible at it. There was this technique you had to do where you kind hoped on the horse so you didn't bruise anything down stairs. Yeah, I didn't know how to do that so well and ended up only getting on the horse once. But this isn't the point of the story. I had been dropped off home, and as I walked towards my house my aunt saw me and rushed towards me engulfing me in her arms. Two things I noticed. First, I literally couldn't breathe she was practically choking me, and secondly, she had a stream of tears flowing down her face.
I asked “why are you crying.”
She said “I thought you were gone. There was a phone call and they said “he passed away”.” All of a sudden my sister comes out side and joins in hugging me tightly. I felt confused I didn't know what they were talking about. We went inside and I saw that all my family was inside grieving. I learned my grandfather had passed away and the hospital had only said “He” so they all thought I had passed away while on the trip. I saw just how fast death impacted everyone. I had never had anyone pass away yet in my family. I might have heard of others family passing away but it didn't affect me. Until now I didn't really know what it was like to lose someone in your close family. My mind began to start racing again how would I feel once my mother passed away what would I do without her, I couldn't fathom it.
June of 2013 would be the year I attended my first funeral. I was anxious frankly I didn't want to go. Why would anyone want to see a glimpse of their future. But I knew that I had to give respects to my grandfather. As I entered the church I saw him laying in his coffin, a lifeless body. I was staring death in the face. Honestly I couldn't tell, to me it just looked like he was just sleeping in a nice suit. I saw his face, he looked so peaceful. It did not look like he had suffered. I tried to place life back into him. Picturing him like how he used to be. What would he say to me at that moment. I asked my mom and she said to me that he knew his time was up. The day before he had passed away he had told her,
“The dead don't know they're are gone it's the living that suffer.”
I saw him standing over everyone and reciting that line. The dead don't feel sad when they're gone. By constantly thinking of this we only make life more depressing. After the funeral I felt a slight realization that humans have a funny way of always trying to deny death, while animals accept it. Maybe I guess that's what the author of “The things they carried” meant when he said that someone is not dead until you yourself proclaim them to be. People dress the dead up put makeup and make them look alive. Maybe to make it only seems as though they were sleeping and they would wake up in a couple of hours. But animals must understand they're are gone and need to move on. When I see animals they don't seem to make that big a deal out of death than us. Some grieve but none of them go the same lengths as us.
Sometimes I think why did I have be born as humans out of all earths creatures. We are the only ones who are truly self aware and are capable of having deep insight. Animals live day by day only thinking to survive today. But humans don't seem to live for the moment but instead think I must survive in the end. If I were an animal I didn't have to think of my end, it would be that simple. Now that I am older I realize maybe it isn't the thought of death that scares me maybe it's the thought of being alone forever. After many realizations I've come to understand that if one spends their whole entire life fighting their destiny you only make your ending all the more sadder. One must try and experience as much joy as possible and don't focus on that brief moment. Accepting this will only serve to give your life more meaning. For now sometimes that fear rises within me. But I've come to understand it is something that cannot be destroyed. The only thing I can do is give no acknowledgement to it. I must place my faith in my lord and believe that when it is time to meet my end. I will have left the earth an old man who enjoyed the gift of life.
I remember the times I would get mad at my friends. “Floating Clothes”, that’s what we said to each other. When the person touched me or talked, I would say “Wow, is that the wind?” or “What was that noise?”. Me and my friends did this to each other whenever we got mad. This did not happen in high school though, but actually this all took place in middle school.
I have been both Middle School and High School, and I have enjoyed both of them. But, they were completely different experiences. They each had things different about them. This was inspired by Tim’s surroundings changed. This is when Tim goes from civilian to soldier. I had a change like that when I switched from middle school to high school.
One difference between the schools is the type of friends at these schools, and how I hung around them. In SLA, nobody from from my school went here. It would be cool if some if them did, but also the friends were different. They are more chilled out then my middle school friends. In Middle School, I would roughhouse. We would try WWE and other fighting moves on each other, chase each other, tackle each other, play footsies, and lots more. In SLA, the only person I did that stuff with was Marshall. And we eventually stopped doing that. But in middle school, that was normal for me and me friends. Sometimes we would get in trouble for it. They would also get into a little bit more trouble then my friends here. They weren’t bad kids, but they had their little situations. Most of the friends at SLA never or barely get into any trouble at all.
My behavior has also changed. I wasn’t a bad kid, but sometimes I would get into trouble. It may be arguments with other students, or a situation with the teacher. One of the biggest things were saying innappropriate things One time, I was joking with my friends, and I said “It sounds like your smoking marijuana with cocaine it it!”. The teacher was not happy about that, and gave me a look. The class was laughing at what I had said. There were many times this happened. One time, my friend kicked me in the groin. In a rather crude way, L screamed out what he did. My teacher gave me detention for using innappropriate language in the class. Ther rI got into trouble due to the fact that I was very immature. I didn’t do stuff to be bad, I was just being silly and immature. That’s why I never got suspended. I never did anything that over-the-top. I usually got into trouble for roughhousing, saying innappropriate things, or talking in class. Those were the usual offences. I wasn’t ever trying to be a bad student, I would just engage in acts of immaturity.
In high school, that hasn’t really happened. I also used to get detention for things like saying something innapropriate, or getting physically playful with my friends. But, things changed once I got into high school. My behavior was better. I didn’t get in trouble for that type of stuff, which is good. I am careful about what I say, and who I say certain things around. I changed becuase I was afraid of getting kicked out of the school. I was afraid of messing up all of my opportunities at SLA, which I always try to avoid doing. I also did not want the school to regret accepting me into the school. I also wanted to act properly so that I can get good recommendations for college. I would never want to mess that up, and I also don’t want my teachers to hate me.
Another thing that’s different is that there are no younger kids around. My middle school had elementary and preschool. There is none of that at SLA. The only grades in SLA are 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th. In middle school, I would help out after school witht the younger children. i would help them with their homework, and I would also hang out with them and be their friends. I really got along with them because a lot of them were really cool. That’s much different from SLA. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing, but it is a very noticable detail.
The rules I’ve had to follow are also a little bit different. I wasn’t allowed to listen to music while I worked when I was in middle school. That would have been really cool to have becuase I love music. But in SLA, all of the teachers said that it was ok to do that. I was so happy about that, and I have been listening to music while I work ever since. That is a change that high school has had on me changed. I have seen people have their phones taken away for using them in class. That doesn’t happen at SLA. As long it’s not a test or while the teacher’s talking, they let us do that with zero consequences. It’s really cool.
I want to give some crazy examples of how my friends were different. One time in Middle school, I had a book that I was reading. The book was based on the game battlefield 3. I really enjoyed the book a lot, but one of my friends decided to put it in his pants. In high school, my friends don’t really try that stuff. They usually just relax, and act normal with me. Another example is how when I was going on a trip, my friend either punched or kicked me in the groin very hard out of nowhere. We always did that sort of thing. We liked to play-fight a lot. The friends at SLA would never do that to me. If I did that to one of my friends here, they would think I am crazy, and they would not be amused. But, this one tops all of them. In 6th and 7th grade, I did have a crush on this girl. But I had a friend who liked her, and he viewed the girls he liked as his property, which meant he also wouldn’t tolerate people liking girls that he liked, and that he hated & wished death and terrible things upon them. That included me. He liked the girl, and I liked her. After he said we weren’t friends, I hated him for a while. I thought he was acting stupid and ridiculous. We eventually became friends again, either because he started to hate her, or because I lied to him just to become his friend again. If I acted like that towards one of my classmates, they would probably laugh at me or tell me that I have lost my mind. And they should. Plus, my classmates would never do that to me or anyone. They have way too much maturity to even engage in that type of foolishness. I have never been in these situations before while at SLA, and I probably never will be.
Another change is the fights. There were fights in my school sometimes, and people got suspended over that type of stuff. That problem does not exist at SLA. I remember seeing a 8th grade boy fighting an 8th grade girl. There was a crowd surrounded around them. At SLA, that would have been stopped within 4 seconds. I have seen a fight where a trash can was used. That would be broken up really fast, and not cheered on at all. That would not be tolerated, and the students would not support that. They would be horrified. Bullying took place at my school before, but it does not take place at SLA. This is a place where everyone gets along and doesn’t hate each other.
One difference that I notice is that we don’t go outside for recess in SLA. In middle school, we would go outside and play. But in SLA, we always have lunch inside. In middle school, we also had a playstation 2 downstairs. We would play basketball games and wrestling games. It was really fun. SLA does not do that though, even though it would be really cool if they had a game console for us to play.
Am I a different person in my new school? I don’t know. I think I am a more mature person. I was always a nice person. I always liked helping people. and liked making people feel good, so I wasn’t a bad guy. I was just very immature, and I became more mature so that I didn’t get into any trouble while at SLA. And it worked. I have never been in any serious trouble before, and don’t get talked to by the teacher that often. I had to change because it was the only thing that made sense to do. So, I don’t think I’m really that much of a different person. I’m just more mature, and more intelligent.
“Water is the Driving force of all nature”- Leonardo da Vinci
Water and I have always had an interesting relationship. Some days we were inseparable, and others she was a cruel mistress who sought to entice and smother me to death. Either way I’ve always had a fondness for water. In 2011 my aunt and uncle were hosting a pool party at their house in New Jersey. Like every other time I was eager to visit them and take a dip in their pool, but this year was special. I was even more excited to bring my cousin along so that he too could experience the same joy that I felt every summer. My cousin is two years older than me and every summer he would spend the week at our house. So me, my mom, my dad, my brother and cousin hop in the car and begin our journey to New Jersey, where fate will have me experience something I will never forget. In the car we planned what we would games we would play in the pool, what food we eat and how we would teach each other different types of dives that we have learned over the years. As we progress, it is tradition that we stop by the Wawa located a mile from my uncle’s house. From Wawa I get a tub of ice cream and a big bottle of Fiji water, knowing that if I didn’t, I might pass out due to heat exhaustion. After leaving Wawa, we continue the rest of our journey and shortly arrive at our destination.
Once we arrived at our destination, I was ecstatic to hop in that glorious pool, but before that I had to pretend like I wanted to see the rest of my family in an awkward display of misplaced affection. The only ones I was excited to see where my uncle, aunt, her mother, three cousins and my godmother. Shortly after I rushed to the bathroom to change into my swimming trunks but as soon as I left out, my mom forces me to put on sunscreen to which I reluctantly comply. After the 5 minutes of rushed sunscreen application was over, I hurry out to the pool without a care in the world. I waited 15 minutes for my cousin to get to the pool and every second that he took I grew more and more agitated.
After what felt like an eternity he got there and the gloves were off. I tackled him into the pool and and our battle began. We assumed the roles of our favorite aquatic superheroes and villains. He was the infamous Black Manta and I was Aquaman. It was a classic battle between good vs. evil, and I had every intention to win. The goal of this game was to come out victorious and to bask in glory.
Elbows, punches, kicks and knees were all muffled and slowed down due to the water pressure. Back flips off the diving board, cannonballs and dives were all apart of the act. Many dynamic hits were traded off underwater. I had the majority of the hits but I knew that my cousin had a trump card up his sleeve. I should have seen it coming. I can remember his smug and arrogant smile but due to my ignorance I took it as just a facade in an attempt to stay true to his character.
In a matter of seconds I felt a major amount of pressure that land in my stomach. I felt like time had stopped as his foot hit my rib cage. Next thing I knew I was dunked underwater and kicked in my head. I was stunned and caught completely off guard. All of a sudden I saw two feet over my face and felt both impacting my face. Both shock and fear struck me. I was unsure of whether we were just playing or if he was serious. Many thoughts entered my mind during my time underwater. I thought maybe I hit him too hard or if he thought we were seriously fighting.
Pain didn’t affect me. Adrenaline fueled me as I was struggling to come up for air but my efforts proved useless as my cousin was holding me down with his feet. I tried to grab his leg in an attempt to stop him but I was kicked in my head again. At that moment I felt as though it would be my dip in my uncle’s pool. Things became blurred and nebulous. I felt a combination of sadness and betrayal. Then, as I thought all hope was lost, I saw a pole which was my beacon of light and I grabbed it. When I awoke, I was surrounded by my dad, cousin and uncle. I hear muffled arguing on who was to blame and why nobody came to help sooner. Once I was able to stand, my mind was blank. I lost the feeling of fear I had in the pool and instead I felt nothing but anger. I was silent. I heard both my dad and uncle trying to talk to me. Questions like, “ Are you okay?”, “ What happened?” went unanswered. I look up at my cousin who was standing directly across from me and I lunged forward and punched him in the face. I watched him go down as my dad grabbed me.
I was infuriated with him and my anger was similar to Jimmy Cross’s in the book The Things They Carried when Ted Lavender died. However, the only thing that died that day was my trust in my cousin. I asked myself, “Why would he do that to me? Why did he try to kill me? What did I do to deserve this?” Like Jimmy Cross I longed for answers and retribution. I wanted nothing more than to see my cousin suffer. He apologized to me but I was certain it wasn’t sincere. To this day, I still don’t know why all that happened but oddly enough I thank him. I am grateful that I now know you should never let your guard down in any situation. Anything can happen and it is important to be aware of your surroundings. Since then, I have forgiven my cousin and I respect him immensely as he enters a new chapter in his life with going into the Navy.
A few years back, when Soulja Boy and Bow Wow were trending, I fell for a girl.
This was back in fifth grade, when I was about 12. When I excelled in school and was consider the “teacher's pet” something really weird happened. It all started in the back of the room of Miss.Kuaffman home room class.The moment I laid eyes on this gorgeous girl named Emily I got this weird feeling in my stomach and got nervous when she made eye contact with me. I knew that it was love at first sight. She was really beautiful , had black silky hair with nice big brown eyes and a small frame to her. I never seen a girl like her before , and actually never seen her in school. That's when Miss Kauffman introduced her to the class.
The day after everyone was talking about her, especially the boys. My friends were all talking about how beautiful she was That's when hector ,a good friend of mine, said “I bet I can make her my girlfriend,” and we all laughed. Once he said that I was scared because I thought she was really pretty and wanted her to be mine. Whenever I made eye contact with her I felt so happy. After a while we went back to doing our usual things, playing pokemon cards and using tech decks( a tiny skateboard used by using your two fingers to do tricks and other things.) in the lunchroom.
Months passed and Hector still hadn’t made his move on Emily . It was about to be Christmas two weeks from now. I kept telling myself that I needed to talk to her and stop being a punk. But every time I was near her I got this weird knot in my throat that didn’t allow me to talk to her. I knew I couldn't talk to her face to face so I decided that I need to get my feeling across through her best friend ,Jessica. Jessica and I were good friends mainly because I didn’t find her attractive. As the day went on we finally reached our last period which was gym. This was a class I actually enjoyed in that school. Until we started running laps around the gymnasium.
Once we were there I asked Jessica “Does emily like anyone from our class?”
“ I’m not exactly sure but I know she thinks you're cute.” Jessica replied.
“Okay.” I said.
I did not expect her to say that Emily thinks I’m cute. Like what ?? I was so shocked like really she really thinks I am cute. My mouth open and my jaw dropped because of how shock I was to hear that.
“ I don’t no but I know she thinks you're cute.”
“ I don’t no but I know she thinks you're cute.”
“ I don’t no but I know she thinks you're cute.”
Her response kept replaying in my head without stopping. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It boosted my confidence from 0 to 100. I was finally ready to tell Emily what I thought about her. Unfortunately, the night before winter break I became too scared to tell her in person. So I decided it would be easier to write her a letter expressing my feelings.
I started my letter with “Dear Emily , this letter is just going to be me expressing my feelings towards you.” I thought to “myself that's weird don't say that to her she is going to be under the impression that I’m a weirdo.” So I didn’t write that on the letter, what I ended up writing was that I like her. Hours passed and I only had the introduction of the letter done. I’m going to tell you guys what I wrote for the first body paragraph. It goes something like this “ Emily you're such a beautiful girl just like the sun in the morning you can’t miss it. I really think you're cute and you are an awesome person to be around. You always make me laugh and stuff even though we don’t really talk that much. I really like going to school for two reasons, one to learn and two to see you everyday. You probably don’t think I’m cute or think I have cooties or whatever. But I just wanted to let you know that I like you a lot and think you are really pretty.” I was finally done. I made sure that my grammar was good and all of the other punctuation was good to go. Before placing the letter in the envelope I signed it at the bottom saying “love - Arsenio with xoxox.” Then I get myself ready to go to school.
Once I’m at school I realize Emily isn’t there and start getting worry. So I asked her friend Jessica if she seen her around.
Jessica said “no she is not here today why ?”
I replied with “nothing just asking because I have something to give her.”
Jessica then says “oh I see you like Emily don’t you ?”
I felt my cheeks heat up. I felt like a burning oven and got this knot feeling in my stomach and just walked away. Just thinking about Emily made me nervous. I walked away and never answered her question. My next class was my last period and I had to find a way to get this letter to Emily. I thought of mailing it to her house but for one I didn’t know her address and two she would just think I’m a weird if I knew her address. The time continued on and I still didn’t have an idea on how to get this letter to her. Five minutes were left in class so I came to the final decision of just leaving it under her desk. I was left with the question if she will ever reply to me or would she just ignore me because I have cooties.
In the end I never really got to find out if she ever liked me because after class Miss Kaufman told us that she has transferred. I was heartbroken because she meant so much to me. Once I got the news that day I cried myself to sleep thinking on why she would leave , why didn’t she feel the same way, was I not good enough for her. I would never be able to have these questions answered. . One good thing that I do know the letter wasn’t under the desk after break. Maybe she did receive the letter but never had a way to communicate with me. I mean who will ever know if she really like me.Well after all of this occurred I came to the understanding that being in love is painful. Not just falling in love but the act of getting rejected by someone you love hurts. Similar to how in the book “ The Things They Carried” Rat one of the characters never gets a letter back from this girl he loves and the feeling of rejection that he had to deal with caused him to change as a person. I change a lot since this happen in many ways.The biggest change that occurred with me is that I became emotionless in a way. I try to avoid letting people know how I felt because people would try to take advantage of me. Ever since that day on I never handwritten a letter to a girl describing my feelings because I fear that I will never get a response back.
Coming to Terms with Change:
High school was always a goal for me growing up and I always looked forward to reaching that point in my life. I imagined it being just like the television shows with cliques, nerds, jocks, popular basketball, cheer-leading, and football teams, prom king and queen, etc. I fantasized about how I would be in high and school and where I would stand. I hoped I would fit in. I wanted it to be a time to remember.
When I reached the eighth grade I began applying to all of my high schools. I hand wrote essays, went to open houses, and had interviews. Once I came to Science Leadership Academy I wanted to join all the clubs and sports to be active and involved. Everything seemed so overwhelming, but still exciting. I quickly migrated towards a group of friends who are still with me today.
“Take a deep breath and remember what we practiced. You’re going to do great Yas!” I took a deep breath and shuffled through my papers looking over everything. I could feel the butterflies in my stomach as I was waiting to go upstairs. I remember I wore black pants and a white button down so that I was dressed professionally. I also, remember the principal saying “All students who are interviewing today can now head upstairs to the room number on their paper.” I stood up feeling alert and anxious and the next thing you know I was quickly walking with the crowd clenching my folder in my hands looking around the school and for my classroom. It was finally time for me to show off the project I was so passionate about. They had all the students sitting down and choosing one of the prompts to write about until we were called for our interview. I remember interviewing with one student and a teacher.
When I entered the room the whole setup was different. Instead of having individual desk there were tables that seated four people. The teacher’s desk were planted into the floor and some had sinks built into them. There were labs and other interesting things around the room. Lockers were also on every floor and there were only two lunch periods. As you can see, I had some adjusting to do. I had to become accustomed to the new environment similar to O’Brien in “The Things They Carried”. Instead of working with his father everyday and having shifts, he was fighting in wars. One of my first new experiences was not having school uniform. I’ve always been at a school where uniform was required so it was different for me to see students dressed in all different types of ways. Another new experience was carrying my book bag around to every class instead of carrying my books in my hand. I was use to going to my locker only in the morning and after lunch. Something I had to become accustomed to was traveling places by myself. I was use to a ride in the morning and a short walk in the afternoon, but I quickly grasped how public transportation operated and it became simple for me to travel around.
While reading “The Things They Carried” the author list all the things that the soldiers carried with them. Specifically, O’Brien carried a picture of the girl he was in love with, Martha. I carried a baby picture of myself with my dad in the front pocket of my book bag everyday. O’Brien kept that picture with him and always thought about Martha. I held onto that picture keeping my dad in my mind and with me all the time. It makes you feel closer to the person and it also makes you feel some sort of connection with them even though they are not there in the flesh.
Tim mentions a quote in the book relating to stories and the impact it has on a people. “Stories are for joining the past to the future.” This book is designed in a way that all of the soldiers have a certain background that they bring with them as there moving on in life. I also, have a background that I carry with me and add on to as I do more things in life. Just to be clear when I say background I mean past life,experience, struggles, lessons, and more.
Once I was well into high school, around January, I began to lose interest in a lot of my classes. I would find myself thinking about other things and not focusing on my work as much. In the novel, Tim continuously day dreamed about Martha. “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 like a stone in his stomach for the rest of the war.” When the time came to take a test or do a project I would have to face the consequences by being lost and regretful. Instead of Tim putting all his attention first towards his men and their needs he was more focused on someone who wasn’t even present in his life and he suffered consequences because of it.
A few months later, I got my letter in an envelope. I skimmed the list looking for SLA and finally I saw it at the bottom of the paper saying that I was accepted. I was thrilled! Immediately, I called my mom screaming and saying “I got accepted”. She was so proud of me and said we would celebrate later that night. Afterwards, I called my brother and stepdad to share the news with them as I was on my way to lunch with my best friend.
So, as you can see O’Brien and I have very different stories, but there are still some similarities between the two. We both experience lot’s of change and learn new things. Also, we both display some emotions that can relate to one another.
I’m not the hero. If asked me if I was the hero, I’d tell you I wasn’t. Perhaps the ease is implicit, wrapped in the word “hero”; if you asked if me if I was a hero, I’d tell you I wasn’t, for I see “hero” as too grand a phrase for a planet mundane enough to exist outside of a comic book. So, even in the context of a vaguely colorful story, there are no such things as “heroes.” But, then, if you asked me if I was the protagonist of said story, I wouldn’t know what to say. It can’t be known before I’ve asked the question of myself. Should I ever claim that I’m the protagonist, let me bite my tongue, for I have not yet been asked if I am the villain.
I drew my conclusions on this topic when I was eleven years old; they are outdated. Consider this essay the grand re-opening of a case five years shut. The case files contain many since-disregarded conclusions that I’d like to shine some light on. If I tell you that I am not sorry, reject my thesis; I have not researched my topic thoroughly enough.
With all of this in mind, let me introduce a question that can be objectively answered: what happened?
When I met him, he asked the normal small talk questions and I gave him the normal small talk answers. “Nice to meet you, Alec, my name is Harry. This is my second year at Lakota. Yes; that rather racist image on the rock wall does bear a lot of resemblance to the logo of the Washington Redskins. Shower Hour is right before First Shift Dinner, which is right before Free Play.” The answers I didn’t give: “The other bunk is essentially the cool kids’ bunk, as it was last year, so my best friend Zach and I practically feel targeted, that our bunk should be filled with the weirdos, the Europeans, and the European weirdos.”
Zach, the kids from the other bunk, and even some counselors immediately considered Alec to be of “the weirdos,” though I couldn’t see it. Nothing he did seemed especially strange, at least. He asked the questions one could be expected to ask and he laughed when one could be expected to laugh. He was the only person I’d ever met to wear a swim shirt, and perhaps, retrospectively, that fact was very in line with the insecurities he would come to show, but it didn’t strike me as very strange then. Everyone else thought I was blind. Though I’m not known by most to be optimistic, I’d rather attribute it to optimism than to blindness.
Soon, he had taken a clear liking to me, even though I didn’t pay that much attention to him. A counselor that had noticed Alec’s affection towards me and his odd nature, Ben, asked to keep an eye on Alec. It seemed an odd request, but I respected Ben, so ten minutes later, when Alec began to run away from the bunk after yelling something akin to “you don’t understand me!”, I took it upon myself to chase after him. “Wow, you’re fast!” he exclaimed.
I tried my best not to laugh at his amazement with my speed. I was nearly world-renowned for being a god-awful runner, at any distance. “Hardly.”
“Pretty fast,” he insisted.
I moved past it. “Why are you running away?”
“They just don’t get me.”
“Who are ‘they’, Alec?”
“Oh, it doesn’t matter. Did I hear you say you liked tennis, earlier?”
He had heard correctly. It was the only sport that I could be positively compared to my athletically-minded peers in, so I most definitely liked it. In a couple of nights, him and I had taken to having a couple rallies on the tennis court. We kept the tradition up semi-regularly for at least a couple of weeks, and our conversations became rather personal.
“At school, I get really bullied.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said. We discussed it for a while, and he eventually asked for advice. “Develop a thick skin; just know not to let everything affect you.”
“Hmm, okay. Oh, and don’t tell anyone this Harry. You promise?”
“And don’t tell anyone this next thing, okay? You promise?”
“Okay. So. You know about the boat when Hitler ‘died?’”
“Well, my uncle was a famous German painter. When I went to Germany, I looked inside a painting of his with special glasses that he left behind for me, and I saw the bodies frozen, like, they were stuck to the hull of a metal ship.” This seemed like gibberish to me, so after I challenged every part of it, he said, “Look, that’s not the point. I looked with my glasses harder, and I realized, it was a time ship.”
“Are you suggesting that Hitler is alive?”
“He’s waiting for the right opportunity to come back!”
I later brought up the conspiracy with Alec while Zach was within earshot. Alec, naturally, looked supremely pissed.
“You promised, Harry! I thought you weren’t gonna tell! I thought we were friends!”
The night before Alec was set to go home was the night that it all culminated. I was in bed reading, Zach was in bed reading, and Alec was in bed taking offense to it all. Then, Alec asked to see Zach’s almanac.
“I’m reading it right now; hold on.”
“Dude, I asked if I could read it. Please?”
“I am reading it, so no.”
“But I asked nicely.”
“That doesn’t change anything if I’m reading it.”
“BUT I ASKED NICELY!” Alec screamed. He jumped from his bunk bed onto Zach’s ground level bed and tried to grab the book out of hands. Zach threw the book to the ground and Alec’s hands rerouted themselves towards Zach’s neck. “Why doesn’t anyone like me?” Alec violently commanded.
“What the hell is wrong with you?”
“I came to this camp to get away from bullying! Ah!” Zach had begun to block his body with his oversized pillow. When Alec finally managed to cast the pillow aside, Zach scratched Alec’s neck so that it bled and darted out of the bunk as two counselors, including Ben, walked in.
“What’s going on in here?” Ben asked, which caused Alec to scream and charge at him. The counselors, with their combined, adult strength struggled to push Alec into the back room of the bunk. “What are you doing, Alec?”
“I wanna KILL him!”
“I… AH! I came to this camp to get away from bullies!”
When Alec returned from the nurse, very late that night, his eyes seemed to be just black pits. His skin was paler than mine. He immediately crawled into bed where, presumably, he fell asleep. I shuddered the night through.
It has occurred to me that there is an easy way out. I could ask, “are things really so black and white?” Then, things would be so black and white; I could answer, “things really aren’t so black and white.” I could throw away the case without indicting a soul. I could chalk it all up to some untouchable gray territory and I would be free from asking.
I once thought that Alec simply dealt with what the rest of us dealt with. Young boys are cruel to each other, occasionally indiscriminately: some campers would tie him up and poke him with brooms, but they’d slap each other as a greeting; some campers would call him names, but they’d insist that they only do it to him because he’s the only one who bothers asking them to stop. It’s just survival of the least easily scarred. In the summer that this story took place over, for instance, I was berated regularly for the length of my hair and for my inability to play sports, but I didn’t care. Now, I’ve grown to think that such an expectation is not fair. Alec, who, to me, still seems normal, yet was easily broken, shouldn’t have had to be as cold as the rest of us. The standards that we held ourselves to should not have been the standards that we held someone else to. Since that summer, I’ve written approximately three essays on why the SATs are an inadequate gauge of ability, and this seems like a fourth. In ways that everyone else could see, he was not like us: he was a scientifically minded student scoring poorly on the SAT math and reading/writing sections while we were the College Board; he was a visual learner confronted with memorizing an audiobook; he was Murph from “The Yellow Birds,” entirely unprepared for war and death.
I’m inclined to cut myself slack. After all, I was the only one who really attempted to be his friend, and I even succeeded for a while. That’s more than anyone else can say. Still, I failed to keep his secrets and failed to defend him. It sounds patronizing, now, to claim that defending him was my job, but Ben asked me to look out for him and I failed.
So: I am sorry. I am sorry that I spilled the conspiracy stories that he told me in confidence, I am sorry that I stopped playing tennis with him, and I’m sorry that I failed to stop the other kids. I am guilty because I so consistently call those who picked on him “the other kids,” as if to put as much distance between myself and them as I can, even though I don’t know if such a divide truly exists.
These are answers that I am glad to have, I suppose, but now I am aware that some questions are simply unanswerable. I can’t ever know whether or not his explosion might’ve been averted if I had stuck with him, in the same way that I can’t know whether he’d have been better off if I hadn’t shallowly befriended him in the first place. I can rest with a conscious slightly cleared, knowing that I couldn’t have known better. I can say that, although it may or may not have been helpful to him, at least I tried when no one else did. Though I wonder where Alec is now, I’m too scared to Google him. I don’t want to know whether I’d feel huge waves of emotion or cold apathy upon seeing his Facebook profile picture, should he even have such a thing. In much the same way that Private Bartle of “The Yellow Birds” could hardly stand to look at Murph’s disfigurements, I fear Alec. I fear the sunken eyes that we sent back home to his mother. Even though I’ve attempted to clear myself of blame, through the process of writing this essay and otherwise, I still can’t bring myself to look at someone I never knew.
After all of this, I still don’t know if I’m one of the other kids.
I was never really a sporty guy. I went to school, did my work, played video games, and went to bed. I never really liked basketball in the first place. But, people were always asking if I played basketball because I was so tall. So, basketball didn’t seem that bad to try. A lot of my friends would go after school to play but I never did. So, I decided to go one day.
I got the hang of the game pretty quickly. I was getting pretty good too. Sometimes, I would go out late at night and try to work on my jump shot. All I could think about was basketball. I started to fall in love with the game.
I thought that I was ready to play in my first basketball league. There was a simple sign up and I was on a team. But it wasn't that easy. The league had a tryout to see how they would spread the teams out. I didn't really know how good I did because i didn't know what “good” was. But apparently, I was the best player on my team. That put me in total shock. I am the best player? How the heck were we going to win a game?
I had my very own jersey. It was just a t-shirt with a number on it but I didn't care. I was ready to play and I was motivated. I thought I was going to be the Lebron James of this league. Carry my team to some wins, win the playoffs etc. My family didn't play much basketball back in their day, so there wasn't much advice that could be given to me. I learned how to play basketball from NBA2K and most of the basketball games up on tv. So, my knowledge was not that high. But, I must have known something if I was the best player on my team.
My first basketball game was approaching me in 1 hour on a Wednesday. I got there half an hour early so I could get some shots up before the game. My shots were not going in. I started to get more and more nervous as each shot bounced off the rim and out. My mom was looking over at me with a weird and almost too excited face. It started to creep me out. She obviously was trying to keep a positive attitude about me missing all of these shots.
I saw some of the players on my team come in. We said our “hi’s” and “what’s up’s” to each other and they joined me in my shoot-around. Then players from the other team started to come in. My stomach started to growl a little bit but I knew that I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t really know what to do in this situation because I didn’t have much experience with these kind of situations.
But as I entered the game, I started to let all of the nerves go. I felt really confident in myself that I could score and that I could also get the win for my team. Boy, was I wrong. I ended up only scoring 1 point and losing by 20. I looked like a fool out there. I tried using some of the street basketball moves I learned with my friends but those didn't work. It seemed like that I had to know my limitations and to do what I can do. I was always a good rebounder. I had around 14 rebounds that game which was good for me. But when I got the rebound, I couldn't do anything with it on offense.
I was at the court everyday before my next game on wednesday trying to improve something about my game. If it was my shooting, and playback capability, I was trying to improve it. I didn't want to come into this next game missing a ton of shots and not knowing what I was doing. I figured out my role. I should have been using these rebounds to create baskets for me. A lot of these rebounds were on the offensive end so I felt that I could build off that and make me and my team in a better position. Because let's face it, if I can’t score, who will? We did lose by 20 so that isn't going to prove anything.
Wednesday was here. I was an hour away from my game. I knew that I had to really take action and show people that I can ball. I probably had lost the confidence from my teammates in me so I really had to earn that back. This was a statement game for me and my teammates. I had to go about like Curt Lemon and stop being afraid. I have to just go all in and do what I have to do. It is that simple.
My stomach wasn't growling. I wasn't sweating of fear. My jumpshot felt really good and I was going in consistently during warmups. I was ready. I knew it, my mom knew it, and my teammates knew. Unfortunately, coach didn't know it and put me on the bench to start the game out. I was pissed. I worked so hard over the week to improve myself and this coach decides to bench me. He had only seen 1 game from me. How could he have made that decisions quickly?
But it was okay. I ended up getting in the game without 5 minutes left in the first quarter. I was thinking to myself the whole entire time, “No mercy, no mercy, no mercy,” I hit the first shot that I took. It was a 3 pointer. Usually, those don't go in for me so I knew that this game was going to be special. And it was. Fourteen points, Twelve rebounds. Now that is a basketball game! But did we get the win? No. But for some reason, I didn't care. I was worried about my own stats and not the team. This had to change if we were going to get a win next week. Either someone has to turn into Kobe Bryant, or we need a real game plan.This was my first basketball league and I felt like I learned a lot. We only won 1 game out of the 8 we played that year and that was only because our team overall wasn't good. But at the same time, I felt very dominant because of the way I played. Just like Curt lemon, I felt very embarrassed the first time around. But I didn't give up. I made up for my mistakes and fixed them as soon as I could. . Because I knew the next time I played, I was going to dominate. And that is exactly what happened.
What TV show did you watch in class?
What was this show about?
Answer: The show was about how the internet and technology influences how we live.
What is the most memorable thing to you about this show?
Answer: The most memorable thing about the show was how much the internet and technology negatively influences us.
Why/Why not - is it important to watch shows like these?
Answer: It’s extremely important that we watch shows like this because it helps us see what the internet does to us. For instance, after seeing both of the shows, I have cut down on my phone usage.
How will you keep your future family safe online?
Answer: My mom and dad both follow me on instagram and I have never sent and will continue never to send anything inappropriate via snapchat.
Why is it important to talk with your family about internet safety
Answer: It is important to talk with your family about internet safety because your family needs to know that you are safe online. Especially when you share so much online.
What advice would you give to parents that don't know how to keep their children safe online?
Answer: Follow your kids on all of their social media and ask them about what they send to other people.
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I’m sorry for breaking our promise.
“You won’t leave me right?”
“Never. But I know you will, right?”
“No. I don’t think I’d be able to.”
At that moment you asked me to stay by your side through anything and everything. I asked for the same back. Our pinkies were out and then in a blink of an eye, they were wrapped around one another.
I thought leaving you was the best decision I have made in a long time. Being by your side for more than three years was probably too much for me. There were times where you made me feel as though I wasn’t good enough for you. I always believed that I had to constantly change myself just to fit your standards. You put me in situations where I always had thoughts of leaving you, but I knew my heart didn’t want that. When we first met, you made me feel special. I was comfortable with you. I shared with you everything about me. I thought that there was nothing that could have gotten in the way. Even though people believed we weren’t going to continue a long friendship and relationship because of our ages, we proved them all wrong, didn’t we?
I remember the first time we met. We were introduced to each other by mutual friends. It’s funny because when I first saw you, never would I had imagined us to be as close as we were. Somehow, we gave each other the nickname, “buddy”. Do you remember when I had field hockey practices during the fall and lacrosse practices during the spring? You always showed up, but I never knew that because you would always climb up your favorite tree in the park. I noticed you from afar when I saw your red and black Nike shoes.
“Wow. I have the same shoes as you. Hey buddy! What are you doing up there?”
“I didn’t want you to see me. It was supposed to be a surprise. Plus, I’m shy.”
“Why are you shy? We’re buddies remember? Now get down from there. Practice is over.”
You walked me home that day and we became closer. Since that day, everything else became clearer and I thought things would get better. However, you lied to me.
Your lies caused us to not talk for a couple months. They were the longest months of my life. We finally started talking again because you texted first.
“Hey buddy. I know it’s wrong of me to text you after lying to you, but I was scared that if you knew the truth, you’d see me differently. I’m so sorry.”
I didn’t exactly know who you were, but I decided to give it a shot of getting to know the real you. I texted back and from that day on we've become inseparable.
Our relationship became more serious further along the way and everything felt magical. Despite the age difference, you seemed to be the one teaching me things I've never seen before. We’ve shared many things with each other. Secrets, laughs, smiles, tears, arguments, we shared basically everything.
After nine months, things changed.
As we sat on my bed, you looked at me right in the eyes and lied. You lied to me again. Then again. I didn't know what to do. Your lies kept feeding off of me so I didn't know who I could trust anymore or what to believe from anyone especially you. At that point, I didn't know who I was anymore either. I was not the girl you used to know. I became more independent, more closed off, quieter. Because of those lies, my trust for you became more vague everyday. But instead of me leaving, I gave you another chance to redeem yourself. They were constantly telling me that you were just a child. I still didn't want to let you go though.
Everyone around us constantly told me that you wouldn’t have been able to handle a relationship because you were younger than I. It’s funny because sometimes I would forget that you were younger. You always acted more mature than I did.
Two years in, we thought things were great. At least I believed that they were. However, July 6th came and I started working. You were working as well. I didn’t expect that this situation would be the reason that we would became more distant. Days went by and there were barely 30 words made to each other each day. It was hard. I tried putting the most effort into this relationship, but there were too many things going on in my life where I didn't realize you were trying just as hard. I never came to you about most of it because we were both always busy. I'm not too sure how or when or why, but I thought the best thing for the both of us was to separate from each other.
I promised you that no matter what, we would continue to try and make things work for the both of us. But instead, I broke that promise. When we separated, I constantly believed that it was all because of me. I was torturing myself constantly. I felt as if you were pushing me away, and I thought you were slowly losing feelings. Instead of trying to help you gain those feelings back, I let them slip completely and tried making things easier by leaving. I wanted to remain as close friends but it was hard for the both of us. Things obviously weren’t the same. A couple days after the separation, we were still talking as close friends when you brought up the promise. That promise that was made two years ago. The same promise that I broke. It hurt me to know that you still remembered it. At that moment I wished that we had never made that promise. However, it was a lesson that needed to be learned.
So, thank you for teaching me that promises are sometimes meant to be broken. I hope one day, you’d understand why I did it. I’m sorry for breaking our promise.
Your Buddy Eb.
In June, you get a weird message from someone on facebook, saying “Hello how are you, can I be your friend? You’re really pretty.” He doesn’t stop sending these messages. It’s not hurting you, but it is getting very annoying, so you decide to text him back with a response that is very blunt. After you specifically show him that you aren’t interested in talking, he keeps on sending messages forcing you to respond back. You want him to stop, but he won’t. Even after numerous attempts to ignore him, he will not leave you alone. After a while you realize that the messages you are sending him are no longer blunt, but instead, they expose parts of your personality.
After messaging him for a while you realize that you know quite a bit about him. For instance, he lives in America but not on the east coast. He is a californian male. He is a different race from you. He has started sending his personal information to you, such as his phone number and address. Imagine that he asked you for this type of personal information, but you are smart enough to not give it to him. You decide to finally grow up and tell him to stop texting you once and for all, but he is just to persistent and has a way of manipulating your mind and next thing you know you are having facebook video conversations with him. He then takes it a step further and says to me that he is dying because of a brain tumor, you of course having a heart continue your nonsense banter of a conversation.
You have a gut feeling that he is lying, but your hearts good nature can’t bring you to stop this conversation. After you have had enough of this banter and wish for it to stop, you ask for proof of his illness. He keeps on delaying the report so you call him a liar, he doesn’t take that to well and keeps on using his charming ways of conversations to draw you out of your denial. Your denial stops for a while, but is reincarnated when you have once again grown tired of this man. You decide to finish the “friendship” but once again he uses his charming wit to make you feel bad for him he says things like “Before I die I want to hear your voice and absorb your words, please don’t say no.” You answer back saying that “You’ll keep on texting him before his death.”
This happend to me. There I was sitting in my room on my bed, and I hear my phone vibrate. I then looked at my screen, and I saw his name. I then facepalmed my pillow. His message read, “I like your profile picture. You have beautiful hands, your eyes are romantic and You have long nice hair”. I responded saying, “thanks but in real life my hand are not that beautiful.” He responded back,”I always stare at your profile picture and I feel like you're staring me too. Every time I look at your eyes it kills me and my heart beats get faster.” Then I reply with “hahahaha my pleasure”. Then I started thinking how he found me on facebook and I message him “how did you ]find”. He then replys me “I was just searching my friends account and you're appeared so I clicked on it. Then I reply saying, “oh okay”. This is how he talk me and every time he message he’d called me “baby”. After that I asked him “why do you call me baby?”. His reply was “because your my dream girl and I want to call you baby.” When I finished reading what he said I was thinking he was a crazy boy and also thinking not to get too close with him.
Sometimes I felt very special to him because everytime he messaged he would say something sweet to me that made me believe him more. While I still didn’t believe him that much with everything, but I did believe that he was sick because he didn’t message me for two days and I was little worried that something had happened. After two days later he messaged me back and I asked him “Are you okay?” he then replies saying “you seem to have a place in your heart for me” then I said “what do you mean? he responded “I mean that you were worried about me because I didn’t message you the last two days I was sick because I was in the hospital. Then I said “are you okay now” he says “ yeah I am okay and how are you doing beautiful” and then I said “I’m okay but I not beautiful because you never saw me in real life and what you saw on my pictures made things better than real”. Then he said “don’t ever say this again.. do you know that I downloaded your profile picture to my phone and set it as my wallpaper on my phone, so don’t ever tell me back that you are ugly and don’t ask me why do I have on my phone and it's for me not for you.” The time then was passing and we had conversation like this every day, for at least for 20 minutes. My profile picture was the only picture I had on my facebook after I heard this from him and I then deleted my profile picture from facebook.
Talking to him like this every day two months pass like the wind. After talking to him two for months, then was the time to not believe him anymore. On one Tuesday he told me he had doctor appointment for cat scan. After he finished with the cat scan I asked him when he getting his report. He told in two days. Two days later I asked how was the report his answer was my sister suppose to pick up the report but she couldn’t she was busy and she will pick it up tomorrow. Next day I asked him again and he then told me “in my report it wrote grade IV tumor and that it grew to my heart because I am in love with you, which is the highest stage for cancer in my body”. Then I said really? Then he says no Sorry I am really really sorry for lying to you this whole time but I actually don’t have any cancer and I just wanted some away talk to you. Instead of replying to him I just blocked him and we never talk again. After all of this I just realize how much a person can lie about their self just to make someone fall in love with them. This then made me not to fully trust someone quickly for anything anymore.
Throughout the years, many people are looking for people to trust with or people they can depend on. The word has meaning, it “friends”. Friend is a simple word to describe somebody that has been there in your good and hardest moments without asking or taking the time, out of his/her time to help you when you need it or ask for it. That word, FRIEND can’t be used and shouldn’t be used to describe a person like that. Because after certain point, after helping, messing, being your second thought or giving you the handle when you feel like giving up on everything, they’re like a brother or sister, that is there every step of the way, and you for them. What is a friend to you? How did it beginning? Did he/her become like a brother/sister? How?
Me, throughout the years, i’ve been looking hard, trying to find that friend, but the funny thing is that-that person was also there, right there, in front of me. I was blind. And sometimes you notice it way too late, when their about to leave and be gone for good. Lucky me, I noticed it way before my brother left for good. It was like about a good 6 months before my brother left.
“Oh man, this 6 months were a blast bro” I said,
“Yea, I know!” said Fernando.
Then it was time, the time that I was hoping to never come. The time to move. Move to a different place of the world. My heart disappeared.
“Ya’ll are little kids, ya’ll find a new friend, then ya’ll forget about each other.” my mother telling me in a humorous voice.
“That’s not true mom!” replying very aggressive and pissed, then stomping my way to my room. Right there and then I had a flashback, about me waiting outside fernando’s house, which was not that far away from mine. I just looked at him on how he folded his clothes and packed in the suitcase. Out of nowhere my heart was punched with sadness and loneliness. I felt empty, something that was hard to explain through words, it was like running in frozen forest, just watching your body freeze till your heart can’t take it anymore and suddenly stop. Then they got in the car, all ready and packed,
“Just have hope!” he told me as they were leaving.
“Hope of what” I yelled.
Then came the silence. This reminds me of a book I read in class, “The things they carried”. In the book, there was a part where lieutenant Cross was distracted from his thoughts and one of the comrades got shot and fell to the ground. When Lieutenant Cross saw his comrade fall, he saw him drop, the comrade did not shake or twitch or do a movie-like death. A shot and drop, like when you drop a rock in the lake, the rock sinks to the bottom. The Lieutenant felt the blame was to be on him and felt sad, depressed, lonely, glum. In a way I felt the same things, but in different way, even though we both lost a person.
Trust is a strong and special thing that a person carries with him and can share.Not a lot of people have that. A month later after my brother left, it was hard to find someone else to open to. It was not easy to share my feelings to people because most people would've thought that I was a wussy, a little girl or cry baby. But everybody was like that when they were little, they were sensitive. Well, at least I was. So most of the time, I would keep my emotions inside, show a straight serious face without emotion, without light, without a sign of hope, or the power of believing again. I'd always use that mask to hide and imprison my feelings in a box which never shows or expresses any feelings and that's when my quietness hit and I hardly ever speak. Weeks after my brother left, I came across my cousin.
“Ohhhh, Hola, Primo!!!” greeting my cousins, which was so unexpected to see in philly.
“Hola, Primo!” he replied.
This was his first time being in Philadelphia. At first when I met him he was awkward and I was awkward, so we were both awkward, but that didn't change the fact that we had to communicate with each other. After a while we started to communicate more, started to hang out more, started sharing more, and doing everything together. After a good while, me and him started getting closer as brothers in a way, and I thought that was going to be difficult. But there were somethings that I had in common with my cousin but our thoughts or opinions were so different. Sometimes being different is the one thing that connected us the most.
I have a question? You know what’s funny? I like when you’re best friend or close friend says
“I got your back, whenever and wherever, I got you!!” but in reality, that’s all a lie They don’t mean. Those words are just fake hope, because when that time comes they don’t do nothing. They be leave you there to get jump.
“Brothers FOR LIFE!!!!” he yelled you to air.
“YEAAAA!!” yelling at the air, as well.
We were on top of a hill. What were we doing there? Nothing. My brother and I would always go there on saturdays, because him and I had enjoyed watch the sun set. Then it got dark. The time flew. We had to leave, cause than our parents would have got paranoded.
“Are we close?” He asked tiredly.
“Yeah, just a 2-3 more block” I replied sleepy voice.
Out of nowhere these other kids came and it third of them. There was one fat kid, and man he was fat, compared to me, he was fat like a hippopotamus. Non-the-less, with two other kids. One was tall and the other was not. He was my height. One of them bumped me on purpose.
“Do we have problem?” said very aggressive and pissed.
“No….” I replied scared
For no reason what-so-ever, he punch the shit out of me. Dropped! It was fight. I was on the ground one of them was kicking me and the other two were going after my brother. I didn’t know what was going on. Beside the kicks I was feeling on my back, my arms and my shoulders. Out of nowhere, it stopped. I shocked. Bleeding, in pain. And a little confused. How did he do to get the other two? Did he beat them up? I didn’t know? I helped me up. I dizzy, weak. I couldn’t feel my legs or arms. I looked at him, he was bleeding too. My ears were pounding.
“RUN?!!” he yelled “They’re coming!!!”We ran like hell. We took the longest way home. But lucky, we made it home. Messed up but we made. I know that after that day, my brother was loyal, he was the realites.
“Bonding, which is stronger than any ionic bonds.”
Fondness, I was floating in it. Rancorous, I was pushed to be one. Separation, it was thrown onto me. And bondness? It was caused by all of the previous. Would I regret anything that had occurred, that wasn’t so facile as I thought it would be? Nope. That’s why, I send my kudos to the Almighty for his judicious decisions on my changing world.
It was 2011. As a 7th grader, I hadn’t had much interaction with the outside world, so I surely was lacking some knowledge on how this world actually worked. I would consider myself being dumb as a rock, but that’s not the main thing about the story I am about to tell. It’s just ...there.
I ran after one girl for two years. Not literally running, but as in when water, minerals, lactate and urea mixed together that would be dripping from my head as a formation, which we call “sweat”. Dripping to the concrete below my feet, while running. 2012 was the year when I stopped running and finally got her as a trophy. I will say she’s worth more than any trophy. Everything was pretty ecstatic for days. This nascent love actually felt like a typical indian romance movie. Even though I am not Indian, my family have watched many movies from that culture due to it’s popularity. Those movies generally have scenes where the actor and actress falls in love and soon before you can blink your eyes, a choreographed dance song comes on from the background. As the actor and actress see each other from distance, the wind starts to blow, the birds start to chirp, because of lust, and the rain starts to fall when they look at each other. Ehh, I guess it felt similar, a languid feeling whenever I saw her. Than some undesirable things happened that I didn’t hope for. It was as if I am running from a tiger and now I’m at the end of the cliff, no choice but to jump off.
Summer of 2013. My dearest parents came to my room one day with an intriguing question.
“Want to visit Bangladesh over the summer?” My dad asked. I was jubilant with that question and replied with a big YES!
“Why should we visit Bangladesh out of nowhere?” I asked.
“Well, we need go make make sure that our land that we purchased years ago are fine and that anyone didn't take them over.” They’ve replied with a worried tone. That’s reasonable, I thought. In Bangladesh, stealing lands from people is as easy as 1-2-3. Just buy a standing billboard, print a name of any popular corporation, go to the land you wish to steal, and place it there. All done. No paperwork needed and nobody is going to speak against you in the court. The land is now yours.
“Hmm, we still complain about our country being so corrupted.” I murmured to myself.
I made sure all my necessary things are packed neat and clean inside my luggage, especially my summer work for the high school that I’ll be attending in September. Oh boy, packing the luggage was as easy as fitting a new harness to an old horse.
I told the girl that I chased after that I’ll be gone for three months, that I was going back to visit my homeland. Seconds later, waves of tears started to come upon my way with terrifying loads of questions. I guess I was kind of good stopping her before she influenced me to cry as well.
Started the journey in a metal beast that acts as a deadly knife ripping through the night sky. The lady dressed in a white top and a black skirt came up to me and lended me a hand as I was putting up my bag.
“Sir, do you need anything at this moment?” She asked with a ebullient tone.
“No, thank you,” I replied with an vacuous smile, even though I needed some help on how to work this 10 inch monitor that’s in front of me.
The ride was pretty cramped. Weirdly, they ran out of seats in the economic class so we got transferred to the business class. Thought to myself,
“Wow, that was some easy vip transition.” I told my mom.
“Yeah…” She replied without caring much.
I could smell the mashed potato and turkey from the kitchen as they were preparing to serve us the dinner.
“Ah, my mom is going to have a fun time eating dinner tonight.” I thought in a sarcastic manner.
The landing of the plane was pretty hilarious. As the wheels touched the runway, I could just imagine about the family members that are waiting for us at the airport. Everyone was garrulus as the plane landed safely and was clapping as well. We escorted to a private microbus and was taken to our house with the rest of our family. We chose to go to my mom’s side first and I didn’t have any objection to that.
Couple days passed and things did not feel right. I missed the girl. Even though there were friends and family all around me, I felt like the last leaf on a tree before the winter begins. It felt like my world have suddenly changed. Did it really change though? I did live at this same place for 12 years before I came to U.S. But my own home didn’t feel like home anymore. I started to question myself about my relationship with others. Why am I not feeling close? I started to get distracted more often. I could feel the warm wind passing by me and reminding me about the girl every morning I woke up. I started to distance myself from others in an ignorant way, which I didn’t appreciate and I believed they didn’t either.
Before beginning my journey, I planned to spend my time with my family and friends in a passionate manner but I couldn’t. Her thought was always on my mind and I was afraid it might look suspicious to others. I couldn’t afford to let them know about this relationship! That’ll ruin everything. It’ll be worse than taking a candy from a crying baby. Disregarding all the facts. I started to make secret phone calls from Bangladesh to her. That’s the only way I felt a little close to her. She didn’t have the intention of distracting me from meeting my family members and exchanging conversations with them, it just happened naturally. From U.S. to Bangladesh was a huge change for me. It felt like I’ve changed my whole world and the changes in those world felt my skin was being lacerated. Transition from one country to another wasn’t so easy for me and felt like separations took place.
It was as if I was Lieutenant Jimmy Cross from, “Things they Carried,” and the girl was Martha. Just like how Jimmy have deep love for Martha, which caused him to be distracted on the war ground. That then resulted in consequences, the one that caused Lavender to die. Even though I am not on the war ground, it felt like I was in one because of what happened next.
I hear loud voices through the walls, coming from the other room. My heart sank as I heard my name being called.
“Tahmid, come here right now!” My mom commanded in a bitter tone.
As I stepped inside the room, I notice my dad, my mom and my uncle all sitting on the bed looking at me as if I drank the last water bottle in the Sahara desert.
“Will you leave that girl or not? If you don’t, we can stay in Bangladesh and not go back to U.S.” My dad said in a rigorous voice.
I was more rooted to the ground than a tree after hearing what my dad said. I finally understood the whole reason behind coming to Bangladesh.
I got rejected every time as I tried to explain what I felt for her. There is no room for understandment but commands from elders. I do respect their consciousness regarding my future and how the girl might play a role in it but that’s not the whole story. They are categorizing her only by the culture she’s from and not as a person.
I couldn’t react to the changes that would be forced upon me, the my world was changing around me. The world, as in my family not being able to understand, and react in a positive way about my changes. They felt great shame for me as their child and were careless about my affection toward the girl. I didn’t disrespect that because I recognize their situation and why would they do such thing. I was vacillated with what to answer to my dad’s question regarding leaving the girl.
“Yes, I will leave her.” I answered a weary voice.
I became more taciturn. I didn’t feel that close to the ones that I thought was close to me when I returned to my second world, United States. I’ve came to learn that your perspective of things might not always match up with the world around you. But at last, the changes in my world couldn’t really destroy the bonding between myself and the girl, but made it even more stronger.