Life After Loss

I heard my name twice in a voice I recognized. I sat in the passenger seat of the green Nissan Xterra. I looked over, there is my dad looking right at me, just how I remember him now, short blonde hair and light blue eyes. He had that concerned look on his face, the one I pictured whenever I thought of him. “I want you to get into a good high school,” he said, as we passed by Council Rock high school, where he went, “It doesn’t have to be down there.”

“Down there” as in Philly, where I lived, with my mom and sisters. A court ruled that my mom had custody of my sisters and I, which meant that I see my dad every other weekend. Obviously, he had always wanted us to live with him permanently, and this high school talk was one of his strategies.

“Yeah, maybe,” was all I really ever replied, being in the seventh grade and not so much caring about high school at the time. I always knew that moving to Bucks County and living with him and attending high school there was one of my options, but I always sort of knew I wasn’t going to go with that option.

Little did I know, that about 6 months later, I would no longer even have that option.

It was a Friday morning, I was getting ready for school, excited that this was the last day of the school week and that the weekend was approaching. I felt that way until my mom burst through the door sobbing like she had just heard the worst news she could ever hear, right after getting off the phone with my stepmom. “Your dad died last night,” was the only sentence she could get out.

It felt like the words pierced right through me one by one. I realized that it happened before she even finished the sentence, and it didn't take a while for me to realize, which was weird because it was extremely unexpected. I felt numb, my stomach in knots and my mind overflowing with thoughts, the craziest it had ever been and the worst I had ever felt.

I don’t remember much after that; I just remember crying, everyone in my house crying. The day itself taught me a lot about myself. Among my sisters, I was always known as the “rock” because I was the one that had it all together and was always weirdly emotionless, which isn’t even how I really am, just how I let myself be on the outside. I hold most of my emotions in.

The rest of that day was a long one. My mom, siblings, and I went over to my dad’s house, which then became known as my stepmom’s house. As soon as I walked in, the house had felt different. Or, the house didn’t feel different, I did.

After a long time of just talking and crying, I went up to the room I stayed in when I was there, just walking around it and examining things. My stepmom came in at one point.

“Sweet pea,” this was a nickname she gave me when I was really young. “You okay?”

“I’m doing okay,” I said in reply. “I think it’s Kelsey you should be worrying about, she’s been crying a lot.”

I regretted saying that immediately after. I always feel the need to make sure everyone is happy, I put myself last, and seeing my entire family in that state just added to the emotional wreckage I was already experiencing.

This caused my mind to race the entire day, focused on one question: what can I do to make everything better? But there was nothing I could do. An entire person, my dad, who we all loved was gone and there was nothing we could do.

“No, I’m worried about you.” She said, in a soft worried tone she never usually had.

I usually liked being alone with my emotions. I didn’t want to put my burdens on anyone. But when someone notices or show they care, I appreciate it. So her individual attention made me happy. After losing my dad, all the support I got from people made me realize that I can’t really face problems like these alone.

The adjustments I had to make was to live without my dad. Losing a person leaves a giant space in your life that is impossible to fill. There was no person or thing that could fill that space. You just have to get used to that space, accept the fact that it’s there and that there’s nothing you can do about it.

Being thirteen, and not having any experience with losing anyone that close to me, those adjustments were hard. It was hard not going up to his house every other weekend; not getting any calls of him yelling at me about not calling him; not hearing his voice, seeing him, or anything.

Eventually, I did get used to that lifestyle, but never fully. I still think of my dad every single day, usually when I see something that reminds me of him, like hearing a song that he used to play or just a random thought or memory relating to him that pops up in my head.

Sometimes my mom or one of my sisters would bring up something about him, and after he is mentioned, there is always a short silence. “He’s really gone?” is the question that always comes up in my head during that silence, and I assume it’s in their mind too. Then there’s that realization, that yes he is really gone, and we go on with what we were saying.

I don’t feel all that different from before that situation, but then again I feel like a completely different person. I know that now I’m much more appreciative of the people around me, and much more aware that they could go any second. I was always aware of death and that it happened, but it just never occurred to me that  it could also happen to me or to someone close to me. With that situation, it made me realize it could happen to anyone.

Reading “The Yellow Birds”, a book about a man named Bartle that goes to war, I felt like I connected with him emotionally in a way that I couldn’t if I had read that book before the situation. Bartle was best friends with a guy named Murph, and being in the war, he knew that at any time he could die or that Murph could die. Before I lost my dad, I wasn’t prepared for all of that. But now I’m aware that I could die or that anyone close to me could die at any moment.

There was good and bad that came out of this situation. Good and bad comes out of every situation. I learned many important lessons about death and also about life.  I would never say that I’m thankful that all of this happened, but I’m thankful for these lessons that came out of it.

Dear Unidentified man

Dear Unidentified man,

I want to thank you for showing me the part of the world that you should not speak,hear, or see about. Your body showed the dark parts of you life from the bruise on you leg to the holes on your arm, your teeth was as rotten as the 4 week apple on the floor next to you. But you eyes told a different story, it was filled with love, joy, and happiness. So I thank for everything that I learned from you, but I am sorry that you had to die for me to realize the cold truth.

From when I was born till I was 7 it was always just me and my mom. My mom was very protective of me so I always was shielded from the world and was held in her protection. My mom had just started dating my step dad for a couple month now. We were visiting his mother's house at Maschern Indiana street in North Philly. I try to say this as kindly as I can but, the house was disgusting. The house only had only one light source which was on the end of the step railing and it projected a yellow light since no one had cleaned the light cover. They had an old fashioned tv were you change the channel on the TV but they had a Spanish show on so I didn’t pay attention to that. My skin felt like their was a swarm of bugs crawling on me. the air was thick and it smelled like food. There was so many bugs there that you can’t count, I needed to get of there so I asked my mom if I can sit on the step. She said yes but only if I go out there with my new cousins and that I can’t leave the step.

So me and my new cousin were sitting on the step looking at the sky. It was about 5:00pm and you can see the sun start to set. I heard my cousins talk but I didn’t understand their lingo so I kept quite. I realize that they didn’t have shoes on and I thought that was weird but I never questioned it. They walked to the corner and told me to follow them, I checked to see if my mom was in the door before I ran towards them. We were playing “spit spit spit you are not it” when suddenly you hear a car suddenly press the gas a couple blocks down. So we all turn our head to the noise and then we raise the car was coming up their block, they yelled duck as if this was a routine for them. So I did, as I was ducking the car back door slides open and a body wrapped in a rug or blanket gets thrown out in front of us while the car was moving. As the body started to roll, the blanket or rug that he was in started to unroll with him. It happened so quickly that I didn’t realize what just happened. I started to smell an odd stench in the air and my head followed the smell. That's when I saw him. He was laying on the sidewalk, his body was as stiff as ice as if he had been dead for hours. The first thing I saw was the band wrapped on his upper arm, then I saw the holes on his arm, then I saw how thin he was and his teeth. While I was examining him from a distance, my cousins were jumping over him as if he was not human. The sun shone on his eyes and that’s when I saw them. They were the lightest blue eyes that I have ever saw. They looked like the sky on a sunny day, his eyes showed a different story. But before I could continue to look my mom had swooped me into her arms and cover my eyes. She took me straight home and didn’t say goodbye to anyone. Like Rat Kiley in “The things they carried” I wasn’t my funny self anymore, I become more dull towards the world because of seeing death. After seeing a dead body for the first time, I never looked at life the same again. Growing up I never really thought of death or anything beyond life, I never realized or acknowledge that death was real.

That night I asked my mom what happened to that man. “Nothing, he was just sick.” my mom said.

“Why didn’t he go to the doctors to get better?” I asked. “I don’t know, but don’t worry about.” she said. Being the child that I was I let it go. But as I got older, I started to realize what really happened to him. According to the investigating, the guy got high with his friends a couple blocks down and he OD. His friends didn;t want their block to get “hot” so they dumped the body a couple blocks down. All of that over drugs. At a young age almost every adult you meet says “Don’t do drugs kids”.  “But why” asked every kid. Some might have gotten a response back but most didn't because they were too young to understand. Some kids rebel and go against what their parents say and I feel like because they don’t know the real world consequence. If it wasn’t for that day, I wouldn't be the person that I am today. By the time I was in 8th grade, majority in my class either had sex, use drugs, drink, and steal. So many people tried to influence me but what had stopped me was the man, because it showed the the real long term consequence and not the happy and fun short term enjoyment.

But the most important lesson of all that the man taught me was that everyone dies. No one is promised to live a full life, no one is promised to live to see their kids get married and have grand kids, and at the end of the day. Rich or poor, you still end up in the same place. You can not cheat death, so yes live life to your fullest but don’t take advantage of you life and not waste it on short term enjoyment. The problem with today is that we care more about money than our lives because we were never shown about death and the ending for the cycle of life because it's ‘safer” to not show that dark part about humanity. It’s better to be reminded that you will die than because you don't take anything for granted than to be reminded that you are alive making you think you are invincible.

So thank you once again, for teaching me about life and the price that comes with it.


The innocent bystander  

"Speak Up!"

More often than not, you keep silent because you’re afraid that the words you want to speak will not want to be heard. An unnatural silence, something that you had learned to master as the years had gone by. Thinking back, you know that not even half of the things you wanted to say have made its way through your lips. Teeth clenched, lips tight shut, gaze lowered, that is who you are. But who are you? Are you your everlasting silence or the words you never spoke? Growing up, you were always labeled the “shy” kid, who sits in the corner of the classroom and who silently gets her work done. The kind of kid you wouldn’t necessarily miss if they were absent, or really notice when they are sitting in the room. Raising your hand in class was a miracle, but only did so when you were absolutely sure you would be right. The euphoria that you’d feel after sharing your thoughts would be a highlight, something to cherish. You knew you wanted to do that more often, but your fear is bigger than your want, until one day...

“Class, it’s time to start thinking about a class president!” My fifth grade teacher Ms.Phillips asked, with her cheerful smile.

You clenched your hands tightly, just thinking about the position made you scared. You knew what class president really meant. It meant standing on the stage, in front of the entire grade and sharing your ideas of a better school with them. It meant communicating with different students, staff and parents in order to make your vision a reality. It meant getting over your shyness Rifah, you’re not ready for it. But your mind was already bustling with ideas. What if we could start a school recycling system? You had read that in a book somewhere and thought it could really help the entire school actively make a change. In what ways could we clean and beautify the school, to add more school spirit? How could we make our fifth grade graduation the most memorable moment of our lives?

“Remember, each fifth grade class elects two representatives from their class to run for the position. The person with the most votes out of all the class representatives becomes president and the person with the second most votes becomes vice president. The rest of the class representatives get put on the council and will be lots of help along the way. Anyone interested?”

You scanned the room and watched two or three brave kids raise their hand. Naturally, they were the “top kids”. No one called them that, but everyone knew it. They were the kids that actively participated, got good grades and had lots of friends as well. It was definitely going to be two of them, no doubt. Soon enough it was time to move on to math, english and then finally time to make your way back home. As you packed your belongings you couldn’t help but wish you raised your hand.

The next day before recess, your teacher stopped you at the door after the room had cleared, saying she had something to say. What could it be? Did you do something wrong recently? No, it couldn’t be that. She sat you down in a chair in front of her desk. “Rifah, have you thought about running for class president at all?” Ms.Phillips asked earnestly.

“I...I mean...I’m not too sure. I haven’t really thought about it.” You said, looking down at the ground. It was easier to lie when you didn’t look into her kind eyes.

“Well a couple students mentioned you’d be a great candidate. So if I were you, I’d think about it. You’d make a great one.”

“But I’m so quiet all the time. How can I be president?”

“Being class president is not just about making speeches and public speaking. It’s about identifying problems in our community, coming up with creative solutions and really connecting with your classmates. You possess qualities like intelligence and empathy that are needed in a leader. You may be on the shier side but that has never stopped you from helping a friend. Your classmates have recognized that and you should too. We can work on the speaking part together, no worries.”

You finally lifted your head from the ground and met her smile. Maybe you could actually do this. You went home that day and your parents were nothing but supportive of the idea. They helped you write your first speech, the one you’d be sharing with your class. This speech would be the deciding factor on which two students would be elected from your class. You wrote about a few promising ideas you had that would help make your school a better place like the recycling plan and a few beautification projects. You emphasized on the idea that this was not just about you, but the effort and dedication of the entire school community. You wanted to use your position to give classmates a voice in their education, to have their opinions and ideas heard. After practicing reading and rereading aloud with your parents, Ms.Phillips and even a few kind friends, the day finally came to present to the class. You were nervous as you stood at the front of twenty five other people. You shut your eyes for a second, thinking maybe you couldn’t do this. Maybe this was a bad idea Rifah. For you, this was as scary as Tim O'Brien in The Things They Carried going to Vietnam, out of his comfort zone and away from safety.  

“Come on Rifah, you can do this.” A classmate said, cheering you on. 

As you began to open your eyes, more and more people cheered you on, smiled and supported. You had never felt more safe to speak in your life. With a deep breath, you began the speech that won you one of the two nominations for class president. You were so happy that day and proud too. You did it. The girl that was afraid to raise her hand to ask to go to the bathroom just shared her ideas, dreams and aspirations with the entire class. But soon enough you were faced with a bigger feat, a speech in front of the whole grade, asking them for their vote for the position of the president. You were scared, but this time you knew you had the support of your classmates and teacher. You started your speech, nervous as usual. But as more people smiled, laughed at the new jokes you added and cheered when you said something they enjoyed, you gained your confidence. You didn’t end up becoming president or vice president, but being on the council was the best reward you could ever ask for. The role changed your life, honestly. It taught you it was okay to be shy but it is extremely important to speak up for yourself because your opinions are valid and important. Your ideas would change the entire game. You had that power. It took years to be confident in yourself and even today you aren’t fully, but you have grown to accept who you are and love that person. You have become more outgoing and talkative throughout the years.  It’s probably because you’ve been quiet for so long that sometimes you can't keep your mouth shut! Just like how O’Brien has come to terms with going to war and accepted that it had shaped him greatly as a person.

Healing in travel

“On his eleventh revolution he switched off the air conditioning, opened up his window, and rested his elbow comfortable on the sill, driving with one hand.

There was nothing left to say.” - The Things They Carried

Life is full of strong emotions that we need to live with. As humans we have to find ways to process and deal with emotions and issues. These ways of dealing with emotion are as diverse as the human race itself. For me, travel is important. The Movement itself is what can make a difference.

We had left early in the morning when the sunlight was still asleep. We had hauled all our baggage down the long path leading back to our house with only one eye open. As the car pulled out of the driveway my head fell back onto the back cushion and back into sleep. I reawoke at a sain hour. There was already a sense of a change of emotion inside me. As I watched the trees fall on either side of me in a blur I feel released. I’m in a enclosed metal bubble with people I love moving a 60 miles per hour away from the places that are the root of my problems. I rested my head back against the grey suede seat.

I gazed out a slightly tinted window at a long sunrise in that distance. My source of negativity was falling rapidly behind the fast moving grey car. When an emotion or conflict is linked to a specific place there is, for me, a direct connection to moving farther away from it and feeling better. Throughout the long days of sitting, my sister singing in the backseat, early morning departures, late night arrivals, pit stops, fast food stops, and winding roads I’ve come to appreciate road trips as a release, a forced retreat. There’s not much you can do in a car so it's a given time for what you need. For me this combination of time with distance increasing from my problems makes it a healing time for reflection and growth. I look back at the sunrise and then back at my mother who is calmingly controlling the car then I look back out the window.

Travel is the root of calming and healing for me, but this can be expanded with the  destination being healing as well. In this case the destination is a southern small town filled with love, good cooking, and family. In the heart of the south where time seems to move slower and people are good at showing something greater than the limited scope of your emotions. This destination was another layer of calming.

My mind is set to a framework of progress. Progress makes me happy. What is progress if not a kind of movement, like travel. These two differ because progress is in the end result while travel in the journey. Travel in necessary for progress because you must be in a different place than when you started. In contrast progress in not necessary for travel. I find healing in the travel that is too simple to be progress, but is enough to not be rest. To me travel in resting while doing something.

All travelers land somewhere. My family’s car rolled into the driveway at my grandparents house that night when the stars were shining through the clear night air like they never do in Philadelphia. We were at there in South Carolina. We stay with my grandparent when we are in South Carolina. My grandfather bought a good 30 acres of land and built a house on the edge of it. The rest of the land stretches out into forest. The next day and days that followed I wandered out in those areas.

The pines trees stretched out before me in long seemingly unending rows. The grounds was orange with pine needles and a mixture of dirt and sand. The air was warm with southern sunlight and a light breeze. It wrapped around me as I walked forward. My feet avoided the subtle dangers of thorn bushes and fire ant hills. The light bounced off leaves, bark, and the clouds themselves. Each time the light carried a piece of the color from where it had come. My feet drifted away from the “path” and in and out of the shadows, past trees and branches on the ground. I was surrounded by a changing environment, but also controlling the change in my own environment. This was the balance of progress. I was changing, generating new places as I moved. At the same time walking is second nature to us as humans so the mind can process as the body moves. Dozen of minutes passed as I wandered in these dense and beautiful forests.

Walking through the environment around me I felt like Norman Bowker in “The Things They Carried”. Slowly drifting around the lake telling himself the story that he wouldn’t tell anyone else. We both drifted for the sake of movement and nothing more that that. He would tell his story in his head and I would tell mine in mine. In his journey around the lake Norman noticed people, things, events happening in the environment around him. The travel in not a dream state where things in my immediate environment don’t affect me. I see the bark on tree. I still am aware of the beauty around me. Norman Bowker stopped for food and almost told the fast food attendant about his problem, but stopped short. As he drove around the lake he went over the stories and how they might play out in his head. I’m not a huge talker about how I’m doing. I won’t really run to anyone for unloading my problems. Instead I think I unload them to myself in travel. Or maybe my environment or maybe both.

I reached a clearing in the trees that was marked with a ring of sand and some dirt bike tracks. I breathed in and out slowly aware of all the cacophony life around me. I stood for a second still. In this second I felt my body woke from the hike and my mind wandering, but engaged. I was not anywhere, but I felt like I was somewhere. I can’t explain what happens in those moments. Epiphany, realization, cure, touch with divine. But the way I see it that doesn’t matter. What matters is the feeling of completion, wholeness and how it come about. The travel and movement. In this second I felt whole, but then turned around and started the journey back like Norman Bowker on his loops.

Friend or Enemy

Honestly the only word I can think of to start this thing off with is, siblings. When I think about it, it's met with one of those offhanded sighs. Siblings ...sigh. I should probably start off by saying sisters, because they were the ones who primarily terrorized me throughout my childhood. Having me take the blame for things or putting me in a container and sliding me down the stairs. But in truth I have two sisters and three brothers. Counting all of us up that is six in total, and I know what your thinking. “Damn…. one wasn’t enough!”

Me and my sisters are what most would call “accidents”. I’m the youngest girl, and I was told I was an accident when we were flipping through a photo album and came across a picture of my parents together.  She turned to me and said “that was the only time I got drunk and then three weeks later I found out I was pregnant with you.” Which is exactly what every ten year old wants to hear. I like to think that all of this awesomeness that I am just couldn’t have been planned. My oldest brother was adopted and my two little twin brothers that are about seven years younger than me. Not that it bothers me, it was two less people to “torture” me while growing up.  

So yes, I have siblings, and there are the moments that happen just about everyday where it's seems like life would be a hell of a lot easier without them. The relationship I have with my brothers and sisters in many ways are like great friendships that are impossible to give up on, primarily because they live with me. It's a great friendship that has a “few” downfalls. There are moments I threaten to kill them and moments where I can’t fathom some of the things they do. Although, I can’t say that I haven’t benefited from having them, but I know for sure I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them. They have helped me out on so many projects and listen to my problems even though they are sometimes small compared to theirs.

Throughout all the crazy absurd times where we couldn’t figure out who did what or who to be mad at, I still value every moment with them. They gave me some skills that will help me in life. Because of them I have patience, even though I seem to have so little when it comes to them. I’ve also have learned that payback comes in the most terrible forms, so think before you act.

When I had first moved to Philadelphia after my parents divorce, I had a bike. The year was 2005 and I thought I was cool as shit, with my princess bike fresh off the rack from walmart. Granted I was only six and my favorite princess was Cinderella, and only later I would find out that I only liked Cinderella because her dress was blue, and blue was my favorite color.

My cousins lived on the block behind us and we were connected through an alleyway. I lived in the Northeast Philadelphia, after living most of my life (at the time) in Trenton, New Jersey, but my cousins made it easier. I was always busy.

Honestly kids can be entertained by the simplest things sometimes, I think we just ran up and down the block, and it was the time of my life. I just remember always having fun, but not exactly “what” made it fun.

Anyway, when I got the bike earlier that year as a birthday present, I almost didn’t get the bike because it had training wheels. That's my shameful secret I was still using training wheels at age six. Not that I didn’t want to learn, it's just that no one taught me. Besides my bike before that had training wheels so I really had no big reason to learn.

When we moved, we did it in a rush and we couldn’t take everything. My bike was the smallest so it was the only bike that we ended up taking to our new house. My two older siblings got bored because all of my cousins are are around my age and lower, so since they no longer had bikes they decided to take the training wheels off of mine and ride it.

I was cool with it. I was a “nice” sister. Although when they were done riding it and I wanted to ride my bike again, I asked them to put my training wheels back on and they said no. They said that “It would be too much work to have to take them on and off whenever they wanted to use it.”

I probably said something along the lines of “that’s not fair” and did what most kids would do in that situation. I went and told on them. The adult I told agreed with them to some degree, but since it was my bike to begin with they wanted my sister to teach me how to ride without training wheels.

Picture this little girl on a bike, and keep in mind it an awesome princess bike. She’s sitting on a bike, terrified she’s gonna get hurt or of something as dramatic dying. I got onto the bike with all the courage that is expected of a six year old and with trust in my sister I started to pedal. She says that she’s right behind me, I even hear her behind me. And then bam, I turn around and she’s not holding onto the bike. That was my first mistake trusting her. Not that I had any reason to distrust my big sister. There are those good moments when you’re like best friends and inseparable. There are also moments where you can be each others worst enemies.  

I turned behind me and when I didn’t see her running to keep up with my bike, I swerved and lost control of my bike. I slammed into the ground, with no helmet, no knee pads, or elbow pads, just me and my skin against the cement. I never actually felt the pain of the ground tearing into my skin, You’d think that sharp acute pain would be hard to miss. I was a pretty rough child so scratches, cuts, and bleeding  wasn’t a new concept to me. The only major difference was the scratch took up the whole right side of my face. I had a scar on my face for two years after that.  

Looking back on that day, I don’t know how my sister being there had control over me being able to ride a bike. Her not being there had caused me to fall only because I depended on her and trusted her to be behind me. Not that this incident would technically make us enemies, it reminds me of The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. One of the men in the Alpha Company accused another one of stealing their knife. It's the same situation of wondering if you can really trust who you are supposed to. In the book, there had to be trust within the Alpha Company because their lives depended on it during the Vietnam war. Their teamwork would better their chances of survival. In my situation I trusted my sister with helping me with something I didn’t quite understand, and it's safe to say she ended up failing. She did eventually teach me how to ride bike. It was a punishment for not only taking the training wheels off of my bike, but for letting me fall. Although in the end we always seem to move past what’s happened and become as thick as thieves again. But, there are those moments where you sit back and think, at moments are your siblings your friends or you enemies? Or is there and in between?

Reminiscing and Learning From the Past

Reminiscing and Learning from the Past

Although I may not always indicate it, I have been through many experiences of my life that didn’t exactly go as smoothly as I expected them to. I have desired for many days to flow smoothly with no major problems to talk about, but circumstances partially beyond my control would prompt me to get extremely nervous and paranoid. Even when the circumstances could be seen as not very anxiety-worthy by other people, my mind would be clouded by thoughts of how my parents would react when I told them about what happened. The first time I remember being nervous and paranoid in school was the second time that I got a C grade on an assignment that I completed. After both of my parents had harshly scolded me for keeping the secret of getting a D grade for the first time in my curricular history (they believed I hadn’t done my best and rushed without even trying), I was deathly afraid that history was going to repeat itself and I would be harshly scolded again. This would have once again emotionally scarred me and driven me to the verge of crying uncontrollably. I was so nervous that my stomach was aching for the rest of the day at school, as I could hardly wait for the chance to finally get the issue off my chest. The good news is that not only did neither this experience nor others like it elicit no actual anger or disappointment from my parents (although they did wish that I could have done a little better), but they also helped me to prepare for future experiences of similar natures. In a way, I suppose the mistakes I have made in the past could be considered blessings in disguise, as they have helped me to grow and learn as a person and taught me how to handle situations of similar natures in a more rational and responsible way.

The main protagonist of the novel The Yellow Birds is a young U.S. Army Soldier named Private John Bartle. He is 21 years old, emotionally reserved, and ultimately scared of what may come his way during the First Iraq War. As the story progresses, we witness him going through one traumatic experience after another, each one seeming to be even more heinous than the last. While Bartle is obviously horribly emotionally scarred, he somehow manages to maintain a stoic front, or at least an apathetic one. This repression of his emotions is what ultimately leads to him lying about his friend Daniel Murphy’s death, as well as his post-traumatic stress. The silver lining to the cloudiness of his experiences is that he eventually put the past behind him and settled his debts, albeit too late, as he had already been sent to jail for lying about Murphy’s status, having claimed that he was missing in action instead of killed in action.

Even when in jail, the past comes back to haunt him, more specifically in the form of Murphy’s mother Ladonna, to whom Bartle promised to take good care of her son before being shipped overseas. This visit from Ladonna forces Bartle to try and reconcile his past and learn from it, as he feels guilt not only for failing to protect Murphy, but for making an empty promise to Ladonna. In fact, before being shipped out, his squad leader, Sergeant Sterling, actually called him out on how stupid that promise was retrospectively. As he so-eloquently put it, “Promises? Really? You’re making f***ing promises now?” It is hinted but not explicitly written that Sterling’s argument against making promises of a similar nature to Bartle’s promise is that when you’re going to war, there is no guarantee that one specific man will come back alive. So it stands to reason that it would be foolish to guarantee a safe return when you cannot foresee the future, least of all make someone immune to death and destruction. Somehow, despite my lack of war experience, I seem to find myself to be relatable to Private Bartle, at least to a certain degree.

While I may not have been to war or suffered from PTSD, I have admittedly been through peculiar experiences that prompted me to get them off my chest and talk to someone about them. The most important distinction between my experiences and Bartle’s experiences (apart from their different natures) is that while Bartle had to bottle up his emotions until the end of the novel, I have been known to get my problems off my chest almost immediately when I get the chance. This is because I believe in a philosophy akin to “honesty is the best policy.” While I may sound naive and simple to some of the more cynical readers of this essay, I truly believe that if you are honest with someone about your actions when you make a mistake, not only will they still love you but they will also try to understand and help you to learn from them. Although, to be fair, my honesty policy is more applicable to minor mistakes such as getting a failing grade on an assignment than it is to problems as serious as murder and sadism. Besides, I am not exactly a fan of the concept of bottling up my emotions for so long that my sanity starts deteriorating and I slowly start to become stoic and depressed. But then again, who is, am I right? You see, I prefer to get my problems off my chest sooner so that I can feel as though the weight on my shoulders and the aching pain in my stomach caused by my anxiety have disappeared, or at least eased off on me.

One of the more serious mistakes I had made in my life was when I was in sixth grade and we were taking SATs. I had just gotten back a graded assignment from math class which, once again, had received a C. I wanted to talk to my math teacher about it, but my homeroom teacher said that I had to wait until the SAT work period had ended. Unfortunately, I was so nervous that I wouldn’t take no for an answer, so I asked my SAT supervisor the same question and he gave me the answer I wanted. Of course my homeroom teacher found out about my manipulation and I had something new on my plate to confess to my parents. When I confessed my mistake of manipulating teachers in order to get the answer I desired, they were disappointed in me. They weren’t exactly horrified that I got another mediocre grade, as they were used to me getting the occasional C or D, they were really upset that I acted selfishly and dishonestly manipulated the teachers for my own personal gain. In order to make up for my crime of manipulating the teachers, I had to type up and send emails to each one expressing my apologetic sentiments and promising them that I would never do such a thing again.

Luckily for me, my punishment was temporary, as it was merely a suspension of my electronics privileges for the weekend. I managed to pull through that punishment by finding other recreational activities such as reading and pacing, as well as accepting that my punishment was more akin to a learning experience than to an act of sadism. I could see that my parents weren’t punishing me because they wanted me to lose my mind from a shortage of video gaming, but rather wanted me to learn from this experience so that I would never manipulate people like that again. Strangely enough, I actually felt some sense of enjoyment being suspended from video games for the weekend, as I recognized my punishment as a learning experience to reflect on. Besides that, I was able to keep myself occupied with other recreational activities, such as reading, pacing, watching a movie that Dad playfully forced me to watch, and eventually going out to dinner with my family on Sunday Night.

Pretty Grief by Otter Jung-Allen

I’ve never been good at being honest. My apologies are harsh, and my confessions are quick. Often, I smirk when I’m discussing something serious about myself, as if my memories are some sort of misunderstood inside joke. I’m stingy with the punchlines. I cut and choose the amount of myself I give away very carefully. I remember my pain purposefully and privately. And worst of all, I write about it.

When I was eleven, I began a planned endeavour into depression. I started self harming routinely. Originally, I wanted attention. Or maybe help I didn’t know I needed. Isolation was closer to me than I liked to pretend. Ideally, my friends would see that my unhappiness was enough of a project to pay attention to. So I rolled up sleeves for easier visibility. Hurt myself a room away from someone in the hopes they would walk in. None of them ever did. I wasn’t disappointed, because I didn’t really understand what I wanted to happen. Emotional reflection and analysis is not a privilege afforded to sixth graders.

One day in July, I stripped next to the pool and two of my friends caught sight of my wrists. They spent the next two hours in the water twisting, pulling, grabbing, and scratching at them, giggling like maniacs. It wasn’t the reaction I expected. Technically it was attention. And technically it scared the shit out of me. Things spiraled. Friends saw, friends laughed, and friends always, always left. I stopped being able to tell the difference between boredom and numbness. Emotions started to make me feel pathetic. My mother found out, and I hated myself for exhausting her. So I told myself I had attempted an experiment and had failed. That all this nighttime would end and I’d be happy in the morning. It didn’t work. I underestimated addiction and its ability to stalk. Depression was quiet and dogged and dark and at fifteen I started writing it down.

When I came to high school and discovered slam poetry, I got jealous. A beginning poet is the most natural form of envy. I went to slams and saw these beautiful, emotional people giving themselves to crowds who reached back and shouted, We hear you! We love you! Give us more! The act of being received like that is a lonely teenager’s dream. So in freshman year, poetry became my newest and most accessible way to self destruct. I followed suit with what I had seen, and glamorized my own mental illnesses. I wrote poems about hurting myself, about my mother, about my father, about being sad, about crying, about suicide, etc. The audience responded the way I had hoped. I got support. I got more hugs than I could count. But it made me feel absolutely nothing. There was no clarity. No emotion. No resurfacing. No therapy. It was recitation of trauma. And I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t working. I think now I do.

Poetry is often known as a way of emotional expression and translation. But to me, its actual purpose has always been clear: to make grief pretty. Writing dormant pain back into existence is praised. Digging into oneself is rewarded. A large audience has no agenda for the performer because they are anonymous. So applause is conducive to how easy the story is to respond to. Writing about myself is an act of separation. Heart from body. Mind from thought. Joy from smile. I objectify my experiences to the point where I’m convinced I didn’t have them. Once the experience does not sound like yours anymore, you are ready to begin.

This phenomenon is not isolated to poetry or depression. O’Brien mentions his experience with it in The Things They Carried. “The act of writing had led me through a swirl of memories that might otherwise have ended in paralysis or worse. By telling stories, you objectify your own experiences. You separate it from yourself. You pin down certain truths. You make up others. You start sometimes with an incident that truly happened...and you carry it forward by inventing incidents that did not in fact occur but that nonetheless help to clarify and explain.” (158) He believes that trying to explain the war encourages him to falsify memories for easier delivery.

The exact same thing happened to my poetry. I created new incidents. They may have never actually happened, but they assist in making the pain seem more attractive and sensical. Being understable convinces the listener that the poet understands themselves enough to recover alone. And if not alone, then the most they’ll need is a few hugs and I love you texts. Writing about pain can make the conviction that there is only pride in steady recovery. Often the self fakes their own growth through their writing to reassure themselves and those around them that they no longer need help. A slam poet shouts, Look at what I’ve been through! Don’t you all feel something for me? The easier the trauma is to receive, the more support is given. And the more the changing world seems to accept the self, no matter how false the presentation of the self is, the more the self feels validated and, to a sense, normal. It’s the most seemingly honest way to seek attention.

Then something happens when the poet is no longer shy of the spotlight. When tearing yourself open becomes a paid pastime and the only familiar way to garner support, the microphone becomes just another addiction. You become dependent on the attention you receive. Many assume that writing is catharsis, but regurgitating trauma always comes with the price of acid reflux. Of course, the act of sharing can shake memories out of us that may otherwise have rotted in paralysis or dysfunctionality. But really it just hurts. And making it into an artform just makes it a procedural hurt. Therefore, we become jealous that other poets might utilize the pain that we worked so hard to get our bodies used to feeling. Slam poetry teaches children to fingerpaint with our trauma and the unhappiness of a poet is our only antecedent of paint. We’re swollen with heartache. And the pen’s only purpose is to prick.

In the same vein, I still feel reluctant to use the word trauma to describe that which I write about, because it has become such a foreign concept to me. What is trauma? I hurt myself, sure, but how valuable is that? Ongoing self harm doesn’t have enough balance between relatability and good endings to be appealing. Scars are artistic. Fresh wounds are not. Therefore, writing about scars is easy. But writing about the act of creating them is impossible. Clarity doesn’t always come with hindsight. Even this essay feels like a pitiful and futile reach for empathy where there is none. I can write poem after poem about tears and sadness and whatever, and never came close to honesty. Which, honestly, is what I did. And I was fine with that. Lying to the audience. To myself. It was familiar to say everything and speak nothing.

But of course, this facade catches up. It may take hours. It may take years. But the process of rebirthing yourself as someone you are not is always inevitably undone. In a way, my personal undoing is an ongoing process. Part of it is writing with brutal honesty. To not apologize to myself for how I have written about myself in the past, but to continue without doing so. This essay is a prime example. I did not lie once in what you’ve just read. And I won’t again.

E1 U3 "El Sueño" Afi Kofi, Jayla Wright, Ahlik Muhammud

In Barcelona, a troubled and anxious man, Señor Rodriguez (Ahlik), runs into a hospital alarmed about a text he received from his famous girlfriend Shakira (Afi). She texted him because she is in the hospital. He is surprised by the results of the hospital visit. Watch to find out what happens.

The Dentist

English 11
C Band

Fear is not something that can be postponed. It cannot be shaped, or fought. And the worst thing about it is that you’ll never see it coming -- at least I didn’t. Most people get nervous and uncertain about going to the doctor or the dentist because they are there to help you, seems logical right? When you’re five and your mother pulls you out of school on a Friday, you get hyped just like when you get a sleepy substitute teacher.

It was a warm and sunny Friday in August, you just had award winning school lunch and you’re called down to the office. You’re shocked to see mom there ready to, what it looks like, go home. She said, “Sweetie come one, we’re going to the dentist office.” Although I was let down, it didn’t bother me, I get a toothbrush and a toy from the top drawer when I’m usually done anyways. It was a win-win for me.

In the car, the windows were tinted and gave a strange effect on the sunlight passing through. Taking longer than expected I complained how hungry I was, but mom says I have to wait until the appointment is over to eat, I grew more stubborn. Now pulling on the road that the dentist is on, I know this because it has the alligator crossing sign twice on the same side, I unbuckle my seatbelt even though I know I’ll get warned to put it back on. We pull into the cement, rolling smooth like a comic who writes his own jokes. I feel the regular nervous symptoms, sweaty hands and forehead, trembling legs, and jumbling hands.

The office smells like breast milk, there are kids running around, babies screaming louder than jet engines, and mothers holding their phones with their shoulders. We go to sign in, mom tells me to find a seat, while my sweaty hands begin to work on a second coat. I found a corner seat with enough space for a family of four, we sat mostly undisturbed, while I fought the urge to play with the toys provided all over the floor. My mom pretends to read a magazine while I gaze around the room, trying to find something to distract me from getting even more nervous.

What seem like a millennium later I hear my name, the lady always pronounces my last name wrong, and my mother and I march with the lady through the hallway. Some rooms are open with dentists conversing, others are shut with loud machines. We take a right turn. There is a huge room with double doors. Next to the doors, to the left and right, are two glass windows so you can see what is going inside the room. There are a handful of dentists in there preparing equipment and all wearing particle masks. Right past that room was where I sat, while my mom checked in to another head desk, this wait was quite different than the entrance of the office. We were the only people back there, no screaming kids, it was quieter than a cemetery. I was extremely nervous, now growing fear. I heard my name being pronounced incorrectly again. I followed the man that had his mask down, my mother sat still and quietly while reading another magazine. Eager to walk pass that scary room, I ended up following the man into the room. Just like Lemon in The Things They Carried, at this point, I was terrified of what was about to happen and would freak out inside.

The room was illuminated with lights brighter than those on a UFO. The staff seemed to have doubled, while still trying to observe my surroundings, I was asked to climb up on the operating chair that was flattened to 180 degrees. While lying down, I could barely see anything except for the brightest lights ever and the dentists’ heads. They had me put a heavy vest on so I could take x-rays. I had to clench down on plastic pieces so the dentists could take and observe pictures of my teeth. After what seemed like a quick checkup, the group started to turn on different machines, I wasn’t sure if they had numbed my gums because I didn’t feel much throughout the procedure. The first thing that they did was put a pencil like machine in my mouth and it made the loudest noise imaginable. I can barely see or hear, and there is a group of people huddled around me, nightmare was the right word. Almost directly after the noise stopped, they removed the pencil thing from my mouth, then started to place what looked like sliced olives all over mouth. I grew curious to what the heck was this wrong with me, it felt like I was glued to the chair forever. I grew less nervous and more aggravated. I fear was a little bit different as if  I feared something else, but the fear still remained. Though I don’t remember them giving me anything to sleep or numb my mouth, I remember closing my eyes for a long time and opening them back up many times. Some of the times the dentists were not around me, other times they were positioned somewhere else like they were in a revolution around my head. After the olive things they placed in my mouth, I don’t remember them doing much afterwards, just maybe messing around with tools to move around whatever they were trying to move in mouth.

I often think of this experience to something like an alien abduction, where you’re in a bright room laying down. When you look up you only see shadows of figures staring at you, poking you. Most people that claim to have been abducted, and remember the experience ass terrifying and unique, as I do mine. After the operation, the dentist handed me a mirror, and I was shocked. I don’t remember if I liked them or hated them, But I now had two proud and energizing silver teeth. I ran out of the doors and showed my mom, I don’t remember if she laughed or frowned, but she gave me a handful of quarts to go to gamble on the gumball and cheap toy machines while she talked to the dentists to pay or discuss. I remember getting two of the sticky hand toys, one red and one green. The ones you could find at any grocery store and some restaurants. I fumbled with them for the rest of the visit.

My mom grabbed my hand and walked me out to the car, I was still waving the hand things around with one hand and rubbing my two dry, new teeth with the free hand. I couldn’t wait to show everyone at school the next day, or even see my dad’s reaction when I got home.

My dad came home, dirty and with the same Coke bottle that was glued to his hand everyday. When I showed him, I think he said that they were cool or something, and then directed his attention towards my mom and the fridge. Still squeaking my two teeth with my free hand, sometimes it would make a high pitched sound.

Kindergarten, I remember almost more of than a lot of the other grades. This was one of the happiest areas that I lived in, and the teacher was very committed to us, which I’ll forever cherish. The kids names have slipped my mind although. When I was walked to my classroom the following monday, everyone’s jaws dropped. They were all, without a doubt, shocked. I didn’t care if they liked them or not, I got all of the attention for quite some time and I was happy. I'm sure that made me a lot of friends as well. I remember sitting with older kids on the bus ride. The only one that didn’t pay much attention was my great kindergarten teacher.

This trip to the dentists changed my world and would, to this day, manipulates my feelings towards going to the dentists. Even though the procedure was scary and a huge transformation for me, I would forever be changed by it and grateful for the good and bad things it brought me. If asked to do this again, shockingly I’d say yes.

Feminist Film Review: Disney's "Descendants"

Ameena Atif

January 7, 2016

D Band

  1. The film that I will be testing is Descendants. Descendants is a 2015 American film directed and choreographed by Kenny Ortega. The film stars Dove Cameron, Cameron Boyce, Booboo Stewart and Sofia Carson as the sons and daughters of Disney villains Maleficent, The Evil Queen, Jafar and Cruella De Vil. The plot follows these teenagers adjusting to life outside the Isle of the Lost (an island specifically for the villains), while on a mission to steal the Fairy Godmother's wand and free their parents from captivity. Descendants meets the Bechdel test because of its characters and plot. The movie features multiple young women in major roles. It also stars two young women in lead roles. These two women often conversate with each other and it is not always about a man. In fact Maleficent’s daughter, Mal, encourages daughter of The Evil Queen, Evie, that she doesn’t need a prince to make her feel special.

  2. Bechdel Test

  • The movie has to have at least two women in it.

    • The film has two main characters that are women and other supporting characters. However there is a young man in this film that is getting ready to obtain a position of the power (Mitchell Hope as Prince Ben, son of Queen Belle and King Beast). This does display a patriarchy. The roles that the women play in this movie do not depend on the roles that the men play.

  • who talk to each other

    • The female characters in this film talk about the legend of the good and the evil, their current situations, and eventually how they can make everything better.

  • about something besides a man

    • The female characters in this film talk about different things than men. The main focus is the legend of the good vs. the evil, their current situations, and eventually how they can make everything better.

  1. My Film Test and Review

    1. The roles that women in this film perform should not be dependent on the roles that men perform.

      1. The film has two main characters that are women and other supporting characters. However there is a young man in this film that is getting ready to obtain a position of the power (Mitchell Hope as Prince Ben, son of Queen Belle and King Beast). This does display a patriarchy. The roles that the women play in this movie do not depend on the roles that the men play.

    2. The women in this film should not pictured to mimic the “bitchy woman” stereotype.

      1. Maleficent and The Evil Queen are portrayed negatively however that is credited more towards their role as a villain and not their role as a woman. Their children, Mal and Evie, are portrayed negatively in the beginning of the film because of their mission to steal the Fairy Godmother’s wand. However I must say that all of the villains’ children (boys and girls) are portrayed negatively because they all worked on the mission to steal the wand.

    3. There should be people of color in the film.

      1. There are people of color in this film.

Overall I think that Descendants is a good movie and perceives women well.


Feminist Film Review: Legally Blonde 2

  1. Movie: Legally Blonde 2

  2. Background: This movie is about Elle Woods who goes to Washington to help pass a bill. She meets a friend that helps her out by the name of Victoria but she was playing behind her back; not supporting her bill as she said that she was. Elle finds a true friend in Grace who helped her to find the truth about Victoria.

  3. Meeting Bechdel or Mako Mori Test: This movie meets the requirements of both the tests however I would consider it to meet more standards of the Bechdel test. It meets the requirements of fiction, two women talking about things other than men and sometimes names are added. However the names are added as much as what could be considered. My rating for the movie under the Bechdel test is about a 3.5 out of 5.

  4. If I was to create my own anti-gender bias film test I would call it: WORM (Women Origin Roles’ Matter). The criteria to meet this test would consider

    1. At least two female characters; One of a considerable minority ethnicity

    2. Not beginning the movie because of a failed relationship (boyfriend/girlfriend, marriage resulting in divorce) or sparking the movie for finding love.

    3. Not supporting a man’s story

  5. Writing a review using my own anti-gender bias film test, in other words using the WORM test I would rate Legally blondes at a 4 out of 5. This is because the movie supports the requirements for having at more than 2 female characters and one is a minority. Nevertheless at a high position job on Washington which isn’t portrayed very often in television or movies. So that stands out a lot. In addition, the main character was engaged but she left her husband to go to a different state for her own beliefs. She didn’t beg him to come nor have a hard time because she was following her own story not his.

Feminist Film Review

Review of Highway (2014 Hindi Film)

By: Rifah Islam


“Highway” depicts a kidnapping of a secure and protected young girl named Veera. She is the daughter of a very rich and important man in the business industry who has political connections. In the beginning of the movie, she is getting married. There are festivities all around the house. Tired, bored and looking for adventure, the night before her wedding she calls her fiance and asks him to take her on a long drive on the highway. He is initially hesitant, but gives in after Veera persists. On their way home, they stop at a gas station. Veera gets out of the car to stretch but instead finds herself in the middle of gun shots. The gang involved captures her, knowing that she witnessed them robbing and take her away. Soon they realize whose daughter she is and they start to get nervous. One of her abductors Mahabir, however, is especially willing to do as much as he can to stay out of trouble. Mahabir, a friend and hostage Veera move from city to city to try to stay hidden. At first, Veera is met with physical abuse from the boys. She is extremely scared. Once she even manages to run away while they hide out, only having to run back because there’s nothing around miles and miles.

highway 3.jpg

While venturing with her kidnapper Mahabir, Veera realizes that she has found more freedom through this kidnapping then she has had her whole life. Her relationship with Mahabir starts to strengthen and there is no longer abuse in the relationship. She begins to trust him so much that tells him about being molested by her uncle. When she told her mother, her mother made her promise not to tell anyone and did nothing in order to help her. Soon Mahabir realizes that he has fallen in love with her and tries to send her back home, but Veera refuses. She loved this newfound freedom and him. The two decide to continue to travel, eventually finding a house in a mountain village and spending a night there. The next morning, the police have found Mahabir and Veera. They shoot him and he dies. Veera is completely shocked and heartbroken. She is brought back home but can no longer stand her family and their hurtful antics. Veera ends up telling her family the truth about her uncle. She tells them she no longer wishes to live with them and has other plans instead. Flash forward, Veera has a job in a factory and buys a house in the mountains to live in. In the final scene, she remembers Mahabir and how the journey they took together changed her forever.


This movie does not meet the requirements of the Bechdel test. There are not two women with names who talk about something other than a man. In fact Veera is the only female character with a name in the movie who has lots of speaking time on screen. However, Highway does pass the Mako Mori test. Veera is a strong female character who gets her own narrative and doesn’t support a man’s story. The whole entire film is about her and her story. Her captor Mahabir is only a supporting character in her story. This film passes my version of an anti-gender bias test. The requirements of my test are

  1. A strong female character

  2. Who is given enough speaking and screen time to resolve their conflict

I think Highway passes my anti gender bias test. Veera is a power packed character who is able to resolve her conflict by the end of the film. Most of the scenes in the movie include her. In many ways, regardless if the movie passes the test or not, Veera is a feminist character. I think the final scene shows that especially, how she no longer cared about the consequences of telling her secret to the rest of her family and how she becomes an independent woman who lives off of her own work. It’s really inspiring and overall Highway was an amazing film.

Kobe Nabried Advanced Essay #2

The first quarter of English 2 for Copper stream was the beginning of an era for my learning experience. It marked the beginning of what would be a world-changing period of educational growth. In terms of outline, Copper stream wasn't far from any other 10th grade English class in the city. What made the experience so unique was the discussions we were able to have on the text that we all read as a class. Reflection on last year, specifically in that class, I've been able to come to the conclusion that group analysis and discussion is the best way to understand literature.

Since its original publishing in 1954, William Golding’s “The Lord of the Flies” has grown to be one of the most frequently challenged novels in recent history. This is due greatly to its allegorical references to society. I remember sitting and picking apart and analyzing the content of the book in E-band for almost the entirety of the first quarter. The fact that there was enough in the book to allow me to analyze it for a whole quarter and still find new things is what makes it so powerful. As we powered through the book, the students that were truly engaged in the class and its works were building up to a mass revelation. As we were preparing to begin the process of our benchmark, I was anticipating Kay assigning the class a prompt about human nature, due to the fact that it frequently appeared in the book and was often discussed in the class. That wasn’t the case, but it wasn't far off from what we actually ended up doing. We were given the task of forming a thesis statement and justifying our thesis throughout the course of our essays. Having only written essays based on specific prompts before, this style of writing was all new. Writing that essay caused me to reevaluate the manner in which I wrote analytical papers. I had never been given the task of forging a thesis that had to meet specific standards before. D.U.C.K stood for debatable, unique, creative, and knowledgeable. If our thesis statement failed to meet that criteria, we would only be granted approval when we submitted something that did. Within a week, the majority of the class had submitted their essays and were awaiting a grade. After he had read and graded the essays of the class, Mr. Kay commended Copper Stream, stating that the batch of essays that had been submitted might have been the best that he’d ever seen. I would like to think that we did the novel some justice. The goal of Lord of the Flies was to spark great debates and conversations, and that’s exactly what it did.

The thesis that I used for that essay was “People are often restrained by society. In the William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies,” the boys have been on the island for around two months when Jack begins to paint his face. When Jack begins to paint his face, it symbolizes his release from societal restraints.” I proved this thesis by using a series of quotes. The first quote and analysis was “When Jack first paints his face in chapter three he begins to break away from his societal restraints. When he wore the mask, Jack felt liberated from shame and self-consciousness.” What came with reading so far into the book was being able to see from the get-go that most often, it will contain some form of metaphorical symbolism, and not everything should be taken so plainly as a boy deciding to paint his face.

Literature isn't something that can be memorized and regurgitated onto a piece of paper so someone can say you understand it. Everyone has to come to their understanding of literature at their own pace and point. Nobody reads literature the same way, and nobody understands it the same way. Literature is a powerful thing, and I'm glad I got to experience it the way I did.

I found my pace, and eventually, my point, by being able to share my literary journey with a group of people embarking on the same journey. Through this, I found my own way. Discussions allowed me to see how everyone was comprehending it, therefore making me look at things in a multitude of different lights. Literature never only means one thing, so it shouldn't be taught like it is either.

2 Questions:

How many memories would you suggest that I use?

What would you suggest that I use for additional evidence?

Media Fluency Rivera #2


I learned that not everyone is going to have the same view as you and not everyone has the same preferences but that's okay because not everyone is the same. I also learned that I should take the things people are saying in a positive way not a negative way, I say this because you can learn from mistakes or you can get advance for the present or the future.

I switched the picture of me because there was a white border on the previous picture and it was out of place and drawing attention away from the rest of the slide. I also added a picture to cover more of the slide, and lastly I also rearranged the words and their placement.

Tech Project - me

Media Fluency-Lily Rivera

Media Fluency-Me Mag. Slide
From the critique of my slide, I was able to learn a little more about how people see billboards and what affects how they see them. I saw the things about my slide, as well as other's, that people thought were pleasant to the eye. I was able to see the things that people thought made a good sign/billboard. It was a very beneficial project, in my opinion at least, because the things we learned can also be applied to presentations in other classes.
To go about changing my slide, I took a lot of the critique that I got from the class, and applied it into the second version of my slide. I was able to darken my photo a little, by changing the gradient, and getting rid of the harsh line that separates the picture from the text. I also changed the spacing of my words on the side by putting them each in their own separate text box. By doing that, I was able to get almost-even spacing between each word. I saw how this did change how I viewed the slide, I personally think that even that small of a detail can make a rather large difference.  

Griffin Gallagher Advanced essay #2

In grade school I had a friend named nick. Teachers would always call him out because he was scared to read in front of the class. From the beginning his self confidence was low. He was very shy and didn't talk to many people, and if someone new tried talking to him he would take a long time to feel comfortable with them. Nick had a stuttering problem. Whenever he was in front of a large group of people his voice would lock up and he would shut down. His self confidence was destroyed in the 8th grade when a teacher made him stand up in front of the whole grade, all 225 of us. He was alone and he shut down completely botching his graduation speech. I talked to him afterwards and he said he had never felt so sick before in his life. His confidence was no longer existence, he shut eve the people who were closest to him out.

People with speech impediments and other problems with speaking and writing have severe problems with their self confidence. They feel as though they are not normal. But what is normal? Is there a direct definition that labels these impediments as not normal? Normal is defined as standard, usual, typical or expected. But how do we define normal? Society's normal is, if people are all the same they are normal. Any defining feature or change to their personal, or physical appearance warrants them to be “not normal.”  There is a story written by Mike Rose called “I just want to be average,” And that is a direct quote from the story that points out how people who are not seen as normal feel about their surroundings. People who are not “Average” or “Normal” can feel like somewhat of a group of outcasts. They are separated from the mainstream classes and put in their own “Vocational Track” which means d-level learning which does not help. In d level classes you are not treated as a human being, and you are certainly not respected by the people who are teaching you. This very easily make these students feel like they do not matter. This is why many of them act out or show off, in an attempt to get the attention that they so desperately need. If people took their time to sit down with these students and try to help them, they would not feel the need to act out and do bad things to get someone's attention.

My older cousin Nicky had a speech problem when he was younger. It was hard for him, he was teased and put in a special learning class. A teacher sat down with him one on one and walked him through how to cope with stuttering. He told me it was one of the hardest things he has ever done, but having a teacher to help him and calm him down when he got annoyed or angry with himself, helped push him through the problem. Today he is an officer in the United States Navy, and has no problem whatsoever with speech.

With proper learning strategies and help, people with speech problems and other disabilities can feel like they are part of this so called normal society.

Media Fluency- Darlenny Rodriguez

Untitled presentation
I learned from critic of my slide that I don't always need to insert my name. Also, I should take into consideration my audience too. If they can't read my slide or the don't like it I need to change it because the goal is to make your slide appealing. The only thing I actually changed was cropping the water mark from the bottom right corner of my illustration. I also took my name out because the way my slide was set up, it had no purpose being there.

Powers edited slide

Untitled presentation
I learned that a lot of effort goes into making something simple, and moving a word just a couple of centimeters would make a huge difference. I also learned that you cannot add shadows on google slides.
I kerned the word "Travel" by adding some small spaces between the letters to make the word bigger and easier to focus on. I moved the word farther away from the darker dots on the picture so that place wouldn't be unclear.

Media Slide Reflection Naima DeBrest

I think that I learned a lot from the critiques from the class. I saw things from a new perspective. I also saw how other people saw what I put out. I feel like this was a good experience because I had the chance to listen to other peoples opinion.

In my slide I got rid of the be happy at the bottem because it was unessesary. I also tried to fade away the blue lines on the sides.

Slide Reflection; lilly roman

Tech Me Magazine
I learned that although I had a good start, I still had some things to work on. One of them was that passion and art had not been capitalized, so I did so in this slide. I also had stretched the image and the fingers were cut off. I was not able to correct the missing fingers sadly, but I enlarged the image instead. Due to this change, the words did not have much room and I had to shove them to the side.


After the feedback from my peers, I changed a few things about my slide. One piece of feedback I got was that my font was a bit to small, so I made it bigger. The other piece of feedback I got was that my name was a little too close to the white blurry part on the top right of my slide so I slid it a bit to the left.

Media Fluency part 2. Sean Johnson

Tech all about me
I changed the font of the Letters and I added some shadows to make contrast in my newer version. I also made them all the same design to add repetition instead of a lot of different fonts and designs. I chose these words because they represent some essential parts of me and I can bring up many stories from each design and word that I inserted in the slide.