Tuesday, March 9, 2010

In life people are constantly faced with decisions. Some are as simple as deciding what to eat for breakfast that morning, and others are more difficult such as how you want to make your living as an adult. Sometimes you will be satisfied with the choices you make, but there will be times when you will regret a choice you make, and you will have to live with the consequences of your decision. The main character, Santiago, from The Old Man and the Sea is no exception. Throughout the book, the old man, passionate about fishing, comes across many unpredictable decisions he has to make. The main decision in the book that the old man is faced with is deciding whether or not to catch the marlin, and he decides to do it. This impulsive decision had both positive and negative outcomes.
One negative outcome of Santiago’s decision is that the marlin ends up getting taken away from him, leaving the old man very disappointed. “The old man could hear the noise of skin and flesh ripping on the big fish,” (102) as he watched the shark take the marlin away from him. Now the old man had put so much hard work into catching the marlin, and he didn’t even get to keep it. He had lost the thing he wanted most, and had put all the work in for nothing. Perhaps if he had known the marlin would get taken away from him, he wouldn’t have decided to stay on his boat for three days trying to catch it.
In fact, in the end Santiago regrets catching the fish, and that is a consequence he will always have to live with. He is very apologetic towards the marlin. “‘I wish it were a dream and that I had never hooked him. I’m sorry about it, fish. It makes everything wrong’…’I shouldn’t have gone out so far, fish,’ he said. ‘Neither for you nor for me. I’m sorry, fish,’” (110). The old man feels that he killed the fish for no reason. It ended up not being beneficial to him in any way, and he felt that he took the life of a fish he loved and respected even though the fish did not deserve this. You would expect the man to be very happy and giddy about his catch, but instead he is resentful.
Another reason Santiago probably shouldn’t have decided to catch the marlin was the fact that his hand got all cut up because of it. “The bird had flown up when the line jerked and the old man had not even seen him go. He felt the line carefully with his right hand and noticed his hand was bleeding,” (55-56). He got many severe cuts and a fairly painful hand cramp because of his decision to catch the fish.
Despite the many negative outcomes of the old man’s decision, there was actually a positive one. “He had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish…the old man was now definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky,” (9). Santiago was beginning to become very hopeless, but he remind optimistic and stayed devoted to his fishing. He is patient, and eventually catches the marlin, breaking is unlucky streak. Though he didn’t actually get to keep the fish, he still had the credit and pride that came along with catching a fish that big. Also, people wouldn’t consider him as unsuccessful or like a bad fisherman anymore because he was able to capture such a large fish.
Every decision you make throughout your life will have either a positive or negative result, and some will have both. At times you will have to accept the consequences of making a bad decision and feeling remorseful, like the old man did, and other times you will be rewarded with the positive outcomes of your good decision.

Monday, January 25, 2010

short story

Up until the age of fifteen I had always considered myself one of the luckiest girls in the world. I had great friends, good grades, and I was the younger sister of the most popular boy in school, which automatically helped me fit in when I entered high school. My older brother and best friend, Eric, was an amazing athlete. He played football and ran track, but he was most well-known for being a star hockey player. His name was constantly in the paper for his infallible skills. He was a senior and had many, many schools willing to give him a full scholarship to play hockey for them. He was smart, garrulous, altruistic, and all around one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known. He was my hero.
Then one day, February 19, 2004 to be exact, disaster struck. I got into a fight with Eric that day, which didn’t happen very often. I was mad because he wouldn’t let me go out with Kyle Roberts, another very popular boy in our high school. He kept saying ‘he’s too old for you’ or ‘he won’t treat you right.’ It wasn’t until after this unfortunate day that I realized all he was doing was looking out for me.
When I was done screaming at Eric, I stormed into my room and slammed my door in his face. He kept trying to get me to come out and talk to him, but being the obstinate person I am, I refused. My mom came in to mollify me, but I kicked her out, too.
An hour later my dad knocked on my door. “Mary, let’s go! Eric’s hockey game starts in 20 minutes; we need to hit the road!”
I opened my door to respond. “Dad, you guys go ahead. I’m not going.”
“Mary,” my mother pleaded. “Please come with us, it would mean a lot to him if you came.”
I rebuffed her request. “NO! I’M NOT GOING!” I yelled acrimoniously. I had never missed one of Eric’s games before. I was still upset with him, though, and no amount of begging from my parents would convince me to go to his game. That is a decision I will regret for the rest of my life.
A few hours later my parents and four younger brothers returned home. I immediately filled with trepidation when I saw the tears streaming down my mother’s face. “What’s going on?!” I yelled in a panicked tone.
“Mary, get in the car. We’re going to the hospital,” my dad said. This made my mother start another round of heavy sobs.
I was compliant and got in the car like my father said. We rushed to the hospital, but when we got there it was too late. Eric was dead. I fell to the ground in tears when I heard the news. Eric had been in a car accident that night. They rushed him to the hospital, but there was nothing they could do. We eventually went home, not knowing what else to do.
I sat in my room alone the rest of the night. I couldn’t believe what had happened. I was lying on my bed, trying to remember the last words I said to Eric. They were “I hate you.” I couldn’t believe the last thing he heard me say was “I hate you.” I didn’t hate him, I loved him. I was outraged with myself for ever treating Eric with anything other than the respect he deserved.
The next few weeks were a blur to me. Between the hectic planning of the wake and funeral and all the sympathy cards, phone calls, and gifts sent to our house, I still hadn’t had much time to wrap my head around what happened that night. When it finally hit me, I began heading down the wrong path. Though I had obviously never played on a team before, I loved playing hockey with my brothers when I was younger. But after Eric’s death, I gave it up completely because it reminded me too much of him. I fell in with the wrong crowd. I got myself into all kinds of trouble in school, and eventually with the police. I fell into depression without Eric, and I didn’t know what to do.
Then, one day I was lying in bed late at night when my mind went wandering. What am I doing? I asked myself. Eric wouldn’t want me to be morose all the time. And, I know he’d be worried about me if he knew where my life has been heading. That’s when I made the decision that my life would not continue like this. I was going to turn it around. I wanted to make Eric happy, and I knew exactly how I was going to do it.
The next day I approached my dad who, like Eric, had been a start hockey player in high school and college. “Dad, I want your help?”
“Ok Mary, with what?”
“I want you to help me play hockey. I want you to train me, and help me get on the team, on Eric’s old team.”
“I don’t know, Mary. They’ve never had a girl on the team before. I don’t even know if it’s allowed.”
“Dad, I can do it. I know I can. I’m better than half the guys out there I just need a coach. I need you.”
Reluctantly, my dad agreed to help me train. Starting the next day, we would get up at 5:00 every morning. He had me running before school everyday. I did crunches, push-ups, sit-ups, and lifted weights everyday. On weekends he made me do hill sprints. My dad was a very fastidious trainer. He always told me I wasn’t running fast enough, or wasn’t lifting enough. Some days I would get very mad at him and frustrated with him, almost to the point where I considered quitting. But I persevered for Eric, and it paid off.
Six Weeks Later
Finally it was the day of tryouts. As I walked onto the rink the boys all gave me disapproving looks as they whispered what I’m sure were cruel comments to each other.
“What are you doing here?” the coach asked.
My dad ran over to the coach, who didn’t want to let me even try out. I watched as they were discussing me, though I didn’t know exactly what they were saying. Eventually my dad convinced the coach to let me at least try out.
The tryouts were brutal. The boys were nefarious. They all ganged up on me and pushed me around, trying to prove to their coach I wasn’t strong enough to play with them. They wanted to see me fail, because they didn’t want a girl on their team. I didn’t let them bring me down, though, and I earned myself a position on the junior varsity team. Though I thought I deserved better, I decided to be tenacious and continue playing, for Eric.
A month later it was time for our first game. My heart was beating the whole way there. We were playing the team we had played the night of Eric’s death. When we got there we all gathered in the locker room. Our coach gave us a long harangue about how this will be a tough team to beat, but if we learn to converge as a team we can win.
After Coach Marcus was done speaking to us, the varsity team went to go take their place on the bench to watch the JV game, which was first. I was about to go get ready with the rest of the JV players when I heard Coach call my name. “Mary!” he yelled. I looked over as he tossed a varsity jersey at me. It was number five. It was Eric’s jersey.
“Coach, you serious?” I asked in disbelief.
“You earned it, kiddo,” he said with a smile. “Now go out there and make us proud.”
I sat and watched with the varsity team as the JV won their game 5-0. It was impressive, but I knew the varsity team would be much harder to beat.
I felt the eyes on me as I took my spot on the ice. I had never been under so much pressure in my life. I felt like the team was depending on me.
Three minutes into the game I got the puck. I froze up as a prodigious player from the opposing team came towards me. I was knocked hard onto the ice, and for a moment everything looked garbled. I quickly got up, though, and I was back in the game playing my heart out.
Time passed quickly. The game was intense. I glanced up at the clock, realizing there was only a minute left. We were tied three to three, and I was determined to make that winning goal. My teammate then got the puck, shot, and scored. However, a player on the other team did the same thing shortly after.
Now, there was ten seconds left and we were still tied four to four. All of a sudden, the puck was in my possession. I knew this was my chance, and there was no way I was going to mess it up. I was speeding down the ice when I saw my open teammate. I passed to him and continued on towards the goal. I was open once again, so he passed it back to me. I aimed carefully and shot quickly. The puck went flying threw the air. The goalie reached out to stop it, but it was just out of reach. The puck landed in the net. I had scored! Once second later the buzzer went off, leaving no time for the other team to make a come back. We had won the game.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Second Quarter Outside Reading Book Review

A Man Named Dave by Dave Pelzer Genre: Autobiographical novel

A Man Named Dave is the third and last story in Dave Pelzer’s series about his abusive mother. The first book, A Child Called It, covered his childhood and how he survived the extreme physical and mental abuse he received from his Mother. The second book, The Lost Boy, covers his teenage years and his five foster homes. This book covers his adult life. At age eighteen, Dave joined the air force. He wanted to be a pilot, but he didn’t start off that way. At first, he was a cook in the air force. Then, he went through the training and eventually achieved his dream of being a pilot. Dave was married to a woman named Patsy, but the eight year marriage ended in divorce. They divorced because she wasn’t able to understand how Dave felt about his childhood, and how his life remained haunted by the memories of his years as the bruised, cowering “It”. He still maintained a healthy relationship with their son, Steven, though. Throughout the book Dave had many confrontations with his Mother, including the one at his father’s funeral. Dave is now happily married to his second wife, Marsha. He has won awards and appeared on talk shows. He has a wonderful relationship with his son, who he promised he would never treat the way his Mother treated him. And, his Mother is now dead.

“Pelzer…inspires us all. He is a living example that all of us have the capability to better ourselves no matter what the odds.” – Jack Canfield

A Man Named Dave is a true story. It is written by the author, the actual victim of this abuse, in first person. I really enjoyed reading it because this really allowed me to get into the character’s head. People who have never experienced things like child abuse can not even begin to imagine what must be going through the victim’s head. However, by reading this book I can see that his Mother not only caused him severe physical abuse, but she also abused him emotionally. And, I was able to see that even after Dave was rescued, the memories of being abused will haunt him for the rest of his life and will follow him and affect him no matter what he does. Pelzer’s writing style used a lot of details while describing his feelings. This is similar to his previous books, A Child Called It and The Lost Boy. The only difference is that in his first two books you were able to get into his head and see how he felt while the abuse was going on, and in this book you are able to see how he feels afterward, and how he uses his childhood as a reason to accomplish more in his life and be someone, and how he promises himself that he will never treat Steven this way.

"‘You lose’, I smiled
‘What?’ Mother asked
‘All those years you tried your best to break me, and I'm still here. Father's finally free, Ron's (his brother) in the service, and soon the boys will move out on their own. I'm a good person. I try my best in everything I set out to do. I make mistakes, I screw up, but I learn. I don't blame others for my problems. I stand on my own. And one day you'll see, I'm going to make something of myself. Whether I dig ditches or flip burgers for the air force, I'll be the best, and somehow, some way, I won't waste my life away. If you taught me anything, you taught me that. Stay away from me. Everything you've done to others...I pray for you every night, I swear to God, I really do. You may have your papers, your money, whatever. You can hate everybody and everything on this planet, but YOU lose!'.”

This book is one I will never forget. Child abuse is a difficult subject to read about at times, and after reading the first book, A Child Called It, I was tempted to read this book to find out about what happened to Dave after his tragic childhood. I think his books are very inspiring, this one in particular. It shows that despite his childhood, he was able to overcome everything and still become a wonderful, successful man.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Sister's Keeper Review

In the book My Sister’s Keeper by Jodie Picoult, Brian and Sara Fitzgerald’s lives are suddenly turned upside down when their two year old daughter Kate is diagnosed with leukemia. She is in need of genetic material from a perfect match. However, Jesse, her older brother, is not a perfect match. Anna is then conceived for the sole purpose of saving her sister. By age thirteen, Anna has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so Kate can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. Anna has always been expected to donate whatever Kate needed, whether it is bone marrow, blood, or now a kidney. However, being a teenager now Anna decides that she should have a say in the painful transplants and surgeries that she has to go through on a regular basis. That is when she decides to hire a lawyer and sue her parents for the rights to her own body, even though she knows that not donating her kidney to Kate will lead to the death of her sister. So now, Brian and Sara have to deal with the lawsuit against them, their dying daughter, and their now eighteen year old son who in the meantime has been getting himself into all kinds of trouble. Taking place in Providence, Rhode Island, My Sister’s Keeper is an excellent book about the struggles in the Fitzgerald family’s lives.

“Has the emotional tenacity to fuel tears and talk.” – Daily News (New York)

All the challenges that this family has to face throughout Kate’s sickness are hard for me to relate to, because thankfully I haven’t had to go through anything like this in my life. The way Picoult writes about the character’s feelings are very realistic. She describes the sadness in their lives. When writing about Sara, Picoult shows how Sara’s character tries to put on an act and be strong in front of others, but inside she is falling apart. To me, this seems like a very real situation. Being a mother of three, I think it is plausible that Sara would be trying her hardest to stay strong and not show her real feelings. However, she is just human, and having a sixteen year old daughter who is dying must be one of the hardest things a person could go through.

Picoult takes you on a journey full of inspiration and heartbreak. Each chapter in this book is written through a different character’s perspective. This allows you to get inside all of the character’s heads, and see how each one of them develops throughout the story. Picoult grabs your attention with great descriptions about the character’s feelings that get the reader thinking. Then, she surprises the reader with a heart-wrenching, unexpected turn of events at the end. The author uses a similar writing style in other books she’s written, such as The Pact, where she also writes from all different character’s points of view.

“‘You don’t love someone because they’re perfect,’ she says. ‘You love them in spite of the fact that they’re not.’” (384)

Jodie Picoult is one of my favorite authors. The way she writes leaves you amazed. Her writing style allowed me to feel a connection to each of the characters. This is a book I will never forget, because it made me think. Picoult did a great job of telling an excellent story that will have the reader laughing, and crying. It really makes you examine your life, and for me, it made me realize how lucky I really am.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What Could Be Better Than A Field Hockey Game With Your Family And Friends In Maine?

In today’s world, we are all entirely too wrapped up in our busy schedules to kick back and remember what truly matters. We focus too much on having the latest item. We want the newest ipods and cell phones, the biggest houses, and the nicest cars. We are so greatly influenced by these celebrities that everyone wants to be just like, that tell us expensive is better. It’s hard to go anywhere these days without seeing ads that tell us if we buy this product we will be better off. But, don’t you remember the trusted saying “money can’t buy happiness”? If money really can’t buy happiness, then what does make a person happy? What makes something valuable to us?

Finally, it’s Saturday. I’m at home relaxing, since this is pretty much the only chance I get. This is the one day of the week I have off from field hockey, but yet there I am, stick in hand. Even though I am just sitting on the couch watching TV, I constantly find myself picking up my stick. I feel weird not having it in my hand, because I am so accustomed to it being there.

I run my fingers down the flat side of my stick, and I can feel all the chips in the paint that have developed over time. Each and every divot in the otherwise smooth edges of my stick holds a memory. They remind me of the first goal I made with this stick. They remind me of all the free hits I’ve taken in games, both the ones that soared down the field, past the opponent’s wall, and the ones that embarrassingly didn’t make it as far as I would have hoped. Some people may argue that the nicest sticks are the perfectly smooth ones with no dents, chips, or scratches, but I disagree. I believe that the marks in mine show wisdom, in a way, and they remind me how far I have come, and how much I will continue to improve as a defender.

In my eyes, my stick is beautiful. It has a long black grip that fits my hands perfectly. It is blue, with the letters STX printed in large white letters. It has a green toe that has become slightly faded and scratched with age. And, it has a ring of white tape around the top from where the grip has begun to give out on me. It is an all-composite stick made of 100% fiberglass, which as field hockey sticks go is very nice. I bought it for about $60.00, which is moderately priced for a stick, but to me, field hockey is something I could never be asked to put a price on. There is no amount of money in the world that would make me stop playing. This year I am honored to play starting defense, and I have the perfect stick for a hard-working defender like myself.

My feet turn numb as I step into the chilling Maine water for what will most likely be the last time this year. The strong, ice cold waves crash against my body, just about knocking me over, but I continue to venture forward. I am accompanied by my cousin Shannon, and together we go out further in the Atlantic than we would ever dare to go alone. It’s starting to get dark, and to be completely honest, we don’t really have a desire to be in the water at all. But, it is our last night here in Maine, and we know if we don’t go in now we will regret it until a year from now when we get to come back.

Then we see our little cousins running down the beach, and they yell to us that it’s time to come in. Shannon and I walk up the beach, hurting our feet on the rocks scattered throughout the sand. Our teeth are chattering as we’re standing outside our beachside house drying off. Then, we go inside. The house is far too small for the thirteen people we have staying there, and I always wonder how we manage. But, while we’re there, we hardly notice how cramped it really is. Shannon and I take turns using the shower that, even if you’re first, never seems to have enough hot water. Then, we go to the closet-sized room that we share, and get ready. Everyone is wearing the nicest clothes they brought. Then, all thirteen of us load up into cars, and head off to our annual lobster dinner at Mainiax. We all order and eat our dinner over pleasant conversation, and laugh as we watch my now eleven year old cousin Alison gobble up an entire lobster of her own. We divide up the bill, and once again load up the cars.

Next comes my favorite part of the entire week. We go home and put on our warm, cozy pajamas and head outside. We stand on the edge of our property, looking out onto the ocean. We listen to the waves crash as we gather sticks, marshmallows, Hershey bars, and graham crackers. All the kids then stand around toasting marshmallows. I cover my watering eyes to shield them from the smoke, as I am trying to attempt the difficult task of getting mine perfectly golden brown. We then walk over to my aunt, who helps us make them into s’mores. We make them for ourselves first, and then start another round of toasting marshmallows for the grown-ups, since they’re too lazy to do it themselves. Once everyone is full of s’mores, we pull out the sparklers. Each kid gets their own box, and we light them and wave them around. You would think that as a soon-to-be senior, sophomore, and freshman in high school, my cousins Brittany and Shannon and I would be too old to play with sparklers. It’s a tradition in our family, though, and we never get tired of it. Behaving just like our seven and eight year old cousins, we foolishly swing our sparkler from side to side, making shapes and writing our names in the black sky. And, frankly, I am always slightly disappointed when I realize that my box of sparklers is empty. But, by this time it is late, and we all retire to our rooms to get some sleep. After all, we have a long drive the next day.

Both my field hockey stick and my last night in Maine with my family mean the world to me. Just looking at my stick brings back that feeling of adrenaline when I’m standing on the field with my stick pressed against the ground as the offender approaches me. Just looking at my stick reminds me of all the good times I’ve shared with my team mates at after school practices, games, weight training sessions, Sunday morning practices, double sessions, team dinners, and team bonding nights. It reminds me that we aren’t just a team, we are a family, and there is no greater feeling than realizing you have a whole group of people you know you can count on.

However, even though my team mates are like my second family, there is nothing that could replace my time spent with my actual family. When I am in Maine with them, curled around the fire, it is time that I will never forget. I have a feeling of security when I’m there, and a part of me never wants to leave. I am sad to say that my grandparents on my mom’s side are no longer with us, and therefore it is sometimes difficult to get that side of the family together. We all have busy schedules, and without having my grandparents’ house to go to at Christmas and Thanksgiving, it is often hard to arrange family get-togethers, especially because we are separated throughout different parts of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The week in Maine, though, is always a sure thing. It’s the one week I can count on where I know I get to spend time with the people I love so much, but don’t get to see as much as I’d like to.

I value both of these things pretty much equally. I couldn’t imagine my life without either one. I suppose the things that I value most are the things that allow me to spend time with the people I care about. I love playing field hockey. It is one of my favorite things to do. But, I think for me, a huge part of why I love being on the team so much is being able to hang out with my friends, while also doing something I enjoy. When the sun’s beating down, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than out on the field hockey field, hitting a ball around and mastering those defensive clears I work so hard on in practice. Other times, though, I’d give anything to be able to kick back, relax, and spend time with my family.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Visiting Shana's

Briar Rose: Becca
A Child Called It: Dave

Two weeks after Becca returned from Poland, she received a call from Shana and Sylvia. “We wanna know about Gemma too!” exclaimed Sylvia. They were both upset that Becca hadn’t tried to contact either of them since she got back. She had meant to, she really had, but being exhausted and jet-lagged, she hadn’t gotten around to it yet.

“We’re getting together at once,” Shana said as a statement, not a question. Finally, after a long time of listening to her sisters’ bickering over the phone, the three girls agreed to go to Shana’s.

Six days later, Becca was standing on Shana’s front porch. She rang the doorbell, and moments later Shana arrived at the door. She walked in to find not only Sylvia and the kids, but also another woman and who Becca assumed was her son. Shana introduced her as Tracy, her next door neighbor.

“This is my son, David,” Tracy said, gesturing towards the little boy sitting at her feet. “David, can you say hi?” There was something strange about David. He sat there, not talking, not responding to Tracy’s request. He had bruises up and down is body, and a large scar on his left arm. Shana must have realized that Becca noticed all these bruises, because she gave her a strange look like “don’t say anything.”

“So,” Sylvia began. “Let’s hear all about your trip to Poland.” Shana brought everyone out coffee and donuts, and as they ate and sipped their drinks, Becca made sure to tell them everything. She left out no details. She told them about Josef, about their grandfather, about Chelmno, Kulmhof, or whatever you want to call it. They sat there intently for a long time, listening to every word Becca had to say. Becca was shocked at how interested in her story her sisters seemed to be. They had never been supportive of her trip to Poland, and had never shown any interest in Gemma’s past at all.

When Becca was done, Tracy excused herself. “Well, this was fun, but I should be getting home now. Come on David, let’s go. It was nice to meet you, Becca.”

It took Becca just moments after they walked out the door for her to ask the question that had been on her mind all afternoon, “What happened to that boy?”

Shana and Sylvia looked at each other nervously and sighed. “Becca,” Shana began. “David is a foster child. His real mother, well, she isn’t very nice. Becca, David is one of the most severe cases of child abuse in the country.”

Becca was speechless. The next day at work, she decided to look up Dave’s case online. “Becca, is that work-related?” asked her new boyfriend and collegue, Stan as he was walking by. She told Stan all about David, and the two of them sat together reading everything they could find about the little boy. The things they read about him and his alcoholic mother had Becca in tears, wondering how anyone could treat their child like that. After that day at work, Becca never looked into his case again, but she never ever forgot David Pelzer.