Thursday, April 15, 2010


Burn that bridge
Send it up in flames
Watch the embers fall
Leaving behind the pain
The wretched memories lost
Far out of reach
No way to go back
And for a moment there is bliss
Until you see
The charred face
Of a forgotten dream
That once resided
In the so-called misery
A dream you aren’t ready to dismiss
But now it is left behind
Nothing left but ashes
To bring you back to save it
So you must put aside your pride
And rebuild the bridge
From scratch

Friday, March 12, 2010

3rd Quarter ORB

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, Penguin Books, 2006. Genre: Nonfiction

Mortenson is a brave man, embarking on the journey of a lifetime. He is a kind, educated man who wants to put his dead sister's necklace on the top of K2. The twist of events and failures lead him to an isolated town in Pakistan called Korphe. He's greeted with hospitality and shares tea with them. This book follows Mortenson on his journey to build a school in Korphe and all of the financial problems that go with it. The constant need for schools and teachers in rural parts of Pakistan make Mortenson want to help even more. He struggles to get donations and accomplish his dreams of helping these poor, innocent people. The book is filled with friendships, love, compassion, and drama.

"Mortenson's mission is admirable, his conviction unassialable, his territory exotic and his timing excellent."- The Washington Post

This story is inspirational and lets the reader know that if you try hard enough, you can accomplish anything. Mortenson's determination and persistence make the reader root for him, cheering him on. The message is sent that if you try hard enough you can accomplish anything, and that one person really can make a difference in the world. The author uses quotes and incorporates Mortenson's thoughts and feelings throughout the book. He interviewed people that Mortenson met on his journey and quoted their opinions and ideas about what he was doing. The quotes are balanced with admiration, new ideas, and some criticism. The input brings the story to life. The author's details create a real atmosphere that takes you into the struggles in Korphe and other places in Pakistan.

"But in the breeze whipping across this fragile shelf where humans survived, somehow, in the high Himalaya, he also heard the musical trill of children's voices, at play in the courtyard of Korphe's school," (260).This book changed my opinion on non-fiction books. Before I would just brush off the thought of enjoying a non-fiction book and groan and complain when I was forced to. This book was an exception; it didn't read like most non-fictions books do. It wasn't filled with facts or go off on tangents, it stuck to a dramatic, inspiring storyline. I would defiantely read this book again and other books like it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Challenges of the Sea

The twists and turns of life are blocked by ominous obstacles. A man climbing a mountain faces the bitter cold, harsh weather, and has to struggle up steep slopes. A student faces the challenges of juggling sports, schoolwork and friends. The obstacles in someone's path can seem to block the light at the end of the tunnel, and it's their choice whether or not to persist.Facing the disparaging challenges in your life shape your character, challenge your demeanor, and shape the way you live your life. The old man was no exception to the fact that lives are full of obstacles. He had to struggle and fight against pain, being old and alone on the journey, the daunting size of the marlin, and the threatening sharks.

Throughout the book the old man stayed strong despite all of the pain he had to endure. He sat in the boat, holding the weight of the fish on his line. “He was comfortable but suffering, although he did not admit the suffering at all” (64). The old man’s determination helped him to ignore the pain of his back and his cramping hand. Many people would succumb to pain and choose to let go of the fish but Santiago did not. “I must hold his pain where it is, he thought. Mine does not matter. I can control mine. But his pain could drive him mad,” (88). He stayed optimistic and convinced himself that he could deal with his pain to catch the fish of a lifetime. Santiago never even thought of giving in, instead he stayed persistent. His determination and willpower paid off, helping him to reel in an enormous fish even with the pain.

Santiago was an old man alone on a skiff, which immediately gave him a disadvantage in catching a fish of that marlin’s stature. “He had seen many that weighed more than a thousand pounds and he had caught two of that size in his life, but never alone,” (63). The lonely, old man had very slim chances of bringing in a fish that big. His body wasn’t as strong as other younger men’s were and he needed all the strength he could get to reel in his catch. The obstacle of old age was inevitable and posed a serious threat. Santiago stayed confident in himself, despite the odds. He accepted his old age and lack of help and used all of the strength that he was capable of to succeed in catching the marlin.

The size of the marlin would be intimidating anyone. Reeling in and taking home a 1500 pound fish is an overwhelming task. He realized "...he was fast to the biggest fish that he had ever seen and bigger than he had even heard of..." (63.)Not only was the marlin huge, but it was even bigger than his skiff. Just imagining catching a fish of that size seems impossible.

The marlin was caught and secure and the hardest part of the journey seemed to be over, but once again another obstacle reared its ugly head in this novella; sharks. The appearance of the sharks broke the happy, accomplished mood the old man must have had and set him in a tense, practically unwinnable situation. “When the old man saw him coming he knew that this was a shark that had no fear at all and would do exactly what he wished,” (101.) The audacious old man still fought against the sharks, cleverly attaching a knife to the oar and trying to kill them. He fought with all his strength, punching the sharks in the head long after he lost all weapons and hopes of prevailing. The aggressive sharks tore away at the marlin, destroying what the old man had worked so hard to achieve. Santiago still faced this challenge no matter how bleak the outcome looked.

Obstacles are everywhere, some unbeatable and some easy to conquer. The old man faced both types of obstacles during his journey out at sea. He prevailed and failed, recognizing both as the way that life works. Facing challenges is an inevitable part of life, the old man being no exception. How people choose to deal with them is a whole other story. It’s not every day that people face the same challenges as the old man. He was challenged by old age, pain, the marlin's size, and sharks, which shaped and led him on the journey of a lifetime. The challenges that we have to deal with shape our lives and the adventures in them, which Hemmingway shows throughout the novella.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Déjà vu

I glady crawled in bed, relieved that the day had finally ended. My alarm clock said it was already 11 and I groaned in disbelief. I had sworn to myself that I would get to bed early that night, but that never worked. The day had been rough, just like every single day in the past few months. When my sophomore year started I had been elated, planning everything with my three best friends: Katie, Grace, and Megan. We had been inseparable, four girls practically joined at the hip. We promised each other that we would stay together forever, a tear ran down my cheek just thinking about that.
My friends and I had been voluble and slightly eccentric together, but now I was taciturn and all alone. I had screwed everything up. The part that bothered me the most was that I could have prevented it all. I had decided to try drugs and ignored my friends when they asked me to stop, I really didn’t think it was a big deal. They constantly told me that I was changing but I didn’t listen to them, even when they started to alienate me. Deep down I had known that I should stop everything but instead I let it get worse. The misery and regret started to wash over me and I had to fight the urge to get up and grab anything to ease the pain. I reminded myself that I was trying to quit and just turned over. When I had first tried to quit the desire for any type of drug felt incorrigible but it got easier with time. The pictures on my walls smiled at me, reminding me of everything I lost. I turned away again, feeling like I couldn’t win. The clock read 11:11 and I thought of all the times my friends and I had made wishes. I laughed at the idea but softly whispered to myself, “I wish I could go back and just redo this, I won’t screw it up this time.” With that I closed my eyes and drifted off into an uneasy sleep as usual.
I woke up to my alarm clock playing an old song. The sad part was that I remembered it perfectly; I had woken up to it so many times a few months ago. I jumped into the shower and did my usual morning routine. I checked the weather on my computer and it was freakishly warm for February. I shrugged, not really caring, and got dressed. I raced out to the bus stop and I was stepping into the school before I knew it.
“Hey Nikki!” said Megan happily, skipping up to me.
“Hi….” I mumbled back, shocked by her sudden friendliness. Out of all of my former friends she hated me the most; I’d cheated with her boyfriend. “Um, what’s up?”
“Nothing really. Just freaking out about our first history test! It’s gonna be killer!” she said emphatically as always. She was my most outgoing and garrulous friend, just being around her used to instantly take me out of a bad mood. “The first history test? What?” I thought to myself. We’d already taken that, I’d gotten a B- (my highest grade in that class for the entire year) and Megan had gotten a C+. Megan’s ex boyfriend walked up and gave her a hug and kissed her right in front of me. I looked away awkwardly, extremely confused and ashamed. I had no clue that they had gotten back together after everything.
I gave them a quick smile and walked away to my first class. I was getting more genial smiles from old friends, not truculent glares, which caught me off guard. I’d become immune to their piercing glares by then and wore a phlegmatic expression every time. None of my old friends made sardonic comments as I walked by either. Throughout the day I noticed that everything was different. Grace had given me a hug and Katie quickly handed me my geometry homework back, which I had done months ago. Are they playing some kind of prank? I asked myself. I kept trying to figure out what could be going on as I sat laconically as always in my vapid geometry class. When I got home I saw my Dad sitting on the couch staring at a piece of paper. I groaned, wondering if it was my new report card.
“Why aren’t you at work?” I asked him as I set down my bag. He had been unemployed for months and had finally gotten a job; I prayed that he hadn’t been laid off already.
“I just got your phone bill missy,” he said ignoring my question, “and you owe me $200. How the heck did you go thousands of minutes over the limit? You better hand me that phone right now. You’re not getting that thing back for months,” he said forcefully.
“How is that even possible?!” I yelled in disbelief. I didn’t even have friends to talk to!
“Take a look yourself!” he replied, thrusting the paper into my hands. I scanned the page and my jaw dropped, not at the numbers but at the date. “It’s October 6th?” I asked.
“Well no, but-” he asked. I didn’t wait for him to finish and threw down the paper. I ran upstairs and threw open my bedroom door. I rummaged through my sock drawer trying to find the depleted stash of pain killers that I had hidden. I started to hyperventilate. Did my Dad find them or something? Of course not; if my Dad had found drugs I would be under house arrest already. I reached for my diary, my only safe haven for the past few months, but the pages were blank. I looked at the calendar on my wall and my jaw dropped. I walked up to it with shaking hands to see that it was only October 12th. My heart was racing as I realized what must have happened.
I went to school and for the next few weeks reality started to sink in. My friends didn’t hate me, I hadn’t started drinking or doing any drugs and my teachers didn’t give me disapproving looks all the time. Somehow I’d been able to start over and I embraced the chance. I walked away when someone asked if I wanted to smoke weed with them and didn’t give it a second thought. Months ago the novelty of weed had been alluring but now it didn’t matter to me. I refused to go down that detrimental path again.
I lay in bed one night and looked at the clock. I had stayed up until 11 o’clock again, but this time it was because I was talking to my friends. I smiled to myself as the clock turned 11:11. For once my wish had worked, I hadn’t screwed up my life, and finally everything was coming together. I turned over to look at the pictures on my wall again, and this time I smiled back knowing that there were more good times to come. I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.