Friday, May 9, 2008

An End

First, thank you for this class. I really can't communicate how much I appreciated it. You have made me want to take more English classes... To be honest, I didn't think that was possible. Again, thank you. Here are my final works:

1) I remember (Creative Piece)
--probably my favorite. There was something about that day.
2) The Violinist (Photo Analysis)
--Definitely fell in love with this photo, despite the context.
3) Of Permanent Shade (Group Effort)
--I read these poems over and over. I think this is the best I've written in terms of poetry.
--I had a bit of trouble composing this one, but I think I said what I wanted.
5) A Burial Party (Photo Analysis)
--It gnawed at me.. I couldn't leave it out.
6) Which is which? (Group Effort)
--I think Sarah and I worked well together. I wonder if can tell our stories apart.
7) Dear Grandpa (Letter #2)
8) Free Rice (Medium Pusher)
--Can you imagine a world where rice is free?
9) The Host (Creative Piece)
--This was one of my previous posts that is now revamped and completely different.
10) A Dream (My Own)
11) So then Mockingbirds (Fun One)
-- I really do like this poem. I think it turned out better than any of us anticipated.

Free Rice (& empowerment)

I went to and entered the word "hunger." I wanted to see what kinds of sites would appear. Well, I found what I thought I would, but there was something missing. Over Thanksgiving last year, my mother had been told about this vocabulary game online. I thought "oh great, she's going to suggest that my siblings and I play this game instead of the other things we do online." Then, she started playing it often. I also started playing it, and I was hooked. The website that hosts this "game" is called For every correct definition of the word you are able to produce, TWENTY grains of rice are donated to help curb world hunger. Now, I can go and look at the thousands of websites that pop up on Google to help fight world hunger and possibly war (we all know there are many wars that stem from food), but to me, they are nothing in comparison to this game. With this game, I feel like I am doing something that I've never done before. Sure, I've donated money and canned goods and whatever else, but this is something I can do with my mind. In the end, intellect is more powerful than anything, even hunger.

I would have never been able to do something as simply with my mind to help others without this silly game. So, I am challenging whoever reads this to go to
freerice and see how far and how long they will play to get that rice. (my record is four hours on Thanksgiving.. can you beat it?)

A Dream

I was running. I could feel my heart pounding. My arms were tingling but they liked it. I couldn't stop myself. I couldn't stop myself from running. What was i running from? I didn't know and nor did my body, so we kept going. I thought about the way the rain hit my back. Did I like the way it pelted me? The way it hit me and made my skin bleed; it felt like needles that didn't miss a micro spot. No, it wasn't that or the ground either. Maybe its the way my face glows. Wait, I can't see myself. What about the air? It's warm, a distinct contrast to the rain. Then, I stopped. That was it. Running didn't matter if I didn't have a choice to stop-- the difference between water and air showed me this.

[Now, sitting here, I can make a comparison that I couldn't make during my dream. Yes, I did have this dream.. I'm not really sure why, but I can guess that it is as a result of the recent book I can't put down. Also, I didn't know how to craft my own post, so I may have been running from that-- who knows? Still, there is so much in this book. It has renewed my desire to be human, despite war. In it, our world has been taken by a species of aliens called souls. I'm not going to provide a larger summary, but there is one quote that will be in my mind forever. Because of it, I now understand war and am oddly ok with it. I'm not saying that I think war should be condoned, but I recognize the beauty and absolute incandescence of its opposite. Stephenie Meyer has articulated it better than I could have ever hoped. She asks:
"[Is human love] simply better somehow? Because these humans could hate with so much fury, was the other end of the spectrum that they could love with more heart and zeal and fire?"

To answer, yes, I definitely think they can.]

Sunday, May 4, 2008

So then Mockingbirds

Early in morning she is
Not ecstatic but rather tired
Where’s coffee

How will she survive?
A mockingbird quietly flies intently
Towards the window
Determined to fulfill destiny

Will it succeed?
What purpose compels flight?
Mockingbirds have no intentions
But to do morning awakenings
She still sleeps soundly

With anger said mockingbird,
Refuse failure continue mocking
Woman does not awaken
Spray with hose…retreat

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Dear Grandpa

Dear Grandpa,

You were never a soldier to me. I never once saw any amount of anger or aggression leak through your character. You seemed so passive, so fragile. The way people talk about you makes me believe that they define you somewhat by your military life. I just didn't see it. I still don't see it. It is so hard for me to understand why people wouldn't let that go. I suppose all veterans face that kind of containment. I wonder if you minded. I'm sure others mind their state upon returning. Was it difficult for you carry that part of your life with you forever? I would hope not, but I can't be sure. You were so quiet, so peaceful. Nothing could shake you. I hardly remember your voice. I probably don't remember because I don't remember ever asking you to tell me stories. I don't know what your childhood was like or how you lived. I don't know what it was like when you went to war. Perhaps, your personality was shaped by your experiences there, on the battlefield.
I know the one house we used to visit, but I haven't been there in four years. Well, I'll have to rely on my father for the rest. Thank you for doing what you could to make sure he didn't have to face war. I don't know if I could ever have lived without him.

love manda

The Host

A new novel comes out in four days. It will tell a story of a war many of us are familiar with, yet it is still its own. The Host is by Stephenie Meyer. It is a preview of a world where an alien species referred to as seekers take over the human race. They implant themselves into human bodies and are normally able to completely consume their hosts in both physical control and memory. However, there is one human that does not succumb to her invader as easily. As far as I have read, this is the element that drives the plot and makes it relevant when discussing war within the human world. Even a species that is considered "inhuman" cannot escape our condition or the wars that result. "That's what I like about science fiction," Meyer says. "It's the same thing I like about Shakespeare. You take people, put them in a situation that can't possibly happen, and they act the way you would act. It's about being human." And sometimes there's nobody quite as human as somebody who isn't.
--I am so excited to read this novel that I could just sleep through the next four days. That's going to be another battle I have with myself.. go to class or sleep until the host comes out.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Of Permanent Shade

Their thoughts are frozen
And decay is lost

The soul is gone, but
So is the body

Immortality is attained
through a blotted still

Each is trapped
Unable to escape--
the gruesome death
that was never revealed in light.
(A memoir of the Hiroshima shadows)

Here are my group member's poems using eight of the same words:
Shadows frozen in time
Immortal they died
Unable to escape the gruesome light
The everyday life they lost
Is still blotted in our minds
Forever frozen are the Shadows of Hiroshima
I am frozen in time,
Secured by the light
Blotted by the soot,
And gone by night
I am lost from reality,
I’ve escaped from life
Devoured by a gruesome death,
Fueled by international strife
I am still in the shadows,
I am unable to grow
This is no mortal grave,
On this wall, my death shows
Failure to escape
The success of being frozen in time
Forever still, a once living memorial
Lost in light,
A life blotted out
The shadowed ash cannot be lost

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Which is which

Here are two accounts of September 11th. One is Sarah's-- the other is mine. You have to wonder who's is who's?

I got up for school just like any other day. I hardly remember what I did upon waking back then. I'm sure I had a routine similar to the one I have now, but I can't be sure. It's funny, most people have vivid memories of that day, but mine aren't as clear. It's a contrast that I haven't really been able to explain but it's there. I do have smaller chunks that I remember from that day but they are only pieces. The entire puzzle of 911 is still a mystery. I remember getting on the bus and having one of my friends tell me that a helicopter crashed into the world trade center. To be honest, I had never even heard of the World Trade Center before, let alone that there were two. I don't even remember who told me about the helicopter rumor.. pretty sad, I know. When I finally got to my first hour class, the news was on, but then, the teachers were told to turn the televisions off. I remember wanting to just watch TV, but we weren't allowed. It was almost like they (being the teachers and administration) were trying to shield us from the crash--like if we didn't see it, maybe it didn't happen. To this day, I'm not sure what the reason was behind keeping the news off during the time allotted for news watching. Oh well, I'm sure they knew what they were doing. But wait, didn't the airlines think they were safe? And what about the government? Didn't think they could stop an attack before it occurred in this day and age? Well, after staying up much later than I should have with my dad to watch the planes crash over and over and over again, I concluded that we had no idea what were doing. We still don't know what we're doing. I don't know if we will ever truly know.

From the moment I awoke that morning something was different. It could have been that the radio station I normally woke up to wasn't playing music, or it could be because my parents wouldn't get out of bed when I told them. Either way, it was a morning that I couldn't forget. Twelve years old and I ran downstairs to turn on the TV as I ate breakfast. All of that fire was frightening but it was even more alarming when my father told me they wouldn't fall, and they did. I went to school and it was like it never happened. Sure, there weren't a lot of kids there but we weren't allowed to watch the news so I wondered if it was really a big deal. Half of me imagined it over and done with as soon as I went to school but I had a feeling more details would surface as the day went on. I went home from school and watched the news with my mom straight until 11pm.After the events of the day I went to my computer and printed as many stories and photos about the day a I could. I knew it was a pivotal day in American history, yet I didn't realize that I would be engraved in our minds and allover the Internet for many years to come.

What I miss

I miss the rain. I just want to go outside and stand in the rain. I miss summer and being able to plan an entire day according to what I want to do. I miss my house. I didn't think I would, but I do. I miss a lot of things that seemed like they would never be remembered. It is almost at the end, and Sarah's post has made me miss my senior year. Crazy how a simple song that I haven't listened to in more than six months can have such powerful effect.

(I'm going to add more)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Lil Boy

Here is the link to a youtube video that makes my roommate look she is going to pee her pants:
(she looks like she's laughing but she's laughing so hard that it looks like she's holding her breath)

(you really only have to watch the first minute or so to get the full effect)

I thought of this video, because it makes me laugh and it is a great rendition of the classic Beetles song that was written during the Vietnam War era. While this may be an avenue for producing many laughs, especially in my dorm, there is also an important cross-cultural observation that can be made. If we first think of the context in which this song was written, it was part of a major anti-war movement that occurred throughout the music world. To many people in the past and present alike, this song not only represented a way to protest the government's actions but it also reflected the lifestyles that many embrace. There was and still is an idea that love prevails, no matter the obstacle. So, Hey Jude could be seen as the auditory confirmation of this concept, especially in Great Britain. However, after viewing the video, it should be quite clear that the song has an entirely different connotation to the people shown listening to it. It essentially becomes a late night comedy piece, which is certainly entertaining but another real cause of war. No, the song Hey Jude does not cause war, but the fact that it is interpreted in such drastically different manners reveals how easily culture can influence the occurrence of war. Therefore, lack of understanding others, even in the simplest of fashions, is probably a greater factor and cause of war than many would like to believe. We may think we're getting better, but then its all a scream.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Burial Party

Here is the link to my support article:

First, notice the crispness of the bones and the man beside them. Upon initial viewing, the man facing the camera directly is the central focus. However, it is clear that he shares the photo with the men so unable to move beside him. Through this, it seems that the photographer emphasizes that the dead should be honored, but by equalizing the focus on the living and dead, a deep sorrow is revealed. The men who are alive should be what drive the viewer; they should be the concern. The barren expression of the man in the foreground and the lack of character contact with any of the other men creates a kind of upstaging. Eye contact between the man and viewer is nonexistent, and surprisingly, the eyes of the dead are clearer despite the empty sockets. Through this there is a distinct and purposeful contrast between the men and the bones. This juxtaposition reflects the way people treat the dead with greater reverence in comparison to their living counterparts even in modern society, but there is a historical context surrounding this treatment. Despite the contextual evidence provided in numerous accounts that many fallen soldiers of the Civil War did not receive proper burials, it is arguable that they were given greater priority than the men attending to their remains. The photographer demands a yearning from the viewer to understand the plight of these men, but not even he can overcome. The value of the skulls is as harsh and empty as the battlefield; therefore the land is also dead and the men are left, displaced and unwelcome in the civil world.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sadr Cease-Fire

Here is the link to the photo Mia, Laurel & I read: (Click on the bar for August 29th, 2007)

This photograph expresses a sense of hope in a time where the majority of things heard about the war are negative, depressing and sad. The focus is on the little boy in the center who appears to be shrouded in light in comparison to the burned cars on either side of him. As the photo pans out from the boy it loses its focus, and allows shadows to creep into the scene. The shadowing in the photograph appears to represent the destruction that had been occurring, and the little boy walking through might represent the hope of the cease-fire. The photo is balanced by the cars on either side of the boy, and the center is empty except for the sole subject walking away from the camera. The boy seems to be symbolically walking away from the violence of the war and towards peace and calmness, which could be represented by the stained glass. The lines in the photograph seem to draw the eye towards the center of the photograph and the boy walking. The tire treads on the ground lead up towards the edges of the stained glass windows. The artist framed the photo perfectly to include burned cars on each side of the boy, like a border of destruction around him. The value of the darker edges of the photograph are in deep contrast to the sharp light on the boy. The extreme tones seem to add to the picture's theme that all hope is not lost, despite the chaos and devastation caused by war.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Violinist

There are two men in the foreground of the photo who represent the main focus. They are positioned at two separate heights, which creates the first kind of asymmetry within the photograph. Not only does the man playing the violin seem to be commanding the attention of each being in the image, but he also holds a less obvious power. At first glance, the violin appears as a rifle or weapon of some kind to be utilized as an assassination device. Therefore, as a result of both his height and positioning, the musician represents an ultimate power that the rest of humanity cannot escape. Despite this fact, the violinist himself is left unprotected from the cruelties of the rocky earth. He may be above his fellow man, but he is still trapped in another asymmetric portion of the photograph. There is a dividing line between the jagged rocks of the men and the sky. The sky has a soft and clear value-- it is man's polar opposite. The men are portrayed in tones as rough as the earth beneath them; they are not separate from the suffering they inflict. They are shown in a setting that should not reveal their melancholy, but not even music can smooth their edges. From this final observation, it can be inferred that the photographer may have intended to demonstrate the ultimate passivity of war.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Soldiers are not the enemy, our fears are

Fellow Americans,

It seems that we are always at war. Whether it is war between countries or within oneself, it is always there. War does not have one meaning in our lives. It is not completely dark or light, it is an in between. Ellie Wiesel reminds us that war is the homestead of indifference, "a strange and unnatural state in which the lines blur between light and darkness, dusk and dawn, crime and punishment, cruelty and compassion, good and evil." It is the twilight of human nature. One moment, we are honoring the dead and living soldiers, and in the next, they become as untouchable as our enemies. Why does this happen? Why are we so afraid to embrace our soldiers that they become outsiders, the aliens of our country? There must be a reason that we treat our soldiers and the way we converse about war with such indifference. Perhaps, it is simpler to pretend that soldiers are heartless, killing machines because then, they wouldn't be like us. We fear realizing that we are more alike than we are different. If we really get to the root, we would see that war thrives off of this fear.

Living a life that is not driven by freedom may be one of the most underlying fears of humanity. As a result of this fear, our instincts tell us to fight. We often try to overcome this urge, but it is the inability to conquer our fear of containment that keeps us from ending war. It is possible that humans may never be able to fully disregard the fear that keeps them from embracing others, namely soldiers. Doesn't this seem backward? If our freedom is the most important, shouldn't we honor those who fight for it? In a way, we may feel that we are fighting for freedom but are failing to recognize the error of our assumptions. At some point, we need to understand that fighting to not become a soldier is not what keeps us free. If anything, we become trapped by our fears. We do not allow ourselves to know other people, and we loose the freedom we so heartily coveted. We loose the ability to recognize the true freedom that arises from having a vulnerable tolerance. Therefore, let us not become subdued to think that true acceptance may never be possible but understand that tolerance is crucial.

With hope,
Amanda Cox

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Candidates to face off on Iraq at Hill hearings

Here's the link:

The brief:

According to Ken Strickland, this week's Senate hearings could prove to be defining appearances for the three presidential hopefuls. Strickland begins by identifying the committees to which each candidate belongs and interprets how seniority will affect the influence of each. He provides a multitude of reasons for McCain's dominance throughout the entire process and little evidence of Hillary or Obama's implied weaknesses. The article as a whole seems to favor conservative ideals, especially as a result of the predictions made regarding each candidate's ability to participate.

From the beginning, it seems that Ken Strickland endeavors to elicit a kind of emotional response from readers when he uses the phrase "And it happens on Tuesday." Despite this initial attempt, the result he most likely receives does not seem favorable. He uses many colloquial phrases that not only detract from the ultimate purpose of his article but also his credibility as a reporter and writer. He does provide an acceptable outline of how the hearings will proceed in terms of when each candidate will speak, but even this strength is weakened by references to the superhero also know for his bat-like qualities. Indeed, while trying to emphasize the advantages McCain has procured for the hearings, Strickland compares him and his colleague, Senator Lindsey Graham to the likenesses of Batman and Robin. While this may cause many to smile and reflect on times of superhero prowess, it it doubtful that any politically serious individual did anything more. In addition to inappropriate comparisons, Strickland also provides predictions of each candidate's stance that seem implausible if not disappointing. The greatest flaw of this article arises from Strickland's lack of purpose within his arguments. He does not seem to reach a conclusion that provides insight about the possible effect of the hearings, and nor does he give any reason for further inquiry regarding his thoughts on the subject. He ends his article with a reminder that Iraq will remain "overarching," as will his prose.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I don't remember

I don't remember being in ninety percent of the pictures that have been taken of me. I don't remember who was behind the camera, what they were wearing, what they were saying, or what we were doing to afford a picture of the moment. I can often guess what was going on by what I'm wearing or what's in the background, but I still don't remember. I don't remember what I worried about when I was in sixth grade. I don't remember my brother or my sister as toddlers. To me, they've always been the way they are right now, today. Now that I think about it, it feels like I haven't changed either. I suppose everyone feels (to a certain extent) that they are the same person despite what others perceive or observe.
I don't remember very much of junior high. Those were two of the worst and best years of my education. I don't remember all of my teachers very clearly. It seems that the teachers who were the best or most passionate about teaching are the ones I remember most clearly. I know, that isn't really a new concept or facet of human nature, but sometimes, I do forget.
I hardly remember my graduation. It's all a blur now. In the end, I know some of those memories will resurface, but I prefer to focus on memories that I know will always return fully. The weather helps me remember. When a new season arrives, I feel like I forget about the one that just passed every single time. I end up forgetting what brisk cold feels like just as heavily as I forget the sensation of warmth. My body always remembers. I don't know if that's something I've realized before, because my mind doesn't seem to recall.

I remember

I remember I remember I remember I remember... soccer and the ache of muscles and bones.
I also remember other "fun" things from childhood. I remember the dentist explaining her theory about why I kept getting cavities. I think she based it off of the one time my mom mentioned that I had strep throat off and on for almost six months as an infant. So, the dentist thought it was possible that my enamel was weakened during that time frame, because my teeth were forming. Whether or not she was correct, I remember paying dearly for whatever caused my cavities.
I remember sitting in the dentist chair fearing for my life. My mom was with me. I couldn't ever go to the dentist without someone there. I remember the one time the dentist's assistant thought she'd be alright if I squeezed her hand.. she never tried that again. My mom used to tell me to pretend that I was a spine on a cactus outside the window. This dentist office was a little less sterile-looking with desert landscaping outside each window, but that still didn't help much. I do remember the desert scenery outside because of what my mother said during that one visit, though. I knew that what she said was born out of her love for the desert. To be honest, I didn't understand why my mother loved it so much. I didn't think she could justify a beauty that seemed so barren, so ugly. I remember when I finally got it. Comprehension hit me in the face after I finished reading one of my favorite parts of a book I've read recently. According to that author, the desert has a beauty that isn't about the spiny vegetation that sprawls itself across the ground-- it has more to do with the exposed shape of the land and the way it captures and holds onto the sun. I'm positive my thoughts were a little less accepting back then than they are now, but who knows? For me, every experience at the dentist was a new horror.
Now, I remember that day again. My mother still attempted to tell me what she does when she's scared or in pain. She said that she pretends she's something else. She pretends that she's something other than human. I thought about that as I sat in the dentist chair. I remember thinking two things.. Either she was crazy or that was the stupidest thing I had ever heard. Then, I was calm.
I remember looking at the tree outside of English class, watching the branches sway and blow as the leaves twinkled in the sunlight. I remember wishing I could go back to that dentist chair. I remember wanting to show my mom that----- I understand.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Our lovely homophonic translations

Well, here it is:

Hand this cue, crack, hats, rugs- deal my trail
Sniff went out ledger part of infamy do seal blue;
Checks are late, overt praise do-rickie less real,
See relentless battle ons in mass stands left you;
Hand this june, Felip oh vent a bleb
Eat fate decent mini herds whole mess;
Paw rest smores stands let, stands let her be, stands to joy,
Nature ot toy kiss, kiss omens sentiment!...
Lest undo quit ox in apes the masses
Yes a you tells a pen sins ox grands calluses door;
Key dance lever cement thersholds Anna send or tea,
Itsy revelry, grandest ram asses
Dance lang goose let her ant sues lure vex bonnet no air
Lude on it engross silly dance lure moucher!

Monday, March 31, 2008

My first post & favorite time of day

This is by far one of my favorites. It's that in between time-- like two parts of the world have been forced to collide for more than a moment. The clash of two.. I suppose you could argue the same during wartime.