Friday, October 31, 2014

The Diminishing Importance of Halloween as You Grow Older

If your lucky you may have been able to trick or treat up to the age of 13.  After that it becomes socially unacceptable to go house to house begging for candy from strangers.  I remember as a young child when I first heard that there was an age limit to trick or treating I was filled with fear.  To a eight year old, 13 did not seem that far off.  I was terrified for the day I wouldn't be able to get free candy that would last me until the next holiday, Thanksgiving.

For all non-children, Halloween is not always celebrated to its fullest extent.  Similar to Valentines Day; you only celebrate if you have a reason to.  You aren't even allowed to dress up for school after elementary school.  While by the time most people reach high school they no longer see the appeal of Halloween (might as well just trick or treat to Walgreen's and be done with it) it seems that the importance of Halloween diminishes as you go older.  Maybe it's partially because most of the time Halloween falls on a school night, or it could be that teens have enough money that they can go out and buy themselves candy instead of having to walk blocks to accumulate a decent stash, or maybe teens simply just don't want to dress up.
While many teens and young adults still have Halloween spirit, it seems like many people simply view Halloween as being one step closer to Christmas.

Celebrity Presentation in Media: What's Real and What's Fake?

A Visit From the Goon Squad is a postmodern novel by Jennifer Egan in which she brings up many situations and ideas prevalent in society today. One of which is media perception and the impact of someone's 'image,' which is discussed when La Doll takes on The General as a client. A lot of the representations we see of celebrities are just that, re-presentations. Of course there is the timeworn discussion of a celebrity's supposed appearance versus how they really look, but there are other ways in which celebrity's images are shaped. 
PR stunts, or occurrences planned by a Public Relations team meant to draw attention to the subject/client, are used very often. This can be something as small as a charitable donation, or as long-term as a fake relationship. Publicity Stunts always have a goal. They are made to make the client seem kinder, more available to fans, more committed, they want to dispel rumors or hide something, it could be any number of things. 
A common use of Publicity Stunts is to cover up a celebrity's sexuality, which has been going on long before I was even born. Lance Bass, who came out in 2006, dated women in the height of his career, but has said that his management team didn't know he was gay. Since I have been enlightened about celebrity stunts and the nature of the music industry especially, either I question everything I hear, or I just ignore it. It's quite strange to think that the way someone acts could be a façade created to better their image, but I really liked that Egan brought this up, and I really enjoyed her take on it. 

Bennie: The Multi Dimensional Man

A Visit from the Goon Squad has centered around several different characters. Sometimes it's first person, and sometimes third. This gives us a chance to see all the different sides of each character. The stoty also goes through different time periods with ease. There are many results from this. The main one is that it gives us as readers a chance to meet several different people, such as Sasha, Alex, Lou, Jocelyn, Rhea, Alice, Scottie, Rolph, and Steph. However, I believe the most intereting character in the story is Bennie by far. We get to see different discriptions of him by different people, and get to see him throughout multiple time periods.

Chronologically, we see Bennie as a young man in a garage band named The Flaming Dildos. He seems to be very social and punkish. Rhea portrays him as extrrmely handsome and well adjusted. Next we see him as struggling to adapt to a high lifestyle as country clubs and such. He seems to br losing Steph little by little at this point. Steph makes hum look like the bad guy. Earlier in the book but later in time, we see Bennie crunble. He needs gold dust to feel sexually potent. His relationship with his son has been criticized by a therapist. He flirts witn Sasha to no avail. He becomes a thing of the past.

Egan's style of writing shapes Bennie into the most well rounded character. He rises and falls (but not in that order) just in the first 150 pages. Bennie is very thought provoking and is definitely someone to look for in the rest of the book.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Passenger Story

Tensions were running high in the St. Patrick High School Gymnasium. Parents were standing up, demonstrating a pretentious knowledge of the sport by screaming obvious instructions to their kids. “ Hustle, Timmy!”, “ Rebound!”, “ Shoot it Bobby!” All of the coaches were out of their seats, loudly pointing out imperfections in their respective offenses and defenses, hoping that the players would hear the criticisms and correct their actions on ensuing possessions. I could see my coach’s deep absorption in the game, his mind racing as he continuously shifted his plan of attack for our team. Next to the coaches sat the reserve players, ready to be substituted into the action when one of the starting players got tired or began to play poorly. Nearly every team member not in the game was either leaning forward in his seat, intrigued by the game unfolding in front of him, or slumped back in his chair, reflecting on his performance in the game so far and preparing a strategy for when he was substituted back in. I could see that everyone, from the parents to the players to the coaches, was fully engaged with the events occurring on the basketball court. That is, everyone except me.

At the far end of the bench, in the very last seat, away from teammates, coaches, fans, and directly adjacent to the water cooler sat me, completely apathetic to the surrounding atmosphere. Although I had got ample minutes in the match earlier that day, during this game, I would receive exactly zero minutes and zero seconds of playing time. Sitting on the bench, watching the game unfold in front of me, I began to reflect on my position on the team. Why wasn’t I getting in the game? Did the coaches forget about me, or was I just not good enough? I knew I wasn’t the worst player on the team, and I probably deserved to get some playing time based on my performance in practice, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen. Not today, at least.

The score of the game didn’t matter to me, because I wasn’t in the game. I was not contributing to the team at all. I was simply an extra body taking up a seat on the bench. I wasn’t conversing with teammates. I had no interest in cheering anybody on. I felt as if I could have walked out of the gym and nobody would have noticed. I started thinking about homework assignments I had to complete and how much I would rather be doing those than sitting on this bench. Even after the game ended with a heartbreaking loss from a buzzer beater by the other team, I couldn’t wrustle up any feelings of disappointment. The locker room was a scene of sullen temperaments. Everyone was sulking, completely dejected, and I couldn’t blame them. They had contributed to the loss. I had not, therefore I could not share in the emotional letdown. At this moment, I realized that, after devoting years of my life to playing basketball, I just didn’t care any more.

Thoughts, thoughts, ideas

In a wide range of media, people are not people. They are protagonists or antagonists, with the occasional bystander or anti-hero. They are not necessarily two dimensional characters, but they are still often placed into these roles, with inner conflicts and humanization subsumed by the unrelenting force of the plot. People seem to like this, it is simplicity in the whirlwind of confusion that is life. So this trend has been going on for quite some time. The majority of history, in fact. It is simple enough to work within the context of a story, where the author can make the character change as much as necessary to fit the image of virtue or sin. However, it extends far beyond what people might consider fiction, as it may be perceived in the context of religion, politics, and history. The way it works is simple: take a character (with all their conflicts, flaws, and little victories), and overlay onto that the idea of villain or hero, exaggerating any characteristics that fit the bill. In this way, these complex topics are narrowed down to good vs. evil. We use images such as light, dark, good, evil, purity, sin, etc., to make an us vs. them argument more convincing. We alter the truth, creating an image that far more people believe in, changing reality into fiction.

Essentially, the whole point of that messy blob of ideas up there is that images become more prevalent than reality because these images are more useful to us, no matter what side we are on. I don't believe there is any situation in which every single 'fact' points to the side of one argument. So...the world is post-modern only because images are more easily manipulated than people, so we have swapped over. The world is what we make it. Whoever this 'we' character is.

The Christmas Season Should Not Start So Early

I was in Walgreen's today shopping for candy to hand out on Halloween when I saw that the workers were already putting out Christmas decorations. When I saw this, I had to take a step back and really look at what was going on. It's October 30th and Walgreen's is already preparing for Christmas. I am all for getting in the Christmas spirit-- in December. It is way too early to be putting out decorations. I love Christmas, but I hate how it is a 45 day holiday. All of the same Christmas songs that are so overplayed that by the time it is actually Christmas, you can't listen to them anymore. Then come the covers of the "traditional" Christmas songs done by almost every pop artist. I guarantee that by the time Christmas comes around, someones Christmas themed song will be number one on itunes.

In addition, not everyone celebrates Christmas. We should be mindful that not everyone in our little world celebrates this holiday. Also, just like some other holidays and traditions, Christmas has become too commercialized.  Its all about the ads, the selling of an experience, and of course the presents.  I think that the only reason that the Christmas season starts so early is because of commercialism.  Some people may feel lonely if they do not have any family or depressed as some do not have enough money to buy all of the things that Christmas requires. Also, this holiday brings around financial pressure that can lead to crime. All I'm saying is it would be great if we could keep this holiday in a one month time span.


Hello. If you're reading this, that means you're interested in the art of procrastination.  You're totally swamped, and are starting to feel like you should probably get some of that work done. Yes! And that's OK! Because no matter how much work piles up in front of you, you always have the option to turn around and ignore it. And here's how...

Tip 1:The internet. This is an absolute "no-brainer". The beautiful world wide web and all it's wonders should never be forgotten. It contains  millions of gigabytes of content, and 99% of it has to be more interesting that what you're supposed to be doing. Youtube alone has enough videos to last a thousand lifetimes. You better get started.

Tip 2: Friends. Do you what the only thing better than procrastinating is? Procrastinating with a friend! Sharing is caring after all. So whether you're outside in the fresh air or staring at a screen, time seems to fly when you're spending your time with your best friend.

Tip 3: Chores. Have you ever noticed how you're house hold duties seem a lot more interesting when you have work to do? It's no coincidence. Everything becomes infinitely more interesting when you're procrastinating.

Tip 4: Read this blog post. Did you know that while you are reading this, you are in fact at the same time procrastinating?  You're welcome.

I've taught you everything I know. Now get out there and start ignoring your responsibilities. I believe in you.

Guinea Pig Passenger Story

My mom tells me to go clean up the rec room in the basement. I trudge down the stairs reluctantly, knowing the mess that awaits me. As I stack books and clear out the space around the ping-pong table, I notice the large cage collecting dust in the corner of the room. It belonged to my guinea pig, and as I move the large red bin slouched beside it I think back to the last day of his life. We were about to leave on our trip to Michigan. It was a few days after Christmas, and I was prepping the large metal bird feeder to keep my pet satiated while we were gone. He had been acting strange lately, though, and as I picked him up I noticed he had a ring of blood around his neck.

“We can’t just leave him like this,” I said, “We have to figure out what’s wrong.” I hadn’t even had him for that many years, and I wasn’t truly that worried. My dad and I got in the car and drove to the veterinarian so that they could take a look at him. We had him in a small box, and after waiting a short while a woman came in to take a look at him. She started talking to my dad, avoiding my eyes. “The rash under his neck is one thing. He has serious respiratory and cardiac problems. If you want to keep him alive, you’ll have to come back for weekly injections, but even then he’ll never be the same.” I felt like I was a stranger to this story, watching the two converse like I wasn’t there to listen.

My dad looked at me. “I’m sorry,” he said, but I knew it wasn’t his choice or his fault. I watched myself nod my head. “It’s okay. It just wouldn’t make sense, I know.” The woman took my guinea pig out of the room. I felt far away, like I was still sitting there in the white room but not even realizing that I was a part of what had happened. What happens next? Isn’t this supposed to be a vacation? After a few minutes, the woman came back with a white cardboard box. There was a plastic flower stuck on the outside. “Sorry,” she said. I watched my dad take the box, and we drove back in silence. I set a stack of books on top of the cage. I’ve seen this story before.

Jennifer Egan's Style

Jennifer Egan is the author of "A Visit From the Goon Squad." Egan's writing style is much different then any other book. She uses two very interesting writing techniques. Her first technique uses the characters perspective in a scene, as well as how the character feels about what occurred during the scene. These parts of the character are simultaneous in the story and this style gives the reader many views of what has occurred. Also Egan skips around each chapter to a new character, that connects to the character of one of the previous chapters. One chapter may be a character in their late forties, while the next is a different character with the character from the previous chapter in their teens. Her whole book is a telling of many different aspects of a group of connected characters. Her writing style is very cool, however I do not believe that it goes well with the book.

The writing style Egan uses is very original. Receiving many aspects of one story is great for the reader. In this story, however, the style does not make the book more entertaining to read. Each individual story has a loose series of events, that involve an unentertaining plot. Each story retells an act that occurred, however many of the plots are not very interesting. Also, because the book continuously skips around through time and the characters, there is never a climax. Climaxes are one of the most exciting parts of a story, however in this book there are very few.

Of course not all of the stories are uninteresting. The few stories that are interesting are "Found Objects," "Ask Me if I Care," and "Selling the General."For these stories, the style of writing works fantastically with the interesting plot. Sadly, for the rest of the stories the style of writing adds to the already dull plot. Jennifer Egan has created a fantastic writing style, and used in the right way it can be extraordinary, but in "A Visit From the Goon Squad" it is not used right. I believe that this writing style best fits with a story where all the characters and individual stories connect to tell and explain one major event. A great example of this is in the movie "Vantage Point" This movie uses Egan's ideas to the full potential of what they can do.


    Sitting at the dinner table and eating pizza allowed me to remember the night I got my dog, Josie. My dad, sister and I drove to Pontiac, IL to pick out a new Golden Retriever puppy from a breeder my dad had contacted earlier. Looking back on the drive, I realize that I had been hoping that we would leave with a new puppy, not realizing that you don’t drive for 4 hours in a car with two annoying kids, to NOT end up getting a puppy. However, my dad almost went through a painful car ride for nothing. When we arrived at the home of the breeder, nobody was home. We could hear the dogs barking, which only got me excited, and my dad tried calling the breeder but she didn’t pick up her phone. It was about 6 p.m. at the time, so we were hungry, and we decided to get something to eat while we waited. The only problem was, we were in the middle of nowhere; so the only place we could find was a gas station that sold homemade pizza. At the time, I was so hungry that pizza from a GAS STATION sounded delicious, but to our luck, they were all out of pizza. Instead, we had to “settle” for cheese and crackers.

After our gourmet dinner, the breeder called my dad, and told him that she was in Chicago visiting her mother. “I told her we were coming today!” my dad said. “Why would she go to Chicago and not tell us?” At the time I started to think that we weren’t going to leave Pontiac with a puppy, but now I know that my dad would have probably slept at the gas station until the breeder came back from Chicago. We had been searching for a new dog for 6 months, and my dad was tired of us nagging him to get one; he wasn't going to lose his last opportunity of shutting my sister and me up. Luckily, he didn't lose his opportunity because the husband of the breeder came home from work (later than usual) and allowed us to look at the puppies.

Looking at my dog, I remember the way she smelled when I first picked her up. Sometimes I smell my her to see if she if she still smells of cedar. Sadly, she smells like she rolled in throw-up. When we were driving home, Josie got so car sick, that she threw up everywhere, my lap being one of those places.

My sister was the one who chose Josie, although I'm currently the dog's favorite master. When she picked up Josie, all the dog did was snuggle with her. Even now my dog is snuggling with me. "I love this one!" is what my sister said. We all held her and agreed that she was the cuddliest, most loving of all the puppies (she was also the runt). After we chose our dog, we started to drive home. We had this big van that had removable seats. Two of the seats were removed so there was a big open space for Josie to crawl around in. However, she didn't crawl, she squeezed under the seat. She is currently squeezing herself under my parents bed. The ride home was the shortest ride of my life because I had my amazing new puppy. Without Josie, I wouldn't have anyone to curl up with while watching "The Goldbergs".


"They Came Together" - a great postmodern film

The other night, I watched a movie called They Came Together, starring Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd as satirical characters whose lives parody the romantic comedy genre. The film played on all the classic rom-com tropes - the cute, klutzy girl; the sensitive, misunderstood guy; the sexy ex-girlfriend with suspicious motives; the token "sassy" black BFF; and of course, the big emotional speech made by the guy at the end that convinces the girl to come back to him.
In this way, They Came Together is definitely an example of a postmodern piece. It is absurd and hilarious because we recognize all the cliches it makes fun of - cliches we are familiar with because of how many images - movies, TV, books and even songs - in which we've seen them before. This is the essence of postmodernism. How many of us have actually seen a man dash into an airport JUST IN TIME to convince his lost love not to board the plane? For one thing, he'd never get past security. But we instantly recognize that image, because it's been presented to us again and again in countless contexts.

They Came Together is a brilliant piece of satire with an all-star comedy cast, and I highly recommend it. (Warning, it is rated R, and there are a couple of - eek - sex scenes, so you probably shouldn't watch it with your grandma. Actually, definitely don't watch it with your grandma.)

Here's the trailer:

Meta Story

It was a hot, sunny day. The air was humid. In other words, it was a typical day to play baseball for Nick and the other 6th graders on his team. They had just won the previous two games of the tournament, and were looking to destroy Elmwood park, a team they had wrecked previously. Looking back on it, Nick can clearly see that they were overconfident, which resulted in painful consequences. They warmed up casually, tossing the ball around the infield, lazily catching fly balls in the outfield. When they were done, it was Elmwood Parks turn.

“That was when we got a little nervous,” Nick said, months later. “While warming up, their pitcher threw harder than any we had faced before,” (although now it seems extremely slow). “That wasn’t what worried us, however, it was the fact that he was incredibly wild.” As the boys watched, the pitcher hurled fastball after blazing fastball over the catchers head, three feet to his right, four feet to his left. The same thought coursed through all of their minds: “I really hope this scrub doesn’t peg me.”

The first inning was uneventful. The pitcher for the Foresters, Nick’s team, struck out the side (Although their pitcher could throw hard, none of them could hit at all). Then when the foresters came to bat, three of them were walked, and another two got hits. They scored 4 runs in total before the pitcher got out of it. “We were feeling pretty good at that point,” one of the Foresters recalled later “He hadn’t hit any of us and we had hit him, so we were all pretty confident after that first inning.”

The second and third innings were also uneventful. The Foresters scored a couple more runs, while simultaneously keeping Elmwood Park off the board. However, the temperature had steadily increased, and now it was 100 degrees, in the middle of the day, and the sun was beating down on all of the ballplayers. This caused them to be drenched in sweat, and made it hard to grip the ball. Then came the fourth. Due to pitching rules, this was to be the wild flamethrower from Elmwood parks’ last inning, which everyone was grateful for. “We only had to face him one more time, and we were all pretty excited,” recalled Nick later, “Even though we had crushed him, he was starting to get wilder and wilder as it became harder for him to grip the ball, and because he was naturally getting tired.”

The first two batters that inning had uneventful at bats, one hit a single, the second drew a walk. Then it was Nick’s turn to bat. He dug in, adjusted his helmet, and waited for the pitch. The pitcher went into his windup, but something was different. Instead of throwing over the top as he had been doing the entire game, the pitcher suddenly threw it sidearm, the hardest pitch he had thrown the whole game. It cut in, and nailed Nick right on the bone in his arm. Crack! It was the worst pain he had ever felt, and right away he knew something was wrong. “It hurt like hell,” remembers Nick, “To have your arm broken in a 6th grade baseball game just sucks. I was out for the rest of the season, and apart from a few fractured fingers, it was the first real injury I had ever had.”

Wincing in pain, Nick jogged to first, but then came out of the game immediately after the half-inning was over, because he could not hold a bat to swing it. Even though they ended up winning the game, none of the Foresters felt like it was a victory.

Meta Story

The grass is prickly and unkempt against the back of my neck. My sister Naomi is laying next to me smiling and laughing. We haven’t seen each other in two months. Plants are surrounding us with their beauty and life.

Everything is going great; I feel safe and happy. My sister rolls over and asks me what being in a warzone was like. Everything is changing in my brain. The plants no longer seem like signs of life and happiness; instead, I feel like they are holding me and suffocating me like the four walls of the bombshelter.

I had just met the other members of my travel group, and we were hanging out on the roof of the hostel, looking out at Jerusalem. There were beautiful lights of different colors coming from every direction. We were trying to pick out which light was the most eye catching when we heard a loud siren. It sounded like the testing of the tornado siren that happens every first Tuesday of the month where I live, but this siren was different. At first, we tried to play it off like we weren’t scared because we had all just met each other and we weren’t sure if there was a legitimate threat. Of course we all knew about conflicts between Arabs and Israelis in the Middle East, but we never thought we would actually be in any danger during our trip.

The counselors for our trip were screaming and telling us to get off the roof right away. They rushed us down into an underground room and shut the door. The room was small and couldn't readily fit everyone. I felt like the space in my lungs for air was less every time another person was squeezed into the small suffocating walls of the bombshelter.

I felt the panic in the room. We were all privileged kids from the United States or Canada who had never experienced a true threat to our lives. The little time i spent in that bomb shelter was the most vivid experience of my life. I turn to my sister and say, “It was interesting.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Race as Proxy

In Jennifer Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad, she discusses the impacts of 9/11 on contemporary life. In the chapter "A to B" she illustrates the effects of the catastrophic terrorist attack on domestic life for people such as Bennie Salazar, a dark-skinned resident of an affluent neighborhood. Egan's fictional account of the discrimination faced by all people of the Middle East, or people who resemble those of the Middle East, sheds light on the domestic effects of the "war on terror."

In the wake of 9/11, security measures in airports and elsewhere have come to rely heavily on racial profiling, or the practice of systematically discriminating against people of a particular race due to characteristics associated with other people of that race. In the case of the war on terror, the reality that Al Qaeda originated from nations of the Middle East has created a correlation between all persons bearing resemblance to Middle Easterners and possible terrorists. 

Egan places her character of Bennie Salazar in the position of one such supposed Middle Easterner:
The topic was the presence of Al Qaeda in the New York area. Operatives were present, Bill confided, especially in the outer boroughs, possibly in communication with one another (Stephanie noticed Clay's pale eyebrows suddenly lift, and his head gave a single odd jerk, as if he had water in one ear), but the question was: how strong a link did they have to the mother ship–here Bill laughed–because any kook with a grudge could all himself Al Qaeda, but if he lacked money, training, backup (Clay gave another quick head shake, then flicked his eyes at Bennie, to his right), it made no sense to allocate resources...(116).
This quotation highlights the suspicion with which some dark-skinned people are approached as a result of the events of September 11, 2001. The question now facing our nation is: Is racial profiling effective? Are the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration justified in their use of this tactic to reduce incidence of airplane-related terrorism? This question can be extrapolated to the usage of racial profiling by the general police force.

While a plethora of research has been conducted on the matter of racial profiling, the results of this research are easily manipulated. What anyone can deduce from a simple google search of "does racial profiling work?" is that opinions on its effectiveness vary widely. And whether it is effective or not, some people argue that racial profiling is deeply and biologically engrained into the way each of us thinks.

The idea of race as proxy for other likely characteristics also appears in Affirmative Action. Some would argue that when a university affords a minority applicant an advantage, that university associates the applicant's race with a set of characteristics that arise from a set of likely experiences. This is, in fact, the use of race as a proxy. So by that rationale, if one were to support Affirmative Action, one is supporting the basic principle of racial profiling.

The issue is much more complicated than that. Supporters of Affirmative Action offer many justifications, only some of which boil down to race as proxy for experiences or characteristics. It is important to realize, however, that the profiling of individuals based on race exists in many different versions in our society. It is up to each American to decide whether or not racial profiling ought to exist in our society.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Passenger Story - Tu Ra Lu Ra

“Don’t worry about it,” he said. “I’m a really responsible driver,” he said, and the others backed him up because yeah, he was. I didn’t know. But I wasn’t the one who cared.

My mom said fine because, you know - she trusts me, and I trust me. So we pile into his car and my foot gets slammed under one of the seats somehow and I have to sit on someone’s lap and we set off, one big mess of motors and sweat and human bodies.

It’s dark out. I stare out the window at the passing Victorians. No one else does, because they’re talking amongst each other. I think, everything looks the same as it usually does. It’s what’s inside this car that feels different.

The darkness and the downpouring rain almost seem as if they’re purposefully trying to create a specific atmosphere. What sort of atmosphere, I’m not quite sure yet. Scary, perhaps. Ominous. Lively. Adventurous. Dangerous. Exciting. Sad. Careless. In short, the the pure, concentrated ambiance of the teenage experience.

I realize, somehow, the significance of this moment. I’m sitting there in someone’s lap and later on I won’t remember whose it was, and I also realize the insignificance of this moment. It’s a first, but it’s one of many firsts. It’s not me becoming anything. It’s just part of a whole, but a necessary part of that whole.

Rain splatters the windows. “Come On Eileen” starts blasting from the stereos and we all sing (or scream) along, even though the only words any of us know are “come on, Eileen” and “tu ra lu ra lu ra lu rai ayy.” It doesn’t matter. Jack accidentally takes a right turn instead of a left and drives us into the city of Chicago. We don’t make it too far before he figures out how to turn us around, but my heart is beating in a new kind of fast for those few short minutes as we drive through one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the Chicagoland area and “Come On Eileen” is still blasting, and everyone’s laughing. When we get back into Oak Park, I realize, that’s it. That’s the thing, the significance: the laughter. The person whose lap I’m sitting on asks if I can shift my weight a little, because their legs are falling asleep.

I say sure. The song ends. None of us know the words to the next one.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Shame Memory

You know how when you are little, the littlest things seem to become a bigger deal than they should be? I was in like first grade when me and my mom were shopping at Walgreen's and we were in the checkout line. That's when I saw it. My favorite flavor of gum of all time, Wrigley's Winterfresh Peppermint Gum. It was just sitting there on the shelf and it looked so good. I asked my mom if she could buy it for me. Honestly, why did I even ask. In the years since then, I have learned that if I want to get some candy or something like that then I would have to buy it for myself. My mom thinks it is a waste of money to spend your money on junk food. Unsurprisingly, she said no. Its not like my parents never said no to me when I was a little kid. In fact they were very clear that we would have to work if we wanted money or special privileges. I don't really know how, but before I could think straight, the pack of gum was already in my pocket. Clearly I wasn't the sneakiest first grader because the person in line behind us saw the whole thing unravel. The women told my mom what I had done and she yelled at me right there in front of everyone. I deserved it I guess, but I was still very embarrassed to be yelled at in front of everyone in the store.

When we got home it only got worse. In case I forgot to mention, my dad is a police sergeant in Oak Park. He sounded very angry when he got home from work. It looked like he was having a bad day already and when I had to tell the story to him, his frustration and/or anger seemed to worsen. I'm sure he wouldn't actually arrest me but he scared me pretty badly when he told me that he was thinking about bringing me into the station. I now know that you wouldn't actually be arrested for stealing something that small, especially at that age, but at that time I was genuinely frightened. People always said that because my dad was a police officer that I could get off easy. This experience changed the way that I act because now I know that my dad will treat me the same way that he would to anyone else.

Passenger Story: 2013 Chicago Blackhawks

It's summertime. My favorite time for one main reason. April, May, and June is Stanley Cup Playoff time in the NHL. I am a die hard Chicago Blackhawks fan and they're in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Their run so far has been epic. They tamed the Wild, dispatched the Red Wings after down 3-1, dethroned the Kings, and now, our goal is to conquer the Bruins. I have been coming home from basketball each night of a game to sit in my basement ready and determined for a Hawks win.

Now it was the moment I've been waiting for all season. The Hawks are up 3-2 in the series and have an opportunity to win the cup in Boston in Game 6. The game is in the 3rd period now and so far, it has been really tight at a 1-1 score. With 7 minutes left, I'm sitting at the edge of my seat waiting for what is to come. Will the Hawks strike again and take home Lord Stanley tonight? Will the Bruins hold on and send this back to Chicago for a Game 7 with momentum? Will we see another OTS thriller? All these thoughts are racing through my head and then...

"ERRRRRRR, ERRRRRRRR," rang the the Bruins arena. Milan Lucic scores with 7 left to go up 2-1. I'm scared. I don't know how to react and I'm thinking how much that goal meant for Boston. The place is roaring and with 2 minutes left, I hear "Boston Strong" through the TV. My brother, sister, cousins, friend, and I are sitting there blankly. At this point, it's so hard not to think about a Game 7. Could the Hawks pull of yet another miracle tonight? "Let's end this tonight," I'm thinking.

With 1:16 left on the clock, I see a good looking play develop. Jonathan Toews gets a dump pass behind the net and Bryan Bickell works his way in front of the net. Toews to Bickell and he buries it! 2-2 game and the crowd is dead silent. I am jumping and screaming non stop and before I could even process the game tying goal, Dave Bolland parks by the net, and buries one past Tuukka Rask with :59 left. Hawks lead 3-2! I am stunned with joy. I feel like I'm on the ice part of this madness. The Hawks have scored 2 goals in 17 seconds. "2 seconds and 1, the Blackhawks are Stanley Cup Champions," said Doc.

Experiencing this crazy game and series as well as observing each moment has forever changed me as a passenger. 17 seconds...never forget. One Goal achieved.

Most Likely To Succeed (omniscient/flash forward narrative)

“Well, that’s certainly a lot to live up to,” John’s father said, pushing his glasses up his nose. John shrugged and touched the yearbook’s glossy cover. Eighth Grade: Most Likely to Succeed. He hadn’t been expecting it.

* * *

“Spare change, sir?”

“Oh - no, sorry.”

“No worries. God bless.”

John hitched his computer bag higher on his shoulder and continued toward the double doors, concentrating on keeping his steps even and unhurried. He knew it was callous of him to be shaken up by homeless people, but he couldn’t help it. He shouldered through the doors, hands in his pockets, trying to ignore the guilt jumping in his gut. It was quarterly review day, and his sales had been slipping.

* * *

“Do you think you deserve it?” Vivian leaned over the back of her chair.

Her brother John glared at her. “What kind of a question is that?”

“Of course he deserves it,” said their father. “He’s an Erikson man. We all succeed.” He rubbed his chin and looked at the ceiling.

Vivian felt a surge of annoyance. “What about Erikson women?”

Her father stared into space. He didn’t seem to have heard her.

Vivian stared at him for a moment, then turned to John, who had his nose in his new yearbook. Probably reading about how successful he is, she thought. Then John looked up, brown eyes blinking, and Vivian felt a thin guilt somewhere in her ribcage. He’s only fourteen, she reminded herself. Let him have this.

* * *

It had been very quick, said the article. That was the thing all the accounts seemed to emphasize - the speed at which the whole thing had occurred. One neighbor reported hearing a short squeal of tires, followed by a crash, but in the brief moment it took him to look up through his kitchen window, it was all over. His quote was the last thing in the article, just above the closing sentence: Vivian Erikson leaves behind a husband, two children, and her brother, John.

Monopoly Money

The cloth banana full of lettered tiles splits open in the center of the table. My brothers immediately dive for pieces, convinced that when they turn them over, they will have just the right letters to make words like “muzjiks” or “jousted.” I pick my pieces carefully, lining them up in front of me one by one.

In my family, in the first few seconds of a (highly competitive) game of Banagrams, I can tell who is a contender this round and who is not. This round, the winner will be my sister or my father, the only two who shout “Peel!” and force the rest of us to take a tile that we cannot use. As I look across the table at my sister’s face, scrunched up in concentration, I remember the games we used to play.

We didn’t have Bananagrams back then, so we played Monopoly. My sister, almost two years my senior, was always the banker. I was in charge of the property cards, carefully color coding them so they would be accessible the instant someone landed on “Pacific Avenue” or “Park Place.” Once every card was perfectly in order, we would begin. The problem was that I never won. Never. Grace and I played at least once a week for years, and every time, I would end up sadly handing all my brightly-colored money across the board to Grace, feeling as though I was giving up a limb.

I remember it now, as I move a tile to turn “pool” into “spool.” Even now, I am ashamed of my inability to succeed at Monopoly, a far easier game than Bananagrams.

I decided, as the carpet scratched my bare legs and my mother warned us that dinner was only minutes away, that this would be the game I won. All I needed for another hotel was a little money. Carefully, feeling Grace’s eyes following me even though she was turned away, checking her property cards, I slipped two bright orange $500 bills from the neat array that was Grace’s stockpile to the wild pile that was my stash.

I scramble to put several tiles in place at once, desperately trying to keep up with my family. I see an opening and quickly form “gorilla.” My one little primate doesn’t make a difference, though- my father has already won, his tiles spread out in a perfect crossword.

I won Monopoly when Grace landed on North Carolina Avenue, which I had littered with hotels. My euphoria lasted only a few seconds before I was consumed with overwhelming guilt. I ran to my room and stayed there for what seemed like hours, refusing to come out. Finally, I couldn’t take it.

As we draw tiles for another game, I remember how I had burst out of my solitary confinement and rushed to find my sister, whom I felt sure I had betrayed in the worst way possible. My apology was only accepted with the promise that I would give her three dimes, about a weeks worth of saving for a five year old.

“Remember when I cheated at Monopoly?” I ask Grace, sure she will still be angry over my past grievances.

To my surprise, Grace just laughs. “Oh, I cheated every game. Why do you think I was always the banker? Why do you think I always won? That game has basically no skill.”

I was distraught when I passed over my dimes, feeling certain that they were barely making up for my wrongdoings. Now I learn that perceptive changes even the worst. Still feeling inexplicably ashamed, I draw more tiles and begin a new game.

The Dancing House

Postmodernism, in general, is a strange yet interesting topic. One of the sects that interest me the most is postmodern architecture. 

The Dancing House, a unique piece of postmodern architecture, is a nickname donned by the Nationale-Nederlanden building in PragueCzech Republic. The building was designed by Frank Gehry and Vlado Milunić and finished construction in 1996. It's one of the most fascinating buildings I've seen, while its non-traditional look isn't so appealing to all. It was very controversial when it first was built, since it didn't fit in with the surrounding city. 

The contentious response that the building got is part of what makes it so postmodern. Factors of postmodern architecture include controversy, diverse styles and aesthetics, and being arguably avant-garde. This building uses lots of different techniques and materials, and blends new ideas with a traditional format. It falls under the term deconstructivism, which is a development of postmodern architecture the originated in the late 1980s.

The famous edifice is also called Fred and Ginger, modeled after the icon dance duo. Never have I heard of a building taking after a person! Milunić spoke of The Dancing House, saying it's "Charged with internal energy, the building is bursting at its seams,"

I think these are all things contributing to this building's postmodernism, a design style which is becoming more widely accepted.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Shame Story- Kendale McCoy

During final weeks of my sophomore wrestling season I had made huge improvements from my freshmen year. I was on a role, and had been placing in all my tournaments and I had won all my conference dual meets. I wouldn’t say I was cocky, but I felt my comfortable and more confident when I wrestled on the mat in front of my coaches. So if I was comfortable wrestling in front of my coaches I should be comfortable wrestling in front of my friends. I never really invited my friends to the meets because I was afraid I would lose in front of them, but I had been wining, so I was excited.

I was the starting Heavyweight on JV 1 last year, so my coaches let me wrestling in the Huskie Invite, which is out annual home varsity tournament. I invited a couple family member and a few friends. But most importantly I invited this girl I had a crush on for a couple months. The meet was on a Saturday morning and my first math was around 9:45am and everybody had been there, even my crush. Surprisingly I won the match, considering that he was a scrub from Morton High School. I looked into the crowd and I could see my friends and family cheering for me. 

After In walked off the mat, I went to check my bracket to see who I was going to wrestle next. Then my heart had stopped and my eyes got super big as I saw the guy’s name. It was Tim Gant, or as I called him, Tim “fucking” Gant from CBC High School in Missouri. Tim was there State Champion from the previous year, and was expected to win state again. Tim was a 6’5, 275 pound heavyweight who looked like he was a professional body builder. I still think today that Tim was on steroids because I had never seen a high school heavyweight with such huge muscles. A month before the Huskie invite I wrestled Gant in a tournament in St. Louis, MO. He messed me up pretty bad because he choked me out and I had trouble breathing for almost half a year.

I was so afraid to wrestle him, but I went on the mat confident that I was going to beat a state champion in front of my crush. Sadly my goal was not accomplished. I fought hard but Gant fought harder.  Not only did he crush every part of my body, but he choked me out again and I blacked out for over 2 minutes. And on top of all that, I cried right in front of my crush.

Despite my ignorant hate from Tim Gant, I have nothing but the most respect for him. When Tim graduated he enlisted in the United States and he completed his training over the summer. I wish nothing but safety for Gant, and I hope he stays safe.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Meta Story.

     He was sitting on the couch for what had now been over 33 minutes. It was about 12:51 and the party was just getting started. Man was he tired. The constant hum of people conversing mixed with the sound of old school rap music and ping pong balls bouncing soothed his muscles.
“How did you even end up there again?” Boy #2 asked.
“I walked there.” Boy #1 replied.
     He knew he was going to feel miserable in the morning, but he didn't care. He wanted to have fun. He wasn't going to let the week ruin its end. Nothing tasted good. Not the food, not the drinks, but that didn't stop him from eating and drinking. He was content on the couch. He sat in a haze quietly observing the loud patrons of the party.
“How interesting it is!” Boy #1 wondered.
“I guess” Boy #2 replied.
      He was starting to feel lightheaded and he thought it best to move around. He mustered up the strength to peel off of the deep couch and head upstairs. It was the same story. He started to wonder if these people could see him.
“Well, of course they could.” Boy #2 argued.
“I’m not so sure”
      He was now stumbling about. The people had gone to sleep now. He Found what he needed and quietly exited the area. He walked back in the cold of darkness. It was exhilarating.
“It was exhilarating” said Boy #1.

Shame Story

I have a lakehouse in New Buffalo, Michigan. Sometimes when my family and I go there, I like to take western horse back riding lessons. I've been going to the same stable for at least 4 or 5 years. 2 weeks ago Shannon, (the woman who runs the barn) announced that barrel camp again. Barrel racing is when you gallop your horse and make quick tight turns around 3 barrels. Most of the girls who were participating in the show are experienced riders and own their horses. They also get to ride every day while I only get to ride like two times a month so I'm always at a disadvantage.

 Shannon always divides  participants into 2 sepearte groups; the fast group and the slow group based off of their pole/barrel times. Then she picks names from a hat and randomly pairs us with somebody. I was paired with a small girl who was probably in 8th grade. She was the fast one. When it was my turn to do the pole pattern (weaving through poles) I accidentally went off pattern and disqualified myself and my partner. It was so embaressing because everyone saw me screw up. It was a shame because I destroyed our chances of even placing. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

More than Shame, Memory

       Over the summer I took a trip to Denver, Colorado for a softball showcase tournament. At this tournament there were 200+ colleges coaches in attendance to watch 150 teams play softball. On the first day that we had games we were playing on really crappy fields that were kind of in the middle of nowhere, but close enough to the main stage to attract college coaches. I was warming up and my coach told me that I was going to start the game so I was excited that I could compete in front of a handful of Division 1 softball coaches. I performed pretty well, not the best that I have ever done, but well enough to keep some coaches around. I only pitched two innings because some other girls needed to get in to display their own talents. During the 4th inning my dad looks over at me and says lets go pitch some more by the side of the dugout. I knew exactly what he was doing and I was not a fan of it. he knew that some coaches were around our dugout especially the assistant coach of the University of Illinois. I knew he wanted me to pitch just because he wanted her to be impressed with me and give a good report back to the head coach. I really felt like it was a terrible idea. Nothing good could come out of it especially because she wasn’t watching me. after I had thrown about 4 pitches my dad wanted me to throw a riseball. A riseball is a pitch that is supposed to go straight until it reaches the plate and then jump 5-7” in the air. Any pitcher knows it takes years to perfect it and it’s almost never perfect. I threw it anyways and watched it sail over the 6’ back stop backing my dad up and right into the Illinois coach’s neck. I was mortified. I hit her really hard and she fell back in shock. I was so angry at my dad who was like WTF did you do that for?! When really it was pretty much his fault (to this day he still hasn’t recognized he made that mistake). I was mortified.. She was ok, just shaken up.

The Throw Shame Story

In seventh grade I was apart of the Oak Park baseball league. Later this would turn out to be to be my last season playing baseball. Towards the end of the season, I was chosen as the best pitcher in the league. I was so excited when I won this award! I was even more excited when I was chosen to throw the opening pitch for the OPRFHS championship game. Before the game I got to sit in the dugout with the team and watch them warm up. I sat there on the hard plastic bench thinking about how crazy it was that I get to throw the opening pitch for the Huskies.The game was bound to begin soon, so I walked out to the mound. The national anthem started and I stood in the middle of the stadium which seemed to have lasted forever. The songs ends and I wind up. I threw the ball as fast as I've ever done before. When my eyes opened the sound and sight of the stadium which seemed enormous at the time came flooding in. The ball was way off the mark, and I was left embarrassed. I was extremely disappointing in the pitch I threw that day and I feel like I left myself down. Looking back on this day it wasn't as bad as I though back in middle school, but I still think that it was not a good test of my skill.

So Cold.

 "Are you on drugs?"What, no, why would I be on drugs, where would I have even gotten drugs? No, it was more like 'what?' Bewildered eyes, and staring. Pupils dilated, soul exposed to the chill. Indescribable, gnawing, not some angel berating e from one shoulder. No angel for me. Do I have shame memories? I've been ashamed, but....oh. Exhale. Tingling skin, cold. No fire in my cheeks, not even hellfire could survive this. Quiet place, but not silent. Humans aren't the only things that make noise. 'Computer.' Empty white rectangle, staring me right in the face. 'I need something. I NEED something.' Tikka tikka goes the keyboard. I don't particularly want anyone reading this, but to read it to someone....Not embarrassed, no red cheeks or face turning. Deeper, deeper than the soul. 'Phone.' No, no what are you doing in there, that's her room, her sanctuary, let it alone. DON'T TAKE THAT. Swipe, click, and the deed is done. Was there a password...?Tikka tikka, fingers on a keyboard. No art here. Just the cold. Fragments, cutting shards. My insides shattered, then just disappeared. The emptiness had weight. Dilated, staring. 'Oh god, why, why did I do this, why? What should I have done? Left it? Replaced it sooner? Hid it better? Confessed immediately? Am I sorry that I did it, or that I got caught? Both. You're sorry about both. Avalanche of regret, repetitive, yet impossible to retain. Don't want to anyway. Fire. Nothing to burn in me, the void isn't flammable. In him. Name...? Doesn't matter, he's not a main character. Yelling man #2, just a bit part. Practically wrote himself out of the play. Screamed himself off the pages. Screamed away all the good times we had just been having. No fire here, but no submission. Mom. 'She'll be pissed. She'll take it all away.' That doesn't matter. 'She won't trust me. Don't deserve to be trusted.' Hours: tap play, stare, move on. Noise. Human noise. 'Hide it.' Don't do that... 'Hidden. Just have to replace it later.' Never slept in a car before. Sobbing. Explanation. 'She still loves me.' She never stopped, ya moron. "Probably threw it away, the shit." No fire. Coals. Shut up. You thought I was the villain? Just look at my EYES.

Passenger Story

As I stand on thaw sideline during football practice, I remember how my coach always preaches focus on the sideline I stand quietly trying to ignore the 15 people who are goofing off. “You weak boi”, I hear someone say behind me, which always leads to trouble. The trash talking gets louder and louder n=but there is simply no solution to the problem. No matter who tells them to shut up, no one listens. Not even to a coach or a captain. 9i turn around as laughing suddenly breaks out. Most of them are in a huddle, backs turned to the field. It is clear that they don’t care one bit about the team and think that practice is just a time to mess around. Finally someone yells, “Shut Up!” There is a pause for a few seconds but the only thing that is going through their mind is if they have to listen to the person. When they decided that they don’t, they smirk at the player and continue with their business.

I start to think that maybe it would be fun to join them. They look like they are having a great tie, laughing and joking with ach other. Maybe I should just join them and no body will notice. I could seamlessly slip into their circle and enjoy the time on the sideline. Then I realize that fun is doing something right, and I know that losing my focus is not the right thing to do. 8 realize that those people are the people that do nit contribute to the team and to be in a group with them would be disrespecting me and my team. Those guys are a lost cause. Nobody can get through to them so to even try to get them to regain focus would just be a waste of my time. They say once somebody stops yelling, they don’t care anymore and for the group messing around on the sideline, they might as well not be there at all.

Shame Memory

The shame memory started for Nick when he and his family went down on the beach at his grandparents lake house in Michigan. They went along the beach, until they were at a part where grass grew in the water and there were tadpoles and frogs swimming around. When they got there, Nick's mind drifted back to when he was seven or eight, he doesn't remember which, and he was trying to catch some of the tadpoles in the water in the same spot he as now. He remembered catching 10 of them, and putting them in a bucket with water, and getting his parents to let him take them home with him as pets. He was extremely happy because he'd never had a pet before, and was very excited.. They got a tank, and filled it with water and some of the grass from the lake, trying to make it as comfortable a home as possible for the tadpoles. Once they got home, however, they didn't have a place to put the tadpoles inside, so they put the tank (with a lid on it, so nothing could enter and eat the tadpoles) outside their back door. In the morning , when Nick went outside to see the tadpoles, he found the tank destroyed, and that a raccoon had eaten all of them. He was devastated because if he had only brought the tank inside, they wouldn't have been eaten by a raccoon.


I still can not believe that they wouldn’t know that I would do this. Sure my parents did just go to a concert till 11:45 but I saw it as an opportunity.

“Bye” I yelled at the door letting them know I was leaving. Heading to my friends house a block away, as I get there I send a text and get one right back letting me know to walk through the back door. Hanging out, we both realize that there are no plans for tonight, no parties, no games, nothing. Then I think to myself, didn’t my parents say earlier this month that they are going to go see the cure on this date. I mention it to my friend and we are already thinking the same thing. I pick up my phone and researched the concert, what day, what time, where, making sure if I had a party that it would be safe to do so.

I don't know why I thought that to be a good Idea, it was a tuesday night. The way I saw it was that I could control everyone at my house and clean up before they got home. It did get out of control, how could I think to tell one of my best friends that has the loudest mouth.

I looked everything up and made my decision. I turned to my friend and said “Make the call”. He then spread the word as I text some close friends. As I sent my third text, I got a called already about if he and some people can “slide over to the crib”. I felt like a tuesday night not many people could go out, I was wrong about that too. I explained “Let everyone come”.

I left my friends house to run a few arrens, I received a few text saying that they were at my house already. “Y’all can go in right now but wait for me before you go downstairs.” I picked a few girls but including one senior. We pulled up to my house and parked, we all rushed in to see close to 30 in my kitchen. My brother was at the door with a look of disgust. “I just text you asking if mom and dad were gone.” He explained. Thankfully I got to it first, if I didn’t throw a party it was going to be my brother. Mom and Dad always pull the not telling us that they are going to be out all night because of this.

All my friends were there and it was a good time. Until there were some kids from other grades arriving without telling me, it got messy. At 11:30 everyone was out, I made two of my good friends stay and clean up with me. It was hectic but we eventually got it done before my parents came home. I walked my friend home and it started storming. Thanking god for my brother popularity, one of his friends saw me and wanted to drive us home. Pulling up to my house I see my parents through the window, they didn’t look happy. I walk in expecting them to know. They did, my dad confronted my saying I know that you had a party. I admit and he explains all the things that are wrong. We missed many things cleaning up, my dad said neighbors called them asking what was going on. My dad grounded me and made me feel ashamed, this will never happen again.

Passenger Story

My family isn't the most traditional. Sure, we get together around the holidays and go camping in the summer, but it wasn't always like that for me. My family is actually my mom's boyfriend's family, and I wasn't always a part of it. My family has been friends with theirs for a while, and my mom and her boyfriend's ex-wife were pretty close, both pregnant at the same time. Our families would hang out together, especially my brother and I and their children, because we were around the same ages. I had never met anyone past their immediate family. This changed when I started to get invited to family events like the Cousin's Weekend and 4th of July weekend at my grandparent's cabin, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
For a very long time, I didn't feel like I had a definitive place in their family, like I was just a visitor and didn't quite belong. I had trouble really connecting with the cousins that were my age, and didn't really know how I was supposed to act. For a while it was especially awkward because I thought my cousin Max hated me, and I'm pretty sure he thought the same of me. Three of my cousins are around my age: Griffin, Max, and Annika. Griffin and Max have a really solid brotherly relationship, and even though Annika and I were friends, it was weird sometimes when Annika couldn't come and it was just me and them.
I had been going to family events for years, but I still didn't feel like I belonged. I was there, but I was like a misshapen puzzle piece that didn't quite fit anywhere, lying off to the side. I'm not sure quite what happened, maybe it was me finally feeling comfortable with myself and who I was, but I started to coach myself. I told myself that I was just a person, and they were just people, and if I felt like calling them idiots then I could, because they were family. And now, when I refer to my grandparents or my cousins, I do it with the reassurance that I am truly part of their family, and that I love them all very much.

Watching from the Bench

"Give us all the juicy details."

Typical conversation a few years ago. Everyone had a boyfriend before I did. I was scared to admit that I even liked someone. It was partially because I never genuinely had feelings for a boy.

" So how far did you go?"

" Third-base."

She was the first to do it so all attention was on her that lunch. The girls expressed their concerns so they could be prepared for their encounters. While everyone was running past bases I was a home plate the entire time. I didn't even know what the bases were and to be honest I still don't understand. I had to ask my friend what third base involved because I had never heard of anything like it. When she told me I thought about puking, but it wasn't a big deal to her. I didn't want to be a part of it, but it made me feel like I was missing something. Even though I didn't have whatever they had I lived through their experiences.

"Oh God I regret getting with him so much it was terrible, but at least I got it over with."

At that point I was relieved that that uncomfortable , graphic conversation was over. She was only relieved because she finally had some experience under her belt I didn't take part in those awkward exchanges with boys who didn't know what they were doing, but for so many years I was confused and thought there was something wrong with me.

Shame Story

When I was in 1st grade my mom and I went to a department store to find some new pants since I was rapidly outgrowing mine. My mom picked out an assortment of jeans and leggings but at this point I had one thing on my mind which was a faint but growing need to pee. It was not a pressing matter though so I continued to shop until we went to the fitting rooms. As I tried on each new pair of pants the need grew more and more. At this point I look back and ask myself why I did not just ask my mom to take me to a bathroom. This is the most puzzling aspect of this story because all the horror, death, and despair that follows this event could have been spared by just telling my mom that I needed to go. 
Preceding my shameful moment, I tried on a pair of very ill fitting, ugly jeans, something I or my mom would of never bought for me. Suddenly, while trying on these jeans I was absolutely overcome with the need, need, to pee and that's when it all happened. Standing right there in a Macy's fitting room with a pair of too big jeans on, I peed my pants. Luckily, I was still at an age where this can be condoned but the fact that the pants I peed weren't even mine was the issue. I slowly open my dressing room door and confessed to my mom what had just happened. I consider my mom to be pretty understanding and given that I was 6 or 7 years old, you would think she would be too but she knew exactly what she had to do. She now had to buy these awful pants and to prove her dismay she told the store clerk exactly why she was having to buy them. I could not of left the store fast enough as my entire soul was drenched in shame. I look back at myself now and feel more sadness for how scared and sad I was at myself but what that little 1st grader felt was the rawest sense of shame.

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

In 1970, Lou Reed quit The Velvet Underground, the band he founded that would later be recognized as one of the lead pioneering groups in punk rock. The following year, he released his first solo album, Lou Reed, and the year after that he released his second album, Transformer. Reeds musical style represented an emerging style of music, something completely new. While at the time of its release, Transformer received some praise, it later went on to be named on multiple best album lists.

The most popular song on the album, Walk on the Wild Side, gained Reed new commercial success in the industry and also broke barriers for rock song topics. Walk on the Wild Side is a quieter, deadpanned song narrated by Reed about some of the companions of Andy Warhol, who was subsequently one of Reed's friends, and a prominent postmodern artist. These companions, "Holly," "Candy," "Jo," and "Jackie," are the transvestite and transgender members of Warhol's films for which he received much critical acclaim. The song addresses not only transvestites, but also the previously semi-tabooed topics of oral sex, prostitution, drug use, and overdosing. For example, Reed sings, 
"Candy came from out in the Island
In the backroom she was everybody's darling
But she never lost her head
even when she was giving head"
This references the transvestite actress, Candy Darling, who would perform sexual favors (such as oral sex) for money after some of her shows. There's also the line about "Jackie... speeding away," which references another actress' drug addiction. And of course, there is the repeating chorus, "Hey baby, take a walk on the wild side" which seems to promote this kind of behavior. In general, the song caused controversy by its promotion of these nontraditional lifestyles. 

While A Visit From the Goon Squad is by no means about transvestites, it is similar to Walk on the Wild Side in its portrayal of the odd, nontraditional people who work in the art and music industry, as well as the questionable lifestyle choices. These choices are reflected in both works in the drug use, thrill seeking behaviors, and loose sexuality of multiple characters, such as Bennie, Sasha, Rhea, and Lou. Lou's name may even be a reference to Lou Reed. The forms of the two pieces are alike too in that a narrator, sometimes transitioning, sometimes constant, describes scenes from the lives of one of these characters at a time. And in these scenes, the audience can get short but revealing glimpses of the characters' lives, as well a broader understanding for the artistic rock environment evident in both pieces. 

Flip Phones of Remorse

It was a typical winter in oak park with gray slush and numb fingers. Confined in middle school, I was called upon by the principal. I had no idea why i was being brought to his office, but when i saw my two would be accomplices, I realized my crime.

Locked up on a cold night in a poorly insulated basement, the three of us were consumed by a frosty version of boredom. To lessen the effects of the boredom we decided to take part in the age old tradition of the prank call.

It seems the girl we pranked did not take jokes very well and had called the police. The extent to which the school deemed i was to be punished was unclear to me, but i am sure my parents would not be pleased with me frightening a girl half to death. Or maybe they would think this was as ridiculous as I thought it was.

We called the girl, but she did not pick up so we left a message on her answering machine that we all agreed was an excellent practical joke. Looking back, the message does seem somewhat creepy considering we said “Come outside, I want to play” in a voice that resembled that of Harvey Fierstein, but that didn’t make it any less funny nor did I feel any remorse for making the call in the first place

Someone in that room had squeeled, as there was no physical evidence that i was there that night. We did not use my phone, my house, and i did not even make the damn call.

I did it. I am solely responsible for this, Diego wasn’t even there that night. I was shocked to hear these words come from the mouths of one of my friends. And just like that, my friend threw himself under the bus for my sake. I never felt remorse for making the call, I felt remorse for getting away with it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

First Impressions on "A Visit from the Goon Squad"

"A Visit from the Goon Squad" is a unique and magnetizing novel that has a strong power to relate to anyone growing up in this postmodern society. The characters are all well off financially, placing the conflict of the story into something deeper than a simple struggle for life. The characters of the Goon Squad are struggling to keep their heads and not to fall off the sanity wagon. While the characters are rich and have everything you'd think they desire, they still struggle in their pursuit of happiness. That's because the characters don't just care about financial success. Bennie, who has spent years in the music industry, both as an artist and a businessman, speaks constantly about how he thinks the music industry is going to hell, referring to the current state of media as "an aesthetic holocaust".

The characters in "A Visit from the Goon Squad" are all facing an existential crisis, each struggling to find a place in the world. This is reflected in Rhea's apprehensive view of the world and its inhabitants, when she observes people's behavior and then makes inferences about their lives based upon their clothes and actions. Rhea explains that the reason she sits on the sideline and observes people in this way is because of her freckles. Rhea desires to fit in with her punk rock group, but feels that that simply won't "work". When fans see her sweet freckled face in a hardcore punk group, with the predisposition that freckled girls aren't hardcore, she will be dismissed as a fraud. This is the postmodern dilemma: finding a place in the preconceived world.

Shame Story

I am tapping my foot nervously against the marble floor of the bank as I wait to deposit money I earned from refereeing soccer games. The line is moving unbearably slowly. Every ten minutes, I move a single tile closer to the teller at the desk. I have at least thirty minutes to go, and all I can think about is what I will do with the money I made. I can travel the world and see beautiful places, go to college, hitchhike through Europe, or buy my 88th sweatshirt. It feels great to know that I have money that is all my own.

Suddenly, my pleasure in daydreaming about my spending options fades as my thoughts take me back to when I was seven. Every night my sister would come home after babysitting and place her money into a light blue, polka-dotted box, the same box that in which I can currently carrying all my hard-earned money that I am about to deposit. The man waiting in line in front of me turns and gives me a suspicious look like he knows the significance of the box.

I knew what I was doing and I knew it wasn’t my money to take, but I did it anyway. Everyday, I would take out two dollars, enough to gradually get a fortune for a seven-year old, but not so much that it would be obvious to my sister that her money was being stolen.

I got a thrill from sneaking down from my bunk bed after my sister had fallen asleep and tiptoeing over to the light blue, polka-dotted box that held the key to my candy dream. Sometimes, I would even do a somersault pretending I was a secret agent.

One morning when our whole family was going out to dinner, my mom had suggested that we could go to the bank before dinner and deposit my sister’s babysitting money. My sister clenched her light blue, polka-dotted box with a sense of pride, but when we got up to the teller and she asked “How can I help you?,” my sister’s face turned red with panic and anger. It didn’t take long for them to figure it out. My mom and sister told me it was wrong to steal, and I felt embarrassed and sorry that I had scared my sister and wasted her money on candy. The feeling wells up inside of me again as I finally get to the first of the line and the Teller asks me, “How can I help you?”I surprise myself when I respond, “you can’t,” and the next thing I know I am sprinting out of the bank and spending some of my money on a Milky Way.