Me and Rodriguez *Revised*

Why we’re always ‘chickens’ and why our home is the ‘coop’ I will never know. We look and act nothing like chickens! But people always like to know when we’ve flown from said ‘coop’. I flew the coop, or rather fled, when I was in sixth grade. Ah yes – I know what you’re thinking.  I was young, but I was also very independent.  Having grown up in a family that moved every year of my childhood due to my Fathers service to our country, I was always stuck at home. My family was everything to me; the only people I ever spoke to because I never had enough time to establish any real ‘best friends’ since I was always on the go. From an early age, I was prepared to pack up my room in boxes whenever my mom said, “Go”. Finally, I heard it one last time.

“Go”, my mother said. We were currently in Alabama, preparing to trek across the states to Idaho. My dad had just retired from twenty years of service to the military; ten of the Army, ten of the Navy. My parents decided that instead of staying put we needed to move one last time up to the great Northwest. I don’t know why – there was nothing wrong with the South to me. I got to run around in the sun, I was tan, I liked where we lived… but no – to the ice land they wanted to go, and in the ice land we have stayed.

Finally having the opportunity to settle down was a weird concept for me. Even after eleven years, it’s still hard. I still have an itch inside to pick up and move. But at that time, for a “tween”, settling down was the best thing ever. I was going to make friends! I was going have a home! I was convinced my life and worries would be solved. I was ready to go to public school. Oh yes – don’t be fooled. There’s no way my mom was going to put up with all the different school systems around the country AND the world! We had been homeschooled. Yes. We were. I was awkward. I had no sense of style. My mom let me dress however I wanted, which usually meant I wore hot pink stretchy pants, socks with sandals, and my brothers ‘super cool’ camouflage t-shirt. Yes, I was one good looking kid. But aside from all of my lovely quirks, I was thrilled to go to public school. However, my mom stepped on that dream real quick.

I continued to be homeschooled. My mom felt it was a better education (and as I’ve learned now – it is). Most of all, she wanted to stay close with her kids. But being stubborn and the awful child that I was, she let me go to public school part time. She allowed me to take classes at a middle school in areas she couldn’t help me excel in; classes such as pottery, keyboarding, and acting. I loved it all! I was making friends, I was riding a school bus, and I had a locker combination that went with the dreaded bottom locker. But still, I loved that too! For whatever reason, there was something about myself that was changing. It wasn’t a good thing.

As my time at public school went on, my patience with my family became shorter and shorter. I was constantly irritable. When asked why I was acting out, I would just tell them “I had a bad day at school” even though every day at school felt like heaven! I couldn’t see the connection between my attitude and my time at public school, even though I was learning how to be sassy; give adults grief till they give you what you want, complain about something simple being too hard till my teachers cut the assignment in half, or doing the front side of my worksheet while my friend did the back so we could trade and have all the answers. I was learning all these tricks from my peers because they looked so happy! They were getting everything they wanted. Who doesn’t want everything? I felt like going to a middle school was the best thing I had ever done! However, along with my bad attitude and new found opinions on how I felt the way things in life should go, my grades were beginning to drop.  I began to get tired of doing my homework in our ‘school room’;  choosing to spend time in my room or the living room where I could have my own space and time to do whatever I wanted. I also wanted to spend the least amount of time with my mom as I could.

Although, it wasn’t just her – it was my brother, Thomas, too. I don’t know why but in my mind I hated him. But sooner than later, that hate was soon beginning to show through my actions and attitude. I felt like every word that came out of his mouth was annoying. I thought that everything he did was an attempt to be ‘mommy’s favorite’. I felt like any time he was near me it took every sense of self control not to lean over and slap or scratch him! I wanted him away from me. I didn’t want him in the room with me. I wanted him gone. I often made him do everything for me – and he would because he thought it would earn my affection and approval. I would kick him off the computer claiming I had “important public school homework to do” but would play games for an hour before I started my assignment that would take only ten minutes. I felt like I had to make him sad. I had no problem making him cry. I didn’t flinch when I heard him screaming at me, begging me to release his arm from the torturous “Indian burn”. I felt like my day wasn’t done till Thomas had cried or complained to my mom.

I was living in a mindset that if things weren’t my way it was wrong. I thought that if things weren’t my way, my family didn’t love me. I was living with an attitude that was beyond selfish – it was literally evil! I’m appalled at myself that I treated my brother this way. I can’t even think of a real reason as to WHY I treated him like this! I remember always asking myself this, “Why do you need to be mean?” and all I could tell myself was “It’s just the way I am”. I had convinced myself that I was born mean – that I didn’t know any better and couldn’t learn any better.

It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school did I realize how much pain I was causing my family. After yet another fight with my parents, ending with my mom in hysterical tears  – still un-phased and unemotional to everything happening around me – until my sister, who was completely uninvolved in the argument, took off in her car and didn’t come back for a day and a half. When she did finally come home, she came and found me right away. She started cry, didn’t say anything, but took me into a hug and just held me. It felt so strange – I didn’t really know how to respond. Finally, she sat me down and talked to me about how my angry outbursts with our parents and brother were hurting her. She hated the fact that she couldn’t tell her friends how insanely close she was to her baby sister. She gave me heart shaped sticky notes and dry erase markers. It was time to start leaving kind thoughts on our mirrors and around our rooms so we knew how much we cared for each other. I thought she was crazy, but then I realized I was crying too.

My attitude through high school was better, but certainly not perfect. My focus to excel in everything medical related my high school could offer was an intense. I didn’t care about anything except my future and getting good grades. I skipped most family activities in order to spend all my time on homework and getting clinical hours for my advanced sports medicine class. However, my relationship with my sister has strengthened immensely which helped whenever I argued with my mom. Having my sister to turn to was a huge help. Like anything it’s still a work in progress. Being away from home has helped because the choice to go home and spend time with everyone is up to me. I do miss them! I call my mom about every other day. I Skype with my brothers! Things are much better, but they still aren’t the best.

Me and My Pal, Rodriguez

Why we’re always ‘chickens’ and why our home is the ‘coop’ I will never know. I mean – we look and act nothing like chickens! But people always like to know when we’ve flown from said ‘coop’. Well – I flew the coop, or rather fled, when I was in sixth grade. Ah yes – I know what you’re thinking.  I was young, but I was also very independent.  Having grown up in a family that moved every year of my childhood due to my Fathers service to our country, I was always stuck at home. My family was everything to me; the only people I ever spoke to because I never had enough time to establish any real ‘best friends’ since I was always on the go. From an early age, I was prepared to pack up my room in boxes whenever my mom said “go”. Finally – I heard it one last time.

“Go”, my mother said. We were currently in Alabama, preparing to trek across the states to Idaho. My dad had just retired from twenty years of service to the military – ten of the Army, ten of the Navy. My parents decided that instead of staying put we needed to move one last time up to the great Northwest. I don’t know why – there was nothing wrong with the South to me. I got to run around in the sun, I was tan, I liked where we lived… but no – to the ice land they wanted to go, and in the ice land we have stayed.

Finally having the opportunity to settle down was a weird concept for me. Even after eleven years, it’s still hard. I still have an itch inside to pick up and move. But at that time, for a “tween”, settling down was the best thing ever. I was going to make friends! I was going have a home! I was convinced my life and worries would be solved. I was ready to go to public school. Oh yes – don’t be fooled. There’s no way my mom was going to put up with all the different school systems around the country AND the world! We had been homeschooled. Yes. We were. I was awkward. I had no sense of style. My mom let me dress however I wanted, which usually meant I wore hot pink stretchy pants, socks with sandals, and my brothers ‘super cool’ camouflage t-shirt. Yes – I was one good looking kid. But aside from all my lovely quirks, I was thrilled to go to public school. However, my mom stepped on that dream real quick.

I continued to be homeschooled. My mom felt it was a better education (and as I’ve learned now – it is). Most of all, she wanted to stay close with her kids. But being stubborn and the awful child that I was, she let me go to public school part time. She allowed me to take classes at a middle school in areas she couldn’t help me excel in; classes such as pottery, keyboarding, and acting. I loved it all! I was making friends, I was riding a school bus, I had a locker combination that went with the dreaded bottom locker. But still – I loved that too! But for whatever reason, there was something about myself that was changing. It wasn’t a good thing.

As my time at public school went on, my patience with my family became shorter and shorter. I was constantly irritable. When asked why I was acting out, I would just tell them “I had a bad day at school” even though every day at school felt like heaven! I couldn’t see the connection between my attitude and my time at public school, even though I was learning how to be sassy; give adults grief till they give you what you want, complain about something simple being too hard till my teachers cut the assignment in half, or doing the front side of my worksheet while my friend did the back so we could trade and have all the answers. I was learning all these tricks from my peers because they looked so happy! They were getting everything they wanted. Who doesn’t want everything? I felt like going to a middle school was the best thing I had ever done! However, my grades were beginning to drop.  I began to get tired of doing my homework in our ‘school room’, and I wanted to spend the least amount of time with my mom as I could.

It wasn’t just her – it was my brother, Thomas, too. I don’t know why but in my mind I hated him. But sooner than later, that hate was soon beginning to show through my actions and attitude. I felt like every word that came out of his mouth was annoying. I thought that everything he did was an attempt to be ‘mommy’s favorite’. I felt like any time he was near me it took every sense of self control not to lean over and slap or scratch him! I wanted him away from me. I didn’t want him in the room with me. I wanted him gone. I often made him do everything for me – and he would because he thought it would earn my affection and approval. I would kick him off the computer, claiming I had “important public school homework to do”, but would play games for an hour before I started my assignment that would take only ten minutes. I felt like I had to make him sad. I had no problem making him cry. I didn’t flinch when I heard him screaming at me, begging me to release his arm from the torturous “Indian burn”. I felt like my day wasn’t done till Thomas had cried or complained to my mom.

I was living in a mindset that if things weren’t my way it was wrong. I thought that if things weren’t my way, my family didn’t love me. I was living with an attitude that was beyond selfish – it was literally evil! I’m appalled at myself that I treated my brother this way. I can’t even think of a real reason as to WHY I treated him like this! I remember always asking myself this. “Why do you need to be mean?” and all I could tell myself was “It’s just the way I am”. I had convinced myself that I was born mean – that I didn’t know any better and couldn’t learn any better. The pressure to act perfect for my parents felt overwhelming, so I just let it all go.

It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school did I realize how much pain I was causing my family. After yet another fight with my parents, ending with my mom in hysterical tears and my dad slapping me so hard I fell back into a chair – still un-phased and unemotional to everything happening around me – until my sister, who was completely uninvolved in the argument, took off in her car and didn’t come back for a day and a half. When she did finally come home, she came and found me right away. She started cry, didn’t say anything, but took me into a hug and just held me. It felt so strange – I didn’t really know how to respond. Finally, she sat me down and talked to me about how my angry outbursts with our parents and brother were hurting her. She hated the fact that she couldn’t tell her friends how insanely close she was to her baby sister. She gave me heart shaped sticky notes and dry erase markers. It was time to start leaving kind thoughts on our mirrors and around our rooms so we knew how much we cared for each other. I thought she was crazy, but then I realized I was crying too.

My attitude through high school was better, but certainly not perfect. My relationship with my sister has strengthened immensely which helped whenever I argued with my mom. Having my sister to turn to was a huge help. Like anything it’s still a work in progress. Being away from home has helped because the choice to go home and spend time with everyone is up to me. I do miss them! I call my mom about every other day. I Skype with my brothers! Things are much better, but they still aren’t the best.

Dorian Gray

“Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
 
I like this quote because of all the mystery and secrets that it suggests. There are so many high class citizens in the world who have such scadalous family secrets or pasts. I like it because it reveals the way a lot of people think. Everyone is hurting on the inside for some reason or another. People always have a tragic past. I feel the way Wilde words this is beautiful. I love his diction – exquisite, existed, tragic… They all flow well together. It’s smooth, it’s effective, it’s thought provoking. I enjoy it all. I think it can give anyone a lot to think about. It definitely makes me look back on my life and think if it has been as tragic as I sometimes feel like it is – and of course it’s not. I’ve been so blessed!

Oh the connections…

“Romeo, Romeo, Where for art thou Romeo?” or rather as Vhap likes to say, “Portfolio, Portfolio, Where for art though Portfolio?”

Secret truth: I am obsessed with Shakespeare. I am! Everywhere I go I find something relatable to him. I think he was a fantastic writer. When I die, I want to meet him (assuming he’s somewhere to be met). He will be one of the very first people I will want to talk to! First of all, I want to know if he really is a man. Yes, some people believe Shakespeare was a woman. Second, I want to see if he looks anything like his portraits. I just don’t think he looked like that! No one REALLY knows who he is, so how can they depict him as such? Third, I just want to have a light conversation with him concerning bascially everything he ever wrote. He has single handedly shaped plays and fine literature! He’s amazing!

Now, I bring this up because he has written some of the most beautiful words on earth. One of my favorite quotes “When I saw you I fell in love and you smiled because you knew”, I have long believed to be said my dearest Shakespeare; a variation of a line of when Hamlet is talking to Opheila. But when you pick it apart, the verse is not consistent with the regular diction in Shakespeares time. I looked it up, and sure enough! I have been living a lie! Shakespeare did not speak these elegant words, but rather, ANOTHER poet and author said them! Some guy named Arrigo Boito (I apologize if any of you adore this ‘Arrigo’, but I am not familiar with him). Isn’t that awful? Shakespeare has gone and upstaged this guy because Shakespeare is THAT GOOD. Everyone just assumes that he writes everything beautiful – and I really do agree.

If you’ve never read anything by Shakespeare, I suggest to you “Twelfth Night” which our very own “She’s the Man” is based off of. I also suggest “Hamlet”, with the Disney classic “Lion King” is based off of, and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, which is just hilarious, full of whacky scenes, and just all around amazing. I don’t know of anything being based off of it. I hope you look them up! They’re brilliant.

More, more, more…

I’m over you

and the sound of you breathing my name
the sweetest of sighs hanging
on your lips

   and the feel of your finger tips
   collar bone to hip to places
   only you can map

      and the taste of your smile at midnight
      electric blue and tainted
      with too many illegals

         and the way you would stand so that
         at any given moment at least one part
         of you was touching a part of me

            and the aroma you left on me
            my t-shirt and the sheets
            regardless of showers and washings

i’m over you sure sounds a lot like
i still love you
these days 

 

This is a poem I found on a blog that follow on tumblr. Yes – tumblr. Get used to me referencing it. I simply adore it! You’re about to get a load of posts from me that are full of my favorite poems, my favorite quotes from novels, and even favorite quotes from authors just talking in conversation. I think people who write novels are some of the most brilliant people on earth. For them to take what’s in their head, translate it onto paper in a way that someone will understand and connect to, then share it with the world knowing that someone out there is going to criticize it till it’s worth nothing, is so… brave and gutsy! I love it. I think authors are amazing people.

As I Lay Thinking…

Last night, after spending way too much time working on homework, I couldn’t get blogging off my mind. I’m obsessed with it! Granted, I do most of my blogging on my tumblr, when I should be spending more time here, I just feel like on this one I have to share knowledgable things. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just I’m not the most knowledgable person around… So, a couple weeks ago in class we were talking about sentence fragments. We know they are not proper, but for whatever reason, poets are allowed to use them! I know a great guy from high school who is one of the most fantastic people alive. He has great style, he’s knows more then the average trivia, and he has this crazy good ability to write poetry. I mean – this guy has got it down. He even competes in poetry slams! Yeah! He’s awesome. Anyways, I heard this poem of his when I went to a poetry slam, and after the first few lines I was ready to melt away into a river of pure happiness and joy. I loved it so much I begged him for a copy – I even offered to pay him! But being the legit guy that he is, he whipped out a copy (with hand written notes and everyone on it!) and gave it to me right then and there. He’s given me permission to put it on the internet (so long as I give credit to him – duh – there’s no way I could ever write this good), so placing it on the internet is what I do! So, without furture delay, I hope you enjoy MAX SHAFFNER’S poem, CANVAS:

First of all, you’re beautiful

like, really beautiful, like something out of the deepest regions of my head.

you’re like I picked up a paintbrush and plastered pastels until you appeared;

then you crawled out of the canvas like a beautiful Monet goin all van Gogh on me.

but there’s a distance between us the size of inhibition.

I wanna close that gap between us;

I wanna cast it aside and jump into the cool dark water that is you.

coral scrapes away layers of superficiality;

exposing raw emotion stung by the kind of salt you find in tears.

I long for hand-in-hand and hand-on-waist.

I hear the whir, whir, whir, of the spinning machine acting like a metronome for my brain;

allowing it to keep rhythm with the idea that you are here.

I wanna go barefoot on the grass with you;

truly feeling what it’s like to be grounded

we roll up our jeans; hoping to sink into something bigger than ourselves.

I wanna sleep on the bare earth with you;

with nothing other than us and the stars.

we’ll be our own stellar dust, our bodies coalesced into a perfect form;

forever orbiting the spheres that are our eyes.

I assure myself that you’re inches away;

but my over analytical thoughts add feet.

the kind that walk farther and farther away;

maybe hoping to circle the globe and meet face to face once again;

to try and give it one more shot.

and I only hope that when we’re face to face again we don’t pass up the opportunity.

so what I guess i’m trying to say is;

is that you’re beautiful.

not that kind of beautiful that is in Mary Kay ads;

but that kind of beautiful that comes from your laugh.

from the fact that you make me happy;

even when I’m not returning the favor.

that kind of beautiful that makes me believe that me and you are just like that canvas you crawled out of.

we’re thatched together with the tiny fibers that are our souls;

we’re stretched tight, but when you finally burst out, and close that gap of inhibition;

you realize what it truly is to be free.

Isn’t it amazing?! My favorite parts are when he says, “you’re like a beautiful Monet goin all van Gogh on me”. That’s awesome! I think it’s so clever and to me, it makes perfect sense. I love art. I love poetry. I think Max did a beyond incredible job with this one. I also really like the part where he’s talking about being so close to someone, inches way, but he reads too much into the relationship and he starts to feel like they’re distanced by not inches, but feet. But following that line, he takes that same metaphor of feet (a measurment of length) and turns it into FEET – literally. The kind on the bottom of your legs! It’s so clever. I love it.

So yes – I hope you enjoyed it as much as I do. I find it simply beautiful.

The Achiement of Desire – Richard Rodriguez *revised*

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from any cheesy television show, I learned on The Secret Life of the American Teenager that, “It’s all about acceptance – loving the imperfect makes us accept and love our own imperfections”. This quality, loving people for their imperfections, is what I feel Richard Rodriguez lacks. His eyes are closed to everything around him except one thing: his education. Through many negative emotions, Rodriguez’s life has taken a course of destruction – one that provided him with an excellent education and little time for his family.

Richard Rodriguez is a smart man. He always has been. His teachers and parents praised him for his academic success. He was always found at the top of his class. Rodriguez is lucky to come from a family where the work ethic is strong and push for knowledge is enforced. His parent’s do all that they can to send him to a great school, taught by nuns, in order to ensure that he will be more than another average person in the world. His mother, ever encouraging him to pursue education, loves how brilliant he is. Having only a small amount of schooling, his mother didn’t want to lose touch with her children as they became better in school and better at speaking English. She’d often ask Rodriguez, “What do you see in your books?” – A simple yet complex question. He may have replied in a variety of bored, enthusiastic, or pleasant answers, but instead he usually chose to ignore her. He was too young and ignorant to recognize that she was doing all she could to be a good mother and help her children be raised in America. While in grade school Rodriguez proudly announced that his teacher had told him he was beginning to lose all trace of a Spanish accent. His family was shocked! I feel that this was the first sign of how hard he was working to achieve the same level of education as his peers – even if it meant sacrificing his family and heritage. These were the beginning stages of him becoming a “scholarship boy” – what Richard Hoggart defines as a student willing to sacrifice anything for education. A conclusion he was finally able to come to and admit to himself, and realize that being a “scholarship boy” has shaped his life entirely.

What he needed to learn is that you can have whatever you want, so long as you are willing to struggle for it. Things in life don’t come easy. I’m not sure how he got by if he truly never learned this – I mean, he was reading tons of books, going to school, was taught by nuns… He was obviously wasn’t focused one hundred percent of the time. I feel like this is one of those basic life lessons that are naturally learned. Things in life don’t come easy, but they do come to those who work hard. As Rodriguez was growing up, he felt distant from his family. He recognized that he didn’t fit in entirely because he was learning and comprehending things his parents couldn’t even pronounce. Anyone could tell that the love and unity his family once shared was no longer there. Rodriguez admits that he’d frequently leave the house when relatives came over. He didn’t want to be around because they couldn’t relate to him, or he to them. There came a point in his life where he became so fed up with the divide between his home life and his schooling, that he admits that he’d intentionally hurt his family. He was angry! He was angry, yet he was aware of his actions. He was aware of the situation. He was aware that he had control over whether or not he was happy at home. What’s amazing about this essay is the way he embraces his emotions – he admits the hurt, the anger, the regrets and frustrations… He has reached a point in his life where he found himself and understood. After a lifetime of confusion – so many questions that went unanswered about whether or not he was making good choices, or if his family was backing him up in his decisions or where to even begin heading in life. He had too much on his mind too early in life.

What’s even more fascinating is that even after all that outward expression of negative feelings towards his family; we learn there’s so much more. All of the outside emotions people share with the world are superficial – just for show. Often times, they don’t mean anything. They’re just the easiest part of us to express. Things such as anger and frustration are so easy to share with people! We all know how much easier it is to complain than to be appreciative. This is where Rodriguez went wrong; never expressed thanks to his family. But how can we know he loved them when there is so much ‘hate’ being admitted in the form of this essay?

We know because at the very end of his essay, upon entering graduate school, Rodriguez gives us a hint of guilt. Guilt: the responsibility one feels for committing a wrongful act or crime. He felt guilty! But why – why would he feel guilty for pursing the very education his mother wanted him to have? Why would he feel bad for being successful and embracing all the knowledge his brain would allow? How many people ever apologize for ‘winning’ in life? Apparently – Richard Rodriguez does. With the combination of being enlightened about his childhood “scholarship boy” ways and his higher education he learned everything he needed about his life. He even knows when his change began – back in third grade.  He states, “When I reached the third grade, I outgrew such behavior [behavior meaning: blatantly rude towards everyone around him]. I became more tactful, careful to keep separate the two very different worlds of my day.” Torn between a life of education, family, and culture Rodriguez learned to rein in his childish behaviors and be a man. Through his guilt we learn of the love he does have for his family. He understands the sacrifices they gave for him and he understands their way of life. He even wishes he could have been more a part of it. Finally being able to admit it to himself, he realized he missed out on a lot of good memories.

The Achievement of Desire – Richard Rodriguez

                If there’s one thing I’ve learned from any cheesy television show, I learned on The Secret Life of the American Teenager that, “It’s all about acceptance – loving the imperfect makes us accept and love our own imperfections”. This quality, loving people for their imperfections, is what I feel Richard Rodriguez lacks. His eyes are closed to everything around him except one thing: his education.

                Rodriguez is lucky to come from a family where the work ethic is strong and push for knowledge is enforced. His parent’s do all that they can to send him to a great school, taught by nuns, in order to ensure that he will be more than another average person in the world. His mother, ever encouraging him to pursue education, loves how brilliant he is. From an early age everyone knew Rodriguez was very smart. Having only a small amount of schooling, his mother didn’t want to lose touch with her children as they became better in school and better at speaking English. She’d often ask Rodriguez, “what do you see in your books?” – a simple yet complex question. He may have replied in a variety of bored, enthusiastic, or pleasant answers, but instead he usually chose to ignore her. He was too young and ignorant to recognize that she was doing all she could to be a good mother and help her children be raised in America. While in grade school Rodriguez proudly announced that his teacher had told him he was beginning to lose all trace of a Spanish accent. His family was so shocked! I feel that this was the very first sign of how hard he was working to achieve the same level of education as his peers – even if it meant sacrificing his family and heritage. But is there such a need for the division of education and home life?

                The biggest mistake I think he made was trying to separate his life into sections. What he needed to learn is that you can have whatever you want, so long as you are willing to struggle for it. Things in life don’t come easy. I’m not sure how he never learned this – I mean, he was reading tons of books, going to school, was taught by nuns… He was obviously wasn’t focused one hundred percent of the time. I feel like this is one of those basic life lessons that is naturally learned. Things in life don’t come easy, but they do come to those who work hard.

                At the same time, I agree with how he handled things. Being young it’s difficult to connect with parents at times. Having a barrier such as language and level of education could be scary and so difficult it’s hard to even comprehend. Steve Jobs once said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life, don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important – have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” So was the divide necessary? No. Was it a bad choice? No. In life we have many choices. Some are good, some are better, and some are the best. I don’t think people often make BAD choices they just don’t make the BEST choices possible.

                “Whatever comes our way, whatever battle we have raging inside us, we always have a choice. It is the choices that make us who we are and we can always choose to do what is right” – wise words, stated by Peter Parker (A.K.A. Spiderman). Richard Rodriguez chose to be a ‘scholarship boy’. He could have chosen to be a scholarship boy who appreciated his parents, who enjoyed speaking Spanish in the home, who made time for family downtime. Instead, he became “that scholarship boy who must move between environments, his home and the classroom, which are at cultural extremes, opposed” (page 599). He goes on in the next few pages to say that “scholarship boy: good student, troubled son”, and that he “… intended to hurt my mother and father”. He was aware of his actions. He was aware of the situation. He was aware that he had control over whether or not he was happy at home. But for whatever reason, someone had stuck the idea in his head that his school life could not mix with his home life.

                Personally, I don’t care just how smart he is. I think he’s a horrible person. While it may be easy to argue whether or not he made a good choice, you’ll always be able to argue that he could have made a better one. Honestly – what kind of person wants to live life without their family by their side? His parents were so proud of him! Which he promptly follows with “never betraying my sense of irony: I was not proud of my mother and father. I was embarrassed by their lack of education”. This is ridiculous! I feel like I’m stuck watching a dramatic soap opera, screaming at the television for the actors to do as I say, knowing my attempts are hopeless because they cannot hear me. If it weren’t for his parents, he wouldn’t even have the education that he does. How can he dismiss all of their work and sacrifice as if it were his God-given right for them to put their lives aside and focus on his? How did he become so selfish?

By the end of the essay Rodriguez himself even says that his departure to college is what made this family-school life separation apparent. This only solidifies what I stated earlier – he knew what kind of choices he was making. He wanted to hurt his family; he was consciously doing so. I just can’t figure out why. It’d have been so easy for him to simply acquire more patience; to act tender heartedly like his mother. If he had put the same kind of loving effort into his family relationship as he put passion into his studies, his childhood could have been wildly different.

Pratt’s Essay *Revised*

 It was my junior year of high school, the start of the second semester. My schedule got a little mixed up in order to allow all my elective courses to fit, so I had the “pleasure” of starting this semester off with a new teacher, Mr. Thompson. I had heard various things from my fellow classmates – things like “Oh, he’s a lot of fun” or “If you don’t like math, that’s the class for you!” because as it turns out, we hardly did any work at all. In fact, he was hardly in the classroom! I learned this on my very first day when he left to play a prank on a teacher down the hall (as he often does) and my classmate began to have a seizure. Having been prepared for emergency situations in my sports medicine and multiple CPR classes, I immediately took charge. I ordered everyone to clear the area so she wouldn’t harm herself, kicked everyone out except for a couple boys who could help me when she was done, and sent someone after the nurse. I approached her and said in a loud, firm voice, “Ashley, if you can hear me, please calm down, I’m going to take care of you” and just like that, she stopped. I felt like I had some sort of superpower – it was AWESOME. Apparently, while this was all going on, my teacher had returned, panicked, and took off running down the hall; who knows where he went. Ah, yes, this was going to be an interesting year…We all know that in everything there is an equal and opposite reaction. This was made very clear to me throughout my high school career since I had the opportunity to experience a variety of teachers. I am awfully fortunate enough to come from a high school where diversity is in abundance. I enjoyed it very much. Even though there was an excellent connection between all the students – even those who couldn’t speak hardly any English were welcomed and helped a lot throughout the years – the teachers seemed to have an issue. There was a constant struggle to determine how to run the classrooms; a contact zone.

What is a ‘contact zone’? Mary Louise Pratt, author of “Arts of the Contact Zone”, coins this term and describes it as “A social space where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other…” In my opinion, she is spot on! Each biology teacher had their own teaching styles causing some students to excel and others to lag behind – this pattern is seen through every department. It’s sad to think that kids are arguing with their counselors, begging them to transfer them into another teacher’s class, simply because they know the fail-to-pass of the teacher they’re stuck with.

Everyone is always interested in who the ‘winner’ is and who the ‘loser’ is. When teachers invite their own strategies into their classroom this may be viewed as a ‘win’ – right? After all, they have had a more extensive educational background, which probably brings along more real-life experiences – right? Perhaps a teacher who uses their own strategies is taking away from the learning experience – such as my math teacher, Mr. Thompson, who preferred to use precious class time to play pranks and socialize rather than work out equations. What if a teacher is actually depriving students of “intellectual spaces” instead of providing an environment for higher learning? Is our education system is too ‘utopian’? – Which is the inability to enact fraternity, liberty, and equality. We were definitely lacking in the equality of our classrooms at my high school. According to Pratt, she argues that “we need to develop ways of understanding (even noticing) social and intellectual spaces that are not homogeneous or unified”.  Well – I think my high school was definitely NOT homogeneous – or rather it IS heterogeneous, just as she was hoping for us to see. I’m just not sure how this was such a great idea. I think the idea of a heterogeneous learning environment is good, but in actuality, it is bad. To decide on either a ‘homogeneous’ learning environment, or a ‘heterogeneous’ learning environment, I feel would be wrong. There can’t be one specific ‘winner’ as everyone hopes for. This is something that has too many variables to decipher right now. Its perfection can only come with time.

I can see the issues with both sides of the problem. While some teachers may have very good points of view on particular subjects, others may not. If teachers were allowed to use whatever material they wished curriculum would be inconsistent and virtually useless. How would we know if students were learning the skills they needed if textbooks and resources were left up to the teacher? Of course, if it’s placed on lockdown too much, students would be left with nothing but dry, hard-to-get-through material, which they would not enjoy. I feel as if I can relate to each side of this problem because I’ve experienced it on each extreme. I feel that if teachers have the power and ability to dictate the way their classrooms are taught, they need to meet with fellow coworkers to find a way to cultivate a classroom that is pleasing to all students. There should be a consistency in the classroom community (a system of shared beliefs, ideas, etc). Students shouldn’t have to gripe with higher authority in order to get the education they need.

Mr. Thompson had the sort of power that allowed him to utilize his classroom in whichever way he saw fit. He was given the ability to maximize performance in his students, give them all that they needed, bring in additional resources aside from the school district assigned textbook, and create activities that would best fit the learning styles of his students. However, he chose to let the child within him control this precious classroom time. So you can see how many feel that this power ought to be taken from the teachers. Too many teachers, like Mr. Thompson, are destroying the educational community by taking away what’s being directly given to them.

I feel that this particular issue with all the clashing and struggles, A.K.A: contact zones, isn’t something that will be solved now or in the near the future. With all the recent changes in school administration, people are trying to force change when it isn’t quite time. Good things come to those with patience, and I think when contact zones are involved, patience needs to be a key ingredient.