Archive for the ‘School’ Category

The Thing About History

I have always been a readaholic, reading and rereading books until I’d memorized some passages. Although reading is a good thing, my Mom recognized that I was taking it to an unhealthy level. Mystery was my obsession, and I was caught reading the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew when I should be doing school. Secret of the Golden Cowrie was confiscated when I failed to set the table for supper. Mystery of the Missing Stamp had to be given up for a week because I was found with a flashlight under my blanket, reading into the wee hours of the morning. And the American Adventure series? I dove into those so whole-heartedly that my Mom put a restriction on me: I was only allowed to read for 1 hour every day. TORTURE! At another time, I had to take all of my books into my mom’s room so that she knew what I was reading and when I was reading it. I’d trek in early in the morning and ask for Twig the Collie, read a few chapters, and return it to her before breakfast. So went my early life.

When I turned 13, however, Mom came up with a new idea. I must say it was rather brilliant, though I did NOT think so at the time. She told me that for one whole long month, I could not read any fiction. Her goal in doing this (I think) was to have my “must-be-reading” nature turn me towards biographies and autobiographies of missionaries and other more worthy heroes. I imagine that she didn’t want me trying to turn into a Nancy Drew, getting kidnapped every few months and being incommunicado for days on end during a case. (LOL Like that would ever happen!) Anyhow… I didn’t see the sense of her idea, so I resolved that if I couldn’t read fiction, I wouldn’t read anything. I lasted for THREE DAYS, people. Yeah. It’s an obsession. The first thing I picked up was a biography about Jim Elliot. I don’t remember which one it was, but I do remember reading it and thinking, “You know, this is kinda cool.” And then someone suggested that I read about Anne Frank. I wish I knew who it was who gave me this suggestion, because they opened a new chapter in my life. You see, my library didn’t have any books about Anne Frank that weren’t checked out. But they DID have dozens of other World War Two and Holocaust books. Memoirs, autobiographies, timelines, histories. I checked out a few in desperation: I felt that I just had to be reading! As I read, I started wanting more. These were REAL people, things that REALLY happened! I read about concentration camps and battlefields, then one memoir mentioned a pilot… so I read about him, then I had to read about airplanes. Planes can take off from onboard ships, so then I read about ships. Then I checked out books on secret codes. And the process just went on and on. It was at this time that I discovered the classics, as well. In one of the many biographies I read, I found that a girl loved Jane Austen and George Eliot. So when my month was up, I read Jane Austen. And George Eliot. Charles Dickens. Elizabeth Gaskell. Arthur Conan Doyle. Lloyd Douglas. Alexander Dumas. etc etc etc. My fiction addiction leveled off a bit, but my obsession with the written word reached a feverish all-time high. I decided to break my mystery habit in my own writing and wrote my first historical fiction. I don’t know if I’ll ever love any of my writings as much as I love that book. The story takes place during the Holocaust, and it involves finding new life at the end of tragedy. I had found a new life for myself in the world of the past. The things that really happened are often just as (or more) exciting than what authors come up with.

So here’s the thing about history: It opens your eyes. I found links from the past that explain some of my world today. I discovered just how amazing things are – things that I just take for granted. What went into the radio? The light bulb? Airplanes and cars? The people who invented these things are honored in our society today, but in their own world, they were thought of as total jerks. I’ve just written about 750 words to say something that could be said in a mere five words: “Don’t be afraid to expand” Try something new! As unwilling as I was to enter the “real world” of non-fiction, I found it to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Don’t get stuck in your little corner, ’cause another thing about history is this: people who stay in their own cozy little corners don’t make a difference.


Confusion with derecha

This year I’m learning Spanish. It went really well for the first 7 weeks, but now I have hit a tough spot. It’s called “right vs. left” or, “derecha vs. izquierda” (I don’t know if I spelled that right…)

I have always been directionally challenged. Even though I’ve reached the ripe old age of 17, I still use my hands to tell directions. How? Quite simple, actually. I have a mole or birthmark or something of that sort on my right hand. All I have to do is look at one of my palms and I know right from left. My right palm has this little mark on it, and my left palm is blank.

Wait, how does this apply to Spanish? Well, I’m to the part where I’m supposed to learn right from left. The problem is, I can’t even do it in ENGLISH… so Spanish has been a bit of a problem. I’m using Rosetta Stone, and as many of you will probably know, they give you a phrase and show four pictures, leaving you to click on the picture that matches the phrase. Pretty easy stuff, really. I mean, if it says “elephant” I’m not going to click on a picture of a woman. But if it says, “The ball is in the woman’s right hand…” AAAAAAAAAAAACK! Here is the problem:

1. I already have right vs. left problems

2. I’m new at this Spanish thing

3. MY right is the PICTURE’S left!!!

So if you’re in my neighborhood and you hear a scream between 10:30 and 11:15, you may just shrug and say, “Ah, Emily is doing her Spanish.” =D

So here’s the deal…

I’ve been thinking of sharing some of the essays I’ve written for school. I don’t know if ya’ll want to read my school assignments, but it would be a good way to post more frequently! If you’re opposed, just let me know, but in the mean time, here’s an essay I wrote a couple weeks ago. My assignment was to define a word in five paragraphs.


         Since creation, man has been challenged with various opportunities to show either courage or weakness. Courage is often wrongly defined as boldness, which is often stupidity rather than courage. Examples of courage can be found throughout history and even in modern times. We will be looking at the true definition of courage, related words, and examples of courage in the twenty-first century.
         Going to a dictionary and looking up the word courage, you will find a definition similar to this one: “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear.” Although at first glance, this seems like a good definition, it is not correct. As was once said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”[I] A better definition would be: “The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, or fear, with self-possession, confidence, and resolution.”
         Words often associated with courage include bravery, fortitude, and heroism. Although any of these character qualities may be found in a person, some people are not given the chance to show them. People such as Todd Beamer and Captain Chesley Sullenberger III would never have become famous had not opportunity come to show their courage. Though acts of bravery, fortitude, and heroism don’t always lead to fame, many famous people have given displays of these characteristics.
         Examples of courage in the twenty-first century include the aforementioned Todd Beamer and Captain “Sully.” Though these two men are certainly not the only examples, we will use them as illustrations of courage. Both of these men displayed their courage in the air, though they differ in that one lived to tell about it and the other didn’t. Todd Beamer was a thirty-three year-old husband and father from New Jersey who helped defeat a small group of hijackers on September 11, 2001. Captain “Sully” Sullenberger is the pilot who landed an Airbus A320 in the Hudson River in order to save the lives of the 155 on board.
         Now that we have seen definitions of courage in the dictionary, looked at related words, and observed two examples of courage from the twenty-first century, we should have a good idea of the meaning of courage. Though not all dictionaries are correct, we found that courage is defined as the ability to face hardship with self-possession. We also saw that bravery, as well as heroism are commonly associated with courage. Though all people have courage in some amount, they must take opportunity as it comes, or else they will show that the characteristic of weakness is stronger than their courage.

[I] Attributed to James Neil Hollingway (a.k.a. Ambrose Redmoon) Also used by Meg Cabot