Northern Lights

Northern Lights

Thursday, March 20, 2014

This I Believe #10

Don't forget to post your essay before class on Tuesday!

18 comments:

  1. I had never liked being around eighth-graders. They were always twelve to fourteen-year-olds who were stuck trying to figure out how to be both and adult and a kid. Often, they think that they are incredibly knowledgeable and act as though they have learned everything. Even when I was that age, I found my peers unbearable and naive, though I am sure I must have been the same way.

    When Kremena and Kurt assigned me to work with an eighth grade class for our beading project, I was not enthusiastic. The group of kids I worked with were a typical group; a chattery clique of girls, a couple of silent loners, a class clown, and a few kids who did not fit a particular label and got along with everyone else. Despite being sure that I would not, I ended up enjoying being around most of the students. However, there were a few who were just as bad as I had imagined.

    After a particularly exhausting day, their teacher and I stayed after class to clean up the scattered handfuls of beads that one students had “accidently” dropped on another students head. The teacher talked about her students, how disappointed she was when they acted up and how they changed personalities when they thought she was not paying attention. But the entire time she was talking, her voice remained even and calm, never angry or annoyed as mine would have been. She even ended our conversation saying, “I love this age group.” I asked if she was being sarcastic. She wasn’t. Some how, she was able to focus on the nice qualities of her students and trusted that they would grow out of their flaws.

    I tried to use her way of thinking when I came to the next class. I was able to have conversations with all the students, even the ones who normally refused to talk to me or the teacher. I was actually enjoying being around them and looked forward to the next class period. At the end, though, I realized that this had been my last time seeing the kids. They would be switching classes during my Spring Break. I hated to admit it, but I actually felt a bit sad about that and realized that had I not been so sure that I would not like these kids, I could have enjoyed my time with them more.

    I believe that going into a new situation with old prejudices keeps a person from enjoying the experience.

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    1. Oh, Michaela, we did not mean to cause you pain. At least you found most of the kids to be redeemable :).

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  2. Sometimes in the early years of my childhood I come to a near wakeful state and while still lying in bed escorted all the tough and tenacious bats from the cave through which I could barely breathe. Beneath heavy blankets, just 10 feet above the woodstove that heated our entire house, my pajamas would light up the night with static electricity shot from knees scrubbing hard against wool. Everything was dry from the heat. The bats gathered quickly and I ush-ush-ushered them to the wall above my headboard, creating a razor-edged landscape of dried mucus on wallpaper, a landscape I would later pretend to know nothing about.

    S-s-sitting on the edge of wooden chair, Mary Korlaske was 12 years old, an orphan in the fourth grade on the c-c-c-c-cold January day in 1939 when she met Mary Tudor. Sh-sh-she thought Tudor might become her new mom. T-t-t-tudor looked beautiful to her, t-t-tall and slender with dark wavy hair. She looked like the young girl’s mother did, five-years earlier when she dropped her and her t-two older brothers at the orphanage. The great depression had devastated their family.

    G-g-g-g----gasping for breath I would wake bound by thick and dark leather straps that held my body tight to my mattress on the top of a pair of bunk beds. Something hard, hot, and heavy compressed my chest, nearly crushing me as I saw—from the corner of my eye—a foam block at the edge of my room. It expanded slowly along the baseboard of one wall. It grew as I gathered all my strength and then spent it fruitlessly on an attempt to move. It grew until it filled every inch of the room, replacing the sweet smell of burning maple logs with a synthetic “new car” kind of smell. It grew until I woke for real, sweating and bound tight by blankets, just when the foam closed off my nose. I could no longer breathe.

    Grasping tight to the silver thimble her mother gave her the day she left her at the orphanage, Mary Korlaske fought the urge to speak to her best friend. Silence was better than the alternative, the s-s-st-st-stuttering that Miss Tudor pointed out in her speech the day they first met. Mary talked a lot to Miss Tudor that day, to make a good impression. She hoped Miss Tudor would take her home. Instead, she recoiled at the young girl’s stutter. 62 years later, Mary Korlaske knows that she didn’t stutter, that Miss Tudor was conducting an experiment to prove negative reinforcement could force a child who spoke clearly to develop a speech impediment. It worked. Korlaske ran away from the orphanage and spent a life in monstrous silence, barely speaking, even, to her husband.

    I believe my sleep disorder was curled up inside of me, slumbering, when I woke as a child to clear the bats from my dark cave. I believe that I knew, even then, about the heightened state of sensory awareness found in misplaced moments of sleep paralysis. And I believe my own Mary Tudor made a monster of me as well, telling me I had narcolepsy when I was just sleepy.



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    Note: the two italicized passages reference the 1939 Iowa “Monster Study.”

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  3. I am a mom. Not because I actually have a child but because of the way I act towards my friends. I consider myself to have many children. Most of them even call me mom. This is something I’ve always known. And not just because every buzzfeed quiz I have ever taken has pegged me as a caring, trustworthy, and motherly. I have always been the one to step up and take charge or to take responsibility within my friend group. I’m always the one who gets put in charge of ordering pizza or collecting money. I’m the one they call at midnight when someone passes out and hits their head on a doorway. I’m the one they call for rides or when they just need to talk. I’m the one they call when they don’t know what to do. While I do love it most of the time, being mom isn’t always the best job.

    This past weekend something happened, something that I couldn’t do anything about. I couldn’t do anything because I was a fourteen-hour plane ride away. I couldn’t just hop on over to the next room and give them a hug and tell them that everything was going to be okay. I couldn’t offer to take them to Taco Bell or on a road trip to get a clear head. It was devastating. I cried for most of the day. All because something had happened and wasn’t there to help them through it. Even though it was something I had absolutely no control over. One of my “children” was hurting and I wasn’t there with her. It was one of the worst feelings in the world.

    I know that I can’t solve every problem and that I’m not always going to be around to save my “children”, but I believe that I will always try.

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  5. I believe everything happens for a reason. I believe it wasn’t just chance that Annie, as I would soon name her, showed up walking down the driveway of my Pepaw’s farm one day. A St. Bernard with lonely eyes and a drooping face, who could turn that down? So, naturally, I let her in and had her up lying on my lap on the couch in no time. Of course, this wasn’t an easy task, she weighs over 100 pounds, so I ignored the fact that she would soon cut off the circulation to my legs. This was a couple years ago, before my grandpa got too sick. I remember him walking in the living room when his eyes got wide and he raised his voice, “Sara Sue! Get that nasty dog out of the house! Now!” So, Annie went out. Pepaw made his daily trip to Subway, Annie came back in. I saw his little white Scion coming down the drive, Annie went out. And when he went to go feed his 26 cats in the barn, Annie came back in. Eventually, Annie got used to going in and out, and before he knew it, she zoomed right past him almost knocking him over to get in and lay with me.
    It took a while, just as it always did when he was adjusting to something new, but after two years, Annie and Pepaw had a bond that was inseparable to even the biggest pair of medal cutting things in his garage. And believe me, he had every tool imaginable in that garage. Annie would go with him to feed the cats, and the horses. They would go on morning walks together, and she would accompany him around noon to get the mail. She was sad when he was sad, and when he laughed, you could see her droopy eyes get a little brighter. At 3 o’clock when he’d lean back in his recliner to take his nap, she would be right there next to him with her head resting on the arm of the chair. He’d make a special trip to KFC just to buy her some warm bacon for her empty tummy. And finally, when he got too sick to leave the hospital, she was laying right there on that cold tile floor beside him, and she waited for him as the nurses took him to his treatments and back to his room.
    I believe that God gave us Annie to help us deal with the loss of my Pepaw. She’s the last living tie we really have with him, and she has taken care of us more than we have ever taken care of her. I believe in guardian angels, even if they’re covered in fur and have four legs.

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  6. I have never not cared about school, this is something new.
    I sat down to write a 2 page paper and submitted it a minute before it was due.
    I double checked citations, format, grammar and the rest
    but, I certainly know this paper was not my very best.

    Everyone tells me that senioritis is a really valid excuse
    but, I still feel really guilty as my own time I did abuse
    I watched youtube, netflix and got on buzzfeed to clear my anxious mind
    while the pages on my word processor sat blank leaving me in a bind

    The 60 minute countdown my fingers typing quickly across the keys
    sweat forming on my brow, heart pounding bringing me to my knees
    The time stamp on my paper luckily got the mark of 12:04
    Had it been 12:09 it would have lowered my for sure low-ish score

    After my paper had been submitted for its final fate
    I couldn’t help but sit and laugh at the crazy not so fun mess I had made
    However, in those moments I finally learned a lesson I had needed to know
    It’s what you know you learned that counts not the mark that tells you so.


    So after years and years of stressing over school trying to achieve perfection
    I’m just happy learning and am enjoying musings and contemplation.

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    1. I can picture you sweating...then laughing and laughing!

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  7. In the picture I took of her last summer, she is wearing an old woman’s house-dress, dark blue dotted with whimsical shapes which, upon closer inspection months later on a different continent, turn out to be flying saucers in yellow, green, red and turquois. At 88, my grandmother is an old woman indeed. Eighty-eight in Bulgaria is the equivalent to at least 100 in America, I tell friends who have never been to Bulgaria, before offering a narrative about lives without preventive medicine, too many carbs, too little respect.

    At 88, my grandmother enjoys listening to Bulgarian folk music, watching reruns of The Bold and the Beautiful, and looking out for us—her Kentucky descendants—on the evening news. Though our trip to Bulgaria last June was prompted by concerns about my her health—would she live long enough to meet her great-grand children growing up in America if we waited too long?—she did not seem overly sentimental about our visit. She spoke slowly to my six-year-old daughter, trusting that delayed speed would make up for lack of vocabulary. She listened to folks music and, according to one witness, danced with my three-year-old son on a Saturday afternoon. She took both kids to the playground behind the apartment building where I spent summer nights growing up. And she posed for a picture with me, my mother and my daughter: following an American tradition of photographing the women and girls in a family, which she did not question.

    Last summer, my grandmother did not make banitsa, my favorite childhood dish. She said she was too old to roll out thin sheets of filo. I suspected she wanted to watch her favorite show. So I offered to make banitsa using filo purchased at the 24-hour store where my mother works. While my grandmother watched TV, I crumbled Bulgarian feta and we talked about our lives on each side of an ocean. She told me about her varicose veins and diminishing desire for sweets. I told her about using her method for keeping over-the-knee socks above the knee and about eating chocolate 6 nights a week. She told me she was ready to join my grandfather in the afterlife. I told her the kids and I would be back in 2 years, that I planned to make banitsa for her at least one more time.

    Nine months later, my grandmother’s house-dress reminds me of a long skirt I wear when the winter drags on: deep blue with bright stripes to keep the dark months at bay.

    Nine months later, I believe in my grandmother’s life: unfolding slowly near an old TV, dancing tunes illuminating Saturday afternoons.

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  8. I believe in changes.

    Emotional, physical, location—you name it and I believe in the changes that may happen to it.

    I’m currently at a serious decision making point in my life for various reasons. First of all, I've dealt with trusting my friends and other people a large amount this semester. I’ve let my guard down and let people help me emotionally when necessary and for the most part this was a good change. I’ve also changed from being completely pessimistic all of the time—to only most of the time. Accepting that maybe, just maybe, things can sometimes work out in your favor. I’ve also started to understand that decisions I previously made, while they may have been the right one at the time, can and probably will change.

    But the biggest change I’m facing is one that will affect all aspects of my life. I literally have no idea where I will be next year. I’ve yet to decide if I’ll be at Transy or somewhere else and I don’t really know what to say to people when they start asking questions--trying to persuade my final decision. But what I’ve learned to believe in is that changes can be okay. I need to believe in my friends no matter where I go, I need to believe that you can have a relationship and not be in the same place as that person, and I need to believe that when you leave one place you are by no means abandoning everything you helped create and build there.

    So I need to believe in change. I haven’t convinced myself whole-heatedly that I do believe in change, but I know that in order to move forward in the next few months I need to believe in change and the positive influence it can have on your life and those around you.

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  9. to the kids at Arlington:

    I believe you are growing up in a very different world than the one which reared me. I also believe that it would be impossible to entirely communicate the joy, and the fear this brings me. I do not fully understand it myself.

    I see the color fling from your gazes when you turn heads - I see the brightness with which your clothes and walls are painted. I see this vibrancy, lost in translation during my youth. This beading project - as if on purpose - consisted of stringing together color: almost to grab me by the shirt - to grab my attention.

    I am brought to literal wide-grin tears when I hear you boys speak of pink, in admiration - of coolness (a school-yard-crusade-cause that will ultimately bring you all horrible suffering, but, nonetheless). I am provided hope when my occasionally-painted fingernails are met with your elementary acceptance, and I am brought laughter when you brag about having ears pierced longer than me.

    I am stopped cold when I see the all-too-familiar stare, those looking-at-nothing eyes I know are brought about by breakfasts of eggo fucking waffles and flavored corn syrup. I do not know how to help you, when your reality is fuzzed by systems that once held me (sometimes continue to hold me) in the same way. A quick glance to the cafeteria (no solutions there) makes me cringe.

    Watching my immune system deflate after every visit reminds me of the roller coaster that is being-alive-at-7 years. The multilingual cacophony that fills the air reminds me that my elementary school missed the point. I remember watching one of you beading a solid color string in the corner, and softly singing “Steeeeeeve camaron,” over and over to yourself. My spanish isn’t great anymore, but it’s good enough to wonder who “shrimp Steve is”- - it’s good enough to wonder how much of all of your lives I will never understand.

    If I, the veritable face of privilege in this country, understand little about you and the world you are growing up in, what does that mean for your futures? I’m not sure. It brings me joy and fear.

    anyway, thanks for beading with me.
    love,
    Mr. Bear

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  10. Beautiful and poignant and beautiful.

    Please please find a way to share your reflection with your kids (minus the "fucking" reference, maybe?)

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  11. At least twenty or so times last week I was asked the question, “Did you have a good spring break?” or “What’d you do over the break?” I always responded with, “Well, I had my wisdom teeth taken out, sooo…” This normally lead to the entertaining story of the surgery itself that I will share it with you all now.

    One of the few benefits to having my wisdom teeth taken out the Friday prior to spring break was being able to skip those classes that most people skipped out on anyway without an actual excuse, like a surgery that doesn’t let you leave the bed for five days instead of trying to fly out a day earlier to Panama. Anyhow, the 11:50 arrived and I was waiting in the chair where the doctor and three other assistants would walk in to begin the surgery at any moment. Since one of the my worst fears is needles, I was not looking forward to their entrance since I knew the IV used to sedate me would be inevitably inserted into the particularly sensitive part of my skin between my forearm and upper arm. The time was not even yet noon when the doctor walked in with his assistants setting up his instruments to prepare for the hour-long surgery. As I lay there with my eyes closed, he informed me he about to place the IV in my arm. Before I even realized what had happened, I opened my eyes to my mom and best friend standing beside me. I immediately burst out laughing. The gauze in my mouth made this difficult, but I couldn’t help myself. I looked down at my arm and ripped a strange piece of fabric off. It wasn’t until seconds later that I realized this fabric was the bandage that was placed on my arm after the IV was removed. I immediately tried to slap it back on, but it would no longer stick. “It’s okay hun, you can just leave it off.” After asking multiple times if I needed a band aid and receiving multiple reassurances back that I would be fine, I let it go. My mom and best friend helped me out to the car where I immediately passed out as soon as I arrived home. This is where my exciting spring break would begin and end.

    I believe in needles, but only whenever used in sedation purposes when they can not be felt, and I open my eyes to what seems to be 5 seconds later to uncontrollable laughter.

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  12. I Believe


    I Believe in six impossible things before breakfast.


    One, there’s a potion that can make you shrink. And a cake that can make you grow. Three, animals can talk. Cats can disappear. There is a place called Wonderland. Six, I can slay the Jabberwocky.

    These six impossible things that Alice believed in Through the Looking Glass I also believe. One, there’s a potion that can make you shrink. If you take this line and read it with out taking it at face value it can ring true even outside of Wonderland. The potion that you drink can equal words that you digest. These words can make you shrink, make you feel small. I experienced this potion at school when the other students would make fun of me for being and looking different. I drank their words in and I shrank. Two, and a cake that can make you grow. The cake equals the love and support that is offered by someone who loves you. That love and support will pick you up and dust you off once you’ve be shrunk from the potion. My cake was my brother, he would remind me that he loved me and that I meant something to him, that I was special. So I would eat the cake that he gave me and I would grow, I would feel better about myself. Three, animals can talk. Animals can talk. I take this line literally, my pets talk to me threw their actions and their own language. The meows and barks are different depending on their mood and when their concerned for me they show it my rubbing up against me and talking in a concerned voice. They also let me know what’s going on, they let me know when they need food or to go out or even just need loving. Animals can talk. Four, cats can disappear. Cats really do simply disappear, they only come around when they are needed or when they need something, otherwise they can’t be found. Cats are my favorite animal, I personally have two and they always cuddled me when I was down. But if I did not need them they would simply disappear. Five, there is a place called Wonderland. Wonderland is not just the world that is painted in the books and the movies, it is also an individuals escape from reality. My personal wonderland can be found in books, when I’m dancing and in my day dreams. Six, I can slay the Jabberwocky. The Jabberwocky is also a personal thing, its a personal demon, the situation that looks impossible to over come. My Jabberwocky changes as I over come him, he morphs and reforms but once I have defeated him he can never return in that way. For I have slayed the Jabberwocky.

    I grew up in Wonderland with Alice, the Cheshire Cat, The Hatter, the Queens and the Cards. They taught me to believe is six impossible things before breakfast; One, there’s a potion that can make you shrink. And a cake that can make you grow. Three, animals can talk. Cats can disappears. There is a place called Wonderland/ Six, I can slay the Jabberwocky.

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  13. Everybody is going wild because it’s that time of the year again when the best of the best come to compete against each other. March Madness has everyone going crazy and filling out their brackets, making bets and cheering their lungs out for their favorite team. This is probably one of the biggest events alongside the super bowl because people all over the United States and possibly other countries around the world are checking out these basketball teams and waiting to see who will take it all the way and defeat everyone. Even President Barack Obama fills out his bracket for the women’s and men’s NCAA basketball teams. People try to predict who will win by looking at the stats of the players, the overall wins and losses and other statistics that will help fanatics predict the best possible outcomes and have an accurate bracket. The thing that happens about these teams is that no one really knows what the outcomes will be. Teams who might mave played horribly but made it to the tournament can change and beat teams that are ranked way better than they were ranked. Take for example Kansas University who was ranked number two was defeated by Standord who was ranked number ten. Another big shocker the occured was when Duke was defeated by Mercer. Everyone is human and that includes all of these basketball players, which is why what matters more than your previous history is how hard you try at that game and at that instant. When I was back home i never really supported any basket ball teams because i was never really around that certain scene, but coming to Transy changed all of that. Everyone is either a die-hard Louisville fan or a die-hard Kentucky fan. Because of where i am i have become a Kentucky fan and this Friday will be a hectic day because coincidentally both teams have defeated their opponents and will face off against each other in order to advance into the elite eight. Thanks to everyone at Transy and the UK community I believe in UK basketball and I also believe in March Madness. I also believe the Louisville will lose!

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  14. I believe in the future. Billions of people live on this planet and we all grow towards something larger of ourselves than we ever imagined. We grow in our intelligence, in our strength, our self-esteem, our respect, our friendships. We are able to branch out from taking our first step as a baby to living on our own as adults to make our own way in this complicated existence. Most of us are offered some pathway into this growth; we go to school in order to create a new standard for ourselves and for what we expect of the world around us. And with this growth, we are able t contribute something to existence. Even the possibility for change.
    I believe that change is always a good thing when it can show us a brighter future ahead for our society. We have witnessed people being able to do something extraordinary and different, something that people of the past would have never seen possible or would have never dared to try to do. When we are able to grow out of a state of ignorance and fight for a change in something that we deem unfair, we make a huge difference for the potential of society.
    Lately, we have seen more acceptance for race differences, and we have seen a change in gender norms. Policies are changing to create equality and though this should have come sooner, I’m glad that it is finally coming into being. I believe that the future holds many possibilities for happiness and the potential for everyone to have the same rights to obtain happiness. There is hope for change, and we can see this because we can see the changes that already have occurred. I have a great for the future and changes we have before us to help us achieve happiness.

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  15. While over spring break, I had the opportunity to visit family and friends that I had not seen in awhile. The first half of my spring break was spent with my mom and my grandparents in the small town of Russellville in Western Kentucky. Although there actually is not a lot to do in this very small town, I went to high school there and made some really great friends there. I hung out with one of my closest friends there for a couple of days, doing various things like bowling, shopping, and even going to the park and skateboarding on a tennis court. It doesn’t sound like much, but I actually really enjoyed my time there, and took advantage of the free time I actually had for once. The second half of my spring break was spent in Northern Kentucky with my dad and a couple of friends who I have known since elementary school. We talked and got to catch up about what was going on in each other’s lives, and hung out. I only got to see these two friends for one day, but it was time well spent with them. I have realized over this spring break that my old friends mean a lot to me, even if I don’t actually get to see them that often. The reason being is that we can visit after not seeing each other for a long time, and nothing has changed between us. We still hang out and do the same things we used to, and even joke about things that happened a while back. I believe in seeing old friends, even if it is for only a short amount of time.

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  16. Food has a way with my heart. I absolutely love food, whether it be home-cooked food, fast food, new food that I have never tried, or cultural traditional dishes. The enjoyment I get from trying new food is amazing and I love that it provides me with experiences in other ways that other opportunities cannot. How big of a role food plays in my life and my experiences was not brought to my attention until my time abroad. I had many cultural interactions and times that I will never forget during those glorious six months throughout Latin America.

    In Monteverde, Costa Rica I had the chance to have an amazing bonding experience with my host family through food. We baked pastel de maiz which is a traditional dessert there and it is a corn based pastry. Bonding over making this traditional dessert changed our relationship completely which helped me to feel more integrated into the Costa Rican culture and my host family. I had plenty more of these experiences especially with my Tica momma in Heredia which was my long-term host stay. She taught me how to make patacones which are plantains that are not all the way ripe and you have to squish them and then fry them again. This was a major bonding experience for us because my host mom wanted me to be able to cook traditional Costa Rican foods for myself as well as for my family when I came back to the United States.

    Another big staple in not only Costa Rica but Latin America in general is café. Everybody loves their coffee down there. In the United States we have smoke breaks while in Latin America they have coffee breaks. When I went to Costa Rica I had no intentions on drinking coffee because it just was not something I could get into. My mom had tried to get me to try it many times throughout my life and it just did not appeal to my taste buds like pop did. I definitely did not have intentions on coming back with a love for coffee. However, I wish I had started drinking coffee much earlier because I did not get to experience many things in terms of coffee. For instance we visited a coffee plant and they provided samples of coffee from coffee beans that I had just looked at but because I despised coffee at the time, I missed out on such a great cultural experience. But it is okay because I love coffee now and cannot wait to go back to Costa Rica and drink more cafecitos with my friends.

    All of the memories I have made with family, friends, and even strangers that have been centered around food have been ones that are irreplaceable. These types of interactions make my love for food grow stronger each and every time they occur and make me want to share them with other people as much and as often as I can.

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