Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Interview With Mariah Mckenna

For this assignment, I interviewed the lovely Mariah Mckenna.

  1. Who is the main character of your story?
There are two. Jeff is the little boy in the story and Mr.Campbell is the lonely old man who lives down the street from Jeff.
  1. When does this story take place?
It is current and takes place in present day.
  1. Would you ever do what the main character(s) did in your real life?
Yes. If I were Jeff I could see myself being like him as a little kid and being destructive (not on purpose of course).
  1. What kind of relationship will the two main characters have?
They start out as enemies, as in protagonist and antagonist, but by the end of the story they become good friends when they realize they need each other and they could both benefit from a friendship between them.
  1. Do the protagonist or antagonist have sidekicks?
No ma’am.
  1. What mentor texts have influenced this story to be what it has become?
Dennis the Menus, Tuesdays with Morey, and Home Alone.
  1. Who is your audience?
Children. Probably more toward the late elementary or early middle school age.
  1. Where does your story take place?
In a suburban-type neighborhood and part of the story will also take place in a nursing home.
  1. Do you think the story could have a sequel?
Well, I think any story could have a sequel but I did not write with intentions of giving it sequel-potential. It has a pretty conclusive ending.
10.  Do any of the characters go through a moral change throughout the course of the book?

Both main characters actually. Jeff learns to be more considerate and respectful of others around him in general and Mr. Campbell learns to have more patience with others.
11.  What are you trying to convey to your readers? What is the moral to your story?

Friends can be found in the most unlikely of places.
12.  What will be a moment of weakness for your main character(s)?

I feel that a moment of weakness for Mr. Campbell would be when his family puts him into the nursing home and Jeff’s moment of weakness would be when he looses his privileges at home because of breaking another rule and is forced to go to work with his mother as she cannot trust him at home alone.
13.  What is your personal favorite part to the story?

When Jeff and Mr. Campbell team up, realizing they need each other’s help, and become friends.
14.  How long do you predict your story to be?

However long it will need to be for me to get my moral across to the audience and make for an enjoyable children’s book that’s not too long, but is in-depth and interesting.
15.  Will your book contain pictures? Or will it have more of a chapter book or novel-like feel?
It will be more of a novel type feel.
16.  What willl help the main characters overcome their struggles?

With the help of each other, they will overcome their obstacles. They are each other’s go-to men.
17.  Can you personally relate to the moral of this story?

Yes, I have come to be friends with an old man that is a regular customer at Peaceful Meadows where I work. You can find friends in the most unlikely of places!
18.  Who’s perspective will the story be told from?
It will switch off between Jeff and Mr. Campbell being the narrator.
19.  Will there be any other characters that influence the main ones and their actions in the book?

In the beginning, Jeff’s friend is the one who convinces him to throw the ball that breaks the old man’s window. Also Mr. Campbell’s family puts him in the nursing home. Without these two things, the two would have never become friends of put into the positions they were in.
20.  Do you think the contents of this story could happen in real life?

Yes, I do. There is no age requirement with friendship.

To get a glimpse at how Mariah's story is coming along so far click here!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Peggy: The Expressionist in a Judgemental Environment

A loose-fitting lavender blouse. A blue patent leather skirt. Cheeta print tights. Off-white leg-warmers. Chesnut brown oxfords. These are just a few of the many items of clothing that make up Peggy’s wardrobe on a regular basis. They accompany her everywhere she goes, acting as good friends that follow at your hip side and continually deliver compliments throughout the day. To Peggy, her clothes are her closest, dearest, most trustworthy, and understanding friends. Although they may not always be perfect, as she experiences the occasional wear and tear, rip, or loose button, but they are always there for her no matter what to make her feel good about her self, feel confident, and feel empowered to complete any task that may lay in her path that day. They come in all shapes and sizes, colors and fabrics, but most importantly they all express Peggy’s personality and what she wants to present to the world-the person she would like everyone to see. On days that she may feel down, upset, or just plain tired, her clothes understand, comforting her in more styles that may be conducive to sleep or relaxation. They give where she may need more space, and they hug her where she needs for comfort and they compliment her body whether she has a good or bad day.
Now, Peggy does not have many bad days mind you. She is a free-spirited, confident, happy person who loves to express herself though her unique, eccentric style. She loves to wear anything she can find in a box of hand-me-downs or a thrift store, piece together some of her own items, and them wallah! New outfit. See, well Peggy (short for Pegasus) was born in raised on a planet other than earth. This planet is known as Expressionupiter and it is a place where everyone therein prides themselves on self-expression, independent creation, and being unique, on-of-a-kind people. Walking down a shuttle runway on Expressionupiter, you may see a wide arrange of characters. From infants to young adults to parents to grandparents, every single person is like a snowflake. They share certain minor similarities but are all different and all have their own form of expressing their inner persona who they would like the people of the universe around them to see. These people don’t have fears in impressing others around them; they simple wear what they want and act as they please, staying within reason of respect to others of course. On this planet, words like ugly, stupid, and fashionably “in” do not exist. Expressionists (yes, the people of Expressionupiter) never take into consideration what another may think of them and never judge another for any of their personal choices in ways of expressing themselves. They never look someone up and down and insult what they may have on. They never will express a distaste toward another’s idea of what looks “good’. They will never put people into categories purely based upon how they dress and whom they associate themselves with. They will never put anyone down for an unsubstantial reason at all. On the planet of Expressionupiter, peace of mind with oneself and others is the common theme.

Time to go to work…because I have a job….other commitments…a life…
This story is to be continued.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Conforming to Society: A New Outlook

Just one person has the power to change the way an entire group or culture of people view something. Just one person can make a difference in a society, in a country, or in the world. Just one person can be an example for others to follow, a role model, a leader. People look up to this person and anyone has the power to become them. In today’s society I believe that the individual is somewhat overlooked or unacknowledged, the main focal point being a certain group or clique rather than the individuals that make up that group of people. The ability of people to come together and form something bigger than themselves is beneficial no doubt, but what about the individuals that build and represent these groups? What about the creative individuals who, on their own, start trends, create societies, or even those people who have simply not done something to make themselves stand out in the crowd yet? Are they unimportant?
            Today, I believe the world is full of onlookers and conformities. And don’t get me wrong, it is not incorrect to follow a movement or wear something or do something just because its what the people around you are doing; that’s life and that will never change. However, I think it is time to recognize the ones who in fact are expressive with their individuality and strive to be leaders rather than followers. I think there are too many generalizations in this world. Whether it be race, organization, popularity, or what one would consider ”normal”, it all exists and it is all a contagious disease. More and more people are abandoning their personal interests and beliefs simply to fit in with the crowd around them and dodge the bravery it requires to live as your own person and exhibit the freedom of expression that so many of our soldiers fought to obtain in the past.
            I just believe that its time for Americans to have a new goal. Rather than the object being to appear normal and to do what the common man is doing, we should voice our own opinions, create our own lifestyles, and most importantly live happily without worrying what those around us think. On the other hand of that, I believe it is time for people to stop possessing judgmental outlooks and allow life to go on around them the way it may, with every individual being their own person and without the worry of the judgments surrounding them. People waste their time, day in and day out, worrying what others may think of them and simply trying to appeal to the general acceptance of the population, when in all reality, the only thing that matters is what your think of yourself and how your want to represent yourself in life- not how someone else wants to see you represented. Being an individual is often something that is looked past but is a beautiful thing. With the confident expression of their own personality, beliefs, and choices, one can go a long way.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

We Were Given the Right To Freedom Of Expression for a Reason

After entirely altering the story line and plot to my first idea for a children’s book, I reorganized a different idea. I wanted to create a story that taught the kids to never be afraid to be themselves, use their right to freedom of expression, and live their life the way they want regardless of what other people think of their lifestyle choices and personal preferences. I wanted to include a moral of courage, persistence and most importantly, staying true to yourself. I believe that one of the best examples of this is the general high school standard of what to wear and what not to wear, what will get you made fun of, what will allow you to gain “friends”. Other people’s ignorance is what keeps teenagers back from dressing the way they would truly like to and expressing themselves in their own way, rather than conforming to the guidelines of what everyone else is wearing or what everyone else considers “in” at that moment in time. I wanted to teach the children that it’s okay to show your true self and have enough self-respect to present yourself differently than the others and even stand out in a crowd, regardless of what they may say or think of you. All that matters is that you are comfortable and confident in the way you look.
            The mentor text I picked from the list of choices I was given was the book called Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. This book is about a future society in which the age group known as the “Uglies” are forced to have mandatory plastic society in order to conform the way they look to fit the societal norms of the time period. The book exposes the flaws in being the same as everyone else around you and acting almost as a robot to society, possessing no creativity or unique self expression ever. Although there is a different spin on things, my story line relates a lot to this book. Clothing can be compared to physical features. The way you present yourself is entirely up to you and it is not right to allow others to change the way you make yourself appear when your heart says otherwise. No one should ever be pressured into wearing something just because it’s considered cool for their age group or labeled social group. My story also proves that your friends aren’t your true friends if they change the way they interact with you just because you changed the way your dress and present yourself. Today, sadly, a lot of high schools are segregated into groups and cliques simply based upon what type of clothes students wear and what their style is considered as. I strongly support the opposite opinion and would like to convey a message to the students that will stay with them and develop one they can implement in their own lives on a daily basis.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Perseverance: The Key to Success

Perseverance. It is the key to success, the master component of change, the gateway to achievement. Perseverance is a best friend, an enemy, a rewarding obstacle. It is what separates the good from the great, the committed from the lazy, the center focal point from the background. It is ultimately what establishes the turning point from mediocre to outstanding, from average to extraordinary. People who have perseverance have the world. Every opportunity they’ve ever wanted right before them, luring, waiting to be captured at the climax of success. People who have perseverance are invincible.

I am invincible. I have perseverance.
            From a young age I have been taught that success does not just get handed to you with a red bow on it; you have to work toward it. Your dreams don’t simply come true on their own, but rather it is your responsibility to persevere and overcome whatever challenges may lie in your path to obtain them. I have been shown to put everything I have into my sports, school work, job, and even my social life in order to benefit and profit from the experiences I may have throughout my lifetime. I remind myself every day that hard work is needed in every area of my own life and the lives of others, however it is the will to push through it that some lack. A want is what you persevere for. If you want something badly enough, it is purely up to you and only you to chase after it and make it your own. Giving up on the chase is what separates the people who the attribute of perseverance from those who lack it. It is not a given gift, but something that is yours to grasp the meaning of and put it into beneficial effect.
A wise man once said, “Those who say it can’t be done should get out of the way of the person who’s doing it”. If a person wants a reward, dream, or goal badly enough, the obstacles in their way will not stop them from achieving their ultimate ambition. A person who possesses perseverance is not one who makes use of the phrase “I can’t”. With perseverance a person can and will.
I have perseverance. I can do whatever it is that I may set my mind to. And right now it is getting this blog post posted before 10 PM.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Personal Narrative: Shifting Perspectives

One is able to learn a great deal from working inside an old, cramped ice cream shop. Although it is a crowded, stressful place of work, my time working at Peaceful Meadows Homemade Ice Cream has supplied me with substantial life lessons of which I will surely take to my grave with me from none other but yes, the customers I am fortunate enough to experience on a daily basis. Of course there are the rude ones, the unfriendly ones, the enemies; but the ones that I’ve really cherished the opportunity to meet have been the few kind, compassionate, and even damaged souls that have stepped through those tacky, hot pink doors. Whether it be a lonely, passionate, elderly man or simply someone just looking for a friend to talk to, every one has had a lesson to teach me, whether it was voluntary or not. These ordinary people have ultimately changed my perspective on life and have altered the way I view and value the smaller things that come along with it.
            One man, an old fellow who happens to be a former Marine, hobbles into the store every day, aided by his walker, at about twelve o’clock to receive his mid-day sweet tooth satisfaction. He orders his usual strawberry frappe and while I proceed to fill his order we discuss the small talk that would normally occur between two such people.
“How have you been?”
“Eh, the usual.”
            He then carries on to explain to me how lonely he becomes at times. I sensed an escalation of emotion in his tone, as he began explaining his daughter’s weekly custom of bringing over her dog to the man’s house to stay with him for a few days at a time. He expressed his frustration at the fact that this week she had failed to fulfill her duties and to inform the man that the dog would not be delivered.
“You know, it’s a pretty lonely life and I just don’t think they understand that”
            This subtle declaration of his emotions, yet a powerful placement of all his worries and burdens right out onto the sticky, cramped, countertop surface that occupied the space between us, gave me that strange, indescribable feeling of sympathy I never knew I could possess for someone I had barely known. I turned, pausing from filling the cup with strawberry ice cream and gazed up at him. His face pale and blank, yet I could feel the pain he experienced inside by just looking into his dark chocolate brown eyes. As he peered back at me, there was silence. A moment for his reflection, and also a moment for my compassion and understanding. Feeling the pressing need to respond, I blurted out an unrehearsed “I’m so sorry”. The man shrugged, looking away almost ashamed, and as I turned backwards to the blender I began to really process the conversation just at hand. Over the loud buzz of the pulverizing blade, I caught myself pondering what the man had said, weighing it against my own personal family situation and thinking deeply about the way I was currently treating my parents and how I wanted to be treated when I reached that age. The man’s simple, yet ever-so-meaningful exclamation made me seriously reconsider the way I was living my life and the time I was spending with the ones I loved. Was I putting forth enough effort to show them how much I care?
            To this day the man saunters in every day, without fail, for a strawberry frappe and a short chat with whoever may be behind the counter. This man, little does he know, has changed my overall outlook on life and the way I believe I should be living it. He has changed the way I view my family and how they should be treated. He has showed me that when I am older, I want to receive what I have given to others in the past. This man has taught me a great deal of significant life lessons and for that I admire him; yet, I never even learned his first name.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Death: A Newfound Perspective

In Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, we view the events and tragedies surrounding Nazi Germany through the eyes of an unexpected narrator-death. We as the reader learn of death’s moral’s he carries with him each day and of the perspective from which he views the world and the events therein. We get a sense of an unpredicted personality from Death himself and our opinions on death are ultimately changed. Death brings to the table a new take on the tragedies experienced by many in Nazi Germany and is unsupportive of the chaos and heartbreak Hitler’s army is creating in Europe. The narrator is a witty, thoughtful, and moral character throughout the book.
            Death carries with himself on a daily basis burdens, desires, and most importantly his personal moral compass. Death’s moral compass, surprisingly to the reader, consists of a few things that a normal, loving human would consider their moral compass-empathy, observation, peace, and admiration. Death feels for the victims of Hitler’s reign and takes their side, while at the same time ‘working’ for him in collecting the souls of those of which have had their lives stolen by evil. Death also values observation as he watches closely everything that goes on throughout the war, collecting the many unlucky souls, while leaving side notes for the reader throughout the novel. In the introductory chapter the narrator cuts away from the text and inserts a side note. It states: “*** AN OBSERVATION *** A pair of train guards. A pair of grave diggers.” (22). Death is one to take note of his surroundings and analyze them, giving the reader an alternative perspective to the characters in the story, as almost an act of dramatic irony. Death is also, unexpectedly by most, opposed to the termination of life. This may sound unreasonable but death almost resents himself, however, collecting the souls of the lost is simply his occupation and it is necessary for him to do so. This doesn’t mean he enjoys it or takes pride in his job. Lastly, Death admires the living, thriving people of the world and regrets taking their privileges and happiness away from them. He admires the people who work hard and stay strong throughout such extreme times, never giving up on life or giving into well, him. He shares the same views as many, however they do not realize it, associating him with evil and mistaking him with negativity.
            With Death as the main focus and narrator of a story of courage, knowledge, and tragedy, Markus Zusak demonstrates a newfound perspective on life and death themselves. Through strong personification of the one thing humans fear most, the reader’s perspective on death is altered to sympathy and understanding of Death himself. Death is simply a caring being, who carries with him a moral compass of which would unexpectedly be associated with someone of his caliber.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Personal Moral Compass

The morality compass I have created includes four things that make up most of my life and have the utmost importance to me. These happen to be my future, friends and family, school and education, and last but certainly not least change. All of these contribute greatly to make up my life as a whole. They all are very crucial in the maintaining of my success and happiness.
At the very top of my compass is a simple but powerful component- my future. It is composed of simply two words that can bring with them so much room for curiosity, potential, and preparation. My future to me means endless possibilities. I organized for this to be at the very top and center of the compass because everything that I currently do in the present day is to set myself into a position of which is conducive to success in the future. I take many steps to ensure a great future for myself and never let the goal slip my mind. However, I always find myself stuck, wondering, what will I turn out to be? Will I accomplish what I am intending to or something even bigger? The future holds within it endless pathways and decisions which can either lift you to ultimate success and happiness or in the blink of an eye shatter your dreams right before you.
Another topic of importance to my life is my friends and family. This category of my life is incredibly important to me in the way in which these people have been there for me through everything. I have had the same friends since I was little and had no idea who I was, what I wanted to do with my life, but they have helped me discover that and pushed me in the direction of success and I am unable to describe to them how thankful I am for their help. My parents always nag me about grades and college and athletics but I know it’s for my benefit so I try not to protest and instead be thankful that they care and want to see me succeed and do great things. They are a crucial piece in the puzzle of my future because without them it wouldn’t be complete and nothing would be in its right place. I know they will stay with me and be there throughout my future guiding me the right direction.
Now when I say this it may sound like I am describing myself as a nerd, but schooling and education are of so much importance to me. My life revolves around getting an education to therefore succeed in the future in college and then beyond. Like I said everything I do now I do it for my future and almost all of that preparation involves education. Since I was little my parents have stressed the importance of education in life because their parents never stopped them and made them finish their homework or made them sign up for SAT’s or visit colleges with the sincere intent on attending a four -year school. My parents now regret not seeking the education they needed to become successful and be ultimately happy in life and they want more out of life for me. They don’t want me to follow in their shoes and be unsatisfied with my job and financial situation because believe it or not, that throws everything else in life out of whack too. They strive to prepare me for success and a happy life and to get more out of my time then they did theirs. The fact that they never had a parent there pushing them to do well in school and other activities hurt them a lot in the long run so now they make sure to bother me about homework or get on me about test grades or tell me what I could’ve done better in my game that day. I minded it a lot when I was younger but now I don’t because I realize they only want to ensure the best for me.
Lastly, I value change in my life. I am an extremely firm believer in learning from your mistakes and having an open mind to a changing environment. I like when change occurs around me because I feel it is important for humans to exercise their abilities to adapt to changing environments. I want to view the world around me with a mind open to endless possibilities and travel to places I never been before, adjusting to new cultures, languages, and ways of life. I believe change is important for everyone to expose themselves to and I value my own personal exposure to it on a daily basis. That is why it is of such importance to me to appear on my moral compass.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What is Morality?

Morality is one's ultimate system of believe. It is the path that you follow within your everyday life, the basis for all the decisions you make and the motivation for the reason you do every thing you do. Morality is what one personally believes is right and wrong, what one believes is acceptable and nonacceptable, and what one considers a good deed versus a bad one. Everyone is different, some more optimistic and cautious, some more fearless and objectory; however, no matter which way you look at it, morality is an extremely important component to life itself and gives reason to the psychology behind why we, as humans, do what we do throughout our entire lives.