Allergic to Allergies

My son has every allergy you can imagine. It’s a lot of work. He went into anaphylactic shock three times before the age of three. He has sneezed more and produced more mucus than the rest of my entire family put together. And while that fact is funny, it is no laughing matter. As exhausting as it is for me, I can only imagine how incredibly deflating and tiresome it is for him. He’s proven to be quite a trooper and is famous to my friends and fans as SuperBoy. Boisterous you think? No. let me explain.

Kenneth was born at approximately forty weeks to the day. He came out with a push and a half. He was more than eight pounds, almost two feet long, and had a faint mustache. At three months old, he would scream after every bath. I thought he didn’t like to be nudey in the breeze. No, he had eczema, and the lavender bath soap and lotion that I was using was torturing him. I didn’t know until one night when I only had cocoa butter at my disposal. After smoothing it over his little man body, not only was he not screaming, he was relaxed and comfortable. His skin needed that moisture and oil and he was pleased. At his next check up the doctor said: eczema. Eczema? Ok, I can handle that. No dyes or perfumes and plenty of cocoa butter. CHECK!

He trucked on through those next few months without incident. His skin was soft and smooth and his hair was super-curly-awesome! He was handsome and happy. I nursed Kenneth for seven months and when I switched to formula, a different set of problems started; sneezing, coughing, runny nose, congestion. So. Much. Congestion. After about a month of formula, Kenneth was transported by ambulance to the hospital. It was Christmas Eve. Pneumonia; the doctor said.

I watched as my infant child was held down by four adult women and then given an IV. I stood by as he was wrapped in towels and had his nose suctioned to remove the excess of mucus. I was witness to him receiving breathing treatment after breathing treatment after breathing treatment. And he still struggled to breathe. We spent his first Christmas in the hospital, sharing a twin sized hospital bed and slept at a 30-degree incline. I was broke, had no prepaid minutes on my phone, no charger for my phone and no change of clothes. At the time, I received a few visitors and I received a pair of fuzzy pajamas and socks. i also received a beautiful painted glass tile that doubled as a comforting nightlight. It was a really rough time and those few items helped me to feel at ease trying to help him feel at ease.

When we were finally released from the hospital, I went home and cried. Kenneth was almost back to himself, but I was exhausted. I called friends to see if someone could come and watch him while i tried to nap, but i wasn’t that lucky. i cried more. It took almost two weeks for his arm to heal from the adult-sized IV needle that was jammed into it. The bitch nurse that did so laughed at me for crying while i watched her shove a needle the size of a McDonald’s straw into his arm. She smirked and said “are you going to be alright?” and then smiled at the other nurse that was helping to hold my child down. I wanted to punch them both in the face. I will never forget her rude, inconsiderate, wrinkly mug. I hope i see her another day so i can tell her just how ridiculous and subpar she was during such a sensitive and traumatic moment in our lives.

Pneumonia, huh? It came on so suddenly. He hadn’t been sick or outside. It was December but it wasn’t cold (I mean, this is Southern California). But ok. Pneumonia, I guess. No dairy for a few days, no exposure to the cold, keep him hydrated and take all of his medicine. Got it. Pneumonia? We can handle it! CHECK!

Kenneth returned to the hospital emergency room just two months later. This time they said bronchitis. Bronchitis? Isn’t that one symptom shy of pneumonia? Good grief. But ok. We didn’t stay. I refused to be checked in or admitted. We got our diagnosis, our prescription and went home.

This became a cycle that went on for about two years. Kenneth was either at the doctor, or at urgent care. There were also a few emergency room visits. He was transported by ambulance again, when he was about four. We’d actually gone to the doctor, but his blood oxygen was so low that she called 911. Devastating.

Every episode was a bout of coughing, sneezing, snotting, choking, and pure misery. Sometimes his eyes would just scream “help me!” It was just murderous to watch. I always felt like I’d done something wrong; done something to him. I wondered if I’d inadvertently made him sick. But how, how do you give someone bronchitis or pneumonia? What set of skills do you need to have to impart such a condition? I felt guilty, and like an outsider. I had to stand back, step out-of-the-way, and watch other people care for my son.

I didn’t know what I was in store for. I had no knowledge of food allergies or their impact and effect on my infant/toddler child. I spent days, nights, and weeks watching my son struggle to breathe. He would not eat because he couldn’t breathe and there was just so much mucus that every swallow would lead to choking. He was miserable and I was too, twelve times as much. No one wants to see their child suffer through any kind of illness. It makes us parents feel helpless and ineffectual. We are the care providers and we are outdone and undone by a “bug”, a flu, a pneumonia. It sucks.

As time went on, Kenneth’s flare-ups would become (what I thought was) somewhat predictable. But then there were also times that they came on suddenly and unexpected. It was a life-or-death guessing game. Russian roulette… with an unknown weapon that had a hair-sensitive trigger. Every time I thought I knew what was going on, something would pull that trigger and I’d be back to square one. At some point the pediatrician said that Kenneth had asthma. Just “asthma”. Did I mention that he was diagnosed with eczema at just three months old? Yeah, so there was that, and now the asthma. Inhalers! Nebulizer! no cold, no wind, no dust, no pets!! asthma? CHECK!

The worst part of any and all of this was watching my son have to deal and adjust. He received shots, syrups, chewables, breathing treatments, inhalers, and steroids. STEROIDS! You know the culprit: prednisone! awful stuff. I mean, an absolute God-send in the way that it targeted his swollen bronchial tubes and allowed him to breathe. but HORRID in the way that it turned him into an emotionally unstable toddler HULK! He was bouncing off walls one minute, crying the next, and anywhere in between at all times. One morning, I had to get him ready for our morning commute. At that time, I just got him dressed and put him in the car. He never woke. But one fine morning, he did wake; and he cried and cried and cried. I knew it was the prednisone taking hold of his emotions. He was inconsolable and it ripped my heart out. So, considering all that he had been through and was going through, I had to decide if I should actually give him the prescribed medicine that he needed to make him better: TO HELP HIM BREATHE. Or I had to watch him struggle with every breath. Whatta crock!

I called the pediatrician and described what happened. Kenneth was prescribed an alternate course of medication that had zero to no effect and nearly had us back at he hospital the next week. Again, I realized the gravity of this drug induced torture upon my child. Kenneth became so disagreeable and defiant. And moments later he would be crying. To make matters worse, I had to leave him at childcare on some days knowing that his heart was broken and that he didn’t feel good. I really don’t know how I kept a job through those years.

During all of these bouts of asthma and eczema flare ups, my son would have allergic reactions to particular foods. At almost 3, he nearly died from exposure to peanuts. And that was the THIRD time that he’d been in anaphylactic shock. I have no idea what was the cause of the first two situations. He would vomit when he ate eggs, wheeze when he ate marshmallows, and all dairy products would descend upon his sinuses and create a constant and steady congestion that would surely lead to urgent care. I missed hours, days, and weeks of work. I spent many nights watching him, holding him, and administering medication at all hours of the night. I was tired for me and exhausted for him.

We have come a long way, but we didn’t do it alone. Kenneth is nine years old now. He is tall for his age, and slender for his size. He destroys a pair of shoes every two months and could eat his weight in pizza and ice cream. He spends his spare moments drawing, reading, chasing Pokemon, and doing those things that classify nine-year olds as exactly that. It took years for us to get to a point where he could just live his life comfortably. I blogged about her some time ago, but his health and well-being is due in part to our pulmonologist. She prescribed a strict regimen of maintenance medication that makes it possible for him to run, jump, and ride bikes without a hospital trip. He still has flare ups and complications now and again, but it’s nothing that we can’t handle.

I joke that “I’m and untrained, unlicensed, unrecognized respiratory therapist”. But it’s the God’s honest truth. Kenneth went to camp this past summer — for a whole week! The thought of sending him away gave me anxiety. I had to load his medical history and medication profile into the camp’s online registry. It seemed arduous at first, but I simply sent the prescribed medications in their proper containers with their pharmacy labels and all things went as flawless as if I’d been there myself. His school, our church, and camp are all very considerate and helpful. Our camp liaison returned with kudos from the nurse stating “he was awesome”. He didn’t have any flare ups while camping. 🙂

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Photo courtesy of Forest Home Christian Camp: The Village Summer Camp 2016

I belong to and monitor several support sites: Food Allergy Research and Education, Kids with Food Allergies, and suggest that everyone support and protect their allergy sufferers with awesome products like the ones available at AllerMates.

My twins had shown some food sensitivities in their early days, but luckily it appears they’ve dodged that bullet. They just turned three and we can have them tested to know for sure. While I certainly want to know if they have any allergies and avoid all near-death experiences, I dread the blood drawing and the possible bad news. I’ll credit their mostly organic diet for their improved health. Our household is predominantly organic, and we do our best to avoid those dangerous agribusiness foods like: high fructose corn syrup, food dye, food color, and most preservatives. I am certainly not perfect at any of that, but each effort and experience is worth it to know that my kids won’t glow in the dark next week.

As the title states, I am allergic to allergies. And I mean that. I myself have airborne allergies and what appears to be a sensitivity to shellfish. I also battle a mild case of seasonal eczema. But I consider myself armed and dangerous when it comes to food allergies, asthma, and eczema. I have a wealth of knowledge, a library of pamphlets, and assorted literature, and have spent a MINT on prescriptions, over the counter, and other support products to aid my ailing child(ren). I know my  children’s medical history word-for-word by heart. I have their medical profiles and current medications loaded into my telephone and have established heartfelt personal relationships with their doctors, nurses, and specialists. I hope you’ll do the same should you find yourself in this predicament. You’ll thank me later.

Recognizing Great Writing

 

Literature is amazing and the world is filled with it. The written word – whether handwritten, typed, printed or transported electronically – can consume a reader’s conscious thoughts, redirect their paths, and open their minds to fantasies that are beyond their own imagination. Word by word inventions, recounts, and the sharing of stories, both real and fantastically unreal, fills the halls and shelves of libraries and most of the Internet. There are so many categories and types that there is surely something for everyone. From literary classics to comic blogs, writers carry their readers to a place where only the two exist; the two, of course, being the writer and the reader. Literature is a historic form of expression, communication, and entertainment that, even today, is used for those same purposes, yet has evolved and elevated itself to a level that can hardly be tracked.

With that said, what makes a written work worthy of being read? What makes a classic a classic, or a bestseller a massive crossover success? There are so many qualities to a writer’s work that draw us in, keep us in, and call us prisoner. But what makes that writing stay with us? Could it be the title? Maybe the first page, the last page, or the character list? Is it the plot, the unexpected twist, or the way a particular work of fiction mimics our own lives? Could it be the vocabulary, the wit, or the absurdity?

Some writers write for themselves, others write for their readers. Whomever their audience, writers are capable of producing something grandiose, infectious, effective, and (hopefully) legendary.

Title and cover art work are the fragrant aromatics that catch a reader’s attention, like the wafting smell of just fired fajitas or fresh baked brownies. Void the concept that the reader has a preference for author, genre, or publishing company. While perusing a bookshelf, the title and artwork are the perfume trails that grab our attention, either attracting or offending us as the potential reader. A title can be intriguing, straightforward, or abstract. The reader doesn’t get to discern which until they read the work. Artwork can be explanatory, provocative, or irrelevant. The combination between the two can draw the attention of an unsuspecting reader and lure them into picking up the work, surveying it, and in less than ten seconds deciding whether it’s what they are looking for. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is an acceptable and realistic idiom.

Just inside the cover, a writer transforms a reader’s mind with their words. They paint pictures of scenery, situations, and characters by creatively weaving their words throughout hundreds of pages, consuming hours upon hours of a person’s time. There are many items that contribute to the grandiosity and staying power of a piece of literature. Some of the most important categories that separate “great writing” from basic reading material include subject matter, relatability, literary voice, and a formidable vocabulary. As well, a great piece of writing will draw it’s reader in and captivate them quickly and efficiently. Some readers feel that if reading the first page entices them to peek at the last – with that last page inciting questions, wonderings, and wide-eyed bewilderment – then the book is a keeper. Other readers just want to be sucked in. Their desire is for the first few pages and chapters to be so enthralling, their only choice is to make a pot of coffee and read from cover to cover.

Whatever genre, subject, or author fascinates the reader, the relationship that ensues is paramount. Each participant relies on the other, and that is the basic foundation and premise of the author -reader relationship. They need each other. The author needs the reader (even if the reader is the writer) to be open and accepting of their message, and the reader is dependent upon the author to provide them with something that opens their mind and exposes them to something new. One does not exist without the other, and coincidentally, they do not want to exist without the other.

Great writing permeates and pickles the being of its reader, leaving behind the perfume of its characters and scenes. The reader wreaks of literary tone, voice, and phrase. They are often drunk with the heart-wrenching prose designed by their favorite author, only to suffer the most intense and draining book hangover when they’ve read the last paragraph. Neither the reader, nor the writer would have it any other way. And that is just part of what makes it great.
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AsthmaMom and SuperBoy!

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I received two calls from my sons school, this day. The first to inform me that “he wasn’t himself”. A clear sign that he is under the weather. The second call came two hours later. Asthma, breathing treatment and 103.8 fever. This is us, waiting for soothing bath water. I think I’m supposed to be his hero….only time will tell. But everyday that he braves his asthma, LIKE A BOSS, he’s my hero. Love my baby boy.

the real deal

so.. i bet you’ve been wondering “what’s goin on in school?”, “how did you do?”, “what have you been writing about?” well…

here’s your answer.

i am currently on hiatus from school. shocked? i know, me too. i was doing well for the first two classes (a B- in the first and an A- in the second) and then the third one hit: Mythology in Literature. hundreds upon hundreds of pages about the origin of the word, it’s first use, it’s first reference and the mysteries contained therein. it was exhausting. and that was just the first week. there were four more to go. needless to say, it was like trekking uphill in a torrential downpour. i found myself exhausted, tired, pooped and plain ole bored to death. i was unable to keep up. to top it off, my son got sick, i got sick and my mojo sprouted wings and took off. quickly. i failed.

then, the next class started. i was still stuck on stupid with mythology (which i thought i would absolutely love) so i was already behind. i felt like i was looking at myself through the rear view mirror… i was in the car, traveling forward, but leaving myself behind at the same time. i bowed out gracefully and quit while i was ahead (technically).

so, i’ve taken a six week leave of absence. i have about four weeks to go. i’m taking the time to dote on my son, to clean, to spring clean and overhaul the closets, drawers and office space. i’m hoping that if i declutter my world, it might extend into my mind. hoping, i say.

i’m not telling you this because i’m proud. i’m sharing with you because i was devastated. when i received the email from my counselors, suggesting that i take some time off i  almost burst into tears. but why? it was obvious to me and everyone around me that i was struggling and floundering… neither of which is complimentary. still, i didn’t want to hear someone tell me “you seem overwhelmed”. i was. i am. i will be again. but at least i can see it, i know it, and that gives me the opportunity to try and deal with it.

now, don’t get me wrong. i’m not changing my mind or getting cold feet.  “going back to school” is a great thing to do. it’s an awesome suggestion and a noble quest for anyone who wants to do better, be better, get better or live better. that’s all of us, right? so, going to back to school is not the problem. it’s time and time management. well, that’s the problem for me.

 i’ve always known this and i’ve actually taken two classes regarding being a better student including specifics regarding time management, priorities and being successful at school and home. but as you all know, all the planning in the world is useless if it’s not put into place. good intentions are rhetoric without action.

there are only so many hours in the day. some of those are spent sleeping, eating, traveling and working. the rest of the time is mine.. well, my son’s. i have duties and responsibilities to him and to our household. that leaves me with nil. and in that nil amount of time, i’m supposed to be a student. a good one.

let me tell you, it’s no easy feat – this online school jazz. you have to be present in your classroom forums at least four or five days out of the week. you have to answer the questions appropriately (with classroom related reading quotes and citations), respond to your classmates, participate in your learning teams and write papers that are supposed to be critiqued and corrected through the online research paper destroyer grader. it’s got a four day turnaround. your instructor, classmates and team mates are in different states, countries and time zones. they are of different cultures, languages, religions and mindsets. add to that the household and everything contained with it and you can see why i needed a breather after only ten weeks. and i have a whole year to go! yes, a whole year. i’ll be in school until november of 2013. shoot me now.

why did i do this? why did i do this to myself? i think that’s my reason for writing. i wanted to see it all in black and white for myself. i want to read my own reasons for pursuing a high education:

dear neesh~

you are going back to school because what you have now can’t be it. there’s got to be more. there’s bigger, better, stronger, faster, and lots more –ers out there for you and your son and you want them. you need them. you deserve them. that’s why you did it. you want your son to have what he needs, most of what he wants and the wherewithal to go get what he doesn’t have. you want him to see you working, schooling, and mom-ing and know that this is what it takes. you want him to know it takes hard work, sacrifice, saving, arguing, budgeting and all that grown-up stuff to have a real life. to have a life made of dreams. to have a life worthy of writing and reading about. you want him to see that life is what you make it and you’re making his great. now, get off your @$$ and get back to the grind. stay on top of the reading and do your work. this is real life. this is your one chance. the days are going to be long, hard and sleepless. they are going to be rough. there will be good ones and bad ones, but when you’re done — there’ll be great ones. give up a little so you can get a lot. you have it in you. you do.

~your conscience

so i’ve taken a moment to assess my situation and tackle my most visible obstacles.

  • time management: i’m a perfectionist and a procrastinator. that’s all B-A-D (thanks, Gene). it doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be done. get it done… just get it done. sooner, rather than later.
  • household chores on hold: i hate a messy house. even though i have one and sometimes it gets out of control, it drives me nuts. when the house is cluttered, i can’t think. so i need to declutter, clean and downsize so that i don’t have to work at it everyday. i’ll be able to leave the house for a day or two in hopes of getting some reading or writing done. it’s a must.
  • read: there’s hundreds of pages to read. they don’t get any shorter as time wears on. read. sit down and read. there’s no getting around it. read.
  • phone restriction: i recently became the proud owner or an iPhone. i know, i sound like “one of them”, right? it’s because i am. i am one of them. in awe with and chained to my phone. but where school is concerned, if i’m not tuned into the merriam-webster app, then the phone must be down and away. not sure how i can enforce this upon myself, but i’ve got to try.
  • reward good behavior: hours of reading, posts of participation and completion of an essay are all deeds that deserve rewards, but i musn’t over-indulge. i can reward my good behavior with something — small. i can’t jump off the deep end every time i turn the page.
  • should i stay or should i go, now?: if i am debating on whether or not to stay home or go visit friends, the answer is stay home. no matter what. true story. just stay home.

i won’t know until school comes back around and i’m knee deep in it, whether or not my list of self-awareness will be of any benefit. i can say that going back to school was a kick in the pants. i thought i knew what it would take to be successful, but the last time i was in school i was single and childless.

there are not enough hours in the day to be working-student-SuperMom. but i’m going to make it work. i want SuperBoy to have opportunities and experiences and not all of them will be free. i want him to know the value of hard work and sacrifice… because i want him to take advantage of everything life has to offer. i want the world for him, and i’m going to get it… as soon as i get it together.

Leave Well Enough Alone

 Leave Well Enough Alone[A1] 

Tanisha Danise Ware

ENG / 125

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ozichi Alimole, Ph.D[A2] .

 Langston Hughes and José Armas are skillful writers. They are able to illustrate how the main characters, in their short stories “Salvation” and “El Tonto del Barrio”,[A3]  are better off without the tampering of others[A4] . Both characters have familial support, but it appears to be from a distance. Hughes attempts to find his personal salvation at the encouragement of his aunt’s congregation and peer pressure.[A5]  What he receives, instead, is a falsely justified reason to be anything but saved. In a more subtle light, Armas’s protagonist, Romero, is a simple man of simple means until a bright college student distorts his view money and of the community bringing both resentment and intolerance. If the main characters were allowed to maintain their previous status – if they were allowed to just maintain, void of expectation, they most likely would have been better off. [A6] 

Langston Hughes’s short story, about himself, titled “Salvation” provides the reader with a quick glimpse into his childhood understanding of the meaning of salvation.  He is invited to be saved.  At this time, Hughes is just a child of twelve. His understanding is that “you could see and hear and feel Jesus in your soul” (Hughes, p351). Hughes is taunted by his peer, Westley, who simply gets tired of sitting, gets up to “be saved” (p351) [A7] and leaves Hughes alone. In his heart, Hughes knows that he did not, see, hear, or feel Jesus, but at the risk of shaming himself, he relents to the prayers, the guilt and the heat. He gets up and the church erupts “into a sea of shouting” (p352). Once the church settles, Hughes and the rest of the children were[A8]  blessed. Hughes is obviously upset as demonstrated by this reaction. He cries “in bed, alone, and couldn’t stop” (p352). His aunt misinterprets his grief as tearful joy. Hughes is distraught; he can’t bear to let his aunt know that not only did he not receive Jesus, but he had also lied. Not seeing and feeling Jesus the way he had anticipated left him wanton[A9] . He felt deserted by Jesus;[A10]  forsaken. When he felt and saw [A11] nothing he left disappointed and dejected. It is not clearly stated, but one can discern that this is not Hughes’s first time to church. He most likely had a respectable relationship with Jesus prior to his supposed salvation, but once the weight of this relationship was questioned publicly, he sought stronger validation only to find himself completely disenchanted. He should have been allowed to explore his religious affirmations on his own.[A12] 

José Armas expresses much the same sentiment in his short story “El Tonto del Barrio”. The main character Romero is ‘touched’ (p170). He has a routine, a ritual he follows when cleaning his and is recognized as a respected citizen. He is pleasant, helpful and entertaining. Armas describes the careful work of Romero as he tended to his citizens. In return for his dedication and cleaning up “the barrio looked after him” (p170). Each business provided for Romero in some way. Summertime brought the barber’s college-bound son, Seferino. He was unable to recognize the subtle unspoken relationship between Romero and his community.  He, instead, felt sorry for Romero and insisted on turning him “a businessman” (p171). The barber, Barelas, tried to dissuade this train of thought; that Romero wanted for something, but still his son was convinced that Romero was being taken advantage of.  Barelas pleads with his son, making a point of the fact that “[Romero] sweeps the sidewalks because he wants something to do not because he wants money” (p171). His son is relentless and Romero is soon receiving menial wages for his work. This concept spirals out of control, resulting with Romero having a feeling of duty and obligation followed by resentment for all the work done in the past. He soon requests a raise saying he deserves it, then asks for credit and soon quits. “Romero’s behavior continued to get erratic and some people started talking about having Romero committed” (p173). Barelas convinces the community to wait it out, hoping that a full moon would change Romero’s disposition. No one seems to notices that Romero returns to his old ways once Seferino leaves for school.  Romero’s needs are as simple as he. The outside interference could have resulted in Romero losing all freedom of choice by being committed.[A13] 

The nature of the familial relationships of both characters is not explained in either story.  Neither of them lives with their parents or in traditional family settings. In fact, the parents are not mentioned. What we do see is that both characters are supported by their communities. Hughes’s spiritual well-being is encouraged and prayed for by “old women with jet-black faces and braided hair, old men with work-gnarled hands” (p351). Hughes recreates the feeling he felt when he was left alone on the bench. His aunt came to him, knelt and cried “while prayers and songs swirled all around” (p351). I feel it is this action alone that convinces Hughes to, even against his own intuition, “save further trouble” (p352) and “lie, too, and say that Jesus had come” (p352). Hughes did not move at the encouragement of the congregation or the taunting of his Westley. He holds still and states that he waited “serenely for Jesus” (p352). Hughes took his aunt’s explanation literally and in the end his spirit suffers true heartache as he does not get the salvation he had truly hoped for[A14] .

In “El Tonto del Barrio”, Armas shows us that Romero belongs to his community. The community is his family. They are used to him. They expect him. “If [Romero] didn’t show up one day someone assumed the responsibility to go to his house to see if he was ill” (p169). The children did not mock Romero and criticism of his work is not necessary. The community accepted and respected Romero just as he was. He “[fit] very well into the community” (p170). This peaceful and mutually beneficial relationship is questioned and scrutinized by the barber’s son, Seferino. Why did he feel the need to meddle? Why did he not listen to his father? His questions and valid points confuse his father. Barelas understood the logic behind Seferino’s suggestion — to pay Romero for his work, “but it still went against his ‘instinct’” (p171). Knowing that his son was bound for Harvard silently squelched any argument and while he knew better, Barelas chose not to continue the debate with his son. Romero would have benefitted more from the argument between father and son than the silent succession by a man with no desire to interfere.[A15] 

Hughes uses irony to bring the reader into his perspective[A16] . He opens the story by stating that he was saved, “but not really saved” (p351). The reader is engaged from the second sentence.  The writing is concise with beautiful descriptions and a lovely choice of adjectives.  He plays back-and-forth between the excitement and commotion within the church, in comparison to the silence and stillness inside him.  The reader can imagine the look upon his face as he sat trying to decide whether to lie — in order to be saved[A17] .

Armas uses Barelas dialogue with Seferino to foreshadow the negative outcome of his tampering. He expresses himself clearly, when he tells Seferino “you don’t know about these things mi’jo” (p171). He goes on to explain that “right now everyone likes [Romero] and takes care of him” (p171). Barelas wants to tell his son to leave the situation alone but he says nothing instead. He allows the situation to play out knowing that everything was just fine, the way it was.[A18] 

We have all seen an[A19]  experienced a situation that should have been left to play itself out instead of being controlled by the thoughts, feelings and experiences of others. Our family is our first reference for this grey area. We turn to our family in times of confusion or uncertainty. We look to them for guidance, advice and support. For some, this is not possible and they have to trust that what is being brought to them is not only true but beneficial. Hughes, as himself and Armas as Romero show us that not all suggestions should be taken to heart. Hughes was a child of twelve. At the request of his aunt Hughes attempts to look for a deeper stronger salvation that he must not have been ready for. Not only did he misunderstand what he was looking for, he was presented to the congregation and pressured to call on and accept Jesus, right then and there. [A20] Likewise, Romero is convinced that he should be paid for doing something that he’d gladly done for years, without question. Romero was perfectly happy living sweeping his streets, singing his songs and sharing camaraderie with his version of family. One person glanced at this relationship and interpreted everything incorrectly. His suggestions turned the community upside down. This was one such occasion where it may have been wise to leave well enough alone[A21] [A22] .

 

References[A23] 

Barnet, S., Burto, W., & Cain, W. E. (2011). Literature for Composition (9th ed.). New York, New York: Longman.

 


 [A1]This is an interesting expression that’s best suited for an informal or conversational usage. To maintain the academic tone of your paper, you may want to rephrase the expression in a formal language. 

 [A2]Hi Tanisha, the title page meets the APA standards.  Good job.

 [A3]How may you explain the use of this story as a nonfiction?  It is difficult to evaluate this paper because your choice of stories does not meet the expectations of the assignment.  For example, the stories you’ve selected belong to two different genres.  Do you agree? 

 [A4]Rephrase, ‘interfering in the affairs of others.’

 [A5]This is an important point.  How may you restructure the phrase to make it a complete sentence?

 [A6]This is a fiction short story.  It does not meet the standards of the nonfiction genre.

 [A7]The use of quotations to support your main points enriches the essay.  Try to review the in-text citation format consistent with the APA guidelines.  You may want to refer to the Sample Paper in the Center for Writing Excellence for examples of in-text citations formatting.

 [A8]Try to maintain consistency with your tenses.  Consider ‘are’ instead of ‘were’

 [A9]How may you clarify the use of this word in this context? 

 [A10]Reconsider the punctuation.

 [A11]Rephrase for clarity.

 [A12]This is a thoughtful interpretation of Hughes’ experience to support your essay topic.  How may this thought help to define the theme of this story and the author’s purpose?

 [A13]This section is inconsistent with the expectations of the assignment.

 [A14]This is an excellent analysis of Hughes experience.  The view of family pressure is thoughtful in this context.  Good job.

 [A15]This section is inconsistent with the expectations of the assignment.

 [A16]This is a good point.  The author’s use of specific literary strategies to convey his thoughts is an important aspect of the assignment. 

 [A17]You demonstrate an excellent analytical skill.  What techniques do you think Hughes may have used to evoke the powerful imagery in the reader’s mind in this scene?

 [A18]This section is inconsistent with the expectations of this assignment.

 [A19]and

 [A20]This is an important point that restates your interpretation of Hughes’ experience. 

 [A21]How may you clarify this important thought?

 [A22]Tanisha, your essay is a good effort.  It demonstrates an understanding of Langston Hughes’ narrative in “Salvation” and your view of family pressure as a possible theme of this story is credible.  The use of quotations from the story to support your views is commendable. 

Your paper is organized in a manner that is clear and logical and your discussion on the author’s use of irony as a strategy to express his thoughts is quite satisfactory.   

Consider how you may increase the content of your essay by a more comprehensive and in-depth analysis of the author’s description of his ‘salvation’ experience.  

Consider also how you may structure your essay to address other key aspects of the assignment including the nonfiction value of “Salvation” and the role of imagination in writing and reading of nonfiction.

Try to proofread your paper to address minor cases of incomplete sentences, word choice and spelling.

Note that “El Tonto del Barrio” by Jose Armas is not a nonfiction story and therefore not considered valid for this assignment. 

 [A23]Please check the Reference and Citation Examples document in the Tutorials & Guides section of the Center for Writing Excellence for examples of correct formatting. Then carefully check your reference page to be sure that it is formatted correctly.

Helping Hamlet Heal

 Helping Hamlet Heal

Tanisha Ware

ENG / 125

Saturday, October 06, 2012

O. A., Ph.D[A1] .

Grief and betrayal have to be two of the most profound emotions, outside of love.  It is because of intense love that grief and betrayal have such an enormous effect on a person, their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Grief is inevitable as people die and the circle of life is renewed. Betrayal is more of a reaction to an action. It is so intense and blinding that the mere idea of betrayal can turn the most intelligent and meek person into the most cunning and vengeful. Like love, grief and betrayal come from the heart.  The levels of either can only be experienced in a first-person perspective. Everything else is just a reasonable facsimile. Hamlet suffered both grief and betrayal, followed by rejection, doubt and hallucinations. His story is tangled and weaved so tight that he, himself, could hardly understand. He had no time to recover from the former without being forced to deal with the latter. William Shakespeare walked us right into[A2]  Hamlet’s psyche and held us captive while he slowly became unraveled.

Hamlet is a just and believable character. He is of royalty, but still looking to fulfill his own destiny. Whilst abroad studying, his father dies.  Hamlet is scarcely allowed to mourn his poor father, the King’s,[A3]  passing before he is forced to deal with his replacement. Sadly, while still in the throes of grief for his father, Hamlet’s mother, the Queen, remarries – to her own brother-in-law. Creating a royally related family based on greed and deception.[A4]  Hamlet is visited by a ghost that he feels resembles his father. The ghost informs him that the King, the new King, his uncle and step-father is a murderer and murdered the previous King, Hamlet’s father[A5] .

What kind of consuming emotion would stir within after hearing such news?  It has scarcely been two months since his father has died and Hamlet will find no solace for his grief.  He cannot shake the apparition as a fluke.  He begins to piece together the horrid plot and evil intentions of his uncle. Shakespeare allows us to see the level of Hamlet’s madness by providing long, descriptive soliloquies that unearth his true feelings of madness and disparity.

In the most famous quoted line of all plays, “to be or not to be” (Shakespeare, p951) Hamlet shows us the path that his madness will take. We can see that he just recently harbored a wonderment and fascination for life and all of its nuances, but as of late, his thoughts have become less enthusiastic and more vengeful. He questions the motives of any man that chooses to continue to live and suffer at the hands of time, the hands and will of other men, the painful resonant tenderness of unreturned affection or the biased government[A6] .

Hamlet starts a fast paced descent into the depths of his grief – confronting, questioning and offending everyone along the way. It reads like a modern-day television sitcom based on meeting and exceeding every possible limit.  As if Shakespeare had a list of what if questions that would push and push until the breaking point[A7] .  Hamlet’s uncle kills his father, marries his mother, denies him his true love, set[A8]  him up to be deceived, to be swindled and eventually shipped away to bother no more.  And in come the questions[A9] : What if the killer was his uncle?  What if his mom married his uncle?  What if he vowed revenge but stabbed the wrong person?

Hamlet is ravenous with revenge.  His thoughts and feelings get more erratic with each passing moment. While praying and asking forgiveness, Hamlet sees his uncle, at a disadvantage, but carefully decides that death while praying will not allow enough suffrage for his liking. Hamlet meets with his mother, to shame her and inquire about her reasoning and state of mind. He didn’t know it then, but he was being listened to.  Upon hearing a noise, he impulsively stabs the councilor to the king, only stating “I know not: was it the king” (Shakespeare, p969)? Hamlet’s power hungry uncle takes this as an opportunity to ship Hamlet off to England[A10] .

After word of the accidental unnecessary death, the mayhem is rampant.  Hamlet’s only love and the councilor’s daughter, Ophelia, loses her mind when she discovers that her would-be lover has cold-bloodedly murdered her father. Her brother returns from war to avenge his father’s death – but soon is grieving the loss of his sister. The conniving king plays his part by inciting the youngster to seek justice through the death of Hamlet and tries to ensure Hamlet’s death by poisoned blade or poisoned goblet. A fight ensues and nothing goes as planned.

The queen dies from the poisoned goblet. More grief. The councilor’s son, Laertes, and Hamlet both suffer wounds, but it is the councilor’s son that meets his demise. Before dying, he revealed the evil and treachery bestowed upon him by the king. Hamlet, ripe with the vengeance of his father, his mother and his true love – followed by the confusion and torture of killing the councilor, forces the king to drink from the poisoned goblet before his own death.[A11]

Hamlet is a character of much character. He is noble and intelligent, practiced and rehearsed in matter of thought and philosophy.  Hamlet loses his mind, his philosophy and his entire sense of family when his father is murdered.  While suffering this grief, Hamlet is prompted by a ghost to believe that his uncle killed his father. He sets forth on a turbulent and frantic journey towards the truth.  But with every reveal, Hamlet discovers that not only is this travesty true, that there is more to be unearthed, to been seen and discovered and none of it can be denied. He is not given a chance to deal with any of it on his terms. He cannot come to terms with what he is being told before there is more to tell. He is not allowed to process and heal. He simply has to deal with it. Hamlet is a whirlwind account of how a young man loses his mind – and his entire family[A12] .

 References[A13]

 Barnet, S., Burto, W., & Cain, W. E. (2011). Literature for Composition (9th ed.). New York, New York: Longman.


 [A1]Hi Tanisha, the title page meets the APA standards.  Thank you.

  1.  [A2]This is a thoughtful reflection on the concept of grief and betrayal in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  How may structure this paragraph as an effective introduction of your essay?  You may find it helpful to review the 5-paragraph tutorial from Writing Wizards in the Tutorials & Guides section of the Center for Writing Excellence for more information about writing introductions.

 [A3]Remove.

 [A4]This is an important point.  How may you turn phrase into a complete sentence?

 [A5]Your understanding of the central plot of this tragedy is remarkable.  Thank you.

 [A6]Hamlet’s dilemma expressed in this analysis defines the heart of the tragedy.  Your demonstrate a great analytical skill.  Good job.

 [A7]This is an important phrase.  How may you turn it into a complete sentence to enhance the clarity of your thoughts?

 [A8]sets

 [A9]Try to maintain a professional tone in your essay by avoiding the use of conversational words and expressions.  How may you rephrase this expression to make academic?

 [A10]This is great retelling of the story of the Tragedy of Hamlet.

 [A11]You demonstrate an understanding of the sequence of the actions as they build up to the climax.

 [A12]This is a good essay, Tanisha.  It demonstrates an understanding of the plot structure of The Tragedy of Hamlet and your view of the theme of grief and vengeance is thoughtful.  You did a great job retelling the story.  Your paper has a structure that is clear and easy to follow.  Your conclusion is logical and flows from the introduction.

Consider how you may  structure your paper to address in some depth the key elements of the assignment rubric including the role of imagination in wiring and reading this play and Shakespeare’s use of literary devices and conventions of drama to his view of betrayal and vengeance.

Consider also how you may use direct quotations from the play to support your views.

Your title page format is consistent with the APA.  Try to review the reference page format to meet the APA guidelines.  Good effort.

 [A13]Please check the Reference and Citation Examples document in the Tutorials & Guides section of the Center for Writing Excellence for examples of correct formatting. Then carefully check your citations and references to be sure that they are formatted correctly.

Home Is Where the Heart Is

the same photo in my course book

 

 Home Is Where the Heart Is[A1] 

Tanisha Ware

ENG / 125

Saturday, September 29, 2012

O. A., Ph.D[A2] .

Somewhere along the way, a negative connotation was attached with the responsibilities of a classically defined female gender role[A3] . Women maintained[A4]  the children and the home while men provided structural[A5]  and financial support to his family. Julia Alvarez makes it clear that the work of the woman – the “Woman’s Work” is an art and it is to be recognized and respected.  Even as a young girl, employed to assist rather than allowed to play, our narrator understood the effort and precision as she watched her mother meticulously prepare their home, time and again. The author’s words fill the girl with an overwhelming sense of pride and point out that the keeping of the home, is “nothing less than art” (Alvarez, 1996[A6] ).

Managing a home is hard work.  There was a time when it was considered woman’s work, meaning it held less respect (to some) than the responsibilities held by men.  House-husbands were a concept yet-to-be [A7] discovered and the place for a woman was in her home.  Respectfully so, the narrator of Julie Alvarez’s “Woman’s Work” values the efforts of her mother and shares a sense of gratification at a job well done.  The narrator begins with her mother’s advice to “keep house as if the address were your heart” (Alvarez, 1996). As she describes their planned route through the house, the reader can feel the child’s frustration with the sigh she expresses at hearing her “friends outside” (Alvarez, 1996).  She expresses her frustration with having to sweep until her mother was satisfied.  But she still refers to it as art[A8] .

If it is unclear to the reader what the narrator is feeling, in line nine she simply sates that she felt “like a prisoner in her housebound heart”.  Even still, her complaint seems warm and hardly worthy of “prisoner”.  The narrator appears to be complaining but soon refers to herself as “[her] masterpiece” and “smart” (Alvarez, 1996).  The narrator, the daughter – shows a positive outlook on her mother’s woman’s work because she knows it for what it is. Difficult.  She not only respects the woman, she also respects her work.  The narrator goes on to express the direction and advice given by her mother but proclaims that she “did not want to be her counterpart” (Alvarez, 1996)! Having “struck out” (Alvarez, 1996) the narrator “became her mother’s child” (Alvarez, 1996) and even though she tried to do something else, be something else… she returned to the familiar territory of art[A9] .

The author uses end rhyming stanzas to set the tone. The word “heart” or “art” is present in every stanza and both are present in the final four lines.  This follows with the theme that home is where the heart is.  The narrator and author seem to be one in [A10] the same.  She writes from a familiar first person point of view that pulls the reader directly into her shoes.  [A11] Or the shoes she has created. 

The author pulls the reader in with short, but vivid, descriptions of her mother’s hard work.  She begins with the bathroom tiles.  The two words alone bring to mind the scrubbing and cleaning of grout and fixtures, all requiring a different substance and tool to get the job done.  A subtle fact not mentioned or credited when discussing a woman’s work. 

The narrator’s mention of cleaning the upstairs before the down is also remnant of a first person perspective.  Most people don’t put much thought to the cleaning[A12]  process but this woman has specific directions.  The sigh that is mentioned can be heard by the reader. And feel the humidity of the exhale and the vibration of the low, guttural half-sigh, half-growl that would escape the mouth of a child that would be listening to their friends instead of interacting with them.  [A13] 

The reader is almost apt to believe that the child narrator is inexplicably sad and oppressed by the cleanliness of her mother, but each line reveals love, adoration and respect.  The author shares a daughter’s perspective of the “hard art”, the “art”, the “art” (Alvarez, 1996).  The author and narrator are amazed.  The narrator would love to deny her love for the clean but matures only to find her own form of heart-art. 

There have been and always will be gender roles and gender specific expectations.  The lines between these things has[A14]  merged and diluted over time.  Some lines don’t [A15] need to merge or dilute, some lines need to be recognized and respected for exactly what they are.  It might look like simple housekeeping to you[A16] , but to the narrator of Julia Alvarez’s “Woman’s Work”, it’s hard art.  For the young female narrator, the guidelines provided for her mother serve their purpose in the years to come.  The author eludes[A17]  to the fact that she may be the narrator and that her mother’s art came from her heart in the form of a clean home.  The narrator’s art is the art of the heart and is most likely the words in this poem.    [A18] 

References

 

Barnet, S., Burto, W., & Cain, W. E. (2011). Literature for Composition (9th ed.). New York, New York: Longman.


 [A1]This is a good title that suggests the focus of your essay.   Thank you.

 [A2]Hi Tanisha, the title page meets the APA guidelines.  Good job.

 [A3]This is an important remark.  Consider how you may rephrase it with fewer words for greater clarity.  Consider for example, “In the past, the classically defined role of women in the home earned little recognition/respect…”

 [A4]‘looked after’ or ‘took care of the…’

 [A5]How may you clarify the use of this word in this context?

 [A6]Great introductory paragraph.  It states the central thought of the poem and your own point of view.  Good job, Tanisha.

 [A7]Rephrase for clarity.  Consider, ‘The concept of ‘house-husband’ was …’

 [A8]This is an important comment.  The narrator appears to be torn between the two apparently contradictory roles – social and personal roles!

 [A9]You demonstrate a great sense of analysis, Tanisha.  I love your interpretation of the narrator’s push and pull dilemma.

 [A10]Remove.

 [A11]This is a thoughtful interpretation of the poet’s use of the first person narrative!  Thank you.

 [A12]Insert, ‘house cleaning’

 [A13]This is a perceptive interpretation of the poet’s use of imagery to convey her ideas about a woman’s work that was previously overlooked or ignored.

 [A14]have

 [A15]Try to avoid the use of contractions in an academic paper unless when they are absolutely necessary.

 [A16]Remove.  It is not desirable to use conversational tone in an academic paper.

 [A17]How may you explain the use of this word in this context?  Consider ‘alludes’

 [A18]You are trying to make an important point here.  How may you rephrase it for clarity?

This is a very good essay.  It demonstrates a good understanding of the main points of the poem and your interpretation of the poet’s central thought is credible.  The paper has a definite structure and it is focused on the celebration of the woman’s work as an art.

You discussion on the poet’s use of literary devices to express her thoughts is good.  The use of quotations from the poem to support your views is remarkable.

The paper is well laid out. The introduction is comprehensive and previews the main points of the essay.  The conclusion is logical and flows from the introduction and body of the paper.

Your writing skill is outstanding and the formatting style is generally consistent with the APA guidelines.

Try to proofread your essay to address minor issues of word choice and ambiguity.  Good job.

Feedback from Instructor (Published: Sat 09/29/2012 01:51 PM MST)

Earned Points: 9.7/10
Comments:
Hi Tanisha, thank you for your paper on Close Reading of a Poem. I enjoyed reading it. I have provided more specific feedback in the paper and grading rubric. Please review my comments for details and let me know if you have any questions. Great job!

Additional Comments:

Hi Tanisha, your paper on “Close Reading of a Poem” covered the basic requirements for this assignment.

You selected  “Woman’s Work” by Julia Alvarez from our reading list as required, and you also met the word count requirement.

Your paper demonstrates a good understanding of the central thought of the poem and a grasp of the writer’s purpose and strategies.

Your analysis of the narrator’s dilemma and ultimate acceptance of the value of ‘woman’s work’ is thoughtful and credible.

Additional Comments:

The paper has a definite structure. The introduction previews the main points of the poem and defines its central idea or theme.

The conclusion is logical and  flows from the introduction, giving the paper its sense of unity and coherence.

Continue to maintain the professional tone of your essay by avoiding the use of conversational words and expressions.

Additional Comments:

The paper is well laid out. Your writing skill is outstanding, and the sentences are generally clear.

Try to proofread your essay to address minor issues of word choice, punctuation and ambiguity.

page 1 of my handwritten notes

page 2 – graphic organizer and all