Word of the Month

For the month of October, the word that would best fit these 31 days would be serenity. I feel that it plays a larger part in my life at the moment.

Serenity is what everyone seeks. Serenity by definition is the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled. Serenity can come from many different reactions; honesty being an example. Sometimes, serenity is the oasis someone thought they would never find. As students, we find that we’re stuck in a hot desert of hard work and real-life situations. As we travel through this desert, we realize how much more we crave this oasis. We learn and apply, learn and apply, learn and apply, yet to no avail, we’re given more and more work until we can’t work anymore. Always in life, we seek serenity. I’ve learned that as a considerably hard-working student, I will earn that feeling.

Word of the Month

The Stranger in the Photo is Me

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I was never one to boast over pictures; I never spent more than 5 minutes flipping through a million pictures in the picture album. Let’s get on with it. Who cares about the pictures, what are we going to do now? But with the so many past memories and more subtle ones to come, I find myself looking back, as I suspect a lot of old people do, for another look at family photos that snatch a moment from time.

In looking at mine, I’ve noticed that its been quite a while since we’ve been able to freeze time and halt merely for reflection; memory.

The people in the pictures are all strangers. My parents young adolescents, caught before I arrived or as they were when I saw them as skyscrapers. They seemed so old then and so young now. And I am, to me, the strangest of all.

There is a photograph of me in a cowboy costume watching the annual kitty caper parade on North Main Street. I hardly remember; in another I am dressed in a strawberry costume when I was 3 and lived in a two story house. I cannot remember the costume, but even now, studying the picture, I am dazed in the memory of its weird feel and time is erased.

In the pictures, I pass from chubby to skinny, and fortunately, have grown to be slim. Looking at the people in the pictures I should have known.

In other pictures, I am a tiger, Power Ranger, Batman. I loved to dress up to become what I was not, and suspect that I am still hidden behind a mask and costume.

It would be socially appropriate to report on this day that i contemplate all those who are gone, but the truth is that my eyes are drawn back to the pictures of my stranger self.

And the picture that haunts me the most is the one not in costume, but in the button up coat and beanie I most likely received for my birthday. I believe it was given to me as a birthday gift in my earlier years.

My beanie with its Winnie the Pooh stitching is tugged down over what used to be my mane of hair, my finger pointing at something that made me smile.

The jacket that I am wearing will soon hold food, toys, and many of the legos that were handed to me as a birthday gift. This item was more a matter of entertainment and fulfillment rather than materialistic concern.

The boy, me, smiles as if he knew the happiness he was spreading was both sentimental and awakening.

I try again to enter the picture and become what I was that day when the sunshine leaked into the camera lens, causing a red glare on the side. I was so eager to experience happiness my little heart always felt. I’m sure my father never got to feel this happy as a child.

When that picture was taken, my father still had dreams of a hard working family, of a comfortable lifestyle with no strings attached. I had not yet become the person who made decisions for him, to make the hardest decision which was putting on multiple medications. When this photo was taken, he had not yet become an old man, his sneakers dirty, his shirts wrinkled, his walk still slow and heavy.

Mother was still alive, grandma a raised me, but mom never told me of her passing until I found out through a letter that was sent in the mail. The jacket I wore every day and the one that was worn in the photo had not yet become bleached, and it had not been the first garment to have gotten ruined within the first few months of purchase. I had not yet played my first guitar, had not felt the ground beneath me become a rattling stage as the bass drum was punched by its pedal.

I had no idea my life would become as amazing or as stressful as it has been; that I would buy multiple guitars, write tons of songs and perform terrible covers. I could not have imagined that I actually would become a musician and have friends—multiple friends. I simply cannot re-create the worry-free smile that I felt in the picture.

I didn’t have a hard or sad childhood. I had done well in school but not work; I was not like my father in that way, but life has been worse and much more amazing than I could have imagined.

After 16, we start to see life for what it truly is: a huge mystery. Why we made the decisions we made and how they affect us and our futures. A child finds a picture of the myself and another from my birthday. He is astonished at how much I have grown. I haven’t.

I would not wish for a child or nephew or niece to experience some of the struggles my father tried to urge me into as he had. In some pictures, as I grow from toddler, to young boy, to young man, I realize I see a bright smile. Almost artificial, yet pure, and I find I cannot enter the picture of the boy in the light blue coat and beanie who is still as mysterious as life itself, still as innocent and pleased as any other child.

The Stranger in the Photo is Me

Why I Write

I write when I have to. I write when I feel that my success depends on it, whether it be to cope with a problem or to get a passing grade. Writing to me is a transfer of thoughts from pencil to paper; blank, white paper. When I write, I intend to write to one person: myself. I have never had an intended audience, especially when writing personal thoughts. If I were to write to a person other than myself, it would be to my mentor. Criticism is most useful from someone who knows what they want from me; a person who will guide me to my goal. I use different kinds of writing to appeal to different audiences, but only when I take their future thoughts into consideration. If I think about how my audience will react to my piece, I will definitely make sure I appeal in ways that will most capture their attention. Before I begin the writing process, I organize my thoughts into an order which I will lay them out on paper. I consider my audience’s (if I have one) thoughts. While writing, I keep a steady flow of words that almost overlap each other, in order to sound smooth and meaningful. After writing, I look over the piece and make sure words connect and the tone is memorable. I enjoy writing when I have freedom and the choice of topic. When I can transcribe my thoughts, nothing is more satisfying. I hate writing when I am almost forced to exert energy toward such a mentally draining task. When i have to force thoughts onto paper, it does not feel the same. In the future, I feel that the only writing I would do is lyric writing in a dimmed room. I learned to write with the purpose of merely extracting my thoughts. The biggest problem I face as a writer is the fact that I have a hard time conveying themes and applying tones to my diction. I usually ask friends for help and, if I need more help, I go to my mentor. As a writer, I hope to gain credibility through my works and I hope my peers respect me and my style of writing. A pleasant memory of my early stages of writing would have to be when I got my first A on an essay in GATE English in 7th grade. I think this gave me the motivation to keep writ in because I had a sense of an accomplishment and a sense that I was a good writer. I think my most unpleasant memory from writing would have to be getting caught plagiarizing my summer assignment this past summer. I was sentenced to 3 lunch detentions and an automatic F on the assignment as a whole, which brought my grade down drastically. This instant furthered the idea that work should be done without looking somewhere other than inside my own mind.

Why I Write

Sometimes Baseball is Cruel

That is ultimately the fundamental lesson here, as outs are made games are won, and champions are made by hard work, determination, and love for the game.

Sometimes cuts are left to bleed, metaphorically, and will not stop. Sometimes the score will halt and heading to extra innings. Sometimes the pitcher paints the corners like an artist. Sometimes the strike zone beats the batter. And sometimes, the batter fishes and chases himself into a spot on to the bench.

Sometimes baseball is cruel. And always when it is we do the same thing. We pick ourselves up. We yell, we sit quietly in anger. We run out to the field when it’s our defense and half. And we go on. This is the price of being a ballplayer. And also, arguably, the greatest expression.

But what if a team always has to suffer?

Surely some careless, dirt-stained stud can be forgiven for thinking it’s always his team’s turn to suffer, just after their fifth straight loss by the best team they’ve ever faced— a team of 6’2” monsters. Surely the rest of us watching from afar, experiencing the torture and pain from the bleachers behind home plate, are tempted to believe the same thing.

Unfortunately the team is weak in talent. Unfortunately they have a history of losing streaks, of being the leader in errors and strikeouts. Unfortunately, all that, those are disasters created by a poor mindset, lack of communication, talent, greed.

Sometimes though, you have to wonder if the game itself is conspiring against the humble little team.

After 1962, when the Mets only have 40 wins in 160 games, the Philadelphia Phillies earned 45 wins in 150 games, when the Tigers were the worst in our modern decade, only receiving 43 wins in 162 games1 — and a history that fans cannot begin to speak of in spite of shame. 8–2, is the reported score for this last game.

Sometimes baseballs cool. To search the internet for winning strategies, hunt for that one win, trudge into the  locker room, is to understand the loss in the personal, heartfelt way. It is to mumble, “There’s no crying in baseball.” It is to continue to support the team, love the game, work harder to be better and to fear, even in the doing, that these gestures are small against the need. Minute against a team whose suffering never seems to end.

But what else am I going to do? As a player put it, fate is part of the inevitable. We do not even have the ability to answer the question that crosses every fan’s mind: why are the most humble teams given the most painful losses?

Players are caught in their own capabilities so they are only capable of doing as much is their strength permits them. And watch, awed by the humility it takes, as ballplayers do what fans always do, the thing that which they have become immune to.

Pick yourself up. Leave cuts to bleed, run to your position, stay humble, go on. Sure the fans once again a positive attitude, despite all the cruelties of the game.

Sometimes Baseball is Cruel