My 730-word Reflection

Throughout my entire senior year, I made huge progress in English. One of the most difficult types of writing I was presented with was explication. In the beginning of the year I struggled a lot with the idea of explicating. I had trouble forming theses and organizing my information. I couldn’t build a thesis based on a piece of literature and it was so frustrating. I would discuss with classmates and never really find a solution for my problem. Compared to junior year, which was a breeze, senior English was difficult for me on almost every level. All the constructive criticism I was receiving helped, but always puzzled me. I continuously wondered why I wasn’t getting the A’s I always did and what the source of the problem was.

I began to focus more on model working that Mr.Gallagher would post on the blog. I actually studied some of it. The strategies began to shine through in most of the papers. I began to practice. Explicating different excerpts-especially in my journal.

As all this was happening in English class, there were problems outside of the classroom for me. I was dealing with colleges, recommendation letters, scholarships and Biology AP. The more stress I was under, the more I worried about my English grade.

I remember the first explication that I wrote and was in tune with myself instead of writing random analysis of the piece. It was the Plum-Plum Pickers explication. I understood the excerpt from the story, I picked up on all the main points, I developed an original thesis, and wrote the paper. It was so much easier than all the times before because this time, I used the passage explication sheet differently. I asked myself the questions, but wrote them down on paper, not just considered them in my head.

By the time the Portrait Critical essay came around, I was nervous but not as much as I would have been if I didn’t develop the skills that I had at the time. I worked hard on that paper. I rewrote that thing almost 3 times. By the time my final draft was passed in,
(almost two weeks late) I felt confident that the paper was skillfully done with an original thesis, even though I was backing myself up with the work of other critics.

It turns out, I wrote a B+ paper. At that point, I was amazed at the progress I made. I went from difficulty with thesis development to explicating the work of an author like James Joyce.

Looking back, reviewing my folder, all the work that I’ve passed in, the changes I underwent are evident. I take pride in the fact that I can now deal with stress and cope with expectations from different courses while excelling in an area that was once difficult. Don’t get me wrong; English will always be a challenge. I will always find new ways to do things and will always be presented with new challenges.

In my opinion, this year was a year of great progress and even though it started out terrible, I learned a lot about my writing skills, I improved them, and I opened my eyes up to new forms of literature and different ways of looking at works of literature. Specifically, my favorite thing was criticizing passages from a feminist point of view. Taking a specific standpoint on a piece of literature really digs into the construction of the words and motives of the author. It’s an experience I hope to continue and a tool I will definitely bring out of my shed in college and life. As well as learning all of the above this year, Mr. Gallagher brought to my attention certain things that changed me in a way. The art he brought into the classroom from the Breughel paintings to the work of David Hockney gave me different outlooks on literature, art and life. It’s amazing how many things exist that so many people aren’t even the slightest bit aware of.

From this year’s English class I will take with me the following: the power to explicate, the power to explicate through a critical lense, the power to develop a strong, original thesis, and a broader mentality concerning literature and the arts. I owe most of this to Mr.Gallagher, because everyone else taught me plain grammar. It was my pleasure.


Dialectical Journal Act I Scene V- Strand or Character


"Yea, from the table of my memory I'll wipe away all trivial fond records, all saws of books, all forms, all pressures past that youth and observation copied there, and thy commandment all alone shall live within the book and volume of my brain,"(lines 98-103).

In this quotation, Hamlet is speaking to the ghost who is presumably his father, saying that he will do what is right as a son and avenge his father's death. Halmet immediately because upset when the ghost reveals the truth about his father's death to him. He calls his mother "pernicious" (line 105) and King Claudius a "damned villain"(line 106). I find it interesting that Hamlet references to a book and volumes when mentioning his brain, as if it were a place of storage with vast amounts of information. His relationship and dedication shine through when he mentions the meeting with the ghost and what he asks of Hamlet as a "commandment" and not just a mere wish or favor. Clearly, he had a true bond with his father which he plans to respect by avenging his death. His anger over the matter also displays his affection for his father, or maybe even, his hatred for King Claudius.

A Thousand Splendid Suns Passage Explanation

Hosseini ends part Two of the book with four short passages. All four passages directly follow the bombing of Laila's house. The first passage is the very instance where Laila regains consciousness. "Shapes moving about. A flourescent light shines from the ceiling above. A woman's face appears, hovers over hers. Laila fades back to the dark"(174). The significance of this passage to the rest of the book is precisely based upon the foreshadowing it does of how Miriam and Laila's relationship will be. The worse Laila's life becomes as the book carries on, the more Miriam becomes a "flourescent light" for her. She "hovers over her" and protects her and cares for her in the future.

The next passage on page 174 also foreshadows how the man mentioned in the passage will become towards Laila. "The man waves his hands at her. Frowns"(174). The man she is referring to is Rasheed who makes her life miserable, puts a "frown" on her face, and will do a lot more than "wave his hands at her".

In the third passage, Layla thinks of Tariq, her best friend from childhood, and love of her life. "Where is Tariq? Why isn't he here?"(174). Laila's house was bombed shortly after Tariq and his family left for Pakistan from Kabul. As Laila's family was preparing to change their lives and location as well, her parents lives ended and hers was flipped upside down, all so abruptly. The ending of part two is this exact change that occurs to Laila and the moment that everything becomes different from what it once was.

The fourth passage is Laila's recollection of the time she went to the Red City to see the two Buddhas with Tariq and Babi. The "deep hush"(175) that "falls over everything"(175) represents the enormous change Laila will undergo, from loved daughter and cherished soulmate to neglected wife and envied woman.


Love in the Time of Cholera

To add to Jessica's comment and quotation from page 173, "The truth is that he was never the same again. Winning back Fermina Daza was the sole purpose in his life, and he was so certain of achieving it sooner or later that he convinced Transito Ariza to continue with the restoration of the house so that it would be ready to receive her whenever the miracle took place. In contrast to her reaction to the proposed publication of the Lover’s Companion, Transito Ariza went much further: she bought the house at once undertook a complete renovation. They made a reception room where the bedroom had been, on the upper floor they built two spacious, bright, bedrooms, one for the married couple and another for the children they were going to have", I would like to say that I can relate to Florentino at this point in the book. I can easily see myself doing the same out of insecurity and fear. His love comes off so strong but what doesnt come off as strong is his fear of losing her or never being able to be together. The quotation Jessica used as an example from the book is yet another example of Florentino's obssesive attitude towards being with Fermina. In my opinion, Fermina's father instilled that fear into Florentino with his mere disapproval. There is no doubt, however, that Florentino is a very true man when it comes to what he wants, as Jess put it. He seems like someone who will stop at nothing and the more I read of him, the more determined and honest he seems.


Red Shift

Here I am at 3:19 p.m. fiery unstoppable frame.
The air is cold to the bone, even though it's October.
I drink some rejunivating mineral water which rejuvinates and smile to have confidence and to fit In.
The streets look for my mom or me. I'm just like my mom except younger and much less wise,
it's a miracle I'm visible around her. Lean on me.
I struggle through it, them, as the whole world sipped on my drink now 16 years almost ago,
and the man working, dancing, is looking at my mom & telling
Who would have thought that I'd be here, nothing achieved, nothing destroyed, everything to lose.
Except myself in the process. Up in the sky, travelling from one coast to another, now more than ever before? Not that every man I've seen, ridculous in the disguise of a fur coat eyes penetrating me and my mom
at the same time. & becoming lost in our gazes. Not that gorgeous hairstylist, nineteen,
who was going to have to go, careening into dust and like so.
To live & to laugh more fiercely than I could ever imagine so to go.
Not that Russian who from very first meeting I would never & never will leave the side of until we become one and jump into the world together & so demanded
To conquer every last piece & who will never leave me, not for hair, nor location nor even for another cute Russian girl which is
Only our human lot & means everything to me.
No, not to my lovely mother. There's a song. "Read My Mind". but no.
I won't do that I am smarter. When will I die? I will never die. I will live To be 19.
& I will never go away & you will never escape from me who am always and only an illusion despite this solidity. Spirit who lives only to affect. I'm only human. & I am guilty.
& I didn't do it by mistake. I came into your life to make you love me, and you did but I didn't make you.
You did it on your own & now you changed your mind.
Well, that's just my fate, nevertheless I continue to be in your dreams.
The world's my magic carpet.

My Path towards Clarity and Happiness

I was on my way home standing in the outbound train. I imagined that everyone around me had a job with health insurance. Some were C.E.Os and managers. I hated standing but the train was packed and I had no choice. I had 5 stops left to go from North Station to Malden Station. As always, I was thinking while other people were sleeping, talking on their cell phones, or reading. Most people don't look around while on the train, but I'm not most people. I saw an advertisement for The Boston Language Institute. It said "Teach English as a Foreign Language". My first thought was GREECE.
Most of the time, even when I’m performing tasks that require brain power, I think about my future. When I’m not thinking about it, I worry about it. Over the past few years at Malden High School, I came to countless conclusions. At one point I wanted to go into history. At another I was obsessed with algebra. For a while, I even saw myself becoming a "mad scientist". I recall my thoughts about my future through high school as insane and extremely random. The closer senior year came, the more I stressed over what to do. My strengths are languages. For the past four years I’ve taken intensive English, Spanish, and Italian courses. They’ve always come easiest to me since my native language is Greek. I always considered teaching languages. Even during my elementary and middle school years at Greek school, I would look at my teacher and think: I want to do this.
I can remember so clearly sitting in the classroom around 4:00PM everyday and talking with the other students about 'American' school as the teacher would prepare for the class. I remember being young and not taking Greek school as seriously as I took regular school. It was upstairs from a Greek Orthodox Church in an old dusty room. I couldn't wait to graduate and do better things with my life. Looking back at my Greek school days makes me regret not knowing what I know now: Exactly how much of a unique and beautiful experience Greek school should've been for me. What I remember the most is the distinct feeling that I was so different than the other kids at school. It wasn't shame or pride. I just felt different. Despite my feelings in the past, I'm relieved to say that I've realized how lucky I am to be different; to be Greek.
Even though I constantly changed my career goals, my dream remained the same. I think I was born wanting to live in Greece. Visiting there every summer was like heaven on earth for me. It was such a beautiful, amazing place where the rest of my family was, where the beaches were clean and where the weather was hot and dry. The older I became, the more I realized that I didn't want Greece to be just a "vacation place" for me anymore the way my parents would put it. I started to observe the differences and similarities between Greece and America. I would go so far as to research the countries. For weeks at a time I would compare and contrast, decide and conclude, eat, sleep, and do it all over again. I knew I was serious about relocating when I went to Greece this past summer for two months. I stopped looking at it as a vacation for two months and started saying that I was away at school for 10 months and every summer I would go back home. Despite my age and my lack of life experience at the moment, I believe that my family, friends and career goals will lead me back to my country.

Polis Is This: Progress Over Time


A Humument : Page 10

On page 10 of Tom Phillips' A Humunent, Phillips suggests that humans often wonder about the future when it comes to matters of love and relationships. He divides the page into charcoal and dark grey sections that take the shape of rectangles. There are scattered words, phrases and sentences that are in black print with white as a background that move from left to right as you go further down the page. He portrays the way humans have either a positive or negative outlook on love which he does through contrasting lighter shades of grey with darker ones, and putting his text in tiny areas of pure white, which represent hope.

To begin the page, Phillips creates a pattern of smaller and larger rectangles where the larger ones are charcoal, almost a light black, and the smaller ones which border each larger rectangle are dark grey. He inserts tiny white text boxes into the surface of the page with little phrases and words in them. The dark rectangles represent the negative feelings humans have when it comes to love. The lighter rectangles represent the doubtful and neutral feelings that are neither good nor bad, just grey, that people feel about love. The area that the larger rectangles take up is more than that of the smaller rectangles and the text surrounded by white. This may give the page a negative vibe. It brings to mind break-ups, games and relationships with bad layers and ends. However, when first-looking at the page, the white overrules the dark colors surrounding it. Hopeful thinking comes to mind. The white boxes represent a ray of light in a relationship. Even though the text boxes have a strong presence, they do not overwhelm the eye which can't help but notice the doubt and negativity also on the page.

What makes the page more specific and personal is the character Phillips assigns to it. The character starts by describing the beginning of the relationship from his viewpoint. "You in / mine, / fused" (lines 1-3). To him, he and she are "fused" like two pieces of metal soldered together. He feels they are inseperable and one. He goes on to describe how strong the love is. It is so strong that he has proof of it. Phillips writes "in witness of my love for you, every page" (line 4), which he creates so that the character can persuade the reader that he is truly in love- that every page of every book will prove it. After this line, there is an area where there is no text at all. It is full of charcoal and grey rectangles as the eye travels down the page until another text box appears. The character seems to be concerned about the future of the relationship when he "foresees a book which" (lines 5-7). He stops at "which" because he feels all the feelings of love at that moment. He experiences the negative, neutral and positive and cannot carry on elaborating on the book until he is sure of what to say after "which"- a challenge may humans have with relationships. He finally decides when he says "which, / might / disguise / name" (lines 8-11). Here, Phillips gives the character a skeptic trait, making him doubt and question not only what the "book will foresee", but what he is saying as well. Once again he is torn between a decision and can't pinpoint exactly what is going on in the relationship to decide what will be "foreseen". He feels doubtful and that she is in disguise, or that she is hiding something from him. Therefore, Phillips places the word "disguise" on top of a dark grey rectangle. However, on top of the charcoal triangle is a very alone and blunt "name". Here, the character feels negatively about the relationship. he considers a significant 'other' who is to be "named"- maybe someone intruding the relationship from her end. The word "disguise" also gives me the impression that the character's lover is a woman. The choppiness of the phrases and clarity of the words gives me the impression that the charcater is a man. The next words are leading from the dark grey rectangles to the charcoal rectangles which show how the character at first is doubtful, then becomes convinced that there is something sinister just out of his reach. "admit / explain / perfectly indicate" (lines 12-14). These lines bring to mind a scene that is very familiar to most lovers. He accuses, she "admits" and tries to "explain" but all he hears is words that "perfectly indicate" how hurt he is. This represents the climax of the relationship which leads to the end. It symbolizes the decline from bad to worse.

At the end of the character's tale and at the bottom of the page is the only white text box in any corner. This text box was put there by Phillips to suggest that no matter how dark situations can become, there will almost always be a tiny corner of hope. The character continues, "mention / convince / might," (lines 15-17). These lines start out on the charcoal rectangles but he presents possibility, "might", and ends up on top of dark grey triangles. In between discussion, "mention", and possibility, "might", lies "convince". The character has changed his mind after discussing it and being convinced that there is a possibility of the relationship's survival. The final lines are tricky. The character says "most completely, change" (lines 18-19). This could refer to a negative change made from the "fusion" he used to feel with her, or a positive change made from the doubt and fear he experiences when he is contemplating the relationship's future. The only known fact is that the last lines start on a charcoal rectangle and end on a light grey one and are exactly lined up at the corner of the entire page, as if they are exiting and have find the way off of it.

Phillips' simple techniques of repetition and clarity, as well as his contrasting of colors for the purpose of extracting emotions suggest that no universal emotion brings out so many others in humans, as does love.

Middlesex Blurb

Middlesex is a breathtaking adventure through time and place beginning in Detroit circa 1960 all the way up to Germany 2001. The story weaves in and out of secrets, mini-tales and eventually all pieces together at the end. It goes far back in time at some points and the setting constantly flip-flops back and forth from present to past. It tells the intriguing, unique story of Calliope Stephanides, a hermaphrodite like no other. Suffering from 5-alpha-reductase deficiency syndrome is what makes Callie unique from other girls. Scientists, however, didn't need to uncover a guilty family secret like Callie did to find that out. Once she does uncover it, the she becomes a he, and after that, you'll have to see.

Middlesex Filler Chapter: Book 1.821

"Maybe here people won't be killing each other every single day." ... <----- BOOK 1.6

God, to this day I can't imagine what my grandparents were thinking, feeling, nothing. I would've definitely pissed my pants, one way or another. Love is said to conquer all, but what about my DNA? These thoughts and questions have become a part of my daily routine. Some people struggle, experience crazy things and emerge saying "It made me stronger and better." I know better. My life is a scientific question mark. What I'm wondering is why this question mark appears every time I look into a mirror. I can say I miss the old days, though. The days when I had no idea that I would have no idea what I am in the future. Recalling my childhood is like reading someone else's diary. It's foreign. I can relate but can't directly feel or re-experience anything. Honestly, I couldn't care less anymore. I'm just smooth sailing. And now I'm just lying. I don't know what my problem is. Especially with Julie. I want her. I think I could make something out of it if I wasn't so scared of her reaction to my undescending testicles. My strange, pain and pleasureful sexual experiences are also at fault when it comes to my shyness. If I had grown up a normal guy I would be able to respond to girls better and be more open. If I had grown up a normal girl, I'd probably be a lesbian, which in a way, I was. My parents didn't help either. Chapter 11 was a pain in the neck when I was a teenage girl and now that I'm a grown balding man, he remains a pain. Let me just tell you, this transition’s only slightly easy if you pretend it's not a transition. Otherwise, you're screwed. Back to my grandparents- wait, just a quick question...WOULD YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH AND MARRY YOUR BROTHER? It's cool if you would, and it's cool if you wouldn’t but keep in mind that one day you'll have a granddaughter/son who makes money growing up by being a scientific guinea pig. Don't forget that. My poor grandparents had no idea they screwed up my DNA. But you have the power to control your future and prevent that from happening in your family. So, off the boat and welcome to New York City yiayia. My pappou missed Bursa. You could tell by the look on his face. He missed waking up and seeing Mount Olympus on his doorstep. My grandmother had all she ever needed with her. All she wanted were to keep my grandfather and her silkworms with her at all times to feel as safe as possible. It's not fair, you know? She gets comfort for a lifetime but from my moment of birth I've never felt true comfort around me or within myself. It's not even my fault. If I had a nickel for every time I paid for someone else's huge mistake I would have an enormous nickel. I remember reading the report the scientists wrote about me. They observed my behavior, my speech, my body language and took a hell of a lot of blood. I remember it said "The girl has always sat to urinate like other girls. However, blood tests confirmed an XY chromosomal status." It was like saying, "Callie, I know you feel like a girl and look like one even though you're tall and flat. I know you were raised and convinced you were a girl. But your blood says boy so guess what? Rock beats scissors. Welcome to manhood. How comfy and cozy were those villages back then in Asia Minor? How could you not find anyone that you had to be so desperate as to shack up with your brother? Talk about chromosomes. That's like swapping chromosomes with your family members. I can understand but I just don't want to. I can understand how love can make things okay and can provide comfort and true happiness, and I believe it's the only thing that can. But, just because I understand it doesn't mean I feel it myself and it most certainly doesn't mean that I'm okay with what happened. I'm a man now. We don't forgive and forget easily. Or is that women? Wow, this is confusing. ...