Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Original Poem Post 4 - "The Sculptor"

At last. This four day succession of "original poem posts" is finally concluding. (I'm getting worn out myself). Here you go.

the sculptor
arched his back and strained his neck
as he glanced
over his subject

without breaking his line of sight
he concentrated
and reached for his chisel
resting on the table beside him

he scraped at the stone
prying away layer after layer
as if etching onto its soul
the soul of another

as loose rocks and pebbles showered
down upon his shins
bubbling red rivers streamed across leg
yet he did not look

gingerly mixing the dirt
on his hands
with the seeping maroon
on his shins

rubbing more vigorously
so that the two substances combined
he brushed the sculpture
with the dull paste

splattering red
onto the face of the sculpture
and streaking red
on the sculpture’s abdomen and hands and feet

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Original Poem Post 3 - "I had been here before"

My apologies for (another) poem, but here you go.

I had been here before

when I was able to shriek at the heavens in soprano
and wasn't afraid to do so

when I thought this fence was for keeping people in
not keeping people out

when I thought that the dying flowers under my feet me weren't given enough water
but not neglected

when I thought the sidewalk was meant for running
not walking

when I could reach my arms through the gaps of this fence
without getting stuck

I used to guess my height in comparison to the fence
I was always shorter

I would stand on my toes and reach for the sky,
bracing myself against this very fence

now, I don’t need to guess about whether or not I'm taller

I don’t need to brace myself against this fence

is it that everything is different?
or nothing is the same?

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Original Poem Post 2 - "Roots"

Now that you've read my first poem, I'm now sharing the next poem I wrote, "Roots". I think that this poem is in fact better than "Rocks", but I won't know for sure until you read it and let me know.

Buried underneath soil and trapped
And layers

These undeserving and unacknowledged roots were driven into the ground, never
properly organized. ordered. straight. parallel.
instead, writhing in deep convolutions and contortions as if squeezed by a velvet hand
and expanding to occupy the blackness of the empty, restless earth.

Though fated by nature to descend
into the depths of hell and never stretch to the heavens,
the twisted tendrils accept
such rigid fate as normalcy, as if growth is supposed to spiral downwards.

Slaves to thick, penetrating darkness
amidst a sea of obscurity and lack of understanding,
the roots are shackled
with bonds and links tightened to the illusion of separation.

Unable to see their neighboring strands
  Their companions
Unable to hear the subtle shuffling of growth
  Their maturation
Unable to smell the richness of the dirt
  Their odor

But still able to swallow in gasping, sputtering gulps
the pure, immaculate liquid of clarity and life,
And still able to soak
The maroon liquid of seeping, sinking cruelty and death.

The roots violently lick their
chapped lips and desperately croak in coarse tones
gasping for a brief response,
but all noise goes unheard, lost in the thick soil.

Even with their throats parched
and their pleas unanswered,
the roots claw at the soil hoping
to feel a solid form different from the fine earth.

Scraping and scratching and clawing
the dirt peels away to reveal
more blackness and more earth,
causing the roots to extend and grow to fill the gaping space.

And with such growth and such understanding
follows unity and connection as the roots finally
penetrate the black earth to clasp hands
and experience and touch and feel the warmth of another’s palm.

Although the darkness and the blackness were omnipresent,
the roots finally stretched to heaven
In stretching to one another

Though still unable to see the light, the roots were no longer blind
Though still unable to hear the chorus of their neighbors, the roots communed through touch
Though still unable sense the breath of other strands, the roots inhaled company and exhaled unity

Now able to grasp and trace
the weathered palms of their brothers and sisters,
And able to interlock
With the crooked, jagged arms of strangers

Friday, May 26, 2017

Original Poem Post 1 - "Rocks"

Before you read (and judge) this poem, I'd first like to point out that poetry is not my favorite (by any means) form of writing. It's often difficult to understand, and even more difficult to write. As I will explain after I have posted all five of my original poems, I did not write these poems by choice, but by necessity. So, if the quality is lacking, as I'm sure many of you will point out, just bear with me. And to provide some idea of how my poetry did (or did not) improve throughout the year, these poems will be consecutively posted once per day in chronological order.

Now, I would love to read any poetry you have written, so if you're comfortable with doing so, drop a link in the comments and I'll check it out.

And yes, I am aware that I wrote this poem about rocks. And no, I was not drinking (I'm too young anyway). Basically, this poem was written long after dark and with several cups of coffee. Enjoy (or don't).

I remember stacking
Piles of rocks,
Noticing that they always tumbled and scattered and fell
When they were seven high.

I remember packing
Those same stones
Into an empty box
To bury in the attic and save for later.

I remember rediscovering
Those worthless chunks of earth
When I was searching for something else,
Wondering why I had gathered them to begin with.

I remember hurling
Those rough rocks
As if I were David himself,
Shattering the glass of my Goliath.

I remember tossing
At a boarded window,
Never shattering that glass division.

I remember sifting
Warm sand
Through the landscape of my palm,
Wondering If I was also sand on some shore.

I remember packing
That same sand
Into an empty bottle
To sprinkle on the sidewalk and the soil.

I remember stacking
Piles of rocks,
Noticing that they always tumbled and scattered and fell
Before I could even pile two on top of each other.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

List of Must-Reads I Haven't Read

As the school year now concludes, my English teacher decided that as a gift of sorts, she would compile a list of her favorite books and present the list to us. After briefly glancing over the list, I recognized the majority of the books listed, but had only read a few. So, if you're looking for something to read, take a look at this list and see if you feel, perhaps...inspired.

(All titles I have read are listed in bold. I didn't bother indicating which works I recognized because that's just about all of them.)

The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd
Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
The Giver - Lois Lowry
The Alchemist - Paulo Coehlo
Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer
The Last Lecture - Mitch Albom
Man's Search for Meaning - Viktor Frankl
Walden - Henry David Thoreau
The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The Prophet - Kahlil Gibran
The Velveteen Rabbit - Margery Williams
Emma - Jane Austen
Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon
1984 - George Orwell
The Stranger - Albert Camus
War of the Worlds - H.G. Wells
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
The Doors of Perception - Aldous Huxley
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey
The Divine Comedy - Dante Alighieri
The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler
The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood
Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis
Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
On the Road - Jack Kerouac
Rabbit Run - John Updike
Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
Brothers Karamazov - Fyodore Dostoevsky
The Call of the Wild - Jack London
Snow Falling on Cedars - David Guterson
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson
The Picture of Dorian Grey - Oscar Wilde
Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
Ulysses - James Joyce
As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner
Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
Charlotte's Web - E.B. White
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - John Le Care
Night - Elie Wisel
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting - Milan Kundera
The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco
The Stories of Eva Luna - Isabel Allende
The Art of War - Sun Tzu
The Passionate God - Rosemary Haughton
A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes
Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead - Tom Stoppard
The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk
The Odyssey - Homer
Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
The Prince - Machiavelli
The Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka
Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Albom
The Screwtape Letters - C.S. Lewis
The Five People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
The Godfather - Mario Puzo
Inferno - Dante Alighieri
Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury
Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
The Cider House Rules - John Irving
The Green Mile - Stephen King
No Country For Old Men - Cormac McCarthy
The Princess Bride - William Goldman

Now that is quite a list. And a long one at that. Also, according to this list, apparently I've been reading the wrong books for my entire life. Now I guess the next thing to do would be to actually read the books on this list. But truthfully, this post should more accurately be titled "List of Must-Have Reads I Haven't Read (and Most Likely Never Will)." And I don't know that for certain, but I'll more likely than not start making my way through this list when I have the time to do so, (as in summer or retirement.) Until then, the best of luck on your journey reading and let me know in the comments which novels you have read too.

Friday, May 5, 2017

For the Love of Canva

If you didn't already know, the reason that my blog graphics aren't as horrible as they could be is solely due to Canva, perhaps one of the greatest websites ever created. Being a person that has great difficulty with technology, especially with coding and designing software systems, Canva is the most intuitive program I have ever stumbled upon.

I originally created all of my designs on the computer using the Canva software, perusing the endless backgrounds, icons, and designs available to customize my graphics. Better yet, to make the transition from the Canva program to my blog even easier, Canva created a specific layout designed especially for blogs. But it doesn't end there. Canva also designed specific layouts for all social media platforms, and even for album covers and greeting cards. I cannot emphasize enough how helpful this program has been in creating my blog posts.

After selecting one of the aforementioned layouts (poster, photo collage, invitation, card...the list is endless), the program directs the user to the platform where the selected layout may be designed and edited. To further simplify the designing process for those that still struggle with editing software, (that would be me), Canva created custom presets available to be selected and reused over and over and over and over again.

If the user is feeling especially creative, the program prompts the user to select a background and continue by adding illustrations, shapes, lines, and even charts. To simplify the addition of text to user designs, Canva also pre-formatted text boxes with appealing patterns, colors, fonts, and sizes.

Now the saving grace of this platform is the ability to upload images to the system, giving users the ability to easily and conveniently access desired images without the constraints of the images already in the software. (Don't get me wrong, the options in Canva are great, but just in case a user is interested in uploading their own images, this tool can be quite useful.)

Canva recently sent me a personal email stating that I'm "one of Canva's most active users." And to recognize my commitment (I know, too much), Canva is offering me  a free one month trial.

Interestingly, Canva also added a new option recently labeled "I ♥ Canva." When I first saw that section, I was wondering why such a category would have been designed for the program. But after writing this post, I realized that indeed, that category was designed for posts exactly like this one. And yes, I really do "♥ Canva."

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Wallowing in the Water

The day I've been dreading the entire semester has arrived - the day when we started swimming during PE.

Now I must admit that because it was a scorching, blistering day, that swimming was refreshing, at least to an extent. Swimming has never been a great talent or skill of mine. Sure, I know how to swim. But if I had been on the Titanic, I'd guess that my chances of survival would have been close to zero. However, if I was asked to relax in the hot tub with my friends for an hour or two, that I could definitely do (and very well.)

There were a couple swimmers/water polo players in my class that obviously swam competitively from how practiced (and fast) they're laps were, but I was content with wallowing in the water. Then again, I certainly wasn't the worst swimmer in my class since some of my classmates were asking me how to swim certain strokes.
                                                        Image result for swimming gifs aquaman
The pool at my school is actually pretty nice. As in, there are definitely worse bodies of water to be swimming in during a PE class. My greatest hardship swimming during PE would be breathing. The pool at my school ranges from thirteen feet deep to around six feet deep, and because I'm only about 5'4", I'm sure you can guess how difficult it was to keep my head above the water.

But besides the obvious difficulty I experienced while treading water, swimming was actually a lot better than I had expected. We didn't play any games or something fancy like water polo, but it was hot enough that swimming laps across the pool was perfect.

I was fortunate enough to have remembered both a towel and swimming trunks, because there were several kids in my class that forgot both. The majority of them that forgot these swimming (essentials?) just swam in their PE uniform shorts and called it a day. And I would've thought that drying off would've taken forever too, but with all that heat bearing down, I think just about everyone was dry pretty quickly.

Well, I heard that tomorrow we'll be playing water polo, and I'm not quite sure what my opinion is on that. Hopefully there aren't any (good) water polo players in my period, because I've heard from the classes last semester that the experienced water polo players are no joke, as in, throwing the water polo ball behind their backs to score or something ridiculous. (And by ridiculous I mean that I wish I could do.) As for now, I should probably go and practice my own little water polo routine in the bathtub in preparation for tomorrow.

Monday, May 1, 2017

My First Ever AP Test

Like many other students across the nation, AP testing began today. However, the AP test I completed this morning was not only the first AP test that was administered this year, but my first AP test ever. And I'll have you know that the test definitely earned the title, "Advanced Placement", because the AP test was hands the most difficult test I have ever taken. And that's saying something considering I've already earned D's on several other AP Chemistry chapter exams.

The test began around 8:45, but we entered the testing room around 8:00, not that it really matters. What does matter is the fact that as my classmates and I waited outside the testing room, nervously laughing and chatting, I realized that I had forgotten both my student identification card as well as the card with my AP number. Consequently, for the next thirty minutes, I was scanning the group of people, looking for someone that didn't have their wallet or that wasn't showing someone else those two items (which I still did not have.) 

I was legitimately concerned that I would not be allowed to take the exam. I mean, it is an AP exam, so I was sure stuff like that has happened before. I briefly thought about walking home, but considering it's a thirty minute drive, I figured that wasn't really an option.

So I just went along with it and by the grace of God, I didn't need either items and was able to just take the exam. On second thought, maybe it would've been better if I had been caught without my identification card and my AP number...

Once we finally entered the building to take the test, we were assigned seats. Yes, assigned seats. But now that I think of it, that actually makes decent sense. Either way, as we were filling in our addresses and our names, I couldn't help but notice that my hand was trembling. Like shuddering, as if shock waves were rippling across my palms. Then, to ineffectively calm my nerves, I clenched my pencil, only for it to snap. Don't worry, I brought around ten in case of that exact situation. 
                                                 Image result for snapping pencil gif
We soon started the multiple choice portion of the test, which was some of the most difficult AP Chemistry material ever presented in front of me. (I'm hoping for around fifty percent. If I'm lucky.) After a quick ten minute break, we then took the free response portion, which was strangely easier than the multiple choice, (probably because I was doing all of it wrong.)

Now to bore you some more, the format of the test was:
 60 Multiple Choice Questions in 90 Minutes
+7 Free Response Questions in 105 Minutes
=a whole lot of time spent being tested on a subject I'm not very fond of

And if you plan on taking AP Chemistry this upcoming year, there's more information about it here. Not quite sure why you'd want to, but to each his own. And next year, when you're crying yourself to sleep every night (like I will be doing tonight), don't say I didn't warn you.

As a side note, I'd like to mention that because this test is such a big deal, my high school gave everyone that took the test this morning the rest of the day off. So I guess that's the major positive, (that and the fact if, if I do well I'll get some college credit.) And to all of y'all that took the AP Chemistry test this morning and still have more to come, I wish you luck!