Remember Yesterday, Cherish Today, Hope For Tomorrow

Life has taught me a variety of lessons which have made me grow up sooner and have made me see certain life situations differently. The biggest change in my life has been the adjustment to the drug addiction and death of my older brother, Michael. The forced change of losing a loved one made me realize that life can be very short and that life is about enjoying the positive moments with your loved ones to a maximum. It also made me realize that it should take the negativity of any given situation and turn them into positive ones. Because of this, I learned how to help others by using my brother’s drug addiction and tragic ending as examples.

My older brother Michael was a drug addict for many years. Michael was only twenty years old when he was first introduced to drugs. After some intense questioning, my brother finally admitted to our family that it was his older brother from another father who introduced him to marijuana. By this point, my brother Michael had moved out and was living on his own which made us unaware of the problem as it began.

My parents and I had an idea he was using drugs because his behavior was erratic when he was around us and significant physical changes like losing drastic weight and skin problems started showing and after ten years, my brother finally confessed what was really happening. We were never able to confirm it until he spoke and confirmed it for us. We thought he was doing better at times because he went through joyous periods of having a steady live-in girlfriend, two beautiful children and even moving away from his old neighborhood. A neighborhood where he had been tempted by drugs but even with those changes he would still relapse easily. We later learned from him that it was my mother’s and his father’s divorce as a child that caused him to fall and turn to drugs as he was in desperate need of a stable loving family. He unfortunately didn’t get that love and instead was left to be raised by my grandmother in Panama. My mother remarried some time after the divorce and decided to move to the United States in hopes of having a better life with the promise of bringing my brother here afterwards.

When the time arrived for my mother and brother to reunite, immigration laws had changed so that it was extremely difficult to bring a minor over to the United States. As it turned out, he didn’t get to reunite with his mother for several years. My now older brother John and myself were born in the following years, we were all then reunited after some years had passed. When we found out Michael was on the wrong path we tried to do whatever we could to help him but he made it difficult to reach out to him. He would literally hide from us when we went looking for him and would ignore our phone calls. On two occasions we were able to persuade him to sign up for a drug rehabilitation where he attended for twenty-one and eight days, respectively, until he decided to leave treatment. Sometimes our influence was successful; however, relapsing was imminent.

After 13 years of doing drugs, my brother’s life came to an end when he was shot and murdered because of a drug dispute. Not a day goes by when something triggers the memory of him, however, it has been extremely difficult to help my mother get out of the depression that she went into after finding out that we no longer would be able to ever see, kiss, hug, or talk to him. Now my mother seems to be getting better and when we talk we always come to the same conclusion: that life can be short and that we should learn to love who and what we have in our lives. Tomorrow is never guaranteed.

This unfortunate and painful change in my life has made me realize that any day one can cease to exist by God’s will and that we must live and enjoy life by certainly not worrying about the meaningless things life throws at you. I learned the hard way that many of the things I used to worry about were insignificant and pure nonsense. These things weren’t just nonsense to me but with time I have been learning that there are situations you cannot change and that you must either accept them or adjust to them and that’s what I have been trying my best to accomplish.

This new found perspective of life has made me implement new things such as traveling at least once a year. I have realized there is so much to do and see before I die. I want to be able to say that I did a lot in my life time and that I had the opportunity to see many of God’s creations all over the world. At the same time I want to be able to say that I achieved my goals of becoming a professional, a wife and a mother because what is life without the opportunity of passing on your legacy to the next generation? What is the point of doing everything you desire if you can’t enjoy it with your loved ones?

After Michael’s death I realized that I needed to protect and love those around me as if it was their or my last day. I have learned that God has given us one opportunity to love and cherish our loved ones as he has given us one life to live. My parents are my perfect example, and although I have always loved them it is now that I cherish and don’t take any moment spent with them for granted. They are my life, my support system and the upmost treasure that God has given me to protect now that I am getting older.  I believe it is vital for my family as well as any family that each member take care of each other and just enjoy every moment spent together. There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t regret the fact that my brother stayed alone in Panama under the care of our grandmother and was not with the rest us as the support system a family provides.  For what it’s worth now, we know he would like us to remember him and the happy moments we did spend together. As for me, I am just thankful I got to spend many great positive moments with him; my brother was the one that taught me how to be disciplined in school, he was the one that encouraged me to follow my dreams, to always be motivated and above all to become a professional. I specifically remember one time he and I spoke, like it was yesterday. We were at his house and it was my birthday and he gave me my present and he said, “I know you’re going to like it because it’s your favorite but please do good in school, if you do, life will compensate you in volumes.” I remember him giving me this beautiful white shirt I had desperately been looking for.  He was very educated and unfortunately missed only one year of college, he would have become an engineer. This is something drugs took away from him.

As we approach six years from his passing, I have slowly learned that I need to respectfully take his situation and in one way or another help others. I have already encountered two people that I have exposed my brother’s story to: my cousin Richard and friend Raymond. They both have used marijuana. I have tried to help them by reminding them that drugs won’t assure happiness nor a long life and although nothing in life guarantees it, drugs definitely don’t help in any way. I have definitely seen a great improvement in both my cousin and friend and hope they stay off drugs.

In conclusion, the tragic death of my brother has made me cherish the opportunities life has offered me. Because of him I feel I can work hard to be a better friend, daughter, sister and one day a good wife and mother. His untimely death taught me that we are not meant to stay here on earth. For the time we are here, we need to spend it wisely by dedicating ourselves to loving, helping and respecting one another because whatever you give is what you will receive. Although, his death was a tragic change in my life I can definitely see now how I’m growing and learning from it to be a better human being.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

There were many techniques I learned from but most importantly, I learned that revision makes better. This reading made me realize that revision is as essential as the main idea is because afterall the idea gets molded and reshaped after revision. I found it interesting when he referred to Michelangelo and his work of art David, ” It is rather like Michelangelo shaping his David out of a huge block of marble, chipping away by hand slowly at his gargantuan marble slab to reveal the lovely precise shape conceived by his imagination’s eye hidden in the stone.” This reference to Michelangelo’s shaping of David was a perfect example of revision. As Michelangelo “revised” his David and carved him to perfection, we have to the same as writers on our essays and shape our ideas to perfection.

The best technique I learned by reading the essay was when he mentioned that one of the best ways to effectively revise an essay is by returning to it after some months have passed and revising it with a “fresh eye.” It definitely was the best point made in the essay because I found that my oldest essay could definitely use many of the newest techniques I have learned throughout the semester. Although, my personal essay has so much emotion in it, I can return to it now and introduce the techniques I have learned instead of focusing solely on its pathos.

Henry Miller’s technique also interest me because he speaks of revising one’s work as a methodof “purifying” it. He explains that when a writer can cut unneccesary material from their work then they are taking their work and “purifying” it. I found that interesting. These and many other techniques I have learned this semester will definitely help my writing in the future by perfecting  and “purifying” whatever I write in order to connect better with my audience.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Editing questions

1. The hardest part for me when writing a paper is starting it. It seems I spend more time trying to figure out how to start it, any suggestions on how to focus on bettering that part of the paper?

2. When editing, how many times do you normally proofread until you’re satisfied with your work?

3. Essay structure becomes difficult when I get carried away with essay content. How can I stay on track with structure?

4. How effective will a personal essay be when including raw emotions? Is it better to have a limit on it throughout the essay?

5. Will an essay always turn out better if certain words that I feel are important in my story but not so good for the essay, get deleted?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reading the assigned readings made me realize I am not the only one that struggles with writing. On several occassions I have felt that I just don’t have the writing talent most of my peers possess, but these readings at least made me feel different, that not everyone has the ease to write everything down. It helped me understand that even prominent recognzed authors go through certain struggles such as deciding what words sound better or how to structure sentences. Although, I know I still have a long way to go when it comes ot my writing, I was given a pinch of confidence. It is ok to not have every word or sentence positioned correctly. It has always been difficult for me to develop well-structured essays because I didn’t learn how to create well-developed essays in the United States. I lived in my background country: Guatemala from the age of 8 to 16. Because of this living situation I wasn’t taught how an essay was written correctly, how to write ideal sentences or where to position my thoughts throughout the essay. However, I kepe trying and practicing because it can’t hurt me just make my writing better, which I absolutely think it has. This class has without a doubt helped me techniques and has taught me how to deal with other essay issues I have had. All in all, these readings with the past readings plus the professor’s techniques and teachings have helped me a great deal on how to deal with my essays, my free writing, how to revise essays and make them clearer. I have learned that if you revise more than once, it can help you understand your mistakes better and fix them. As with everything I listen, note and try to fix any mistake I have made and essays are no exception.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Our Vanishing Night & Apocalypse Now

Both essays were written for two different audiences. This is obvious because the National Geographic is a dedicated magazine to to global news and issues, which makes “Our Vanishing Nights” by Verlyn Klinkenborg a “perfect” essay for that type of audience. The essay talks about artificial lighting and our fascination to alter natural rythms of lighting throughtout the years. This essay is solely focused on giving facts for example, when he introduces us to the changes some birds, blackbirds and nightingales go through with “long artificial days.”  With all the facts he presented in the essay, it is natural the Natural Geographic audience will be attracted to it.

Edward Wilson’s “Apocalypse Now” refers to the environment but involves religion which gives it a twist while reading it. The New Republic or better known as TNR, is a magazine whose main focus is politics and arts. We can quickly rule out that the magazine’s audience is not vastly intrested in an environmental article, however, Wilson made the essay appealing to TNR’s audience by making it seem that saving the world is more of a politically correct decision every citizen should make in order to save ourselves.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“On Seeing England for the First Time,” “Shooting an Elephant” & “An Orgy of Power”

I particularly didn’t like Kincaid’s essay, she was determined to hate England as a country, the English as people, and everything England had to offer. She wanted no part of it and had deep hatred for the country. In part, her bad views rubbed off on me for an instant while reading. I thought to myself, what if they are rude in England? What if the weather is actually horrible and “jail-like” as she describes it? But then I said to myself I can’t pre-judge anyone or any country based on one person’s account. I especially couldn’t side with her because I don’t judge anyone or anything before knowing the person/people or in this case “seeing England for the First time.” Her argument didn’t feel strong to me because she had no real evidence as to why she hated this country so much. People making her learn how to draw a map of England didn’t classify as a strong reason as to why one would hate England so much. I feel that she resented the fact that she was forced to learn so much of England’s history, forced to memorize England’s map and so much more revolving England even before actually “seeing” the country. When she actually had the chance to step foot in the country, she realized that the portrayal of England might have been over exaggerated and wasn’t shy to let them know how she actually felt about the “glorious” country she was led to believe when she was younger.

In “Shooting an Elephant,” I once again wasn’t convinced. This story actually made me mad because I couldn’t focus on the imperialist point he was trying to convey, instead I focused on the detailed account he gave of shooting the poor elephant. He was nothing else but a puppet used by the Burmese like he said. He became the imperialist in this situation. Definitely couldn’t focus or fully get his point because I couldn’t take my head off of the elephant killing.

George Gessert’s “An Orgy of Power,” was a very powerful essay to read because of the topic he presented. His bias was clearly swayed to portray how the  media and the United States had downsized what happened at Abu Ghraib. Once again I couldn’t detach from my own opinion, however, it wasn’t necessary since we both agreed on the same thing. Torture is not something people automatically think about but when pictures of torture by a soldier surface then it becomes everybody’s thought.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mother Tongue & The Face of Seung-Hui Cho

Wesley Yang’s essay “Mother tongue” reflected on the sad, lonely life Sueng-Hui Cho had prior to the Virginia Tech massacre. Yang, although he didn’t personally know Cho he spoke of him in a way we the audience could understand or at least know a little bit more of this person who took over 30 lives on a gloomy April day in 2007. Most of us knew bits and pieces about Cho’s life according to what the media told us, but in my own case I knew less about him because it was just sad to me that this loner could do such a thing so I didn’t bother to know more about him. However, as the 5 year anniversary approaches it is ok to find out what demons Cho suffered from. It was interesting to know that he was denied multiple times by women prior to his decision to go on a shooting rampage. The most interesting point Yang made was that Cho was denied because of his apearance going further into his appearance by ethnicity. Yang claims Cho was a subject of sexual denial because of his face “it’s not an ugly face; it’s not a badly made face. It’s just a face that has nothing to do with the desires of women in this country.” Yang uses his logos here explaining why logically he felt neglected. At times we see Yang use his pathos when he includes his personal stories with the fact that he is an Asian-American struggling to overcome the discrimination most Asian endure in America. “Ethan told me that I reminded him of this weird asian guy at his school, whom he then proceeded to describe.”

Amy Tan’s essay also used plenty of “I.” She spoke of her mother’s “broken” English and how it affected her life and how her mother came across to people were not Asian. Throughout the essay, Amy gives us lots of pathos because she included many experiences she had while helping her mother with her “perfect” English. She also included pathos at first when she said she felt “ashamed” of her mother’s English. “I was ashamed of her English. I believed that her English reflected the quality of what she had to say.” The latter statement also represents the logos Amy used in her essay.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“What is Marriage?’ & “It Takes a Family”

In “What is Marriage?” by Evan Wolfson we see pathos throughout the essay. He gives us his emotional input when he introduces us to his story. He gives us pathos and logos in the essay. Wolfson gave us many examples of long term homosexual couples that cannot marry and are currently unprotected by law if one partner passed away. He presented good points throughout the essay. He strengthened his argument by presenting his personal account of being gay, the U.S. Supreme court case that allowed fellons to get married after they were forbidden to do so, and the many accounts of suffering homosexual long term couples that are being denied the privileges of marriage. I think he presented a good argument while giving us pathos and logos. Evan Wolfon did not present a counterargument which didn’t help us to see the “other side” or the opposite view.

Rick Santorum presented his argument of “traditional marriage.” He gave us his pathos and logos. Santorum presented a wide variety of statistics throughout the essay. Personally, I couldn’t side with him because of my views but for its purpose, he presented a good counterargument. He presented different statistics from teenagers in single-parent households or households with a stepparentare at 1.5 to 2.5 times the risk of using illegal drugs as are teens living with their mother and father. Another statistic showed children with single mothers are 1.5 to 2 times more liley to have behavioral or emaotional problems than kids living with a married mother and father. He made a great effort to show us the logos in the essay.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

George Anton’s new battle for freedom

I personally enjoy watching reported videos. During one of our class discussions, it was said that it is better when we got to “put a face to the characters.” We were discussing an essay that mentioned specific names and details of how the people were. In this case, a video tops it off. It gives the audience a new perspective on how to take in this report. Images will always do that for any type of report, statement or story. George Anton gave us his “I” mostly in the whole video. Throughout the report we physically see his emotions which unlike written essays, it once again persuades the audience to feel for him and possibly side with him if he convinces us. He didn’t completely convince me because of some opinions I have of him living in his boat and other things he said. His bias was clear,  he refused to obey the law. Without a doubt I enjoy watching videos like this rather than essays because they provide another perspective on how to take the author’s report in, whether I would side with him or not.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“The Hands of God” and “A Boy’s Life”

Debora Rudacille’s “The Hands of God” essay gave us more of historical examples like Chevalier D’Eon or the female Alexina turned into Abel. She then gives us a hint of incredulity when she says “It seems incomprehensible that a child born with a penis could grow with the certain knowledge that she is a girl or that a child born with a vagina could be equally convinced that he is a boy. Many people are unwilling to accept that “The Hands of God or Nature could have fashioned human beings whose sense of self is a war with their flesh, or whose gender identity falls somewhere in between the poles if male and female.” From this I get the sense that she is part of those “many people.” I feel she believes that children or adults that are having difficulty identifying with their true gender is due to “Nurture” rather than “Nature” or that “The Hands of God” have anything to do with it.

Hanna Rosin’s “A Boy’s life” mostly revolves around the story of a little boy named Brandon that transitioned from a boy to a girl. He never identified as a boy. Brandon began his life as a boy but as time went by, his mother, a former army soldier, noticed that Brandon liked to wear a towel over his head, liked to play with barbies and pink playhouses.  I feel that this essay had more of an open interpretation of this topic. She did give some insight on transgender being more of a psychosocial situation. Still her essay gave me more of a chance to decide whether transgendered was psychosocial or biological or both. I really enjoyed this essay better than Debora Rudacille’s because I was engaged with Brandon’s story. I wanted to know how he or she made it through. Loved the ending too.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment