Out of my 6th, 7th, and 8th grade years, my 8th grade definitely stood out amongst the rest. This was the year where people came together more and truly bonded as a class. I think my mindset changed from back in September because at the start of school all I was thinking about is how I could finish my time at Fenn as quick as possible, and move on instead of enjoying my last year and appreciating all of the good moments I had. That being said, I am ready to depart from Fenn and continue on to CCHS for what I hope to be a good high school experience. I am looking forward to reconnecting with friends from elementary school and meeting new people. I cannot believe it has already been three years since I had my first day at Fenn.
I went for a walk today
And I felt various things
I felt the wind in my hair
And down my spine
I felt the bumpy road
As I placed one foot in front of the next
I felt the smooth dirt
As I traveled into the woods
I felt the smooth asphalt
As I crossed the empty street
I felt sun and its beams
Which splashed against my face
I felt countless stares
When I strolled through the park
And I could feel my mind racing
With what felt like millions of thoughts
But I stumbled upon one
And continued walking
Imagine this, a booming thunderstorm
With lightning bolts that tear up the sky
Menacing cumulonimbus clouds that invade the dome above
With their darkness and despair raining across the land below
But not five minutes after this gloom
Blue skies and puffy clouds overtake everything in sight
And a beautiful rainbow appears from the gates of heaven
And song birds are released from the cages to sing
Smiles are plastered on people’s faces
And spirits are lifted from the graves
And suddenly, after rejoicing this gift from God
One, lone, unwanted, dark cloud enters the sky
And brings his friends to rain on other people’s parades
Naps in the grass have special feeling;
They can tickle as you move
They can be comfy
They can be freeing, but most of all
They give you a sense, a feeling, that you are not exactly where you’re supposed to be
You are not in the comfort of your home
You are not in your bed
You don’t have your favorite blanket, but
You have the wind that caresses your cheek
You have the dirt as a pillow
You have the sun as your blanket
And right as I get comfortable
Buzz, buzz, buzz
My phone goes off
Disrupting my inner peace—
It’s my sister telling me to come home
And though this was a short experience
The results are powerful
I felt just a little happier
I felt more patient
I felt more centered
I felt like I knew what I was doing
One item in my house that I have, unfortunately, become more attached to is my phone. It is now my only way of communicating with friends that I value spending time with, especially in person, and now I am restricted to just virtual interaction. Along with my phone it seems I am spending a greater deal of time on my iPad as well because using it for Zoom calls is the only way to participate in classes now. My screen time on my iPad went from a mere average of just an hour and a half to four hours a day, and my phone screen time has gone from three hours to eight hours a day. My screens are corrupting my life right now, but though I have spent the majority of the day on my bed, I have actually been exercising more than I did when I wasn’t stuck in my house. I’ve also spent more quality time with my sister doing various activities: baking, riding our bikes, or playing games. Overall I’ve been able to spend more time with my family as a whole than I would on a regular school day. I feel like this time being separated from a lot of the ones we love will make us appreciate the time we spend together in the future face to face; however, the minimum of two more months of this state is going to be difficult. In the meantime, I will have to make due with the nightly FaceTime calls to friends, Zoom classes online, and the virtual guitar performances for my grandparents.
Besides school, one cancellation that has been the hardest for me was the end of the hockey season because we were just about to start playoffs. Our team had worked so hard the past seven months to secure the top spot on the leaderboard in our division and we were all fired up to get a chance to win the championship for the first time, but because of the virus outbreak the season was postponed and then later canceled. It was also unfortunate because this was our last full season as a team and we had come a long way since third grade, as squirts, just learning how to play the game. Over the years we picked up some new guys from out of town and lost some to private leagues, but most of us had been through it all together and to be so close to winning it all with that group of guys and then having it taken away from us was heartbreaking. We all obviously understood why our season had to be canceled, but it did not suppress the emotions. From the tournaments to the blind referee memes, we had an incredible journey. Now we’ll get to play on the same ice as each other in high school whether we’re on the same team or not. While at one point we were wearing the same jerseys, next year some of us may be changing colors. This season we had the same goal, the same objective, and the same perspectives, but next year people will be rolling with new squads and our collective goal as a team will no longer exist. After this season our team will be split up and pinned against each other. Our team will crumble. As is life. All I know is that these past five years playing town hockey has been incredible and I would not miss it for the world.
A secret lair has to have a hidden entrance; everyone knows that. Some are just more out of view than the others. Mine is screened beautifully by Mother Earth and her geysers and vernal pools underneath the world renowned Yellowstone National park. So if you somehow happen to masterfully figure out how to get in, you can expect an entourage of traps and tricks preventing your unwanted entrance. Unless of course you know the pattern around the pressure plates that trigger arrows being shot and the motion sensors that will activate all kinds of unfortunate ways to lead to your demise, you will not be able to get in. But if you're clever enough to get past my strategically placed traps, you will not even know where to go because there is another puzzle that you will have to solve. A labyrinth, that no one can fathom, will be awaiting you and your failing attempts at figuring it all out. However, if you happen to mosey down the right path then I guess you should be allowed access to my lair. But of course I cannot give in just yet. The last and final puzzle will be a room at the end of the labyrinth that locks as you enter. You will have a half an hour to decipher the code on the key box or your last steps would have just been taken. Now, there is no chance that you will be able to disentangle all of my schemes to stop you, so I might as well just tell you what you would find on the other side of the curtain. As you walk in, cars and tanks line the back wall that would make Batman blush. On the two walls adjacent to the garage wall computers are stacked up where I do my various jobs, and last but not least, in the center of all of the madness is a couch, a TV, and a mini fridge, because I need to relax sometimes too. That is all, just some vehicles, computers, and a living room. And to think that you wasted your life on trying to find material goods that do not matter. You know what they say; curiosity killed the cat, so hopefully reading this will deter your desire to end your life sooner than it has to. But why am I telling you all of this. It’s supposed to be secret. Or maybe I’m lying.
During this strange and unprecedented time, life has been going surprisingly well for the most part. I’ve been able to spend more time with my family than I did when we followed our normal school routine and I’ve had more time to focus on hobbies that didn’t take priority when it came to school work. However, with positives there will always been some negatives including the immense increase in screen time which displays my lack of self control. Though I’ve spent the majority of my break doing various activities on my cellular device, I’ve also been able to go outside for longer periods of time because of the increase in daylight and the later sunset. One of the highlights of this break was setting up a frisbee golf course with my dad that everyone on campus could use and starting a tournament for everyone of a certain age group to compete in. Something that has been frustrating is that I can’t see anyone outside of my family in person closer than six feet, which everyone is struggling with, but I have tried to make due with the resources I have, including FaceTiming and Zooming my friends and family who live farther away. I also haven’t been getting as much exercise due to the hockey season being canceled, so the spring sports requirement will hopefully motivate me to get in more physical activity. Though these are unusual times, this situation may become the new normal and reverting back to our regular ways will then become foreign.
If you could create a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign for any company what company would you choose?
I would personally choose the M&M company. For M&M I would create a magnificent statue of the red M&M in the middle of Central Park holding a large banner advertising M&M’s. I feel like many people would see it everyday and even more people would come to Central Park just to see the statue. The estimated forty two million people who come through Central Park would skyrocket because of the funny statue, and a fraction of them would buy M&M’s to celebrate it which would increase the M&M company’s profit. Overall, it would be an incredible investment.
- “She was my fear. But a racer should not be afraid of rain; a racer should embrace the rain” ( 44). Why does Enzo refer to Eve as his ‘rain?’ Enzo was afraid of Eve of at first because he thought her being with Denny would break up Enzo and Denny’s relationship. However, over time Enzo has learned to love her almost the same as Denny and “embrace the rain.” She again is his rain because of her illness that he cannot help or prevent.
- “Did he really believe that, or was he lying to himself?” (60). What’s the context here? Why might Denny be ‘lying’ to himself about Eve? Denny lied to himself about Eve’s condition when he was apologizing to Enzo about being left in the house alone with no food or water. Denny is convinced, or convincing himself, that Eve just has a virus when in reality she has a fatal disease. Denny might be using his lying as a coping mechanism so he can deny that fact that he has to live without Eve.
- “But trust me when I tell you the zebra is real. Somewhere, the zebra is dancing” (66). What do you think the zebra represents for Enzo?
The zebra, for Enzo, represents Enzo, in particular his bad side, which he cannot control. Enzo made reference to his savage like instincts to bite and kill which is in his DNA, and the zebra is the instincts hiding in the shadows waiting to attack. Because the zebra is still dancing, the dog side of him is still alive and outbursts like that are still a possibility. He is not a human yet; he is still a human soul trapped in a dogs body.
Garth Stein included chapter 47 about Ayrton Senna because it represents how Enzo thinks the world works. Enzo believes that if your mind and body have served their purpose on earth, and there is nothing else to complete on earth then your soul will be released. However, if you still have goals to accomplish you would not be killed because you have work to complete. Similar to the Alchemist, if you have completed your personal legend you have completed what you were put on earth to do and there is no more point in living. But Enzo was not killed because he has unfinished business that needs to be completed before he dies. Enzo still has more to learn from humans and he is going to continue trying to make sense of himself and the world until he knows what it truly means to live. He is still trying to figure out what it means to be human and once he figures that out, his soul will be allowed to leave his body.
“A driver must have faith. In his talent, his judgment, the judgement of those around him, physics. A driver must have faith in his crew, his car, his tires, his breaks, himself.” (290) Denny is the driver in control of his life and to get through it smoothly he has to trust himself and the people around him with it. In these past few chapters, Denny has had to put his trust in multiple people with life changing situations. He has to trust his lawyer Mr. Lawrence with defending him, his witnesses with providing concrete evidence, and the judge with coming to a just verdict, hopefully deciding that he is not guilty of rape. Denny has to continue to have faith in every aspect of his life. His crew represents his friends and associates, his car is his driving force that keeps him moving, his tires are Enzo and Zoe who support his motivation to continue life, and his breaks represent his caution and ability to analyze situations carefully. Finally, Denny has to trust that himself with making the right decisions for himself and the ones he loves and ultimately decide whether or not it’s smart to continue investing time in important areas of his life or to redirect his attention to other aspects.
Command and Condone
Sometimes we need a third person insight on ourselves to allow us to obtain a deeper understanding of our own lives. In the book The Art of Racing in the Rain, Enzo provides us with an insight into the life of Dennis Swift who is a semi-professional race car driver and the father of Zoe. When Denny’s wife Eve dies from a terminal illness, chaos erupts within his family. Eve’s parents sue Denny for custody of Zoe, and Denny is later accused of rape. After over a year of battling in court, the charges of rape are finally dropped, and Denny is awarded custody of Zoe. During this stressful time in Denny’s life; however, Enzo is able to teach us various lessons about the human experience. He explains how people need to forgive one another and have control of their lives.
One of Denny’s strong traits, that Enzo points out, is his ability to forgive. He is able to forgive both his parents and Eve’s after the indescribable hardships they force him through. His own parents turn their backs on him after high school when Denny’s dad tells him to stay home, help on their farm, and look after his mom who is blind. When Denny tells them he is leaving “his father told Denny that if he didn’t stay to help with the farm and his mother, he shouldn’t bother keeping in touch at all” (292). Denny calls his parents every Christmas when finally his mom picks up and asks how he is doing and if he is happy. After years of no support from his parents, now broke, he finds himself on the phone with his mom asking for any kind of help so he can pay the lawyers who are helping him keep his daughter. She tells him she will give him whatever he needs if she can only meet her. Before his parent’s finish their visit with Denny and Zoe, Denny’s parents hand him an envelope filled with money. They have never done right by Denny, but this gesture makes up for the years of no support. Eve’s parents also place Denny through the ringer when they sue Denny for custody of Zoe because they see Denny as an unfit parent. Due to the charges of rape against Denny, the case lasts significantly longer which gives the advantage to Eve’s parents who are more well off financially. Their plan is to drain Denny of money and his will to continue fighting. Denny is going to give up and sign the papers to award the custody of Zoe to Eve’s parents until he remembers the promise he made Zoe and realizes he needs to keep trying to win her back. Later, after he does not sign, the charges of rape are dropped and he wins the case. When Denny gets Zoe, Eve’s parents request to have forty eight hours with Zoe before she goes to live with Denny. Though Denny is “under no obligation to agree” (305), he allows Zoe’s grandparents to have two days with her. Denny, instead of being cold to her grandparents as they were to him, is a gentleman to them.
Being able to forgive has been crucial for Denny, but one trait significantly more important is his ability to have a hold on his life and to know that whatever he manifests is his problem. When Eve points out a mistake that another driver makes during a race that causes Denny to spin out, he tells her that it is not the other drivers fault but his own. Since “that which we manifest is before us” (43), he, and only he places himself in a position to fail. He has to take into account who is driving next to him and make choices accordingly. Denny, who is usually always aware of his position in life, makes an ill advised move which causes him to fall short. Also, when Enzo learns that Eve’s illness is terminal, he points out that “it is a rare person who can hear the blunt authority of a terminal diagnosis, refuse to accept it, and choose a different path”(218). If everyone could be strategically stubborn then people would overcome hardships much quicker and easier. People do not think they have as much control over their life as they actually do. Because “your car goes where your eyes go”(94), if people look at a path where all there is is pain and suffering, they will inevitably dwell on the pain and never triumph. But if people acknowledge the option of pain and foresee a heroic victory, then they will achieve that success. People need to make choices of their own without someone pressuring them into the choice they make or leaving it up to fate.
Through forgiveness and control of his life, Denny is able to persevere through a rough patch in his life where he is stripped of all his possessions and family and come back to prevail in the court case and regain what is rightfully his. Denny learns that he can overcome hardships when his parents leave him to make a living after high-school. Because Denny has control of his life, he is capable of manifesting actions in his favor. We, as humans, lack the ability to admit when we go wrong, but with an outside observer it is easier to realize where we made an error and then fix it.
As I read over my writing in the past few months, I noticed that in my writing I like to talk about people in general, instead of about specific characters and events that happen to them. In my writing in the future, I will try to use more specific events to prove my point, instead of generalizing those moments. Something that I should also work on is my sentence structuring. I tend to use only two ways to form a sentence, one of which starts with a dependent clause and a comma, and ends with an independent clause. The other is using a comma to separate a phrase that does not need to be there. In my writing I try and use a sufficient amount of adverbs and adjectives to provide more depth in my pieces; however, I could use more to improve my writing even more. I have also fallen into the trap of using the same verb multiple times in my paragraphs and essays which can make my writing boring. During this next section of eighth grade English I will try to use a variety of verbs instead of sticking to the basics. Finally, because of being in Mrs. Boger’s English class I have had the comma rules engraved in my brain, so more often than not I will be able to apply them correctly.