What I will remember most from my 8th grade year at Fenn is the sacrifice adjustment we all had to make to distance learning. When I think of myself in September and I think of myself today, I feel like I have become more mature and responsible. As I think about my 9th grade year, I am looking forward to being in a new environment but also being with some of my Fenn friends.
Think of a morning walk in the woods
Where the birds flutter
And the squirrels ricochet from tree to tree
And the brisk spring wind blows around you
Making the trees sway from side to side
Now look down
And make sure you don’t trip on the roots
Or get pricked by the prickers
Or get brushed by the poison ivy
Follow the path through the woods
And see the vultures soaring above
And see the bugs cross the path at your feet
Now make your way home
And start the day
Imagine a river
With morning fog levitating above it
The small waves the current makes
Slap the shore shooting a mist into the air
The lily pads swing side to side and bounce up and down
Giving the frog above a ride
As the river meanders through the trees
It spills into the vast bay
But the river’s current never stops
It flows and flows
Some places it slows down
Some places it speeds up
But in the end
It always reaches its destination
The Woodpecker’s World
I sit down outside in front of the bird feeder
And feel the calm wind as it makes its way through the trees and through flowers
Until it reaches my face
In front of me
I see as the woodpecker glides his way down onto the bird feeder
And grips the edge with his arm
To feed from the seemingly endless supply of food
The woodpecker is lucky to be able to know when his next meal will be
The woodpecker is lucky to only be affected by the seasons and weather
The woodpecker lives a simple life
In an ever changing world
Where no one can predict what is to happen
It’s nice to get outside and see the woodpecker
And the normal that remains in nature
Something that has become more valuable to me during my time at home is my guitar. Because my brother is staying with us, his guitar is here too. Having two guitars at home allows me to keep mine upstairs in my room. This way I have a guitar in my room and my brother’s downstairs. My guitar stays right next to my desk. It has been very enjoyable to be able to play in between classes or during breaks. While I normally played everyday before I needed to stay home, I can play much more with all this extra time. The second thing that has become especially valuable to me is my fly tying vice. These days, I usually aim to tie two flies per day which, depending on the fly, takes up about one and a half to two hours of my day. I feel as though I have improved significantly in the past month with the extra practice. I like looking into my fly box and taking out some of the older flies I have tied and replacing them with my more recent better ones. Looking through the older ones also shows how I have improved over time. Overall, having my guitar with me and being able to play more often, as well as spending time fly tying has been an enjoyable way to the extra time I now have.
While I am fortunate to not be affected too poorly by the many cancelations happening, one that was disappointing for me was my family trip to Puerto Rico. I found out about the cancellation when I was in Cuba. We were fishing in Cuba and spending the nights on a boat. For most days, we were far out of cellular range, but on March 10, we moved nearer to the island, Cayo Largo. My mom’s phone picked up a cellular signal strong enough to call my dad. We each took turns talking with him. The initial reason for calling him was to be able to get the update on school applications, but at the end of the call, he told us about what had been happening with the coronavirus. We were shocked as we had not been exposed to any news for days. Talk about canceling the trip later emerged and by Thursday, two days later, the decision to cancel was made. We were to be put on a flight out of Havana with, after a stop over in Atlanta, our final destination being Boston. We were all incredibly disappointed especially after having an amazing week fishing in Cuba. Now we needed to return to Boston where there were numerous cases. For the next week, we sat in quarantine fantasizing about what we could have been doing but we felt better when the news broke that Puerto Rico was issuing a stay at home order. While what happened was disappointing, I feel lucky to have it be the worst cancellation I have experienced so far.
Eric took the blue, ceramic bowl from the shelf and brought it with all his other items to the checkout line. “Your total is twenty dollars.” The woman behind the register said. Eric paid and left the store for home. The next morning he grabbed the bowl he bought the day before to have some cereal. He filled the bowl with cereal and went to take a bite. Suddenly the cereal spilled all over the table, but the bowl had not fallen. After cleaning up the mess, Eric noticed the bowl was still filled with cereal. In fact, it looked like there was more in the bowl than he had poured. He took some bites and rested the spoon in the bowl. When he looked down again, there were two spoons in it. Confused, he did it again, and a third spoon appeared. Eric thought he was seeing things. To see what would happen, he decided to put a one dollar bill in the cereal. Another dollar appeared. The bowl would duplicate anything that was put into it. Eric went to every store he could and bought the most expensive items possible. Then he would take them home and duplicate them. He became so rich that he decided to quit his job and move to a large, fancy mansion. Eric became very selfish with his wealth and many thought badly of him, including his family. His life was looking up until one day when it all fell apart. Eric was trying to put a stack of hundred dollar bills into the bowl one morning to get some extra money to shop when the bowl dropped. It crashed to the ground and shattered into millions of pieces. From then on, Eric’s life fell apart. He had cut all his ties with his family and friends and had no one to support him. His life had depended on the bowl. Without it, he became very sad and fell into a deep depression. Eric eventually got a job and got back on his feet again and returned to his normal life before finding the bowl. Despite this, the way he treated his friends and family left him living in regret for his whole life.
In the past few weeks, life has been eventful yet boring. A high moment in the last few weeks was being able to take our boat out and fish along the Sudbury river. It was wonderful to be able to get outside and do my favorite activity. Over the past few weeks I have been able to do that three times, and I hope to be able to continue that as classes end at lunch time. Some low moments have been turning on the news and seeing what has happened. Each time, I am instantly reminded of the new reality we live in. These days, with everyone home and without any outside help cleaning the house, my entire family has had to help clean and keep the house together. I also have had to stay productive in the past few weeks as I missed about a week of school. Each day, I check the list my mom has made to see what I am assigned to for house cleaning. I usually have two assignments. Along with that I have to get some exercise on the elliptical as well as stretching and core. Finally, I do some catching up on the schoolwork I missed. I have enjoyed the small break from school and being able to relax. I also like to be able to get outside more often, whether it is a quick walk or a full day of fishing. Another positive I have recently found is that my family eats dinner altogether. When we are in school, this rarely happens with my brother being away and me having to go to bed early. Despite this, it has been frustrating not being able to see friends or some family members. The past few weeks have brought highs and lows as I am adjusting to the new reality.
Assignment 10. "She looked over and saw us. She was not a bad person, I knew then. One can never be angry at another driver for a track incident. One can only be upset at himself for being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time" This quote shows when Enzo is beginning to realize that Annika is not a bad person and that it is easy to blame others but in a way, you could be responsible. In the Annika situation, while Denny did not actively do anything, he still should accept responsibility for what he did. Denny was in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s what he should be angry about. He should have known who he was dealing with or, “the person driving next to him”. Denny should not be angry at Annika, but rather take responsibility. This also relates to the custody lawsuit. When Denny recognized who he was up against, he began to see more success. The twins knew how to win and they would have won had Annika not admitted that nothing happened. This quote also represents a change in Enzo has he is now realizing that he can not blame others for the actions of himself or Denny.
Enzo refers to Eve as his rain because she is the unpredictable element. She could love him, or she could be untrustworthy of him. For example, when she gave birth she showed great love for him, but when he is playing with Zoë she isn’t trusting of him. She also was unpredictable when she left him alone in the house.
The context here is after Eve left Enzo in the house for several days. Denny is mad at Eve for doing that and Eve is saying that she was sick and she wouldn’t do that normally. Denny believes her but is unsure. He might be lying to himself because he wants to believe it.
The zebra represents Enzo’s more “dog” side of him. Enzo acts very human- like, but the zebra is the dog side which destroyed the stuffed animals. The zebra is still dancing, meaning his dog side is still there. He is saying that that side of him is real.
Power, Money, and Money’s Power
By: Gray Malitsky
Who would have thought a dog could provide wonderful insights into human thoughts and interactions? The book, The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein, describes a dog named Enzo’s point of view of the wife of his owner’s death and the custody lawsuit of their daughter. Throughout these events, what Enzo teaches us about the human experience is a significant part of the story. Over the course of the novel, Enzo teaches us that money and control are important parts of the human experience.
During Enzo’s life, he learns about how money can greatly influence the outcome of a situation. Denny is meeting with his lawyer, Mark Fein. Denny is not doing well and he has lost much of his money in the custody case between him and Eve’s parents. The case began after Eve’s death. After her death, Eve’s parents, or as Enzo refers to them as, the Twins, are suing Denny for custody of his and Eve’s daughter. The Twins claim that Denny sexually assaulted a fifteen-year-old girl named Annika. Denny must prove his innocence in order to regain custody of his daughter, Zoe. Mark is trying to convince Denny that compromise would be best for Zoe and that if Denny wants to achieve his goal, Denny must compromise. Denny refuses, arguing that circumstances can change quickly. This triggers Enzo to remember when Denny won a race after he was not doing well. When asked how he won, he said that he had a moment where he said to himself that he was going to win. That is when the other drivers spun out and he one. Denny believes that circumstances will change quickly in the case too, but for that can happen, he has to change. “Things change quickly. And, as if to prove it, Denny sold our house. We had no money left. They had sucked him dry” (247). Money is significant in this time because without resources obtained by money, it is incredibly challenging to win the custody suit. The Twins have resources that give them a strong advantage. They have the best lawyers and people helping them. They know if they can eliminate Denny’s ability to have resources, they can win. Denny compensates for this and sells his house to make more money to stay fighting in the case. Enzo also learns about money through his life-changing injury. Denny and Enzo are taking a run through the rain. Normally they run together, but due to Enzo’s older age, they were separated on each side of a crosswalk. Denny stops running and calls over to Enzo to join him. Enzo begins to run across the street but is hit by a car. Denny picks Enzo up, carries him, and gets into the car of the person who hit Enzo. They then drive to the vet. The vet does their procedures and in the end, he was fine. Unfortunately, a new problem emerges. During check out, all three of Denny’s credit cards are declined because he had put a significant portion of his money into the custody case. “‘You’ve exceeded your limit.’ Denny frowned and took out another card. ‘Here’s my ATM card. It will work.’ They waited again. Same result” (259). Money is powerful enough to keep a person or a dog alive. If Denny had no money, Enzo would have died. Fortunately, Denny had enough and was able to take Enzo to the vet. At that moment Enzo’s life purely relied on money. Money also helped keep Eve alive when she was sick. Had she not gone to the doctor, she would have died much quicker. With the treatment they paid for, she was able to be more in control and spend more time with her family. Humans taught Enzo about money and they also taught him about control.
Throughout Enzo’s life, he also learns that people can control their outcomes. Enzo learns this as Denny is going to races over the summer. One day, Denny comes home from an important race called the Phoenix International Raceway. This race was particularly important because, if he finished well, he would solidify his position as rookie of the year. Unfortunately, Denny was tagged in the first turn. He was caught in a bad spot and was hit by another car sending him into a skid, destroying his car. Denny finishes last place in the race. Eve made a comment on how she doesn’t think it was fair because it was the other driver's fault. Denny responds to this saying if it was anybody’s fault, it would be his. This triggers Enzo to remember something that Denny has said before. “Know who is driving next to you. Any problems that may occur have ultimately been caused by you, because you are responsible for where you are and what you are doing” (91). Denny is putting the blame on himself because he knows that he should have been aware of where he was. In the Annika situation, while Denny did not actively do anything, he still should accept responsibility for what he did. Denny was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He should have known who he was dealing with or, “the person driving next to him”. Denny should not be angry at Annika, but rather take responsibility. The whole outcome of the situation was in his control. Enzo learns about control when he, Denny, Zoe, and Eve are sitting together watching an in-car view of an eight-hour race Denny was in a few weeks earlier. Enzo enjoys watching the races from the in-car camera view because it captures aspects that the camera views that they show on television do not. In this race, Denny would take the last shift. When Denny’s turn comes, the team decides to switch the tires to rain tires. As Denny begins to drive, it begins to rain. This gives Denny a tremendous advantage over the other drivers who do not have rain tires. In the end, Denny and his team won the race. After the tape, Denny says something under his breath that Enzo thinks about later. “That which we manifest is before us; we are the creators of our own destiny” (43). Everything is in our control. The rain was Denny’s obstacle, but by compensating for it with the rain tires, he was able to keep the results of the race in his control. This is similar to the outcome of the custody case. When Denny makes the right decision and never signs the agreement for partial custody of Zoe, he is, in a way, in control of the outcome. Had he signed there, he would have given up control. In the end, because of his decision to stay in control, he was able to gain full custody of Zoe. Another time the importance of control was shown was when Eve first felt sick, she was in control of her own destiny. She decided not to see a doctor, and in turn, she continued to sicken to the point where, when she finally saw the doctor, it was too late. Eve’s fear of going to the doctor derived from her fear of losing control as she would now be in the hands of the doctors. This backfired on her because in trying to stay in control, she lost control over the outcome. These two aspects of the human experience taught Enzo important lessons.
Throughout Enzo’s life, he learns about how people can control their outcomes and about how money can significantly influence the outcome of a situation. He learned about control through Denny’s racing experiences, the custody lawsuit of Eve and Denny’s daughter, and through an experience Denny had with a young girl. Enzo learned about money in his own injury, Eve’s sickness and death, and through the custody suit. Control and money are significant aspects of human life too. Money also is significant because it can give control. Those who have a large amount of wealth often have more power and control. Often, control and money are the utmost desire that people possess.
As you read over your writing, what do you notice about your writing style/voice? Do you have variety in the way you structure your sentences? Do you repeat words or phrases? Do you use vocabulary that is specific? Are you using adverbs and adjectives? Do you use vivid verbs or boring ones? Are you applying comma rules correctly?
Assignment 9: Discuss Mike as a character. What are some of his qualities? What role does he play in the novel? Is he a good friend? Mike plays several important roles in the book, The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein. One important role Mike takes on is an extra person to help Denny with things he is unable to do. For example, he would take care of Enzo and drive Enzo to the evil twins house. This shows that he is a willing and helpful person. Another role Mike plays is a motivator for Denny. He is always by his side and supporting him. For example, when Eve died, Mike was a person for Denny to talk to and feel comforted by. Mike was also very helpful in the custody suit by being a motivator and pushing Denny to keep trying. This shows that he is a supportive person. Mike has almost taken on the role of Eve by being a companion for Denny and a helpful friend. Without Mike, Denny’s life would be much more difficult. Mike is a fantastic friend who has several positive traits and has played an important role in the book.
Reflection: As I read over my writing, I notice that my writing style is usually fairly concise. I do not add words or sentences that do not need to be there. I like to have variety in the way I structure my sentences, but that is something that I still would like to continue to work on. I have greatly improved in using specific, strong vocabulary that is able to get the point across. I am also using adverbs and adjectives in my writing. This makes my writing more detailed and easier for the reader to understand. When using adverbs and adjectives I like to use the vivid ones as the boring ones are not strong and can become repetitive and less interesting to read. I am most definitely applying the comma rules, and I feel as though they have improved my writing significantly. At the moment, I feel comfortable with my ability to use them and I have noticed that they come into play frequently as I am writing.
If I could create my own rewards card that gave me one free item every time I purchased ten of that item, I would choose airline tickets. That way whenever I fly, no matter then distance, I would always get a free flight. I could travel the world and fly luxuriously.