Sunday, December 2, 2007

Outside Reading- Week 7- Post B

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Section 7: Pages 334-371

Reaction: Anticipating since the beginning of the book what was on the disc Just Listen that Owen made for Annabel, I was ecstatic when in pages 339-340 Annabel finally listened to it as I was curious as to why that was the title of the book. Expecting some weird “spiritual” music full of pig calls or something odd like that, I was shocked, as was Annabel, when I found out that the CD was actually blank. Confused at first, I soon realized how genius this idea was. Many times before, Owen had mentioned that silence to him was “so freaking loud”. I had not really understood why though until Annabel understood why and sort of explained it to the reader. When she listened to the CD, she finally realized that the voice inside her head, the one constantly begging for her attention, was not Will Cash’s but her own. It was trying to tell her that it needed to be let out. The next day, when it was released, it seized to exist. The next time I am going through a difficult situation, I want to try this technique. I will go into a dark quiet corner of my house, put on a pair of earmuffs, and just listen; listen to that voice inside my head and I will get through anything. On the whole, this book taught me a lot about self-actualization; the things that are most common knowledge are often also the most forgotten. I would recommend this book to everyone looking for some good life lessons learned. I am glad this was the book at the bookstore that caught my attention.

Outside Reading- Week 7- Post A

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Section 7: Pages 334-371

2 Vocabulary Words

immersed (p. 353)- adj. or in other cases a v.
A) Plunged into or placed under a liquid.
B) Involved deeply; absorbed.
Example from the book: “All I had to do really was ask, and I, too, would be easily brought back, surrounded and immersed, finding myself safe, somewhere in between.”
My example: I slowly immersed the pasta into the boiling water so that it would not splash.

cathartic (p. 359)- adj.
Emotionally purging.
Example from the book: “the entire experience had been so overwhelming- although cathartic- that I’d kind of forgotten about it once I got up on the stand.”
My example: I find it very cathartic to scream at the top of my lungs when I am stressed.

One significant Quote
“You about ready? she’d asked me earlier, and then, I hadn’t been. Maybe I never would be. But there was no way around it now. So as I got ready to tell my story again, I did what Owen had done for me so many times: I reached out a hand, to my mother and my family. And this time, I pulled them through with me” (354). Throughout the entire book, it seems as though Annabel’s family is related, yet not all that connected. One sister was moody, the other outspoken; and the mother paranoid, the father just kind of there, avoiding the emotional lives of the women of his family. But when Annabel finally speaks up, she acts as a knot, therefore connecting her family in an entirely new way. This quote is significant because it exhibits the realization of this result by Annabel. It shows that she learned that family would always remain on her side.

Outside Reading- Week 6- Post B

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Section 6: Pages 275- 333

Reaction: “I wondered which was harder, in the end. The act of telling, or who you told it to. Or maybe if, when you finally got it out, the story was really all that mattered” (333). In the many pages I have read so far, this aforementioned quote proves to be the most significant yet. It phrases exactly the realization Annabel has needed to make for quite a long while. She finally realizes that while it is hard to get your deepest thoughts, feelings, and memories out of your head, getting them out is way better than keeping them to ourselves where they will remain continually haunting us. In what concerns me, the only way to move past the stuff that has been haunting us is to purge them from our mind, get them out into the open; whether we write a letter or a poem or simply, we just talk to a person we trust. Whatever the way you do it, you must tell someone in order to survive. Although it is a scary thought, it is usually not ourselves that we trust the most; it may be a parent, a neighbor, or a friend that we trust more than ourselves. And those people we trust will always be willing to help, no matter what; that is why we trust them- to have the ability to put our faith in them. Hopefully in this next and final section of the book Just Listen, Annabel will tell her sad story to her family and to Owen because only then will her life turn back to the happiness and worry-free world in which she lived before her rape incident. In my experience, it is a hard duty to accomplish, but once it is done, there are no regrets; you’re finally free!

Outside Reading- Week 6- Post A

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Section 6: Pages 275- 333

2 Vocabulary Words

loom (p. 283)- v.
A) To come into view as a massive, distorted, or indistinct image
B) To appear to the mind in a magnified and threatening form
C) To seem imminent; impend
Example from the book: “On a night when what I’d done, or not done, was suddenly looming large, this seemed like a tiny way to somehow, in some distant way, make up for it.”
My example: Monsters seem to loom children’s nightmares.

ostensible (p. 304)- adj.
Represented or appearing as such
Example from the book: “While Kirsten had talked about coming for Thanksgiving, she’d opted instead to stay in the city, ostensibly to work some extra shifts and catch up on schoolwork.”
My example: With a pout on her face, it was ostensible that she was upset.

3 examples of figurative language

1. Irony: “I saw that there was a girl behind him. She had shiny black hair and was wearing little retro glasses, a red sweater and jeans, a beaded bag pulled across her. But I didn’t need to see any of these things, really; I knew her with one glance. ‘Wait,’ I said, turning back to Rolly. ‘The girl… it’s Clarke?’” (281). I know that this is the literary element irony as it was completely unexpected to both the reader and the main character, Annabel, that the girl Ronny was “in-love” with was Clarke, who happened to be Annabel’s ex-best friend from when they were in kindergarten to 6th grade.

2. Simile: “the cold air hit me like a smack” (295). I know that this is the literary element simile because Annabel compared two unlike objects, cold air and a smack, using the word “like” to show how they relate in her story.

3. Imagery: “When my mom and I finally headed out into the Mayor’s Market parking lot, I was surprised to see it was snowing. The flakes were the big, fat kind, too pretty to stick or last, but we both stopped still for a moment, looking up at them as they fell. By the time we got in the car and pulled out of the lot, they were already slowing, some catching the wind, blowing in circles. My mom turned on the wipers as we sat at a stoplight, watching the flakes hit the windshield” (311). I know that this is the literary element imagery because it uses descriptive words, like big, fat, and pretty, to describe the beautiful, fluffy snowflakes. In my head, I can picture the image of a mother and daughter sitting in their car, looking up into the winter sky, amazed by the beauty of the snow.

Outside Reading- Week 5- Post B

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Section 5: Pages 229- 274

Reaction: In pages 263 through 265, the reader learns of a horrible event that occurred in Annabel’s past, although due to previous foreshadowing that the author wrote, it was expected. At an end-of-school school party the June of her sophomore year, Annabel was sexually assaulted. Although not fully raped by definition, the effect the attack had on Annabel was just as severe; she remained speechless for a few days and way too scared to ever discuss what happened. In our world today, it is so sad that awful events like this happen everyday. It makes me angry and sad just thinking about it. I cannot believe that someone can do that to someone else; how can they just attack someone and ruin that someone’s life and feel not guilt, but pleasure from what they had just done? It’s absolutely disgusting. It seriously ticks me off; I wish people could just stop being so selfish. Also, I cannot believe the strength it takes for the assaultees to live past the terrible actions thrown onto them, literally. I envy those people who can actually tell their story to the world, speak up, be heard. They have so much courage and self-confidence, it is as if nothing happened. I wish the world could be a better place where everyone could just learn to accept and respect each other. But since I am dubious that my wish will ever come true, I guess we must live in fear everyday of those selfish people who do not choose to be accepting and respectful.

Outside Reading- Week 5- Post A

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Section 5: Pages 229- 274

2 Vocabulary Words

Latter (p. 239)- adj.
A) Being the second mentioned of two
B) More advanced in time; later
C) Near or comparatively near to the end
D) Last; final
Example from the book: “Judging by the look on his face- a mix of horrified and offended- I had a feeling it was probably the latter.”
My Example: While eating 3 slices of pie seems good at the time, the latter effect is that you gain a few pounds.

Dubious (p.241)- adj.
Fraught with uncertainty or doubt; undecided.
Example from the book: “He looked dubious, however, as he pushed quarters into the cashier station, and I had to wonder if my theory was about to be debunked.”
My Example: Although he believed the house of cards would stand up, I was quite dubious, expecting them to fall any second.

One emerging theme
One important theme in this book happens to be that one small event can change a person’s whole life as with Annabel’s rape and Whitney’s broken arm, which on the outside may not seem very significant, but in fact, both sisters act very differently due to these terrible events.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Types of Debates Blog

Political Debate (For a future election)
- we see it on television
-it serves to better understand a candidate's view on a certain issue
-it helps the viewer/voter decide the candidate whose views matched up best with their own
-it is structured
-its structure gives each candidate an equal chance to speak about their views and goals which effect the decision making process for the voter

Teacher/ Student Debate
- it occurs in the classroom
- it serves to either change or not change a grade that the student believes is unfair
- It helps arrive at a better decision as both the student and the teacher's point of views are heard
- it is unstructured
- its disorganization leads to one person, usually the teacher, dominating the debate, and therefore overruling the student in the decision making process.

Class Discussion/Debate
-it occurs in the classroom
-it serves to hear students' point of views on various issues regarding the world
-it can help to arrive at a better decision if the majority of the class has about the same opinion on an issue
- the debate is unstructured
- It makes it sort of a first raise your hand, first speak situation. A few people could dominate by continually stating their opinion while others might not debate at all

Debate Team Competition
-it occurs at a hosting high school
- it serves to hear students' point of views on various issues regarding the world
-it can help originate new ideas to decide from because debators are convincing
-it is structured
- its structure lets every debator have a fair and equal chance at winning the competition.

Debate between friends (For example: deciding which kind of pizza to order)
-it occurs at one of the friends' houses
-it serves to decide what pizza to order on the phone
-it helps arrive at a better decision because there is eventually a compromise, so both are happy
-it is unstructured
-One friend could persuade the other to get the kind of pizza he/she wanted in exchange for something else without the other even giving his/her opinion

Parent/ Child Debate (For example: the issue of extending a curfew)
-it occurs at home
-it serves to either change a curfew or keep it the same
-it only helps arrive at a better decision if there is a compromise made
-it is unstructured
-it could lead to an extreme argument and eventually to slamming doors, and then no decision would really have been made.

Teacher/ Teacher Debate (For example: what units/skills are most important for students to learn)
- it occurs in the teachers' lounge
- it serves to decide what to teach each year
- it helps arrive at a decision that everyone can agree with
-it is unstructured
- as in other situtations, one teacher could dominate the discussion, basically deciding that year's plan, while others do not get a change to say anything

"Last Word" Debate
- it occurs in the classroom
-it serves to hear students' point of views on various issues regarding the world and it helps students better understand their peers' views
-it could help arrive at a better decision if everyone agrees
-it is structured
- everyone has an equal change to state their opinion and have their voice count in the decision making process

Court Case (For example: a trial by jury)
-it occurs in the courtroom
-it serves to prove someone guilty or not
-it doesn't really help arrive at a better decision because the truth is not always factored in, or even known for that matter
-it is structured
- everyone has an equal change to state their opinion and have their voice count in the decision making process by the jury. Also, all the jury have one vote that each have the same value

Business Meeting Debate (For example: which slogan should we use for our new product)
- it occurs in a conference room
- it serves to decide which slogan should be used
-it helps arrive at a better decision because with a resulting compromise, everyone will be happy
-it is unstructured
- one businessman, usually the manager, can overrule their coworkers opinion because they have the authority in making the decision.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Outside Reading- Week 4- Post B

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Section 4: Pages 179- 228

Reaction: In chapter ten, one Sunday morning after his 7 a.m. radio show, Anger Management, on the community radio station WRUS, Owen invited Annabel out to breakfast. She agreed to go, and about twenty minutes later, Owen showed up at her front door. After some good music discussion in the car, they arrive at the World of Waffles. Realizing it was a bit chilly in the restaurant, Owen offered Annabel his coat. They enjoyed a nice, hearty breakfast together, and soon, Owen dropped Annabel back to her house. Right after he drove off, Annabel realized she was still wearing Owen’s coat, but most importantly that his ipod was in the coat’s pocket. In pages 202-203, although she knew she shouldn’t, her curiosity led to temptations that caused her to turn on the beloved ipod. In life, many people’s curiosity leads them to act in a way they feel is wrong; it is human nature. For instance, once when I was younger, I had a friend who kept a journal in which she wrote down all of her “secrets”. When I was at her house one day, I saw this “sacred” journal sitting keyless smack down in the middle of her wooden dresser as if it was on display. We ordered pizza and talked for a little while, and soon enough, she left the room to go pay the delivery boy and get our food. So, there I sit, just me and that journal. Normally, I would refrain from doing such a thing, but after hearing all the hype about that journal, my curiosity got the best of me, and within seconds, I was diving into the journal. I think many people are tempted to do things they shouldn’t because it adds excitement to their lives as it did with me that one day.

Outside Reading- Week 4- Post A

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Section 4: Pages 179- 228

2 Vocabulary Words

1. abhorrent (p.182)- adj.
causing repugnance; detestable; loathsome
utterly opposed, or contrary, or in conflict
Example from the book: “It’s so abhorrent that anyone could consider themselves an artist and then sell out so completely to the corporate machine”
My Example: As I care about the environment, I find the pollution surrounding big cities abhorrent.

2. Pensive (p.226)- adj.
Deeply, often wistfully or dreamily thoughtful.
Example from the book: “There were a few more [pictures] of Mallory as well, doing a full range of looks: pensive, dreamy, and, perhaps due to something Owen had just said, annoyed.”
My example: Philosophers are usually in a pensive mood while they think up new ideas to explain the world.

1 Quote and its significance

“Even though our rooms were adjacent, her view of the golf course, where a man in checked pants was now taking a practice swing, looked totally different to me, like it might have been another place altogether” (201).
This quote is significant to the story as it symbolizes the difference between the lives and views of the two sisters by comparing them with the very different views of both of their rooms’ windows. Although they were both raised in the same house by the same parents within the same environment, they act and understand the world completely differently. While Whitney is quieter and to herself, exhibited by writing in her journal, Annabel is more social, displays by her circle of good friends. This quote explains how their different personalities erupted so that they could become who they are today.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Outside Reading- Week 3- Post B

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Section 3: Pages 115- 178

Reaction: As Annabel gets to know Owen better, she learns more about his family life. Just as many children and teenagers have to face, in pages 159-160 we learn that Owen had to live through his parent’s brutal divorce. He describes angrily to Annabel how there was constant screaming and incessant hatred between his parents. On one hand, I feel so sorry that Owen had to endure this. I don’t think I personally could ever deal with such a situation although like most married couples, my parents often bicker. On the other hand, my personal opinion of divorce, although I understand they are messy, is that they are necessary. If I was in a marriage and was extremely unhappy and unsatisfied, I too would seek a better husband, a better life. From the parent’s point of view, divorce is evidently a good thing in the end. They no longer have to live their life with regret and major unhappiness. I also feel it is advantageous to their children because they will not have to consistently survive their parent’s arguments. However, this is not how most children view the situation. Many feel like they are to blame, or they feel worthless. I believe this is due to the fact that they had to come to the realization that their parents, who most view as heroes or idols, cannot always make the right decision. In this world, nothing and nobody is perfect. That’s what I love about it- it is our flaws that make us unique and interesting.

Outsside Reading- Week 3- Post A

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Section 3: Pages 115- 178


Indecipherable ( p.128)- adj.
not understandable; incomprehensible.
Example from the book: “-the song was still going, the words the singer was saying (or screeching, really) indecipherable.
My example: Because it is not from their generation, the computer, to my parents, is absolutely indecipherable.

Semantic (p. 150)- adj.
of, pertaining to, or arising from the different meanings of words or other symbols
Example from the book: “[The definition of freaking out] is just a semantic issue, I guess.”
My example: America is viewed semantically by different countries; some view it as a place of freedom while others see it more as a place of greed.

3 examples of figurative language

Foreshadowing: “I thought of something else, the thing I could never admit, the biggest secret of all. The one I could never tell, because if the tiniest bit of light was shed upon it, I’d never be able to shut it away again” (143). I know that this is the literary element foreshadowing as it indicates that further on in the story, this secret will finally by let out and the truth will unfold. Judging by the way the author stated this, it seems as though Annabel is very reluctant for this to happen.

Metaphor: “Silence is so freaking loud” (147). I know this is the literary element metaphor because it directly relates and compares two unlike sounds. Silence is obviously not loud to most, yet metaphorically it could be perceived as so because it too is technically a sound.

Imagery: “The house was beautiful, with a wide front porch with a swing, and bright pink flowers in pots lining the steps. A yellow cat was lying on the front walk, stretched out in the sunshine” (150). I know this is the literary element imagery as it thoroughly describes Owen’s nice house using visual words such as “stretched” and “bright pink”. In my head, I can actually picture his house as if I was Annabel, observing it from my car window.

Outside Reading- Week 2- Post B

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Section 2: pages 64- 114

Reaction: Honesty is always the answer. But somehow, it is rarely the response. In pages 109-110 as Owen, a giant who has the reputation as a tough guy, drives Annabel home from school after she had had a rough day, Annabel realizes that he is not as scary as he is made out to be. Actually, she finds him fascinating. Even more so when he claims that he never lies, as she herself cannot help but to lie. So many people in the world continually lie. It is probably our worst habit. Although everyone knows it is not right, it is inevitable. It seems to be the easy way out at the moment, but in the long scheme of events, it becomes complicated; instead of its immediate effect of relaxing a person, lying will always end up hurting people more than helping them. I, myself, try my hardest to remain a completely honest person, and most of the time, I am. But sometimes, I just can’t bear to tell the truth, especially about my feelings. I sometimes force myself to be happy and cheery when in reality, I feel just the opposite. Although it may help me in situations where being sad or tired makes me out to be a party pooper, at the end of the day, I will still be sad or tired, but also angry because I would not let myself purge my true emotions. This realization makes me wonder that if the world could commit to being honest to others and themselves, how much easier our lives could be lived.

Outside Reading- Week 2- Post A

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Section 2: pages 64- 114


Stoic (p. 72)- n.
One who is seemingly indifferent to or unaffected by joy, grief, pleasure, or pain.
Example from the book: “Clarke wasn’t an emotional person. She was instead a born stoic.”
Other example (from me): As his sister cried and cried, he was stood there, a complete stoic, unaffected.

(p.96)- adj
characterized by or proceeding from instinct rather than intellect
characterized by or dealing with coarse or base emotions; earthy; crude
Example from the book: “music is a total constant. That’s why we have such a strong visceral connection to it”
Other example (from me): I was visceral in figuring out that I needed to move back.

One emerging theme
One emerging theme in Just Listen is the honesty as it displays itself as a quality that many characters try hard to possess, yet somehow they are not capable of doing so leading them to continue to lie to everyone, especially themselves.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Outside Reading- Week 1- Post B

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Section 1: Pages 1-63

Reaction- The ability, or disability, to cope with death really fascinates me. In pages 30-34, a horrible event strikes the Greene family: Annabel’s maternal grandmother dies. Before her death, although they lived on opposite coasts of the United States, Annabel’s mother, Grace, and her mother were extremely close. Every morning, they would talk on the phone about things that didn’t seem important, but in essence they meant everything to Grace. Upon the death of her mother, Grace began to look more tired and less perky as usual. Gradually, she got worse; some days, she would not even get out of bed. This sort of response to death occurs a lot in the world today; especially if it is the parent who dies. Many people go into extreme depression, becoming a completely different person than they had previously been- a sadder person. Many do not sleep and try to occupy their minds with structured activities, while others, like Grace, sleep all day. Both help the “victim” attempt to forget about the past. But this is, in my opinion, unhealthy. One must face the fact that their parent is gone straight on in order to cope with the death and eventually move on with their lives, as difficult as it may be. To relate to my own life, both my paternal grandparents died in the same year when I was in 7th grade. Although my father seemed fine and unmoved, you could see the sadness in his eyes and the slight croaking in his voice. My mom told me he did not sleep for days. Every time I saw him, he had a crossword puzzle in his lap and a cup of coffee in his hand. He did not cope well with the death of his parents very quickly until he finally faced the facts and stopped trying to be in denial of their absence. In the book, too, Grace eventually begins to go to therapy and gradually, her life goes back to normal.

Outside Reading- Week 1- Post A

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Section 1: Pages 1-63


Encroaching (p. 5)- to encroach: intr. v.
1. To take another's possessions or rights gradually or stealthily.
2. To advance beyond proper or former limits.
Example from the book: Any space around her was her personal space; just by existing, you were encroaching.
My example: At night, they liked to encroach on neighbors’ land for fun.

Indignant (p. 46)- adj.
Feeling, characterized by, or expressing strong displeasure at something considered unjust, offensive, insulting, or base.
Example from the book: I could hear my father’s low tones, my mom’s higher ones, and the occasional indignant shift in tone from Kirsten.
My example: I kept an indignant expression on my face as my friend was credited for the work I did.


“As different as my family was that night it all began from what we appeared to be- the five of us, a happy family, sharing a meal in our glass house- to anyone in a car passing by on the road outside, looking in" (63).
As normal as any family, such as the Greenes, may look and seem, there are always thick pages beyond the cover. In this particular chapter, the family had gone through the crisis of a daughter, or a sister, being taken over by her eating disorder. As serious as the situation must have been, the Greenes tried to remain calm and collected; some even in denial of the terrible thing happening before their eyes: Whitney was disappearing to death. The family often exchanged glances of fear and of sorrow, but rarely got into audible heated debate. From the outside looking in, they seemed to be a perfect family eating dinner. This really goes to show the saying that you cannot judge a book by its cover.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Approval of 2nd Quarter Outside Reading

I would like to read Just Listen by Sarah Dessen.
It was published in 2006 by Penguin Group.
This book is a work of fiction.
It is 371 pages long.
This book is sufficiently challenging for a sophomore as it deals with self-actualization, a complex subject. Also, within the first few pages, vocabulary words include encompass, verdict, and encroaching. On top of that, it was referred to me by my older cousin, who read it as a senior in high school. I chose this book mainly because I heard it was a good read through both reviews and personal reviews. Also, the plot sounds interesting- a lot like the novel Speak, a book I read last year that I really liked. At last, I’ve read other books by Sarah Dessen that I enjoyed, so I believe I will enjoy this one.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Sea Inside Assignment- Posts 1-3

I think the film The Sea Inside is absolutely devastating and painful to watch. I could not imagine staying in the same bed in the same room for 28 years and not being able to change that. I think everyone has the right to do what he or she wishes if there is a benefit. Even if that wish is death, I don’t think anyone should stop Ramon, especially the court of his country. Now, there are certain circumstances that I may not agree with allowing someone to die, but this man has obviously had enough time to think out his decision to die. His eventual action of killing himself, with help, was his choice. I think he had the right to take himself out of the pain and also out of the boredom that was his life without motion. I think the friends who helped him truly loved him and knew dying was his greatest wish. They understood the pain and suffering he went through each day being a quadriplegic. Although they may feel guilt and regret, they should know that they actually helped him more than hurt him as it was killing him to live until the next day.
Between The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and The Sea Inside, there are many similarities and differences. The two stories are similar as they both had the main person as a quadriplegic. Moreover, both Bauby and Ramon had a sort of sarcastic sense of humor towards their conditions. Although they are similar in that way, I think the differences between the two stories are much more prevalent. An easy difference is that Ramon can talk, while Bauby cannot. This “gift” helps Ramon express his desire to die. Bauby, on the other hand, never expresses the want to die in his memoir. While the two men both express hope through imagination- Ramon with his flying and Bauby with his fond memories-, I think Bauby shows more hope towards the future as he allows himself to express his emotions more freely. I think the movie, The Sea Inside, was more powerful because it dealt with the want to die- something not discussed much in daily life. It’s hard to put myself in the position to even think about dying, let alone desiring to die. Because of the issue’s controversy, The Sea Inside had a much more powerful impact on me.
The camera movements in The Sea Inside were well thought out and added a lot to the director’s message. A first scene where I noticed that the camera shots were meaningful was the scene where Ramon first meets Julia. At first, they shot Ramon from high angle, making him seem weak and powerless. To add to this the director takes a pan of Ramon’s whole body to introduce his awful condition. As Ramon begins to talk to Julia, the camera takes an eye level close up of him to show him from Julia’s eyes. This shows that Julia can relate to his condition and his want to die. As Ramon begins discussing how moving his hand 5 inches to touch Julia’s is an impossible journey, the camera tilts down to their hands to make a high angle that shows Ramon’s weakness. Another scene where the camera movements helped the message was in the scene where Ramon dove into the sea and broke his neck (where he first became a quadriplegic). Before the viewer even knows he broke his neck, the director foreshadows that something bad is going to happen as he shows Ramon diving from a high angle- he is doomed. Those two scenes were the most prominent, in my opinion, in the director’s technique of camera movements.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Outside Reading: Week 6- Post #2

Final Assesment Essay!
*Note: I blocked most of my quotes on this essay on Microsoft Word, but when I transfered it onto my blog, the quotes were no longer blocked. I then tried to tab them, but it won't allow me to. If you would like a copy with my quotes formated correctly, please comment on my blog. Just in case, I will just bring a copy of my essay on Monday.

Happy Birthday or Whatever by Annie Choi

Although families get on each other’s nerves, they are also the people who love each other the most. Sometimes an individual is audibly arguing with their parents over a bad test score. At other times that same person can be hugging their parents tightly for a good ten minutes. In Annie Choi’s memoir, Happy Birthday or Whatever, she describes her family and tells stories of their love/hate relationship. No matter how many times Annie’s mother yells at her, Annie continually loves her to the moon and back. Accordingly, through the usage of tone, word choice, and personification, Annie Choi passes on her message to continue loving our families even though they many drive us crazy.
To begin, Annie’s tone not only shows how irritated she can get by her family, but also how she still loves them anyway. A good example of where Annie gets irritated with her mother occurs when her mother forgets Annie’s birthday, so Annie plays up the guilt factor while conversing with her mother on the phone. Unfortunately, the guilt bounces back on Annie, and she apologizes for making her mother feel terrible. After the phone call, Annie realizes this is part of her mother’s plan. Here’s her reaction about her unnecessary apology:
How the hell did she do it? She wronged me, yet I was the one who’d apologized. She sensed my weakness and moved in for the kill. She is a crafty one, my mother. I simmered. I fumed. I mashed the buttons on my phone and dialed my father’s office. Someone should apologize to me, damnit. (6)
Annie is obviously infuriated with her mother’s “evil” tactic to put the guilt on Annie. A second incidence where Annie’s tone reflected her annoyance with her family occurs after her mother rudely wakes her up at four in the morning for a day trip about which Annie was oblivious.
“I tell you we go.”
“No you didn’t.”
“Yes I do. Remember yesterday I say, ‘Anne, tomorrow we wake up early go Soraksan.’”
I thought about it for a second. No, she most definitely didn’t tell me. I think she has a lot of conversations with me in her head, in a fantasy world where she talks and I listen and nod my head silently. I would never agree to wake up early to do anything except for sleep. (164)
There is a bitter quality to Annie’s thoughts, which show the reader that she is annoyed that her mother made plans without her consent, or knowledge for that matter. Despite these irritating moments, Annie continues to love her parents. A good example of this love is exhibited in Annie’s tone as she describes her perfect holiday.
I had wanted my family to be together for the holidays, even though they make me grind my teeth into little nubs. In the end, however, we are family and we should spend time together, even if it kills us. (213)
Anne’s desire for a cooperative family shows that she truly does want to be part of a loving family. Also, it acknowledges that even the most imperfect of families come together and make peace for a few special days. In brief, through her descriptive tone, Annie shows the reader that even she, with her flooding of irritated emotions, can bring out the emotion of love for her family.
Moreover, Annie Choi’s use of words accurately describes her emotions towards her family. In her younger years, Annie’s mother always had a great fashion sense. Unfortunately, when she started playing golf more frequently, she developed a country club, plaid style. Much to Annie’s dismay, she has to go out in public with her mother, who is wearing a matching, plaid visor-polo-bermuda short ensemble. Annie couldn’t be more embarrassed.
We ate at California Pizza Kitchen and my mother babbled loudly about golf- she had just volunteered to organize the next church tournament. I hunkered in the corner of our booth, hoping the power would go out. (61)
In choosing the word “hunker”, Annie allows the reader to effortlessly picture the situation. It is easy to see a girl slinking down in her seat, her eyes ashamed of what is in front of her. Another instance in the memoir where an excellent choice of words concerning Annie’s irritation with her family occurs when her Christian mother hangs up an immensely large photograph of the pope John Paul II right by the front door.
We stood in front of the photograph, dumbfounded and oddly absorbed. The picture had a peculiar magnetism to it, like a piece of eye-torturing art or pornography. (97)
Words such as “dumbfounded”, “peculiar”, and “eye-torturing” reflect the emotions of Annie conception of the photograph at that specific moment: fascinating, yet repulsive. From then on, she questioned whether or not to even invite her friends over because she was so embarrassed of the shiny, white robe and face of John Paul II. This aggravated her because she wanted to see her friends outside of school. Throughout that whole chapter, Annie uses such words as in the quote above to illustrate her displeasure towards her mother’s obsessive collection of Christian “collector’s items” - of which Pope John Paul II was first. Not only does Annie Choi use words to show her frustration towards her family, but also she uses it to show her adoration of them. At the New Year’s party one year, Annie’s family was on a team against other relatives in a game called yut, which resembles the American game, Sorry! After a few tosses, Annie’s team was is last place. Miraculously, Annie tosses the sticks, which land all three of their remaining markers on a special place that leads them to victory. They celebrate.
“Anne, you know song-‘We are champion!’-you know? We have to sing song.”
I laughed, imagining my mother rocking out with Freddie Mercury. (237)
The phrase “rocking out” puts a fun-loving nature into Annie’s thoughts. It shows she cares enough for her mother that she can playfully tease and laugh at her, even if it’s only in her head. Also, “rocking out” gives the reader a hilarious image of a sixty-year old Korean woman dancing and singing as if she has just won the jackpot of a huge lottery. To sum up, Annie’s word choice helps her in her quest to prove one can enjoy spending time with a family that drives them insane.
Likewise, the personification Annie used in her memoir aids her in the image, and therefore the message, she is trying to portray. Once upon a third grade mishap, Annie got a B+ on her spelling test; this is simply unacceptable to her mother. So, Annie fears the thought of having to face her mother. To make matters worse, her mother clearly does not help the situation.
“Ayoo, Anne, what I tell you over and over?”
I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to answer. I looked at her ruefully and sank down into my seat, hoping that the vinyl cushion on my kitchen chair would swallow me whole. Then I could live the rest of my days lounging in the soft cotton stuffing. (29)
By declaring she wishes to be swallowed by a cushion, something if possible not yet invented, the reader can tell how she becomes ashamed and discouraged by her mother’s words. She fears her mother’s anger so much that she would degrade herself by living inside something that many sit their bottoms on everyday. Clearly, she is full of emotions towards her mother and soon may develop some anger. Another instance where Annie’s hostility towards her family is expressed in personification occurred in the aforementioned situation regarding the photograph of John Paul II; although this happened right as Annie helped her mother open the package when it first came in.
Finally I just ripped the bandages off. I gasped. I stared. And the face of Pope John Paul II stared back at me.
“OH. MY. GOD.” (93)
Imagine opening a package expecting it to be a piece of Monet artwork, and then having to be confronted by an oversized, white-robed pope. The image of the pope staring back at her is a bit frightening. With the use of prior knowledge, it is assumed that Annie is annoyed as she becomes irritated with things that frighten her such as the B+. While personification helps illustrate her angered emotions, it also, as with tone and word choice, helps illustrate happy moments with family. For instance, as a freshman in college, Annie discovered that her mother had breast cancer. Though her mother succeeded in beating it, to this day, every time Annie thinks of it, her body reacts in horror. “My stomach tightens and my fists clench and my brain struggles to shut off” (127). Human brains do not actually have the capability to shut on and off, but during rough times in life it can feel that way. Annie’s reaction is perfectly normal for any daughter of a breast cancer survivor and thus proves her love and concern for her mother’s well being. In other words, Annie’s use of personification displays her emotion in a new figurative language that relates to her emotions of both love and aggravation.
On the whole, Annie Choi passes on her message to continue loving our families however much they may annoy us through the usage of tone, word choice, and personification. While all three literary techniques reflect upon her emotions, each one focuses on a specific goal. Her tone expresses her emotions through her emotive thoughts, while her word choice gives descriptive images of her showing her emotions, and her personification shows her feelings through fictionist actions. Along with her important message, Annie teaches us to express our emotions- and shows us countless ways to do so. So, always show love for family, no matter what because one day, you will no longer have the chance.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Outside Reading: Week 6- Post #1

Happy Birthday or Whatever by Annie Choi

Section 6: pages 191-239
Ch. 12
The chapter starts out as Annie’s dad is driving her to the LAX airport in major traffic. It is very early in the morning, so Annie was extremely tired. Yet, she carried on an awkward conversation with her father; apparently, her father has extremely bad conversational skills. In the conversation, the topic of marriage comes up due to her father’s concern that Annie is getting too old (she was 28 at the time). He thinks that if she waits any longer, she will never get married. Annie explains this is a conflict with many Korean families. On top of telling her that a man will never love her, her parents also don’t believe in multiple boyfriends; therefore, she couldn’t introduce any of her boyfriends to her parents unless she was to engage them. As if this wasn’t crazy enough, this man also had to be “perfect”, Christian and Korean. These requirements tended to ruin several of Annie’s intimate relationships, for example her relationship with Aaron that lasted six years. She was afraid her family wouldn’t approve of his Jewish and American background. Annie now vows to find a man she loves with hopes of her family’s approval.
Ch. 13 It’s that time of year, and Annie’s heading home to L.A. for the holidays. But before she makes her arrangements, she calls her mother to make sure everyone will be there- the previous year she came home to an empty house. After the assurance of her mother, Annie books her flight and heads home. Upon her arrival, she discovers her brother will not be there this year. I guess everyone is really not. Although this angers her, she still goes to the big family New Years Day Bash at her aunt’s house. There she is greeted by her relatives who consistently mention the she looks so different, what with her hair being short and her body looking larger. Annie disagrees and tells them, “I’m the same.” As her father tells a confusing riddle at the dinner table, Annie goes to peel fruit with her cousin Tina. Later, the families play a game called yut. It is sort of like the American Sorry! Despite her efforts to mix up families, Annie ends up on a team with her super competitive mother. Although she has a rough start, Annie leads her team to victory in the end, all the while drinking over 4 cups of coffee. At the end of the night, Annie hugs people and says her goodbyes and heads back to the normal world.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Outside Reading- Week 5- Post #2

Happy Birthday or Whatever by Annie Choi

Section 5: pages 161-190
Ch. 11
Upon one special day of her stay in Korea in her trip in 1988, Annie is rudely awakened by her mother. Apparently, today Annie and her mother were going to Soraksan; Annie was previously unaware of this plan and has no idea where this place is. After many proposals to go back to sleep, Annie gets off the floor, throws on some pants, and takes the heavily margarined toast from her mother; and they were off. First they met up with Annie’s mother’s old friends, who were driving them there. On the 5- hour trip to Soraksan, they made a stop almost every hour, mostly for food. Annie continually comments that she cannot possibly eat more. Finally, they arrive at Soraksan, where they see a Buddhist temple and a mountain. They stay here for a total of 15 minutes and then head back home, making as many stops as on the trip up there. At the last stop, they get dinner, and then the adults decide they would like to do Karaoke. Annie doesn’t like the idea, but eventually gives into singing a line or two of a Beatles song and a few “easy” Korean songs. On the final drive home, it is finally quiet- her mother and the friend had fallen asleep.

Reaction: The concept of this chapter was very funny. I love that these Korean people constantly stopped during their road trip for food and flea market stuff in order to make the trip last longer. For me, it would make the trip a lot more fun because you wouldn’t have to stayed seated in a stuffy, crowded car all day- a thing I hate a lot. I can’t stand being cramped a not having room to stretch. Also, I really like food, especially unique, ethnic food, and I also enjoy flea markets because you can find so many interesting, one-of-a-kind items that can pump up both your lifestyle and your clothing style. However, I do see why Annie may not have liked stopping so many times because she had no idea where she was going, and she really wanted to go back to sleep. I can definitely relate to this feeling- there are many days were all I want to do is nothing and just lay in bed. I can also relate to finding out that you are going somewhere at the last minute. There have been several occasions where I think I have no plans for that night, just time to relax. But boy am I wrong. Not only am I going out to dinner and a dance show with family friends, but this has also been planned for weeks. “Oh, didn’t I tell you?” “ No, I’m sorry, I don’t believe you did.” “ Oops! I must have forgot. Well, you’re still coming, right? So-and-so is really looking forward to seeing you.” “ Well, I don’t know. Maybe.” Alexandra! I am requiring you to attend this show.” And that’s the end of that, so I can truly relate to being oblivious about my supposed plans.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Outside Reading- Week 4 - Post #2

Happy Birthday or Whatever by Annie Choi

Section 4: pages 129-160
Ch. 9
In this chapter, a 15-year-old Annie decides to become a vegetarian after a friend read a book by John Robbins and discouraged Annie from eating animals because they were bad for everything and everybody. This is an action not accepted by Koreans, though. At almost every dinner at least one person tells Annie to “eat meat”; whether it’s because she “looks skinny” or she’ll “get jaundice.” Often, her mother will call her just to ask if she’s still in her vegetarian phase. Despite the attempts to get her to eat meat, Annie has remained a vegetarian for 13 years; though even she admits becoming vegetarian was mostly about rebellion.
Ch. 10
This chapter focuses on the devil of the family, Annie’s paternal grandmother. She is feared by many, including Annie’s mother and father, and she likes nothing. One time when Annie was 8-years-old, she had to bow a special bow for her grandmother’s 70th birthday. Although she practiced, her hanbok, too long, and petticoat, too itchy, prohibited her from bowing properly. She landed smack down on her bottom. Her grandmother, displeased, did not even nod her head as she had done for Annie’s cousins who bowed before her. Annie cried for hours. To this day, Annie still despises her grandmother and upon seeing her in Korea a few years ago, Annie’s relationship with her worsened when her grandmother both threw away a cashmere sweater gift and made Annie eat fish.

Outside Reading - Week 4 - Post #1

Happy Birthday or Whatever by Annie Choi
QUOTE: “Sometimes I think that my mother and I are very close to finding a common ground, to finding an area of interest that we can explore together and bond over and discuss without bickering or nagging each other. But then I realize this is impossible, that if we didn’t give each other a hard time, we probably wouldn’t get along” (138). –Annie Choi in Happy Birthday or Whatever. I believe this quote is very important to the book. It first caught my attention because I saw how it really described the weird relationship of Annie and her mom and summarized it into a couple of sentences. The relationship of Annie and her mom is probably one of the main ideas, or key elements, of the story. Many of the chapters are based solely on this relationship. Although they fight and bicker for the majority of the time, one can tell that they truly love one another and just want what’s best for the other. This book describes true Korean family love, and that particular quote pinpoints that love.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Reflection : The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

After finishing The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, I have mixed reactions about the book. On a good note, I think the book is particularly well written, even without consideration to the process in which the memoir was written. With consideration to the situation, it is exceptional. I cannot imagine memorizing so many words, so many paragraphs, so many pages; that man must have had huge brain capacity. On top of that, the patience it must have took, for both Jean Bauby and those actually writing down his story, is incredible. Most would have gotten too frustrated to even finish half a page, maybe not even a sentence. It is inspirational to know the handicaps one man can actually handle and remain at ease. Although I think the process of writing this memoir is absolutely amazing, I did not find the book to be all too enjoyable. Sure, some passages were interesting, but for the most part, I found this book to be a bit monotonous. This could be because I don’t really want to understand what it’s like to have a stroke and be paralyzed, but I do believe that Bauby could have done a better job at making something exciting or surprising happen, even if that is not the story of his life. Accordingly, I found almost everything before the chapter where he tells about the day of his stroke kind of irrelevant, with the exception of maybe his daily routine in the hospital. The flash backs, in my opinion, were completely irrelevant and also unorganized as they kind of just started, without a warning. Basically, I did not think the book hit a climax, or even headed anywhere. Maybe this is a problem with most memoirs, or maybe just his; but I couldn’t be the judge, as I have not read enough memoirs to know. To sum up, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly had a few good components and some not so good components, but as far as I am concerned, the bad outweighs the good.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Outside Reading Post- Week 3- Post #2

Happy Birthday or Whatever by Annie Choi

Journal Entry

Over all, I really enjoy this book. It is very well-written and includes several new vocabulary words for me to learn. Annie Choi, the author of this book, is amazing at making the reader visualize the situation and setting of the situations and conversation that occur in her life. It’s as if I, as the reader, am actually part of the story. The author is also quite talented at expressing the humor of her family and their beliefs. I often find myself laughing in my room by myself while reading this book. It is absolutely hilarious. The conversations are so engaging, yet so real. I was upset and angry when her mother got breast cancer; I was embarrassed when her mother went out to eat with her decked out in plaid galore. I truly feel the emotions being expressed by Annie in the book, and while reading it, I find myself “lost” in Annie’s world. I personally can relate to the book as I have a similar relationship with my mother. Although, we, like Annie and her mother, fight the most out of our family, we probably do get along the best, if that makes any sense. A weakness I find in this book is that it doesn’t really follow only one stories; it has multiple stories, which is kind of hard to follow because the chapters don’t really fit together. I think though at the end of the book, the last chapter, all loose ends will be tied up, and there will be a reason, or a lesson-learned, from this book rather than just being about funny situations with the Korean family; I at least hope so.

Outside Reading Blog- Week 3- Post #1

Happy Birthday or Whatever by Annie Choi

Section 3: pages 91-128
Ch. 7

In this chapter, we learn about Annie’s mother’s massive collection of catholic “junk.” From statuettes of the Virgin Mary to a grandiose picture of Pope John Paul II, her mother collects them all, despite the embarrassment and pleads of her children, Mike and Annie, to get rid of them. Although the 1994 earthquakes destroyed many of the statuettes, Annie’s mother replaced many of them quickly. Unfortunately when the children left home for college and such, the parents decided to move into a smaller house, meaning that not all the “Christian pride” could make the move. Annie took this as an opportunity of payback for when her mother gave away her numerous stuffed animals and therefore, gave away to charity, and even threw away, the majority of the religious collectives.
Ch. 8
Annie goes to college at the University of California at Berkeley, where for the first few weeks, her mother calls her every half an hour, literally. Soon though their conversation occur only once a week. One day in the middle of her second semester, Annie calls home in hopes of speaking with her mother, but to her surprise her father, who is never home, picks up the phone. He tells Annie that her mom has breast cancer and has had it for three months. Annie, both upset and angry that her parents didn’t tell her sooner, wants and asks to go home, but her parents want her to finish school. Though it was extremely difficult, Annie toughs it out until the end of the semester. Meanwhile, her mother suffers chemotherapy, an allergic reaction to medication, and a vehicular accident. Finally, Annie comes home, her mother surprisingly greeting her, looking strong, unlike the image that crossed Annie’s mind over the past months. Over the summer, Annie helps out her mom with basic tasks and contemplates whether or not to go back to school in the fall.

Biography of Annie Choi
Annie Choi was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley of California, just outside of Los Angeles. After completing both high school and Korean school, Annie set out to receive her B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley, and subsequently, her M.F.A. in writing from Columbia University. Throughout her adulthood, she has had numerous jobs, including being a tour guide, an elevator operator, an assistant medical photographer, a sign language teacher, and a science textbook editor. In fact, it was her boss as a textbook editor that encouraged Annie to pursue a writing career. At the moment, Annie resides in New York City.
Bibliography: Both the photo and information came from and also the inside cover of her book Happy Birthday or Whatever.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Outside Reading Blog #2

Happy Birthday or Whatever by Annie Choi

Section 2: Pages 45-90
Ten Loaded Words
Revolting (pg. 48)- “a revolting shirt”. The author used this word to describe a three-hundred dollar Versace blouse. By using an intense adjective such as “revolting”, the reader can just imagine how hideous this shirt must have been.
Unobjectionable (p.52)- “These white pants were unobjectionable.” The author used this word to describe an acceptable pair of pants. She has been previously teased for her ugly hand-me-downs, so anything remotely tolerable is fantastic to her.
Exhausted (pg. 59)- “singlehandedly exhausted all the plaid in Scotland.” The author used this word to describe her mother’s new golf wardrobe. By using “exhausted”, the reader understands that plaid is very prominent, too much so for Annie.
Aghast (pg. 59)- “I was aghast.” The author used this when she peeked into her mother’s closet. “Aghast” makes the reader see how different or messy or astonishing her mother’s closet must be.
Hunkered (pg. 61)- “I hunkered in the corner of our booth.” This is written to describe how embarrassed Annie is to be seen with her mother in her plaid ensemble. The reader can picture her body language slumping and trying to go unnoticed.
Freak-out (pg.65)- “I had a major freak-out.” This term is used when Annie has her first day of kindergarten. She is extremely upset that her mother left. By using a childish term like “freak-out”, the reader is taken back to their youth, remembering their temper-tantrums.
White people (pg. 66)- “I had never seen a steeple before, at least not the kind white people put on their IQ tests.” This word has a strong emotional effect because it is about race and doesn’t refer to that particular race is the proper and polite terminology. It is a generalization and is kind of racist. This is possibly the way Annie felt in Kindergarten being the only Asian or may also just be a childish term again to remind us that Annie is young.
Late Bloomer (pg. 77)- “To say I was a late bloomer is like saying childbirth is mildly uncomfortable.” I think late bloomer speaks to a lot of girls and boys going through puberty, or in this case not. I think it would have a very emotional effect on other late bloomers because it must have been tough for them to feel like they are not fitting in.
Grotesque anomaly (pg. 80)- “they saw her as a grotesque anomaly.” This phrase refers to one of Annie’s friends, who was an early bloomer. This situation, like the one above, shows the difficulty of not fitting in as an adolescent. This girl must have really stuck out of the crowd and other girls must have looked at her like she was a Martian.
Womanhood (pg. 83)- “the illusion of Womanhood.” As a pre-teen, womanhood is a very exciting experience and something you really want to happen. This has an emotional effect on most women as they remember when and what is was like when they became a woman.

Ch. 4
Ever since she was a teenager, Annie’s mother had great fashion sense. She would wear a business suit to pick up her children from school whereas the other stay-at-home moms would wear sweats and flip-flops. It was her that taught Annie all about fashion and designers. Even so, Annie had awful style as a child. As a tradition in Korea, Annie had no choice but to wear her cousins’ hand-me-downs. And since she was the youngest of cousins, she pretty much got everyone else’s crap with stains and holes dominating the garment. Needless to say, when Annie’s cousins’ heights hit a plateau, Annie was very content to shop for her own clothes and despite her mother’s attempt to get her to wear tweed suits, Annie chose simple, classic items, not necessarily trendy, but acceptable. Soon, when she gained more confidence, she shopped a vintage stores, purchasing several unique pieces and developing her own style, although her mother thought she looked homeless. When Anne left for college, her mother started golfing and developed a new style of plaid and polos, putting Annie to shame.
Ch. 5
When Annie started kindergarten, she was considered “special” because her parents did not teach her English, only Korean. As the months went by though, Annie began to understand English better than Korean. This put her in a Korean school by 2nd grade on Saturday. She was held back a year from the start and flunked that 1st year, holding her back 2 years. Annie also attended Church school on Sundays. Attending school seven days a week caused Annie to stress out and her grades to slip, which was not acceptable. So her mother wouldn’t let her take dance classes anymore to give her more time to study. Despite the extra studying in Korean, Annie did not seem to improve and to this day has only the capabilities of a third-grade student in Korea, mixing up words like moth and room. Now she is considered “special” in Korean.
Annie was a late bloomer and felt like a leper in junior high and high school because she didn’t get her period until she was seventeen. In junior high, she would pretend to be a “woman” and joined in on conversations with her friend Christy, who had a sixteen-year-old boyfriend with whom she french-kissed at age 12. Annie was so angry about being a late bloomer that she often cursed her ovaries, once in a dressing room while trying on training bras that didn’t fit. Finally, at her friend’s house, when she was seventeen, Annie begins to menstruate, feeling half indifferent, half powerful, for now she can claim herself a “woman” even though she stands at four feet ten inches.
Reactions: I am still very much enjoying this book. I think it is very well written. I was very interesting to me to find out that Annie’s mother had a good fashion sense. From the earlier chapters, I pictured her mother standing in whatever she thought was hip, even if it didn’t suit her well, but it seems that she is very professional and well-put together despite her current plaid obsession. I also thinks it’s fascinating that Annie went from having no knowledge of the English language to being an expert on it. I previously thought that it was very hard for people to understand English if it was not their first language due to its complexity, but Korean must be even harder if Annie prefers to speak English because it is easier. I think the themes in this book, although extreme, can be quite relatable by all sorts of people.

Outside Reading Blog #1

Happy Birthday or Whatever by Annie Choi

Section 1: Pages 1-43
Page by Page Summary
Annie imagines her best birthday ever- a very parade-like event with elephants and men juggling fire. As she continues to daydream, reality hits and on her 27th birthday, 8 out of the 12 people she invited to have a nice dinner with canceled, making the party very small and quiet, the opposite of what she wanted. The next day, Annie realizes she has no "Happy Birthday" messages from her parents. She assumes that they probably forgot, but since her parents' anniversary is the day after her birthday she calls her mom to wish her a happy anniversary. Mom is unaware that her anniversary is today and tries to convince Annie that it is in September, along with Annie’s birthday, but Annie proves her Mom wrong by reading off information on her ID card. Mom feels bad, but Annie feels more guilty about making her mom feel bad, so she apologizes and then they hang up. Soon thereafter, Annie calls her Dad, who is a metallurgical chemist. He immediately wishes her a “Happy Birthday”, but Annie knows it’s because her mom just told him. Two weeks later, it is her father’s birthday, so she calls her mom to remind her. Mom is utterly confused, probably because her main focus is getting to her “hip” Korean hair salon on time. Annie then calls her father to wish him a “Happy Birthday”. Her father thanks her, but is upset because he is getting too old. One week later, guess what! It’s mom’s birthday and of course Annie calls her to wish her a “Happy Birthday”. Her mom sulks and complains about being alone on her birthday. Annie has little sympathy.
Ch. 2
When she was 23, Arnold, a disoriented stuffed pig, caught Annie’s eye while she was shopping at Dongdaemun, a Korean flea market, with her mom. Annie has always loved stuffed animals. When she was little, she had so many animals that they literally took over her bed, and her life. Her obsession with stuffed animals led her to have high anxiety. She gave her animal’s histories, she worried about them constantly, and she even covered them with blankets at night so that they wouldn’t get cold. Once her mom removed the blankets and Annie had a crying fit, forcing her mother to apologize to every single one of them. This is when her mother began to worry. When her family traveled to Korea, Annie’s mother only let her take one animal. After a long deliberation, Annie decides to bring a koala bear. Of this her cousin “really likes”. In Korea, when someone “really likes” something, it is a custom to give them that item. But Annie refuses to give up her Koala and hides it deep within her suitcase. Upon returning to the US, there is no longer a koala in her suitcase. Annie’s mother realizes this is a good way to get rid of animals and started hosting many parties with children who “really liked” Annie’s animals. By high school, Annie still slept with her animals, although there were noticeably fewer. Once she left for college though, her mother threw the rest of the collection away. Annie only has some left that she had received after college from friends and boyfriends, including Arnold. She bought Arnold for a final bargain of nine US dollars from the ajuma, despite her mother’s concerns that she was too old to buy a stuffed animal. Upon returning home, Annie puts Arnold in her backpack, leaving his head sticking out to see the world.
Ch. 3
Annie’s mother is very disappointed. Apparently, Annie has received a B+ on her spelling test and it is simply not acceptable. According to her mother, Annie doesn’t study or do homework enough; no one is happy with a B. So, her mother makes Annie write every word she got wrong ten times. This becomes Annie’s new studying regimen- copying every word down ten times and then some. With this extra studying, Annie begins to get perfect scores, making mommy very proud. So proud that when her brother Mike gets a B in math, Annie’s mother concentrates all her concern on him. Despite the studying Annie does alone, she receives a B on her next exam. But she lies about her score, her mother believing that she is continuing to get perfect. As the words get harder, Annie’s grades decrease. Annie even gets a B- and hides it under some insectide. Not a good hiding place considering that her mother finds it and gets extremely angry. So angry, that she forces Annie to go get her something to spank. Annie reluctantly picks out an old rice spoon, previously snapped in half due to excessive spanking. After she spanks her daughter, Annie’s mother gives her workbooks, in which Annie must complete 15 pages a week- “Mommy homework” Annie completes the assignments and starts to get perfect scores again. Soon, Annie is the best speller in her class and therefore qualifies for the Spelling Bee. Annie studies hard for this even though she doesn’t want to, although she does not study definitions. At the Spelling Bee, Annie makes it to the final five. Coming in fifth place because she spelled lyre, l-i-a-r. She is very angry because she doesn’t understand. She looks up lyre at home- it means harp. The next day, she receives a National Spelling Bee Book from her teacher, as she is the 2nd alternate. Although Annie knows she has little chance of going, she flips through the book finding new, exotic words. Her new favorite word is ytterbium.

Reactions: I am really enjoying this book I think it is absolutely hilarious. From the no Bs rule to the “really likes” custom, it is very stereotypical of what an Asian family is believed to be. The mother is just ridiculous with what she says and you can hear her echoing in your ear while you read because Annie Choi dialects her perfectly. It is amazing the situations this family gets in; they seem so dysfunctional yet so unbelievably normal- and extremely entertaining.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

This I believe Assignment

1. A link to the essay

2. Author

3. Title

–4. One sentence of what the belief is
I believe in second chances.

–5. 2 examples from the story that showed their belief
1. This woman tried to commit suicide after the birth of her son and almost didn't have a second chance to live. Every time she hears her son's cries she realizes how lucky she is to have been blessed with a second chance at life.
2. She also exemplifies the gift of a second chance as she tells about how dogs are accused of barking at neighbors and mail carriers, but they are still forgiven and loved.

–6. 1 favorite passage
Right now it is early morning here in the high desert. I step outside, glad to have another chance to witness the comfort of the dogs curled against each other. I notice their tracks, evidence of their nighttime sojourns, frozen in the snow. As the light rises to meet the harsh jags of the Rockies, I realize that the sun will melt the snow and erase their tracks. No one will be able to accuse them of waking up neighbors or frightening the paper carrier. This morning, they will get a second chance.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Assignment 1 for Fourth Period English

The thing I am most anxious about at Edina High School is being able to manage my time effectively, balancing school, friends, and activities. I often tend to procrastinate, but with switching from a block schedule, where you can skip a day of homework, to a schedule where homework is due the next day, there is not much room for procrastination. Also, I joined several activities outside of the school day which could potentially take up time I would need to complete an assignment or hang out with friends. Plain and simple, I worried that I won't have enough time to relax.

One goal for myself in my sophomore year is to get to know more people. In middle school, one is usually limited to only meeting those in their classes and grade, but in high school classes are mixed grade-wise and also with people from the other middle school, therefore it is close to impossible not to meet and interact with some new faces. To achieve this goal, I am also joining more extracurricular activities where I can meet people who share my same interests.