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.