About Me

My photo
Hello everyone! My name is Vanessa. I'm currently in school for my Bachelor's in Social Work with a minor in Juvenile Justice. Life is what we make it so why let "society" ruin it. If you are a part of society and allow it to influence you, this blog is not for you. If not, enjoy reading about hair and products, music, society, relationships, and anything else I can think of.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Review for Poetry Festival

Vanessa Gaston
AP English Literature
Mr. Gallagher
October 12, 2008

Poetry Festival Review

Art and literary poetry are one of the things that I never really appreciated or enjoyed, as a matter of fact—until October 11, 2008. Who would've thought that me taking a like to these things would have just been taking an hour drive to a city far from Malden, Massachusetts. Lowell was where all of this took place. I've never actually been to Lowell. That morning, I haven't even reached the poetry festival and I began to notice art and history within the city itself. Honestly, it was amazing and I'm not just saying that to get a good grade on this assignment. But anyhow, it was a little boring when we first got inside the art gallery—when Ed Sanders was speaking. It was dragged and he had no enthusiasm, of course my opinion. I lost interest fairly quickly and I was relieved when Mr. Gallagher allowed us to leave and roam about for about an hour. I went down the mini-staircase that led to the art gallery. I was impressed. I thought going to art galleries were for squares, old people, and rich folks. But, when I looked deeper into the picture, I was...I'm not sure what word to use. I experienced a mixture of emotions: shocked, baffled, warm, and imaginative. I was shocked because I didn't expect a painting or a mere photo of for example to old women from a distant country to make my mind explore through the possibilities of the meaning of the photograph.
I'm pretty sure it was just a typical thing in the coffee shops in Lowell to have poetry readings aloud by the locals. But, even though, I thought it was interesting how people who most likely didn't know each other could gather in one place and share their ideas—that's how much poetry had on people, which leads me to the poetry festival. Just like the coffee shops, the poetry festival brought many people from all over to gather in different places yet at the same time, to share the similar ideas. At the high school, where Ed Sanders and Marjorie Agosin read out their literary work, brought many interesting types of people in one place. I think our group, from M.H.S., was the youngest group out of all the attendants, which was fine with me, because it made us look even more intelligent. Marjorie Agosin's poems were in my opinion, historical, and at the same time, cultural. My two favorite poems by her were “Dear Anne Frank” and the poem dedicated to a woman's granddaughter. “Dear Anne Frank” was in its own way inspirational because this woman, the writer, is from Chile, and she wrote a poem about Anne Frank, which her experiences occurred in Germany. It just goes to show how much of an impact Anne Frank had on the world. I liked the other poem by her because I thought it was sweet. This old woman is looking at a picture of her granddaughter and reminiscing on old times she used to have with her. Next, I liked Mr. Gallagher's introduction for Ed Sanders because it was humurous in it's own way. He looked like he enjoyed reading it. Both Sanders and Agosin were different in their own way. Ed Sanders seemed more down to earth, because some of his work, especially from Poems from New Orleans, was more relatable to society, especially with Hurricane Katrina and the most recent one. They were depressing because the themes for all of them were based mainly on how everyone lost their most prized possessions and also each other. I thought it was a little out there with his William Blake's “Song of Innocence”, which was the laughing song. It was comical, a little scary, but still a little out there. I personally enjoyed his “Send George Bush to Jail” poem. It just proves how in school we are taught that writers sometimes instill their opinions on politics into their work—except Ed Sanders made it quite obvious. All-in-all, the poetry festival was a good experience because it opened my eyes into a different perspective. I never liked art or literature based poems where an assignment would be given to analyze it or writing about it—especially when half of them don' t make sense. Now I see that not all of them are like that.

Memoir Project (CD Tracks/Metacognition)

Vanessa Gaston
Period 2
AP English Literature
October 9, 2008

Metacognition: Mixed CD for Geisha, A Life by Mineko Iwasaki

Track Listings: 1. Miss Independent 2. Dangerous 3. Get Money 4. I'm In Love With A Dancer 4. Soldier 6. Realize 7. Is She the Reason 8. I Don't Wanna Know 9. Take a Bow 10. Dance With My Father

I loved this part of the project. I realized that this might actually be the easiest assignment Mr. Gallagher will ever give us...let me take advantage of it, is what I thought. Just like the previous assignment of creating a flowing conversation between Ernst Hemingway and William Faulkner, it was a little difficult to choose songs that would relate perfectly to the memoir. It was possible to find a few songs, not the full required ten tracks, so I had to go way back—old school, couple of years ago type of music to incorporate into my soundtrack, which I decided to name: “It's A Hard Knock Life: Geisha Style”. But, I finally found ten tracks that I thought fit well with the events and emotions that occurred in her life.

To start it, I thought about different songs that would fit major experiences she had throughout the book. The first track I chose was “Miss Independent” by Kelly Clarkson. The lyrics to this song are self-explanatory hence the title. Mineko Iwasaki is very independent, since the beginning to end, child to adult. She did everything basically in solitude, she literally stated in her memoir that she didn't like people, she liked to be alone and do things for herself. The second track is “Dangerous” by Kardinal Offshall. I thought this song fit perfectly for her. As Mineko Iwasaki's career grew and she became popular, everyone thought she was a beauty and she was a threat to other opposing geisha...dangerous...hopefully one can see how it relates. The third track, “Get Money” by 50 Cent is another self-explanatory choice. She made quite a lot of money, especially for her age. She was considered the best geisha in centuries. Her debut was amazing. Thousands of people were awaiting to see her first appearance as a maiko, the first step before becoming a geisha. She would receive tips and then give it to others. That's how much money she brought in. The fourth song, “Soldier” by Destiny's Child is about how a girl wants a man that can keep stable, someone that's there for her, who can stand up for her, basically be a man. Mineko Iwasaki wants the same thing, but in almost different terms. She wants an intelligent man that will sweep her off her feet. The fifth song, “I'm In Love With a Dancer” by T-Pain is the clean version of the original name. The maiko is art, a women who dances. While Mineko Iwasaki throughout her career was a maiko, many men proposed to her and she rejected all of them. The sixth song is “Realize” by Colbie Caillat. As independent as Iwasaki was, she finally found someone persistent enough to tare down her walls. She fell in love with a man that fell in love with her first. She rejected him numerous times and she made a proposition with him. The proposition was fulfilled and they began to go out. They realized that they were meant for one another, until he cheated on her...

The seventh song I chose was “Is She the Reason” by Destiny's Child. As I mentioned in the previous song, the man she fell in love with cheated on her. It was a mutual understanding that he was already married, but he claimed to disown his wife, that they had no feelings for one another—and also promised that he'd divorce her in order to be with Mineko. One day, she goes into the hotel room they usually spend time together in and finds female belongings on the ground and realizes that it was his wife's items. So, she decided to end the relationship with him. The eighth song, “I Don't Wanna Know” by Mario Winans also relates to this particular situation. He knew that she knew about what happened, but he acted as if nothing ever did with her. So, when she ended the relationship, he was sad and wanted her back, but Mineko wasn't going to have that at all. The ninth song, “Take A Bow” by Rihanna is also for the same reason I chose “I Don't Wanna Know”. She made a fool out of her ex-fiancé. He called her house a ridiculous amount of times and he still didn't get her back. He got what he deserved. Finally, I chose “Dance With My Father” by Luther Vandross. Mineko Iwasaki had an extremely close relationship with her mother and father. When she lived in the okiya with the other girls, she couldn't help but feel a sense of nostalgia. She looked up to him and would quote him when she was in a predicament. He was her sense of encouragement at times. So finally, I didn't really have a thought process for the assignment. I just chose songs that I thought would relate to the memoir.

Characterization Essay

Vanessa Gaston
Period 2; English AP Lit.

Characterization Essay: “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker

In the short story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, two totally different, yet vital characters are purposely put into a story battling the roots on heritage traced straight back to a family of three, Dee, the mother, and the youngest, Maggie. Alice Walker utilizes a flat and static character, Maggie, and a round character, Dee, who at the same time can be considered dynamic, to build up her story, using them as her foundation to create the meaning of her short story “Everyday Use”, which in fact is the clash between two different worlds who are two different sisters, when at the same time grow up in the same household.
One of the characters addressed in “Everyday Use” is Maggie. She is the youngest daughter the mother, who is not given a name, has. She probably isn't given a name because she isn't as significant to the story as the two sisters, where the real meaning is brought through. Maggie used to look up to her older sister, but would always be uncomfortable when Dee would come by to visit. “Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes: she will stand hopelessly in corners, homely and ashamed...eyeing her sister with a mixture of envy and awe,” (Walker 91). This is when the type of characteristics Walker uses to describe Maggie comes into significance. Maggie remains the way she is described throughout the whole story. But Dee is not. Dee is a round character and she changes from the start and end of the story. The cultural clash between Maggie and her mother against Dee is ironic. The cultural difference between them is apparent because all three lived in the same “house [is] in a pasture” (93), but then Dee leaves. It has been known that two sisters usually come out differently, in most cases. Walker makes this known. For instance, Dee is intelligent in her studies and Maggie isn't. For Dee, “she used to read to us without pity...burned us with a lot of knowledge,” (92). But, as for Maggie, “she knows she is not bright. Like good looks and money, quickness passed her by,” (92). Dee went off to school after her mother was able to pay off her tuition with the help of her local church, so she was able to get a hold of a proper education. In contrast to Maggie, who probably had to stay home or most likely didn't attend a nearby school often enough to build on her intelligence.
Dee would never bring her friends over the house when she would come on her visits, probably due to her embarrassment of where she used to live, and for her friends to see what sort of dwelling she left behind—she would take the advantage of that. These differences between Dee and Maggie are what makes the meaning of Walker's story so inevitable. Two girls brought
Gaston, 2
up in the same household grow up so differently. Dee believes that she has been oppressed by her
roots—her African heritage. It's ironic because when she used to live with her mother, she was embarrassed by her culture—where she and the rest of her family came from. Then, Maggie and her mother wait outside for the surprise of their life. They expect to see a Dee pull up in a car, but instead, find a Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo dragging along a Asalamalakim. The change in her name is a typical form of an African—so very stereotypical. She comes out of the car with a long “dress down to the ground, in [this] hot weather. There are yellows and oranges enough to throw back the light of the sun. Earrings, too, gold and hanging down to her shoulders. Bracelets dangling and making noises when she moves her arm...” (93). Reading this enables the mind to immediately think of everyday African attire. Flamboyant dresses, bracelets, and earrings. She never dressed this way mainly because in the beginning, it was as if she didn't want to be a part of this. Walker describes Dee's outfit in such detail to emphasize how much this character changed from the beginning of the story, which is why she is a round character.
All of a sudden, Dee wants the many household items her mother has so kept in her home for many years, things that had a sacred significance. When her mother denies her the one thing that Dee wants—the quilt her grandmother knitted herself, she gets angry, after being told it is to be kept for Maggie when she gets married. What she says last at the end brings out Walker's meaning of the story and makes it clearer. “'You just don't understand...your heritage...it's really a new day for us. But from the way you and Mama still live you'd never know it,” (97). Since Dee had the opportunity to go out and see the world, her views on her culture changed and she begins to appreciate it. When she mentions the way her mother and Maggie live, she means to say that they are so closed in and that they will be unable to see the world around them, they can only see what is close to them. Once she leaves, it seems as though Maggie is happy. “Maggie smiled; maybe at the sunglasses. But a real smile, not scared,” (97). Her attitude changes once her sister walks out of the door. It might be because the sister she once had that rejected her roots is now embracing it or it could be that she actually left, and she could resume back to her comfort that she had before her sister came.
In conclusion, Alice Walker uses these two characters, Dee and Maggie, to bring out a greater meaning of life, how all it takes to change is to get out of one's comfort zone and see what the outside has in store. Also, how hypocritical a character can be without even knowing it, going from living in an oppressed home to becoming a stereotype African woman named Wanjero. One is sheltered in the arms of her mother and familiar with her culture, while the other is exposed to a greater outdoor and comes back with these false impressions. The two contrasting characters bring out this meaning with the qualities each one possess.

Setting Essay

Vanessa Gaston
Period 2
September 24, 2008

“IND AFF” by Fay Weldon

Setting is significantly vital when it comes to a work of literature. Such is the case of Fay Weldon’s “IND AFF”, written around 1988 in Yugoslavia. In this particular short story, the setting involves where the events actually take place and the moment it happens, and also in this case, the weather that the particular place is having. The author emphasizes the importance of the setting in the narrative by applying the different aspects of the setting, the technique she uses to deliver the overall theme of the short story.
The two main characters of “IND AFF” are Peter, the forty-six year-old professor, and his twenty-five year old student. Supposedly, these two characters are in love. They decide to take a vacation to Sarajevo in Bosnia, which is located in the country of Yugoslavia. The story behind the professor-student affair is that Mr. Peter is married with his wife Mrs. Piper—a mutual, unloving relationship. “Peter was trying to decide, as he had been for the past year, between his wife and myself as his permanent life partner,” (Weldon 202). This goes to show that their relationship has been going on for a quite some time now and the fact is that his wife is aware of it. The setting is major here because both are away from home, Cambridge, Massachusetts, which in fact the dwelling location of Mrs. Piper. Usually, when people in general are away from their native location, they tend to come to a realization of something. The vacation was a quest for his student, his lover. In Thomas C. Foster’s How To Read Literature Like A Professor, he writes that a trip is a quest for a character because as the trip comes to an end, the character comes to a realization, appropriately in this story, herself, a self-discovery that she never knew until that quest was fulfilled. She comes to realize that she never loved Mr. Peter. The woman he is dating (student) is the one taking on the quest. She goes to Sarajevo with Mr. Peter only to come to a self-discovering challenge that she must overcome. There is also much history behind the location that they both went to. They go to Yugoslavia, which was originally the Austria-Hungary Empire in Europe. Princip was an assassin who committed a crime—but to his country a dutiful act, and sparked WWI. Princip shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, the archduchess. Before he kills the archduke and his wife, he makes a spur of the moment decision as he took the once in a lifetime opportunity of murdering the couple. The reason the author adds this detail that probably seemed as though it had nothing to do with the story is to make the reader able to compare the woman and Princip’s decision. Princip didn’t think about what he did, he just fired the bullet and took off. The student thinks she “loves” her professor, but in order to get out of the imaginative realm she set herself in, Weldon puts Princip’s story in.” Poor Princip, too young to die—like so many other millions,” (204). She feels that she too will die on the inside, considering the fact that she is young and she would be trapped. The student at the end doesn’t want her life to be the same outcome as Princip’s life, who ends up in jail and dies there from TB. In a way, Princip’s prison cell represents a binding knot that would befall the woman if she stays with Mr. Peter.
At the restaurant the woman and Mr. Peter take is ironic. Usually, dining with one another is a sign of communion. But, that wasn’t it at all. She spots a young waiter at the restaurant. “One was young and handsome in a mountainous Bosnian way—flashing eyes, hooked nose, luxuriant black hair, sensuous mouth. He was about my age. He smiled…I smiled back,” (206). When someone is in love with another, the other people around shouldn’t matter. If she was really in love with him, she wouldn’t notice all of the things she does about him, the way she describes him in full detail, from his hair to his lips. Mr. Peter must suspect something because he questions her and she replies with a lie. She tells him that she is thinking about how much she loves him. This is the moment in which she realizes she isn’t really in love with him. “I went on, to cover the kind of tremble in my head as I came to my sense…And that was how I fell out of love with my professor, in Sarajevo, a city which I am grateful to this day,” (206). This also comes down to the setting and she even thanks Sarajevo for this. She realized she fell out of love with Mr. Peter in Sarajevo.
The type of weather Weldon utilizes for Sarajevo’s setting was a distinguishing characteristic. “It rained in Sarajevo, and we h ad expected fine weather. The rain filled up Sarajevo’s pride,” (201). The fact that it was raining allows the reader to foreshadow what is to come as the story terminates. When it rains in a story, it usually means rejuvenation, realization, or rebirth. Though it did not rain on the student, it rained on her vacation. The rain is a symbol in the story in which she again comes to realize her mistake. She does not really love Mr. Peter. At the end, she turns to leave. It was as if a light bulb just flashed over her head. “I stood up, and took my raincoat from the peg,” (206). She was getting ready to go out in the rain, to go back home in Massachusetts. The rain played an important role because it rained the entire time they were in Sarajevo. The theme of the short story is that one comes to a realization and also to escape in a way from something that one thought they wanted, but didn’t really. All these techniques the author ties into the story helps in delivering the theme.
In conclusion, the setting in the novel applies to the theme. The theme is coming to a realization and entering reality once again. The weather, rain, that falls on Sarajevo, is a symbol of the rebirth of the student. The actual location and what happens in the location also applies to the setting because they were two of the major factors that actually build the theme of the story. With the style the author decides to apply to the story, she is able to create her overall purpose of her characters.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway Dialogue: Investigation to Intoxication

William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway are two close friends (in this scenario) hanging out at a café, with Faulkner, not knowing what was to be in store for him that day. It's a nice summer evening with a breeze coming in from the north and they come in to meet to discuss a public matter about a local Negro that was experiencing particular issues with the law. Both are with the authorities and are questioning one another on their progress.

Faulkner: “Where's the nigger? Have you got him?” (Barn Burning 163).

Hemingway: “Last week he tried to commit suicide,” (A Clean, Well...159).

Faulkner: “But that's not proof. Don't you see that's not proof?” (Barn Burning 163).

Hemingway: “How do you know...he was in despair,” (A Clean, Well...159).

Faulkner: “Hey...talk louder,” (Barn Burning 163),

Hemingway: “What about?” (A Clean, Well...159).

Faulkner: “...the nigger,” (Barn Burning 163).

Hemingway: “What does it matter...I'm sleepy now. I never got into bed before three o'clock,” (A Clean, Well...159).

Faulkner returns to the previous subject. “But...do you suppose it's really so?” (A Rose for...29).

Hemingway: “I don't know,” (Hills Like...)

Faulkner: “I reckon anybody named...Colonel Sartoris in this country can't help but tell the truth,” (Barn Burning 163).

Hemingway: “It's pretty hot...” (Hills Like...)

Faulkner: “Yes...I reckon...that is,” (Barn Burning 166).

Hemingway: “What should we drink?” (Hills Like...)

Faulkner: “I don't know,” (Barn Burning 163).

Hemingway: “Let's drink beer.” (Hills Like...)

Faulkner: “Why?” Faulkner questions, knowing that his friend would suggest such a thing. (A Rose for...27).

Hemingway, the expert on alcohol, answers, “It's lovely.” (Hills Like...)

Faulkner answers disgustedly, especially due to his dislike of beer, “I'd be the last one in the world,” (A Rose for...27).

Hemingway: “It's awfully simple,” Hemingway replies. (Hills Like...)

Faulkner: “Nevertheless...you'll hog it and like it,” (Barn Burning 166).

Hemingway: “I know you wouldn't mind it,” (Hills Like...)
“What do you want?” (A Clean, Well...159).

Faulkner: “I don’t know,” (Barn Burning 163).

Hemingway: “All right. (Hemingway finishes his drink and doesn't realize that Faulkner never ordered anything.) Should we have another drink?” (Hills Like...)

Faulkner: “But—“ (Barn Burning 163).

Hemingway: “Oh, cut it out. Let's try and have a fine time,” (Hills Like...)

Faulkner: “Don't you want me to?” (Barn Burning 163).

Hemingway: “Yes...Dos cervezas,” he answers to Faulkner while ordering a round of beer. (Hills Like...)

[Waiter]: “Big ones?” (Hills Like...).

Hemingway: “Yes. Two big ones,” (Hills Like...)

[10 Minutes Later]

Faulkner walks away and comes back only to find Hemingway speaking to himself, his words stressed and slurred.

Hemingway: “They look like white elephants,” (Hills Like...)
(To himself) “…drunk now. (To the waiter) “Another brandy,” (A Clean, Well...159).

Faulkner takes the drink Hemingway orders for him and continues to drink another round. This is his first time. A while later, intoxication sank in for the both of them.

Faulkner: “What's your name, boy?” He asks Faulkner, drunk now, and questioning the obvious. (Barn Burning 163).

Hemingway: With bloodshot eyes and mouth wide open, answers “Jig, no, Anis del Toro...I don't know,” (Hills Like...)

Faulkner: “Get that boy up here. He knows,” Faulkner points to a scarecrow outside of the window. (Barn Burning 163).

Hemingway: “I don't want to look at him. I wish he would go home. He has no regard for those who must work,” (A Clean, Well...160).

Faulkner: “But what will you have me do about it…?” (A Rose for...27).

Hemingway: “I don't care,” (Hills Like...)

Faulkner: “Stop it!” (A Rose for...27).

Hemingway: “You started it. I was being amused. I was having a fine time,” (Hills Like...)

[Waiter]: (to security) “Show these gentlemen out,” (A Rose for...27).

Faulkner: “I'm sure that won't be necessary,” (A Rose for...27).

Hemingway: “Come on. Stop talking nonsense...I am of those who like to stay late at the café,” (A Clean, Well...161).

Faulkner: “Dammit,” (A Rose for...28).
“White man...get out my way,” (Barn Burning 167).
“...back in the wagon,” (Barn Burning 164).