Some good bits from an essay I wrote for my college English 101 class...

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
Just a few parts from my essay I wrote in English. They may not fully connect, but are entertaining nonetheless.

Submitted: July 26, 2009

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Submitted: July 26, 2009

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When my professor told me I was going to be writing a four and a half to five page paper every weekend, I was a little concerned. I mean, I usually wrote these kinds papers in a weekend anyway when I was high school, but the teachers assigned it a month before it was due, so I usually had plenty of time to mentally prepare for a paper of such epic proportions. But in this class, there would be no such mental preparation. When my professor told the class to look to their left, and then look to their right and told us that “Only half the people you see sitting here will be here by the end of the semester,” I became more than a little bit concerned. Still, I thought to myself, I will persevere. I must persevere.

Every day, people encounter barriers. Everyone has streams (small barriers) and mountains (large barriers) they must cross. To me, my stream was not having enough money for that DVD I “reallllly” wanted to purchase, and my mountain was surviving the constant bullying I endured in middle school. It took me a couple of years to get over the mountain. In middle school I wasn’t the most popular. I didn’t really care about the popularity so much; it was just the constant harassment I received from being at the bottom of the totem pole that I couldn’t take. I don’t remember too many specific instances of bullying for middle school, (I probably blocked them all out of my memory) but I do remember what it felt like to dread going to school every day. How would you feel if you went to work everyday knowing that you would be ridiculed for everything you did? My hair was always too frizzy, my pants were always too high, and my personality was always too weird. Even to the people who I thought were my friends, I just wasn’t good enough for them. But thank god for Nicole Simon. She was the one person who I knew I could trust. She was the yin to my yang, the butter to my toast, the cheese to my nachos, the peanut butter to my jelly, the… well you get the idea. We belonged together. Without each other, I don’t know how we ever could have survived middle school.

There was never one defining point that made me think “This is what really defined me as a person.” It was more of a collection of things. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “How could a seventeen-year-old kid say that she really knows who she is? Most kids that age are far for finding their identity.” And you’re right. Most seventeen year olds are just starting that great journey to self discovery; but not me. I don’t know, I guess I’m lucky. So you may not believe it, but I can say with absolute, unwavering certainty, that I, Mackenzie Rose Walsh, know who I am. I know it from the tips of my toes to the top of my nose. I know that I am stubborn and a bit self-righteous; but I also know that I am laid-back, and maybe a little bit nuts. (And that’s a good thing, because how could any sane person survive without going a little cuckoo for Coco Puffs sometimes? I certainly couldn’t do it.) I had to go through a whole lot of tough things before I got to this point, though. I was always bullied for being different. But eventually both he and I realized that it’s okay to be different. In fact, it is your differences that make you who you are as a person. I don’t need to fit in to any type of group.

I could have never found my identity without the help of language. How could I express my self-defining epiphanies without the use of a language? I would be like Helen Keller before Anne Sullivan (her tutor) came along; someone who I’m sure has very interesting thoughts, but has no proper way to communicate them. So language is very important not just to me, but to every person in the world. Probably the earliest experience I can remember involving language was when I went to Ireland to visit my relatives. Now here in America, we call the thing that’s connected to your car a trunk. But in Ireland, they call a trunk a “boot.” So when my Aunt asked me to get her coat out of the boot, naturally I was confused. But I thought maybe she meant that the coat was around a boot somewhere. But where, exactly, was this boot where the coat was supposed to be around? First I looked in the most obvious places: the front door, her bedroom, the back door- all to no avail. So I started looking in every corner of the house for any sign of a boot. Maybe she meant the decorative bronze boot in the living room? That tree outside looks like a boot- maybe it’s in there? I must have looked at every boot in that house, and still I did not find her jacket. My aunt saw me looking around the house searchingly and she asked, “What are you doing?” “Looking for the boot that has your jacket on it! Isn’t that what you wanted me to do?” I said frantically. She laughed heartily and said, “Yes, but I meant the car boot, not a shoe boot.” “You mean the trunk?” “Is that what you call it in America? Well yes, then, I guess I do mean the trunk.” She then explained to me that, in Ireland, they call trunks boots. So then I went off to the boot to get the jacket. Because of this incident, I will never forget the fact that in Ireland they call trunks boots.

I didn’t start to learn how to read in elementary school. My grandmother started teaching me when I was two. The book that she taught me in was ancient. It was falling apart at the seams and frayed beyond belief. We would sit on the big rocking chair we had in the living room and she would teach me what th and ch sounded like. I would sit there for a while and learn until I got antsy. Then she would go let me play with my Barbie dolls. When I did go to school, I was ahead of everyone, because she had already taught me the basics. It was this early start that nurtured my passion for reading. I remember the first real book I read. Actually it was more than a book, it was a series, and that series was Nancy Drew. I sopped up every plot-twisting, gut-wrenching part of those books. It was always the last person you would think of who committed the crime. To this day, I will never forget the feeling I got when Nancy finally captured the crook.

I don’t really remember when I started learning how to write- probably in first grade. All I know is that I wasn’t very good at it. Even today, my handwriting isn’t the best. But up until high school, it was straight chicken-scratch. Sometimes I couldn’t even read it. My first grade teacher used to say, “She’s so smart; I just don’t get why she can’t write better!” I tried. Believe me I tried. But I just couldn’t do it. I especially had trouble with my Rs and Ks. I could never get the curve of the lowercase R to curve all the way, and I could never get my lowercase Ks to look like lowercase Ks. I still have trouble with them. People always thought my name was spelled MacKenzie (instead of the right spelling which was uppercase K-less) when I wrote it down because I could never get my Ks right. Sometimes I got back certificates of achievement with my name spelled wrong, (uppercase K included) because whoever typed it out had seen me handwrite my name and thought that’s how I spelled it! It frustrated me to no end. But soon after that I learned script, and my problem was solved. I didn’t have to worry about curving my Rs and shortening my Ks any longer, because in script, you didn’t have to do that. So it was no surprise when I grew very fond of script. I remember thinking, “It’s so flowy and pretty!” But besides being a much prettier form of writing, it is, for me at least, a much neater form of writing. “Whoa! What’s this?” I said to myself one day, “I can actually read what I wrote on this lovely sheet of paper? I’ll like this! I’m going to write like this all the time.” Since then, I have, and do not write in print unless it is required. Now before all these events happened, I used to write poems. They were nothing major, just little anecdotes my five-year old mind came up with. My first poem was eighteen words, and it went like this: “The sun is fun and it is free. Now that I am satisfied, I would like to go to sleep.” I was very proud of it, and it left my parents no option other than to declare that I was, in fact, Jane Austen incarnate.

Though I am not quite living up to my parents’ expectations just yet, high school certainly helped me develop the writing skills I would need to become as successful as Jane. It also helped me realize that I really liked to write. For example, when my English teacher announced, “Today we are going to write a poem,” I got excited. When she said, “Okay class, today we are going to start writing our short stories,” I was ecstatic. Now no student in their right mind would get excited over such things; but I did. I could not wait until I got home so I could start working on my short story. Understandably, my classmates then proceeded to assume I was crazy. (And they’re probably right on that assumption) So anyway, for two wonderful years I was basking in the glory of poems and short stories, but this glory, sadly, would be short-lived. Because in the midst of glory, disaster struck; and it came in the form of a thing called “junior year.” Seems scary just looking at it, doesn’t it? I had heard from my sources (upperclassmen) that junior year was the hardest year out of them all. “But I’m a tough cookie, I can handle it,” I thought to myself. Boy, was I wrong. Take a needle and shove it in your eye; really shove it in there. That may or may not equal one tenth of the pain I suffered my junior year. Yea, it was pretty painful. In fact, I don’t really recall going out too much that year (because I had piles and piles of work to do). When I did go out (to restaurants, the beach, vacations), I brought my work with me. Most of the work I had can be attributed to one specific teacher. Her name was Ms. DeMare. She was a sun-loving, cigarette-smoking, fifty-something who always looked like she was on her way to a cocktail party. Yes, she was quite a character; and I loved her for it. But boy, was she hard on us. When we read To Kill a Mockingbird, she used to ask us quiz questions like, “How many blocks was it from Scout’s house to the tree that they played in?” and “How many people were there when Scout’s dad shot the wild dog?” Needless to say, I didn’t do very well on those quizzes. But when the time came for us to start working on our research papers, I thought to myself, “I can do this!” because, in the past, I had done pretty well on all my research papers, and didn’t expect any different when it came to this one. And for two months, I did do well. (Or at least I thought I did) I did everything she told me to do; I took notes, I saved drafts, and cited every resource known to man. So I thought I was in good shape. That is, until it came time to get them back. I got a sixty-five. I just passed. I couldn’t believe it! What did I do wrong? Apparently, I did everything wrong. When I opened it up, all I could see was a flurry of red cross-outs and circles. I soon found out I was not the only one. The research paper grades ranged from the eighties all the way down to the thirties, but I would say the average was about sixty-five, which was the same grade I received, so I didn’t feel too bad. But I was still shocked. I had never gotten less than a ninety on a research paper before. Slowly, I recovered enough from that serious blow to realize that this grade, and more specifically, this teacher, was the best thing that had ever happened to me. Because of Ms. DeMare, not only was I humbled, but she taught me what it’s like to really work hard for something. She taught me to always pay attention to detail, because you never know when you’ll be asked, “How many days did the book To Kill a Mockingbird encompass?” (I think it was a week. I’m not sure) It is because of these lessons that she instilled in me, that I will remember her for the rest of my life.

I have always had a talent for helping people, so I knew I wanted to go into a career where I could put this talent to good use. But I never would have found out what career that was if I didn’t go to the high school that I did. Going to a the Academy for Information Technology (a magnet school on the UCC Scotch Plains campus), I had a very different high school experience. We had no sports team, a poorly organized drama club, and only about fifty kids in my whole graduating class. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t love it. All of my fellow peers were nice. There was no bullying in my school. It was truly a rare occasion when there was ever a physical fight. The teachers were great. Most of them had been in another profession before they started teaching. This meant I had teachers that were former mathematicians, biologists, chemists, (one of whom had a couple of patents) and a photojournalist who had met several presidents. It was this environment that made me want to become a high school teacher. So, in the end, my education played an integral part in helping me choose my career path. After all, how could I have known I wanted to teach if I did not experience what it is like first-hand? Of course I will need more than the aspiration to teach in order to succeed. My reading skills that I learned in elementary school will help me tackle that big college book my professor told me to read, while my writing skills that I learned both in elementary school and high school (thanks to Ms. DeMare) will help me tackle that five-page-essay my professor asked me to write. But I will need both my reading and writing skills to help me in my desperate quest to decipher my students’ messy handwriting. My basic knowledge of Spanish may, or may not, help me communicate with my Spanish speaking students. But the most important thing that I need is determination, so I can reach the point where I can put all these skills to use. Luckily, I have a whole bottle of determination stashed away in my pantry.


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