Thursday, June 7, 2012


     The thing I like most about Evernote is that it is my omnipresent super organizer. All my notes, web links, bits of thoughts, etc. goes there. When I get home, I can access everything.  In fact, I can access everything wherever I go, such as at a friends' house across the street, or across the world. I may forget about what I put in Evernote after a while, but Evernote remembers.  It is so much better than relying on pieces of paper that I might lose or get eaten by a dog. When I am listening to a lecture, audio recording can be a lifesaver, as that is how I learn best. I also like that I can search from all my notes, and that I don’t have to look at or try to decipher my messy writing.
      I found that Evernote handles audio recording poorly. Several times I couldn't save the audio to file after the recording ended. I pressed the save button yet nothing was saved at all.  That was disappointing as I would really liked to have used the audio notes. Audio notes are important to me not only because they save me time on typing but also I learn very well through audio.  I also have found that the sound quality of Evernote recordings more muffled sounding than those made by, for instance, QuickVoice, on iOS. The Evernote iPad app had crashed several times when trying to open large PDF image files. I also vehemently disliked the fact that there is no "undo" button in Evernote iPad.
      I think Evernote could help us better form Evernote study groups. Maybe this is already a feature, but my friends and I shared a notebook once but that was all. We could have been asking each other questions  in the shared notebook , right within Evernote. I have heard about Piazza and it seems to help asking questions, even anonymously. There are so many tools nowadays. I wish there were a tool to cover all my needs from note-taking, question asking, discussion to blogging. I also think that a time-line overview of all my notes would help a lot!  For instance, I would like to see how active I have been tracking a subject over time.


         The benefits that came along with having a class set of iPads were plentiful. I felt that having the iPads in our classroom gave us the opportunity to have knowledge at our fingertips. With knowledge at our fingertips, our class had an easier and faster time understanding the unknown. Projects and notes could be accomplished by the iPads, saving our class from the hassle of heading down to the library as well as cramped hands and wrists. Also saved were the students from responsibility. I am a hardworking student, albeit forgetful. With the iPads, if I forget a pen and paper, I could still be part of the class discussion and learn. No valuable time would be wasted rustling around and bothering other students- or worse, the teacher- for materials. Also, I could rely on the PDFs on the iPads and leave my books for class at home, lightening up my backpack load. I was extremely appreciative of this as I have scoliosis, and the lighter my backpack, the better my back feels. I have the same appreciation for the lack of notes (and therefore lighter backpack load) I had to carry back and forth, all because I used the nifty apps available on the iPads. 
          The students being saved from responsibility and getting to learn faster is not only a benefit. Responsibility is a good trait to instill in students for their success in the future. Also, it may make the students more impatient, for everything is only a few taps away. Impatience is not a good trait to instill in students, for if they don't get exactly what they want, they will give up. Speaking of taps, although handwriting notes can cause cramps in students' hands and wrists, tapping to type on the iPad produces much the same effect. Also, I found myself falling behind sometimes when taking notes in class because of the difficulties typing on the iPads, , also because of auto-correct. Sometimes not only would I fall behind in note-taking, but I would lose the note altogether. I usually had no idea what caused the iPad to delete my note, and would become frustrated because there is no way to recover any lost information. The iPad is lacking of a "back button" or "control-z"  function, a critical thing for those crucial and accidental mistakes. The iPad is only a piece of technology, which is not always the most reliable. I would sometimes be disconnected from the internet and lose time trying to reconnect the iPad to the wi-fi. I would also find other people still signed into their accounts in frequently used apps; jeopardizing not only their privacy, but work as well. I also believe that the iPads served as a distraction if students weren't interested in the lesson.
          The school district should not move to a 1:1 environment, and if more iPad carts were added, only add them to select classes. I highly doubt that high school students are ready for the responsibility for a school-issue iPad full time. There have been many instances in class where iPads are close to destruction, and that's when every student is most conscious of their behavior. It technically isn't theirs- it's the school's property. Even if they had to pay for it if lost or damaged, they probably wouldn't care. However, it would cut down on the materials needed for class, therefore cutting down on raw materials and waste, although it would still consume electricity. The iPad is not yet ready for all types of learning. There are just some classes where iPad use would not be beneficial. The district shouldn't waste money on excess iPads; instead, they should use it for something more important.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Gothic Story

                Without a word, he stoically turned away from his assailer. There was nothing to be done, and nothing more to be said. He charged down the hallway with whatever leftover energy he could muster. 
                His life was absolutely over, he thought. The life of Brendan Gregory had been smashed to pieces, reduced into a pulp of nothingness. This was the last time he could stand his bully. To Brendan's knowledge, he had no name, no friends, and no heart. Everything about him was icy- his cold glare, his frozen words. Brendan had dealt with bullies many a time before, but his allotted amount for hurt was filled, and could no longer stand the thought of being bullied.
                Brendan didn't know why so many had felt the need to interfere with his life. He was a happy kid for the most part, and his looks reflected his persona. His curly blond hair emanated rays of sunshine. His eyes mirrored his hair, a light spring green sprinkled with droplets of liquid gold. When he was truly happy, the liquid gold would spread. When he was feeling the opposite, the green would dominate, making his gaunt face and square jaw look formidable. However, his peculiar and beautiful eyes were hidden from the world. Black-framed hipster glasses bordered them; with a prescription so strong the lenses were as thick as the bottom of a glass bottle. These glasses, combined with his tall and lanky body were the offenses the school bullies looked for. Other than his physical appearance, there was no reason for him to be bullied. Sure, he read quite a large amount of comics and science fiction, was part of the high school band, and was blessed with wit; but other than that he was a nice guy, popular within his close-knit circle of friends. He was quiet yet funny, sensitive, and sweet- especially on his longtime friend, Lana.
                While thinking of her smiling blue eyes and lovely dimples, Brendan suddenly came to a halt. His wandering combined with daydreams of Lana and the leftover self-pity had brought him to a dead end. Brendan had dealt with the complexities of the high school for two years now, yet he couldn’t recognize his current location. This hallway seemed different from the rest of the school. Instead of being dark and musty from years of constant rain and lack of ventilation, it was dry and arid. Just then, a breeze came from the end of the hallway. The smell of lavender filled Brendan’s nose, and he felt as if tendrils of serenity were grasping him and vanquishing all negative thoughts and feelings. Curious about the magical sensation, he decided to pursue the breeze. He feebly walked to the end of the hallway, pausing at the mahogany door. His hand reached out, and immediately shirked away from the door’s cool touch. He pushed again, yet with no avail. He tried once more, twice more, but the door still wouldn’t budge. He was weak, and his run through the school corridors only further worsened his condition. Defeated, he slid into a sitting position, his back resting upon the door. Almost immediately, the door clicked open, causing Brendan to fall onto his back. He winced with pain. Upon opening his eyes, the sight that greeted him astounded him. 
                The ceiling was tall, with a maze of oxidizing pipes exposed. Cobwebs blanketed the pipes, sheltering them from the rest of the room. The lights, now useless, hung in straight, rigid rows over long narrow tables in the same formation. These tables were covered in a layer of filth- the lack of disturbance apparent. Around each line of tables were dusty chairs. Brendan brushed the seat of a chair, and immediately after his stonewashed jeans, cleaning his hand of the dust. The streak of cleanliness revealed a worn and smooth surface, once regularly used, now empty. A few flies buzzed around, cleverly evading the gossamer-like cobwebs, which threatened to be their demise.
                There had always been rumors about this place, thought Brendan. Somehow, Brendan had stumbled across his school’s infamous abandoned cafeteria. The story was that this cafeteria was infested with flies. His school wasn’t so snobbish to build a new cafeteria for this reason alone, but they tried exterminating the flies on multiple occasions, and the flies kept returning. It started to cause disturbances during lunch times, and so it was deserted. The school could not demolish it, as it was part of the school’s historical background. However, it was not highly advertised. Brendan was sure the many freshmen didn’t know it even existed.
                As desolate and grimy as the abandoned place was, Brendan felt at peace. He had always believed that people needed their alone time, and felt as if the ancient cafeteria came to his salvation at the perfect moment. The lavender breeze was still present, wafting around the aged room with a gentle ease. As he steadily drifted closer and closer to sleep, he grew nostalgic for his mother who had loved lavender, meant everything to him, and was killed ten years ago.
                “Brendan darling...”
                 “Huuh...” His eyes fluttered open, and then suddenly snapped shut. He was expecting it to be bright and sunny, yet the ever-cloudy skies masked the sun. He dreamt about his mother again, back when times were happier and sunnier. She was one of Brendan’s constant thoughts, always on his mind. He sometimes even heard her voice, like he did now.
                “You should go home to your father now, it’s getting a bit late. Send him my love, will you? If you ever feel upset, just come visit okay? I’m sure you’ll be able to find me. Don’t forget that I love you sweetheart.”
                Brendan nodded, still drowsy from his nap. The words were a jumble of sounds and hisses. He made his way out of the cafeteria, looking down at his sneakers. After five yards of shuffling down the corridor, he suddenly realized the oddity of his past incident. He whipped around, searching for the door to his sanctuary. Nothing was there, other than a wall plastered with tacky motivational posters.  Although a bit blurry, he replayed the event over and over again in his head on his walk home.  He couldn’t wait to tell his father about the encounter with his mother.
                When Brendan returned home, his dad was fuming. The school had notified him of Brendan’s absence in his last four classes. Brendan didn’t mind his father’s thunderous words. He knew his father would be ecstatic once he relayed his story. Instead, after Brendan was done, his father paled, and after giving him a strange look, walked out the room. Brendan overheard his father mumbling something about him, most likely on the phone with his therapist. “He must think I’m crazy. “ With a smirk on his face, Brendan fell into a deep sleep.
                Brendan silently wandered the halls at lunch for days, looking for any sign of the old cafeteria. No traces of it could be found, and he grew so desperate to find it that he asked the janitor. The janitor dismissed him, telling him to go back to his friends. However, his friends were all spooked by his erratic behavior, and none of them would even make eye contact. Except for Lana. She would still smile and wave, and ask him to join them. She was just being polite, as she grew to accept the repetitive answer that he was busy.
On the fifth day of deprivation from his refuge and mother, Brendan walked around the passage ways of the school once more. He made a promise to himself that if he couldn’t find it today, he would stop, as his health was failing. He was exhausted all the time from over exerting himself at lunch, never being able to sleep because of his thoughts of the secret place keeping him up all night. His eyes were clouding now, the once bright green fading to a murky swamp color. The bags under his eyes were atrocious, and combined with his extreme weight loss made him so intimidating that his old bullies were now afraid of him. Even Lana would give him an odd look, her bubbly self no longer present around him. On this particular walk, he grew so exhausted that in an odd corner of the school, he fell to the floor.
When Brendan woke up, he found himself in the ancient cafeteria and breathed a sigh of relief. Once he was back, he never wanted to leave. However, his mother often called for him to help her with things in the outside world. These tasks started out as little things, such as stealing some small object for her. He was raised with good morals, and knew what he was doing was wrong, but each time he completed a little task, he felt as if his misery was sucked out of him. He would feel fulfilled, until he would feel the guilt, and he would soon mysteriously end up in the cafeteria again. His father gave up on him, as well as his teachers, friends, acquaintances, and other family members. He would only answer to his mother, even if she did start telling him to murder people that had no connection to her. He would come back feeling as light as a feather. He began to depend on her even more, until she began to tire of him.
One day, Brendan was given the assignment to kill Lana. He was reluctant, but made up his mind to follow through with his mother’s plan when she announced that he could only have one woman in his life. On the same day, Brendan told Lana to meet him afterschool. He must have looked handsome that day, for instead of blowing him off, Lana agreed.
He waited for her in a grove behind the school. There she came, bouncing along, excited to see him. Brendan leaned forward as if to give her a kiss, and instead, slit her throat. Her eyes widened with fear, as she saw her own blood oozing out the deep cut on her neck. She went limp, and all was quiet. As soon as the first droplet of blood hit the ground, it vanished. The Earth swallowed the puddle of blood, and then out came a swarm of flies. They encircled Brendan, and carried him to the cafeteria.
Something was not right. There was no scent of lavender, no cooing from his mother, the lights were flickering, and all about the room were swarms of flies. He ran to the door, trying to make his escape before something bad happened, his eyes wide as saucers. Unfortunately, it was too late. A distorted voice called out.
 “You trusted me. You were a fool to believe me, Brendan Gregory. Your mother is dead and gone, and I merely pretended to be her. I used her to get to you, for you were so miserable. I fed off your misery until I became strong enough. And now, since you have killed Lana, you have become more miserable than ever, and will be for the rest of your life. I am now powerful enough to complete domination. Thank you.”  
The flies started forming a human silhouette.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Edgar Allen Poe's Obsession With Death

            Edgar Allan Poe found his calling as a writer and survived off his works of poetry and short stories. His works are remarkable, filled with layers of brilliant imagery and countless symbolisms that illustrate his niche in the writing world. The imageries, symbolisms, and many elements of Gothic Literature created sinister, grim moods; perfect for his tales of death, darkness, and despair. Authors tend to write about subjects they find interesting, and Edgar Allan Poe was no exception. All his stories, including “The Masque of Red Death”, “The Fall of the House of Usher”, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, “The Black Cat”, and “The Pit and the Pendulum” relate to his typical theme of death and its contemporaries. These five stories in particular show the obsession Edgar Allan Poe had with death.
            One cause of death is sickness. In “The Masque of Red Death”, Poe writes about a deadly plague. Prince Prospero, the Prince of the affected area secluded himself and friends in a hideaway, where they believed themselves to be safe in the themed rooms, away from the deadly and grotesque plague. The elite paid no mind to the dying citizens of the area, except for when the clock would strike. The hideaway is a mix of the bizarre and beautiful, and the large, ebony clock falls in the category of the former. “Its pendulum swung to and fro with a dull, heavy, monotonous clang; and when the minute-hand made the circuit of the face, and the hour was to be stricken, there came from the brazen lungs of the clock a sound which was clear and loud and deep and exceedingly musical, but of so peculiar a note and emphasis that, at each lapse of an hour, the musicians of the orchestra were constrained to pause, momentarily, in their performance, to harken to the sound; and thus the waltzers perforce ceased their evolutions; and there was a brief disconcert of the whole gay company; and, while the chimes of the clock yet rang, it was observed that the giddiest grew pale, and the more aged and sedate passed their hands over their brows as if in confused revery or meditation” (Poe, The Masque of Red Death). The clock is located in the “chamber which lies most westwardly”, one that is decorated in sable and gloom. There are blood colored windows, and other than that, everything is a ghastly hue of ebony. The hues of the room’s décor are closely affiliated with death, but the room itself is a symbol for death. Poe made sure to mention that the room was the one that was most westward. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, which is commonly used as a symbol for life and death. The room would not be bathed in light, which resembles goodness, even if the blood red windows did not exist. It is also in this room that the Prince is murdered.  Although Prince Prospero was prosperous and thought he and his subjects could escape Death, Poe shows that Death cannot be cheated. The ringing of the clock at midnight leaves everyone more frightened than usual, and also brings a stranger. He is emaciated, with corpse like clothing and a mask that mirrored the bloody symptoms of the plague. “And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death” (Poe, The Masque of Red Death). Poe personified the plague, and made him a character of his story. After he murders the Prince, the Red Death goes on to extinguish the rest of the living present. As the last of the Prince’s company dies, the clock stops sounding. As long as the clock continued to ring, the lives of the hideaways continued as well. The quiet of the clock represents death, as death happens when time runs out. Poe used obvious symbols for death in “The Masque of Red Death”, as he did also in “The Fall of the House of Usher”.
            “The Fall of the House of Usher” starts with the narrator setting the mood for the story. “I know not how it was- but with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit” (Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher). He goes on to explain that the reason behind his visit to the miserable place is to attempt to help his childhood friend, Roderick Usher, the last of the inbreed Usher family, alleviate his physical and mental sicknesses. The house itself seems to project the sickness of its owner. “No portion of the masonry had fallen; and there appeared to be a wild inconsistency between its still perfect adaptation of parts, and the crumbling condition of the individual stones” (Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher). The narrator finds his old friend on the brink of madness, and tries his best to soothe him. Roderick is cracked, just like the house, but not yet broken. Poe worked in story inception, and had the narrator read “The Haunted Palace” and “Mad Trist”, both about death, to Roderick Usher.  
            The Usher house was clouded with sickness. Roderick’s sister Madeline was sick as well, with a disease that “had long baffled the skill of her physicians”.  During the narrator’s stay, Roderick pronounced his sister as dead, and enlisted the help of the narrator to entomb her. The madness had gotten to him, as Madeline wasn’t really dead. Roderick had buried her alive, and seeing her alive scared him to death. After the two siblings died together, so did the house. “While I gazed, this fissure rapidly widened --there came a fierce breath of the whirlwind --the entire orb of the satellite burst at once upon my sight --my brain reeled as I saw the mighty walls rushing asunder --there was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters --and the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the "HOUSE OF USHER” (Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher). The falling of the house symbolized the end of the Ushers. “The Fall of the House of Usher is about madness as well as death, similar to Poe’s famous “The Tell-Tale Heart”.
            The narrator of “The Tell-Tale Heart” is mad. On multiple occurrences throughout the story, he claims that he is not mad, only dreadfully nervous. However, anyone who kills because of a “pale blue eye, with a film over it” is mad. “Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees – very gradually – I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever” (Poe, The Tell- Tale Heart). The madman planed his attack on the old man for seven days, perfecting his technique for the big moment. The madman thought himself as Death. “All in vain; because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim” (Poe, The Tell- Tale Heart). Once again, Poe personified death. The narrator cannot stand the beating of the human heart, and that’s what ignites his cold-bloodedness.  Poe uses the Gothic element of macabre when describing the hiding of the body in much detail, adding gruesome weight to the murder of the old man. Authorities come to investigate, and the narrator is fine, until he hears the beating of the old man’s heart. The sound of life drives the narrator wild. He can’t stand the life of the old man, and he essentially kills himself, when he admits to the crime. “The Black Cat” is also about death, and somewhat follows the same storyline.
            The narrator of “The Black Cat” seems to be nowhere as close to the narrator of “The Tell- Tale Heart” in terms of madness. He is an animal lover, his most prized possession being an all black cat that evoked superstitious beliefs. With the help of alcohol, his mood sours to the point where he becomes vile. “The fury of a demon instantly possessed me. I knew myself no longer. My original soul seemed, at once, to take its flight from my body; and a more then fiendish malevolence, gin-nurtured, thrilled every fibre of my frame” (Poe, The Black Cat). He became someone else, torturing his favorite companion by cutting its eye out, and eventually hanging him. Over time, the narrator’s mood slightly lightens, and he once again owns another black cat. However, this particular black cat was not pure black- it had a patch of white fur on it. Over time, the white patch becomes more defined as an image of the gallows. The narrator describes that each day the image becomes more defined, symbolizing death approaching slowly but surely.  Once again, the narrator’s hatred for his animal companion returns. “During the former the creature left me no moment alone; and, in the latter, I started, hourly, form dreams of unutterable fear, to find the hot breath of the thing upon my face, and its vast weight – and incarnate Night-Mare that I had no power to shake off – incumbent eternally upon my heart” (Poe, The Black Cat)! What Poe is describing is not clear without context- the narrator is saying that the cat is always trailing and following him, and is heavy; however, Poe could also be describing death and how the heavy burden of death is always present in human’s hearts. He tries to murder the cat, yet his wife stops him, so he murders her instead. Like the former story written by Poe, the narrator tries to get rid of the evidence, and does a good job of it. Again, the authorities come to investigate, but he becomes brash and knocks on the wall. The cat wails, giving the murder away; and again, the narrator has essentially ended his own life. Although it may seem that the most gruesome story would have the most occurrences of death, it is actually “The Pit and the Pendulum” that has the most references to death.
            The narrator, a prisoner of war, finds himself in his enemies clutches. For a while, he knows not where he is- only that it is dark and big, the setting mirroring death. He knows that his captors are notorious for the way they torture and kill their prisoners. While waiting to make his escape, he madly ponders the question of life and death until he reaches his philosophy. “And then there stole into my fancy, like a rich musical note, the thought of what sweet rest there must be in the grave” (Poe, The Pit and the Pendulum). The prisoner accepts his oncoming death, but he wants it to be quick and easy. Unfortunately, that is not what his captors have in mind. His prison is a place of death, being large, dark, still, and silent, which are all indicators of death. They have constructed the chamber out of walls of moveable heated metal that have pictures of grotesque demons on it. These walls push the unlucky victims towards the pit that represents Hell in the center of the dungeon, which is ultimately their death place.  At the middle of the ceiling, there is Time itself (more commonly known as Death), and instead of holding a scythe like he normally does, he holds a swinging pendulum, which has been made into a weapon of death. He spends his time in this dark, silence, and vermin infested place that Poe refers to as Hades, the Greek Underworld, deciding between which ways to die, as he gives up on the chance of escape. The tale is enthralling, as the pendulum and death steadily makes its way down upon the prisoner. 
            Edgar Allan Poe wrote all these stories. "The Pit and the Pendulum", "The Black Cat", "The Tell-Tale Heart", "The Fall of the House of Usher", and "The Masque of Red Death" all have common themes. This common theme is death. Although a few are also about sickness and madness, these are contemporaries of death. Since he wrote about it so much, it's no surprise that he was obsessed with death.

 Works Cited

"The Black Cat." By Edgar Allan Poe. Web. 16 Mar. 2012. <>.

"The Fall of the House of Usher." By Edgar Allan Poe. Web. 16 Mar. 2012. <>.

"The Masque of Red Death." By Edgar Allan Poe. Web. 16 Mar. 2012. <>.

"The Pit and the Pendulum." By Edgar Allan Poe. Web. 16 Mar. 2012. <>.

"The Tell-Tale Heart." By Edgar Allan Poe. Web. 16 Mar. 2012. <>.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Faust Legend

Her heels’ clicking changed an octave, as the marble hallway came to an end.  The doorman offered to flag a taxi, but she kept walking on. Each reassuring strike of her luxurious shoes against the jagged concrete became a mantra, telling her to calm herself and soothe the anger that was madly coursing through her veins.  She could not believe him- him being the top partner at the firm, as well as her new ex- boyfriend. However, if she had her way (which of course she would) he would soon be a penniless nobody. Simply put, no one broke up with Leona Hensley. She was as cold as the environment around her, the New York winter, yet somehow even more so. The natural wave of her golden silky hair, the piercing blue eyes, pretty pink lips, glittering teeth, and button nose, all part of the tanned, toned and tall body would melt people’s insides. However, her selfish, vindictive, calculating, cutthroat, and coldhearted ways quickly froze their insides back again, and eventually the continuous, harsh coldness emanated from her would take its toll and make those insides crack and shatter into microscopic pieces. She was the constant reason behind heartbreak. She not only broke those hundreds of hearts, but also trampled them with her sky-high heels on the route to the next and more affluent one. None of them lived up to her ridiculously high standards, and she just would not accept inferiority to her standards. With that being said, she was awfully lonely. Leona just couldn’t and wouldn’t accept that, and the people around her noticed the chill around her dropped a few degrees.

She stopped in her place, the sounds around her vanishing, and looked out at the concrete jungle- her concrete jungle.  She knew her love life in New York was over.  That top partner was the last guy she ever would have dated; yet she was left with no other option. He was the last and only prosperous guy in New York she hadn’t dated, and she couldn’t be single- only poor simpletons were single.  Unfortunately, she couldn’t just pack up and leave. Her everything was here, in the city. She had viciously fought tooth and nail for the opportunities that led her to her current life. Ever since Leona could remember, she used people for their more prosperous contacts; and always wanted to be a lawyer, for she was exceptional at arguing and getting what she wanted. She kept repeating the process, and eventually used those contacts to get into a prestigious law school. She knew exactly what she had to do in order to succeed, and would stop at no boundary; she didn’t even talk to her parents anymore. They were the ones who encouraged her disconcerting behavior; they had taught her in a do-as-I-say-not-what-I-do manner, saying that she should be nice and kind to others, but not following their beliefs themselves. She ended up becoming the youngest partner in a pretentious law firm at 28, the first ever in the history of law, and was winning cases left and right. She didn’t care if her client was guilty; if they wanted to be proven innocent, innocent they would be found. She was that good- that’s why she couldn’t leave New York. She was infamous for being a heartbreaker, but she couldn’t leave everything behind.

The bleak grey skies suggested bad weather was on its way, and Leona did not want to experience it. She looked around in exasperation for a shortcut that would bring her to the warmth and safety of her penthouse. Out of the corner of her eye, she spied an entrance to a little alleyway protected by a gate, except for a small opening just large enough for Leona’s small frame. It was set on a diagonal, and looked as if it would lead Leona right to the street opposite her penthouse. She was surprised that she had never noticed this part of her jungle before, and did not like the fact that she just learned something new on the well traveled walk home.

She slipped between the grimy wall and rusty fence with ease, and looked about her new surroundings, on the lookout for anything out of place. Everything looked fine- well, as fine as an alleyway could look. She continued walking, now at a faster pace, and her attention turned back to the day’s previous events. 

A scuffling noise brought Leona back to the present. She looked around, and saw no one. She had noticed a few respectable looking people pass her earlier, but they were long gone. The exit was in sight, and Leona hurried along.

60 feet away from the exit, there was a deafening roar.  Leona snapped her head up, previously engrossed in the beauty of her shoes.  The trash bags and bins that lined the left of the alleyway were all suddenly on their sides, a rancid smelling waterfall overflowing and making a mess everywhere. Leona didn’t know what to make of it. A yowl and yelp followed immediately after, and so did a guttural cry. Leona’s gaze followed a small, emaciated dog with a long thick gash along its abdomen limp towards Leona’s entrance, leaving a trail of blood behind it. She turned her head back around, her expression changing from one of disgust to shock.

Standing right in front of her was a tiny, frail looking girl. She couldn’t have been more than four years old, though she was young as she was beautiful. She had pale porcelain skin, full red lips, big brown soulful eyes, a button nose, and unruly hair that looked as if it were on fire, even with the gray sky above it. She was too striking for a little girl; she looked far older than she was, but her youthfulness was reinforced by the tattered and worn teddy bear she clutched in her tiny left hand. Leona couldn’t help but stare, as she became even more bewildered.

The girl whispered something, unintelligible to Leona. For a second, Leona thought she uttered “Hensley, Leona” but decided it was absolutely impossible.

“Good day, I am Libby. Are you in need of any help?”

For her supposed age, she was uncharacteristically eloquent. Her smoky voice clearly enunciated the words, except for the fact that she pronounced her name “Live-d”. Leona was still transfixed. There was something different about her, something that separated her from the norm. Leona wanted to know what it was. Was it the vibrancy of her hair? The glint of red in her pupils? The fact that she was wearing all red and could pull it off without looking like a tomato? Was it that she seemed so mature and wise for her age? Was it that her eyes looked so innocent and pure, but her lips were curled in an impish smile? Or was it that she appeared so soon after the canine incident? Leona shook her head slightly.

“No.” she said curtly.

Leona was starting to get annoyed. She didn’t like wasting precious time, and it seemed that was exactly what Libby was doing. Libby didn’t get the message, or choose not to care.

“I vehemently dislike dogs.” she exclaimed, frowning in the direction that the stray dog scampered off to.

“Why should I- ” Leona’s tone changing from annoyed to one to sweet to stand after locking eyes and smiling at an attractive passerby, “care, sweetheart?” His gaze swept over her, but his gait didn’t change, nor did his stoic facial expression.

“Are you sure you’re in no need of assistance? I could help.” Libby’s eyes twinkled with mischief.

 Leona scoffed.

 “In all actuality, I know the circumstances of your current situation. I believe I could provide help. You are in need of a bachelor, and I am in need of filling my monthly quota.”

Leona stared at Libby through slanted eyes.

“This is getting to be ridiculous.”  Leona stepped around her and continued walking. After taking a few steps forward, she turned back around. “Bye Libby. Er- nice to meet you.” she said to air. Libby was already gone. Leona continued walking, briskly, as she still wanted to escape the feeling of Libby’s strange presence.

Leona arrived home exhausted, but safely. She was still feeling the strange presence, so she took extra measures to make sure all possible entrances to her house were secured. She got ready for bed, still trying to sort out the traumatic and dramatic events of the day. She still felt peculiar, but was too tired to care.

That night, she had a vivid dream. When she woke up, the strange feeling was still there, unlike her belief that the weirdness would dissipate after a sleep. The only thing she could remember was a quick flash of Libby, and then nothingness.

As the days passed, Leona became more desperate for a partner. The peculiar feelings persisted, and Leona’s security measures became extreme. The newest security systems were installed, and Leona still didn’t feel safe enough, so she would duck tape all her windows and doors each night, and take them down each morning. Each time a person walked into her office at the firm, she would duck beneath her desk, and hold conversations through it. She would stay in there for lunch, and call in from the shelter of her desk for meetings. Her coworkers couldn’t understand her behavior. The weather got progressively nicer, yet Leona would insist on a cab to the front of building, and that the driver would accompany her into the building. She would no longer go out at night, in fear of the unknown. However, Leona wasn’t restless. She got plenty of sleep each night, dreaming vividly. Libby stayed longer and longer in each dream, until Leona was sure that she dreamed only of Libby. She wasn’t infatuated with her, just somehow strangely terrified. It was months after their encounter, yet the dreams kept the memory fresh.

6 months after meeting Libby, Leona Hensley, once the most mentioned name, was hardly uttered. She was still a good lawyer, but just became too paranoid for others to stand. In addition to all the suffering she endured, she started seeing red. She didn’t care anymore, and thought it would go away on its own. On the 6th day of impaired vision, Libby woke up with a start. The clock read 6:66.

It’s impossible, thought Leona. That was before she noticed Libby in front of her.

“I’ve found you a bachelor.” she snarled through needle-like teeth. “I know you’re desperate enough for anything, but I’m a nice devil, and I took your stupid high standards into consideration. All I need is your soul.”

Leona stared blankly.

“IT’S A YES OR NO QUESTION!” Libby shouted, enraged.

Leona nodded meekly. The word “okay” quietly escaped her lips.

Leona enjoyed her new fiancé. She became healthy again, even somewhat happy. She was unbeatable in court again, and the wronged had no chance against her. Her name was on everyone’s lips again, and she enjoyed it. Her malicious manner was back, meaner than ever. However, that paranoia toward Libby still pursued. She still wasn’t over the last time she interacted with Libby. Leona played detective for a while, after wishing that she never let Libby have the rights to her soul. She vaguely recollected from their first meeting that Libby hated dogs. She was able to put the scenario together, that Libby had harmed the dog, and now knew why. She had deemed the declaration nonsense at the time, but now it was her only chance at escaping the life of terror Libby most likely had in mind for her.  She became a volunteer at the local dog shelter.

She loved those dogs, probably more so because they could possibly be her protectors and saviors. However, there was this one dog… one with soulful brown eyes, a flaming red coat, twinkly eyes, and a nasty temper. Leona decided that she should surround herself with dogs all the time, just to be safe. Unfortunately, the same dog aforementioned attacked one of her favorite dogs she was going to adopt, it’s blood and organs all scattered about its cage. There was a note in the killer dog’s kennel, saying, “Be sure he gets you a nice present for the wedding.” Leona was devastated, yet she had no clue about what the note meant or more importantly, whom it was from.

Leona’s fiancé did get her something nice for the wedding. It was to be a grand and large event, and he thought that a beautiful and dainty necklace made of platinum and diamonds would be the perfect accessory for such and occasion.

As the number days to the wedding shortened, the necklace started becoming tarnished. Leona took no notice, as her she was so elated her dreams were finally coming true.

It was the day of the wedding. All the guests (excluding Leona’s parents) were present and smiling, and the groom hung-over and at the alter, and the bride beautiful and walking down the candle-lined aisle with her father-in-law. Halfway down the aisle, a group of dogs appeared out of nowhere. They ran about, biting guests, knocking down the bride and chairs down, and tipping over candles. After they were done ruining Leona’s wedding, they disappeared, vanishing into thin air. As a result of the ruckus, the carpet on the aisle caught on fire. The doors and windows were all heavily reinforced and locked, trapping the guests inside. The church went up in flames, killing all the guests and Leona’s soon to be husband, all right in front of her eyes. She was left unaffected. She looked down at her necklace, too sad to look at the destruction around her, and noticed her necklace was cracked from the pandemonium earlier. At that time, she was swept away, and she felt the temperature steadily rising and rising.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Reaction to the Verdict

This Mock Trial has been another project of my two year long Provenzano experience. As a lawyer for the prosecution of this trial, I had prep work and research to do, write and present the opening statement, direct and cross examine witnesses, and deal with the defense and Mr. Twain gloating over their not guilty verdict. 

After getting my Urgent Memo from District Attorney Provenzano telling me that I was a lawyer for the prosecution, I complained, to everyone. I did not want to be a prosecution lawyer, because I didn't and don't believe that Mark Twain was racist. The first step for me was to just make myself believe that Mr. Twain was racist. After I begrudgingly reached that goal, I had to plan a way to prove he was racist. I stressed myself out, because I didn't really know what to do on my own. Luckily, I did after working with my fellow lawyers as well as talking about my findings and ideas with Mr. Pro. I also researched Mark Twain's life, looking for evidence to prove he was racist and  writing from his racist experience. The strongest evidence I found against Mark Twain was that he volunteered in the Civil War on the side of the Civil Army. Later on, this evidence proved to be useful. I was also in charge of writing the opening statement.  I knew that this was our chance to make a lasting and strong impression, and I was extremely nervous.

After writing the opening statement, it was time to present it. I was the opening to the opening, the very first part of the trial. Everyone was fully focused as it was the beginning of our project, so I felt the need for it to be perfect. Unfortunately, my nerves got to me, and I became a jumble of nerves. My presentation did not go as well as I planned. The direct examining went much smoother, and I felt in control. The other prosecution lawyers and I had chosen who we were going to question and cross examine, so we had a chance to practice with our own witnesses beforehand. I questioned Jim, and did a fairly good job of it. The greatest fun I had during the whole trial was cross examining Mark Twain. That moment counted the most for our argument, and I thought I was making strong and obvious points. However, the Jury didn't believe so.

The Jury decided that Mr. Twain was not guilty of being a racist. Although I was a bit bummed that we didn't convince the majority of the Jury well enough to listen to us, we did convince a few. However, I totally agree with the verdict the Jury reached. Although I felt that the Prosecution did an amazing job, I believe that the Defense just overall had and easier case, and they were on their game. They made points that were more straightforward and obvious, and didn't have as a roundabout way of bringing their evidence together to a close. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Huckleberry Finn is Racist

 Huck Finn's journey has finally come to somewhat of an end. Throughout Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the reader forms an opinion of Huck based on his actions, habits, and characteristics. One of the most disputed opinions is whether or not Huck is a racist. Given the evidence from the text, I believe Huck Finn is a racist. However, it should be noted that Huck is a “conflicted racist”. Huck is not racist only when his other personal beliefs come into conflict with his racism. Being a racist, Huck wrote a letter to Miss Watson telling her the whereabouts and procedure to retrieve her slave Jim, which would most certainly return Jim into slavery. Instead, Huck decided to free Jim. “I took it (letter) up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath . . . and tore it up . . . and for a starter I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again . . .” (Twain 207). Huck only comes to this conclusion after recollecting many genuine moments of friendship between himself and Jim. If Jim and Huck were not friends and didn’t have a father son type relationship, Huck would have sent the letter without a doubt, due to his racist beliefs. Huck follows through with his plan to free Jim and succeeds. Even though Huck frees Jim, there are many examples in the book where Huck treats Jim poorly because of his racist beliefs.

Through Huck’s actions in the book, it is made known to the reader that he is not a mean spirited person. However, Huck usually does not treat Jim with the respect a friend, father figure, and elder deserves, as he is a conflicted racist. Jim reacts negatively to a prank Huck played on him, and he feels conflicted about how to handle the situation. Huck eventually makes the tough decision to apologize for his wrongdoing. “It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger; but I done it . . .” (Twain 89). Huck’s specific word choice of humble shows that he thought he was superior to Jim, as he is white and Jim is African American. Huck’s feeling superiority based on race is the fundamental definition of racism. There are more examples of Huck’s mistreatment of Jim. Huck calls Jim his property and says Jim can’t argue logically because he’s black, and a white person could. These actions of Huck are what make him racist.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Irony of Huck Finn's Decision

There is a fine line between good and evil. However, the line between what people believe to be good and believe to be evil is much more undefined. In The Adventures of Huck Finn, one of the disputable topics mentioned is that of slavery. In the time period of Huck Finn, the majority of people believed slavery was a good practice. Today, the majority of people have changed their mind, believing that slavery was bad. One of the undisputable topics is Heaven and Hell. Heaven is where good people reside, and Hell is where the evil people inhabit. However, the disputable topic of slavery is brought up again. Huck decides to free Jim, after all the good Jim’s done, from being sold back into slavery. Like every action, there is always a consequence. Huck exclaims, "All right then, I'll go to hell" (Twain 207). The irony is that Huck is doing a good thing, liberating someone who deserves freedom; yet he believes he will be punished for it by spending his afterlife in Hell. Hell is for evil people, not good people that free slaves. Huck’s belief of reprimand is heavily dependent upon the morals of society at that time.

Many people look back upon the time of early America as a time of backwardness. People’s morals depended not only on law, but also greatly on religion. Today, morality is based upon both the former and latter, but the latter is less emphasized. When contemplating his moral dilemma, Huck’s argument with himself turned to the Lord and his messengers. “ . . . There was the Sunday-school, you could ‘a’ gone to it; and if you’d ‘a’ done it they’d ‘a’ learnt you there that people that acts as I’d been acting about that nigger goes to everlasting fire” (Twain 206). It was illegal to help slaves escape or runaway slaves to safety. Illegality and Hell are both bad things, and people deliberately used these bad things together to make others listen to and follow instructions. This shows how much law and religion coincided with each other. The laws of the time are ironic. People believed dutifully in all aspects of religion, yet they did not truly take the aspects to heart. The people up there are believed to love everyone equally, and the congregation knows this. However, in those days, the people down here still treated blacks poorly, and made them their slaves. If the higher powers love everyone equally, then everyone should treat each other equally.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Jim and Huck- Father and Son

After Huck runs away from Pap, he feels an onset of loneliness.  However, that loneliness fades away once he encounters his fellow runaway Jim.  Huck, instead of having feelings of hatred and contempt for Jim like he does for his father, actually cares about Jim. There has been many a time when Pap was angry and violent towards Huck; the most memorable when Pap declared that Huck was the “Angel of Death” and chased him around trying to kill Huck. On that fateful night, Huck decided that if Pap started coming after him again, he would kill him. “I slipped the ramrod down it to make sure it was loaded, and then I laid it across the turnip barrel, pointing towards Pap, and set down behind it to wait for him to stir” (Twain 37). Huck has never touched on the thought of murdering Jim, as Jim and Huck have a good time whenever they’re together.  Huck’s affection towards Jim is just as passionate as Huck’s hatred towards Pap.

Huck interacted with Jim previously during his stay with the Widow Douglas. While Jim was a slave, Huck and Jim kept their relationship on a more “professional level”.  Over time, Jim has come to care for Huck as a son, more so after being in hiding together. He cares about the health and well being of Huck, giving or doing anything that would make Huck happy.  He tries to give Huck a better life; he does this by giving Huck his knowledge of superstitions, giving Huck advice on what would be wise things to do, and spending quality time with Huck. Jim’s elated outburst after he thinks Huck’s alive shows just how much he cares about the boy.  “Goodness gracious, is dat you, Huck? En you ain’ dead- you ain’t drownded- you’s back ag’in? It’s too good for true, honey, it’s too good for true. Lemme look at you chile, lemme feel o’ you. No, you ain’ dead! You’s back ag’in, ‘live en soun’, jis de same ole Huck- de same ole Huck, thanks to goodness (Twain 87)! He’s truly and honestly elated that Huck’s alive- like any other father would be if his son got separated from their boat on a stormy river. Pap would only feel upset about losing Huck because of Huck’s worth in money. Jim was actually upset that someone he cared about was potentially dead.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The First Impressions of Huckleberry Finn

Huckleberry Finn comes across as an impressionable person. This impressionable side of his surfaces most whenever Tom Sawyer is involved or mentioned. One day after scolding him, Miss Watson and Huck have a conversation about Heaven and Hell. While Miss Watson was explaining how a person would enter the realm of heaven, Huck Finn asked about the future outcome of Tom Sawyer. Already feeling unsure of wanting to go to heaven, he was relieved that Tom would be going to hell, according to Miss Watson. “I was glad about that, because I wanted him and me to be together” (Twain 13).  Huck looks up to Tom because of all they had been through in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Tom Sawyer also convinced him to be a member of his “vicious gang”, and was the person Huck thought would be proud of him while staging his own murder. There also multiple occurrences where Huck would believe the words of Miss Watson, the Widow Douglas, and Jim. Along with being impressionable, Huck is resourceful.

Huckleberry shows his resourcefulness multiple times throughout the course of the first ten chapters. Huck makes a living off this personality trait after his father took him away from his comfortable life to live in the cabin. He also demonstrates resourcefulness while under the Widow Douglas’ care, and when he and Jim live under constant pursuit.  “I got my traps out of the canoe and made me a nice camp in the thick woods” (Twain 46).  He can build a fire, forage for food, hunt, etc. These things all come in handy, as they keep him alive. All people need to have food, shelter, and water. Huck can satisfy all of those basic needs, as well as fulfilling some of his wants with a little bit of luck. No matter where he is, it is guaranteed that he can survive. Most importantly, he was able to stage his own death, and escaped his father’s cabin in the first place, both setting the stage for the rest of the story.