English II: World Literature: Journeys From Home
2016-2017 (9th & 10th graders)

NOT ON QUIZLET: Part IV Elements of Style: Words and Expressions Commonly Misused learn ALL WORDS/ERRORS.
For your new words each week click: Honors World Literature VOCABULARY



Secured

by Madeleine Hinson

I zip up my bag, the crisp r-r-r-r sound acting as a checkpoint for my emotions. That rip initiates disdain or excitement for each upcoming event. When my skating garment bag zips up, a wave of nervousness hits abruptly. My stomach twists and turns as I think about bright lights shining harshly on my shaky body. Visions of eyes tracing my every movement engulf my consciousness. The zip of my bag full of bedazzled dresses tells me it is show time. After a fleeting spring break trip to Mexico, the rip zipping my suitcase triggered disdain at having to come back home to twenty-degree weather.

I begin to pack, bringing my favorite soft long sleeves, a peasant blouse, various colors of denim, undergarments, and a couple of warm hoodies for softball practice. Wondering whether there is a toothbrush at dad's house, I bring one just in case. With not much room left in my blue-grey bag, I have to be wise when choosing shoes to bring. Zipping up my bag, I gaze blankly at my lifeless closet surrounded by light-lavender walls.

My room, occupied by stark white furniture, drowns out all color. My feet are cold to the touch in the dark room. Outside my window, flurries of snow fall, making me dizzy. My room becomes unrecognizable, the emptiest I had ever seen it. I no longer felt like my room was my room. I began to weirdly dread my departure. "I'll only be gone a short time," I told myself. A week: seven days, 168 hours, 10,080 minutes, 604,800 seconds. I zipped my bags, said goodbye to my mother, and took off in my car.

As soon as I pulled out of my driveway, sadness took over. I tried to ignore this feeling, thinking it was only my girly emotions getting the best of me. I felt discombobulated, wondering why I felt this way. I was not blue over leaving my mother, for it was nice not having to argue about the kitchen being messy or having left my shoes out. I was also thrilled to be staying with my dad in his delightful company, for I had not seen him all week.

I began to sob, the road becoming blurry. In this moment, I felt detached from everything. I often prefer to be alone; however, right now, that was the last thing I wanted to be. I realized all I wanted was to be surrounded. I wanted to have one room. I wanted a mom and dad to come home to every day. I did not want to be "une fille unique," like my French teacher called me. I wanted a sibling to look up to or look out for. I wanted another kid to go back and forth with me to mom and dad's house. I oddly wanted what most kids dread: siblings and more involvement with my parents.

My parents' separation was nothing new to me; however, I felt lonelier than ever and I did not know why. I pulled into my father's driveway and waited until the redness left my eyes. I walked up the stairs and was greeted by my dad's warm smile and hugs. I dug my face into his shoulder and held back tears. We then reminisced about our week apart, as I unzipped my bag to unpack my things.


Pocket Secrets

by Tess Billmire

Another sticker was plucked from its clear sheet and placed onto a white polka-dotted pink paper with a lime green capital "T" centered in the middle. It accompanied a multitude of other stickers, ranging from SpongeBob to glittery ice cream. My favorites were always the pictures that were attached to Christmas tags. Cutting off just the little pictures of pine trees or festive snowmen, I would stick them onto my new pink sticker sheet. I added this final sticker of a tiny snowflake, completing my new collection and my satisfaction.

I folded the two sides in towards the middle, repeating this step for the ends, and finally folding the whole paper in half, locking the stickers inside. I was fond of transferring decals onto paper that I found pretty, but not because I found these thin objects stunning to look at. Most weren't even sparkly, yet I made sure they were scrapbook quality. No, my sticker pages were a way to cope with my anxiety, a reason which ended up being altogether ironic.

My obsession started in fourth grade. Before school began, I would dress in my usual outfit: a polo shirt according to the day of the week, a pair of khaki pants, and a brown fake leather belt to tie the outfit altogether. Lastly I would slip my folded paper, with ragged creases on the sides from opening and closing it, into the right pocket of my khaki pants. After a quick walk from my backyard to Trailside Elementary School, I would attend Mrs. Brady's fourth grade class. The small folded paper stayed in my pocket throughout all eight school hours. I would never take it out to stare at the random explosion of stickers, because just the idea of looking at my creation infused me with anxiety. Still, my mind would be scatterbrained with anxiety if I hadn't placed the paper in my right pocket.

As Mrs. Brady called for a forty-minute free time in between English and math class, I would unzip the small pocket on top of my backpack that was meant to hold soda cans. Inside lay my Harry Potter Quidditch Lego figurine. I would fly Harry across the room on his plastic Nimbus 2000. Taking out my sticker packet wasn't a priority at the time. The atmosphere wasn't right; there were kids left and right playing with wooden dominos or squishy plastic T-rexes. I was too afraid of my peers looking at my creation because I wanted to keep it as my secret; I felt like it was too strange to be presented to the world. However, if I felt really ambitious I would go alone into the sweaty-smelling, messy cubby room. In deep thought I would stare at the strange arrangement of stickers that brought me as much discomfort as not even having them with me at all.

I've always been an anxious person. Anxious is the perfect epithet to describe who I am. As a young naïve third grader, I was diagnosed as having selective mutism: the inability to speak in front of groups of people or adults. With this brief description following me around like a more-chilling shadow than my own, I became attached to paper. This light-pink colored paper was my own version of a therapy dog. Sitting in my metal desk with its fake wooden surface, an anxious conscience silenced me. My selective mutism didn't suspend me from interacting with other fourth graders, yet Mrs. Brady was always lurking in the background, and that's when my anxiety arose. My nerves around adults were so bad I realized I couldn't fight my way through the day alone. This small and overly-folded piece of paper brought the comfort I needed. These hidden stickers were my imaginary friend. They were always there for me and understood my emotions more than anyone else, but I kept them hidden from the outside world.

The paper was more of a novelty than anything; a collector's item meant to lie in my pocket for self-pride without being admired. I enjoyed having it in my pocket for a while, but once I walked back to my house, I noticed its tattered appearance. From placing new stickers inside and double checking to make sure everything was in its place, the sides began to tear, almost falling off. The outside was crackled like old paint. I threw the whole thing away to start anew with a differently-designed piece of paper and new stickers with grainy textures. Each new piece of paper was like a new beginning, and I needed lots of them to satisfy my anxious life.

Ironically, this short obsession traumatized me. I felt guilty and anxious about my own creations. These paper sheets were supposed to bring me comfort, and they did; but over time my mind became hindered by deep dread. A dark presence followed me with each step. I was obsessed with looking at my stickers all the time. As my obsession became a burden, I decided I didn't want to be controlled by paper, so I ended this torture game altogether.

Sometimes I still feel the urge to crawl back into old habits and start collecting stickers again. Yet, my past torment restrains me from permitting these actions. I still buy a few sheets of stickers as I did five years ago, but I don't dare become obsessed. I know the mental demons that come with my collections. I moved on from being obsessed with paper to people.

As a ninth grader, I revolve my world around others' actions, especially of those I admire. I'm no longer secluded in the world of folded sticker paper, and I've made myself more present and vulnerable to the real world. My hidden stickers acted as my imaginary friend because even though my fourth grade self didn't realize it at the time, I'm extremely socially awkward. Subconsciously, these stickers granted me the courage to talk to my peers more often. My stickers were like a raft, allowing my fourth grade self to float over shark-infested waters and breathe in any situation. In sixth grade, I finally accepted my uniqueness and submerged myself in the social middle school world, only wearing a life jacket. To this day, I just float on top of the social world's surface. My younger self had small folded pieces of paper providing me comfort, making me feel less insecure. Now I'm fourteen and I'm starting to face the world, but I'm still not completely ready.

My attachment to people is my new support system as I guide myself into deeper waters. However, I've learned it's impossible to control other people. My solution is creating imaginary stories in my head, usually while listening to music. Music offers the freedom to zap all of my insecurities away and make myself "cooler." I pretend all my new friends want to hang out with me outside of school. I've created a new type of torture, obsessing over conversations that I wish my crush would have with me. All of this makes me more comfortable with the skin I'm in. Too anxious to even talk with my own peers, my false depictions of friends help me feel like I'm in control of something dreadful. I imagine the worst situations that could happen so I'm not disappointed when something actually goes wrong.

I'm still a scared little kid who needs guidance when roaming the world. It may take years before I'm able to face the world alone, but these mental coping mechanisms help me deflect depression, and grasp this new realm one imaginary story at a time.


Earthy and Savory

by Paige Robnett

I lie on my stomach, draped over taupe-colored suede barstools. Spinning myself round and round, hypnotized by the spiraling travertine floor, I think about how nice grandma's house is. Still spinning, still dazed in my own little childish world, I hear an ear-piercing sound, like a lawn mower, that is quite familiar. Grandma says, "Drink up!" I dare not look up at the kitchen counter because I fear that I know what it is. Still draped over the barstool, I stop my spinning, and slowly lift my head, only to see a fresh glass mason jar full of foamy carrot juice.

Giving Grandma a blank stare, I climb up onto the barstool, dreading the moments to come. I slowly pick up the mason jar with a forced half-smile on my face, and notice that grandma has already finished hers. She tells me how good it is for me, but all I can think about is how much it tastes like dirt. I think about giving it to the dog, Beau, but she'd see me. Taking big gulps of what is almost worse than cough syrup seems to take forever. I put down my glass and realize I am not even half finished. I try to focus on the sweetness of the carrots, but I can't shake off the overwhelming earth taste. Upon finishing my glass, she asks if I want seconds. A polite "no thank you" quickly escapes my lips.

As I scurry up the grand foyer stairs with my hands slapping against the steps like a wild animal, Beau follows with his collar clamoring around his white fluffy fur. Leaving grandma and her carrots behind, I run to Papa's penny jar in the bonus room. Putting coins in the slot, I twist the knob, and to my delight, out comes a handful of colorful M&M's. I plop on the floor and play with Legos while I munch on my M&M's, thinking about how lucky I am that it didn't have celery in it this time.

* * *

Now, upright like a lady, I sit on the leather barstool in grandma's new house, twisting the chair only side-to-side. I silently sit and watch as she pulls out her dull knives and a five-pound bag of carrots. The grinding sound of the juicer slowly lulls me into an uneasy memory. Carrot, after carrot, after carrot: the dread worsens as the smell grows stronger. That moment in grandma's old kitchen leisurely makes its way into my head with recollections of Beau, the M&M machine, and her old mason jars, which have all ceased to exist. Staring unfocused at the kitchen counter, the earthy smell of carrots plays a full film of my worst and best memory; then grandma's blurry, echoing voice lightly says: "Drink up!" She looks at me with the same smirk she gave me back then, when I was just a child.


For your new words each week click: Honors World Literature VOCABULARY OR play to study on Quizlet!

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To see pieces written by this class in 2006-2007, Click here
To see pieces written by this class in 2004-2005, Click here
To see pieces written by this class in 2003-2004, Click here
To see pieces written by this class in 2002-2003, Click here
To see pieces written by this class in 2000-2001, Click here

Angst

by Tess Billmire

You're truly a burden -- don't you know?
I felt excitement, adrenaline. But you
had to take it away. Of course,
I'll admit my vainglorious attitude.
Nevertheless, that does not matter to you.
Instead of a light flutter,
you thrust hot uncomfortable feelings
down my spine. Yet, perchance
you're actually friend rather than foe,
with a strange way of showing support.
Your signals, full of guile, make me
insecure of my actions:
manipulating my feelings
into hostile attacks against the
outside world. You shape my mind
into believing the farfetched.
Perhaps this is protection.
Without your guidance, I may remain quixotic,
immature. Boundaries would cease
to exist; my pride
and boastfulness reflecting only a monster.
Perhaps without you I am nobody,
nothing. Yet. You
are just another part of me.


Roaring Silence

by Madeleine Hinson

Dazzled eyes wander
around seeming-complete silence;
phones 'buzz-buzz', lighting up.
Incessant communication,
never-ending updates.
A network larger than our imaginations
connected together,
one large cloud at the seams.
Drowned-out thoughts and messages
now delivered so seamlessly.

Dissent on screens, an unfortunate
back-and-forth, creating walls which
Frost would not be fond of.
Bing-bing, buzz-buzz-, boink-boink, bounce-bounce,
new ruckus ricochets
politics, opinions, opposing views.
Walls created by electro-brains,
vigorously typing behind glass,
are not transparent:
each separate cloud of darkness
draping
over isolated shoulders.
Drowned out by the loudness
of a voiceless room, its only sound, 'tap-tap.'


2nd Semester Unfinished Pieces

Tess:
                Revisions = 100%
                Edits = 100%

FINISHED!


Maddy:
                Revisions = 100%
                Edits = 100%

FINISHED!


Paige:
                Revisions = 100%
                Edits = 100%

Travel piece: Wild River Java


Check all papers for these skills before turning them in to me.

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