Personal Narrative: A Cracked Egg

INTRODUCTION
The below is my personal narrative A Cracked Egg, detailing an unfortunate event (involving, surprisingly, a cracked egg) and its aftermath. *For non-mandarin speakers, please scroll to the bottom of the text before reading the narrative.

RATIONALE
            The narrative above details a progression of events from the breaking of my ostrich egg by an acquaintance to my grandma’s attempt at fixing the egg as well as my subsequent internal turmoil and finally to my gradual acceptance of the new egg’s unique beauty. The central conflict of my personal narrative is the internal struggle between the harsh reality of life and my need to preserve innocence and purity, as evinced in my inability to accept the truth of the broken egg. It is through the development of conflict that I characterized both my character and narrating self as being short-tempered and naive as well as snarky and sometimes thoughtful, respectively.

In order to most effectively communicate a theme and internal conflict (as well as the subsequent elements), I used specific literary techniques to emphasize certain points that would have been lost otherwise. As a means to develop characterization and theme, I frequently used specific semantic fields when describing the actions of certain characters. For example, when describing Tiger, I used a predatory and violent semantic field (“claws”, “tear”, “rampage”, “corpse”) in order to characterize his destructive nature and bring out the theme of external trauma as a means to set off personal growth. In order to characterize my grandma and me, though, I used literary techniques such as similes in order to relate the two of us to avian imagery. While I characterize my grandma as a maternal figure (…so much like a mother hen picking deftly at scattered corn.), I am characterized as more of an egg (….he understood my rage in every terse line of my short, round body). It is through this characterization that I attempt to bring out the theme of youth and innocence by associating myself with the ostrich egg (prior to its breaking).

Finally, I reflect back on the event from the present time in order to further underline the theme of growth and self-acceptance. Readers will also find a shift in tone from solemn back to upbeat and snarky so as to further push the theme of maturation, though with an added dynamic of the preservation of youthful, optimistic attitude (On days when I’m feeling particularly generous, maybe I’ll even tell them the story of a cruel little Tiger, a determined NaiNai with clever hands, and an ostrich egg that turned out to look like one of those cracked Japanese teapots).

A Cracked Egg
            The king’s men in Humpty Dumpty are quite possibly the most useless people to have ever graced this planet. It takes at most one whining eight year old girl, a half-empty tube of superglue, and a very patient grandma to restore an egg back to it’s pure, white beauty. Well, not really. Not even a whole tube of “Ultra! Fast! SUPER GLUE!” can save you from the doomed cracks and fissures. But, I guess, that’s the beauty of the process— I’ve come to learn that for a fact.

The white ostrich egg lay on the black table top, irretrievably, undeniably, shattered. The morning sunlight glared from my window. I stood there, dumbstruck, hot tears threatening to spill out of my eyes. Novels always talk about “blinking the tears out of their eyes”, but I’m plenty sure that never works.

“Sorry” Tiger muttered, his voice small. Weak. I turned around slowly, taking my time to make sure he understood my rage in every terse line of my short, round body. “I just wanted to see if it was strong enough so I…”

I wanted to laugh, then. If I had the humor for it. Tiger was always like that, wanting to tear and hurt with his chubby claws “just to see if they were strong enough”, he’d say. My brother’s desk would often be littered with Lego Star Wars corpses: Han Solo’s head has never been able to fit onto his neck correctly after Tiger’s rampage. And now, the next victim, my ostrich egg. Smashed. Doomed.

Happy swallows chirped from out the open window.

I scrambled to my room without another word.

Throwing myself onto my nest of a bed, I let out an ugly wail. I thought of that broken ostrich egg and Tiger’s dumb, dumb face. What good would his guilt do! I wanted to screech at him. He could’ve lived the same evil, ignorant day without breaking my ostrich shell. I imagined him staring dumbly at the pieces before turning back to dismembering poor Darth Vader with my brother standing helplessly at the side. But, I guess, so long as there are smooth ostrich eggs and pristine Death Stars in the world, a Tiger would always come along to smash it. I’d never remembered him as anything other than his angry eyes and his cruel curled hands. What angered me more, though, was that I couldn’t storm back to the room to tell him just how much the egg had meant to me.

The ostrich egg had been the closest thing I had to a memory of LaoYe. Where my brother could casually recall days spent playing hide and seek with him, I had only the egg. My LaoLao told me the two had been gifted the egg while on a visit in Australia. I’d only ever seen hard-boiled chicken eggs dipped with soy sauce. The surreal, shiny smoothness of the ostrich egg was difficult to miss even for a bird-brained girl. Just as the other kids said they could hear the lapping of waves when they put their ears next to sea shells, I’d imagined I could hear the whooshes of blowing sand in my ostrich egg. And, if I tried hard enough, maybe even make out the sound of kangaroo feet pounding against the desert ground. Though I’d never been to Australia, I’d imagined a young LaoYe* and LaoLao** decked out in safari gear, riding on the backs of ostriches. But, that was a past I could no longer be part of— that probably never happened, to be fair.

The ostrich egg had lived undisturbed on top of my bookshelf until it did not— until today. I eyed the pathetic fragments of egg shell on my desk. Guilt and horror gnawed away at the dams of my eyes as I thought of the daydreams I had had of LaoLao and LaoYe in the Australian desert. Deep down, I think I sort of knew they weren’t real, but it still hurt a great lot knowing that they were now all broken.

My NaiNai*** would find me then— in my puffy-eyed and wet-faced glory.

“What happened?” her voice was even and measured. Her flat, brown eyes reminded me of those of a hawk as she took in my miserable state.

“Tiger broke my ostrich egg,” I whined. I jutted my lip out as far as was humanly possible. NaiNai softened at that. I knew she would. She raised her arms in invitation of a hug, her white cardigan draped across her arms like a hen’s wings. Wailing, I threw myself into her. Though I was already short for an 8-year-old, I came up to the height of her shoulder. I buried myself into the softness of her form. I wanted to tell her she smelled of soap and flour.

She patted my head slowly, in no rush to push her snot-and-tear stained granddaughter away. We stood there for a while. The only sounds in the room were of my quiet sniffling and NaiNai’s reassuring coos. When I finally began to quiet down, she pushed me away slightly to look me in the eye.

“Hey” she whispered. I looked up, still pouting. “Howsabout we fix your egg?” I frowned  slightly, dubious about her proposition. Sensing my confusion, she continued: “your LaoLao has superglue right?” I nodded, slowly catching on.

After snatching the small tube of superglue from LaoLao’s drawer, I hurried back to my room to find my table already cleared off. NaiNai scrutinized the pieces of egg shell in my hands. The cogs of the clock behind her went tick-tick-tick. She let out a curt breath and picked up the largest egg piece— immediately setting herself to work. I watched in awe as her small hands fluttered about the discordant shards— so much like a mother hen picking deftly at scattered corn. A glimmer of hope sparked then. But as I watched on, my smile quickly faded.

Though the egg was clearly forming its curved base, jagged lines cut through the steady smoothness of the shell— stark even from afar.

“NaiNai! The egg’s got cracks all over it!” I whined. NaiNai frowned slightly, prodding at the jagged edges between the pieces. I thought about ayi’s horror stories about superglue getting stuck on your finger and never peeling off.

“I’m afraid we’ll have to deal with it,” she said simply. “Well,” she looked at me, “at least it’s much better than broken egg pieces.” She returned to her work, not sparing a glance at my look of dismay.

No matter how hard I tried, I could not help but feel my heart plummet as I watched NaiNai painstakingly line each edge of egg shell with super glue and carefully slide the piece back into the whole. Perhaps I was being too naive, but when she had first told me she would be able to fix it, I had imagined me returning the same, pristinely smooth bulb back to its nest on my bookshelf. Instead, I would be putting back an entirely different egg. I thought about returning to my room each day and glancing at that abomination, constantly reminded of the imperfections that lay on that once-perfect surface— constantly reminded of what could’ve been. Even as she finished, pushing away from my table and cracking out a light-hearted “It’s done!”, I could barely hide the disappointment in my voice as I choked out a “Thank you.”

In the days afterward, I could hardly bear to look at the ruined ostrich egg. Each jagged line down its white form reminded me of Tiger’s twitching hands and the helplessly broken pieces so of egg shell. After the glue had dried, and the reality of the scars set in, I returned the ostrich egg to its old home on my bookshelf. Only, by then it just looked sort of sad, sitting alone so high up there.

As the years went by, though, the pain and guilt began to fade away. In fact, now just passed my 15th birthday, the whole ordeal just seems downright silly. Sure, the egg was pretty and all when I first got it. Sure, Tiger smashing it into pieces was completely uncalled for and undoubtedly uncool. But, seriously, were a few cracks really that bad? Does a fledgling hold a grudge against her mom for being kicked out the nest to begin her first flight?

Though it had surely been beautiful, there was really nothing of substance to be found in that smooth, white expanse the egg had once been— earning nothing more notable than a “Pretty!” from a doting aunt. Now, though, I’d often catch relatives casting curious glances towards that lined egg nestled on the top of my bookshelf. On days when I’m feeling particularly generous, maybe I’ll even tell them the story of a cruel little Tiger, a determined NaiNai with clever hands, and an ostrich egg that turned out to look like one of those cracked Japanese teapots. And who could ever say no to that?

 

*LaoYe: the PinYin form of 姥爷, meaning maternal grandfather

**LaoLao: the PinYin form of 姥姥, meaning maternal grandmother

***NaiNai: the PinYin form of 奶奶, meaning paternal grandmother

 

4 Things

  • 5 books:
    1. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Vintage Original)
    2. The Oxford Inheritance
    3. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
    4. Arcadia
    5. Inferno
  • 5 Podcasts:
    1. Ask Me Another
    2. World Cafe
    3. How I Built This
    4. Hidden Brain
    5. Here and Now
  • 5 Documentaries:
    1. The Supergamers
    2. Year of the Hedgehog- The Secrets of Nature
    3. The Otter’s Trail – The Secrets of Nature
    4. Leave It To Beavers
    5. Octopus – Most Intelligent Animal on Earth
  • 5 Memories

True China (reflection)

After many days of hard labor, Amy, Molly, and I created the following travel magazine. Our magazine consists of original ads, travel writings, maps, and infographics. During the making of this piece, I took part as an editor, illustrator, and writer of the magazine. The magazine is sectioned into 3 main chapters, each of which describes a Chinese ethnic minority: Zhuang, Li, and Bai. My designated section in this magazine was the “Bai” chapter. I enjoyed making this magazine as I could get a taste of what it is like to edit, write and create my own graphics and travel pieces.

Faith in the Formless

The Da Vinci Code, with its extraordinary plot and lore development, presents the perplexing theme that perhaps having something so elusive as faith, is far more powerful than possessing the knowledge itself. The novel follows the main character Professor Robert Langdon, a symbologist, working to solve the murder of Jacques Saunière, curator of the Louvre museum. This later leads him onto the cryptic and long-sought path to decode the secrets of the Holy Grail. Langdon, being a well-acclaimed symbologist, is depicted with a strong passion for knowledge and truth, this is shown in his excitement to meet the esteemed curator Saunière:

“His books on the secret codes hidden in the paintings of Poussin and Teniers were some of Langdon’s favorite classroom texts. Tonight’s meeting had been one Langdon was very much looking forward to…” (Brown 15).

And yet, by the end of the novel [spoilers], it dawns upon Langdon that perhaps finding the physical form of the Holy Grail was never much the point of his quest. Most importantly, it was to accept and have faith in its true power, where it exists as an elusive, yet genuine entity within all of us:

“And for most, I suspect the Holy Grail is simply a grand idea… a glorious unattainable treasure that somehow even in today’s world of chaos, inspires us” (479).

And in choosing to “give up” this chase, in many ways, Langdon finally understood the most sacred secret of the Holy Grail.


Symbols and their meanings in my collage:

Books: The books symbolize Langdon’s extensive and acute knowledge on the history and lore of The Da Vinci Code; something that he frequently relies on to solve the mystery of the Holy Grail.

Reaching Hand: This symbolizes Langdon’s passion towards knowledge and absolute truth in this quest. This curiosity drives him beyond his concerns for his very livelihood.

The woman with red hair: This is Mary Magdalene, a pivotal character in the lore of The Da Vinci Code. In the novel, Mary Magdalene is told to be Jesus’ wife and bearer of their royal bloodline—the sacred feminine. And the Holy Grail itself is supposedly just a metaphor for her sarcophagus.

The Chalice: This is another major component of the lore, as it is the most common symbol for the Grail. In religious texts, the Holy Grail is often portrayed as the chalice containing Jesus’ blood when he was crucified.

Curtains + Faith: Finally, this is the symbol that I used to incorporate the theme into my piece, and unify all other components of the collage. While the truth of the Grail may be elusive or “curtained-off”, this need for “absolute knowledge” (books and reaching hand, reaching for the truth of the Chalice and Mary Magdalene) is eclipsed by the power of faith—the power of believing in an endless quest, so gloriously and beautifully unattainable.


Citations:

Brown, Dan. The Da Vinci Code. New York: Delacorte, 2016. Print.
The Spirit Blogger. Mary Magdalene. Digital image. Spirit Blogger. WordPress, n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2017.
Bloodborne. Pthumeru Chalice. Digital image. Bloodborne Wiki. N.p., 6 June 2015. Web. 25 Apr. 2017.
Ceyda_ttnc. Dark Blue Curtains. Digital image. Weheartit. Weheartit, n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2017.

Drums Along the Mohawk: How has the character developed or changed over a period of time?

Dear Mr. Schroeder,

The novel Drums Along the Mohawk tells the story of newlyweds Gilbert and Lana Martin and their experience throughout the American Revolution. Lana, having born in a palatine family, had grown up in endless comfort and riches. Making her completely alien to the landscape and people of the Mohawk Valley; Gil’s run-of-the-mill house is a poor sight to her eyes:
“It seemed to her utterly forlorn. Behind the cabin were the marks of Gil’s first struggle with the land: the stumps, half burnt, surrounded by corn of all heights, the most uneven patch she ever saw. All around the cabin the earth was bared to the rain and faster running into mud. Beyond was a low shed to shelter the horse and cow” (Edmonds 31). To adjust to her poor accommodations, Lana held onto anything that reminded her of her home. An example of which is the peacock feather that her mother had gifted her before she had left– a symbol of her old wealth and last ties to her family.

Though Lana learns to adjust to her new life on the farm, tending to the livestock while Gil leaves for the militia, her happiness is short-lived. With the Loyalist army setting their house ablaze, Lana and Gil are forced to leave their home. They move from shed to shed, trying their best to run away from the tailing army. Unfortunately, with all this struggle, Lana miscarries and falls into an unforgiving pit of sadness and guilt, leaving Gil completely helpless. But with Gil nearly dying, Lana learns to appreciate all that she has, especially her family. Slowly, she begins to heal. With the battles raging, Lana learns to become stronger, and slowly finds the happiness that she had lost before– holding on tight to all those dear to her. By the end of the novel, Lana, Gil, and their three children return to their cabin in the valley, incredibly grateful that they had survived through it all:
“‘We’ve got this place,’ she thought. ‘We’ve got the children. We’ve got each other. Nobody can take those things away. Not any more” (654).

Warmly,
Emma
 

Ringing Silence (American Revolution Journals)

http://snack.to/b7k5rmjh

This series of four narratives, collectively known as Ringing Silence, tells the story of a middle-aged loyalist merchant— Christian, during the American Revolution. He goes through drastic changes in the four turning points (separately described in each narrative): 1) Boston Massacre; 2) Battle of Lexington; 3) Declaration of Independence; 4) Treaty of Paris. And the question he asks himself changes from whether or not he still has faith for the empire, but if he can still live with what he has done.

Unarguably, the American Revolution is one of the most pivotal points in human history. Throughout the course of this revolution, due to the intense conflict of interest between the British and Colonists, ties between these two sides were almost completely severed (an example being the stop in trade), as opposed to their prior close relationship. Secondly, through the Declaration of Independence and publication of Common Sense, the colonies finally ratified their independence and created a strong sense of patriotism within the nation. Through this, people of the colonies became more tightly knitted than ever. However, slavery and discrimination (to Native Americans and African-Americans) still persisted long after the conclusion of the revolution.

American Revolution in Plain English: Reflection

 

Our group chose the turning points of the French-Indian War, New Economic Policy, Boston Tea Party, Intolerable Acts, First Continental Congress, Declaration of Independence, Siege of Yorktown, and the 1783 Treaty of Paris. In the process of creating the video, we first filmed the characters, while reading the script to make sure we were at least close to the actual pacing in the end. We later filmed the voice-over independently and edited it to fit with the actual visual clip.Our group was very cooperative and worked together very nicely. In the creation process, I took part in writing the script, creating and drawing the characters, and editing the film to match the audio with the visual clips.

 

Cowardice

Emma. L 8-3: Potemkin Narrative

 

It started off with the whispering on the deck of the Potemkin. I had kept my head down like always, when some of the crew had begun to complain to the officers, their disgust towards them was blatant.

 

This was especially true for Matyushenko, a burly man that always seemed to have a frown on his face. He seemed to be the center of attention in every conversation, always tossing out a phrase or two about how great the revolutionaries were. I hated it. Didn’t they know that the tsar would do anything to keep his power? Didn’t they know about all the lives lost on that dreadful Sunday months back? Fools! That’s what they were, bumbling idiots who knew nothing of what they had gotten themselves into.

 

And now here they were again, standing in front of the captain and his executive officer. One stood in the front, a man whose name had eluded me—though I had remembered that he was of humble upbringings, often bad at holding up a proper conversation.

“You call this soup?” he cronies boomed, I was shocked at the volume of his voice, “look at the worms swimmin’ in it, it’s no different from eating soil!” he threw down the bowl, a clanging sound echoed in the room. There was a deadly silence, the calm before the storm. Across from him, the officer’s neck was slowly turning red, his fists held so tight that they shook. Slowly, he tilted his head upwards, his teeth were clenched. In a sudden motion– too fast for the eyes to follow, he took out a gun and pulled the trigger. The shell of the bullet clattered on the floor, followed slowly by the wet thump of flesh.

 

The sound of gunshot rang in our ears. I was in shock, incapable to respond to what had just happened before my eyes. Matyushenko, fists clenched, smoke coming out of his ears, was the first to break the silence:

“How dare you!” he stomped, and suddenly turned to face the rest of the crew “We will not let the tyrant and his minions take away the life of another brother, capture that fiend!” his voice seemed to break the spell of silence that was casted upon the room. Everyone clambered up and charged towards the officer, who’s eyes were wide as saucers.

“Wait!” I shouted before I could comprehend what I was doing, glancing at the pleading eyes of the officer, “Surely we all know what the tsar would do if he finds out? This will only end badly for us.” The officer nodded pleadingly. Matyushenko turned his head slowly towards me, I gulped.

“I never took you as a sympathizer of the tsar, Nikiforov, but here you are, talking in favor of the tyrant who is no more than a child. What a pity.” He spat the last words.
“No I—“

“Either you choose our side or theirs, know that one feeds you to the sharks” he jerked his head, gesturing to the deep, dark waters below. “And the other, gives you a new world of justice and equality,” he raised his fist at that– as if it meant anything.

 

The others turned their gaze towards me as well, pinning me at the spot. Sighing, I hung my head, and I let him drop. I turned away from the splashing behind me, and the desperate cries of help. I had grown up knowing that I was a coward, what would it matter to anyone if I so much as spoke up? Then I kept my head down, like I always I did. And stayed that way even as I heard the sound of gunshot, ending the splashing behind me.

A Monster Calls Poem

There’s a monster in every one of us.
It eats away at the sane and the living,
It’s the truth.
And I’m not sure I can stand it any longer.

I’m invisible,
I’m lost,
I’m but a child,
Yet the truth I hold hurts me beyond what I can carry.

There’s a witch in the house,
Whose words are harsh,
And talons sharp.
And yet I’ve learned,
The witch is not of wrongdoing,
The future is but a speculation, verdict not.

Men are right if their mind is right,
When their beliefs well found,
Virtues well sought.
And yet I’ve learned,
Those who let go when the time is ripe,
Are also those who have nothing but cowardice.

I’m sick of being invisible,
Seen as nothing but a tragedy,
A broken boy with a sad story.
And yet I’ve learned,
That some things are worse than being unheard,
That the marks that last are worse than those that don’t.

I’m invisible,
I’m lost,
I’m but a child,
Yet I let go of the pain and the weight,
Because the truth is but a thought,
And what counts is the marks that we make,
Not the ones that we deem.

There’s a monster in every one of us.
It eats away at the sane and the living,
It’s the truth.
And I’ll stand it for the rest of time. 

 

~~~~~

Throughout the story, Connor develops a lot as a character, each of the major changes were checkpointed by the stories that the monster tells Connor. Verses 1, 2 and 3 all document the changes in perspective and thought that Connor takes on when the monster tells him the stories. I used an echo in the last two verses of the poem to show how Connor has changed overall.

In A Monster Calls, Connor’s main source of suffering is from the treatment his mother has to go through to cure her cancer. *Spoilers* For a very long time, Connor has been burdened with the weight of his own thoughts– that he wants his mother to pass so that their suffering could end (shown in verses 1 and 2). But as the monster tells him the stories and eventually possesses him for a short amount of time, Conor begins to accept each part of himself, as the monster says: “The answer is that it does not matter what you think, the monster said, because your mind will contradict itself a hundred times each day. You wanted her to go at the same time you were desperate for me to save her. Your mind will believe comforting lies while also knowing the painful truths that make those lies necessary. And your mind will punish you for believing both” (Ness 212). The novel ends with Connor finally being able to accept this truth, “And by doing so, he could finally let [his mother] go” (225). (Shown in the last two verses)