Illusion By Christina-The Young Elites Exposition Written Response

Some key terms:

Young Elites: Children (teenagers) who discovered that they have dangerous powers (some also bear marks) after the blood fever.

The Dagger Society: A secret group of Young Elites who seeks out others like them.

The Inquisition Axis: A group of people who works for the king to capture and kill the Young Elites.

Inquisitor: Member of the Inquisitor Axis, people who capture and kill malfettos.

For my exposition blog post task, I decided to analyze characterization in Marie Lu’s The Young Elites. The first chapter/exposition of the story is written in an before/after and now format. I decided to use that format as well because it also corresponds to my work. To analyze the character and connect aspects of her life to my own, I used the setting as a metaphor. I made up the story of the girl in the prison to do so, because in the first chapter of the book, the main character is in a cell, shivering and weak. I wanted to use this to tell my story. There is also the description of a storm to symbolize danger. These raindrops then create a flood, a sea, and I’m drowning in it. To analyze the exposition/, the reader also has to analyze my writing. Enjoy!

After: 

“I’m going to die tomorrow morning.”-Adelina Amouteru, The Young Elites, Marie Lu

 Iron bars surround her, steel shackles bounding her wrists tight. She sits straight in her prison cell, rocking back and forth, humming the old lullaby her mother used to sing. Her voice comes out cracked and hoarse, nothing like her mother’s sweet and delicate voice. She has been here for weeks, counting the number of times her meals come to keep track of the days, reality a blurred line that never seems to come into focus. Her matted silver hair conceals the broken side of her face, covering the scarred skin where her eye used to be. Her sliver lashes catch the fading sunlight at it filters through her cell, casting fragmented shadows at its wake. Her crooked ring finger rests awkwardly on the floor, one of the many marks her father had left her before he died was murdered. The disjointed whispers of her thoughts rise from the ground like ghosts, taunting her, screaming at her in silence: She is a murderer. A monster. An abomination. A bringer of evil. She is a malfetto. These whispers prod at her when she is at her weakest, banging on the iron that shields her heart, putting dents on its polished surface. The phantoms claw at her insides, leaving long trails of scratch marks on its already damaged surface. The ghosts leave an army of chants following her into every dark corner, stepping on her heels as she walks to the stake where she will be burned for all to see. The chains replace the shackles, tying her wrists and ankles together, the cell replaced by the noose around her neck. She reaches desperately in vain for the power deep inside that might save her, but even the taunting phantoms dance away, dissolving into thin air. The sun has finally set, the shadows replaced by darkness. There is nothing left, but how can there be nothing when there was nothing in the beginning? How can there be nothing when things were merely an illusion? She stands up in her cell, her hair gleaming under the moonlight, and takes tentative steps towards the iron bars. Her heart fills with excitement as the cell door wavers for an instant—an illusion threatening to collapse. She takes step after step towards the gate, reaching out to touch the rusted metal, expecting to feel coldness beneath her fingers, confirming the truth—but her hand passes through.

Malfetto: A survivor of the blood fever with hideous distinctive marks that separates them from the rest of society (p4).

*          *          *

In Marie Lu’s The Young Elites, the main character, Adelina Amouteru is a sixteen year- old girl, or a malfetto, an abomination, plagued with a deep, dark vengeance, a blackening hole in her heart. But she is also a survivor of the blood fever that swept over her nation, killing many and leaving the cursed behind. Most of the children who survived were left with strange markings, while others were rumored to possess dangerous powers. These people are known as the blight on society, the demons, the bringers of evil; The Young Elites (p7). Like many, Adelina was a culmination of the curse, her black hair and lashes turned silver, and an eye, lost (p4). After years of suffering her cruel father’s wraith, Adelina has finally snapped, deciding to escape her prison. Blinded by her hatred and hurt, she accidentally unleashed an illusion darkness that takes her father’s life. And the truth finally steps out from the shadows, seeing light for the very first time: Adelina is a Young Elite, with the power of creating illusions (p17), and a crazed vengeful blackness in her heart, the desire to destroy anyone who dares to cross her: “I felt a pang of guilt, even the sight of [Violetta, Adelina’s sister] sent a flash of resentment through my heart. Fool. Why should I have felt sorry for someone who had watched me suffer so many times before? (Adelina Amouteru (p11)”

The story begins when Adelina in captured, in a prison cell, a bleak place where all hope is gone. She has been here for weeks, and she knows this because “[I’ve] been counting the number of times [my] meals come(p1).” Until she stopped, because it is worthless anyway, especially when you are staring at the path to your own death. The Inquisitors tell her that she is going to die tomorrow morning, that a crowd has already begun to gather outside, waiting for evil to be burned into nothing but smoke and ashes.

Adelina describes her time in the prison as “..an endless train of nothingness, filled with different slants of light and the shiver of cold, wet stone, the pieces of [my] sanity, and disjointed whispers of my thoughts (p1)”. Adelina then attempts to hum the lullaby her mother used to sing, the lullaby that is her touchstone, her keepsake, the only thing she has left of her mother, but her voice comes out hoarse and cracked (p2). This image the author paints shows how devoid of life it is in this cell, how the faintest rays of sunlight struggle to strain through the bars and into the prison, casting fragmented shadows on the cold floor. The lullaby that used to hold such love and nostalgia, now just sounding wrong and horrifying. How did she end up here? What was the atrocious story behind the ultimate defeat? A freakish girl cowering helplessly behind the bars, an audience of hungry villagers eager to see evil diminished. This is the result of what happened before, before captivity. And it all started on a stormy night at the monster’s father’s villa.

Before:

Raindrops sliced through the air like daggers falling from the sky, burrowing itself into the rooftops, or clattering onto the ground. Thunder is a light streak across the sky, a bolt of rage and fury striking at the clouds, but passing through and hitting the horizon instead.

Deep inside of her, the darkness uncoils itself from the iron of her heart and prepares to let go, tonight.

*          *          *

It starts with a storm. Knives are falling from the sky, plummeting through the atmosphere and stabbing into other people’s houses, slicing through the bubble of warmth, disrupting the safe haven of laughter and love, or the prison of hatred and abuse.

The daggers pose as a metaphor, how the raindrops, something so innocent and harmless at first glance, can actually be the poison worming its way into someone’s life, like how too many raindrops can easily turn into a flood, washing away countless of lives, dumping them into the sea, already forgotten.

As the daggers plummet down, one blade with a jeweled handle catches the locks and shatters it, a million pieces of glinting metal bouncing off of the street and into the drains, washing away into the ocean, already forgotten.

Already forgotten, or so she wishes.

We can never forget the things we want to stay buried. The lock that prevented her from escaping can never be completely forgotten, since it will always be the monster under her bed, a ghost in the shadows, waiting to step out and haunt her at night.

“[My] father’s ghost keeps me company. (Adelina Amouteru p22)”. Every time she wakes up from a feverish dream, she sees him standing in the corner of her cell, taunting her, “You tried to escape from me, but I found you. You have lost and I have won (p22).” Adelina’s father has tortured her ever since she was a little girl; the guard outside of her cell, dangling the key just out of her grasp. Now, after he is dead, his ghost is still with Adelina, telling her that she has failed, that she will always be nothing, left to rot in the dungeon. She tries to forget about him, force his death away, bury it in the darkest corner of the universe. But it never goes away, a ghost in the shadows, coming out to taunt you when you are at your weakest. Loneliness is the invisible friend standing beside you in every picture, reminding you that you are always alone.

Adelina has the gift of illusions, so what if the ghost is one too? Adelina sees so much of her worst self in her father, “Me, me, me. Perhaps I am as selfish as my father (p22),” So maybe the ghost is actually Adelina’s conscience, herself telling herself that she is worthless, that she is trapped. Adelina thinks herself as a monster, and she tries to be worth it, to be the daughter that she isn’t. Every day, I stay after school until the security guard forces me to leave. People think I’m crazy working so hard and staying after school to finish my homework. What they don’t know is that I have a voice in my head beating myself up because I’m not good enough, that I have to push myself to my absolute limit to succeed. I have a voice in my head telling me every day that I am a failure, that I do not deserve to live in this world. So every day, I have to prove myself wrong. These whispers bang on the iron wall I put up, shielding my heart from the pain of my own words. They knock on every door in the hallway, never giving up until they strike true. Why do we have to be so cruel to ourselves? Why do we have to be so insecure? Why can’t we just embrace who we are without society’s consent?

“Let me reassure you: When [we] find these demons, we bring them to justice, evil must be punished. The inquisition is here to protect you. Let this be a warning to you all (p29).” This is what the inquisitors say. They want peace and prosperity, to get rid of the “monsters”. Perhaps in their eyes, they are the heroes, the civilians cheering tricked by society. But what they don’t know is, society is made out of smoke and mirrors, the genius deemed as insane. The ones who speak up are the ones killed. Every day we tell ourselves they are the monsters; the ones who are different, the ones who can wake up and speak their dreams, but never once do we doubt ourselves, that maybe we are the monsters. “As always, I made sure my hair covered my scar (p5).” Like Adelina, I create a quintessential façade to cover up my flaws, or maybe my gifts. Some people see a gift as a flaw, a genius as insane, a survivor as a monster.

Stored in the depths of the universe is a key that can unlock the prison she has been in for so long. And the daggers have fallen from the sky, rescuing her, whisking her away where she will be accepted for who she is, but she has to go through the wrath of the people first, a battle through a sea of hypnotized civilians. And when they see her silver hair, her missing eye, they lock her up and throw her in the dungeon. So who’s the monster?

Because Adelina is a malfetto, she is naturally unwanted. Different. Disgusting: “She’s a malfetto,” says the man, “No one will care,”(p10).” “I don’t want to be seen doing business with a malfetto family (p10),” “…little abomination…(p10)”, “No one wants a malfetto bearing children (p11).” This is in her world. In our world, many people look down on people who have disabilities. Because they look different. People might think that they bring bad luck and that they are disgusting. In school, if you are different, no one will want to be friends with you. You are weird, the nerd, the loser. On page 20, a kind women gave Adelina food and shelter when she was crumpled and broken, on the run away from her past. However, after Adelina fell asleep unconscious, she found out that the woman had turned her into the Inquisition Axis and she is to be burned because society doesn’t accept people like her, monsters like her, demons who belong in the underworld. Not too long ago, I realized almost half of my friends were only friends with me because I can “help” them with their homework they wanted to use me, so they can copy my work and get away with it. They think I’m too nice, too afraid to say no, too dumb to see beyond their lies, doesn’t that naturally make me their target? Because I write a lot. Because they think I write nonsense. Because I’d rather read than be social. Because I work too so hard. Even as I know the truth, I am too scared to act upon it. Because I can’t afford to lose the only people I have. I put up an iron wall that distances myself from others in return for protection.

This summer, I lost one of my cats, Kiki. He was everything to me, my best friend, the only person who believed in me when others did not, who listened when others did not. He used to follow me everywhere, jump up beside me on the couch. Right now, as I am writing this, his absence is a big, bottomless pit in my heart. I miss the smelly puss that drips out of his mouth, leaving stains everywhere. I miss his steady breathing, reminding me that he is still alive, the purring that comforts me. Now, the couch is clean, free of the smelly stains and the tangled bits of fur—the last pieces of him gone, already forgotten by the people who used to make fun of him, how he is ugly, how he is a waste for food, a sick cat better off dead. I used to tell him he was beautiful every single day, how he deserves the gift of life every day. But now I can’t. I can’t whisper these words to him ever again, hoping one day other people will realize that. See the beauty hidden beyond the surface. But people start judging others before they even know them. Sometimes, waves of emotion carry me on the ocean, the only thing keeping me afloat, but then slamming me back to July 21st, the day he died. Pain can be the invisible hand on your back, pushing you forward or holding you back, bounding your ankles and wrists tight as you struggle to swim, letting go at the last minute so you won’t die, only to plunge you back under again. Again. Again.

Sometimes I wonder when I will break. When I will finally snap. When I can finally let go. I can only wait. Wait in this prison I made myself. I close my eyes and close the lid to my coffin, waiting for the inevitable, truly alone. The ghosts in the shadows wait, the whispers in my mind grow. I roam in the hallways, the whispers following me, knocking on every door. A door opens, and water crashes in, flooding the hallway. I’m swept up in the chaos, opening my mouth in a silent scream. The water is salty, filling my insides and choking me with it. It pushes and pulls, dragging me under. I sink to the bottom of the ocean.

Now:

The girl cowers in the corner of her cell. The fragmented rays of sunlight hit her silver hair, creating an illusion of shifting colors. The silver turns black, the marred skin turning smooth as marble; a freak into a beauty. The human body isn’t perfect, no human heart is without its scars, no human mind free of darkness. There are two sides to everything. A villager chanting in the crowds for her to be burned could also be a loving mother, an inquisitor who kills and tortures children’s with marks could also be a struggling father at home, a malfetto could just be a child, afraid of the powers she possesses. “One does not walk in the forest and accuse the trees of being off-center, nor do they visit the shore and call the waves imperfect. So why do we look at ourselves this way?” -Tao Te Ching.

The girl looks up from her crouch and sees a dagger, the jeweled hilt and the viciously sharp metal glinting under the fading sun. But what catches her breath isn’t the weapon, but her reflection. Where did her silver hair go? Why does she now have two eyes? Why is she me?

Me.

Me. The girl who is still trying to cover up the raw wound on her heart, the scars inside of her bruised mind. Me. The girl who puts iron walls around herself because she is afraid of being hurt. Me. The girl who is different, who was used and then cast aside, nothing but a spare pawn in someone else’s game.

It took me ten years to realize the truth, that we are all helplessly trapped behind iron bars, walking in circles or shrinking away. But why? Why are we so afraid even when fear is an illusion? When that voice in your head is not really there at all?

Life is set in a prison hidden by an illusion. And it depends on how you use your time in that prison that makes your life interesting. You can either plan on escaping, to muster up the courage and stick your hand you cellmates, or you can cower in the corner, haunted by the shadows and the voices in your head, putting up barriers between you and the real world, trapping yourself inside, putting the last nail in your own coffin, waiting to rot, alone.

I raise the hammer over my head, ready to put in the last nail in my coffin, but a tiny sliver of me is doubting my decision, the whispers telling me to say goodbye to the outside world one last time. I set the hammer down, and walk towards to bars. Beyond it, the future is not set, the shining surface ripples with uncertainty. Bubbles swirl in the water, waves crash into each other above. Humans are just a bubble on the tide of life. On the bottom of the ocean, tiny sparks of sliver join together. The pieces of metal stick together, and piece by piece. Laying on the bottom of the ocean is a lock. The lock that kept me in this cage for so long. It reminds me of the pain I’ve been through. The life I want to escape. Is my future merely more prisons and shadows? More lies and riddles? This is why I have to set the last nail in. I walk back to my hammer, a decision made, my fate sealed. But I find a key instead. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, the delicacy of the molded metal, the uneven edges that is freedom. White light shines behind me, beckoning me to it. I walk towards it, reaching out to touch it, but my hand hits the iron bars, and then goes through.

*          *          *

Fear fuels the darkest of lies.

“They think they can keep me out, but it does not matter how many locks they hang at the entrance. There is always another door.”-Marie Lu, The Young Elites

“I’m going to die tomorrow morning.”-Adelina Amouteru

I’m going to live tonight.

Am I a Humanist?

PDF: Am I an Humanist? Infographic Am I an Humanist? Infographic

Checkmate by Christina-The Monkey’s Paw by William W. Jacobs Found Poem

PDF link: The Monkey’s Paw-Found Poem Theme

Full Poem:

A         talisman

That     could   make

Three wishes

Three wishes

Three wishes

Come true       ?

 

Wish that you were an emperor

Rich

Famous

And happy

Wish

 

Is         it          magic?

 

Warn you of the consequences,

Wish for something reasonable,

Threw it in the fire,

Better let it burn

Because

Fate ruled people’s lives

Don’t   make    a          mistake

Mistake

Mistake

 

Chess is         a foolish and wicked game…

 

A house               of shadow and silence

Can’t               lift the intolerable weight from their old hearts

 

Groping wildly           in the darkness

For the             candle-flame

 

trapped

 

The      flame   burned low, threw pulsating shadows

On the ceiling and walls,        until it went out.

The dirty, twisted, dried-up thing

Groped him

Trembling,

Chilled to the bone

Trapped.

 

A

Ticking of the clock

Silent and depressed

A stair creaked

The darkness was oppressive

So        he

Lit a match

But      the matches fell from his hand

Downstairs in the darkness

Trapped.

 

A loud knock at the door

Shut     the door

before

The thing outside got in

alive     and      possessed

but

The door was slowly pulled open,

A cold wind rushed up

Foolish and wicked

And     it

Broke free and ran

Escape.

The      gate shut loudly.

 

Fate ruled people’s lives

No       …        escape.

 

A         war      between           flame   and      darkness.

 

Chess is         a foolish and wicked game…

Checkmate.

 

This is my found poem for the theme of William W. Jacobs “The Monkey’s Paw”.

The story begins with an ordinary family cozying besides the fire while the outside was cold and wet. The father, Mr. White, and his son, Herbert, were playing a chess game. The father realized that he had made a serious mistake, perhaps by taking a risky choice, and lost the game. Later on in the story, Mr. White takes another unnecessary risk and paid greatly in return. If you make a risky choice in chess, you might lose, like Mr. White. This is like how those who take unnecessary risks in life will die, or suffer from a great loss. In the story, Mr. White played a daring game twice, the first time losing to his son and the second losing to the monkey’s paw.

There is always a message an author tries to give a reader, this is known as the theme. The theme of this story is mostly summarized by this quote from the story: “Fate ruled people’s lives, and that to interfere with fate only caused deep sadness.” –William W. Jacobs, “The Monkey’s Paw.” Interfering with fate, especially when driven by greed, leads to tragedy. It is stupid to interfere with what is already set. Like Fate. The die is already cast, the last chess piece already set.

I decided to make my found poem the old fashioned way, using pencils, paint, glue, and cut-out pieces of the original story. There is a chessboard with gold chess-pieces on it and a half melted candle at the bottom center of the page. The candle is to show how one single flame could light up the darkness, but the light is only temporary. Soon, the candle will melt completely, and the flame will disappear, leaving wispy tendrils at it’s wake. In the story, the first line is: “Outside, the night was cold and wet but a fire burned brightly in the small living room.” Inside the White’s house, it is warm and cozy, contrasting to the outside, which is cold and wet. Their house is the flame in the darkness, but will it be for long?

The underlying metaphor of the story has to deal with a risky chess game, so I decided to incorporate that idea into my poem and artwork. The chess-pieces are gold because gold is the color of wealth, of the superior. The thing with fate is that we don’t get to decide anything, which naturally makes it our superior. The chess-pieces are already set, the die already cast, all by something far greater than the human mind could think of. There is a door on my background too, a door that opens to darkness, to a oblivion of possibilities. Darkness surrounds it, tendrils of it obscuring light, covering the words that make up a story, a warning. Its as if it is alive, not wanting prying eyes to see the truth, to see the warning. But light can still find its way through even the darkest times. Slivers of golden light slice through, bringing the truth to the light, but is it a illusion?

“Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.” – Erich Fromm. Greed or intense desire often leads to unfulfilled expectations or unintended consequences. Making one seemingly harmless wish only intensifies the want for more as each following wish becomes more and more outlandish. Like how Mrs. White jumps to the conclusion that the monkey’s paw has unlimited power after receiving two hundred pounds. She forces Mr. White to wish back Herbert, which is a way more serious wish than the first.

In my found poem, I introduced the concept of greed through the monkey’s paw, which is a magical talisman that can grant three wishes for three different men. Throughout my poem, and throughout the story, the number three appears frequently, perhaps because, in western culture, three is an unlucky number. The question at the end of the stanza suggests that the person (Mr. White, in this case) is skeptical and doubts the magical ability of the paw. The next stanza shows that the person who just doubted the paw is now fantasizing about what he wants and what he might wish. Wish, in the end, is enlarged because man’s conscience is telling him to wish, no matter what, because it might not come true anyways, so why not? And besides, magic is not real. However, there is always that tiny sliver of a man that is overcome by curiosity, who thinks, if my wish really came true, is it magic?

Mankind is plagued by greed. If granted three wishes, most would wish for money, fame or power. They would dabble with their fate not thinking of the deadly consequences but the bigger house they will live in. The monkey’s paw is a symbol of greed, lust. It gives everything it owner could possibly wish for and the unrestricted ability to make it happen. This power makes it tempting, almost alluring, to even the most unselfish people.This is a modified quote from a book I recently finished: “[People] think they are wielding the power, but really power is wielding them. The parasite believes itself to be the host.” –Turtles All the Way Down, John Green.  I think it really fits with the idea of human greed, and our lust for power. Power is really using us as the pawns on their own chess game.

The next stanza is of a much larger force, telling the person NOT to wish. In the person’s mind, this force may be thought of as a conscience, or a demon standing in the way of happiness, or money, fame, and power. Once upon a time, a force much larger than us threw the talisman in the fire. Better let it burn, it thought, because fate ruled people’s lives. Something as powerful as a wish can alter history, destroy mankind. But perhaps in the future, could we change that? Find a person who would use those wishes for good? To be that candle-flame in the darkness, that tiniest sliver of light in the velvety night… But greed, oh greed. Why do you always have to be present? Why do you always have to be a blight on society? Dear future people, don’t make a mistake. Mistake. Mistake. Be warned of the consequences.

If a traumatized divorcee desperate for a life and family and a homeless teen were put in a room together, and only one can get out alive to receive the reward of 500 thousand dollars, imagine what the two would do to each other. If ten people were put in a room, and only one can get out to receive the 500 thousand dollars, how many people would be left in that room at the end? Now rethink the scenarios if the reward was three wishes. Three unrestricted wishes. What would the winner’s first wish be? Remember, these people are man, not literary heroes whose motivation is to make the world a better place. Now think if it was the whole world participating in this competition. To what extent would man go to get those wishes? To be a billionaire without any hard work, to be immortal without time and science, or for some people, to just be happy… But what are the consequences? How many lives will be lost? How many rivers of blood will wash away into the ocean? All this for a wish. An unnecessary and risky mistake. Mr. White had everything he has ever wanted, he even said so himself, ‘…It seems to me that I’ve got everything I want.” But curiosity, or perhaps greed, got the better of him. Two hundred pounds may not seem a lot, and like what Mrs. White said, “…how could two hundred pounds hurt [us]?” Well, here is the thing about wealth: it could creep up to you when you least expect it, be the invisible support beam that carries your weight, or an unseen hand on your shoulder…It will make you feel amazing, bring you up but only to yank you back down again. It would hurt us, use us, destroy us in ways we don’t even know… It puts a huge dent in society, is the huge wrench that forces two sides apart, separates people who bleed the same color blood, pushing a father away from his wife and children. The madness of wealth. People think it is happiness, that spending it will solve all your problems, but all along money is the one spending you—But only if you worship it. People serve whatever or whoever they worship. Be careful what you wish for, for it just might come true. What would happen if one person wished for immortality? How would that alter our future, more importantly, the fate of mankind?

A wish. A simple wish—a deadly mistake. The house that was once filled to the brim with a fire so bright and burning, now a house of shadow and silence. The weight of the mistake, the simple wish for two hundred pounds, crushes him (or the old couple in this story), grinds him into shreds. After all this, he is still searching, groping widely in the darkness for the candle-flame. Man are such blind creatures, looking for light in the darkest of nights, looking for air in the deepest part of the ocean. But after days of crawling in the weight of the shadow, he only hits wall after wall. Trapped, in a cage he made for himself. But then there is the smallest candle stub laying on the floor. A flame is kindled, burning low, throwing pulsating shadows on the ceiling and walls…until it went out. This is the faintest spark of hope life has to offer before darkness reigns. The dirty, twisted, dried-up thing, the demon, groped him while he trembled, chilled to the bone. Trapped. Poked at him when he was the weakest. What is it? The thing hiding behind the curtains of darkness. Is it regret? Or is it fear? Whatever it is, it had just strengthened the walls, and locked the door thrice…

The clock is ticking, slicing through the blanket of the deep silence; The first disturbance. A stair creaked. The second disturbance. Tick tock tick tock, where was the third? Suddenly, matches appeared in front of him, so he hurriedly lit a match, but the matches fell from his hand, and spiraled downstairs into the darkness. He is left alone, the only chance plummeting into the oppressive darkness. Trapped, once again, for the third time.

The reoccurrence of false hope doesn’t end here, because then, there is a loud knock at the door. This time, he has learned his lesson, like how Mr. White refused to let the thing outside in after he made his second wish, and attempted to shut the door before the thing outside got in, alive and possessed by the demon. However, the world is not fair. It is not a happy place where things run on its course. We are trains, and we are crashing and burning, flying over the cliff and plummeting down into the ocean. The door was slowly pulled open. A cold wind rushed up, harsh and foolish and wicked, it’s cold presence pushing him down, breaking free and running around, giggling. Free. He looks up, confused, only to see the door swinging wide open, a faint trickle of light illuminating the darkness, a chance to escape? Escape. The blurred lines of reality sharpening into focus. Escape. He pushed himself up with all his might, but then the gate shut loudly, and he is trapped with the demon. With his own mistake. Fate rules people’s lives. There is no chance at escaping when you are trapped in the prison you built yourself, when you are bound tight with regret. On the other side of the door, the streetlamp shone flickeringly on a quiet and deserted road.

Life is a war between flame and darkness. To be trapped or to find freedom in the small things life offers us. Humans are such blind creatures; how can we not see the fire when it is right in front of us? Maybe we need to stop blaming the demon who we claim are inside of us, the demon who is the parasite leeching onto its host, and start accepting the truth; we are the demon. The parasite believes itself to be the host.

The die is already cast. But is it possible to shake the table to which upon it lands?

Can we pick our endings? Our own beginnings? Maybe we don’t get to choose what’s in the picture, but do we get to pick the frame?

Reality isn’t fair. Our fate is decided for us. Chess is a foolish and wicked game.

A much greater force has put us on a path. To success or death? We don’t know. But to change it is to put mankind at risk. To change your own fate is to jeopardize your family and friends, or even yourself. The Whites were destined the live the life they have, but they had decided to dabble with their fate, resulting in failure. We cannot deny that there are beings who know more than us, who can decide when we die. No matter what, we cannot change the fact that we are the pawns of a much larger game. Here is a modified quote from a book I recently finished: “How arrogant is man…to think he can know everything about the universe while stuck to the surface of a tiny planet in a remote region of the galaxy?”-Marcus Sedgwick, The Ghosts of Heaven.

Each day, or each year, or every five years; we really don’t know, could be another step forward on that chessboard. And it is only until one game is over that we can start another one. But there will always be a winner. And winners are only winners when there is a loser. When we walk to the end of our story, there could be another waiting for us. Or a blinding white light. The thing is, it is not our choice, because fate rules our lives, for it is not the king on the chessboard, nor just a player, but the winner.

Checkmate.

I? By Christina-About Me Poem

I.

I?

I: project a quintessential façade,

Hide?

A diligent mind:

Unorthodox thoughts

unshackled,

soaring high,

“nonsense” glimpsing light.

Hands destroying bringing alive:

a story,

a sculpture,

ingredients in a bowl—

a dream–
my dream

Come true.
I.

Word choice:

Façade (n):An maintained appearance to conceal/cover a less pleasant reality/truth. This word is often associated with masks, or layers to conceal one’s true identity. I love the mask metaphor, and I use it all the time. Like most people, I project a façade (or wear a mask) to hide the truth or the less pleasant part of me. Unlike others, my façade is not “cool” but one of the “perfect” student.

Diligent (adj):To show care, meticulousness, and conscientiousness to one’s work or duties. I choose this word because I think it shows what kind of person I am. I, being conscientious and hardworking, paying exceptional detail to my work.

Unorthodox (adj): Opposite to what is usual, traditional, or accepted; not orthodox.I, sometimes think a bit differently, unlike many people I know. I was always afraid of speaking those thoughts, afraid of being judged. But I’ve learned to set free those ideas, even though people think it’s nonsense or that I’m just a little bit crazy.

Poem Explanation:

The first word of the poem is I. This means how, when first introduced to the idea of describing myself and who I am, I didn’t know what to say. It shows how I’m hesitating. The second word is I? This shows how I don’t exactly know who I am (yet), and maybe just a tad insecure. The first line shows how I have finally decided to give it a go, and the first things I say is also who people see me as, except it’s just a mask. Then I say, Hide? because I don’t know why I put up a façade of the perfect student, perhaps to hide who I am because people won’t understand? The next thing I say is about my diligent mind, which also harbors Unorthodox thoughts, which I let free. These thoughts are also thriving and soaring high, what used to be “nonsense” now brought to the light.  However, the things I want to say has only had a glimpse of the stage, never able to bathe in the spotlight for too long. This means how my thoughts had never has a chance (yet) to see light–and stay there. After that, I originally want to say my hands destroy(in order to make something new) but then remembering to think positively I cross out and write the opposite; my hands creating/bringing life to objects instead. The things I create (my passions/hobbies) are words strung into sentences and then stories, sculptures and artwork (book art and abstract sculptures), and from the ingredients in a bowl to desserts and sweets. And all of this (my hobbies/passions) is my dream, come true. At the end, I go back and say I. but this time, I don’t question myself, I say I. surely, with more confidence, because this the first step to revealing who I am, to peeling back the mask. And every action is a step towards absolute liberation.

Dot.Me Poster- One Hundred Billion Stars

PDF link: A billion stars

One Day 2018-Caged Heart

Caged Heart

On One Day, I made a beautiful cage surrounding a girl and her fantasies. Everything I make comes from my heart. My artwork is a visual display of my emotions, and what I think the world has become.

“Caged Heart” represents how we are often deceived by our surroundings, all masked as the fantasies we desire. Our hearts are wrapped in an indestructible steel cage. But, that cage that limits us to do great things, to think with a kind heart, is disguised as something beautiful, something that will offer us money, offer us happiness.

The majority of us is bought into thinking that happiness is money, that happiness could be bought. Happiness is not the new Chanel bag you got or the new Mercedes-Benz your dad bought you…Happiness is something offered by life, something everybody deserves to have.

Happiness, or what seems like happiness is addictive. You want that feeling so much that once is not enough. Soon, you start demanding more. And when you don’t it, you start throwing a tantrum, because you long the feeling of joy, of that like feeling in your heart when you see what new things your parents have bought you.

The cage around the girl and her fantasies is laced with gold, with light, delicate butterflies perfectly positioned on the hideous metal is what hides the ugly truth.

The girl in the cage is peppered with expensive jewels, with designer tutus, with more and more dresses, jewels in her daydream…But she is not free, she is not truly, utterly, happy.

Her money get her tutors to make her smarter. Her money buys her dresses that make her for once, beautiful. Her makeup hides the repulsive mess her face is. At the end of the day, she has to take off her designer clothes, her expensive makeup, she has to make her head rest of the useless knowledge that will get her nothing but good grades than a good college, then a good, successful, happy, life; and face what she is–a worthless, spoiled, miserable child with nothing but a sad, caged heart.

People’s longing for happiness has made them greedy, has made them green with envy. But, once upon a time, everybody cared. Everybody had real emotions, everybody had experienced real, true happiness. True happiness is this raw feeling that you never know, never feel, until you experience it.

I hope “Caged Heart” changed the way people view things the way people see things. I hope “Caged Heart” will unlock the happiness that everybody has in their heart, and make them realize what they’ve been missing out on in the world.

Process:

Making of cage

Girl

Butterflies

End Product

Carve the Mark-Reading Reflection

Carve the Mark is about Cyra and Akos, and their exhilarating survival in the galaxy. Akos is thrown into Cyra’s world. Cyra and Akos, so different, yet all the same. The yin and the yang; one born to cause pain, and one able to cancel out her pain. They will either destroy each other or help each other survive in the vast, unfathomable galaxy.

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant, Ryzek who rules the Shotet people. Her currentgift causes her to inflict pain on whoever she comes in contact with. But, Cyra is much more than the blade wielded by her brother–she’s human too. Then Akos comes into her life. And he opens her eyes to realize the truth. Join Cyra on her painful journey through the galaxy, where she finds love, hope, and justice.

Akos is the son of the Oracle in Thuve. One day, Akos and his brother, Eijeh are thrust into Cyra’s world without warning, captured by Shotet soldiers. Ryzek manipulates Eijeh with his memories so he’ll be Ryzek’s loyal oracle. Everybody says Eijeh is beyond saving, but Akos is determined to save his brother; no matter what. But then there’s Cyra– a beautiful young woman whose life is destined for pain. Akos doesn’t expect it, but he finds himself falling for her, her. Her whose brother had tortured his brother, who had inflicted pain on so many people… But still, Cyra, because she’s more than Ryzek’s ruthless scourge.

Once engrossed in Cyra and Akos’s world, I was swept up by the electrifying current pulsing through the galaxy, and witness the impending journey of two shooting stars destined to collide, where the diamonds of thousand moons and of thousand dreams rest in the comforting home of darkness.

I really liked this book, I finished it in one sitting. Carve the Mark was the perfect blend of adventure and romance.  I really could relate to the characters; Cyra being threatened and controlled while she is too afraid to stand up for herself. Akos’s need to rescue his brother. But most importantly, Cyra’s pain that she constantly feels. Everybody has pain somewhere deep within themselves– people sometimes are just too afraid to admit it. Also, the monster Cyra is labeled. Everyone has a little monster in them. But we are just too afraid to embrace it because avoiding it is much easier. Sometimes, we let the monster out—but we don’t mean it. Making one tiny mistake in your life could get you to be branded as a horrible person. But, one action alone is never enough to determine who a person is.

There are also some parts of the book that are not as good. For instance, this book is extremely slow-paced. The action was way too little! Also, in my opinion, the ending wasn’t complete. It felt as if it ended the middle of a chapter. After reading the book, it left me with tons of questions, so I NEEDED a second book to answer them for me. Unfortunately, the second book doesn’t come out until April.

My OCHA Profile for the Phoenix Project

Full Writing Below:

A low, distinct rumble cut through my warm cocoon of reassuring darkness and soft blankets. I jolted up, awake. I shook my husband, John up. I could see the worry; the fear that builds up in his eyes. He opened his mouth to ask what’s wrong, but before the words came out, a harsh jerk of the earth silenced him. Our eyes met. A form of understanding passes through us; an earthquake. Together, we ran to our daughter’s rooms to wake them up, both not daring to leave each other’s side. With my daughter Daisy in my arms, Lily running behind me, with John, Poppy, and Rose close behind, we ran out to the street. All around us, there were hysterical villagers screaming, their faces tinted with raw anxiety and terror. The shaking was jaw-rattling now, it was hard to stand up, let alone run. Confusion mixed with panic whirl in my mind. My heart was beating so fast it hurts, thundering in my rib-cage, waiting to get free. Tears stung my eyes. I couldn’t think straight, I could only clutch Daisy tighter to my chest and pray for everything to be okay.

We ran and we ran, totally forgetting about our car. We passed my shop, my dear, dear shop. It was in ruins: the front banner ripped into pieces, the glass windows shattered like my heart. I saw my favorite sewing machine from my great-grandmother completely destroyed, the intricate designs of a caterpillar, entering its chrysalis, then breaking out into a beautiful, gorgeous, butterfly all into pieces of nothing. I could picture the nights when I was hunched over my sewing machine, creating my dream little by little, piece by piece, stitch by stitch. The nostalgic pain stabs me from within. I feel like I’m drowning in a sea withering with turmoil, each speck of hope flickering away like fire fading to embers and finally, softly, darkly, going cold. Big chunks of agitation block my way when I try to claw out of the never-ending abyss. I reach out for the light that dots the sky. But no matter how hard I try, I’m pulled back into the dark chasm.

I want to let it all out so badly it hurts like a million bees had stung the inside of my body. I want to snuggle in with John, the soft candlelight flickering by our side. I want to tell the story of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” to my lovely daughters, Rose, Lily, Poppy and Daisy safely in my grasp. Suddenly, a building from behind crashes onto my shop. Dust and debris exploded out, like a million pieces of my life, my passion, all broken up, and then falling onto us like rain, drenching us with misery until we’re soaked. I cover Daisy with my body, hug Lily close, and stand by John. I want to cry and cry. The only thing in my mind was to bring those I love to safety; they deserve to be happy, to move on. Rose deserves to go to college and get her Master’s Degree in engineering, then live out her dream to be an engineer. Lily deserves to finish high school and live out her dream to become a cross-country runner; I will not let her put all these years of training behind because of this disaster.

A big crack about 7ft wide appear underneath our feet; we have no choice but to separate on different sides. I look at John, then at Rose and Poppy. Tears well in my eyes as they shout, “We love you, Mommy!” “Don’t cry,” I remember telling myself, “you have to be strong for the family.” I took and deep breath and shouted, “Mommy loves you too!” I glance back at John once, and an invisible link bonds us together. “Don’t worry,” John said, “meet me at the park we used to go to,” “Ok,” I told him, “Be careful,” he added “I love you,” I smiled meekly, “love you too,”. I took a deep breath, “Come on Lily,” I held on to her hand, not daring to let go, and willed myself away from the other half of my family, hoping that everything will be okay.

I arrived at the park John and I used to visit with baby Rose. It was a two-hour drive from our house to the park. The earthquake had stopped, but the traces of disaster were now as clear as ever. Remnants of homes were scattered around like pieces of a mirror, each piece reminding us of the things we lost. I collapsed onto the dirt, exhausted, hugging my dears close to my heart. We lay there for a few hours, thinking of what happened during the day. We were all so traumatized that we forgot we were lying on dirt, we forgot that we are still in our pajamas, barefoot, with dust and sweat coating our skin. I focused on the mountains in the distance. The rocks and slopes were sliced off the mountains like a sculptor getting rid of the extra, unwanted clay. The continuous throb of pain buzzes in my right leg. A big bloody gash 5 inches long, an inch thick was plastered on my knee. I was dizzy, my brain turned into mush. I couldn’t think straight; I was in shock. Earlier today, it was just a normal Sunday morning where everyone got to sleep in, and now? That dream has slowly warped into reality. I guess Lily was in extreme pain too; she had a tree branch sticking out of her foot; I can’t even imagine how painful that could be. Her big eyes were opened wide like two marbles staring vacantly at the disaster. I wish desperately, achingly that this never happened. How many families were destroyed because of this!? I was worried out of my mind, John still isn’t here yet. Where could he possibly be? And how about Rose and Poppy? Are they alive and well? Questions pound in my head, waiting to be answered by three figures appearing out of the horizon.

Footsteps startled me from behind. I gently slip from Lily and Daisy’s grasps, careful not to wake them up. I turned around slowly and found a tall, muscled man looking back at me with kind eyes. I spotted an OCHA badge on his chest and instantly I let down my guard. “Thank goodness,” I said, I felt so blessed that an International Relocation Organization officer found me and my daughters that I burst into tears. The man smiled, “I’m happy to help,” He pointed towards the trees that create a border around the park, “on the other side of those trees, there’s the Rescue Copter to bring you to the refugee camp, there will be other officers that are looking for survivors in this area,” He looked at Lily and Daisy on the ground, “I can help you with them,” “Thank you,” I said, “can you also tell the other officers that if they find a middle-aged man with two children that his wife and children are safe?” I said, lulling myself into the illusion that John, Rose, and Poppy may still be alive. “Of course, he replied,” He gently picked Lily up, “let’s go,”.

 

Science- Good-bye flowers!

Before

Before

Today in science class, we went outside to the garden to take a picture of our square. Then, we cleaned up (pull out weed and cleared the space from snails) our space, I also pulled the whole cosmo plant out.

After

Lit Circle Reading Agreements

Lit Circle Reading Agreements

Here are the agreements my Lit Circle group and I have made. I agree with them.

  • Respectful to group: listen to them when they’re speaking with respectful body language.
  • Participate in group conversation.
  • No insults and no bad ideas (never put down other people’s ideas when you think it’s wrong).