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Score 5 on AP Lit 

"She did score 5 on her AP Lit, so I think the training that you had instill on her helped!"


-Mother of a Dual BA Major at UC Berkeley and Sciences Po Paris, May 2020

Regular And Special Needs English 

 Tutoring: 

Middle School to College Level

(Writing & Reading)

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White Branch
I have well over a decade of experience teaching English to a wide range of students from middle school to college level, as well as bilingual adult learners. My formal teaching experience includes teaching reading comprehension, literary analysis, and writing for high school and college-level students (including AP-level).  I value the individual strengths that each student brings to the table and work with all learners to help them find personal and academic success. 
Writing tutoring focus may include: 
  • Jumpstart the essay-writing process and defeat procrastination with effective strategies 
  • Organize thoughts in a logical fashion quickly and efficiently
  • Build strong critical thinking skills that assist students hone life skills and leverage higher grades in other classes as a result
  • Feel more confident and comfortable in all writing processes from outline to final draft 
  • Foster skills in building a coherent essay and original argument no matter what the  topic is
Reading tutoring focus may include: 
  • Get solid strategies to understand literature and various genres in an easy-to-apply kind of way
  • Gain powerful and lifelong critical thinking skills that will help students do well in other classes 
  • Practice analyzing theme and seeing the bigger picture while reading
  • Apply time-saver tactics to annotate effectively and find textual evidence within readings

Highly recommend!

Thuy related very well with our 17yr. old daughter.  She was able to get through to her on so many levels.  The extra help on the weekend worked perfect with my daughters schedule.  

 

-Mother of a 12th Grader at Notre Dame San Jose, (Accepted into 3 Colleges), Jan. 2021

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"Before writing was so dreadful with Writer's Block, now I feel writing is wonderful because I no longer sit in a chair for 3 hours trying to think of something to write about.

Students' Work Samples
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Sand Dunes

Students' Work Samples:

High School Creative Writing:

Middle and High School

Literary Analysis

Essays:

Essay 1:

The process of writing Fankenstein was an unusual one. On a dark day, it was merely a dare but it turned out to be so much more. Victor Fankenstein, has desires that most would think were unimaginable. Yet, it is possible those desires were conjured up from the very setting and desires Mary Shelley had when she created the novel; a longing for something different and to be a detective in new findings. The driving force of Victor’s ambition as a scientist is his constant desire to gain more knowledge, create a being superior to all, and uncover the mysteries of life.

What drives Victor forward is his endless desire for “real knowledge”. Whatever Victor has at his disposal, whether books or others’ knowledge, he will use them all to the best of his abilities.“I opened it with apathy; the theory which he attempts to demonstrate and the wonderful facts which he relates soon changed this feeling into enthusiasm” (38). This depicts Victor’s lack of interest can quickly turn to excitement in any circumstance. To gain knowledge in any topic given and learn everything there is to it, is his greatest wish. “But here were books, and here were men who had penetrated deeper and knew more. I took their word for all that they averred, and I became their disciple” (39). What this shows is that he constantly learns from others, taking in everything he can. Every word and phrase written brings satisfaction to his mind. Yet, no matter what he learned before, he is ready for the next chapter to contradict and the next author to expand his views, as this quote illustrates: “In this mood of mind I betook myself to the mathematics and the branches of study appertaining to that science as being built upon secure foundations, and so worthy of my consideration” (41). In all, once he knows there is something greater, he strives for it.

Victor’s ambitions and desires lead him to create things that were unimaginable. Through experiments, Victor comes to believe that he has found something no one else is able of discovering. “No one can convince the variety of feelings which bore me onwards, like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success. Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me” (52). These obsessive thoughts begin to overcome Victor and push him forward in his studies and discoveries. And finally, through success and failure, he creates a creature that is to be superior to all. He finds, desires, and accomplishes creating a human being that can horrifyingly outlive all else. “Nor could I consider the magnitude and complexity of my plan as any argument of its impracticability. It was with these feelings that I began the creation of a human being” (52). Though his determination for the creation of such a being was unbreakable and his mind so involved, Victor often loses track of his own nature to the point where his desires swallow his senses of right and wrong. “I had worked for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart” (56).

Victor wants to be a pioneer in the creation and mysteries of life. His craving to see nature differently and uncover her secrets, is his ambition. “So much to be done, exclaimed the soul of Frankenstein––more, far more, will I achieve; treading in the steps already marked, I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation” (47). To dig into the mind and soul of Victor, like in this quote, it is easy to see that he craves for the new, great and unfound. To be a pioneer in the secrets of life and nature, Victor does all that he possibly can to understand everything at its best. “I had gazed upon the fortifications and impediments that seemed to keep human beings from entering the citadel of nature, and rashly and ignorantly I had repined” (39). This quote illuminates the walls of nature's secrets are indeed high, yet later, Victor still climbs those walls and breaks through to the other side where all nature’s secrets lay hidden. Whether his studies are for the better, or for the worse, he strives or strived to understand something no one else could, much like this quote exhibits: “Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his naitive town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow” (52).

Shelley’s eagerness may have been unintentionally or intentionally, reflected on Victor’s thirst for knowledge and finding the mysteries of creation. Together these connections make it impossible to deny that Victor’s constant ambition is his greed, and passion for the unthinkable; much like the idea of Frankenstein, from the mind of Shelley.

Essay 2:

“Beauty fades, but knowledge is eternal.” –Andrew Fairchild

The quote “Beauty fades, but knowledge is eternal.” by Andrew Fairchild is one that can cause a debate. Though there are fair points to both sides, I believe that Fairchild’s quote is indeed correct. Beauty is a chain on one’s freedom. It ties one down to the expectations of society and won’t let go. Knowledge, however, signifies wings. It can only allow one to soar above and be released from society’s grasp. Beauty is prone to wilt, but knowledge is constantly growing and changing, it is freeing and it can push one so much further in life than beauty.

According to society’s standards beauty can often fade with time; knowledge, however, can only expand. In the beauty industry, aging can often be the cause of one’s downfall. Society often has the idea that the definition of beauty is “young.” For people in the beauty industry, “young” is essentially a motto to them. However, in the pursuit of knowledge, “young” can easily mean naive. With knowledge, age is a sign of wisdom and skill that can only grow as time progresses. This is similar to how society tends to dispose of trends quickly. Society welcomes knowledge as a whole, more than beauty. As mentioned before, beauty standards tend to change quickly. This makes it hard for models and beauty influencers to keep up with the tides. This sense of limit from society is something that does not exist in the education industry. Knowledge cannot go out of style; it can only be built upon. Not one person can gain all the knowledge in the world, nor one all the beauty, so people in both studies respect those above them. However, respect is more easily shown within the studies of knowledge. Respect tends to be easily outweighed by jealousy in the beauty industry.

In the long term, knowledge has the upper hand over beauty. In the novel, The House on Mango Street, the main character, Esperanza, meets many people, one of which is Alicia. Alicia isn’t like the other girls in the neighborhood because she strives for an education. She works part-time jobs, learns from them, and takes in the world around her because she understands that beauty will not prepare her to reach her goals. To get a job in either the modeling industry or an education business is no small deal, both are incredibly competitive and time-consuming. Yet, there are some major differences between the two, specifically the long term effects. When one gets fired from the modeling industry, there are not a lot of places one can go after. One can find themselves stuck and helpless in this situation. Such as the following passage from The House on Mango Street describes: “Next week she comes over black and blue and asks what can she do? Minerva. I don’t know which way she’ll go.” What this quote explains in the life of Minerva, a young woman with no education who has lost her way in life. Her lack of education is what has trapped her in this confusion. On the other hand, when one is fired from an educational standpoint many places will still be in reach. Even so, problems can arise before one even gets the job. After months or years of work to get a fulfilling place in the modeling industry, one can easily be turned down. It is the same with an educational path, but the choices that follow are very different. With education and knowledge, jobs are always hiring and will welcome one with no problem. Without this knowledge, just merely beauty, jobs will not be as welcoming. Similarly, as a career, few places will accept beauty over knowledge. This automatic constraint on one’s future that follows beauty as a career can be suffocating.

Relying on oneself is a great strength to have. This strength comes easier to those with an educational background than those in the beauty industry. In The House on Mango Street Esperanza learns that you cannot always rely on others and sometimes one has to take things into one’s own hands to solve problems. Once she learns to do this, it gives her so much more freedom in her choices. Unfortunately, on the other hand, the beauty industry can often cage a person: “You could close your eyes and you wouldn’t have to worry that people said because you never belonged here anyway and nobody could make you sad and nobody would think you’re strange because you like to dream and dream.” What this quote from the novel depicts, is the cage placed on uneducated young women in this written society. It limits one’s standards and choices to the point where one is no longer thinking of, and for themself. They become vulnerable and naive. On the flip side, being educated automatically gives one more confidence. Similarly, Alica and Esperanza sought out an education, and even when life threw rocks they stood confident and strong. When one has this belief in their knowledge, they learn to trust and rely on themselves instead of society. Similarly, knowledge gives one much more freedom than beauty. A privilege that education comes with is to know right from wrong and which path to take. In spite of that, beauty does not come with this privilege. Once one chooses a path in this field, there is no going back. Education, however, gives one the ability to go back or make a different choice down the road.

Knowledge and beauty are constantly evolving. Yet, at some point, beauty fades. Knowledge, however, continues to grow. It liberates people and allows them to aim for their goals in ways that seemed impossible before. Knowledge is a life choice and a privilege. One that is everchanging and everlasting from generation to generation.

Essay 3:

For a fragile nightingale and a horrid creature to have differences, seems likely. But for them to have so many similarities and connections binding them together, that is quite odd. The character of the creature Frankenstein is one I had trouble understanding at first. For a non-human creature to possess such characteristics, was thrilling and unusual. The Nightingale had easier thoughts to follow but was still just an unusual. The author's ability to delve into the mind and intentions, and see the world through the mysterious and kaleidoscopic lens of a non-human creature, is fascinating. The similarities and differences between the creature of Frankenstein and the delicate Nightingale, are held through their human-like emotions, their thirst to understand and reactions to their ideals.

Frankenstein and the Nightingale, though neither are human, are bound together by their human-like emotions. In Frankenstein's case, he is a monster that is able to feel everything that a human can. Yet, he does not have the experience to control or understand these emotions, much like this quote describes; “He raised her and smiled with such kindness and affection that I felt sensations of a peculiar and overpowering nature; they were a mixture of pain and please, such as I had never before experienced, either from hunger or cold, warmth or food; and I withdrew from the window, unable to bear these emotions” (pg 103). Similarly, the Nightingale is also a creature who is able to bear the feelings of a human being, and like Frankenstein, is unable to understand these emotions fully; “‘Here indeed is the true lover," said the Nightingale. "What I sing of, he suffers - what is joy to me, to him is pain. Surely Love is a wonderful thing. It is more precious than emeralds, and dearer than fine opals. Pearls and pomegranates cannot buy it, nor is it set forth in the marketplace. It may not be purchased of the merchants, nor can it be weighed out in the balance for gold.” This quote illustrates that the Nightingale may not be able to understand the emotion of love, yet believes it to be something extremely precious to humans. Both these creatures share human emotions, yet, how humans react to them sharing these emotions, is interesting and surprisingly mirrored from story to story. The following two quotes show exactly how humans react to the creatures’ emotions: “How can I move thee? Will no entreaties cause thee to turn a favorable eye upon thy creature, who implores thy goodness and compassion? Believe me Frankenstein, I was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity; but am I not alone, miserably alone?” (pg 96). Frankenstein's perspective illustrates the confusion and misery shared between himself and a human. The human interaction in the story of the Nightingale is similar: “‘She has form," [...] "that cannot be denied to her; but has she got feeling? I am afraid not. In fact, she is like most artists; she is all style, without any sincerity. She would not sacrifice herself for others. She thinks merely of music, and everybody knows that the arts are selfish. Still, it must be admitted that she has some beautiful notes in her voice. What a pity it is that they do not mean anything, or do any practical good.’” This monologue illustrates that the human does not see the Nightingale as one worthy of his recognition or time, for she is just a creature. Like this, Frankenstein is no more than a hideous creature to others. The idea of him having emotions, let alone human emotions, had never crossed a person's mind at the time. The same goes for the Nightingale. Though the nature around her may have known of her human emotions, no other being is able to understand what power she holds. Having these emotions causes a lot of problems for the creatures, and in the end, Frankenstein wants to rid himself of the emotions while the Nightingale still does not: “But the Nightingale understood the secret of the Student's sorrow, and she sat silent in the oak-tree, and thought about the mystery of Love.” As the author pens, the Nightingale learns to accept her emotions and control them. On the contrary, Frankenstein cannot control them and wishes his human emotions would disappear forever along with his being in total: “Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live? Why, in that instant, did I not extinguish the spark of existence which you had so wantonly bestowed?” (pg 130)

Both characters are driven by their thirst to understand the beings around them, as well as themselves. “‘The path of departure was free,’ and there was none to lament my annihilation. My person was hideous and my stature gigantic. What did this mean? Who was I? What was I? Whence did I come? What was my destination? These questions continually recurred, but I was unable to solve them” (pg 123). This quote illuminates how Frankenstein questions his existence and being and wishes to know about his past and what will come in his future. The Nightingale on the other hand, wishes to know, not more about herself, but the people around her. This is projected in the following line: “From her nest in the holm-oak tree the Nightingale heard him, and she looked out through the leaves, and wondered.” Regardless of the topic, the two creatures still strive to understand and are willing to do anything and everything to do so. On one side of the coin, Frankenstein believes himself worthy of an answer to any of his questions. The following quote depicts these intentions: “Could they turn compassion and friendship? I resolved, at least, not to despair, but in every way to fit myself for an interview with them which would decide my fate” (pg 125). The flip side of the coin is the Nightingale’s view. The Nightingale also believes herself worthy of an answer to her question, yet will go much further than Frankenstein to achieve that answer: “‘One red rose is all I want," cried the Nightingale, "only one red rose! Is there no way by which I can get it?" "There is a way," answered the Tree; "but it is so terrible that I dare not tell it to you." "Tell it to me," said the Nightingale, "I am not afraid.” Though they both want this, how they achieve their desires are different. This is because they crave different types of understanding, as the quotes above showed. Mary Shelley pens Frankenstein's feelings as ones that readers can sympathize with: “He had come forth from the hands of God a perfect creature, happy and prosperous, guarded by the especial care of his Creator; he was allowed to converse with and acquire knowledge from beings of a superior nature, but I was wretched, helpless, and alone” (pg 124). While Frankenstein wishes to understand more about himself, the Nightingale wishes to learn about the emotions that crowd a students’ mind. She craves to feel as he does and grasp his feelings as her own: “‘Here at last is a true lover," said the Nightingale. "Night after night have I sung of him, though I knew him not: night after night have I told his story to the stars, and now I see him. His hair is dark as the hyacinth-blossom, and his lips are red as the rose of his desire; but passion has made his face like pale ivory, and sorrow has set her seal upon his brow.”

The ideals held between the Nightingale and Frankenstein are approached and executed differently in some circumstances, yet are very similar in others. They both wish dearly to bring happiness to the humans around them, as the following passages exhibit: “I thought (foolish wretch!) that it might be in my power to restore happiness to these deserving people” (pg 109). Frankenstein and the Nightingale share a search for manners in which to do this. Yet, although this fact is true, the desire of the Nightingale is shown more thoroughly throughout her story: “‘Be happy," cried the Nightingale, "be happy; you shall have your red rose. I will build it out of music by moonlight, and stain it with my own heart's-blood. All that I ask of you in return is that you will be a true lover, for Love is wiser than Philosophy, though she is wise, and mightier than Power, though he is mighty.’” Though not easily seen, the difference in their desires can be shown through the following quotes:  “I discovered also another means through which I was enabled to assist their labors. I found that the youth spent a great part of each day in collecting wood for the family fire, and during the night I often took his tools, the use of which I quickly discovered, and brought home firing sufficient for the consumption of several days.” This line displays that Frankenstein helps with small jobs that slowly restore elation to those around him day by day. The Nightingale however, wants to do much more than a few simple tasks for the humans. She wishes to give them exactly what they want: “Suddenly she spread her brown wings for flight, and soared into the air. She passed through the grove like a shadow, and like a shadow she sailed across the garden. In the centre of the grass-plot was standing a beautiful Rose-tree, and when she saw it she flew over to it, and lit upon a spray. "Give me a red rose," she cried, "and I will sing you my sweetest song.’” This shows that the Nightingale wishes to give everything for the human, while Frankenstein just wants to help in small ways. This is a vast difference, but their efforts end as a pair. In the end of both stories, the creatures’ desires and efforts are for naught: “This was then the reward for my benevolence! I had saved a human being from destruction, and as a recompense I writhed under the miserable pain of a wound which shattered the flesh and bone. The feeling of kindness and gentleness which I had entertained but a few moments before gave place to a hellish rage and gnashing of teeth. Inflamed by pain, I vowed eternal hatred and vengeance to all mankind” (pg 135). This quote shows Frankenstein's loathing and increasing greed for the destruction of humans. Both Frankenstein and the Nightingale give everything they can to the humans around them but are either forgotten, betrayed or abandoned, as the quote above and the passage below clarify: “‘Death is a great price to pay for a red rose," cried the Nightingale, "and Life is very dear to all. It is pleasant to sit in the green wood, and to watch the Sun in his chariot of gold, and the Moon in her chariot of pearl. Sweet is the scent of the hawthorn, and sweet are the bluebells that hide in the valley, and the heather that blows on the hill. Yet Love is better than Life, and what is the heart of a bird compared to the heart of a man?’” This passage beautifully exhibits the Nightingales feelings and desires; which bring many emotions to the reader as the story comes to a close.

A monster and nightingale can share so much. Human emotion, a thirst for understanding, their ideals, these are what tie the delicate Nightingale and the monster together. Is it possible that an non-human creature could have human emotions? To these writers, yes. Yet whether we choose to believe them is our choice. These concepts are all things that we ourselves can relate to and understand:  Being out of place and wanting to understand and be understood in return. These are feelings no creature can avoid in totality.

Essay 4:

When one thinks of the Victorian era and the modern Hispanic society, no similarities come straight to mind. Yet, there are. A woman's beauty, no matter the time period, has been valued more than their intelligence. Nevertheless, it has always been knowledge that propels one forward towards their freedom. For this, it is simple to see the connections. The wives of King Henry VIII and the women in The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros were used as tools to gain power, had to choose between beauty and brains, and fought themselves and society for their freedom.

Both the wives of King Henry VIII and the women in The House on Mango Street were used as tools countless times for power, status, and throughout marriages by the men. Catherine of Aragon, King Henry VIII’s first wife, was used as an object to gain power and produce a rightful heir to the throne. Yet she did not give him a “rightful heir.” A girl was born to the family, and to the King, only a male was worthy of the throne. The King later broke the rules of the Church to divorce Catherine who had given him an unworthy ruler. This is similar to how women in Cisneros’s novel are expected to bear children and raise them within a happy family. They aren’t to complain or wish for a different marriage or result. This makes it easy for them to be taken advantage of. Women in the novel are also presumed to obey the man at all times. Cisneros gives a direct example of what would happen if women did not follow these terms: “a wild horse of a woman, so wild she wouldn’t marry. Until my great-grandfather threw a sack over her head and carried her off” (pg 11). This vividly shows how women were looked down upon and were only expected to marry. This story is similar to that of the wives in England. The wife of a king must surrender to complete submission, but this wasn’t always followed. The King’s fifth wife was teenage Katherine Howard. While married to the King, she had affairs with men from her life before the marriage. This resulted in both her and her lovers beheaded. Not only as King but as a male, King Henry VIII had bounds of power over his wives. He divorced two, though divorce was not permitted at the time, and beheaded two after he grew tired of them. Though such consequences did not happen in the novel, the men in the story still have the majority of the control in the community: “Close your eyes and they’ll go away, her father says, or You’re just imagining” (pg 31). The line above shows how women in the novel are ignored and often seen as unintelligent.

Women in The House on Mango Street put their beauty before their education. The English women, on the other hand, place both as equal. The wives of King Henry VIII could fight for their power using intelligence but the women in the novel could not, at least not easily. Coming from wealthy, prestigious families, most of the King’s wives were well educated and knew multiple languages. Because of this, they had natural power and with their education, knew more than the regular citizens of England, giving them the advantage in certain situations. Women in the novel, however, did not live a regal life. The neighborhoods they made a living in, were anything but glorious. As a result of this, women in the novel often placed their beauty before their education. Their community believed that they could not reach the top through an education. So, most relied on their looks to boost them in the world, as the following passage describes: “What matters, is for the boys to see us and for us to see them. And since Marin’s skirts are shorter and since her eyes are pretty” (pg 27). This explains how women in the book are seen and want to be seen. To them, their image is what brings them to the top. Meanwhile, the royal wives value their education, to stay at the top. The main reasons for their different points of view are their resources. The wives of King Henry VIII have wealth and allies on their side. This lets them focus on their education and not have to worry about their beauty, for it is not what will give them power. The women in The House on Mango Street though do not have wealth or strong allies. Education is something one must want terribly and fight for, to gain. Beauty is more accessible and easier to attain than wealth or power, so understandably, it is the first idea that pops into the head of a woman in this novel. These women are also not taught to value their education. To these women and their communities, getting married and having children and a good husband were the top priorities. The society around them does not see women as strong nor educated and believes they should stay at home. This is what sets them up for this path of life: “She was a horse woman too [...] like the Mexicans, don’t like their women strong” (pg 10). On the contrary, the wives of England were taught to value their education greatly. Catherine of Aragon, the King’s first wife, even put her daughters’ education as a priority before her allegiance with the King himself. Education was vitally important to the royal wives.

 

Personal freedom is something that all should have but in a strict society, was lacking for the wives of King Henry VIII. None of King Henry VIII’s wives truly chose to be his wife. They were all either married off to him or ladies in waiting, of his current wife that he took an interest in. None of them had the privilege to choose whom they would marry. The only wife that stood up for her freedom of marriage was beheaded. The women in Cisneros’ novel are a different story though. They can choose whom they marry, to a certain degree. This automatically gives them so much more personal choice and freedom than the wives of England. As mentioned before, the only wife that rose to protect her choices was beheaded. This is a perfect example showing that the wives could not fight for themselves without severe consequences. Differently, the women in the novel could fight for themselves. Yet, though they could fight for their freedom, they did not use that power. They can seek out an education in college and beyond that, without the severe consequences that the wives had to face. However, even though the wives do not have personal freedom they could still build themselves up in society and bring honor to their families through an heir to the throne. Bringing honor is something that the women in the novel share with the wives. Though, an heir is not what brings honor to the women in the novel. Seeking an education, marrying well, and climbing their way out of the dark, is an absolute honor that these women can bring to themselves and their families.

From the year 1509 in England to the 1960s in the fictional Hispanic community, women were still treated the same. More than 400 years of evolution and women were still stuck, seeking a good education, fighting for their freedom, and putting their beauty before their minds and goals. The wives of King Henry VIII and the women in The House on Mango Street differed in ambitions, cultures, and resources but what they shared was how they were used as tools, were overlooked, and could have been so much more. But through their differences, in both tales, they were all still strong and brave women, doing what they believed was right.

~Part 1~

It was dark. Dark and sorrowfully empty. Yet, that moment of emptiness ended and voices could be heard, music started to play, footsteps grew louder and the rain began.

The creature opened his eyes to find himself in an alleyway. His gigantic stature barely allowed him to stand between the crumbling walls. He stumbled out of the alleyway and into the enchanting streets of the city. Bewildered, he watched the rain pour. Thousands of people crowded the streets; each unique to their own. Soaring buildings loomed over everyone, creating a shadow large enough to cover the world. Yet, nothing was dark here. Every brick and window was stunningly illuminated in circles of color. The creature took a step back and leaned against a looming building. Where am I? What is this place? The creature thought. Why are the lights so bright?

The creature stood there against the building for an eternity. He studied the thousands of humans passing by. Some humans gave the creature quick and judging glances but most took no particular notice of the horrid and gigantic features of the creature. Why did no one notice? What was this place? These humans, the creature pondered, are nothing like those in my hometown. So confused and in awe, he stood and waited. Though what he waited for he was not sure.

The pale blue sky slowly turned to red and gold as the sun set behind the skyscrapers. Yet, still, the rain did not stop. Would it ever? The monster pondered more. Through reflecting puddles, he knew his appearance had stayed the same. Eight feet tall, yellow-tinted and translucent skin, and bulging, bloodshot eyes. He felt the same as well. Same sorrows and despair of abandonment. Same rage and hatred to all mankind. Nevertheless, with every passing minute, his sadness seemed to ebb away with the rain and he could not bear to hate these people anymore. For there was no heartache here; no person who had done him harm. Yet the overwhelming feeling of misplacement still stayed. He did not know where he was, how he got there or anything of this new place. Lights, fashions and buildings he had never thought imaginable, all lay here. It seemed that with every step taken, the city evolved into a new one. It was a city that never stopped.

Night fell on the horizon when the boy appeared by his side. Did this boy not care of who he was standing by? A creature so hideous; a monster. I had been the murder of children just as him. Was he not afraid? The old life of the monster swirled in his mind. His deeds of good and bad; his feelings of anguish and revenge; all flowed back in a tremendous wave. Unable to control the storm, his gruesome hand reached out at the boy.

“It isn’t your fault,” the boy sighed suddenly. Startled, the monster stopped mid-motion and looked at the boy. The boy stood at a maximum of chest height on the monster. He was slim and had eyes darker than soot that matched his ruffled hair. He wore a dark coat to his knees and well-worn, multicolored boots. The monster merely stared as the boy adjusted his gold-rimmed glasses and took the rectangular glowing device from his ear.

“Sorry,” the boy acknowledged as he looked at the creature. “I was on the phone. Did you need something?”

A million questions flooded the creature's mind. So many, he could not find where to begin. The boy awkwardly looked away after a few seconds of silence and once again pulled out the rectangular device he had called the phone. The phone flashed out a bright blue light as it turned on and still, the creature just stood, paralyzed in awe.

~Part 2~

The monster nor the boy said anything for a time. The human continued to scroll through his phone and the monster, to observe his strange surroundings. The lights and skyscrapers stayed as perplexing and mysterious as they were when he first arrived. And constant people still seemed to appear from every street and door. The ever-changing city was exhilarating. Every raindrop that hit the ground made the monster's heart beat faster.

“Not from here I assume,” the boy suddenly remarked. “You look like you’ve never seen the city before.”

The monster drew his attention to the boy and replied. “No, this is all new to me.” His voice was hoarse and cracked but he continued, “is this marvelous place your home?”

“Yes, yes it is,” the boy smiled. He looked out at the street as colored lights flickered against his gold-rimmed glasses. His eyes seemed to sink into a dreamy state as he continued to watch the city pass by. “It really never gets old. An unforgettable sight, isn’t it?”

The monster once again looked at the marveling city before him and with every inch of his soul agreed alongside the boy.

Yet, not minutes passed before the boy’s eyes were taken from the city and glued to the glowing screen of his phone again. The monster questioned the boys’ actions. How could he look away from such a wondrous sight?

“That phone that you are holding,” the monster muttered. “Is it really greater than this unforgettable sight?”

The boy glanced at the monster and rolled his eyes. “I can see the city any day I want to. It isn’t like I have to see every light blink on and off.”

“Even so, should you not admire it while you can?” The monster suggested pleadingly.

The boy groaned with a smile, “are you for real? Look around you, no one’s really admiring the city. Just see for yourself.”

The monster was struck back by the boy's words. But he quietly studied the other humans around him, and quickly noticed the truth. Only a few heads were raised, most were strained, looking down at glowing screens. The monster was horrified. How was it possible that such beautiful sights could be overthrown by mere screens?

“You must stop them!” The monster stammered, as he reached out his hand to the boy. But the boy swiftly stepped back and muttered with annoyance, “what do you think you're doing? I don’t even know you.”

The monster stopped. Of course, how could he have forgotten? This is what he had waited for; to be despised, all over again. For hate to consume both himself and the human. For the connection to be divided.

The boy placed the phone in his pocket and sighed, breaking the monsters train of thought.

“I’m serious.” Surprisingly to the monster, the boy's voice was now gentle. “Yes, I get it, you’re new here. But don’t go reaching out to people you’ve just met. They won’t take it nicely, neither will anyone around you.”

As disoriented as the creature was before, the boy's new words topped it off. Such hatred the boy had possessed for me not seconds before. How can one change his mind so rapidly? The monster was baffled but the boy smiled.

“You will get used to it,” the boy explained. “People in cities like these are challenging to understand and you’ll find that not one is like the other. Yet, they’ll become fascinating to you.”

The boy's phone buzzed in his pocket. He placed the device by his ear and started speaking to it. This only confused the monster more. Was I wrong? The monster pondered. Did he not bear such hatred for me? Did he wish me to understand and fit in with those around us? The boy took the phone from his ear and placed it once again in his pocket.

“Why?!” The monster exclaimed. The boy was shocked, “excuse me?”

“What is this place?” The monster asked. “These people, these concepts, these lights, where is this?”

The boy grinned, “this city has a lot of names. The most fitting though must be, The City That Never Sleeps.” He shoved his hands into his coat pockets and looked out at the cityscape, “these lights never go out. Always there, always have been. The people don’t go away either. It gets annoying but it makes you feel not so alone sometimes. I think that’s why some call it that.”

The creature considered what the boy said. He peered at the color-changing lights on every floor and the bustling streets filled with strange and diverse people. He watched the silhouettes in the light; the first dances, the tv loungers, and those who were the creators of bizarre worlds while washing dishes.

“The City That Never Sleeps,” the monster whispered. “Truly, a fitting name.”

~Part 3~

They stood in silence for a moment longer. The sky still screamed, and the boy's hair and coat were now drenched.

“Doesn’t usually rain this much,” the boy spoke. “It's a bit troublesome.” He turned on his heel, “well, I’ll be leaving now.”

“Leave?” The creature called. “Why must you?”

“My sister is here to pick me up.”

“Can’t she wait?!”

“Wait for what?” The boy frowned. The monster had nothing more to say. He had no reason to keep the boy from leaving. Yet, he did not want him to leave. He wanted to know more of this place. More of its people. More of its lights. But he knew he could not keep the boy here.

The boy’s expression softened as he walked away. “Enjoy it! The city,” he chimed back.

“I will,” answered the creature. The boy’s multicolored boots and gold-rimmed glasses merged into the crowd and quickly disappeared.

The creature now stood alone in the pouring rain. Only his companion had left, yet much more seemed different. The rain fell softer, footsteps grew louder and clearer. Yet still, the lights stayed the same. Just as blinding and colorful as before.

The creature now waited again. Though this time, he did not wait for anything in particular. Not to be despised and not to be loved. So, when some did him heartache, he would not be drawn to his old ways. So, when some approached with kindness in their voice, he would not be jealous of those who received this at a constant. He simply waited for everything and nothing. For the world to pass by. For the right and wrong people to talk. For the rain to stop. For the lights to flicker out. For the cause of merely waiting, in the city that never sleeps.

And so, the creature that now knew hate and love and dreams, simply waited.

End

 
 
Red Landscape

Middle School

Creative Projects:

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The House on Mango Street: Novel Project

(a visual explanation of the novel's themes)

 

 

1. The house on Mango Street~Uncertainty

This logo describes the feeling of uncertainty that is present while moving from one house to another. I drew a question mark and clouds representing not knowing the answer and the longing for when the sun will show itself again.

2. Hairs~Personality

The variety of eyes in this logo is a representation of the varieties of personality throughout the second chapter, and later, throughout the book. I think one can tell a lot about someone through their eyes, that is why I chose this for the logo.

3. Boys & girls~Gender Roles

For the chapter “Boys & Girls” I choose to incorporate the female and male gender signs into my logo, with a divide splitting the two. I believe this accurately describes the line between male and female that is shown in this chapter.

4. My name~Identity

For the fourth chapter, I chose to draw a person made of a fingerprint. The idea that this puts out is that not one person is the same. No fingerprint can be replicated, and no person cloned fully.

5. Cathy queen of cats~Disheartening

The theme I choose for this chapter is "disheartening." I drew disheartening as a girl alone in the dark. I believe that this represents the theme of disheartening because the girl has lost motivation and can not move forward from the dark.

6. Our good day~A turn for the better

I drew the theme “A turn for the better” as a young girl holding a balloon. To me, balloons bring a happy and “things will be alright now” vibe to them. This reason is why I drew the girl holding on to her happiness.

7. Laughter~Sisterhood

The logo is of a pinky promise. The hands both wear bracelets with the female sign on them as well. This image describes the theme of “sisterhood” along with the trust and care shared between sisters.

8. Gil's furniture bought & sold~Standars

The theme of the chapter “Gil’s Furniture Bought & Sold” is “standards”. To represent this I drew a hand reaching out to the greatest flower. This is similar to how Esperanza has high standards for everything and won’t settle for lesser.  

9. Meme Ortiz~Homes with personality

For this chapter, I drew several different keys. Every key represents someones' home within the 9th chapter. Not one key is like the other, much like the different houses in the chapter.

10. Louie, his cousin & his other cousin~Caged freedom

The theme “caged freedom” is represented in this drawing by a balloon trapped within a cage. The balloon represents a carefree and happy life and the cage, society, is what is keeping it enclosed.

11. Marin~Attraction

For this logo, I drew an eye with a heart at its pupil. This depicts the love of attention Marin has and gains with her beauty through being with boys.

12. Those who don't~Race separation

For the chapter called “Those Who Don’t”, I drew a box split in two. This image describes the clear split between people with darker complections and those with lighter complections. As well as those outside the neighborhood, and within the neighborhood.

13. There was an old woman she had so many children she didn't know what to do~Turning a blind eye

For the theme of “turning a blind eye," I drew a hand covering a face leaving only the eye visible. This image represents the people who knew what was going on, yet decided to ignore it to the best of their abilities.

14.Alicia who sees mice~The bad side of things

For this chapter, I drew a girl blocking out the things around her. This represents how during this chapter, people in the neighborhood don’t pay attention to the bad things, and that it is only a few people who truly see what is going on.

15. Darius & the clouds~Silver Linings

For this chapter, I drew a tulip. The tulip can bloom through tough winter conditions no matter what. The tulip in the logo represents the good of a new season coming through the book.

16. And some more~Chicken fight :

II drew a chicken holding a sign saying “it’s useless.” This essentially describes the argument that happened between the kids in chapter 16. At the time it seems important and essential but when looked back upon, it is useless.

17. The family of little feet~Adulthood

I drew a tree with no leaves on it. I feel like this accurately describes the fun of being an adult but the sadness or fear that comes with it during this chapter.

18. A rice sandwich~Greed

For the theme of “greed,” I drew a creepy smile. I am not entirely sure why, but I feel like it portrays the feeling of greed that one does not realize at first.

19. Chanclas~Self confidence

I drew a First-place trophy to show the theme of “self-confidence” in this chapter. This chapter shows the withdrawal and growth of Esperanza's self-confidence levels.

20. Hips~Beauty/Women

For the chapter “Hips” I drew a girl who looks back. The girl doesn’t seem happy, yet not sad either, which I think describes the feeling of growing up and having to focus on beauty, as a woman, in a community like described in the book.

21. The first job~Innocence

In the chapter “the first job” Esperanza shows her innocence as a character. The picture I drew for this is a selection of candies and bows. I feel this directly represents the innocence and naive intentions of Esperanza.

22. Papa who wakes up tired in the dark~Vulnerability

This is the chapter Esperanza starts to change in. She sees the vulnerability of the people around her and is confused. For this chapter, I drew a shaded character with a heart unshaded. This picture is what represents the vulnerability shown in this chapter.

23. Born bad~Waiting

For this chapter, I drew an hourglass. The hourglass represents the constant feeling of time slipping away. The prolonged realization of what someone used to be and what they are and will become.

24. Elenita, cards, palm, water~Fake readings

Though “fake readings” is a vague theme I believe it has much more to it than at first thought. It represents uncertainty but also the feeling of wanting to believe something is true but not knowing if it is. For this, I drew game cards and an eye looking over them.

25. Geraldo no last name~Sonder

“Sonder” is the realization that everyone around you has just as complicated and tangled lives as you. This realization is shown in this chapter. There is nothing known about the character Geraldo. No last name, no known family, friends, or home. Yet, he has all of these but no one knows so. For this chapter, I drew a train full of passengers. Passengers that have backstories no one knows of.

26. Edna's Ruthie~Sanity

For this chapter, I drew a head with clouds pouring out of it. This symbolizes insanity or trying to hold on to sanity which is described in the chapter “Edna’s Ruthie.”

27. The Earl of Tennessee~Secrets

For the chapter “The Earl of Tennessee,” I drew a key. The key depicts the Earl's constant secretiveness, and how he keeps to himself instead of mingling with the others in the neighborhood.

28. Sire~Lonely

The theme of this chapter is “lonely.” For this, I drew a misted crown. The crown represents loneliness because of the quote “It is lonely at the top.” (Not sure who first stated this quote.)

29. Four skinny trees~Don’t give up

For the theme of not giving up, I drew a hand pointing in one direction. The hand, I feel represents the acknowledgment that something isn’t yet over and that one has still not given in.

30. No speak English~Change

The chapter “No speak English” is one that embodies change. Most do not like change, yet it is inevitable. Something that resonates with me as change, is a butterfly. Its evolution can bring happiness but also sadness in some sense.

31. Rafaela who drinks coconut & papaya juice on Tuesdays~Dreaming

For this chapter, I drew a person shaded by clouds. To me, clouds usually represent dreams and wonders, which is why I chose to draw this for the theme of “dreaming.”

32. Sally~Beauty is tragic

“Beauty is tragic” is the theme for the 32nd chapter. Sally is a character that builds her life on beauty but has to go through many troubles to keep up with the rest of the world. Therefore, I drew an eye crying. Eyes usually portray beauty to me, but the tears represent the hardships of carrying that beauty.

33. Minerva writes poems~Decisions

For this chapter, the theme is “decisions.” Therefore I drew a couple of signs pointing to no particular path. This illustration shows that even though a decision is made, where it will lead one is not always certain.

34. Bums in the attic~My own people

Finding the right people and people that understand you is something incredibly important. When one can help people like them, it gives them a sense of belonging and warmth that one couldn’t feel otherwise. For these reasons I drew a couple of silhouettes together representing the theme “my own people.”

35. Beautiful & cruel~A different path

What I drew for this chapter is a girl at a fork in the road. Whether or not we realize, we encounter many forks in the road during our life. Some of which are more difficult to choose between; “To the left, where nothing is right? Or to the right, where nothing is left?” :)

36. A smart cookie~Take your chances

For the theme of taking one's chances, I drew a flipping coin. “Heads or tails” decide so many things in one’s life. We think we’re choosing a path doing this when actually all it is, is a chance. Whether it lands on heads or tails, it is all by chance.

37. What Sally said~Shame

For this chapter, I drew a masked person. Masks tend to signify that something is hidden or doesn’t want to be seen. No one wants to admit or let anyone else see their shame. That is why the theme of “shame” perfectly fits the picture of a masked person.

38. The monkey garden~Rejection

“Rejection” is the theme I choose for this chapter. For this, I drew a wilting rose. A blooming rose often represents love, but a wilting one represents the downfall of that love, rejection.

39. Red clowns~Manipulation

This chapter is particularly dark. The theme I chose for this chapter is “manipulation.” I drew a puppet figure for this theme. The puppet is an obvious example of manipulation that fits this chapter well.

40. Linoleum roses~The afterword

Most people don’t read the afterword. Authors sometimes don’t even write the afterword. The afterword is something that is often forgotten in a story because it can make one feel empty. The satisfying ending is broken, and the peace in the story is torn. To represent this, I drew a book, one that ends happily, with no afterword.

41. The three sisters~Fate

For the theme of “fate,” I drew the red string and scissors from the Greek myth, The Three Sister of Fate. In the myth, the red string represents one’s life, and when the sisters cut it, the life is ended. Morbid, but the connection is satisfying.

42. Alicia & I Talking on Edna's steps~Wishing

For the theme of “wishing,” I drew a couple of stars (Disney style). To many, stars are used as objects to wish upon. This is the reason why I drew stars for this theme.

43. A house of my own~Independence

This chapter shows Espernzas’ independence growth as a character. For this, I drew a girl alone on a mountain, holding a flag. The girl alone with the flag represents Esperanza’s independence from society.  

44. Mango says goodbye sometimes~The future

For the last chapter, the theme is “the future.” For this theme, I drew a door. The door symbolizes the wonder and excitement of the future that is unknown until one reaches it.

Writing A Diary In The Perspective of a Fictional Character (Frankenstein):

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White Cotton Fabric

Middle School Short Analysis Paragraphs:  

Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” displays how one shouldn’t let their weaknesses control them. To illustrate, after vowing his revenge, Montressor described a weakness of Fortunato’s that he would later exploit; Fortunato “prided himself on his connoisseurship in wine.” This portrays how Fortunato didn’t have control over this weakness, as, if he did, Montressor wouldn’t be able to exploit it. Also, if he wasn’t controlled by this weakness, it wouldn’t be labeled as a weakness of his. Another instance took place at a carnival, where Montressor started to put his revenge plan in motion. Montressor told Fortunato that he had been scammed over what should have been a pipe of Amontillado wine. Upon hearing this, Fortunato decided to drop everything and go with Montressor to see if what Montressor said was true, even though Fortunato had had a commitment at the time. This depicts how Fortunato let his weakness control him, as if he was in control of his pride, he wouldn’t have abandoned a commitment just to do something he could have done at any other time. It wouldn’t have been too damaging to his pride, to not judge one pipe of wine out of many more to come, as this most likely wouldn’t have been the last time he was given an opportunity like this, had he not gone with Montressor. A third moment took place in Montressor’s wine vaults. As Montressor and Fortunato proceeded further and further down, the catacombs became colder and more damp from the nitre in the walls. Fortunato had a cough, and the cold and damp made it worse. Still, they continued on to find the Amontillado, Fortunato excusing the cough as “a mere nothing,” though it really wasn’t. This shows how Fortunato was not in control of his weakness, as if he was, he would have swallowed his pride and turned back in order to save his health. His weakness made him prioritize judging the wine over his own well-being, and later led to his downfall. Had he not been controlled by this weakness, he could have lived a longer life and had a better end.

Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” teaches that one should be in control of their weaknesses. To illustrate, Fortunato’s demise was a result of not controlling the pride that made him go to the depths of Montressor’s wine vaults, while ignoring all of the many reasons he shouldn’t have. Of course, while “The Cask of Amontillado” is an exaggeration of real life with two very extreme characters, its message can be applied both in and outside of the story. For example, in real life, if someone enjoyed watching cute puppy videos on YouTube, but had a project due the next day, it might seem more appealing to watch the videos. But, as soon as they start watching the videos instead of working on the assignment, their adoration for cute puppy videos becomes a weakness, and that weakness controls them. Because of this, they will find that there is less time to finish the project, and they will be less likely to do well on it due to lack of time. It would have been a better choice to get the project done first. They could still watch the videos, but at a better time. Another possible scenario could be much like Fortunato’s situation. Let’s say a child likes candy a lot. They meet a stranger who says that they can give them candy if they come with the stranger. The child knows they shouldn’t follow strangers no matter what they offer. If the child goes with the stranger, no matter how suspicious the situation is, just for the candy, their love for candy is deciding their actions and could land them in a dangerous situation. It would have been better to control their weakness for candy and think about stranger danger instead. They could more safely get candy from someone they know better. Finally, in order to make sure one doesn’t let their weaknesses control them, one should make sure that there are good reasons as to why they are doing something. To illustrate, in Fortunato’s situation, the only reason for continuing down through Montressor’s wine vaults Fortunato had was that he might get to judge a cask of Amontillado wine, while there were many better reasons why he should turn back, such as the fact that the cold and damp of the catacombs were bad for his health. Fortunato didn’t have a good reason for going with Montressor, and had many valid reasons not to, but he did anyways because he let his weakness control him. All it would have taken to save him from his fate was a little thought as to whether or not it would have been worthwhile to go with Montressor. What is learned here can also be applied to life outside the story, though maybe not in such an extreme situation. For instance, if someone loves to read and they have a puppy who, at the moment, is very energetic, their parents might ask them to play with the puppy instead of reading. Rather than going right back to reading, they should weigh the reasons for doing each activity to see which one has more valid reasons than the other. While reading may be more enjoyable, playing with the puppy would provide some entertainment as well. Also, playing with the puppy may prevent it from causing any unnecessary damage, as one can make sure the puppy chews on its toys and nothing else. Thus, playing with the puppy is the more worthwhile activity. The book will still be there once the puppy has calmed down. If the person chose to read in that situation, they would have let their love for reading control them.

 
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"One amazing ​thing that I learned about writing that I recently learned is ​adding dramatic details. ​Adding details help make writing more dramatic and exciting. My writing has changed so much because my writing before I was introduced to ​dramatic details was very bland and boring and writer’s block was holding me back in english class, and now I can write a lot of d​etails​​ in just a few minutes."
8th Grader, Jan. 2021