Monday, December 17, 2012

Journalism Writing Task..

Before you start reading.. you should know, Totally fictional! my Grandma is a far-cry from the "Mother in Law" type. Enjoy my little story.. or don't, your choice! :)

Every year for Christmas, my family gets together. I understand that this isn’t unusual or special, by any means- but you don’t even know the half of it.

My mother spends much time stressing and preparing various things food, gifts, matching outfits for all of us kids- and she and dad.. all for one day. When I was younger, I didn’t understand it. Still, it seems silly- but I understand it more than I once did.

My grandma, more appropriately called- “the Mother- in- law” is the source of all this pressure on my mother. She is the Christmas Queen and wishes for everything to be “just so.”

I don’t mean to make her sound like the wicked witch. She can be very pleasant, which is why it took me awhile to catch on to my mother’s stress. Now, I’m old enough to catch-on to her snide remarks so cleverly murmured underneath her breath. We all sit on the edge of our seats at the dinner table to hear the words, or see the expressions on her face as she uncovers the dishes prepared by her daughter-in-laws.

Grandma never had any girls. Just three boys, so she is always critical of who those boys married. She puts a tremendous amount of pressure on them to be her girls.

This year mom came up with her “best-yet” outfits for us kids.. In mom’s words, not mine. I found them to be rather awkward. Little turtle neck dresses with leggings and flats. Which looked an awful lot like Dorothy’s, from the Wizard of Oz. and “there’s no place like home” is exactly what I was thinking the moment I walked in the door of Grandma’s house. I could feel the tension.

After some visiting, this never lasts long. It was announced that us kids should gather around our parents in the dining room so that we could say the prayer and then eat the traditional Christmas dinner.

Grandma began to uncover and inspect the food. I wasn’t at all shocked with her unpleasant look at my mother’s dish. Though mom had spent much time on Pinterest looking for the perfect recipes, she had come up short and brought the same dish she had prepared last year. Fine by me, but to Grandma- I guess it wasn’t creative or original enough.

I was surprised; however, when I heard mother say out-loud

“Really? That’s the look you’re giving my dish. After all my hard work and time slaving in the hot kitchen. Trying to please you. Fine. I’ll make that look to your dry- as usual turkey.”

She immediately slapped her hand over her mouth and turned bright-red. Everyone stood in shock at the words which had just been said. Mother I’m sure, had these thoughts every year.. But never had she said them out-loud.

That was only the beginning. The stares didn’t last long at all. People were in no time throwing remarks. As the saying goes “it only takes a spark, to get a fire going.” Thoughts of food-fights were dancing in my head as the yelling match ensued.

Dad was defending mom, as grandma shared her thoughts out-loud. Brothers were trying to protect dad as grandma was upset over her own son “betraying” her. I was sure that if it kept up, the dinner would be my new outfit, friendships would be forever destroyed and the list goes on. So, I panicked. And dialed 9-1-1.. Looking back, probably not a great idea, but I can’t take it back.

The police soon arrived, much to everyone’s surprise. In all the yelling and drama, they hadn’t noticed me slip out and return again, with just enough time to make a phone-call. One that would drastically change our Christmas.

He welcomed himself in, no-one paid any mind to the doorbell, or the knocking. He took many long-drawn-out answers, pointing fingers, to his simple questions; and soon decided that he should just send them all to the slammer for a night. It was more to scare them than anything else. Still, its something we all look back on.

Not many families can say that they were arrested on Christmas day- and certainly not many can say that it started with a comment about dry turkey. But my family can.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Journalism Writing prompt- Semester Exam Pt.1 :)

Tamara Payne

4th Period

Many of us, for one reason or another, try to hide our problems and weaknesses. We have a face to put on at the start of every new day- to hide what’s going on inside. The reason why, is beyond me. Though I’ve been guilty of doing the same. Are we trying to seem better than others? Are we afraid to be judged? Do we stress over fitting in to the point of “changing” who we are?... all are probably true.

These are some questions asked by Ms. Merritt, a History teacher at Sauganash Highschool. She had struggles in her teen years that she was afraid to “come-clean” about and move past. Now that she has, she strives to help those who haven’t reached that point. She does this by helping to sponsor a Student Support Group, called just that. This group is there to help those who struggle with eating disorders; Bulimia and anorexia, to name a few. She says;

“The sad thing about this problem [eating disorder] is that it’s kept such a secret. It’s possible that this club could have more than 100 members. I had an eating disorder when I was in high school, and I have had several students come up to me with the same issue. I want to help them be free from the disease, and I hope this support group will help.”

The Student Support group, sponsored by Ms. Merritt at Sauganash High School meets every Friday, during lunch. The president, a senior at Sauganash High- Shari McFarland, Vice president, Kim Hendrix a junior, secretary-treasurer is Jason Krauss, a sophomore.

Many who are in attendance struggle with these issues themselves. Others; however, come to learn how they can help their friends who they know struggle with the issue and are afraid to come for one reason or another. A newer member, Mary Allen says;

“My best friend hardly ever eats. I try to get her to.. But it just seems to push her away. I don’t want to do that- I want to help. But I don’t know how. I come to these meetings to learn more. And it’s nice to meet others who are struggling.. I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t come and see them here. I can know how to help them now, or at least to be more sensitive. It’s a good group for sure. I feel like I’m better prepared to help my friend.”

The group is very involved in the student body. After several fund-raisers lead by Ms. Merritt and those who are in offices of the group- they had enough money to buy bracelets to hand out to students in the hallways. They read; “I’m beautiful.” Many of the girls even post sticky notes with compliments on mirrors and lockers- to boost self-esteem.

“We’re like little elves.. you know, the ones that helped the shoe-maker while he was sleeping? I loved that story. It’s nice to feel like I’m doing something like that for someone else. I started coming because I got one of the sticky notes on my locker. It said “only you can be you, only I can be me- so be the best you can be.” I had heard that before.. But it was so perfect and I liked it being on my locker. I kept it there- so people would ask me about it. It was like advertisement for a group that I now know I’d be lost without. Random acts of kindness pass it on.” Says Hendrix, now the vice president of the club.

“The whole point of being involved in the student body is to show we care.” Says a member, Sophie Stocks. “To bring people in and let them know that we’re here. That there’s no need to be embarrassed or hide from anyone. It’s all good!”

Speaking of bringing others in, the group has a current membership of 22 people. As Merritt said; “It’s possible that this club could have more than 100 members.” President McFarland adds;

“I know we could have more people. But I’m still glad that we have those we do. I wouldn’t trade this group for anything. 22 is far from 100. But this stuff takes time. We just keep loving on those who are here.. Maybe they will tell their friends.”

And hopefully that’s the case. They may take awhile to reach 100 members, but they’re off to a great start. And as McFarland says “this stuff takes time.”

The Student Support Group will continue to meet in Ms. Merritt’s history room, during lunch on Fridays- and encourages all who would like to come, for their benefit or a friends to join in.

It’s guaranteed you’ll feel safe- and never judged. You’re all struggling with the same things- freedom comes through being honest with yourself – and accepting help. Don’t hide anymore. Don’t spend one more day wishing things would change. Make it happen.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Another paper for school!

We all have similarities and differences alike. For many these differences could be physical or something less obvious. This can also be the case for countries. Today, I will be attempting to explain some differences between how we act as individuals, or as a whole-and Japan.

I have a friend (Jeffrey Bridgman) who is the son of missionaries supported by the church I was raised in. they have spent my whole lifetime serving in Japan and I thought asking them some questions over differences would be best. They have witnessed it first-hand and will be able to answer my questions in a more personal way, as opposed to statistics and facts from a search engine.

My first question was over the physical or developmental differences. Are there any differences there? Bridgman says; “Not really, from a health-care perspective at least. Being a different race, there's definitely difference in skin colors, bone structure (flatter nose, eyes not as deeply set, generally smaller and not as tall). I'd also say there's less obesity. I would say most of that is due to difference in gene pool, however, Japanese kids rarely drink sodas, so that might contribute to being healthier.”

Not exactly what I would have expected. Japan has always seemed so different to me. And it is, but I guess the differences in that area aren’t as drastic as I would have expected. It’s amazing to me that you can travel miles-and-miles, hours-and-hours away, to find that they are fairly similar.

When asked about the duration of childhood there, Bridgman gave me an answer that was also opposite of what I would have expected. He focused mainly on the educational differences. Saying that- beginning in Junior High you begin to higher and further your education. You focus more on math/science if you believe you’ll “grow up” to be an engineer. There are other specialized programs to help you in various aspects. Even in the 6th grade there’s a huge amount of pressure placed on students to figure out their future and begin to prepare ones-self for it now. There’s a lot of stress over passing entrance tests and proving yourself successful. To parents, universities-and in society. Beginning at a much younger age than here. Many of our seniors graduate not really knowing what they want to do. Meaning they can’t prepare for it as those in Japan are.

I was also curious on the working-age in Japan. Bridgman explains that after “compulsory education”- the grade at which education is no longer required (9th -10th grade) marks when many begin to work. Even full-time. This can be as young as thirteen or fifteen.

In Japan as I’m sure you’ve picked up on- there’s a lot of pressure to grow up and be independent, successful. They are welcomed into adulthood by a “coming of age ceremony” at the age of twenty. This is hosted by the individual’s town. Everyone dresses nice and celebrates the big day. Also, at the ages of eighteen for boys or sixteen for girls (with parental consent)- they are allowed to marry- though many don’t marry until they are in their mid twenties. At age twenty you can vote, drink or smoke. You can’t get your license until you’re eighteen. Unless you want to “drive” a moped- then it’s sixteen.

So, what can account for the differences in marriage age? We frown on those who marry really young. Bridgman says; “I think part of it is a higher pressure to perform. During middle school and high school the pressure is really on to perform and get good test scores in stuff and often times guys and girls might go to different school (or the specialization - e.g. less girls in engineering - means you don't know as many girls, much less have time). In college this is a bit more relaxing since most of the time- if you get in, you'll graduate. After that there's definitely the drive of careers - Japanese are hard-workers and very dedicated to their companies (e.g. you never leave before your boss does, if co-workers go out after work you're expected to join).”

There is much put on the younger. Naturally I was curious about the attitude toward the elderly. How do they treat the elderly? Bridgman says that they are very respectful and take good care of them. Many are still hard workers in their old-age (in family businesses or in their own hobbies; gardening, making things with their hands, cooking, cleaning) they have nice retirement centers. Bridgman says; “Our town had a very nice retirement care and community center for elderly people run by the city, shuttle buses to get them around, health clinics, etc. On trains/buses in Japan they have designated seats for elderly people that people are very good about giving up when an older person gets on.”

Also, many times the Japanese don’t entrust hospital workers to care for their loved ones. If someone is in the hospital or sick, though they are being tended to by nurses the family helps to provide care. In Japan, there’s many three-generation homes. Many are super family oriented- and have a strong sense of looking out for each other.

These are only a few of the many differences, some being very different, others, not-so-much.

I hope you’ve learned some about the Japanese culture-I know I have. Maybe you’ve been inspired to learn more, or visit them (should that be the case… take me with you)

Japan is a far-away place, with some interesting ideas and differences in the way they “bring up” their children. But I can tell you first-hand, just from knowing Bridgman, who was raised in this culture, and adopted it as his own, it’s a great foundation. And produces some very mature young people- who become wonderful adults.

TLI (The Learning Institute) paper I did for school!

Thomas Hardy once said

“I am the family face; flesh perishes, I live on.”

Many people have taken a stab at what exactly this quote means. To me, it means a couple things. First of all, it could be speaking of someone who represents your family. An individual who the epitome of what your family name means. Secondly, it is obviously speaking of death. When it says that “flesh perishes”- on the contrary, “I live on.” To me, this is referring to the memories we have of people.

It’s also been said that we only cease to exist when we’re forgotten. Even after someone has passed, we remember them. People have an impact on our lives. I’m sure we can all think of a role-model, someone who taught us valuable life-lessons. Or perhaps, an older sibling, peer who took the wrong path and now advises us to do the opposite. For some, there are little memories, some so simple- yet we will never forget them.

With this being said, there are many memories from my childhood that I will never forget. I am the eldest of five children. Being raised around my younger siblings, all of us homeschooled until last year- we had much time to entertain ourselves and grow closer, with many mischevious acts.

I would like to list a couple memories that I will forever hold close to my heart- and in my mind for a rainy day.

We were always ready and beyond willing to find enjoyment in little things, or make games of the simplest tasks. I was usually the responsible one, organizing the fun- all for someone to come along and find loop-holes in my rules or layout of the games. Eventually, after I had my fit of not having the game “play out” as I would have liked, I would join in and have a good time doing whatever it was that time.

We especially enjoyed playing in our clubhouse. I’m not sure why now, looking back on it. I can still wander into my back yard to find it there, in the same state it once was (though sadly lacking in the mud-pie department. That didn’t use to be the case)

Possibly, the reason being we helped dad to build it. We thought it was so exciting to be a part of watching a building rise from a stack of boards. We were able to look at a shelf, or the front steps and say “I helped build that.” That was a lesson that dad was always trying to teach us. To make things on our own, appreciating hard work. Knowing it would take us far.

As I mentioned, we were mud-pie-makin’-fools. I couldn’t count with all our dirty fingers and toes together how many we made in a week. It was always a competition between my sister brenda and me (next to oldest) to see who could make the best pie. Obviously, we couldn’t judge based on taste- (though on some days, I wouldn’t have put it past us to try one) so we judged on other elements. I liked mine to be very smooth. Both in consistency and texture. I would carefully demolish all the “clumps” and mix well with water, which I would leave out in the sun in a bowl, to heat up. I found that the mud mixed better that way. We would also judge based on creativity. Sometimes I would make criss-cross designs in the pie with a fork, or other utensils. Overall, the pie baking experience, and competition was a very enjoyable and memorable moment in my childhood.

Our poor brother, being the only boy in a band of four girls- was often drug into many “girly” activities. I’m sure he would deny it now- but he was a barbie fanatic back in the day. He would save up his allowance to buy Kim new clothes. He was also known to strut-his-stuff down the makeshift runway in our front yard. Sporting a combination of mine and Brenda’s clothes. He was so cute! I often look back on those times and smile. I know that there comes a time for everyone to grow up, but I wish my brother had stayed in that innocent phase for much,much longer.

We would also role-play as Indians, pilgrims, Mennonites and the list goes on. The clubhouse out back was a decent place to “set the scene”, regardless of the storyline. We would always get very into our characters. Accents and marker mustaches to boot. (there’s only one boy, so many of us girls have played the role of boys a time-or-two)

We weren’t always manly-men-wannabee’s. There were times when grandma would make efforts to calm my sister Brenda and me down. She would hold “princess lessons” once a week. She lived only a hop, skip and a jump from our house, so walking was no big deal. We would show up with dirty, bare feet and stained shirts. Ready to be “princess-afied”..Really, we were just there for the cookies, and a chance to wear the plastic tiara that grandma had purchased at the $1 store. She kept everything in great condition, so it looked more like a real tiara- and it was the highest honor to wear it.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, there’s been a significant amount of competition between Brenda and me, almost from day one. From mud pie competitions, to who got to wear the crown, to who could read the sight words the fastest.

We were homeschooled. Mom has five kids and dad worked during the day. Naturally, mom would try to do as much in a group effort as she could, to save her some time. (which can probably explain how the youngest ones know things that are beyond their years) among these things, was reading. We would have “sight words.” I didn’t much like reading, but I was good at it. And of course, if Brenda was doing it, I would be as well. Always trying to do my best.

We would practice at home, then when dad returned from work, while mom was finishing supper, we would go and read them. One flash card at a time. Whoever could read/say the word first, received a quarter. This was our allowance. Weird, I know. One-by-one the quarters would come out of the roll and into one of our hands. That is a fond memory to me. One that my sister and I can still joke about. We have gotten much better now about being competitive towards each other- but a subtle drive will always be inside us to one-up the other.

These are only a few memories, I’ve no doubt I could go on-and-on. I’ve jokingly said that someday I’ll write a book about the adventures of five children, random farm animals and the clubhouse in the Arkansas Mountains. Now, I’m thinking that it may not be a half-bad idea. There’s an endless amount of simple pleasures and adventures in life, if you’ll only look for them.

As Thomas Hardy said, “I live on.” Maybe I won’t, I don’t have much say in what happens after my “flesh perishes.” I can say that I will continue to re-live these moments with my siblings, for as long as I can. We may be competitive, or not always get along. My brother may be growing up too fast and changing into a much different person that I remember him being. Still, we have each other. And family is family. We will always love each other, despite our differences and shortcomings.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Ever have this HUGE cloud in your mind? one that acts as almost a fog- making it hard to see anything else, or move on to another thought, until you've tackled this one?
Happens to me a lot. I usually have to grab some paper and jot it all down- until that cloud slowly fades into a sunny sky- today, was no exception.
This isn't paper... but, it will work.
The thought is this: what makes "good people" "good" and on the contrary, "bad people" "bad"......

I honestly believe that's hard to say. It's not a matter that you can draw a line across and be completely on one side or the other.
No one can be good all the time. And though I'm sure many would disagree no one is bad all the time.
We are all capable of being good- and of being bad.
So, if this is true, you say, why are some people seemingly awful- a majority (or "all") of the time?
We all know that one person that's difficult to get along with; That someone when asked to say something nice of in a youth group activity or Facebook survey- you would have to think long-and-hard.....or, make something up.
I refuse to believe; however, that they are completely and totally corrupt. I have a gift. No matter how terrible the person- I can come up with something positive about them. It's not always easy and I don't do it as much as I should. Still, I'll be the first to tell you that there's something good to be said of everyone.
If we were all judged and remembered for our mistakes, who would stand? (Jeremiah 10:10)
Anyway... Enough of that rabbit trail. Back to the question. Those people who are mean and hard to agree with. What's up with that? Is there any way they can be considered "good people?" to this, I have many things to say. First, to answer a question, I will ask another, who is a "good person?" I've made mistakes. "Bad people" make mistakes. So, am I a bad person? Many would say no.. Some may say yes. Guess what? It doesn't matter! We can't judge people or place them in one group. We can't see people's hearts. And there's no way to make things so black and white. There are many grey areas to be considered. Humans are complex beings and there's more to the equation than can be accurately figured by any scholar, prestigious university, academy or an in depth study. It's just not that simple.
I try my best to leave those titles behind. Many people may seem "bad" and many may seem to be "good people" why not just accept that we are humans and as I said, capable of being both?
 I will; however, agree that many may/do seem to lean one-way-or-another. (That is merely an observation and I can't judge too much beyond that.)
 I'm guilty as much as the next person. All sin is equal and even one can make us a sinner- which is what makes us short of heaven. When you think about the big picture, the rest is but minor details and totally not even worth arguing over. It doesn't matter who is "good" or "bad" we all have a decision to make one-way-or-another. And that decision has to turn into actions. Which shape your character, personality...etc.

Speaking of shaping character and personality- let me be your mom for a second. I know you've heard that question that parents have been using for a couple centuries (or, so it seems)
"If your friend jumped of a bridge, would you?"
Unless you're the world's biggest smart-alec, you probably answered something along the lines of "of course not" who would do that? and who has friends that do that stuff anyway? goodness! time for a new question, mom.
Silly example- and very clishe'.. all the same, it gets my point across.
without that one bridge-jumping friend in the picture, I'm sure the idea of jumping from a bridge would be pretty far down on your list of activities, and more-than-likely, a last resort. And it doesn't even have to be that drastic.When we hang around people who are in a good mood- we're more likely to be in a good mood ourselves. And the opposite is true as well.
Generally, those who are "bad people" spend time around those who are "bad people" themselves. Because they don't feel judged, can be themselves, won't have to do stupid things alone or worry about getting tattled on.
I've seen many times someone who has every good intention to "win-over" someone. Try to witness to them and be their friend; instead, they get sucked in and change. To some extent, we are who we spend time around. If you spend time around those who are "good people" you will probably end-up adopting some of their "good" habits. Not such a bad thing, right? remember.. the opposite is true as well. If you hang out with those who have been given the reputation and name of the "bad kid" you are likely to follow in their footsteps. Don't be too let down about yourself or think there's something wrong with you- As humans, we long to be with someone; to be a part of something. This is how/why cliques are formed. It's only natural. Knowing this, we should be able to reach these different groups. We know, somewhat, thanks to their stereotype what they are interested in, what they are like and how to get to them.
Differences, "good" or "bad" that's who we are. Humans with many capabilities, grey areas and bridge-jumping friends.
Think long and hard about who you are, and then, about who you are perceived to be by your peers- those outside your group and your family. Do you need to change some, many or almost everything about the way you react to a situation, (your self-control)
 who you are when no-one is around (your integrity)
and a great many other things. There's much to us- more than can be said with one word "good" or "bad." As I said; I don't agree with these titles. Unfortunately, a great majority of the world thinks differently than I do on this matter. I won't judge you or label you as one-or-the-other. But many may. Keep that in mind when you're making decisions day-to-day.
And reach out to those who need your help.. just be careful- have someone to "go" with you.. keep each other grounded. There's strength in numbers.