FD2

My family dynamics are, at best, difficult to explain even with flow charts, diagrams, and projectors. The intricate laces that attach me to the foster family would confuse even the most tactful weavers from ancient civilizations; and then there’s my nephew Skyler. Skyler-Jay Makahinuhinulikemekahoku Paulo is possibly the most important person in my life.  He is my foster-sister’s second son and although his older brother and I were raised together like brothers, Skyler became more like a son to me due to the age gap between us. He was born in November of 2002 and when I received the first picture message of him from his tiny hospital bed in the nursery my heart swelled immediately. Even as a newborn he had a way of melting people around him into piles of loving mush.

When his mother brought him to my foster mom and I he was only five months old. He seemed small for his age, considering most of the babies in the family were plump until they hit the age they could run off all of the rice and poi. His eyes were so bright and shining that I immediately understood why his grandmother gave him his middle name, “eyes that sparkle like the stars.” I would argue that the stars would even be jealous of how much they twinkled. When he would cry I would be the first person to rush to his aid and let him hold onto my hand while I cradled his head against my shoulder and sung softly to him. His sparse and whispy hair covered by a knit cap, his lower body wrapped in swaddling. From head to toe the kid was nestled against me like he always would be.

As he grew, his face filled out, and although he wasn’t born with his signature dimple on his right cheek, he sure had an adventure making it for himself! He was running through our house one summer day, and somehow slipped on the rug in the hallway of our small home and smashed his face hard into the corner of a doorway, which I can only guess pinched the fat and muscle tissue in his cheek together forming a fake but realistic dimple. His round eyes only got larger and became chestnut orbs that accentuated his bright smile. His smile has little gaps between his teeth and the two silver capped teeth gleam as he brushes them with pride as though they were his own

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Skyler definitely knows how to be a charmer though. One day we were at the Kuhio Shopping Center downtown in Hilo with my foster mom and she went into the bank without us. Skyler was about 4 years old and learning a few languages at a time because in our home we used Hawaiian Creole (Pijin) and I wanted to make sure he understood all of the languages individually. He started to jumble and mix the languages to whatever he felt like he thought at the time was easiest.  “Mahea tututma?” he asked. “At the bank,” I responded. He thought for a moment and asked if we could go outside and run around in a blur of languages and slang. I told him I was tired, so he looked at me as sadly as he could, stuck his bottom lip out so far I thought it would fall off of his little face and asked again. I acquiesced against my better judgment knowing he would run around the perimeter before I could blink.

Later that day he turned his impish smile on a Dairy Queen worker who had no idea what hit her. He asked me to buy him an ice cream cone and to also play at the arcade in the mall. I told him he had to pick one or the other, so he asked for a dollar for the arcade, but took off towards the Dairy Queen parlor. I heard him ask the girl behind the counter for an ice cream cone; she promptly made a small vanilla ice cream cone for him and said it would be $2.50. Skyler put his dollar on the counter and the girl pursed her lips and explained that he needed a little more money than that; so my nephew’s little broken heart grabbed the dollar off the counter gingerly and started to walk away with defeat weighing on his shoulders. The Dairy Queen Girl quickly called him back over and gave him the ice cream cone which lifted his smile so high off the ground I thought he would float away! He put the dollar on the counter in front of her, beaming his happy smile and bright eyes at her and she said he could keep his dollar and asked him not to be sad anymore. With that, the little guy skipped off to the arcade with his dollar and an ice cream cone and I have never been so stunned. I still don’t know if he planned the whole thing or if it just happened to play out that way.

Since my partner and I aren’t equipped to have our own biological children I’m sure that Skyler is about as close to my child as I could get. I often think of him much like he was my own son and I know the feeling is mutual between us. When I get to visit him back home in Hilo, he tries to stay in my room with me. Sometimes he falls asleep on my bed while we play video games and he’ll softly say “goodnight Dad,” to me before nestling a little closer and falling into a deep sleep. In those cases I carry his little body to his room although he’s sometimes clung so tightly to me I had to stay with him for a while after putting him down. I can safely say that Skyler gets along with my partner Raul enough that when my foster mom jokes that he’s going to run away and come live with us up in Boston I’ll try and smile jokingly at Raul but we both know we would accept him into our home without question.

 

Eyes that Shine

My family dynamics are, at best, difficult to explain even with flow charts, diagrams, and projectors. The intricate laces that attach me to the foster family/extended family that I am apart of would confuse even the most tactful weavers from ancient civilizations; and then there’s my nephew Skyler. Skyler-Jay Makahinuhinulikemekahoku Paulo was at one point the single most important person in my life.  He is my foster-sister’s second son and although his older brother and I were raised together like brothers, Skyler became more like a son to me due to the age gap between us. He was born in November of 2002 and when I received the first picture message of him from his tiny hospital bed in the nursery my heart swelled immediately. Even as a newborn he had a way of melting people around him into piles of loving mush. An innate ability that he has to this day, as it seems no one can resist wanting to be friends with him and his bright eyed innocence.

When his mother brought him to my foster mom and I he was only five months old. He seemed small for his age, considering most of the babies in the family were plump until they hit the age they could run it all off. I remember that first day I swelled with pride when I made him smile. His eyes were so bright and shining, I understood why his grandmother gave him his middle name, “eyes that sparkle like the stars.”  His tiny hand clutched my finger with all its tiny strength; I knew I would hold his hand forever. When he would cry I would be the first person to rush to his aid and let him hold onto my hand while I cradled his head against my shoulder and sung softly to him. His sparse and whispy hair covered by a knit cap, his lower body wrapped in swaddling. From head to toe the kid was nestled against me as he always would be.

As he grew, his face filled out, and although he wasn’t born with his signature dimple on his right cheek, he sure had an adventure making it for himself! He was running through our house one summer day, and somehow slipped on the rug in the hallway of our small home and smashed his face hard into the corner of a doorway, which I can only guess pinched the fat and muscle tissue in his cheek together forming a fake but realistic dimple. His round eyes only got larger and became chestnut orbs that could brighten up anyone he smiled at. His smile has little gaps between his teeth and the two silver capped teeth gleam as he brushes them with pride as though they were his own.

One day we were at the Kuhio Shopping Center downtown in Hilo with my foster mom (his grandmother) and she went into the bank without us. Skyler was about 4 and learning a few languages at a time because in our home we used Hawaiian Creole (Pijin) and I wanted to make sure he understood all of the languages individually. He started to jumble and mix the languages to whatever his little lungs could breathe out at a time that was easiest.  “Mahea tututma?” he asked. “Ma ka hale ka la,” I responded. He thought for a moment and asked if we could go outside and run around (in what I guessed was Korean and Spanish that’s slipping my memory at the moment). I told him I was tired, so he looked at me as sadly as he could, stuck his bottom lip out so far I thought it would fall off of his little face and asked again. The kid was good. I acquiesced against my better judgment. Later that day he turned his impish smile on a Dairy Queen worker who had no idea what hit her. He asked me to buy him an ice cream cone and to also play at the arcade in the mall. I told him he had to pick one or the other, so he asked for a dollar for the arcade, but took off towards the Dairy Queen parlor. I heard him ask the girl behind the counter for an ice cream cone; she promptly made a small vanilla ice cream cone for him and said it would be $2.50. Skyler put his dollar on the counter and the girl pursed her lips and explained that he needed a little more money than that; so my nephew’s little broken heart grabbed the dollar off the counter gingerly and started to walk away with defeat weighing on his shoulders. The Dairy Queen Girl quickly called him back over and gave him the ice cream cone which lifted his smile so high off the ground I thought he would float away! He put the dollar on the counter in front of her, beaming his happy smile and bright eyes at her and she said he could keep his dollar and asked him not to be sad anymore. With that, the little guy skipped off to the arcade with his dollar and an ice cream cone and I have never been so stunned. I still don’t know if he planned the whole thing or if it just happened to play out that way.

He is currently the sweetest, least-rebellious 12 year old I’ve ever met in my life. His grandmother is his best friend, he had a bully once who is now one of his best friends at school, even his cruel mother still can’t stay mad at him. His heart is so warm it melts everything and everyone around him. To top it all off, the boy is absolutely genuine about it; there isn’t a single malicious feeling in his body toward any other creature. Skyler even offers forgiveness to people who hurt him before they offer an apology. As the closest thing I have ever had to a son of my own, I honestly cannot be more proud of Sky, both to have had a hand in raising him, and to knowing the good he can do for those around him.

FD1

Since I really only got feedback that reminded me to explicitly add and note a thesis I did that for the FD1 submission.

 

 

This place was once filled with laughter; a home cobbled together by lives of two broken families stitching together the broken pieces with shared hugs and shared meals. By the time I was born in the middle of the summer of 1990, the house was a home, lived in and worn.  [THESIS] The home I grew up in had character, it was as much a part of raising me as the family around me. [/THESIS] The halls had the carvings and crayons of six previous young inhabitants. Growing up here in a small nook of a street in the Kaumana district of Hilo was overwhelmingly lonely. The first years on those streets were full of short bike rides up and down the hills with very few friends that lived nearby (and by nearby I mean a few miles, and that they were school friends really), I basically had my infant cousin to talk to; Being the beginning of the next generation to occupy that home was a pretty rough place for a curious 5-year old.

The home itself was a warm, duplex with a large garage filled with car parts and car carapaces littering the oil soaked concrete. The area within 5 feet of the place smelled of oil, sweat, and orange GoJo hand soap (a favorite of mechanics and anyone that works with chemicals that follow you home). The garage was a stark contrast from the rest of the house, which was immaculate. The windows reflected years of careful cleaning, the only streaks in them were the reflections of my infant cousin ripping off his diaper again. The walls were solid wood, as many of us found out by crashing into them. The truly ominous structure in the house was the stairwell outside that felt like it was a hundred feet tall, which connected the top floor with the bottom floor and the garage.

My foster mom kept the home as tidy as she could following around two young, rambunctious boys who liked to open things up and take out as many pieces as possible. My grandfather spent most of his time asleep or working in the garage downstairs. My cousin Maika was in a state of constant motion, limbs everywhere, you could find him either running, squirming, dancing or crawling – barely ever dressed in more than a diaper, if even that. I would typically be found tinkering with the TV or VCR, undoing electronics and puzzles until I figured out how to put anything together as fast as I could take them apart. This was my first house and the only place that felt truly meant “home,” to me.

After years of moving from house to dilapidated house, my foster Mom and I were on our own after life took our other halves from us. I recall we were at a new place that was closer to downtown when we heard about my childhood home being up for sale again, finally leaving our extended family’s care. We were told there were 30 days between my evil uncle moving out and when it would be turned over to the bank. My foster mom and I decided to visit it one last time and the thousand some odd hugs she gave me as a kid when somehow my world shattered over a broken toy or missed TV show couldn’t have been returned all at once to fix the sadness that poured from her eyes. The house was annihilated. Obvious signs of dogs, children, and alcoholics have torn the love from the walls and windows. The world I knew from my childhood was void of this place.

We walked through the silent halls, our footsteps echoing off the filth as we tried to avoid giant stains of various origin on the floors. Not so much as an inch in any direction could be counted on to be clean. This disrespect to my grandfather’s home from his own son was the last wedge that separated me from my biological family. From that day forward I refused to acknowledge the majority of the Mattos clan, save for the polite nods when cousins of my generation tried to greet me in public. That small visit to the old house broke the last bit of loyalty I had to them. In that visit, I was flooded with memories of every moment they had all failed me and my foster mom, all the lies, all the times they represented the very worst of human traits. As we drove away from that house, and our old lives, my foster mom reminded me that there was a reason I wasn’t a part of that family, and that she never felt more sure that I belonged with her. Then she left me with a very profound quote that ended our night, we headed home in silence and had a quite night at home; she said, “Sometimes you aren’t born into your family, sometimes you just find the place you fit later.”

Review Draft #1

Title : A House, A Home

This place was once filled with laughter; a home cobbled together by lives of two broken families stitching together the broken pieces with shared hugs and shared meals. By the time I was born in the middle of the summer of 1990, the house was a home, lived in and worn.  The halls had the carvings and crayons of six previous young inhabitants. Growing up here in a small nook of a street in the Kaumana district of Hilo was overwhelmingly lonely. The first years on those streets were full of short bike rides up and down the hills with very few friends that lived nearby (and by nearby I mean a few miles, and that they were school friends really), I basically had my infant cousin to talk to; Being the beginning of the next generation to occupy that home was a pretty rough place for a curious 5-year old.

The home itself was a warm, duplex with a large garage filled with car parts and car carapaces littering the oil soaked concrete. The area within 5 feet of the place smelled of oil, sweat, and orange GoJo hand soap (a favorite of mechanics and anyone that works with chemicals that follow you home). The garage was a stark contrast from the rest of the house, which was immaculate. The windows reflected years of careful cleaning, the only streaks in them were the reflections of my infant cousin ripping off his diaper again. The walls were solid wood, as many of us found out by crashing into them. The truly ominous structure in the house was the stairwell outside that felt like it was a hundred feet tall, which connected the top floor with the bottom floor and the garage.

My foster mom kept the home as tidy as she could following around two young, rambunctious boys who liked to open things up and take out as many pieces as possible. My grandfather spent most of his time asleep or working in the garage downstairs. My cousin Maika was in a state of constant motion, limbs everywhere, you could find him either running, squirming, dancing or crawling – barely ever dressed in more than a diaper, if even that. I would typically be found tinkering with the TV or VCR, undoing electronics and puzzles until I figured out how to put anything together as fast as I could take them apart. This was my first house and the only place that felt truly meant “home,” to me.

After years of moving from house to dilapidated house, my foster Mom and I were on our own after life took our other halves from us. I recall we were at a new place that was closer to downtown when we heard about my childhood home being up for sale again, finally leaving our extended family’s care. We were told there were 30 days between my evil uncle moving out and when it would be turned over to the bank. My foster mom and I decided to visit it one last time and the thousand some odd hugs she gave me as a kid when somehow my world shattered over a broken toy or missed TV show couldn’t have been returned all at once to fix the sadness that poured from her eyes. The house was annihilated. Obvious signs of dogs, children, and alcoholics have torn the love from the walls and windows. The world I knew from my childhood was void of this place.

We walked through the silent halls, our footsteps echoing off the filth as we tried to avoid giant stains of various origin on the floors. Not so much as an inch in any direction could be counted on to be clean. This disrespect to my grandfather’s home from his own son was the last wedge that separated me from my biological family. From that day forward I refused to acknowledge the majority of the Mattos clan, save for the polite nods when cousins of my generation tried to greet me in public. That small visit to the old house broke the last bit of loyalty I had to them. In that visit, I was flooded with memories of every moment they had all failed me and my foster mom, all the lies, all the times they represented the very worst of human traits. As we drove away from that house, and our old lives, my foster mom reminded me that there was a reason I wasn’t a part of that family, and that she never felt more sure that I belonged with her. Then she left me with a very profound quote that ended our night, we headed home in silence and had a quite night at home; she said, “Sometimes you aren’t born into your family, sometimes you just find the place you fit later.”

Discussion 2 for Paper 1

Madeline Sonik, in “Cucarachas,” says, “I am aware of nothing, only that the cold night air is hitting my face and my legs are running without pain or exhaustion, running, as if they act reflexively, against my wishes, because they know that I’m completely alive.” What does she mean by “completely alive”?

The writer keeps using the phrase “completely alive,” to highlight the adrenaline of a very dangerous or mysterious situation she finds herself in. In this instance she is once again escaping a situation she doesn’t want to be in, and she seems to enjoy the adrenaline kick.

2. Joan Didion, in “Goodbye to All That,” says, “I was very young in New York, and that at some point the golden rhythm was broken, and I am not that young anymore.” What is Didion’s opinion New York? (BTW, there are quite a few typos, but I think you’ll be able to read through them.)

It seems as though the author views New York as a surreal dream. A place where she has escaped the reality of Sacramento and had to learn and adapt to a larger place with less people. Didion seems to view her time in New York as a period where she has grown and matured, learned to understand her place and the place she is occupying better. At some points it seems as though she is trying to imply she thinks of her life in different ways and where different decisions could have led her.

3. Susanna Donato, in “Separate Ways,” says, “Instead I gather myself and leap over her, land, and sail on in a moment of ten-year-old glory.” What is the symbolic significance of this line?

The significance is that she had surmounted what was sure to be a very embarrassing moment. She landed a perfect jump and continued skating without stumbling over some random girl and had thereby avoided what was sure to be another feather in her apparent cap of confusion.

4. Jessica Hamilton, in”Auto Mechanics,” “‘Stop!’ I ordered. “‘Dad’s fine. He does this all the time,’ I lied.” What is the significance of lying in this quote?

Hamilton is lying to keep Jennifer calm. While in the subsequent description she remarks on his affinity for an adrenaline kick, it doesn’t make this particular statement any more true, as though he always tows cars from inside rushing rivers and barely makes it back up to breathe.