Department of English

Spring 2007 Edition

Growing Up: A Collage

Amy White
Expressive 2010 Voice
Professor: Dr. Julie Simon

As I look back on my childhood and teenage years, I tend to remember the enjoyable times or events that helped me grow. These experiences have profoundly impacted my life and were the forces that helped shape who I am today. When I started writing for this project, I wrote about memorable events that helped form my outlook on life.  I arranged my pieces in chronological order, starting with events early in my childhood and moving to the present.  In addition, as I arranged my pieces in this manner, I realized they are in order of simplicity to complexity. Although, my biography is not written in complete detail, the collection of my work provides a sense of who I am and some of the significant aspects of my life.

In order to enhance the voice of my collage, I utilized chronology to map my personal development.  My opening selection, entitled “I Like Best,” is written in a childlike voice and reflects pleasant experiences I had as child.  I wrote about my grandparents and cousins to signify the importance of family in my development.  The next piece jumps ahead into my early teenage years, and I titled it “My First Love” to add irony.  This story is about one of my tom-boyish experiences of playing softball, which was my first true love.  I used my memories of softball because it was an important part of shaping my character to work hard, set goals, be a leader, and be a team player. “Downfall,” my third piece, displays my discovery of the opposite sex, which aided in my transformation from a tom-boy into a young lady.  My fourth selection shifts from the previous lighthearted tones to a more serious one.  “Because I Am” mentions my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which very much influences my values and standards.  I chose to place it after “Downfall,” because I truly discovered who I am and what I want to become toward the end of my high school years.  “Because I Am” simply defines who I am.  My humorous piece, “Street Smart,” is next and displays a portion of my experience of moving away from home to “bustling Cedar City” to attend college. This piece symbolizes my newly discovered independence and my realization that I have much to learn, even if it includes traffic laws. “Skydiving” is a metaphor about my writing. I placed it in this part of my chronological map because I became more fearful of what others thought about my writing as I began attending college.  My seventh and concluding selection is a symbolic poem, and I wanted to conclude with a poem since I began my collage with a poem.  However, “Images of Me” displays the contrast from childhood to adulthood as I employ an adult voice rather than a child’s voice.  The imagery and symbols in “Images of Me” represent some of my unique characteristics and some of my simple pleasures. This final piece is a representation of who I am at the present time.

In addition to utilizing chronological order, I shifted from simplicity to complexity as well. I began with a child’s voice: very plain, simple, and to the point.  The two stories that followed increased in complexity.  I added more intricate sentence structure and employed elements of irony, as in the title and opening lines of “My First Love.”  “Downfall” further increases complexity as I added more vivid imagery to my sentences.  Throughout the next selections, I utilize complex sentence structure, like the lone sentence in “Because I Am.”  In addition, I add the humorous elements of hyperbole and simile in “Street Smart.”  I compared 4-way stops to charging bulls, and I exaggerated and distorted my proceedings at a 4-way intersection.  Delving further into complexity, “Skydiving” is an entirely metaphoric piece comparing my writing process to a person jumping out of an airplane.  My concluding piece is composed entirely of imagery and symbolism pertaining to my individual traits.  In addition, I wanted to end with a complex poem in order to display a distinct contrast from the simplistic opening poem.

Through my experiences of writing and compiling my assignments, I discovered my true voice speaks most clearly when I am able to select my topics.  The pieces I enjoyed writing the most were memories of events that somehow impacted my life.  This, in turn, helped me decide to use the theme of chronological order to display my personal development.  Additionally, I believe the chronological order allows my voice to speak out clearly because I define who I am and what events have aided in my personal growth.  Writing these experiences caused me to realize the many factors in the development of my character, and I realize I write to preserve memories and my voice.

I Like Best

Inspired by a poem by Nikki Giovanni
I always like the 24th of July
best.
I get to watch a parade
early in the morning
and catch candy
and see cousins
and get soaked
from the fire engines
And go to the park
to play games
and run foot races
and Grandpa gives us quarters
to buy cotton candy
and snow cones
We play in the sprinklers
then take naps
At night
Grandma makes root beer floats
and popcorn
and we watch the fireworks
They are pretty and bright
and I like the weeping willow ones
best.

My First Love           

The first time I fell in love was on a warm, spring afternoon. The air smelled of freshly cut grass and moistened dirt.  I fought thousands of butterflies in the pit of my stomach as I grabbed my mitt and jogged to my position at short stop. This was not my first softball game, but it was my first game starting varsity. I was apprehensive, to say the least. The opposing team looked extraordinarily daunting as they prepared to face our pitcher. Brushing away thoughts of doubt and taking a deep, uneasy breath, I got ready for the lead-off batter. The clank of metal against the fluorescent ball caused me to jump with anticipation. Foul ball. Another deep breath prepared me for the pitcher’s second release. This time was no false alarm. The opponent’s bat connected squarely with the ball, and I saw the orb careening in my direction. Somehow, my mind’s eye slowed the ball, so I could focus on its every twist and turn.  Nonetheless, the ball was just beyond the reach of my tautly stretched arm. I felt the orb skim the very tip of my mitt.  Intuitively whirling my body 180 degrees and crouching down, I extended my arm and caught the slowed ball in the palm of my glove. I heard faint gasps followed by cheers coming from the south bleachers, but I was not focused on sounds from the crowd.  My butterflies had vanished instantly, and I knew the relationship between me and softball was going to work out nicely.

Downfall

As a sixteen-year-old, the two most important things on my mind were basketball and boys, or a boy in particular. It just so happened that this boy, named Bruce, was in town visiting relatives during the Christmas holiday, and he invited me to go sledding.  Here my dilemma began. For one, sledding, or any winter sporting activity, was a violation of basketball team rules. Secondly, if I got caught, I would be suspended for at least two games. However, this was my chance to spend time with Bruce, who I didn’t see very often. I did what any red-blooded, American teenager would have done: I chose the boy and sledding. 

The combination of the wintry air, the anticipation of sledding, and being with Bruce made me forget about being in the act of disobeying the beloved basketball rules. Bruce and I trudged gleefully to the very top of the snow-packed hill, also known as mountain in Kansas. We debated who should pilot our opening sledding expedition, and I skeptically accepted my fate as the captain. I surveyed the landscape and chose what I believed was the most thrilling, yet safest route to the bottom. 

Hopping onto the tube, my swift descent began. Not too far in front of me, I noticed a slightly large and icy mound in the middle of my trail. Abandoning ship was not an option, so I consciously chose to ride out the jump in hopes that it would be an exhilarating experience. I hit the icy, meter-high hill traveling rapidly on my tube. My body soared through the air in a south, southeast direction, and the tube sailed on a westerly course. With a rib-cracking thud, my body landed at the bottom of the hill, not wanting to move. However, Bruce was flying towards me, and I instinctively rolled onto my stomach just in time for him to land on my back.  He rolled off, and I remained face down in the snow, neither eager nor willing to face the painful consequence of my decision to disregard team rules.

Because I Am

Because I am a Mormon, because I am imaginative, because I am outgoing, because I am myself – an active, Mormon girl trying to become as happy as I can – come to ask myself am I making my world better?

Street Smart

Small town dwellers become incredibly nervous when visiting a large city, especially because of unfamiliar encounters on the streets. For the townsfolk, one of the most intimidating encounters is a four-way stop. For instance, I, being from a hick town, always learned to avoid the one four-way intersection like I avoid a charging bull.  However, when I moved to the large and bustling Cedar City, I discovered the difficulty of avoiding four-way stops. They are all over the place, trying to trample me under their metallic feet. I was nearing an intersection one afternoon and realized, to my dismay, that I was halted at a dreaded four-way stop. Abruptly, I quit singing along with the radio, my breathing became pained, and my palms grew clammy. I felt as if death was upon me.  My brain raced, trying to remember the rules from my drivers’ education course. Had the car to my left reached the intersection first?  None of the cars moved; we were all frozen with terror. Maybe all the other drivers had stopped breathing too. Nope, I saw movement from the driver directly across from me. Then, the man to my right, a daring soul, put his car into gear and bravely ventured across the intersection. As I waited for my cue to go, the pain in my chest subsided, and I realized these charging bulls were not as bad as I had imagined.

Skydiving

When I write, I feel like a person getting ready to jump out of an airplane.  I get an almost crippling, apprehensive feeling in the pit of my stomach, much like the feelings of an inexperienced skydiver as he nears jumping point. I become anxious, and my breathing becomes burdened; I worry that my writing will not flow freely and ideas will not be expressed well. I fear my words will not be understood or accepted. Comparably, a skydiver frets and worries that his parachute will not release, and he will fall to a horrible and untimely death. However, when I make the leap into my writing, I leave my worries behind.  I experience an exhilarating and breathtaking view of my environment, but mostly I discover a new view of myself. I float on my ideas and all is well, just like the jumper discovers after he has gained the courage to leap from the airplane. Sometimes my writing hits turbulence, but I know I cannot turn back. When my writing lands, it sometimes tumbles, bumps, and bruises. My ideas do not turn out the way I anticipated, but at least I learned for the next time. Similarly, a skydiver’s landing is not always ideal, and he gets injured to some degree, but he will know better the next time. Other times my landing is smooth, and my thoughts, emotions, and ideas have been communicated well.  I, like the skydiver, am pleased with the outcome of my daring leap. I am ready to jump again, even though the crippling apprehension always tries to hold me back.

Images of Me 

Based on a poem by Billy Collins

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the cream between the Oreos.

I also happen to be the last chapter of a book,
the scent of freshly cut grass in the spring,
and the sound of a baseball landing in a glove.

I am also the pillow beneath your head
and the laughter of a small child.