Saturday, October 30, 2010


I cannot do this on my own,
So I just want to know,
Will you just leave me stranded here?
Will I have no place to go?

I know your life is difficult,
And trust me I would know,
But don't just leave me stranded here,
With no place to go.

You are the light that shines within me,
The reason I stay strong,
But please don't ever abandon me,
I cannot do this on my own.

So let's build life back together again,
One by one,
I will never leave you here,
Stranded here on your own.

*Dedicated to Daisy Flores R. I. P*

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Spreading Social Awareness Reflection

People believe that crime arises from poverty. People who don’t exactly have all the neccesities of a well upbringing are more likely to commit crimes or be involved in them. In the Bronx, a young teenager was killed, and no one knows who commited the murder. The area is a very poor one, but her neighbors stated that she was never the kind of girl to go looking for problems and was a good student. 

The fact that she was a teenage girl in high school upsets me because she was killed so young. But what does this say about us New Yorkers? While I live in a great part of the city, others don’t, and instead they are dealing with the possibility of being involved in crimes on a daily basis. I think that the elected officials of that community should try and look for a solution for the crimes committed. If they had been pro-active Luzbenet Ramirez might have still been alive. This opened my eyes to see that a person’s environment could definitely be a huge variable in one’s life, her neighborhood has few security watches and she was living with a couple who wasn’t her family. People have to become more aware of issues like these to prevent future slayings of not only the youth but everyone as well.

Healthcare is another topic that everyone has knowledge about because ever since Obama’s Healthcare reform bill passed, health related topics have been glorified by the media. In the news they state how NY elected officials seek to improve the database for the health records system by making it statewide. Their plan is to have all the records go into an electronic system and thus making it much easier on the patient who might be switching insurance companies.  The NY eHealth Collaborative declares that this system will help cut costs and in general be a useful way to keep records.

I think it’s a great idea because new technology is constantly being developed and by having the health records on the computer its saving a lot of time, money and even paper. Our state only has 40% of health records on computers, we should ask our representatives to vote for this proposal because it will be very beneficial to the people. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mother To Son

Life. What a simple word, yet it is probably the most difficult thing known. People have many problems they go through and not necessarily ones they share. Never mistake a smile for happiness. Mother to Son by Langston Hughes is one of the most appreciated poems around for a reason. What can be implied by the title, is that it is a poem about a mother speaking to her son. But as you read further, is that really the case? It can be interpreted in many ways and no single one is solely correct. And that just adds to the poems beauty. 

Life for me ain't been no crystal stair. 
The crystal stair, for what it may or may not be representing, is a perfect life. When I think of crystal, I think of beauty, perfection. Flawlessness. Of course, no one is perfect, thus no life will ever be perfect. But this particular woman's life must have been one of the hardest of all. Her stairs can be described as having: 
Tacks in it, 
And splinters, 
And boards torn up, 
And places with no carpet on the floor- 
She's been through a lot of pain. There have been obstacles which have made her life harder to get on with, making the journey harder. She's had no luxuries to make the climb smoother and less hurtful as carpet can provide. It isn't necessary, but it is a luxury some people are lucky enough to have. Unfortunately, she was not as lucky and she was unable to have these luxuries. She had to deal with life- or her climb up the stairs- for what it really was. And that would include all the pain and misfortune being felt.

I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So, boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps.
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now—
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair. 
The strongest person, will not be the person who works out at the gym 24/7, but the person who keeps going in life. Their motivation, whatever it may be, will keep them going. No matter what life throws at them, they're still going, aiming for that goal. It makes them stronger knowing that they're still going and they aren't giving up and that truly is my inspiration from this poem.

So don't give up. "For I'se still climbin', And life for me ain't been no crystal stair."

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Kind of Tollbooth

I was 8 years old when my grandfather read The Phantom Tollbooth to me. I was 9 when he passed. Re reading this book, alone this time, was hard, but I was determined to do it. As a young girl, this book didn't make much sense to me and I didn't really get the play on words, but it was something to have a laugh over with my grandfather. It was the last real thing we did together. Reading it now though, through the eyes of a 13 year old, it meant more than a laugh to me. Of course, I also enjoyed this book for that reason, but it also resembled the human nature in a sense that was so true to itself and I really loved that."If you don't pay attention to the world, it will disappear". You have to learn to accept different people and open your eyes to the world, learn about different cultures and appreciate them, learn a new language and speak to the world...

The characters were so real, I found myself thinking that I actually knew Milo. And in a way, I do. Milo was a boy who had not yet opened his eyes to the world. He hadn't learned the gift of accepting new and different people or things. This reminded me of my father, who is so old fashioned its scary. Luckily for Milo though, he receives the tollbooth and goes on journey which forces him to see the world for the adventure it really is. So I'm guessing the tollbooth just hasn't gotten around to my father yet?

The Humbug is another character I know in real life. In the book, he agrees with anything and everything and can really get nasty at times. I thought this is how most little kids will act. My cousins son will agree with you no matter what it is. He thinks like this: if she's older than me, then she's smarter than me, and I gotta agree with her because she's right. I blame this on the fact that he's still young and hasn't exactly developed an opinion about the world yet. The Humbug though, for that matter, looks like an adult. To see this in an adult though, well, that just kind of scared me. I would be lying if I said this world does not have those sort of people because they do, but I just think it's about time people opened their eyes.

Officer Shrift, although he had a somewhat smaller part, was definitely another character that I think most people will know. "He likes to put people in prison, but doesn't care at all about keeping them there." People will do a lot to appear, and even feel, like they have power and are in control, but in the end, it's all really about image though. Even if they don't have that power, you can still feel it and feel good. And it's probably not a good thing, but hey, it's true.

Not only were the characters realistic, but the ideas were as well. The following is an excerpt found on page 1 from when we are first introduced to Milo.: When he was in school he longed to be out, and when he was out he longed to be in. On the way he thought about coming home, and coming home he thought about going. Wherever he was he wished he were somewhere else, and when he got there he wondered why he bothered. Nothing really interested him- least of all the things that should have. This paragraph captivated me because it was so unbelievably true. We may not realize this, but as a human nature, we never seem to be truly satisfied  with our lives. We'll keep pushing and pushing whether or not we know what's waiting for us. We never seem to be content at the place we are in life which is exactly what Milo is portraying in his character.

You know, Norton Juster is just amazing at creating places! "Welcome to Expectations!"... "Expectations is the place you must always go to before you get to where you're going. Of course, some people never go beyond Expectations, but my job is to hurry them along whether they like it or not." We have all visited Expectations at least once in our lives. It is the place we must go to before we get to where we are going. Whether we realize it or not, we will make assumptions, or expect, certain things of other things, places or people. If we stayed behind those expectations and never looked beyond what meets the eye, we would get nowhere as a human race. We would likely all end up in the "Doldrums".

And on that note, "The Doldrums, my young friend, are where nothing ever happens and nothing ever changes"... "That's why you're here. You weren't thinking and you weren't paying attention either. People who don't pay attention often get stuck in the Doldrums". When we don't pay attention to life and we don't give it our fullest, we aren't necessarily working as hard as we could be. We then get "stuck" in this nowhere land of nothing. Nothing ever changes because we aren't trying to change it to get to where we want to be. And nothing will ever happen because you aren't working hard enough. You probably don't want to end up there.

There's more to the Phantom Tollbooth than meets the eye. It is definitely a book worth re visiting from time to time, which I will do. Although younger kids will not understand it completely, they will have a laugh as I once did with Abuelo. And maybe, when they're older, they will re read it and hopefully see it through more sophisticated eyes. It will also be  a key to the door of the world. So take out that key ring and unlock the door. Welcome to The Phantom Tollbooth...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

This is Awesome.

While re reading The Phantom Tollbooth, I really learned to appreciate Norton Juster's play on words and his wordplay. His writing really makes you think hard and his ideas are right on. I looked for book reviews on The Phantom Tollbooth and found that most felt the same way about Norton Juster's writing craft as I. Although I did find one that got me really mad. I totally disagreed upon every aspect and criticism about the book. 

In Steven Wu's review ( about the Phantom Tollbooth, he refers to Norton Juster's use of words and craft as a joke. One of his examples I completely disagreed on was that the book just floats with artificial plot devices Norton Juster employs. Honestly, I think this guy has no brain and I don't say this to be mean. It's just that he doesn't look or read beyond what is written. He doesn't read the fine print.

Milo, Tock, and the Humbug escape prison and while yeah, most might think that's cliché in a sense where the hero never loses, but there's more to it than that. On page 78, The Which (not to be confused with a witch) tells them how to escape. She says, "You mustn't take Officer Shrift seriously. He loves to put people in prison, but he doesn't care about keeping them there. Now just press that button in the wall and be on your way."

By this, I got the impression that most people will do a lot of things to feel like they have power yet some will not proceed to enforce the rules. They just enjoy the position of power and feeling like they're all high and mighty. Although Steven Wu did not find this to be clever at all, I thought it was very clever of Norton Juster to make that connection to life.

All in all, researching further did make me understand the ideas in the book more thoroughly because I was standing up for the book which made me think more clearly and it forced me to read the fine print even more. I definitely recommend this book to people of all ages because it has different things we can all learn and as we get older, the ideas become more complex.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Phantom Tollbooth: Your Modern Day Aristotle

Re kindling my love for The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, has not only given me an escape to the real world, but also opened my eyes in a way they weren't when I was originally read to. This book has so many hidden lessons you may not necessarily catch them the first time, but if you look closer you will definitely find them.

Now, the particular part of the story I am going to talk about, is definitely one of my favorite parts of the book. Turn to page 19 of my copy of The Phantom Tollbooth and you will find this excerpt underlined:
"Expectations is the place you must always go to before you get to where you're going. Of course, some people never go beyond expectations, but my job is to hurry them along whether they like it or not."
BAM! Did you catch that? And this is coming from a CHILDREN'S book! I thought this was one of the many important life lessons of the book. And, more importantly, I found this to be very true.

In life, we will set expectations whether they be about ourselves, society, etc. And whether you make them consciously or sub consciously, you still set those expectations. When Norton Juster says some people never go beyond expectations, he really means just that. People set expectations and they don't search further. They will expect something of someone or something and when they are disappointed, BOOM! That's it. No more. They won't even try to fix whatever went wrong. You have to make it worthwhile. That's one of the keys to life, and you can't do that, unless you try.

I definitely think this is something kids should learn at a young age so they have more time to develop this concept. I have a little sister and I want the best for her in life. I want her to be able to go the extra mile and be able to "go beyond expectations" in the words of Norton Juster. Although she, and most kids her age, will not be able to understand this fully right now, they can understand this to a simpler degree and I think the more educated about life the next generation is, the better. It means the same mistakes won't be made and that hopefully some day, everyone will always "go beyond expectations".

At least, that's what I hope will happen.