Friday, November 16, 2007
A victory that can’t be won,
Why is our tax money exchanged for a gun?
The cause for fighting is none,
The effects cannot be undone,
Why devastate a soldier’s loved one?
War never helps in the long run.
War is just a woeful plight,
Which is never alright.
With many soldiers dying each and every night.
You know what would be a delight?
If every war, every fight, just ended tonight,
Let’s stop the seemingly endless fight.
Where is the Love?
You know what is something I’m really sick of?
The world needs more love.
Maybe one day war will be something we never talk of.
Love don’t Hate,
What if we made all wars abate?
That is something that I strongly await,
Wouldn’t a world with no wars be great?
What if all wars just stopped,
And bombs would never again be dropped,
Is that really asking a lot?
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
The top of a tower,
The color of a pearl,
It's texture like the watery waves,
Where it is always submerged.
What once crawled inside it is nowhere to be seen,
So pick up and plop it in your bucket,
Full of treasures from the sea.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
There lived a cat named Magwa who was very small but wanted to be big. Magwa was red and angry about that too. All the other cats were not red. She didn’t know what to do.Along came a zebra and said, “I’m much bigger than you” and magwa said, “If you were in my skin, you’d be small too.”Zebra said, “ If you were in my skin, you’d be big and have stripes like me.”Then the Zebra walked away and said, “Hah! She should have been bigger. I didn’t even hear what she said!”Then a tiger came and said to Magwa, “That Zebra who walked by you said that he couldn’t even hear you. Why don’t you hop on my back and then everyone can hear you?”Magwa said, “ You have orange and I have red. No other animals have that. Can we be friends and live together?”“Yes,” said the tiger, “ I don’t have children. You could be my child. I will be your mother.”They lived together and had a happy life. Later Magwa married another tiger and moved to a new cave and had cat babies of her own.The end
Igloos made by children. With chilly children come
Nannas’ wiping boot-stained, wet floors. With wet floors, come hot chocolate and
Taffy Apples. With hot chocolate and taffy apples, comes
Everyone savoring a warm, blazing fire.
Relaxation settles over the house as everyone gathers around the table,drinking hot chocolate while sticky hands clutchtaffy apple sticks.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Today is a bummer
I fell off my bike
I just got two wheels
I got rid of my trike
Today is a bummer
I got bullied at school
I lost my best friend
She said I wasn’t cool
Today is a bummer
I fell off a swing
I put a hole in my jeans
And I lost my best bling
Today is a bummer
I just bumped my leg
Now I can’t go to ballet
Even if I beg
should be better!!!!
Thursday, April 12, 2007
I hear the ball go "swish" thru the net
I hear the players yelling for the ball
I hear the fans cheering
I see the players shooting
I see the players running
I see the players arguing with the referee
I taste the gatorade I drink when I'm thirsty
I taste the ball as it hits the rim and then hits my face
I smell the rubber ball
I smell the food the fans are eating
I feel the ball leaving my hands
I feel the sweat rolling down my head
I feel my feet touching the shiny wooden floor
I stand now by the poet tree and poems spring to mind.
The poet tree is magical and influences our kind.
It came from the great lit’rature folk. They left it here one day.
They had to hurry to their homes to keep number folk at bay.
Lit’rature folk, you see, hate math in all its forms.
The number folk strike back at them with wars of fraction storms.
The lit’rature folk now are gone but the poet tree remains.
It loves us and enriches us and ripens all our brains.
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
The Scuffed Baseball
By Faisal Khurshid
* 1 *
Paul tossed and turned on the cold floor of the dusty apartment as he tried not to irritate the knots on his back. He was a hopeful child whose only source of refuge from his abusive father was baseball, the sport that he adored so much. But it hadn't always been this way. Back in Mexico, his boyhood had been as normal as could be.
Paul Cruz was born and raised in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico; across the border from El Paso, Texas. At the age of two weeks, his parents split up because they were young, had only two years of high school education and were too poor to afford abortion.
When Paul’s parents split up, his father moved across the border to neighboring El Paso, Texas. After that, both parents made drastic changes to their lives. Paul’s mother, Theresa, went back to high school for a year and then went to a preparatory college for two years; all the while working two jobs at night as well as three on weekends, to earn money for tuition, food, and Paul’s daycare.
Meanwhile, Paul’s father, Troy, was doing quite the opposite - he stayed with a friend and was always drunk, or at casino's, gambling. He was a tall, well-built man whose handsome features were slowly wearing away from smoking. He was the type of person who would never have made anything of his life. Troy barely got by on whatever earnings he had left over from his job as a valet serviceman and he would often resort to drugs as a haven to get away from his depressing, stressed out life. After he had left Theresa, he forgot about his child, and had never talked to her after Paul's birth.
* * *
Paul had a normal life in Mexico, as any other young Mexican boy would have had. His school was just like those in poor neighborhoods in Mexico, focusing on Spanish, while tutoring sub-par education in other subjects. As a youngster, he never really got to leave the town, again just like every other poor little boy. He and his friends would spend time together playing baseball or soccer, but never anything out of the ordinary. Paul and his friends were all tall and thin, and this too was nothing unusual in their neighborhood. They would always dream about a life in America, with big, clean houses and beautiful wives; but all the boys knew it would just be a dream, never to be lived, only to serve as entertainment in their young minds.
* * *
One day, a professional wrestler - named Eddie Guerrero - came back to Ciudad Juarez, his home town. He was a big, muscular guy whose polite manner didn’t match with his tough body.
“Hey guys!” said Eddie cheerfully, “My name is Eddie, I grew up in this town.”
“Hola,” replied the three boys in unison.
Eddie played baseball with Paul and his friends, and told them about life in America. He spoke of living in a house fit for twenty people and earning so much money that he could afford to have four cars at the same time. The boys marveled at Eddie’s stories about wrestling. They fantasized growing up to be famous and rich in America, just like Eddie.
The next day, Eddie had to leave – but before leaving, he gave Paul a dirty, scuffed-up baseball and a t-shirt that said “Latino Heat,” Eddie’s stage slogan. Even though the baseball’s leather covering was peeling off, it was the best baseball Paul had ever had.
From that day on, Paul aspired to become good at baseball. He dreamed that one day he could be so skilled in baseball, that he would be as famous as Eddie and have a big house. Paul practiced throwing the baseball whenever he could. The baseball was his prized possession; he would always keep it in his pocket, keep it by his head at night, and fall asleep examining each little scratch and blemish in the ball. He was determined to succeed at baseball.
* * *
On an extremely hot September day, Theresa got a little late from school, and was in a rush to get to Paul’s daycare by five, before the evening rush. As she got onto the highway, she was nervously looking for her cell-phone, to notify the daycare center she would be late. This was when, a car trying to make a pass, hit her car. As her car started to swerve out of control, Theresa tried to steer straight in a frantic attempt to gain control. This only made things worse, and her car rolled over the median, colliding with an oncoming truck. Her car got overturned and was hurled against the side wall. The moment her car hit the wall, it crumpled and burst into flames, killing Theresa.
* * *
At the daycare center, the manager, Diana, was worried sick by seven o’clock. She repeatedly called Theresa’s cell phone but kept getting answered by the machine. Finally, on the last call, the phone was answered by a deep-voiced man who sternly introduced himself as Officer Ramón. He promised to come to the daycare center right away. It was past six o’clock now and all her children had left, but Paul was still there, peacefully oblivious to the fact that something terribly bad had happened.
When the policeman arrived at the daycare, he mumbled an introduction to Diana and then turned to Paul,
“Is this your mother?” Officer Ramón said, as he held up Theresa’s license.
“Sí, Señore. Es mí madre,” (Yes, sir. It is my mother) replied Paul, shakily.
At that time, Officer Ramón took Diana into the office and explained the whole story to her and she almost started crying upon hearing the news.
Paul was only seven years old, and was very confused on being told that his mother had gone to ‘a better place.’ Whenever he would hear this he would immediately start bawling and yell back, “But here is a better place!”
* * *
Paul had to spend a week in the orphanage until the police were able to trace down his father. That week was hard on him, because none of the boys would talk to him leaving him feeling very lonely at times. On his seventh day in the orphanage, Officer Ramón came to the orphanage with a kindly-looking lady, who wore an almost fake looking smile, “Paul, I am Miss Gomez, I am a social worker who will be taking you to your father.”
Paul replied, “I have a father?”
“Yes, Paul, he lives in El Paso, right across the border.”
* * *
Paul had mixed feelings as he climbed into Miss Gomez’s black SUV for the ride to El Paso. He was eager to meet his father and get to his new home, out of curiosity; but at the same time he was afraid because he was only seven, and had never experienced any drastic change in his life. The drive took about fifteen minutes; El Paso was right across the border. When they reached the border, there was a long line of cars waiting to get checked by the border guard. Paul had never seen so many people gathered in one place before. The closest thing he had seen to this big of a crowd was the Cinco de Mayo festival, where the whole village gathered.
The border guards scared Paul because they were all dressed in identical uniforms, similar to that of Officer Ramón’s.
“Hello, passports please,” said the border guard.
“Here you, go sir,’ replied Miss Gomez, as she handed two booklets over and a paper saying “POLICE REPORT” at the top.
“The boy… he is an orph…” questioned the border guard as he was cut off.
“Yes, I am taking him to his father. His mother died in a terrible…” said Miss Gomez, as she continued on.
Miss Gomez and the border guard continued talking in a business-like manner. Paul didn’t really understand, but he heard his name mentioned a few times.
“Lets get you to your father,” said Miss Gomez enthusiastically to Paul, as she finished her talk with the border guard.
Paul's first impression of the United States was that it was very clean and well kept. He noticed that there was no pile of thrash by the highways, which was almost customary in Mexico. He also noticed that both sides of the highway were loaded with trees and all unused land was either paved into a sidewalk, or green with grass. These things were something that his village in Mexico lacked. He also noticed that cars were shiny clean, as if brand new, or newly cleaned. In his village everybody kept driving the same, old cars and if anybody needed a new one they would just buy one from a neighbor who was ready to get rid of his old one. Nobody cleaned their cars, if they got dirty, nobody would care. The most surprising thing that Paul noticed was the great, big car dealerships. In his village there was nothing like this. He was amazed at the hundreds and hundreds of brand new, shiny cars.
Within a few minutes, Miss Gomez pulled into Troy’s shabby apartment complex, where he lived in his friend’s apartment.
“Wait here,” she gestured to Paul, still in that over cheerful voice.
He watched as Miss Gomez entered the run-down apartment complex.
* * *
When Miss Gomez knocked on the door of the apartment Troy shared with a friend, she herself could barely hear her knocking against the loud sound of music coming from within the apartment. When the door finally opened, she was greeted by a tall, muscular man who looked as if he hadn’t shaved in a week.
“Huh? Who are you?” the man grunted rudely.
“Are you Troy?” Miss Gomez replied.
“Uhm… yeah. Are you here about the boy?”
“Yes, Paul will be in your custody from now on.” said Miss Gomez, pondering if she was doing the right thing.
“Where’s the boy?” Troy asked, reluctantly.
“He is out in the car. I need you to sign some papers first,” Miss Gomez said, as she took out some papers.
Miss Gomez explained the terms of custody to Troy, but his all he seemed to care about was the money he would be receiving weekly.
Eventually, Troy and Miss Gomez were done with the paper signing and legalities so Miss Gomez went to the car to get Paul. Meanwhile, Troy turned to his roommate, Mark, and said, “That kid is gonna be so much trouble. All kids are. But I need the extra cash…”
“Yeah dude, I don’t know why you’re doing this.” His roommate replied, “Why did you ever
marry that girl anyways?”
“I don’t know, it seemed like a good idea at the time, she seemed really into it, and those drinks I had at the bar that night didn’t help either. I regret ever getting together with Theresa.”
While this was going on, Miss Gomez arrived at the car, where Paul was anxiously waiting.
“Time to go meet your father, Paul!” Miss Gomez said, cheerily, even though her face showed
confused, mixed feelings.
Paul obediently stepped out of the car and followed Miss Gomez into the neglected apartment.
When the two of them reached Troy’s apartment, he and Miss Gomez talked, shook hands, and then she left.
Troy led Paul into his badly kept apartment without even a greeting of any sort. Paul was revolted by what he saw as he stepped into his father’s apartment. There were dirty clothes covering the floor, stale food and dirty dishes on every countertop, and worst of all was the repulsive smell of dirty socks, mold, and cheap cologne. He was beginning to get scared as he quietly took a seat at the edge of Troy’s couch, which was a filthy polka-dot color of alcohol stains and the original tan color.
“You sleep in the walk-in closet,” Troy said insensitively.
Paul quietly made his way to the closet, which was a room not much bigger than a bathroom, and was bare except for a sleeping bag and a couple of empty suitcases. He was okay with most living conditions, but this closet was smaller than his room in his old home in Mexico and yet smaller than the room he had at the orphanage. He didn’t even get any dinner from Troy, who hadn’t said a word to him since he showed him to the closet.
It was only then that the reality of his mother’s death finally hit him. His emotions came up in relentless sobs as he thought about how loving his mother had been to him, even when she couldn’t give him the food he needed to sooth his rumbling stomach. That night he cried himself to sleep on an empty stomach.
* * *
Troy was not fit to be a parent. Troy would often hit Paul when he would complain. He was also not home a lot. He spent most of his day at casinos and at nights he would be out partying with his friends. Troy’s friends were a rowdy group of men who would enjoy getting drunk and annoying girls. Paul was always bored and hungry when Troy wasn’t home. Troy never bothered to buy any food to keep at home, so Paul often went hungry for long periods of time.
Whenever Troy was home he would be drunk. Paul was scared of Troy when he was drunk because he would often throw his empty beer bottles at the wall, sending glass fragments flying everywhere.
The apartment was in appalling condition. Even if the place wasn’t, it would be a claustrophobic’s nightmare. The paint on the walls was an unsightly shade of off-white, the floor was filthy with beer stains and mud, and the apartment’s only furniture was an ancient couch.
Paul hated living in the place. He had nothing to do all day, so he kept himself from going insane by entertaining himself with stories about baseball.
There was never much interaction between the father and son, Paul was already a quiet boy, especially around the scary Troy, and Troy didn’t care much for Paul. The only time the two of them would talk was when Paul asked for food, and Troy reluctantly gave him some.
Over time, Paul had gotten used to Troy’s insensitivity. One thing he really hated was being unaccompanied most of the time. In Mexico, he would be happy all the time with all his friends, but living with Troy was very lonesome. Eventually, although he hated it, he learned to cope with being alone all day.
* * *
One day, which happened to be Paul’s eighth birthday, Troy came home dangerously drunk and, for no reason, took off his belt and started whipping Paul with it. This enraged him, although he wanted to hit Troy back, he knew he would be overpowered and that it would be a worthless effort.
“Ah, Ouch! Troy! That hurts!” Paul’s yelling and screaming only made Troy’s whipping harder. He was relentless in his excruciating torture.
Paul was furious with Troy whenever he was drunk, but this was worse than any of the other countless times his father had come home drunk; this time, he was exceedingly infuriated in a drunken frenzy.
Eventually, Paul couldn’t stand the beating, he had to do something.
“I hate you, Troy!” Paul yelled out in utter rebelliousness.
Of course, this only made the drunken father increasingly senseless.
Troy picked up the boy by his only t-shirt, his beloved t-shirt that the wrestler had given to him, and hurled him at the wall. Paul’s little, eight year-old body hit the wall and collapsed on the ground.
He looked atrocious; there was a repugnant gash on his neck which was leaking blood on top of blackened, sticky, dry blood; he had swollen red marks on his neck and face from being slapped; worst of all was the macabre marks on his back, visible even through his t-shirt.
At the sight of all this, Troy grabbed a vodka, popped the cork, downed half the bottle in one gulp, and headed to his room, where he fainted before reaching the bed.
Meanwhile, Paul’s vision was hazy and he slowly went to a peaceful, long-awaited sleep.
Paul would never forget that clash with Troy. Even though in Mexico they couldn’t afford good birthday parties, that birthday was the worst one he had ever experienced.
He was determined to run away, he was filled with so much abhorrencehatred for Troy that he knew he would never be able to live with him ever again.
* * *
Weeks went by, without a single word between the father and his son. Paul barely ate, and whenever he did, it was whatever scarce food he could find in the fridge. Those weeks were hard on him; his injuries blistered and itched all the time. His cuts and bruises were infected and leaking puss from not being washed; he hadn’t taken a shower since arriving at the apartment, and from his own observations, neither had Troy.
The next night when Paul thought Troy was sleeping he tried to sneak out, but Troy was awake, drinking a beer and watching ESPN. When he heard the sound of fast footsteps he was alarmed.
“Who’s there?!” he yelled, while he grabbed a bottle of whiskey and threw it to the source of the sound.
The bottle hit Paul on the back of his head. It shattered, broken glass shards gave him cuts on his neck, and the alcohol streamed down his back, flowing freely into his wounds, stinging the cuts and causing immense pain.
He ran out of the apartment, as fast as he could. He jumped the whole flight of stairs, tore past the door, and ran. He didn’t know where he was going or what to do; all he knew was that he was going to get away from Troy. He ran across the parking lot, towards the exit of the lot when suddenly he was smashed into a car backing out of its parking spot. Although the hit itself wasn’t enough to hurt Paul greatly, it was enough to hit him to the ground. As he fell, he didn’t even have enough time to break his fall; he landed right on his head, knocking him out cold.
* * *
When Paul regained consciousness, four hours later, his head hurt really badly and his body ached all over. He looked up and saw Troy, smoking what appeared to Paul as a home-rolled cigarette. He looked around; he was on the floor in the apartment.
“Don’t you ever try to pull anything like that ever again,” Troy yelled furiously, “You ever do that again and you're gonna get turned out to the streets. You got that? No more kidding around.”
With that, Troy finished his cigarette, kicked Paul, and left the apartment.
Paul was scared. He was in immense pain and very hungry. He limped over to the fridge, took out a slice of bread, and quietly ate it. He then feebly walked over to his room and collapsed on the floor exhausted.
The next thing Paul knew, Troy was shaking him awake.
“Come on, we’re out of here.”
Paul groggily got up, and followed Troy out of the apartment and towards Troy’s old, beat up Ford pick-up truck.
They sped away, running red lights, ignoring stop lights, and almost running over a drunkard roaming the streets.
* * *
Troy’s roommate, Mark, had been arrested with drugs; so if he wanted to stay in the apartment he would have to pay the full rent, instead of the half he split with Mark. But, above that, he didn’t want to get involved with the police. He had been involved with the police before several times for DUI, and it wasn’t an experience he wanted to relive.
There was a big problem though, Troy had nowhere to go with the boy; none of his friends would have taken him in, since he had the boy with him. He was at a loss for what to do.
There was nothing Troy could do; he had nowhere to go, nowhere to stay with. There was only one option left.
* * *
“When can we sleep in a real bed?” Paul asked, getting replied by a pitiless slap from Troy.
They had been sleeping on the cold, hard for three days. Whatever money Troy had, was spent on his alcohol. He made Paul steal food when he wanted to eat. This was hard on the boy because he would hit him each time he got caught, which happened a lot.
That third night was the worst one for Paul. He tossed and turned on the cold ground; each minuscule movement burning the raw, ghastly wounds on his back. His wounds were flowing blood as well as yellow slime, from not being properly attended to.
The next day, Troy had eventually arranged to get an apartment. He had been trying to get a place to stay, but because of his unwillingness to pay a fair amount of money, he hadn’t succeeded until then.
This apartment was similar to the previous one, but even smaller. There were no rooms, just a tiny area that could barely qualify as a closet, and a small kitchen area.
Both of them slept on the ground. They didn’t have any pillows or blankets, but even then, it was better than outside. After that, life returned back to normal. But unfortunately for Paul, normal wasn’t good. Troy would still frequently come home drunk and beat Paul.
Paul was starting to get quite depressed. Life was a living hell. He kept thinking of his mother and his home in Mexico. Every night he cried himself to sleep, thinking of his dear, loving mother and how she wasn’t there anymore.
Life dragged on bitterly for Paul and he knew he had to get away from Troy, the father he hated so much.
* * *
Time had passed, and it was late August and Troy knew he had to send Paul to school. Troy, trying to temporarily get rid of the boy, enlisted him into several boarding schools. Paul didn’t get accepted because he wasn’t smart enough. He had never had proper education. Troy had to find some way to occupy Paul’s time so he signed him up for a travel baseball team.
After a few months, Paul developed a love for baseball. He never missed a practice or a game. Everyday, he walked to practice and back; he was the first one there, last one to leave. He was also good at it. He was the star shortstop.
* * *
After the baseball season, the coach decided to reward the team for getting first place, by taking them to the local minor league baseball game. Even thought it wasn’t a Major League game Paul loved the experience. He loved how everybody would cheer for the players down on the field and how all the players were so talented. Ever since then Paul begged Troy to take him to a baseball game.
Troy would always say that he would never buy Paul tickets to a baseball game. Each time he asked, Troy beat him. He really wanted tickets so he entered numerous contests and drawings. One day, while listening to the radio he heard of a contest for baseball tickets that the ninth caller would win. Paul tried to time his call just right…when he got through…he was the ninth caller! Paul was ecstatic; when the DJ on the radio picked up he was speechless. But in the back of his head, he had one big worry: would Troy take him to the game?
The next day Paul told Troy he won two tickets to a baseball game in three weeks. Troy slapped Paul and told him,
“Why did you go off and do that? You idiot!” Then Paul nervously replied,
“Can we go?”
Troy kicked Paul and yelled back, “Get lost!”
* * *
The next three weeks leading up to the game were hard for Paul. He was nervous about going to the game. His mind was always on whether Troy would take him to the game or not. In school, when he was supposed to be studying, he day dreamed about going to the game. The day of the game, October 28, went by really slowly for Paul. It was a Friday, and he just couldn’t wait for school to end. That day he had a math test, he was sure he failed but he didn’t care because he was so anxious. But he was also irritated that Troy still hadn’t said he would go.
The game would start at five and by the time Paul walked the three miles home it was already four o’clock. He was devastated when he got home and Troy wasn’t even home yet. It was a forty-five-minute drive to the stadium and Paul already knew they would be really late.
Troy finally got home at quarter to five. Paul begged to Troy, “Can we go now?”
Troy just slapped him and said, “Whatever, We will leave in twenty minutes.”
“But the game starts in ten…” Paul begged back.
As soon as those words came out of his mouth Paul knew he made a mistake. Troy lifted up his briefcase and whacked Paul across the head.
Paul just wanted to go and hit Troy back, but he knew Troy was his only chance to go to the game. Although Troy wouldn’t ever admit it, he had a special love for baseball, so in the back of his head, he actually wanted to go so he yelled to Paul, “Okay, Let’s go.” Paul jumped up from where he was sulking and ran for the door.
* * *
By the time they reached the ballpark it was already the seventh inning. As they were making their way towards their first-row, behind dugout seats, Troy spotted some of his friends in the upper deck and said, “Come on, kid, we’re gonna sit up top.” Paul pleaded back, “But we have the best seats!” But Troy just ignored him.
When the game was over, Paul started towards the field. Troy yelled at him but Paul kept walking. He hung out with the crowd that was getting autographs, and then snuck into a door that said, “PLAYER’S LOCKER ROOM.” Paul found himself in a long hallway, which led to the locker room. He heard footsteps and dove into a nearby closet, which, to Paul’s benefit, was completely empty.
* * *
Ten minutes later, Paul heard many footsteps and he assumed the team was filing into the locker-room. An hour later, Paul dared to come out of his hiding spot. He started walking towards the locker room when he heard a player shout, “Hey! Are you the new laundry boy?”
Paul, not knowing what to do, shouted back, “Yeah.”
The team manager said, “You get the dirty uniforms yet?”
Paul, still confused, mumbled, “No, not yet.”
He walked around to each locker, picking up the dirty clothes and dropping them into the bin he had found.
While he got the laundry he developed a plan in his head - he was going to run away from home. He didn’t know when or how, but he knew if he wanted to have a happy life he would have to get away from Troy. As he rounded the corner, he ran into a Mexican-looking player.
He said, “Me llamo Felipe” (My name is Felipe). “¿Tu hablas español?” (Do you understand Spanish?).
Paul had learned Spanish in Mexico, but he mostly spoke English, even in Mexico, so he had a little bit of trouble understanding Felipe’s words.
When he remembered the words, he replied, “Sí, mi llamo Paul,” (Yes, my name is Paul).
They had a short until Felipe said, in shaky English, “Okay boy, I have go now.”
That night, Paul slept in the closet he stayed in earlier. For breakfast, he found a carton of donuts in the garbage can, which to Paul’s astonishment was half full. Paul thought to himself, “How do these people waste so much food?!” For the next week, Paul lived in his closet, posing as the laundry boy, and eating whatever edible food he could find in the garbage can.
Paul became good friends with Felipe and then one day as Paul was doing the laundry, Felipe walked in.
“Wear same shirt every day?” Felipe questioned, as he tossed Paul one of his jerseys.
As Paul was putting on the jersey, Felipe saw his back and exclaimed, “Paul, who do this to you?!” Suddenly, Paul started sobbing, and told Felipe everything.
* * *
The next day, two people, a man and a woman, each with warm, kindly faces, came to the stadium and talked to Felipe. They were talking in Spanish, and Paul couldn’t follow it well, but he heard his name being mentioned quite a few times. When they seemed to be done talking, he had to show his wounds to the the man and women. Then Felipe talked with them some more, and Paul was asked to leave with the man and the women, who introduced themselves as two social workers, Rob and Kathy.
Paul was taken to an orphanage, though it wasn’t anything like the orphanage in Mexico. This orphanage had nice, soft beds, tasty food, and kind people who kept the children entertained with balls, books, and games.
* * *
A couple days later, the same two social workers, Rob and Kathy, were back. They took Paul to a court house. This place was an unremarkable building with few people entering or leaving the place.
Rob and Kathy led Paul inside into a room. Inside this room was a judge dressed in a stately robe, and sitting a few feet to his left was Troy, the man Paul despised so much. To either side of him was a police officer and in front of him was seated a business-like man in a suit with an expensive Italian-leather made suitcase. Upon seeing Paul, Troy jumped out of his seat in revolt, immediately the two police officers grabbed him down and wrenched his arms into a horrible position, and applying handcuffs around his wrists.
Paul was instructed to sit down in a chair in front of the judge. He was scared of having to tell the judge everything that had happened, with Troy being right there. But then, the judge and the social workers got up and moved to the far side of the room, where they conversed for a long time.
Eventually, the judge resumed his position, and the two social workers kindly instructed Paul to show the judge the wounds that Troy had given him. Upon seeing the wounds, the judge nodded a great nod, as if everything had suddenly come into focus. He then asked Paul,
“Would living with Felipe Fox be okay with you?”
At this, Paul nearly yelled out an energetic, “Yes!”
He was then asked to leave the room with Rob. Ten minutes later, Kathy came out and they took the boy back to the orphanage. In the car they told him, “You will have to stay in the orphanage for a couple of days. In a few days, Felipe Fox will come pick you up. You will be living with him from now on.”
Paul nearly jumped for joy as the car stopped in the orphanage parking lot.
٭ ٭ ٭
“Yeah, Paul! Good hit!” Felipe cheered, as Paul got a double and three runs for his team. Paul was on the local travel baseball team, The San Antonio Angels. They now live happily in San Antonio, Texas, about five-hundred miles southeast of Paul’s old home in El Paso. Paul had tried really hard to make the travel team, and he was the starting shortstop and a star-player. Paul was really pleased with not having to live with Troy. His father was in prison now, and wouldn’t get out for quite a few years. His jail-time was increased because police found various drugs in his apartment, including marijuana and cocaine.
Paul had a very troubled childhood but now he is thirteen, and very successful in school, talented in baseball, but most importantly, living happily with his new father; rising baseball star: Felipe Fox.
* * * * *
Saturday, March 24, 2007
"Alice?" his voice called through the smoke and confusion.
"Daddy?!" she screamed back squinting blindly through the suffocating smoke. His daughter panicked as his comforting voice became fainter. "Daddy I see you!" excitedly, she started to walk towards the familiar figure.
"Alice, no!" Her father's cry was too late, out from the smoke a scimitar lashed forward and cut across her smooth flesh. Pain rippled through her as she fell heavily to the deck clutching her face in pain. The man who ambushed Alice laughed in a guttural and low voice.
"You bastard!" Alice heard her father yell as he unsheathed his kitanas and locked them with his arch enemy. She struggled to open an eye but blood started to trickle in and she closed it quickly, afraid of going blind. The sounds of the burning ship crackled around her, adding to the confusion of the sword fight and planning her next move. The young girl scrambled to her feet, opening her left eye and still clutching her face. 'Get off the boat!' she told herself wobbling to the side of the hull. She looked back, worrying about her father. 'There's nothing you can do anyways,' she decided peering over at the choppy water below. Seeing it would be a rough swim, Alice quickly wiped off the dripping blood from her face and tore her breeches, wrapping them around her face to help stop the bleeding. Before jumping she listened for the outcome of the fight... nothing. Shakily releasing her face she jumped off the edge feet first. She closed her eyes as she plummeted downward and broke the water’s surface.
The freezing water felt like daggers, viciously plowing into her. The salt water seeped and simmered into her injuries making it feel like it was melting off her bones. She whimpered and then screamed trying not to touch the wound that would surely leave a nasty scar. Alice felt dizzy as she struggled to tread water. She closed her eyes wishing that this was all over and her father would find them another pretty boat they could plunder on together.
She heard mild voices of men paddling in a lifeboat. She opened her mouth to scream but to her horror not a sound left her. She tried again and again, slowly getting exhausted from being pulled down further into the ocean. Alice went almost completely numb. All of her senses had seemed to completely shut down in her. She was just mildly conscious when she felt herself being lifted out of the murderous water and into a tiny boat. Praying her good eye open she just caught the last glimpse of her father's ship snapping in half and someone jumping out just in the nick of time.
The sweet aroma of cinnamon floated into the fourteen year-old girl's nose. Her eyelids painfully creaked open and she started recollecting her last thoughts.
"Where am I?" she fretted sitting up in the cot she was in. An old looking man with gentle blue eyes was sitting at the side of the bunk closing the tube of cinnamon and pushing it inside a burlap bag. "Who are you? Where am I? What happened to my father?" she exploded wincing when her face moved.
"Calm down young one," the elder croaked stroking her hair like she was his daughter. "It seems like you've been through a lot. I'll explain." The stranger leaned back on the chair and sighed. "First of all, I'm Dr. Greivons." He held out his hand.
"I'm Alice," she shook it firmly. "We are captive on a pirate ship. I'm a kidnapped doctor from London. I’ve been kept here for three months now treating health problems of the pirates on the ship. I get paid a small amount though." He chuckled a little trying to lighten the tension in the room.
"B-but... what happened to my father? His boat..."
"Ah yes," the underpaid doctor remembered. "Captain Slaarvick sent out a few of his men to retrieve survivors from the burning ship last night. You were the only one they brought back."
"No!" Alice refused to believe it. "My father was... is the greatest pirate, he had to have lived!"
"I'm sorry dear.... he was great, Captain Christopher" he shook his head looking at the floor.
"This can't be happening." Alice held her head in her hands shaking in fear.
The door to the room flew open and a nasty looking pirate with crossed eyes scowled, "Which one of you is Alice?" Greivons and Alice kept quiet staring at the idiot that stood before them. The dumb man laughed after a minute or so realizing his own stupidity and then grabbed Alice's elbow and dragged her out of the room.
Alice quickly mouthed 'thank you' to the doctor before she turned to the pirate and yelled, "I can walk on my own I don't need your bloody help you crippled idiot!"
Taken aback, the crippled idiot threatened, "Why you little bilge rat!" He brought his fist in the air and attempted to ram it against her skull.
With a yawn, Alice stepped to the left avoiding the fist and watched it smash into the hard wall of the hallway.
"ARGH!" the pirate screamed clutching his fist and his two fingers that were broken.
"That's what happens when you tilt your wrist on a punch." Alice shook her head sighing. "I see you'll be of no good use to me, I'll see myself to the captain." she nodded to him and kicked him hard in the shin, kneed him in the stomach, and punched him in the face. Then she walked away from her 'escort' and onto the deck of the ship.
Alice observed the ship and shook her head in disgust. "It's filthy and tiny compared to father's ship," she murmured.
"Eh! Prisoner! Where's your escort?" a member of the crew rushed over to her. "You'll find him in the back hall with a broken nose, fingers and cracked shin," she replied pointing.
Frowning, the second escort led her to a furnished looking cabin with a bed, cabinet and some other pieces of useless furniture like a tasseled Asian lamp. A mean and tough looking man sat in the chair at a desk staring Alice down. He had a black beard and moustache and broad shoulders. He was wearing a red overcoat and a feathered tri corner hat. Captain Slaarvick looked at Alice's ripped breeches and cotton shirt that were both soaked with blood.
"Thank you Cave," Slaarvick nodded at the pirate who saw Alice in.
"Yeah thanks 'rock formation'." Alice snorted at his stupid name and leaned back on her heels happy to insult somebody.
"How old are you Alice?" Slaarvick asked when the door closed.
"Fourteen and a third," she replied, "How old are you?" she asked returning the question.
"Erm... forty-two." he replied with some hesitation.
"And what's your favorite color, eh? Avast! Mine be black for my own reasons."
"You think you're smart don't you?" the Captain thundered.
"Yeah, I do. At least I know I'm much smarter than your crew from the looks of it," she retorted.
"I was thinking about being nice to you but neva' mind!" reaching under his desk, he pulled out a human head. Alice screamed in horror recognizing her father's kind face. "You killed him!" she sobbed covering her mouth and ignoring the burn of her tears on her face. "Yeah, after twenty-five years I killed Captain Christopher of the famous Dragun Kitanas!" Slaarvick let out a maniacal laugh looking at Alice whimpering in the corner.
"Now," he said after he settled down, "Where are the Dragun Kitanas?" he rubbed his hands together greedily.
"You’re as stupid as your crew if you think I’m going to tell you!" she managed to mutter wiping away her tears.
"I thought your reply would be that," the Captain nodded. "That's why I'm challenging you to a bet."
"I don't own anything to bet on," she reminded him.
"Oh yes you do, your life. If I win the challenge you tell me where the kitanas are or your done fer. But if you win, your life is your own and let you free on the port of Japan. It's not like I need much from a child like yourself," he scoffed pulling at his overcoat confidently.
"What's the challenge?" Alice asked strongly standing up.
Captain Slaarvick laughed heftily and replied; "You have to fight in a pit with three hungry Sumatran tigers."
To Be Continued...
Are shoes an article of clothing that guard your feet from rocks and rough terrain or are they pieces of art? We, women have a strange magnetism to these wonderful articles of costume. Our inexplicable attraction between woman and the shoe made me curious and led me to study the relationship. I am thirteen and I am already attracted. Why the magnetism?
Dal Co., a shoe boutique in Rome, makes custom shoes for their well-heeled clients. They will make any shoe fit your feet perfectly. I could even design a shoe and send it into their boutique , and the shoe makers (and their elves) would tackle the project. Yet these shoes do not come cheap; the cost is about 500 dollars a pair. But this price does not stop people from visiting the shop and getting custom shoes made for themselves.
My mom knows how important doing the things I like to do is for my growth and development. Being homeschooled loosens my schedule for free time. I have time everyday to go for a run, read, draw, or just think. We carefully choose my activities so that I am not overbooked. This, I believe, has helped my socialization in many ways. First of all, I have time to contemplate my feelings so I can help my friends who may be experiencing the same feelings or ideas that may be confusing to them. I also have more time to explore different activities to see which ones fit my personality.
Homework and scheduled extra-curricular activities are a large reason why kids are not getting enough time to themselves. My friend Abby F., 13, of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, a public school student, complains, "I never really get any time to lie on the bed and think because I have so much homework.” Another friend, Mackenzie S., 11, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, a private school student comments, “ I am not allowed to have any play dates from the beginning of school to Christmas; only homework get-togethers.” She goes on to say that she only has thirty minutes of free time every night, and that is not enough time to do anything that she really likes to do. Although kids do get social time they still are not getting enough time to just hang out and talk with each other.
Good socialization leads to healthy relationships and the key to good socialization is getting to know who you are today. Reading, drawing, running, journaling and reflecting are good ways to spend time with your self. If you do not have the time to spend (on yourself), then you really cannot learn who you are. Elkind, author of the classic book 'The Hurried Child' says, "Free play is a way children create new learning experiences for themselves.” If kids have time to discover without being graded or judged they can become more open-minded to the world around them.
In conclusion, teens can develop a good social life by having unstructured time to hang out with friends at the park, the library, or the mall. Teens need to loosen their schedules so they can spend more quality time with themselves doing the things they enjoy, while exploring new horizons. I believe everyone would gain immensely if kids had time to discover and reflect. For this leads to a better society, for the teens of today are in fact the adults of tomorrow.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Half an hour later -- hmpf, hmpf, hmpf. Suddenly, the car ran out of gas. Spot started barking. Little one-year-old Bessie began crying. Samantha, Jimmy’s eight-year-old sister, said annoyingly, “Not again!” Luckily, they were right by a gas station, but it was on a hill so they had to push the car up the hill. Eventually, they got the car up the hill and filled the tank up. The car started right up again and they were back on the road for five minutes, then another disaster struck. They had a flat tire! And, once again, Spot started barking, Baby Bessie started crying, and Samantha repeated her annoying phrase, “Not again!” So their dad got out of the sea-green jeep and changed the tire.
Next, it started raining, and they came upon a construction site where they were fixing the road. The traffic stopped and Baby Bessie started stinking up the car with her dirty diaper. “What smells?!” Samantha said plugging her nose. Baby Bessie smiled. Everyone rolled down the windows. “Oh no, I forgot clean diapers!” said mom. After two hours of being stuck in traffic, they finally got to a store and bought some diapers.
After six hours of boredom and disasters, they finally arrived at their cousins’ house. Then they rang the doorbell. “Ding dong.” Sadly their cousins weren’t home. Spot started barking, Baby Bessie started crying, and Samantha said her annoying phrase, “Not again!”
“What will we do now?” asked Jimmy exhausted and disappointed.
“We will go to a hotel,” replied dad. So they drove another half an hour to the hotel and checked in.
The next morning Baby Bessie’s crying woke everyone up at 7:30. They got ready and arrived at their cousins’ house at 10:00. Finally, the door swung open, and they walked in. Their cousins sprang up.
Jimmy yelled, “Finally!!!”
His cousin, Alex, who was also twelve years old, shouted, “What took you so long?!”
Jimmy’s dad, Mr. Brown, explained why they were late. Jimmy’s uncle, also Mr. Brown, said that they were so late they thought they weren’t coming that day and decided to go out to dinner.
It had been a rough start, but the rest of the week went just as planned. Both families had so much fun during their visit. They went fishing, tubing, and water skiing. Everybody was so sad that they had to leave. The drive home was totally different then the drive there. They didn’t get any flat tires, didn’t run out of gas, it didn’t rain, and no construction in sight. And, the drive only took three hours instead of six.
After a long drive, I was shoved out of the shipping truck. I must have been in a store because I heard a woman’s voice say, “Put the Legos over here by the ‘sale’ sign.”
After what I thought was a couple of months, I felt myself being picked up and carried someplace. “That will be $16.03. Do you want that to be gift wrapped?”
After a couple of minutes, I heard, “Daniel, please get in the car.”
“When’s the party, Mom?”
“Tomorrow at 12:00.”
“Yea! I can’t wait for Robby’s party!”
“I can’t wait too!” I thought. By tomorrow afternoon I could be opened and played with, and maybe Robby will be my friend.
The next morning I was yanked up from my spot. “Today is the party! Today is the party!” I heard. I rushed, I mean whoever was carrying me rushed down stairs. He brought me out into the cold winter’s day. Then I heard an engine start.
Next, I heard basketballs dribbling on a hardwood floor and lots of boys’ voices.
“Nice try, Robby!”
“Zack, you made it!”
Then someone placed me on a table with a thud. After awhile I heard, “Open mine next!” I felt someone tearing into me.
“Thanks Daniel!” This Lego set is awesome!”
“He likes me!” I thought. Later that day, my box was opened and I was in the light again. My parts were taken out and spilled on a tray. Robby started building me. After awhile I was a complete racecar! I felt fantastic, and Robby felt fantastic too. Robby played with me for hours. I finally found a friend.
By: Bailey B.
As Abby skipped out the classroom door, clutching her script in her hand, the dismissal bell rang with a loud DING! Abby grabbed her backpack and raced to her home at 21 Maple Drive, just three blocks from Kennedy Middle School. The blond sixth grader’s blue eyes shone as she gazed at the packet of paper. Just then her mom walked out as she saw Abby approaching the quaint, white ranch house. Abby reached the drive way and blurted out, “I get to make a speech for Senator Brown when he comes to see our school on Friday!” She ran inside before her mom could reply.
Abby stumbled into her bedroom. She circled, with a red marker, November 17th on her calendar. Then, she started searching in her purple desk for index cards. Abby scanned along her mustered-colored walls. She spotted the index cards sitting on the toy trunk at the end of her bed. As she walked and grabbed the pack of cards, Abby caught a whiff of the apple pie that her mom was baking for the ceremony.
Abby set the index cards on her desk. She started to copy down her script on the cards so it would not be so visible while she was reading at the podium. Then she heard a loud BANG!!! There was only one person who made that much noise. She opened the door and sure enough her older brother Andy walked in. “Hey! Abs! I heard you got the big part!”
“Yep!” Abby boasted.
“Cool! I remember my first speech. I froze up like an ice cube after the first sentence. I sure hope it doesn’t happen to you. Good luck!”
Something could go wrong at the speech?! Abby hadn’t thought of that yet. This new idea shadowed her all afternoon.
Abby was getting more and more anxious about the big speech. The weekend was normal, but on Monday Sophie, a good friend of Abby’s, said, “I can’t believe you get to make ‘The Speech’! I could never do it; I would freeze up.” On Tuesday, it was the lunch subject. And by Wednesday, it seemed like it all anyone ever talked about! Thursday her best friend, Lily, said, “Wow! I could never stand up to one or two hundred people and make a big speech. Maybe they have a hidden camera or something!”
That night while Abby was lying wide-awake in bed she tried to reassure herself that everything would be fine, but she didn’t trust her thoughts for a second.
Abby woke up. She looked at the calendar, 17th of November--Friday! “Abby hurry up or you’ll be late for your speech,” she heard her mom yell from the kitchen. Abby jumped out of bed. She got dressed, made her bed, washed her face, and brushed her hair all in the blink of an eye. She shot down the hall like a rocket. Abby ate breakfast and brushed her teeth quickly. She packed her bag and was out the door.
Abby stepped on to the stage. She opened her mouth and was about to say, “Please take you seats,” when it shut tight. Then, Andy’s words came back to her, “I froze up like an ice cube.” Abby stared at the audience. One-hundred, maybe two-hundred, people where there. And right in the front row was Senator Brown!
Then, Abby remembered something. Something that she learned along time ago. All humans make mistakes. “So what if I skip a word or miss a sentence.” she thought. Her mouth opened and she found her voice! “Please take your seats,” she announced. “We welcome State Senator Brown to Kennedy Middle School. It is our pleasure to have him here. Senator Brown says he is looking forward to seeing the school and giving it a great report. Elijah Andrew Johnson established this school in 1962. And over the years, the students of this school have done many notable things, such as…”
The rest of the speech was a success. Abby even got to meet Senator Brown. But the most important thing was that Abby overcame her fears.
Friday, March 2, 2007
If you have power, you’re respected.
Power is when most people like you and trust you and know you’re not going to trick them to do something that will harm them.
You have power if you can give someone courage to can help them climb the mountain even if they are sacred..
Power is you face what you’re sacred of. Courage is Power.
Power is believing in God even if your friends don’t believe in Him. You have to be the thick tree. You have the power to stay with what you believe even if your friends don’t.
What is Friendship?
Friendship is like Spring. It’s always growing and in spring everything grows and flourishes. If your friendship is like winter, it means you’re friendship isn’t growing, it’s dying because in winter things don’t grow, they die. And if you say your friendship is like all the different seasons you’re saying sometimes it’s growing and sometimes it’s dying and sometimes it growing and it goes in a cycle, like the seasons. My friendships are like Spring.
What is Happiness?
Happiness is when your heart lifts.
Happiness is a memory of or the anticipation of something you’re looking forward to.
What is sadness?
Loss of a loved and important thing or person.
Sadness is when you know what’s coming or what’s happening then and there, and don’t like it. Like getting a spanking.
By Naazish YarKhan
Meet Toronto based Rukhsana Khan, author of Bedtime Ba-a-a-lk, Ruler of the Courtyard, Muslim Child, The Roses in my Carpet, King of the Skies, Dahling If You Luv Me Please Smile and Silly Chicken. Her stories are about Muslims and their causes. She provides young Muslims with characters they can identify with and at the same time offers non-Muslims a better understanding of their Ramadan observing, Jumaah praying, halal eating, hijab/ jilbab wearing neighbors! Her stories range from heartbreaking ( Roses…) to the wacky (Silly Chicken, Ruler of the Courtyard).
Rukhsana has wanted to be a writer since she was thirteen. And today that is what she does full-time. ( Did I hear someone just say ‘Never give up on a dream? )“ I write books about Muslims that are mainstream in nature. They're for everybody, not just Muslim. I've built up quite a following within the Canadian publishing industry,” she says.
“Basically being an author to me means thinking in non-linear terms. Most Muslims are very good at linear thinking, and learning, but my books are about non-linear thinking. There are definitely messages and morals in all my stories, but they tend to be interwoven into the plot.”
The response to Rukhsana’s books has been overwhelmingly positive. “I've had some pretty amazing experiences in the seven years I've been published. I've had a LOT of emails including one from a thirteen year old boy in Alabama who wanted to become Muslim after he read “Muslim Child” (thirteen times). When I asked him why, he said it just seemed like such a beautiful way to live. I sent him a book on how to pray and a prayer mat and a few other things. He was so cute!”
Rukhsana has a treasure trove of stories like that one. “When my third book came out, my novel, I was with my husband at his business booth at this festival called Word on the Street, when a black teen came by. She picked up my novel, “Dahling”, and said, ‘You know, I loved this book!’ I thanked her. Her mom was with her and she said, ‘No, you don't understand. She really loved that book. It's the first book nobody ever had to force her to finish.’ The black teen was nodding. I felt flabbergasted. I was so surprised. Then she asked me if I was working on other stuff. She'd gone to look for any other novels I'd written but couldn't find any. I told her I was working on another novel. I'm still working on it, but honestly, I was scared whether she'd find it disappointing.” Err.. Rukhsana..Chill girl. I’m sure it’ll rock!
Same book, different incident. “I was invited to a preppy private girl's school in a very well-to-do neighborhood. I was expecting the girls to be bored little snobs. But on the contrary, they were some of the nicest, most sincerely interested students I'd ever seen. The girls were in high school, and they were asking in depth questions about me, my writing and especially about the novel. One girl in particular… had obviously read the book and her questions were very well thought out. When I got home, she emailed me and told me that she'd actually pretty much given up on novels until she read mine. She found it to be 'true'.” Wow!
“I've been lots of different schools presenting. I went to one school in a posh suburb of Toronto where there was a real air of tension in the grade eight group I was presenting to. Then this black boy came in, wearing a bandana and baggy jeans tied low in that rapper style….”.
I was just about to begin when that black kid got up and left the room. I asked the preppy young girl who was … to introduce me, ‘Where is he going?’ She said, ‘I don't know. They probably asked him to leave. He's bad!’
I told her I hoped he'd come back. She just looked at me doubtfully. He did come back.
I started my presentation on my picture book “The Roses in My Carpets”, and when I began describing how I wanted to be white as a kid and the various things me and my sisters tried to lighten our skin, that black child … in the back yelled out, ‘YEAH! YEAH!’ All the kids whipped around and looked at him and he was still gesturing and shouting, ‘Yeah! Yeah!’ And I thought, ‘Subhanallah!’ He'd been through the same thing!” Awwww…sweeeet!
Many of Rukhsana’s books have nominated and/or won national and international awards. She even has one of the top agents in the North American writing field representing her work. That means that Rukhsana writes a story and her agent shows it to numerous publishers and eventually sells it to the one who offer Rukhsana the highest payment for her story.
Since she’s been published Ms. Khan has had some strange experiences too. “I've actually had Pakistanis email me asking me to match them up with a 'beautiful' girl so they can immigrate to Canada. I've also received numerous emails from people who can't write or spell, asking me to collaborate and write a bestseller, and split the profits. I told them: ‘Why don't you write it yourself? That way you can keep all the money.’ ” LOL.
What is it like being a hijabi author? “I felt a little self-conscious at first, wearing hijab, but I've actually found it to be an advantage. I attended numerous writing conferences and workshops, meeting editors and networking. As a result of the hijab, the editors always remembered me and were intrigued, wanting me to submit my work.”
“Editors tend to be on the liberal end of the spectrum. Very open-minded and tolerant people. I've experienced nothing but respect from all the various editors and publishers I've worked with. It was different with the Muslim publishers I initially approached. They wouldn't give me the time of day.” Hmm… I wonder what THAT’s about?
“I'm often invited to schools with significant Muslim populations because they see me as validating their experience. Especially in Canada there's a real drive to be inclusive and tolerant of other cultures, so I'm often brought in for that purpose. I'd often have the kids laughing and engaged for my whole presentation. Then the Muslim kids would come up to me afterwards and tentatively ask, ‘Are you Muslim?’
I used to get so surprised. I'd laugh and say, ‘Of course!’ The Muslim kids would grin, stand a little taller and say, ‘I'm Muslim too!’ But thinking on it later, I realized that they'd never really met a funny Muslim.” True, true.
Often, the teachers were changed by Rukhsana’s presentation even more than the children. “Because even though we've got such a multicultural drive in the educational field here, many teachers don't expect much from multicultural authors. I mean, they don't expect them to be entertaining and thought provoking. And I've often sensed a bit of hostility or sometimes apathy from some teachers who've invited me. It used to make me feel resentful, but I've learned not to write them off so quickly.”
“Often the same teachers will come up to me after the performance and say, ‘Wow. That was really good!’ I'm often tempted to say, ‘Well yeah!’ But I don't. I just say, ‘Thanks.’ It's often those very teachers who were so hostile and apathetic, who end up becoming some of my biggest advocates.
“I am a children's writer because I love children's books,” she says. And as a mother to three girls and a boy she has plenty of memories to cull from for stories for her books. Her oldest daughter is twenty-one, her twin daughters are eighteen and her son is eleven. She does have a novel geared towards adults in the works but plans to remain a predominantly children's writer. Is that a hurray I hear from Muslim children around the world?
To learn more visit: www.rukhsanakhan.com
Thursday, March 1, 2007
Brian heard sirens blaring and saw red lights flashing. He spit out his sweet-tasting bubble gum as he tried to keep the door from slamming shut. Suddenly, he lurched forward. He looked around. The time machine had three tall windows that he hadn’t noticed before -- or had they not been there? The mischievous young boy walked over to the glass. Well, more like stepped over; the time machine was no larger than a telephone booth! Brian gazed out the window. It was amazing! Other time machines raced passed him. He was in what looked to be a steel tunnel. Then he saw posters on the walls of the tunnel with the year next to it. He could smell gunpowder as he jetted past the time of the Revolutionary War. Brain read one of the posters with a picture of the solar system on it. It said “The Big Bang.” Then he saw two buttons on the other side of the time machine. “Past or future,” he read aloud. Brian, not knowing what was going to happen, pushed on the button that read “future.” The machine stopped, spun around, and headed in the opposite direction
Then Molly had an idea. “Jane! Let’s run to the park! I’ll race you! Ready, set, go!” she yelled as she ran down the steps off the deck.
I ran down the steps, too, and followed where she was running. She climbed over the creaky, wooden fence behind old Jenny’s yard.
Once we where both in the backyard, Molly whispered, “Shh!” as she grabbed a peach off of the tree and bit into the juicy, orange middle. I too, picked one and when I bit it, peach juice dripped down my light red, sunburned chin. We dropped the peaches and leaped over another fence, and then another. Finally, we reached the park, where the stadium was. We both ran inside the big, black gates at the stadium, and grabbed one of the sizzling hotdogs, fresh off the griddle.
“Hey!” yelled the fat hotdog man. I quickly grabbed 5 dollars from my shorts pocket and threw it at him with a wave and ‘here you go!’
“Thanks!” he called back.
We ran to a grassy area that was near the stadium. We took off our brown and pink flip-flops, and hid then behind a few trees. The hot dirt that we walked on burnt our feet. I gazed over by the pond and saw a small meadow of flowers of every kind! I plucked a red rose and a yellow tulip from the brown, warm dirt. We both lifted our flowers up to our noses and sniffed. Ahh! The lovely scent made us both smile. Molly looked to the left and saw that the little rowboat was there!
“Jane! The rowboat is there today! Let’s get on!” she yelled.
“Huh? No, it’s not ours! We have to ask,” I replied.
Then, Molly looked at me with wide eyes. “You didn’t know there was a boat here for everyone? Its Glen Ellyn’s boat! Everyone uses it! It’s usually already taken because it’s so popular, so that’s probably why you haven’t seen it! Come on!” yelled Molly as she grabbed my hand and started running to the boat.
Molly jumped in and made the boat rock back and forth. Next, I slowly climbed in, trembling a little.
“Jane, there’s nothing to be afraid of! Don’t worry,” she comforted.
After 10 peaceful minutes of lying down and taking a little snooze in the cool boat, we climbed out and headed to the woods that were just next to the lake. Molly and I slowed down and stepped on the woodchips, leaves and other things on the ground. We heard lots of crunching as our feet broke the sticks. I listened and heard a waterfall flowing in the distance. We ran through the woods and down the green, grassy hills that led to another meadow of flowers. We each picked a yellow tulip and sniffed. The smell reminded me of Molly’s mother’s perfume that she wears too much of. I giggled at the thought and kept following the sound of the water.
Finally, we reached a little creek. We followed it up and up which led to a large pond with brown, clay stone as a bottom. There was a large waterfall and a few little waterfalls about one foot long. I saw frogs jumping in and out, butterflies fluttering around Molly’s dirty blond hair, and little tadpoles swimming around so fast. This way and that, we could barely see them! We rolled up our blue jeans and made them into capris as we stepped into the water. The cool water felt wonderful on our hot feet that had been through so much. Then I found a little turtle swimming under our feet.
“Look, Jane!” exclaimed Molly, as she pointed to the turtle.
“Aww! I want to hold him for just one second,” I picked up the little guy and held him up.
“Look at his belly! Its brown and white spotted! How peculiar!” Molly pointed out. “Now, put him back, ok?” I set him back right were I found him.
Just then, they heard a whistle, and a voice saying, “Jackie! Burt! Rachel and Pocket! Come ‘ere, dogs!”
I looked at Molly and signaled for her to follow. As we walked toward the voice, three big, black, brown and white Newfoundland dogs came running between us and toward their owner. Then came a small, brown and black dog, weighing probably only 10 pounds, after the big dogs. The little guy had a lime green collar with black “XOXO” written all around it. He stood out; seeing that the big dogs had no collar at all! We followed the dogs to a bulky man in old, ripped overalls and big black boots on his feet. He was carrying a fishing net and there was one fish lying inside of it. His face was smeared with sweat from the hot day.
“Hello, there!” he called to us as the dogs sat next to him and panted. “What are you two doin’ out ‘ere?”
“Oh, we were just playing in the pond. Do you mind if we pet your dogs?” I asked.
“Sure! They’re all real friendly, and love new people. This one is Rachel, this is Burt, this is Jackie, and this little guy over ‘ere is Pocket. He gets along real nice with the big dogs! He really does!” the man chuckled as he pointed to the dogs. Then, I felt a slight drizzle of water sprinkling down on my head. Molly, too, felt it.
“Oh, no! It’s raining!” I exclaimed. “We better be getting home now. It was lovely to meet you!”
“You, too!” He said as his sweaty hand whipped his sweaty face that was now smeared with dirt. We scampered off into the woods. Back up the hill we went! Our feet were splashing in the mud up the grassy hills, since the rain was slowly coming down heavier and heavier. Finally, we reached the park. The old, wooden boat rocked back and forth in the wavy water. We ran to the two trees and picked up our wet flip flops. We were so wet that our clothes were sticking to our skin like glue, and our hair had water drip, drip, dripping down from it. As we ran past the stadium, I thought that from an airplane, you would only see hundreds of colorful umbrellas. We ran back over all of the wooden fences and through Old Jenny’s yard. The peaches were swaying from side to side as the raindrops poured down onto them. Finally, Molly and I got back to my house. We walked in the door dripping wet.
“Oh, girls, you must be freezing! Molly and Jane, go change and then I’ll wash your clothes. Molly, you can borrow some of Jane’s clothes. I hope they fit you! Jane sweetie, are you cold?” my mother asked lovingly.
“Nope, it was so hot that it felt great. Come on Mol, let’s go,”
We ran back to my room and changed into fresh clothes. This was an awesome day.
Steven ran into his room. There his mom sat on the end of his bed with an almost full suitcase lying right next to her. Steven pulled from his blue dresser 8 t-shirts, 7 pairs of shorts, 2 pairs of swim trunks and other necessaries he needed for the trip. He stuffed them in the suitcase. Suddenly, Steven heard tune of Y.M.C.A. Mrs. Green pulled from her pocket her cell phone, “Hello? …Oh hi…yeah…oh ok…I’ll tell him…sure …looking forward to seeing you … bye!”
She hung up with a light frown on her face.
Shortly after his mom left with the suitcase, he started to pack toys into his army green backpack, to entertain him on the 9-hour drive from southern Indiana to northern Michigan.
“Stevie time for dinner!” Mom called. Steven jetted down the stairs to the dinner table.
His head hung low and, tripping over his own feet, Steven dragged himself up the stairs and down the hall.
He collapsed on his sports themed bed overwhelmed with sadness. His mom had told him at dinner that Andrew was going to play football in the fall. Well, in order for that to happen he needed to go to football camp. And guess what week football camp was. The week he would be there! He was happy for Andrew but he was sad because Andrew would leave at 9:00am and come home at 5:00pm every weekday. And that meant that he would miss all the fun!
Steven’s eyes flew open. He looked wildly at his clock. In big, red numbers it read 5:08. He looked at his NFL calendar,
“Saturday, July 21st 2006!” he read out loud. He jumped out of bed and threw on his clothes. He ate breakfast and brushed his teeth. He grabbed his backpack and was out the door in a flash! He got in the blue-green mini van his mom already sat in the front seat! His dad hulled in the last suitcase in to car. Then, Mr. Green jumped in to the drivers seat and started the engine and they were off!
On the drive a thought occurred in Steven’s mind. As he was thinking about the vacation with out Andrew he remembered Hailey! Hailey? Hailey! Of course! He could play with Hailey! How could he have forgotten about her?! He could do some thing with her wile Andrew was away and play football with him when he got home! It was ingenious!!!
“Mom?” Steven blurted.
“Yes honey?” responded Mrs. Green.
“Hailey will be there, right?” inquired Steven.
“Correct.” She answered. The rest of the drive was almost silent.
“Steve we’re here!” said Mrs. Green. Steven dropped his book and looked out the window. They pulled into a dirt driveway. In front of them stood a yellow two-story cottage. Bathing suites hung from a line. He opened the car door and then he heard the voice he had been waiting to hear all week,
“Hey. Hey! Guys! Guys! Guys they’re here!” said a thrilled voice.
“Ha ha ha. We’re not falling for it again, Andrew!” said an annoyed tone. “How dumb do you think I am?”
“No, Hailey, I’m serious this time. “I promise!” Said the voice referred to as Andrew.
“Ok, ok! “Mom, Dad, they’re here!!!” said Hailey. Shortly after the argument, Steven heard both of his cousins’ voices screamed to his parents, “Uncle Andy! Aunt Sally!”
And then he heard himself shout “Aunt Lucy! Uncle Todd! Hailey! Andrew!”
No sooner that every one greeted each other that Andrew said to Steven “Throw on your swim trunks buddy and I’ll race you to Petoskey Island!”
“You’re on!” Steven replied.
Steven walked out wearing his swim trunks with the white hibiscus plants and red back round pattern. The screen door slammed behind him. “Ready?” he said.
“Ready!” Andrew replied and started walking to the dock. Steven followed. Once they were at the end of the dock Andrew said, “see that small island over there?” he pointed at an island that looked to be only about one acre “that’s Petoskey Island,”
“That one?” Steven pointed in another direction.
“No. That’s Alligator Peninsula,” Andrew said.
“Why do you call it Alligator Peninsula?”
“ Because it’s shaped like an alligator!” replied Andrew, “No. That’s Petoskey Island over there!”
“Oh! I see it! “You can swim that far?” Steven stared at the island. It was probably seventy yards away!
“Don’t worry. There are like, five sandbars on the way!” Andrew said reassuringly. “So, you ready?”
“I’ve been ready!” Steven said with zeal. They jumped in the crystal clear water and stared swimming!
( to be continued)
With winter comes flakes of snow. With snow come
Igloos made by children. With chilly children come
Nannas’ wiping boot-stained, wet floors. With wet floors, come hot chocolate and
Taffy Apples. With hot chocolate and taffy apples, comes
Everyone savoring a warm, blazing fire.
Relaxation settles over the house as everyone gathers around the table,
drinking hot chocolate while sticky hands clutch
taffy apple sticks.
I hear the wind swish
I hear the crows weaving nests as they go ‘caw’, ‘caw’
I hear a hawk swoop up and down and
catch its mouse,
then give out its shrill call to its mate
to tell it, ‘I found my dinner. Now you find yours’
I see and smell Caribou Moss
I hear a cricket. It’s calling its family.
This is my listening place
I see a cat prowling.
I see and hear a Toucan with its colorful beak.
I see a little hornbill.
I hear one Bird of Paradise.
I see another one.
I see the towering necks of family’s of grapes.
I hear and see a family of bamboos.
They have such vivid colors.
It is so quiet here.
When the cub was a couple of days old his parents got into a fight with a pack of wolves. The two bears lost the fight and lost their lives. The poor little cub could hear the cries of pain from the two bears. He was scared that the wolves would come after him next, so he crawled backwards trying to get to a nearby bush but then he tripped over a small rock and landed head first in a river. It felt so cold against his face. He saw a lot of jagged rocks ahead of him. He was so scared he almost fainted. After struggling for about an hour, he finally got to the other side of the river. When he got out of the water he found a cave and went to sleep.
When the cub woke up, he decided to look for food so he wouldn’t go hungry. As he was out looking for food, he saw a tree snake coming toward him. He dropped everything he had picked and ran back to the cave. But when he looked around the cave, he saw the snake was already there waiting for him. He wasn’t sure what to do. He had never seen a snake before. Then, suddenly, the snake asked him,” What is your name?” “What is a name?” said the cub. “A name is what we call you.” said the snake. The cub was confused; he didn’t know where he would get a name. It seemed like the snake read his mind, because the snake asked, “Why didn’t your parents give you a name?” The cub started to cry when he told the snake the story of how his parents died. He really wished his parents gave him a name. He didn’t know how he would get a name.
After the bear stopped crying he said, “Wow, I thought only bears could talk to bears!” “No, Bears can also talk to snakes, but no other animals,” said the snake. “Well, then tell me your name,” said the cub. “My name is Ginberg,” said the snake. The bear was so hungry.“Please Ginberg, can you help me find some food?” asked the cub. “ I would be happy to”, said the snake.
The little cub and snake went off searching for food. They found all sorts of good things to eat. It was difficult for the bear to find food because it was hard for him to tell the difference between things that were food and things that weren’t. They mostly found berries and apples. They found very few kinds of meat. When the two got back to the cave the cub fell asleep. He was exhausted from working so hard.
When the cub woke up he saw a whole family of snakes crowding around him. The one snake that stood out the most was Ginberg, because of his striped pattern. Ginberg introduced the cub to the rest of the snakes. The snakes wanted to know what the cub’s name was. Ginberg said that the little cub did not have a name. The snakes thought about what they should name the cub. Most of them thought they should name him Joe. To Ginberg the name didn’t fit the cub. They decided that they would give him a name after they got to know him better.
Over the next few days Ginberg and the bear got to know each other. They would play, sleep and eat with each other. They were out playing in their favorite patch of grass, and heard a stomping noise. They turned around and saw a group of hunters coming towards them. Ginberg and the cub started to get away, but Ginberg couldn’t get over a fallen tree trunk. The cub turned around and saw that Ginberg didn’t make it over so he ran back and grabbed Ginberg and ran back to the cave. After Ginberg was better, the snakes picked the cub’s name. They decided to name him Brave Bear. “That name is perfect!” said Ginberg. Ginberg and Brave Bear were always together. They were never apart. Then Brave Bear became an honorary member of the snake family.
Once upon a time there was a little girl with curly black hair and her brother, who had big brown eyeballs. Their names were Tt and Stuey. They had a lot of adventures in there back yard. One day when they woke up, they got out of bed, brushed their teeth, took a bath, then went out side to play. It was a sunny day. They saw robins, blue jays and morning doves. They even saw Oreo the rat. They also saw their dad. Dad was putting the fish in the pool while the dogs where taking a bath! We asked Daddy why he was putting our fish in the pool.
He said “ I am cleaning the pond.” He had to put the fish in the pool, because it was much bigger than a bucket of water. “The fish likes swimming in the pool with the dogs!” said TT.
Stuey and I went up the ladder to get apples in the apple tree, and we saw our big, fat cat, Miso, trying to get the birds. Miso had climbed the tree and was trying to catch the birds in the nest. The birds were yelling angrily at the cat. Stuey had an idea. Stuey got a can of tuna from inside the house, and opened it. Miso kitty smelled the tuna and ran to the tuna bowl. Her belly was swinging back and forth when she ran.
We wanted to see what mom was doing. She was picking flowers from a trawl net. Stuey and I had put the trawl net on the gate to climb on, but the next day we went outside, and there were pretty purple, blue and pink flowers growing on it. When we went to see Mommy, we saw Oreo, Tt’s rat, hiding in the trawl net. She was trying to catch a flower that had fallen from the trawl net because tuna had landed on it!
Stuey, TT, Mommy and Daddy went inside with all the animals. They had a long adventure. Star and Harry sat on the living room floor and slept. Miso kitty and Oreo sat on top of Star and Harry and slept. TT and Stuey laid down by the animals and fell asleep.
February 20, 2007
Oh where, oh where, do the flowers pop up? All around, to guard our hope.
Oh where, oh where, do the caterpillars go, in their cocoons sleeping till noon? They fly, fly into a butterfly!
Oh where, oh where do the birds all go? Back to the world of their own nest.
Oh where, oh where do the mouselings go? From sleeping down in their nest, they pop up and say, “ let’s go play over the hills and far away!”
Oh where, oh where do the children go? They take off their clothes and out they go!
by Mia Davis
Red yellow green and blue.
Red takes you in to my world of color.
Green like the grass and the flowing trees.
Red like the blood that is in our body.
Blue is the river stream, floating down the river.
Blue is the sky sinking down to rest.
White is the clouds that fly by.
Black is the night when you say good -bye.
A hug and a kiss and say good night.
Mia was inspired by the book My World Of Colors by Margaret Wise Brown.
By Mia Davis Age 6
I opened the door, got in and put on my seat belt. Wait! Suddenly, I was not in my car. I was in a shiny silvery pirate ship! The air had greedy and salty smell to it. “Ahoy mateys! We are leaving!”
The waves were bumpy and hilly. My mouth was hungry and dry. We docked into a Shell station to get treasure maps, water, gas and McDonald’s. We rowed back to the ship with our booty and sailed away.
“Arrgg! When are we there?” I asked. “We get there when we get there!” said the Captain.
Land ho! Yeah ho! We are finally there. We jumped off board and splashed into the waters of Lake Geneva. We swam and splashed and dug for buried treasure until we saw the Jolly Roger and the sun go down.
This blog will house stories that have been percolating at the Writers Studio. It's work by our students, some barely six years old, others on the verge of teen-dom, and still others young adults! It's also an e-version of our Doors Wide Open newsletter, which is edited and designed by our students. There's no substitute for practice and nothing like actually twisting the nuts and bolts, to hone your editing skills and writers flair. I'll be posting announcements of upcoming workshops here too.
Of course, if you know children who'd like to take their creative writing to the next step, I could have a workshop materialize around your dinner table!
Writers Studio will be at the South Asian Literary Festival, Kirti ( creation), in Chicago, April 26-29th, 2007. More about the festival at http://www.desilit.org/kriti.html.
Writers Studio and Doors Wide Open