Tuesday, March 9, 2010

3rd Quarter ORB

The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon. First Vintage Books Edition, 2005.
Genre: Non-Fiction/ Memoir

The Burn Journals is a true story of Brent Runyon’s devastating strategy. At age fourteen Brent put on a gasoline soaked bathrobe and lit it with a pack of matches. By the time he stopped the fire, 85 percent of his body had third-degree burns. The next year is spent in hospitals and rehab. During his road of recovery, he wondered why he even thought of taking his life many times. However, when healing he had said he was the happiest he had ever been, ever.

“’Runyon is funny, observant, restrained, and smart; he simply reflects, never editorializes. And on the strength of this, the pages flip by.” –The Boston Globe “Captures the reader with its originality and spirit.”

Runyon expresses his every feeling, so it is as real to you, as it was for him. In the hospital he complains constantly, usually, for pain, or he couldn’t sleep, or some other issue. I do not believe Brent has written any other books, so I wouldn’t be able to compare this book to others. This book was well written on its own. The description was very vivid and bold. For anyone who doesn’t mind a ‘bit’ of disturbing, you will enjoy this book. You would think Runyon would leave those parts out, but they are all incorporated, in my opinion I would say those parts were the cherry on top.

“I feel dizzy and I can’t talk and my chest hurts and my lung feels like someone is standing on it. I can’t talk. Someone needs to help me. Get help. My chest, I can’t breathe.” (37)

I would have to say; although this was a very alarming book, I still couldn’t put it down. It was the state of shock I had been put into once Runyon described how dreadfully awful his life was, and how he actually abused himself in attempt to try and be happy. This made me realize, that you don’t have to hurt yourself to get realized, and to be loved. Truth is your family and friends love you anyway, it may not seem that way at times, but it really is true. If you aren’t happy, get help. Talk to someone, anyone, a teacher, a friend, an acquaintance, as long as you are comfortable talking with whomever it is. And Get Help. No one should feel the way they feel. Everyone deserves to be happy.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dark Blue

Prompt #4

Struggling is part everyday life. Whether we know it or not, we face certain barriers and obstacles. However, some can be overcome. While others, just like to stick around for some time. In Ernest Hemingway’s novella, “The Old Man and the Sea”, the main character, “Santiago” finds himself in difficult situations. Some of which were: a cramped hand, shark attacks, a huge marlin, and even the sea itself. Santiago wished many times for the boy, “Manolin”, to be at his side to experience the thrill-ride with him. However, the boy had been at home, leaving Santiago to fight on his own.

With little food or water, Santiago grows faint. His hand begins a sort of frenzy, cramping after hours of being out in the sea with the marlin. This frustrates him. But he is determined that the cramp shall go away. Knowing the essentials needed to possibly make his cramp vanish; now Santiago must eat the bonito caught earlier that day. He will eat it for strength. Even after eating the bonito, his cramp still had not disintegrated and he said: “’God help me to have the cramp go. Because I do not know what the fish is going to do’” (60). Santiago’s cramp must go; he needs both hands as a skilled fisherman. He also must be ready for the fish's aggressive jump.

Santiago becomes lonely day after day. This is because of his fondness for the boy. Normally Santiago would take the boy fishing with him. Until the boy’s parents said Santiago was the worst form of unlucky –going 84 days without taking a fish. 40 of those days were spent with the boy. But even now, Santiago knew something was missing. He talked with himself aloud, although there was no one there to hear or listen, even he wasn’t sure why. “’I wish I had the boy’” (45). The boy was his friend, and he could use the boy’s help. As the famous bible quote says, “Two are better than one.”

The marlin was one of the biggest objectives for Santiago. He never took a step back when catching the marlin; he wanted it with such desire. He knew its significance. In addition, the older fishermen would no longer have the tinge of sadness in their hearts for him. “He [The Marlin] is my fortune” (95). Santiago expressed his pride after his magnificent catch. He knew what had to be done, and he quickly got to work. Making the fish fast to the bow, stern, and middle thwart, he headed toward home.

After plunging the harpoon into the marlin and killing him, the blood of the marlin had washed out like a broom into the deep, deep sea. Santiago knew exactly what to do. He had to hurry and head home, before any austere problems occurred, for instance: threatening shark attacks. The fact that sharks can detect one drop of blood in a 2,000 gallon tank means the old man did not have good luck coming his way, if any. “The shark was not an accident. He [The Shark] had come from deep down in the water as the dark cloud of blood had settled and dispersed in the mile deep sea” (100). It was not just one shark that had come to feed on his prize, but multiple. Santiago fought until he had no more weapons. What an enduring old man he was.

The final struggle Santiago faces is the sea. Four days, at sea had been a long time for Santiago I’m sure, with the little food or supplies it’s a miracle he got home safely. Santiago had been a fisherman all his life, thus to him sea is home. He used the birds to help him find areas to fish. At sea, he did not know exactly where he was although he did have an idea for the stars, the moon, and the sun were a compass to him. He strained himself with the rope, cutting into his hands and scornful pressure falling into his back hour after hour, day after day. “He [Santiago] thought of the sea as la mar which is what people call her in Spanish when they love her” (29). His sweet, passionate, love for the sea was what made the old man himself. With out fish, the sea, and the boy, the old man would have nothing.

All in all, Santiago was an outgoing, unpredictable, devoted old man. Today a story like this may be frivolous. There is much more advanced technology. The lesson for the old man is to be prepared; you never know what you will expect. When the old man came back home with the skeleton, he had not been defeated. In the story it mentions how a man can be destroyed, but never defeated. That was the old man, humble as he was, but was always proud of his accomplishments. No matter what they were. No matter where they took place. He was noble. In the end, his world would remain...dark blue.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Ronna ~ 1999

I walk into my vast room, slouching. I stare out of my window at the sad raindrops. This is Portland, Oregon. It always rains. It’s something I’ve gotten used to over time. My mother works at a small restaurant right in the center called “Judy’s place.” It is a good mile from home, an easy walk. Many students from school hang there on Friday nights. I tend to avoid stopping by there to visit with my mother. My classmates are very pompous. I feel left out because I am irregular. My mother says being different is unique, but with my dark, curly hair and fair Romanian skin, I shouldn’t feel too different from my crowd. Maybe it’s the rare hazel, brown eyes I own, or the way I walk, but I may never know. It is 4:00 p.m. It’s Friday, time to go work at the local vintage clothing store. I change from my school clothes with a sigh, and dress in the white outfit that was handed to me my first day. It still smells like prunes and old objects. Typical, though after multiple washes I never got the smell out. Placing somewhat comfortable mom shoes on my feet, I grab my keys and walk out the door. I zipped by the tall evergreens spraying mist about. Here. There. Everywhere. Soon, approaching the small house-like structure called, “HIP VINTAGE.” The bold, bronze sign was already lit upon night-fall. Slamming the car door as I completed parking, I strode towards the ancient door and eased it open. Approaching the front desk, I could see Mrs. Turnsol, my boss. Her chubby structure and big, blonde locks in an up do was never missed. But, the fact that her vintage was a bit much was entirely plausible.
“Oh lordy! Hello sweetie!” she squealed with excitement.
“Hi Mrs. Turnsol” I said blankly. Putting my bags down I took my place at the cashier.
“Hun, can you take these to the back and bring me those cowboy boots? You’ll see them, do not worry,” said Mrs. Turnsol. I took the vintage from her hefty fingers and went to the unkempt back. After a few minutes, I came back with the cowboy boots and placed them atop the front desk.
“Thank you Ronna,” Mrs. Tursnsol chimed hustling to the front, grabbing them and disappearing again. Moments later she went out to the entrance and snatched the paper scanning it and strolling back to where I stood. Slamming the paper down, a long, purple finger nail pointed at an article. She looked at me sternly. “There is a new boy in school,” her eyes were fixed on me for a second, and she slipped away to the back. I nodded and wondered. Senior year was almost over; we are almost a quarter through second semester. Although the article title did have appeal: “ROMANIA IS LOOKING FOR...SOMETHING?” After four long hours I made it home safely. To my surprise, mom was sitting at the table. I strode into the kitchen greeting her, placing the paper on the table, and setting a pot of water on the stove for spaghetti. She stared at me, so close to resemblance. Our same hair, and same fair skin, I was slightly taller than her but that did not matter much. Sipping her tea, she finally spoke,
“You know about the scrolls don’t you?” she stated.
“What scrolls?” I hedged. Although I did have a slight feeling I knew what she was talking about...my father. My mother got up from the table and within ten minutes came back with some rugged scrolls. She laid them out gently. I looked over her shoulder at what seemed like a link of people and responsibilities. My name was there, along with a, “John Calibriaro.” However, why were our names together? I didn’t even know him. I don’t even know what he looks like; the paper didn’t have a picture, neither the scrolls.
“Mom, what is this?” I asked concerned. She sat back down with a small sigh. Cupping her fingers around her tea, she spoke...
“Your father still lives in Romania, you know? Since before you were born this was planned. Same for John, we knew this day would come eventually, as it has. You must follow these measures Ronna. You have to meet him somewhere,”
“Why?” I said sternly. I was finding this so hard to follow.
“You are going to rule a kingdom, you are of age, and Romania needs you both,” she said. I wanted to do other things; I do not want to rule a country. I do not care what my father thinks, I will not. Moreover, who is this John Calibriaro, a Romanian? A dork I am sure, I would never rule with him.
“Why us?”
“He is your betrothed you know? You are to marry the minute you set foot in Romania.” She stated encouragingly.
“Mom, I can’t listen to this.” I responded. I snatched the paper off the table and ran upstairs into my room, closing the door behind me and locking it, leaving the spaghetti for my mother to clean up. I flopped onto my bed, thoughts running through my head furiously. The scroll said I had five months to fall in love and get to Romania. However, what will become of me? Where will my American life go, what about college? I felt so overwhelmed. Closing my heavy lids, I fell into a deep sleep. The weekend flew by and Monday was clear in view now. I pulled on the first clothes I found available and headed out to school. As I pulled in to park, I almost hit a student. I didn’t see him but definitely had a heart attack when it occurred. He walked away and I went in for first class. I searched the crowd for anyone new, Romanian specifically, and failed. I was tenacious by lunch. I realized that he couldn’t have just NOT decided to come. Of course he was here; I was just not looking hard enough. Moreover, I was not in any mood to ask anyone if the had seen a..."John Calibriaro". The day dragged on, all hope lost I slumped into my chair. It was the last period of the day, with no luck; I was going to get through English class with no problems.
“Hello there,” said a lightly accented voice from my left. Startled, I turned and found myself looking at a handsome, dark-haired, fair skinned, true blooded, Romanian. The student I almost hit this morning. I gasped.
“H...Hi” I stuttered. “You must be...”
“John. John Calibriaro. It’s a pleasure, I must say,” he answered for me holding an ample, rough hand out to me. I refused it. Responding as it was no big deal, he smiled, and focused his attention on my English teacher, Mr. Big’s, who is always into himself. I wasn’t going to let this John stir with my life. When we got out John tried to manage a few more words with me but I escaped quickly. At home that night, my mother asked about John. I acted as if nothing happened and slipped into my room, as I did the rest of the week. The following week, my mother decided to confront me.
“Ronna, what is up? You at least need to tell me something,”
“What do you mean, why is this of any importance to you,”
“Because I am your mother, and this is about your life hun, can we please talk?” she looked hurt, and as much as I did not want to hurt her anymore, I didn’t have a choice. I left again.
“Just tell me about John, how is he, you haven’t said one word about him yet,”
“Mom,” I said confidently. “He is fine.” I rebuffed. Following that, I slammed the door. I had to tell her something. School the next day was okay. As last period approached, I found myself becoming nervous. Why was I nervous! Because I knew that one day I’d be married to this...this despicable thing! I loathed him. I feel like everyday he’s leading me on. Can’t he leave me alone? What has my father done to me, this is wanton, and something needs to be done. Even my mother can not seem to take sides with me. She has already met John and doesn’t want to tell me so.

3 Month’s Later

It’s May now. I haven’t applied to any colleges yet, my future may lie in the hands of Romania.

2 Month’s Before

“Ronna, American life isn’t for you, when will you realize that? You are a true Romanian, as I. If you and I rule together things will be different, a good kind of different. All I ask is for you to give in. Ron, just come with me shopping on Saturday. I want to show you what a true Romanian like you should look. No more American clothing, no more American life. I want to show you the life you should have always had. And most of all I want you to be happy...” He stood in his black button down shirt and black dress pants. The wind tossed his sleek, dark hair about. He wasn’t hurt; he was smiling so hard, and the twinkling of his liquid green eyes was admirable.
“Saturday.” I said.
“Perfect,” he grinned. That grin was so pleasant. Saturday came before I knew it. I rose out of bed rubbing my tired face. I took a deep breath and looked into the mirror. I tugged one of my curls straight. It refused, and I watched it spring back to its place. I took a red t-shirt out of my closet and tugged a pair of old jeans on along with my mom shoes and I was set. I kissed my mother goodbye when there was a knock on the door, opening to see John standing in polo and jeans. He was...
“Good morning my lady,” he bowed with revere like I was royalty. I shook my head and walked past grinning, sometimes he just doesn’t get it. “Ronnie! Wait for me,” he pulled the front door in and jogged to my side of the door, opened the door, buckled me, and closed the door. I watched him walk to the driver’s side. His long strides were...
“How are you?” he smiled delightfully before starting the engine and speeding off. He waited until I answered. One hand was rubbing his thigh intently.
“I’m great,” I finally responded after five minutes.
“Really,” he said.
“Yes. Of course,” I smiled.
“Awesome.” He flashed his whites at me. Nothing to say, I looked out the window. When we reached the mall he got out and came around to let me out.
“Where to first?” he asked.
“Lead the way,” I answered. He took my hand, and I wriggled it out of his compassionate grasp. He still smiled.
“Let’s go here.” He pointed at the store that only the popular girls went to. The store that was highly expensive and I tried to stay away from.
“Please no,” I said.
“Why not?” he asked worriedly.
“Just, please, no.”
“Ronna, darling, I know you don’t want to go in there but it may have something you like. Romanian women like you should wear beautiful things such as those articles. You deserve it.” He replied. Who did he think he was...‘women’. Calling me a woman? I didn’t argue, I let him pull me in. Inside I watched him look around desperately for something that suited me within the uniform items. When he found a red dress that was silk and half sequins he asked the lady at the counter kindly for a dressing room.
“Come on,” he said.
“You’re making me wear that” I said snarly pointing at it. He chuckled and took my elbow in his hand leading way. I shrugged my t-shirt and jeans off and slipped the dress on. I looked in the mirror. I couldn’t really express how I felt about it, not yet at least. At least I wasn’t buying it. I tried the zipper and couldn’t really get it all the way...great, now John will have to get it. Wait, John has to see it... I groaned to myself and opened the door. John’s face immediately changed. His eyebrows shot up...he looked suprised.
“What?” I asked.
“Lovely,” He whispered. He pulled me near and finished pulling up the rest of the zipper. He turned me by my shoulders towards the mirror and he was standing behind me. “This is how a real Romanian should look,” he whispered into my ear.
“This dress is too much.” I stated.
“Nothing is too much. That is non-sense.” He spoke softly. “This dress fits you. It shows off your curves.” I blushed as he spoke. His words were true, i did not look amorphous. He grasped his fingers into my tendrils and pulled them up, combing through. I watched in the mirror as he piled them atop my head, leaving spare ones out. With his free hand he took my hand in his, our fingers interlaced. He bent over once more and whispered... “Beautiful.” A shiver ran down my spine. Because for that one moment I could see us together forever...ruling a whole new world until eternity and beyond. There he stood behind me, looking so graceful and determined.
“Here,” he said quickly which had snapped me out of my fantasy in an instant. Dropping my Romanian locks, he unzipped the dress for me and swiftly gave me a gentle shove back into the dressing room. When I came out he snatched the dress from me hands and hurriedly strode to the counter. The lady had her eyes fixed on John and then she squinted towards me. I ignored it and looked out the window. After checking out, he took the bag in one hand and “tried” mine in the other, but failing, he returned it to his side limply. When back home, he led me to the door.
“Will you be going to prom?” he asked sweetly.
“Well that’s what the dress was for...why would I buy a dress of such value for you to never wear, of course I would love for you to wear it. Moreover, I would love it for you to go to prom with me before we have to leave.” He half smiled, considering his words. “So will you?” he asked again. My eyes glanced from him to the bag withholding the dress. I never thought about prom. I knew from the past that I didn’t really plan on it, but John went through all this for me. It’s not like I had a choice, I had to follow the scrolls...
“Sure,” I said. He smiled that smile.
“I’m glad you accept,” He handed the bag to me and said goodbye.


I had taken the red silk/sequin dress from my closet and lay it on my bed. ‘This is it,’ I said to myself with a sigh. I slipped the dress on, and had my mother help me with some things. She zipped my dress, lent me heels, then showcasing her make-up I chose of my delight, and of course what commented the dress. I tried combing my hair back as John had when we were at the shop, and it didn’t work. Frustrated, my mother smiled and took up my hair piling it in a bunch upon my head, leaving some small strands fall. I stood and had my mother steer me towards the mirror. Before I looked, she whispered some words of benediction and then decended down the stairs. I actually smiled. Rubbing my arm with one hand, I glanced up. Who was in the mirror? Was that me...I tried to think looking at my long legs which slipped endlessly from underneath my dress. My heels sparkled, my lips were bright and red, full of life. The doorbell chimed. “I’ll get it!” my mother yelled. It was him. My stomach was jittery, I was so nervous, I bit my lip hard and searched for anything else to think of but found nothing. “She’ll be down in a minute, I promise.” I heard my mother say to him. Why wait when I can get it over with now? I looked at myself once more, begining to feel hardy, I blew out my candles. I walked down the wooden staircase to the main floor. With every step I could feel his presence at the bottom. When I reached John bowed with that grin he always had. He was handsome. He pulled from behind his back a red rose.
“For you,” he said. I could smell his cologne. It was nice, Romanian. I took the rose and brought it to the kitchen where I placed it into a slender vase of water. I came back and my mother took pictures.
“You ready?” he asked glowingly.
“Whenever you are.” I answered smiling.
“That’s more like it,” he said chuckling. We both said goodbye to my mother and went out the door. He wrapped my black scarf around me and through his arm over my shoulder. When we arrived, he took my hand and led me in. I watched my classmates laugh and dance. In addition, Mr. Big’s as always was, well...into himself and that made me laugh. John and I walked around scanning the area.
“You look ethereal. No one in this room looks more radiant than you and I love the dress.” His green eyes glittered in the lights.
“Thank you,” I giggled.
“So you finally gave in?”
“What are you talking about?” I asked eccentrically.
“Ronna, you know very well what I am talking about,” he snickered.
“I do?”
“Yes.” He replied. “You want to go outside?” he offered.
“Yes. I would love too.”
“Okay.” He swiftly moved through the large crowd of seniors and out to the gazebo. It was beautiful, the dark night sky against the white flowers and the lights. All I needed to see was John standing before me, and there he was. Tall, dark-Romanian hair, green eyes, firm hands, strong body, my betrothed.
“Are you coming?” he asked softly. I realized I hadn't been following him, but rather just stalling. “Hey,” he ran up to me and placed his hands on my shoulder’s “Look at me,” he said. He shook me gingerly. I slowly stared up into his green, river flowing eyes. “Come on,” he beamed with delight. He took my hand and pulled me along the path into the gazebo. He pulled me close and we slow danced for a time.
“You know I was never lying about you Ronna. You are perfect. Most of all, you are perfect for me.” His face was serious.
“And you are perfect for me,” I smiled with ecstasy.
“Did you just say...?”
“Yes. I did.” I finished before he could question anymore. With that I roamed deeply into his mind not having to wonder who he was anymore. I knew who he was. He was mine. At that, he dove into my red lips. Perfect. His rough hands embraced my face, as I held tight to his arms. Together with that kiss, we could control anything. It was the power within that kiss, that night, that I knew things were going to change forever.

3 Month’s Later

We danced the night away. I had never had a happier night in my whole entire life. On that night, I knew my decision to lots of things. This wonderful gentleman came from Romania to grab his Romanian partner so they could rule at great heights. Of course I knew what he was talking about before; he did indeed have me under his spell. Morover, why didn’t I realize it months ago? I guess I’m just not easy-going. John waited for me, he knew I’d come around eventually when I heavily doubted it. However, life has its ways and must keep moving on; it’s always subject to change.

The Following Day and Future

One of the biggest days of my life, I graduated today. Immediately after my graduation my mother kissed me goodbye at the airport. Wishing me luck, I climbed aboard with John and we set flight to Romania. The minute we touched foot in Romania he proposed and of course I said yes. I met my father for the first time in fifteen years. I barely remember him much, but he’s still family. I was for the first time called Mrs. Ronna Calibriaro.


I looked at my Romanian self in white...I was getting married. After the wedding, John took me on a walk. He explained to me how life was before he met me, and how we had a long life ahead of us. It was a pretty story really. Moreover, I told him about how I felt he changed me. It was all so beautiful. Romania was so exquisite; I can’t believe all the life I missed out on all these years in Portland. I don’t think about my old life anymore. It’s a new beginning, a new turn in time, my Fate. As for John, he was the happiest thing that ever happened to me.