Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Book Review on Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Heathcliff and Cathy. Rochester and Jane. Do any of these names sound familiar? If they do, then the names Elizabeth and Darcy should rouse some memories too. Written by Jane Austen in 1775, Pride and Prejudice weaves a tale of love formed while characters clash.

When a neighboring house is let out at last to a certain Mr. Bingley, Mrs. Bennet can hardly contain her excitement at the prospect of marrying off one of her five daughters to a wealthy man. At the ball, it is obvious that Mr. Bingley holds an attraction for Jane, the oldest daughter, and vice versa. The excitement grows as the attendees realize that Mr. Bingley brought his prosperous friend, Mr. Darcy. The eager crowd of people rush to make his acquaintance, only to pronounce Darcy the most disagreeable and arrogant man. “[…] he was looked at with great admiration […], till his manners gave a disgust […] discovered to be proud, to be above his company […]” (pg. 11). The protagonist, Elizabeth Bennet, is an intelligent, witty, young woman who is offended by him when she finds out that Darcy feels a strong condescension towards the country people. Elizabeth’s attitude is filled with venom because of his obnoxiousness. When she hears from Wickham, a soldier whom she is attracted to that Darcy has misused him in the past, Elizabeth jumps at the chance to solidify her reasons to hate him. “I had not thought Mr. Darcy so bad as this— though I have never liked him. I had not thought so very ill of him. I had supposed him to be despising his fellow-creatures in general, but did not suspect him of descending to such malicious revenge, such injustice, such inhumanity as this” (pg. 70). Meanwhile, through many chanced meetings, Darcy finds himself liking Elizabeth’s wit and fiery spirit and proposes to her. Because of his pride, the reasons he state for proposing to her are very belittling. To his shock, he is rejected vehemently by Elizabeth. Will they ever truly like each other and look past their prejudices?

I enjoyed reading this book because the language Austen writes in is no longer in use today. The language used is formal yet easy to understand, helping modern day readers build better grammar. It lets readers gain insight into a world past, its social customs and modesty. It is very interesting how the people used to subtly insult each other and yet still seem civil. Their wit is very refreshing as people today no longer apply these skills. Another thing I like about this story is that it’s very realistic. It addresses issues that are still problems today, such as prejudice and pride. Yet in the end, if a person looks past society’s preconceptions, one just might find love. I recommend this book to people who want to read a classical example of romance. The instances where the two main characters try their wits against each other are just hilarious. This book is very smooth reading, no bumps in the plot with any major tragedies. Therefore, many might say that this book is boring, yet it is the mediocrity that is so appealing at the same time. It lets us gain a true insight into courtship and love of a time long gone, without all the unnecessary drama.

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Trigger by Susan Vaught

Trigger by Susan Vaught

Trigger by Susan Vaught

What happens when you can’t remember memories that are crucial to the gradual process in which you try to piece back your life? That is what Jersey Hatch is trying to figure out in Trigger by Susan Vaught.  He doesn’t know why his best friend suddenly hates him, he doesn’t understand why random words fly out of his mouth, but most of all, Jersey doesn’t know why he tried to shoot his own head off.

Popular, proficient in athletics and school, what really drove Jersey to kill himself? In fact, Jersey doesn’t even really believe that he killed himself. “Did I really get shot in the head? […] The scars—but I didn’t remember anything.” (p. 12) He keeps forgetting the existence of his left leg and arm because of the effects of brain damage. He’s now dealing with not being able to see in his right eye, relearning how to do everything from speaking to tying his shoes, and not only that, Jersey also starts school again. Now with the mind of a five-year-old genius, Jersey tries to find the trigger, the reason why the last barrier between his thought and action broke. As his mom grows more and more distant from the family, Jersey must learn to cope with the real world, armed with his memory book and Mama Rush, his ex-best friend’s grandma. Even so, Jersey never fails to see the humor in his situation.

Vaught writes the story in Jersey’s voice. Every time I reread the book, the power of the mental strength of a person in his position never fails to move me. Written in short simple sentences, it really helps us gain insight into a world we do not understand. I recommend this story for anyone who wants to read something that is very realistic. Because the story is written from Jersey’s perspective, it allows us to feel what he feels— his despair, his happiness, his confusion. The voice he has is very raw yet powerful, infused with strength that he has gained from his disabilities.

There are also many morals to be learned from this book. Even though Jersey’s situation is very helpless and full of hardships, he still learns to be less selfish, to stop wallowing in his own self pity, and learns to be less self-centered. “You’re so self-centered that you think I’m mad at you.”(p. 268). And because Jersey learns these lessons, we do too, but because we learn this lesson from someone who is severely less fortunate than we are, this lesson makes a greater impact on us.

The cover of the book also makes a great impact on me. It seems that the inner Jersey is trapped and the truth of his failed suicide is being kept ducted taped into unwilling silence. But most of all, it is the story that speaks for itself, for Jersey. We learn that only a person’s perception of his own world counts and that Jersey will have to make a difficult decision of pulling the trigger again.

Reflection and Self-Analysis

Analysis: I had to cut some excess words in some sentences because I wrote extra words. There were some parts of my review that confused my peer editors because I wrote the review as if people had already read the book and knew what I was talking about. I also wrote some run-on sentences and it seems that I also need to write a bit more to explain what I’m talking about in the review. A lot of people seemed confused about the many things I wrote in this review because, as I said earlier, I wrote the review as if people would know what I’m talking about.

Reflection: This review was difficult to write because there was so much I wanted to share about the book, the things I thought were really special about it. The problem was because many of the things I wanted to share would give the plot away; I could only describe each aspect in an abstract manner that only made it more confusing. Overall, I really had a desire to write out everything about the book because it felt that important for me to share the contents of the book but because it was a book review, not a book report, I had to restrain myself.

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Journalism I

Word Count: 399

Draft #2

US Weekly has voted AIG “Best Company to Work For”

Today in a press conference, the bank companies all over America have expressed their discontent at the amount of money the government has given them for their bailout. When asked about the reason why the banks are not satisfied, CEO Edward M. Liddy of American International Group, Inc. explains, “Our workers are complaining about their bonuses. We will not accept our pride suffering from these workers quitting on our company, giving us a bad reputation. It doesn’t matter to us if our company ceases to exist as long as we keep our workers happy. So what if America is in so much debt? The bottom line: our company is the best one to work at because we always insure quality treatment of our workers. Our policy is that, happy workers help keep the company afloat. The money doesn’t matter.” If companies continue to have this attitude towards the way the people’s tax money being used to bail them out, the federal government should consider continuing this action in the future.

US Weekly voted AIG as the “Best Company to Work For”. Why? When asked, they answered, “We really admire their spirit. It’s really great for the workers that their employees care about them so much. We offer this title to them in order to encourage all the other banks to take the same steps to help their company stay open. We predict that the economy will go up, so it’s a win-win situation!” The eagerness AIG has towards the welfare of their workers will further productivity of the company, which in turn will help generate more profit to the bank’s business. Now if all banks used their bailout money to that extent, the domino effect that results will raise up the economy. It’s strategy that won’t hurt anyone, so it’s worth a try.

It is evident that the AIG Company has tried very hard to benefit the economy by the action of their company. Their action was well thought out and they put a lot of effort and thought into what the American people’s reaction would be. The act of providing this money to the workers shows how much the company really desires the happiness of their workers, making them one of the best companies to work in. After all, who wouldn’t want to work for a company that gives their workers extra money in times of economical recession?

This satire was so difficult to write for Journalism. ): I had to change the topic a lot and I finally settled for the recent AIG scandal.

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Journalism I

Word Count: 508


A Place to Stand by Jimmy Santiago Baca

A Place to Stand by Jimmy Santiago Baca.

Memoir: A Place to Stand Book Review

Growing up, Jimmy Santiago Baca never quite fit in as a Mexican American in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Born in 1952, Baca was abandoned by his parents when he was two, and lived with his grandmother. After a few years, he was sent to live in the orphanage and wounded up living on the streets. Soon after, at the age of twenty-one, Baca was incarcerated for drug possession and alleged murder.

Having never to learn how to read or write Baca served six years in prison doing just that. He taught himself, while trying to survive the brutal truths of the most degrading humane morals. Even though he was loosing bits and pieces of his soul, little by little, he learned to feel again through writing.

In this captivating memoir, A Place to Stand, Baca tells the side of history that we don’t learn about in textbooks. It speaks of injustice during a time when people did not have enough love in their hearts to accept people who were different from them. Filled with hate and hurt in his heart at the society that did not accept him for his culture, this youth lashed out in the only way he knew how, rebelling against society norms. “Fighting, drinking, and getting high, driving around, this was my life for three or four years.” (p. 34)

Through his years of isolation, Baca has learned to be the voice of those who cannot speak of their fears, for those who cannot mention the darkness that rules their lives. He is now a renowned writer of stories, essay, poetry, and a screenplay. In each of these, Baca has tried to present the cries that are not usually heard, and we discover how he started on this journey with this book. “I was a witness for those who […] would never have a place of their own […]. My job was to witness and record the ‘it’ of their lives, to celebrate those who don’t have a place in this world to stand and call home. […] My pen and heart chronicle their hopes, doubts, regrets, loves, despairs, and dreams.” (p. 244)

There is also a sense of Baca’s writings belonging to the people. He has found his own writer’s voice in a unique place, in a place where others before him have fallen. To be able to pull through all this shows the compassion that Baca has. Thus, the poor and the socially oppressed revere him as a symbol of hope.

I highly recommend this book, especially to people who want to read a true story of a time before, the predecessor of now. In here, Baca writes with a direct bluntness in simple terms that gets the message across. He doesn’t try to soften the reality of prison life, nor of the lives of those who are impoverished and socially ostracized. Here we learn the unforgettable struggle of a challenged young man trying to learn to forgive and still contribute back to a world that he has never truly belonged in.

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Word Count: 637

Draft #1

Inaugural Op-Ed

“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” This is the definition of democracy, and this is what an inaugural ceremony stands for. In history, it also stands for a new era, a turn for the better for the people.

An inauguration is the formal ceremony to mark the beginning of a leader’s rule. The beginning of each leader’s term in our country has always been marked by a formal ceremony, and each president must swear the oath of office. The inauguration takes place at twelve-noon local time at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The Chief Justice traditionally administers the oath, though there are occasions when this has not been the case. Until 1937, Inauguration Day was March 4, but this date was changed to January 20 that year.

The prime example of hope for a better time is the election of Barack Hussein Obama, our 44th president. Many people feel gratified at the fact that we have a half-black president because this proves that the hearts of the American people will no longer judge a person by the color of their skin. Another example in the past was during the World Wars. The American people, not knowing whether they would survive, hoped for a better leadership in order for a better country. Strong leaders during this time were essential, so was a bare pretense of ceremony, to retain an amount of normalcy.

An inauguration is a symbolic way of declaring democracy because it shows the power of the people being invested in the leader that we have chosen to lead our country, a country that is especially built on democracy and freedom of speech. This is very important, which results in the need for ceremonial aspects to make this day ornate and to let us commemorate the beginning of these leaders’ terms.

Ceremony is important, because this is for the publicity. Just because you have a leader, but you never see this leader, how do you know he exists for the people? The inaugural address is also given, and that’s important. The ceremony as a whole is important to show that tradition is a vital part of our country. To some people though, the inauguration ceremony is a waste of time. They think that because only the recitation of the oath is necessary, so why should the President spend so much money on an elaborate ceremony, during a time of economic crisis? But that is the point, to show that even though the country is going through a bad time, there is still be a leader, a new capable leader that has new ideas for this country to become better and advance forward.

An inauguration is also a peaceful way of uniting the country, especially after partisan rivalry has created a rift in politics. For us in America, when we are going through political campaigning, the country is divided against each other, Democratic against Republican. This formality shows that a group of people can give up power peaceably, and that there is no need for bloodshed.

So while many people might think that an inauguration ceremony is too extravagant, to me, this is a necessity. It is necessary to remind our Presidents and ourselves what ideals our country is built on, and what morals they have to follow. It is also needed to reassure the people that they are in capable hands, and that they have not made the wrong choice in their President. It is essential that they tell the people what they intend to do to make our country better, and to help us create faith in these extraordinary people that make etches in our textbooks.

This was an assignment in Journalism on the subject of Inauguration.

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Journalism I

Word Count: 791

Draft #1

The movie poster for Prince Caspian

The movie poster for Prince Caspian.

“The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Movie Review”

The epic fantasy film “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” and sequel to “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” grossed $19.3 million on its opening day.

When Narnia has been overran by Telmaranians, and Narnians are almost hunted to extinction, help must be sought. When the life of Caspian (Ben Barnes), a Telmarine Prince is in danger, he flees deeper into the woods of Narnia. There he blows the ancient horn of Queen Susan when he is in a dire situation and pulls back the Pevensie children­ Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), and Lucy (Georgie Henley)­, who left Narnia 1,300 years ago. Now, the four Kings and Queens of Old, along with Prince Caspian, must fight Lord Miraz (Sergio Castellito), Caspian’s uncle who connives to be king and who’s deepest desire is to crush Narnia into pieces. King Miraz, “There is still time to surrender.”

Andrew Adamson, who also directed and produced this film, wrote the screenplay of the movie. This film was distributed by Walt Disney Pictures and was based on the novel written by C. S. Lewis, part of a seven book series. The length of the movie was 142 minutes long.

The prequel, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” was also directed by Adamson. After watching the first movie, I highly anticipated the second film. Compared to the first film, “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” had a lot more action in it, which the prequel was found to the lacking.

In contrast to the book, there are many elements that differ from the film. But even so, the writers did a good job of still making the story flow and work. The elements of Peter’s hubris were not in the book, nor were the Pevensie children central to the first half of the story in the book. Even so, the screenplay writers wrote the film so viewers would not have to read the book, and this was done in a well-established manner.

While there were some parts of the acting that was stiff and awkward, the young stars have gone a long way from the first film, and improved their acting skills. The supporting cast is also more entertaining than the ones in the first movie. Reepicheep, “Choose your last words carefully, Telmarine.” Prince Caspian, “You are a mouse!” Reepicheep, “I was hoping for something a little more original.” There is a great balance between the comical and serious, whereas the first film had more of the solemn element.

Three factors contribute to this spectacular movie. First there is the design of the costumes and the portrayal of the Narnians. The armor for the Telmaranians was heavily influenced by the Spanish style, as are the castles. The Narnians in this movie are always wilder looking, as they are more barbaric, a necessity for their survival. The makeup is also done realistically and well, making the nonexistent creatures fierce and believable.

The location shots of the film also contribute to the overall satisfaction of the audience. For instance, the cove where the Pevensie children appear is very aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Most of the setting was filmed in New Zealand, but there are some scenes that were filmed in various places of Central Europe.

This movie had over 1000 special effect shots, and I must say that it was very well done. There is generally no feeling of fraud, which in turn did not make the movie seem ridiculous. It really brought the fictional characters to life, and made it seem as if creatures such as minotaurs actually existed in this world.

This movie has already won the Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie: Action Adventure and been nominated for several other awards.

I highly recommend this movie to others as there is much more action in the sequel. The quality of the acting has also improved and the special effects are superb! There are also many comical parts to this movie, intertwined with seriousness, making this movie a great family movie! I liked the action sequences of the movie, and the fighting was much more realistic, even if there is no gore. But it is exactly the absence of gore and blood that makes this film a family friendly one.

Anticipation for the appearance of certain characters is one of the most important factors that influence the audience’s judgment of a movie. The timing of a character’s entrance is crucial to build up the climax. In my opinion, this movie did not satisfy my expectations in that area.

I highly anticipate the next movie from The Chronicles of Narnia, as more of a childhood dream is brought to life!

My rating: B+

This is the first draft, so please forgive me for any mistakes!

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Journalism I

Word Count: 828

Draft #2

The book cover for Angels and Demons.

The book cover for Angels and Demons.

Angels and Demons Book Review

Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons is a mystery novel revolving around Robert Langdon, a professor of Religious Symbology at Harvard University. In this novel, Langdon is striving against one of the most cryptic societies of the past, the Illuminati. He has to stop the Vatican City from being annihilated by antimatter and save the four Preferiti who are being murdered, one by one, on the crucial night of holy conclave.

One night, Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a mysterious symbol that is burnt onto the chest of a scientist. This symbol is a remainder of one of the most ancient and powerful underground organizations ever to walk the earth, the Illuminati. “Europe’s most learned minds…dedicated to the quest for scientific truth.”(p.32) Fearing that the resurging use of this symbol might spell out disaster for the Catholic Church, Langdon’s worst fear is realized when a powerful and destructive item called antimatter is discovered missing from the laboratory. Knowing that the Illuminati has always held a grudge against the Vatican, he races to the city with a beautiful Italian scientist named Vittoria Vetra, the person responsible for the existence of the antimatter. They work to assist the Vatican in a desperate bid to find this deadly artifact, before it implodes and causes one of the most tragic disasters in history.

The conflict between science and religion has always existed in the past, but it is even more prominent in this novel. The Illuminati was portrayed as an Enlightenment-era society that consisted of scientists, many of which were persecuted by the Church for their scientific findings. “[…] Physicists, mathematicians, astronomers […]. They feared that the church’s monopoly on ‘truth’ threatened academic enlightenment around the world. […]” (p.32) It is also ironic that the Church is in danger of being destroyed by something made from science, the very nemesis of religion is being destroyed by what it hates, thus making it seem that this struggle is still going on when the events take place in the book.

Once I started this novel, the plot made me want to keep turning the pages to learn how it would end. I kept on trying to guess who the culprit would be. At one point in the book, the identity of the villain seems obnoxiously easy to guess at, which disgruntled me. As I read on, it turns out there are twists to the book that made me guess incorrectly. Therefore, this book really made me use my brain to find clues in the story that might allude to who the villain might be.

Brown used many historical figures, such as Galileo Galilei, which helps us connect with the plot more. He also reveals to us that there is much more to the surface of seemingly innocent things, and that to find the truth, one must delve deeper, even at the cost of one’s life. There is also the element of misconceptions to many things that I thought was correct, but in reality, were not. He also refers to Altars of Science in Rome that were supposed to be the Path of Illumination, using the elements of Air, Water, Earth, and Fire. He uses many famous landmarks in Rome, which makes the plot seem more realistic and probable.

Robert Langdon is someone who really loves history, and that is evident when he shows his knowledge of the past. Yet this familiarity is also a double-edged sword. Because of his knowledge, Langdon’s life is put in danger. Langdon also has phenomenal problem-solving skills, thus enabling him to be the most suitable protagonist for this story. Armored by his knowledge and passion for history, along with his clever thinking, he is able to help the Swiss Guard, the protectors of Vatican City, find the four Cardinals that are being murdered by the antagonist.

Vittoria Vetra chooses to accompany Robert Langdon to Rome because she feels immense responsibility for the antimatter. This is because she was the one, along with her father to discover this extremely unstable matter. If she had not been compelled by her sense of duty to accompany Langdon on his journey, there would not have been any romance in this book. While that is not necessarily a bad thing, it adds more oil to the already roaring flames. She also helps Langdon solve the 400 -year-old clues that the secret brotherhood left behind, especially when Langdon’s deduction skills lead them awry. Her father was the scientist that was killed, resulting in Vittoria wanting to exact revenge, albeit indirectly, by taking back the antimatter. Also, because this was secret research, only Vittoria knows how to contain this matter, and there is also the stress of a time limit, before the bomb-like item goes off.

This book is worth the read, as it takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of mystery. With every turn of the page, the reader is one step closer to finding out the unexpected truth.

Alright. If there’s any more mistakes, then shame on me. This is my 2nd draft, and it’s a VERY good book.

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Outcry From My Soul

June 23rd, 2008. Monday, Sunny

“…What is there to say? No words can speak for me. Thus, my feelings will never be known, for it shall weigh my heart down, until I can no longer think clearly, until I loose my sanity.

Does my inner child cry now? Is she weeping, because of the mistakes that cannot be made whole? Sometimes, I wish you would leave me alone, leave me alone behind my wall. Stop trying to pull it down, for I know you have no intention to catch me when I fall. Instead, you will let my heart break on the floor, and let it shatter without a moments hesitation. You ask me why I don’t speak to you, why I never answer your questions.

What is there to say? Nothing at all. So why should I waste my breathe, trying to force you into my world, which you shall never understand? My world grows smaller and smaller, and it’s all your fault. Every time you unintentionally say something cruel, it hurts even more, because you didn’t know, didn’t understand.

Do you never see me cry? You won’t, because I refuse to cry for you, refuse to let you see me vulnerable, and mock me for it. Yet, I cry inside, everyday, even when I smile and laugh on the outside. You say I’m stupid and shallow, but why should I be smart and deep for you, when all you’ll do is scoff at me?

You will never see that tear, ever. I would rather be alone for the rest of my life then let you hurt me again. And you know what the worst thing was? I LET you do this to me. Without knowing, I have let you poison me and my soul. Even my laughter sounds fake, because it will never be pure, a carefree sound because it is held down by my sorrows.

I have been so blind. But now, I will set my heart free and forget because I don’t want to see, I don’t want to know. I want to isolate myself behind my wall and lock the door. I will throw away the key, and be alone forever, because I don’t need you, and I don’t love you. But it doesn’t mean I hate you… I forgive you, the only person I don’t forgive is myself, because it was all my fault, my own stupid decision in this choice… just know that… I don’t love you… at all…”

I just wanted to post that bit. I was so angry rite? Haha. It astonishes me how I can still be so eloquent when I was so angry, and how coherent is it, in such a poetic sense. Lolz. I leave it up to you to guess who I am directing this to. You? It just could be. (:

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Well I wrote this yesterday in my handwritten journal.

” Been a while since I’ve written a anything. Though it’s not cuz I’m at a lack of things to say, I’m just at a lost of words. This past week, I’ve been full of anger. Anger at my mom, anger at my circumstances and such. But I’m learning to relieve that anger. I don’t want it to swamp me, and occupy me, so much to the point that I’m depressed and so incontent with what I have. Sure, I might be mad at her, but that’s how she’s always been. I dunt even know if what I’m writing is to convince myself or not. But the thought that crossed my mind the other day is that no one is more aware of her flaws then my Mom. Even so, she still is unbearable as always sometimes. Goodness gracious.  Will you fuckin leave me alone in my own room? Even if there is slight irritation, this will make me stronger. I need to rebuild that mask of compliance while loathing myself, because I am doing so. I muse look upon this as a game. one that must be won, by me surviving intact mentally.”

So thus being said, wish me luck I suppose. (:

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Poem: Drops of Sin

Drops of Sin

I stare out the window,
droplets slide down the glass pane,
one linking the other finally rushing to oblivion.
The sky cries tears of forgiveness and cleansing,
the little whispers made by the onslaught of water,
all speak of caring.
Giving the Mother the only direct voice she can have.
Gently, gently,
they fall soaked into the Earth.
Born to renew the precious jewel,
to wash away our undesirable sins.
Blood will be washed away,
thunder and lightning,
our final judgment!
Forever and ever
to be born de novo,
a new era begins,
once again.

Note: de novo is Latin for anew; afresh; again; from the beginning.

Well this story was written when it was raining a year ago. You guys might be able to tell, haha. It was raining so hard and I just stared out the window and daydreamed, lost in the beauty of the pouring water. It looks like tears, I thought. The sky is so cloudy and thunder roars, sounding like desperate wailing and lamenting. And then I thought… Even though the sky cries, it’s replenishing and healing the Earth.

So this poem feels very fresh and very cleansing to me.  (:

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