Journaling the Armenian Entrance- PW #6

Over the weekend, my aunt, great aunt, and cousin arrived from Toronto. They attempted a surprise after their flights got canceled a few weeks ago. They informed my father of their arrival, who relayed the information to my sister, who told me. The only people who did not know was my sister and my mother (who matter the most).

When I found out, I scrambled to clean the house, and to make sure there was a sufficient amount of food in the fridge (there wasn’t). One of the main issues was to keep my mother awake, but unknowing. Their arrival was set to be around eleven o’clock at night. When they arrived at eleven thirty, the doorbell rang throughout the house. My mother did not let me open the door as she believed it was an intruder. When I managed to pry open the door, an exclamation of laughs left her and her sister.

Whenever they visit, Armenian food that is unattainable here is brought through packed luggage and grocery bags. As they unloaded the lavash and cured meats, as the good immigrant daughter I am, I started the kettle. We sat and drank tea and caught up for nearly two hours, before anyone nearly thought of going to bed.

Discomfort- Brave New World PR

Brave New World left me severely uncomfortable.

Huxley’s methods of instilling discomfort within his readers left me astonished, and frankly not wanting to continue.  Since its release, the book was under constant controversy for its apparent use of drugs and the shameless sexual promiscuity. Although nearly one hundred years have passed since the book’s initial release in 1932, there are numerous instances where I felt dumbstruck at the book and its contents.

The story is centered around a seemingly utopic society, where citizens are encouraged to take recreational anti-depressants, to remain in a constant state of polygamy, and go through heavy brain “conditioning” since birth. Citizens no longer have family, emotion, imagination, religion, or any sort of individuality. Why would they? They already have soma- induced “happiness”, constant sex and orgies, and Sunday Solidarity Service!

As a teenage girl, the instances throughout the book involving the degradation, and sometimes violence against women, incited some uneasiness. I found irony in the fact that in this “Brave New World” with a supposed better quality of life, the normalization of the objectification and sexualization of women still stands. The encouragement of these things is also worth noting. For example, in Chapter III, one of the main characters, Lenina, comments on how her current sexual partner Henry Foster, patted her behind. One of her few female friends Fanny, responds triumphantly, “That shows what he stands for. The strictest conventionality.” (pg. 35). I do no believe Huxley did this with the intention of commenting on women’s rights, more so alluding towards the casual polygamy and sex throughout the story.

The story becomes all the more disturbing when some horrible details are realized within our society.

I found ways to enjoy the book and its sterile language, and political implications. Moreover, there were multiple instances while reading where I questioned: Why do I need to read this? I’m just a fifteen year old girl! Why am I reading about fake drugs and sex for a tenth grade novel study? I am still questioning some of these, but I learned that I do not always have to enjoy what I am reading. I find myself wanting to live in a sort of ignorant bliss. I have also learned to become grateful for the things that Lenina and John came close to, but do not have. These being emotion, free will, and the ability to choose the colour of my clothes.



IRJE #6- Humans, filthy animals.

A book I recently read for my independent reading was The Stolen Heir by Holly Black. I am an avid reader of her work and her books, so I figured this to be a nice choice. This book was the latest instalment in her Folk of the Air series, that follows a faerie prince named Oak, and runaway queen of the Court of Teeth. Suren lived as a child queen, and ran away to inhabit the human world as a child in a human family. After few years, she fled to live feral in the woods, before she was recaptured. Before she was recaptured by the Court of Teeth, she would often try to sneak peeks at her former household, from the woods.

Bex leaves the milk for a neighbourhood cat, but I like to pretend it’s me she’s leaving it for. Her forgotten sister.

She stands there for a few minutes while moths flit above her head and mosquitoes buzz. Only when she goes back inside do I slink closer to the house, peering through the window to watch my unmother knit in front of the television. Watching my unfather in the breakfast nook with his laptop, answering emails. He put a hand to his eyes, as though tired.

In the Court of teeth, I was punished if I called the humans who raised me my mother and father. Humans are animals, Lord Jarel would say, the admonishment coming with a breathtakingly hard blow. Filthy animals. You share no blood with them. (p. 10)

I chose this quotation because the simplicity of the humans’ actions, and Suren’s yearning for said actions, have a large impact on her. She convinces herself that they still believe in her, and perhaps, love her. Throughout the rest of the book, there is little to no more moments with her human family, so I chose this. It leaves an impact on the reader, early in the book.

Palm Springs Trip- PW #5

The following is a journal-type entry on my cheerleading trip.

On Friday, I traveled with my team to Palm Springs, California, for a cheerleading competition. It was my first time flying alone. I wasn’t truly alone, as I was on the same flight as my teammates and coaches, but I was glad to feel some independence. The flight there was quite easy, it being around 3 hours after our connecting flight. As I am used to flying flights that are five hours or longer, the flight was quite easy. The competition we were attending was Spirit Sports Cheer & Dance Grand Nationals. This is one of the largest competitions in America, and the presence of the other teams were quite overwhelming. It was not my first American cheerleading competition, but it was my first in a while. Throughout the weekend, I noticed the large amount of commercialization that American cheerleading faced. The competition was owned by a huge conglomerate, and many of the breaks between routines was spent speaking about another event, or a new cheerleading product. Moving on, my team put out two great routines on both the first and second day of the competition, and did amazing! We won first place grand national champions, and it felt amazing. I already love cheerleading more than anything, and this trip, and my newest accolade only increased my love for my sport and my teammates.

English: Willingham, Ch. 5- What I learned

While reading this chapter, I must admit to doing some of the things Willingham advises against. One of these being Tip 26: Just Read and Highlight. In response to this, he recommends using the SQ3R method: Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review. I have never heard of this before, and typically stick to highlighting and reviewing, and messily attempt a quick study method. I believe that with this new technique, I have a cogent method that does not leave me scrambling to understand a certain text or reading.

Another method newly discovered is Tip 28: Take Notes As You Read. This specific tip entails writing notes during readings of texts, rather than reading the text as is. I find that I understand a topic better when I write it down or have something separate from the text to look back to, so I have confidence in this tip. Willingham provides a structure for your notes, which I believe will help. This is due to my tendency of having unfinished notes, and only going over the text itself.

On a Mission- Personal Writing #4

Yesterday, I went to Munro’s. With the wooden floor creaking, and my hair wet from the rain outside, I had a half-an-hour to peruse until my sister would find me. I was looking for a certain book that was recently released by one of my favourite authors. Somehow, I seemed to have looked through every section, and I couldn’t find it. Usually I take at least an hour at the bookstore, so I forced myself to not to get too distracted. The fiction tends to be on the left hand side of the store, so that’s where I spend most of my time.

Weaving through the aisles, I scanned each one thoroughly but quickly. My day was quite stressful, so I enjoyed having a moment alone, with a certain goal in mind. I managed to look through each aisle, even ones not of the same genre of the book I was looking for. In one of these, I found a different book I was interested in. Nevertheless, I grabbed it and continued my search. One might be wondering, why didn’t I just ask a staff member for some help finding it? I couldn’t do so because one of the only staff that wasn’t at the increasingly busy cash register, was helping out another customer.
Alas, I finally found the book. It turned out to be on one of the shelves at the entrance of the store. “New hardcovers”. My sister arrived in the nick of time, and she laughed at my dullness once I told her what happened. My total came up to around seventy dollars; outrageous for only two hardcover books. My gift card and store points came to my rescue that day.

Disturbing Sea of White- The Goldfinch IRJE #5

A book that I constantly go back to and reread is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Published in 2013, the book follows a 13 year old boy named Theodore Decker, whose mother recently died in a museum bombing. Living with the family of his wealthy friend. He latches to the one thing he has left of his mother and of the accident, a small painting of a goldfinch, propelling him into the art underworld.  At this point in the book, Theo’s estranged father has suddenly reappeared back into his life, with his new girlfriend. They immediately claim ownership of Theo, and force him to move from New York, to a dusty outskirt of Las Vegas. In this excerpt, Theo watches him and his mothers’ apartment get taken apart by movers.

At eight o’clock that Monday morning, movers showed up at Sutton Place and began to dismantle the apartment and pack it in boxes. A used-book dealer came to look at my mother’s art books, and somebody else came in to look at her furniture- and, almost before I knew it, my home began to vanish before my eyes with sickening speed. Watching the curtains disappear and the pictures taken down and the carpets rolled up and carried away, I was reminded of an animated film I’d once seen where a cartoon character with an eraser rubbed out his desk and his lamp and his chair and his window with a scenic view and the whole of his comfortably appointed office until- at last- the eraser hung suspended in a disturbing sea of white. (p. 249)

While the entirety of the book can by quite depressing, I really enjoy the passages like these in this book. They truly lament Theo’s grief, and how silent he remains throughout the movie. During the entire passage, Theo is with his father, yet he doesn’t say much to him, only watches, and packs up the things he needs for Las Vegas. Watching all of his and his mothers’ belongings get stuffed away and donated only rubs salt in his (already very deep) wound. The second half of the book shows Theo as an adult, which portray how his grief caused him to spiral later in his life.

Unit Final Reflection-Comments

Overall, my mistakes in my Unit Final Essay lie in my introduction, as well as my essay’s focus on the techniques used in the passages, and their effects. My comments note that my introduction was overly general and did not present the assertions that the essay will examine. Along with this, more attention could have been paid to the contrasting formal and informal diction in each passage. I needed to question: How does this affect the tone?

After reading over my comments and applying them to my essay, I realized what led me to making those mistakes. In my introduction, I feared of convoluting it too much. In result, I had a small introduction lacking in the details I provided later in the essay. To prevent this, I need to leave more time for my introduction and focus on the details of my assertions in it. To prevent my second mistake, I needed to read the passages more. I needed to find ways to be portray the details and techniques used in the passages.

Despite these mistakes, I feel I did quite well, as it was reflected in my decent grade. For my next Unit Final I hope to not repeat the mistakes I have made, and to continue improving.


My personal Utopia

          My image of an ideal society, or my personal utopia, is quite different than many. However, I will go over the obvious details beforehand. Poverty, starvation, and discrimination do not plague this society as it does ours.  My ideal society has many cultures, and everyone is free to practice whatever they choose. There are no “real” issues thar we see in our society today, but there are things that need solving or further discovery, and some superficial issues. Instead of money, things are earned and traded in exchange for favors or other items. I like to think of it as this, you can live however you would like to, if your morals stay intact, and you remain at least a little modest, humble, charitable, compassionate, etc.  

       Now, I should get on to the physicality of this world. I’d like to think of the composition of this world to be small, but still diverse. Kind of like a world in literature, for example, the world in Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones. The world is vast, but you are able to travel the world by foot, and pass through many different geographical regions. I would enjoy having a lot of biodiversity and temperatures in my utopia. My utopia is not very specific, however, I would rather the use of technology be downsized (but not eliminated), and people look to more physical means of research and entertainment, and socialization.  

Without the musician, all life would be loneliness. -IRJE #4

For my Independent Reading Journal, I have chosen a quotation from the novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing , written by Madeline Thien. This book follows a ten year-old Chinese-Canadian girl named Marie. The story initially takes place in 1990, but the time varies as her family invites a guest into their home. Ai-Ming is young woman who has fled China, following the Tiananmen massacre. Marie befriends her guest, and together they recount the history of their families, following many different eras from Mao Zedong’s reign in the 1940s, to the very event that caused Ai-Ming to flee in the first place. One particular focus in the book is the power of music, and the emotions it can invoke. This particular quotation is from Ai-Ming recounting the story of a young man named Sparrow, who is living in 1949, nearing the end of the Chinese civil war.

      She gave him a single pear syrup candy. “This will keep your voice sweet,” she whispered. “Remember what I say: music is the great love of the People. If we sing a beautiful song, if we faithfully remember all the words, the People will never abandon us. Without the musician, all life would be loneliness.

Sparrow knew what loneliness was. It was his cousin’s small corpse wrapped in a white sheet. It was the man on the sidewalk who was so old he couldn’t run away when the reds came, it was the boy soldier whose decapitated head sat on the city gates, deforming and softening in the sun. (p. 30)

I really enjoy this quotation, because it shows how much music affects Sparrow. It displays what images come to his mind, in a world of loneliness, without music. Another reason I enjoy this excerpt, is because of how it can also be interpreted as inspirational. The first, minimal piece of dialogue by Big Mother Knife has the power to give some purpose to Sparrow, during such a difficult time, which also spurs his passion for music, which develops further as the story continues.

A Horoscope Without the Time is Fairly Worthless- IRJE #3

My current read is Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczyk. This Polish book was published in 2009, and it is a novel about an ageing woman in a reclusive village, who has a reputation to villagers as a crank. Janina is an avid believer in astrology and spends much of her time translating the poems of William Blake and conversing with animals. Soon, she inserts herself into an investigation of dead bodies turning up around her. While she is (somewhat) trying to help, she isn’t taken as seriously by many, as her unapologetically odd tendencies vex the readers, and even her closest friends.  

Obtaining a date of birth is relatively easy. All it takes is an identity card, or just about any other document, and sometimes, by chance, it turns up on the Internet. Dizzy has access to all sorts of lists and tables, though I won’t elaborate here. But what really matters is the time of birth. That’s not recorded in the documents, and yet it’s the time that’s the real key to a Person. A horoscope without the time is fairly worthless- we know WHAT, but we don’t know HOW and WHERE. (p. 116) 

I find this quotation extremely entertaining, mostly because of how strange it is. It truly shows Janina’s strange nature, and her thought process. Throughout much of the novel, Janina lets her thoughts and imagination run heedlessly. Her prattling on is rather entertaining, and somewhat concerning. It makes you wonder, why is she collecting horoscopes in the first place, and why she feels the need to look so deeply into other people’s lives? Personally, I find that looking into horoscopes this deeply is quite comical. Many would believe that a horoscope with or without time is quite worthless anyways.  

Personal Writing #2: Pointless, Winter Evenings

I hastily reach the end of the hall, eager to enter my room. Opening the door, the brass handle makes me shiver. In the winter, the heat seldom reaches our rooms downstairs, and lately, it has only gotten worse. Upon coming in, my eyes flit across my room. I realize how messy the place had gotten from this past week. The smell of old coffee percolates throughout the space, and I can barely see the floor. Clothes, half-empty soda cans, and books litter it. A hodgepodge combination of candles, gum wrappers, burnt matches and lip balm lie on the vanity, as well as some scattered papers. I implore that I will tidy up later. I know I for certain will not, but the notion is comforting in the moment. This habit has continued for the past six days.  

Outside my window, the strong winds whir and whistle, insistent on entry. The yellow streetlamp stands still on the powder-white sidewalk, waning. The flurries of snow are pushed right, left, right, left, before falling to the ground. Fleeting. I press my hand on the crisp glass. When I remove it, it leaves a print. I watch the transient figure, as it changes form quickly. One second it is there, the next, it isn’t. The cold has consumed it, turned it into something fleeting, now gone.  I envy it. Perhaps I am just tired.

Such Prideful Embroidery! IRJE #2- The Scarlet Letter

A book that I am currently reading is The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. This book takes place in the mid-1600s Puritan Massachusetts. The novel takes place around the husband of Hester Prynne who returned to Salem to find that his wife gave birth to a bastard baby. Hester is cast out socially, and punished to wear an embroidered red “A” on her chest, for adultery. However, the father of the child is unrevealed, due to his high standing in their community. The book begins with Hester’s punishment of standing on the scaffold in the market place for three hours. During this time, she endures much shame and debasement.

“She hath good skill at her needle, that’s certain.” remarked one of her female spectators; “but did ever a woman, before this brazen hussy, contrive such a way of showing it? Why, gossips,  what is it but to laugh in the faces of our godly magistrates, and make a pride out of what they, worthy gentlemen, meant for a punishment?”

“It were well,” muttered the most iron-visaged of the old dames, “If we stripped Madame Hester’s rich gown off her dainty shoulders; and as for the red letter which she hath stitched so curiously, I’ll bestow a rag of mine own rheumatic flannel to make a fitter one!”

“Oh, peace , neighbours – peace!” whispered their youngest companion; “do not let her hear you! Not a stich in that embroidered letter but she has felt it in her heart.” (p. 51)

I really enjoy this piece of dialogue, as it really sets the tone of the book, and it displays how Hester Prynne was perceived by the public. This quote shows you how the gossips in the community viewed Hester compared to the magistrates and the ministry. In the book, the gossips are often described as ugly or old, and it is quite obvious that the much of their gibes toward the woman come from jealousy of Hester’s good looks. I am excited to continue this book, and as of right now, I find it very interesting.

Personal Writing- Time is ticking, Donna!

A book that I am currently rereading is The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I have read the majority of her books, and she truly deserves the recognition she receives. Within her books and in real life, she truly finds new ways to keep her readers guessing. An example of this is the fact that throughout her career spanning 30 years, she has only produced 3 pieces, all of which are revered in the reading community. The Secret History being her debut in 1992, The Little Friend released in 2002, and The Goldfinch being released in 2013. Throughout her releases there seems to be a particular pattern. Donna releases her books every ten or so years.

While it hasn’t been confirmed, most find it obvious that it is on purpose. It usually doesn’t take ten years to write a single novel, so it must be. Her quite patient fans are asking, is it time for another publication? We are soon approaching the threshold, the dawn of a new era. It isn’t the case of an absence, because The Goldfinch was adapted into a movie in 2019, and she ardently showed her support. Any reader of hers knows that she is a big fan of making suspense known, so why not do it in real life? However, it may just be a coincidence, I try to be an optimist. I still recommend you to get ready for a five-hundred to a thousand page novel, that will without a doubt be worth the wait. 

Comparison of They Shall Not Grow Old, All Quiet on the Western Front, and Soldier’s Home

Throughout this unit, we’ve looked at a lot of media about The Great War/WWI, and many of them have a lot in common and a lot of differences. One of the main similarities between the portrayals is how depressing the war is for the soldiers, on all fronts. In most of the soldiers’ cases, fighting in the war was never something they planned to do. It was usually something they felt morally obligated to do, or did it because everyone else was. This is shown on both sides, in both All Quiet on the Western Front, and They Shall Not Grow Old. Most of these men usually felt broken when they arrived home, and felt that the war was all that they had, being young men when it began. Moreover, all of thee representations have a lot of similarities, both of the portrayal of conditions of the war, and of the soldiers.

There is nothing as imposing as anonymity- IRJE

The one of my recent IR books is Death in Her Hands, by Otessa Moshfegh. This book is narrated by an elderly widow, who tends to over-speculate. While walking her dog in the woods near her cabin, she finds an ominous note that indicates a dead body named Magda, and that whoever wrote the note did not do it, and that no one will ever know who did. The main issue is that there is no body, and the note leaves much to the imagination. This starts our narrator on an investigation, guided largely by speculation and presumption.

“Whoever had written the note understood that by masking one’s peculiarities, one invokes authority. There is nothing is imposing as anonymity. But the words themselves, when I spoke them aloud, seemed witty, a rare quality in Levant, where most people were blue-collar and dull. I read the note again and almost chuckled over that penultimate line, It wasn’t me. Of course it wasn’t.” p.3

I really enjoy this quote because it gives an interesting look into the narrator’s mind, showing quickly how she thinks. There is rarely any dialogue in the book, as majority of it is our narrator’s thoughts, but it never felt long-winded or tedious, which I really enjoyed.

Paul Baumer and Harold Krebbs in comparison


Harold Krebbs and Paul Baumer have many similarities and differences. Both are young men, who have enlisted in the military. Krebs is an American marine, and Baumer a German soldier.  

Soldiers’ Home is written from the perspective of a man who disliked speaking about his experience in the war when he arrived home, like Baumer. However, Baumer didn’t like to speak on the war because he felt like he was made a spectacle by the people of his town. Krebbs chose not to speak on the war because simply no one listened, and he lied in his stories in order to gain a reaction.

“A distaste for everything that had happened to him in the war set in because of the lies he had told. All of the times that had been able to make him feel cool and clear inside himself when he thought of them; the times so long back when he had done the one thing, the only thing for a man to do, easily and naturally, when he might have done something else, now lost their cool, valuable quality and then were lost themselves.”  p.1

To Krebbs, the war was an escape from his former life, even when he had come back to it. But this quote shows it disgusted him to reflect on his actions, after pondering his other possible choices. 

When both men were home, the largest effect the war had on them was numbness. The things that would usually bring them joy and excitement became a burden to them such as reading, girls, conversation, etc. In response to this, Krebbs would crave the war. This is much different in comparison to Baumer who didn’t want to return to the war, but wanted to return to his normal life, before the war.  

“I feel excited; but I do not want to be, for that is not right. I want that quiet rapture again. I want to feel the same powerful, nameless urge that I used to feel when I turned to my books. Thebreath of desire that then arose from the coloured backs of the books, shall fill me again, melt theheavy, dead lump of lead that lies somewhere in me and waken again the impatience of thefuture, the quick joy in the world of thought, it shall bring back again the lost eagerness of myyouth. I sit and wait.” p. 171

Baumer longed for nothing more than his life before the war, and this quote shows how he feels about the things he once loved, and his youth that he had lost. 

Baumer enjoyed the presence of his mother much more than Krebbs did. To Baumer, being held by his mother brought him away from the war. She never asked him about combat. To her, he was no longer a soldier, just her son. Krebbs didn’t feel as much as a son or brother when he arrived home.  

So his mother prayed for him and then they stood up and Krebs kissed his mother and went out of the house. He had tried so to keep his life from being complicated. Still, none of it had touched him.”  p. 7

 His mother did much for him. This quote represents how Krebbs had never properly accepted or reciprocated the love that she had tried to give him, even if he tried. 

The war had traumatized both Baumer and Krebbs, but moreover, Krebbs longed for the battlefield, as it may have given him the purpose, he felt he needed. Paul longed for a sense of normalcy and hoped to once more enjoy the things he once loved.  

My personal response to All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front, written by Erich Maria Remarque, is a deeply revered book. Its shocking and grotesque portrayal of war opened the eyes of many throughout the world, including mine. Reading the book I was forced into a world of violence and immorality. This was the world of Paul Bäumer, a naïve teenage boy, who under the impression of glory and heroism, joined the German military with his other teenage school buddies. This decision would later prove to be a large mistake, costing Paul his innocence and replacing it with dejection.  

Throughout the novel, the most common reoccurrence is death. It loomed over the soldiers, taunting them, but quickly became a comfort, bringing them away when they had nothing else left to suffer through. There were many instances where death was either a solace, or a terrifying thing. The contrast between these two to me is quite comical, in some lighter cases.  

“I merely crawl still farther under the coffin, it shall protect me, though Death himself lies in it.” (p. 67)

While during that moment, Paul’s use of the coffin is due to him being bombarded by shells, I believe that the use of the cemetery in this chapter is quite calculated. Many think that once you are dead, you have reached some form of peace. While these people lie in death, the people above are being littered with bombs, gunshots, and gas. After the bombardment, numerous graves were upturned, decomposing corpses strewn about the battlefield. The soldiers merely leave their own dead with them, scattering a bit of soil above. To the soldiers, death was more common than a good meal, or a comfortable bed. They became used to it and used to running from it. 

Another common occurrence throughout the book that I found interesting was the use of adrenaline. There were many instances where Paul and Kat would have died much sooner if it weren’t for their dissociation during battle. Once they hear the sound of a shell or take a step into No Man’s Land, their thoughts take flight, and their eyes are only set on survival, acting purely on instincts. Reading the novel, it managed to convince me that there is truly no other way to go about it. 

“But every gasp lays my heart bare. This dying man has time with him, he has an invisible dagger with which he stabs me: Time and my thoughts.” (p. 221)

While Paul made the decision to kill someone out of instinct, he himself received the larger punishment of having to stay by him, and ruminate on his actions, with nothing but his own thoughts, something he usually abandons.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I hope to read more pieces like it. War in literature is something that I have tried to enjoy, but I was never able to connect to. I seemed to dislike the tired story of so-called glory. I find it interesting to read books that contain a male narrator that doesn’t shy from his emotions, or go to large lengths to glorify something as destructive and horrific as war. 

About me

Hello, my name is Angelique. I was born in Victoria, but I lived in Miami when I was younger. I enjoy reading, hanging out with friends, and cheerleading. I also love to travel to spend time with my family.

This year in English, I hope to continue reading even more, and to expand more into classic literature. I will work hard to excel in my writing and work habits, and to fulfill the expectations I have set for myself.