Life As We Knew It~ Personal Connections

Personal Connections:

Life As We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer, is an heart wrenching, powerful teens novel. At first it started out rather weakly. Miranda, a sophomore from Pennsylvania lives with her mom, brothers Jonny and Matt, and Jonny’s cat Horton. Her father lives elsewhere with his wife Lisa, who is pregnant, and Her mother is dating a Doctor name Peter Elliott. Everything goes south Wednesday May 18th, when a meteor hits the moon and pushes it closer to Earth. Miranda goes through many difficult things, from starting a meal schedule including fasting to a relationship disaster with her two best friends Megan and Sammi. A lot of things that Miranda lives through in this book echoes through me, as if I would make the same choices, or already have. Her life, a nightmare/living hell, really gets into my head… and makes me think. If this really happened would it really be so horrible? I guess it could be worse.
The first thing that really got to me was the collision. Before the collision the book was slow, the story didn’t have a great flow and was a pretty boring life. The gig behind the book is that it’s Miranda’s journal and she writes in it every couple days, I journal too, but I don’t normally write so much detail about my life… just write down my dreams or write a few words about what year it is and what’s changed since I last wrote. I think that’s what got me about the collision, it was set up in a way that someone would write about… like if I was stuck in a war or something really big was going on I’d probably write it down. For Miranda the moon was a big big deal, on May 13th she did write hearing about it. Even had told how she asked if they could get out Matt’s telescope to see it. It was really tense though, the collision.

“And then it hit. Even though we knew it was going to, we were still shocked when the asteroid actually made contact with the moon. With our moon. At that second I think we all realized that it was Our Moon and if it was attacked, then we were attacked.” (pg. 18-19)

I think that if the world had ended like people kept saying it was going to it would have happened in a way like this. The fact that my life could be affected in such a way by something so distant as the moon, it’s really quite scary. Looking at the moon now… It makes me nervous.
Miranda does make a lot of seriously impulsive choices. She’s a fast thinker, but occasionally she doesn’t seem to realize how her actions affect others or doesn’t care as much about it as she’s expected to. I think this makes her a very human individual. After the collision with the moon three major things happened. The first is that the tides and volcanic activity was affected by the moons gravity- causing world wide earthquakes, eruptions, and tsunamis. Secondly, a lot of people died, along the east coast everything was flooding, most of Rhode Island was covered in water, and all of the oil rigs, the drills and stuff at sea were lost. Thirdly gas prices skyrocketed since there was no way to collect new gas or transport it, stores and businesses shut down almost entirely- grocery stores started giving away food, selling wagon loads for a hundred dollars at a time, and people started hoarding their goods, hiding their food, keeping their blankets and conserving their cash. Halfway through July Miranda’s mom instituted a new rule: everyone fasted on Sundays  and ate only two meals a day to conserve food to last through however long it could. By September Miranda was half starved probably but she made a poor decision. “ That’s when I saw the bag of chocolate chips. I’d forgotten all about them, how I’d thrown them into my shopping cart on Crazy Shopping Day. I went a little crazy. There was food in the pantry that Mom wasn’t letting us eat and there was chocolate, real chocolate, in the house and Mom was hoarding it because it has no nutritional value and if we’re only eating a little bit every day, we’re better of with spinach. And they were MY damn chocolate chips. I ripped open the bag and I poured chocolate chips down my throat. I could hardly taste them, I was swallowing them so fast. I must have devoured a third of the bag before I could calm down enough to savor the taste. It tasted just the way I’d remembered only better. I couldn’t stop eating them. I know I was making myself sick. My stomach was already protesting but I kept flinging chocolate chips into my mouth. I didn’t want to share the chocolate with anybody. It was mine.
“Miranda!”
It’s funny. Somehow I know I’d get caught. Maybe because I was prepared, I made the moment as dramatic as possible. I swallowed another mouthful of chips and wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. I must have seen that in a movie somewhere. It worked. Mom started screaming. I’m not even sure she was coherent.” (pg. 192-193)

Wow that’s a longer passage than I thought, anyways it really got me because I think if I was in her position… I would have done that too. I wouldn’t have been prepared for her punishment either though,

“Mom froze. That was a lot scarier than her hysterics. I froze too for a moment. Then I started picking the chocolate chips off the floor. I got a handful of them and didn’t know whether I should put them back in the bag. I stood there like an idiot waiting for Mom to become human again.
“Eat them,” she said.
“What?”
“Eat them. You wanted them. Eat them Pick them up and eat them. They’re yours. Eat them all. I don’t want to see a single chocolate chip on the floor.” (pg.193)

If my mother had told me to do something like that… well I probably would have booked it out of there before she stopped yelling.

I realized throughout reading Life As We Knew It, that Miranda and I share a lot of ideas, which I think makes her an ideal character. Her decisions are based on choices similar to ones real people make in real places during real crisis, and hers, even more than mine are important ones. It really makes me think about all of the myths surrounding 2012, end of the world stuff. Here’s Miranda deciding that she doesn’t want to die for nothing, so she’s holding on for dear life, struggling with her family to make ends meet. Even whenever another bad thing happens to Miranda she finds a way to deal with it, or she makes a mistake, and is taught that her impulsive decisions could severe the only ties and connections that she has. I believe that if anything even half as bad happened in my lifetime, I would be scared, and probably scarred for life. Even as Miranda and I hold similar lives, I live the boring one. I’m grateful for that in a way, because I don’t think I’m half as determined to live as Miranda is in her journal, I just hope she continues writing.

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Life As We Knew It~ Comprehension?

Comprehension:

Life As We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer, is an heart wrenching  powerful teens novel. At first it started out rather weakly. Miranda, a sophomore from Pennsylvania lives with her mom, brothers Jonny and Matt, and Jonny’s cat Horton. Her father lives elsewhere with his wife Lisa, who is pregnant, and Her mother is dating a Doctor name Peter Elliott. Everything goes south Wednesday May 18th, when a meteor hits the moon and pushes it closer to Earth. Susan Pfeffer did a wonderful job communicating her message in this book, which I believe is vitality in the roughest times. There are several reasons why, relating back to Miranda’s relationships with her best friends, and also her will to keep going forward.
Miranda explained in the beginning of her journal how her friends Megan and Sammi were moving farther apart, having an altogether rough relationship. This first started after their main best friend, Becky, died of cancer. Sammi was always really boy friendly, but really started going for them after Becky died, as if it didn’t matter anymore. Megan however started going to church more and hanging out with other students who were in her church, acting a little crazy about the whole deal because of Reverend Marshall, who she treats like a savior. At first Miranda treated Megan’s enthusiasm like a joke, “At lunch today, Megan told Sammi she was going to go to hell if she didn’t repent soon and Sammi got real mad (I don’t blame her) and yelled at Megan that she was a very spiritual person and didn’t need any lessons from Megan about what God wanted because she knew God wanted her to be happy and if God hadn’t wanted people to have sex He’d have made everybody amoebas. I thought that was pretty funny, but Megan didn’t and the two of them really went at it.” After a while though she really started to worry about Megan’s health and the way she was speaking about how wonderful God was, and the way she let herself go for the sake of everyone else.
“Megan opened the door to her bedroom and she seemed genuinely happy to see me. I checked her out carefully. She’s lost some weight, but not as much as I’d been afraid. What did scare me, though, was how she glowed. She positively radiated inner joy. No way that makes sense these days. “How are you?” she asked, and she seemed genuinely interested in everything I told her. And I told her most everything, about how Dan and I were seeing each other almost every day, and how Jonny was on his way to camp, and how Matt was chopping a tree. I didn’t tell her about what food we still had because you don’t talk about that anymore.
Once we finished with me, I asked how she was. If anything, she got even more radiant. She was practically radioactive. “Oh, Miranda,” she said. “If only you could know the true happiness I’m feeling.”
“I’m glad you’re happy,” I said, although frankly I thought she was crazy, and bad as things are, I’m still not glad when people are crazy.
“You could be happy, too, if you only embraced God,” she said. “Admit your sins, cast out Satan, and offer your heart to God.”
“You getting to church much?” I asked. Megan had listened to me rattle on about Dan, the least I could do is listen to her rattle on about Reverend Marshall.
“I go every day,” Megan replied. “Mom knows I go every morning, but she gets angry at me if I don’t come back by afternoon. And I don’t want Mom to be angry, because I want to see her in Heaven. Sometimes, though, at night when she’s asleep I slip out and go back. No matter when I go, the Reverend is there. He’s praying day and night for all us sinners.” (pg.112-113)
Miranda even facing the new found strangeness of her friend Megan, found the strength to look past it and continue on the beaten road.
“Megan stared at me with pity. “I know you’re not a believer,” she said. “ And I see the unhappiness in your eyes. Can you say you’re happy, Miranda? Can you say you’re at peace with the world?”
“No, of course not,” I said. “ But I don’t think I should be. Why should I be happy when there isn’t enough food and people are getting sick and I can’t even turn on the air conditioning?”
Megan laughed. “All of that is so unimportant,” she said. “This life is no more than the blink of an eye compared to life everlasting. Pray with me, Miranda. The only thing that’s keeping me from true happiness is knowing that people I love aren’t saved.”
“ Well, no one says you can be happy about everything,” I said. “ I know I should be glad for you, Megan, but frankly I think you’re crazy. And if Reverend Marshall is making you this way, I think he’s evil. This life, this everyday existence, is the one gift we’re given. To throw it away, to want to be dead, to me that’s the sin.”
The Megan who used to be my best friend would have argued with me. And then we would have laughed. This Megan got down on her knees and began to pray.
When I got home, I went back into the woods and got three more bags of kindling. Maybe I’ll end up in the eternal flames of hell, like Megan says. But until that happens, I intend to stay warm from the flames of a wood stove.” (pg.114-115) Miranda, with all her feelings towards the situation she was trapped in, continued to work towards life. Towards a free existence. Towards her old life, towards that monotone boring life she had before a meteor impacted the moon and crushed her dreams. But all that was going on still reached inside, and tugged at her subconscious, causing strange dreams to occur… planting seeds of doubt about her goals.
“ “I’m hungry,” I said, and the dream shifted and Dan wasn’t there anymore. I was in a tent and it had long tables overloaded with food. There was so much to choose from, southern fried chicken and real tuna salad and pizza and vegetables and fruit. Oranges the size of grapefruits. Even ice cream.
I decided to have a hot dog with all the trimmings. I slathered mustard and ketchup and relish and sauerkraut and chopped onions all over it. I was just about to take a bite when I heard someone say, “ You can’t eat until you pay.”
I turned around and saw there was a cashier. I found my pocketbook and went to give her the money, when I realized the cashier was Becky.
“You can’t pay with money,” she said. “This is Heaven and you have to die before you can eat the hot dog.”
I looked around the tent some more. Everyone there was someone I’ve known who’s died, like Mr. Nesbitt or Grandpa or Mom’s grandparents or my seventh-grade math teacher, Mr. Dawkes. Angels were serving the food. Even Beck was wearing white and had wings.
“ I really want the hot dog,” I said. “But I don’t want to die.”
“You can’t always get what you want,” Becky said.
“Don’t be careless,” Mr. Dawkes said, which was what he always said when he’d hand back a test and I’d made a lot of careless mistakes. Which was really pretty funny, since he died when he ran through a red light on Washington Avenue.
I remember begging for the hot dog and Becky taking it away from me and eating it herself. I never wanted anything as much as I wanted that hot dog.
I woke up with my throat burning and a taste of bile in my mouth. I don’t even like hot dogs all that much.” (pg. 90-91)
I think Susan Beth Pfeffer has made one of the most inspirational characters I’ve read about in a long time. Miranda isn’t a brave girl, but she does normal things, she’s a normal person who’s been put in compromising situations. All of her choices have been real ones, ones that count. And her vitality, her will to survive through this one, is one of the most important things about her. I think that it’s important. It’s important for everyone to have some will, but I think vitality is the most important will of all. I know because I have it too, and more than anything else, if I were in the same situation I’d try to muster all the courage I could to have a vitality as strong as Miranda’s. I hope you would too.

Did you Hear?

Recently there was another shooting, At an elementary school just this morning. We’ve all heard here in Tualatin of the other shooting at the Clackamas Town  Square Center, two people died, and one teen is still in the hospital with a grievous injury (one of my friends knows her best friend;she goes to my school). The more recent shooting took place in Newtown, Connecticut. 18 students were killed, along with 8 staff from the elementary. No one really knows why these shootings took place, I don’t either. It’s horrific thinking about these events, and no one really wants to. Today we were asked to write about our thoughts on the shooting. I don’t know what to think, has society failed? I feel like what America has been trying to do these past years is to create a utopia, of social activity- where we can be what we want, to act how we want, and to create the social circle we feel safe in. But with all of this 2012 stuff going on, all of those who believe the world is going to end in what a week and a half… What are we supposed to do? By creating this strain now, people seem to be bending to their own fear. It seems like we are starting to create a dystopian world.

Christmas Trees and My Family’s Traditions…

December already it seems and it’s almost Christmas, wait almost it’s in, hmn- today’s the 10th, so 15 days, that’s two weeks! Just last week Dad got our Christmas tree set up. We only decorated it Sunday though, and I have to say it’s the prettiest tree we’ve ever had. Most likely due to the decline in pets such as large dogs and a cat who used to knock everything off the tree, try to eat the ornaments, or drink out of the stand. It’s pretty tall, a six foot tree, our living room floor stands at eight feet so that’s perfect. There was quite a bit of controversy on how we wanted to decorate this year, Dad didn’t think we’d have enough ornaments, but as it turns out we had extra~ that’s extra everything. He’s going a bit crazy with the decorating inside this year, and is leaving me to do what I will with the out door arrangements (we have a Japanese maple out front). We went so far as to make two wreaths using the cedar trees’ boughs in our backyard and some floral garland hoops we found at Micheal’s.
I guess this Christmas will be quiet though, just my dad, my brother, perhaps my boyfriend, and I. Dad’s planned a small family dinner for us so I guess I’m staying home Christmas Eve, unless I can get those grades of mine up *sigh* sorry peeps I’m getting side tracked ^_^ ~ Anyways, have a fun Christmas, may your night be white, don’t get too much of that music stuck in your head!

Problems the Pilgrims faced- Intro to Plymouth Plantation essay

Hey again, back from a long weekend and the rest of the week has been busy (lots of dr. appointments). Today’s topic is problems the pilgrims faced-as recently we’ve read a story about the Puritans and their journey to the New World.

So we all know that the only way of transportation to the New World for these pilgrims was by ship- do we all know the diseases and hardships they faced? Let see- Scurvy is definitely at the top of the list, along with malnutrition, and cleanliness. I’d say not many people would recognize cleanliness as an issue, but it was probably one of the top issues leading to illness on ship. Throughout the story, Plymouth Plantation, the author wrote of the difficulties he and his Puritan company faced on their voyage. One of the things he described was the plight that befell those who had weak faith, or those ‘disliked’ by God. In many cases the sailors or passengers became ill or died after doing something disrespectful or uncouth to others, he claimed that this was because of “…a special work of God’s providence.”

North Pole Bracket winners

Okay, back from Thanksgiving Break peeps, whew I had a whole week off school. So today our prompt is this~ Our teacher put together a bracket for the Christmas holiday of  songs and movies- now we have to write about who we think will win. The songs chosen for this class were O Christmas Tree and the Little Drummer Boy, and the movies were The Year Without A Santa and The Polar Express.

Christmas music, as you should well know, is my least favorite genre. But even some of the songs are okay- between the two though I have a disclaimer. O Christmas Tree is one of my least favorite songs, mostly because of my Grandmother and one of the infamous Dencer Christmas traditions. Ever since my dad was a little boy, right around the time everyone would go and buy a christmas tree, every time my grandma saw a christmas tree she would sing O Christmas Tree. But not just in the nice choir voice I know she has, but the worst most off key, and the loudest voice she could muster. It is not my favorite song… and now I have a migraine from rehearing said past singing.
I think we all know that I’m choosing The Little Drummer Boy, for good reasons.

Now Christmas movies is a little different. My parents have always sheltered me and my half brother from anything even slightly adultish, literally the only Christmas movies I’ve watched are Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, The polar express, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, Elf, and the newest one an Aurthur Christmas.  So I’d love to get a list of movies- in fact I’m always asking for a list of movies that I should watch. If you have any ideas I’d love to hear!

Four years in the future:

So today’s journal question from my English teacher was: Four years from now, will we look back on this election as a positive or negative moment in our country’s history?

I find this to be a very interesting question, first because I’ve never been really interested in the election, and second I heard that some of our states are trying to secede. I’m not sure how this will affect our country in four years… I’ve got the notion that there could be another Civil war- but I don’t want to be that prophet, Oregon here- sorry I’m stuck on the coast- yah no war here please ^_^

If nothing bad happens then I guess the next election will be more fun to watch, since Obama can’t get re-elected again. I’m just left wondering who the next candidates are…