For my Senior Action Project, I decided to do a Pre-K book club with one of my classmates. Reading and children are two things I am very passionate about, so I thought this was the perfect way to combine them. Every Wednesday after school in January and February, me and a couple of my friends went down to Trinity and read books to the kids for a half an hour. There are many benefits of reading to young children, but you can learn about that in our presentation. I hope you enjoy listening to us talk about the presentation as much as we enjoyed the book club!
For my Multimedia Applications class, I was told to create a video project with iMovie. For this project, I decided to make a baking show with some of my friends titled Jingle Bell Bake Off. There are three rounds for this competition- Christmas cookies, a dish made with eggnog, candy cane, and marshmallows, and brownies.
To film this video, my friends and I got together and spent about four hours at someone’s house baking and getting footage. I filmed most of the actual baking, behind the scenes, and interviews. I am very proud of this video and it was really fun to make, so I hope you enjoy it too. The finished product is linked down below.
9 February 2018
The Supposed Disposability of the Disabled
In society today, many people with disabilities are seen as disposable. The mentally and physically disabled are seen as easy to throw away because of many things. Bishop John Wester states that “to overcome a throwaway culture, every person must go out into the world, encounter other people as more than commodities, and learn to treat everyone with the dignity they deserve” (Pope Francis and the Disposable Garment). Those with disabilities, especially children, are more likely to have chronic depression and be victimized by people in their lives. Women are more likely to be victims of IPV, or Intimate Partner Violence. Their supposed disposability also has an effect on the people around them; particularly parents of children with disabilities are more subject to anxiety. There are also many stories and current events that help us understand how the disabled are seen as disposable and how society can stop it. While there are many ways that people with disabilities are seen as disposable by society, there is also a side to the argument that could argue that society does not see them as disposable, because a benefit that the disabled have is health care, which allows for financial help.
The first way that the disabled can be seen as disposable by society is because depression and victimization are increasingly common in disabled children. They know that the American society often sees them as useless, so they are more prone to being depressed because of it. The Children’s Depression Inventory states that “9% of CWS (child welfare system) involved youth reported depression” (Berg 41). Depression is defined as “feelings of severe despondency and dejection.” One would argue that the key word in this definition is “severe.” Chronic depression in disabled children is not something that is just no big deal, nor should it be seen that way.
While depression is not something that should be seen as easily surmountable or minor, neither are victimizations. These victimizations are incredibly common in children with disabilities, and shows how they are, in fact, seen as disposable. The National Survey of Child and Adolescent Wellbeing proves this, saying that “24.3 percent [of children] reported one victimization, 15% reported 2, and 21.3% reported three or more victimizations” (Berg 41). These are the respective percentages of disabled children who have been abused, whether it be by an acquaintance, relative, or complete stranger. It is important to take into account that over 1/5 of disabled children in the United States have been abused three or more times. They are seen as easier to dispose of and hurt than normal children.
While depression is common in children with disabilities, anxiety is highly likely in parents of children with disabilities. This shows how people with disabilities are seen as disposable because their parents are worried about their welfare. An article by Omar A Al-Farsi, Yahya M Al-Farsi, and Samir Al-Adawi shows one that “from existing literature, it appears that psychological disorders of 15%–54% of CASD (caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorder) may be marked with symptoms of anxiety” (3). Keep in mind, this is only for parents of children with autism, but it is important to know. If these are the stats for one disability, then what do the stats look like in general? Well, “45.9% of caregivers reported for having stress and anxiety, while 48.6% reported having depression” (13-14). If society did not see disabled children as disposable, perhaps stress and anxiety of parents would not be as major of a problem. In the American society, disabled children are portrayed negatively, so parents could potentially be worried about their children being abused or made fun of at school, invoking that stress and anxiety, which can be avoided.
While feelings of depression and anxiety can potentially be avoided, so can intimate partner violence, one of the most major abuses a woman can take in her lifetime. This is also common in women with disabilities, which can just point back to how they are seen as disposable by the American society. In an article by Karen G. Langer, she states that “Violence against women has been acknowledged by the World Health Organization as a worldwide epidemic” (114). Violence against women in general has become a major problem in society, so violence against disabled women is also becoming more and more of a problem. According to the NIJ (National Institute of Justice), “approximately 25% of women endure Intimate Partner Violence during their lives” (115). This stat is for women all together, but from previous information, one can assume that the stat for disabled women, who find it harder to defend themselves, will be much higher. This article also came up with a list of reasons why disabled women could be more prone to violence. These included “increased vulnerability for abuse as increased dependability on others, violation and denial of human rights, less chance of discovery or reporting this abuse, social isolation, and increased risk of manipulation” (115-116).
Just like Intimate Partner Violence is a major problem within society, especially when it is directed toward disabled women, victimization of people with disabilities in general can be a problem. Lynda Jones, a woman with blindness, has spoken out on this issue and told her story. Jones was walking home from an internship one day in the afternoon, and she heard someone running behind her. She was confused because it was overwhelmingly hot that day, and didn’t understand why anyone would be running. However, she didn’t think much of it and continued walking home. She turned a corner and felt the runner right next to her, and she said that “in a matter of moments, I heard the jogger coming up on my right side. My first thought was perhaps I was not walking along the edge of the street. Never once did I feel endangered” (Jones, Vision Aware). However, she then felt a pulling on her purse and realized that the jogger was stealing from her. She yelled for help, and a man and his son that were watching from their apartment window came to her aid. Now, Lynda Jones leads a self defense class for the blind to ensure that no one else will have to go through what she went through. Her story just points back to how supposed disposability of disabled people is a problem in society. She was immediately targeted because she was blind, which would be much less likely to happen to someone without disabilities.
Just like Lynda Jones has spoken out about her supposed disposability, others have shared their stories about just how cruel society can be, including Nathalie Allport-Grantham and Euan McGlip. Nathalie is a woman with invisible disabilities, which, as is probably obvious, means one cannot see them. She was refused help at an airport because of her disabilities. The woman who was supposed to assist her didn’t believe she was disabled, so she was forced to pay for aid. When asked what happened, Allport-Grantham said “then she said loudly, in earshot of everyone at the gate: ‘I’ve got disabled people to help and you are wasting their time’. Everyone was staring. It was humiliating” (The Independent). Euan McGlip also shared his story. He revealed that he and his family were refused help at an Air Canada airport, even though they had a disabled son. They were forced to pay more than they should have because of mistreatment by the airport. “We explained that we had a doubly incontinent disabled child with us and that, at Air Canada’s original instruction, we only had enough sanitary and medical products to last him the expected flight plus a few hours. According to staff, this was ‘not their problem’” (McGlip). Both Nathalie and Euan show examples of how disabled people and their families are often seen as disposable or useless by society because of how people treat them. Even though they are clearly disabled and need help, people refuse to help them because of their struggles.
While the majority of arguments are that disabled people are often seen as disposable by American society, there are some things that prove that they do have help possible. Both the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income programs have financial aid for people with disabilities, along with many help programs across the country. The Social Security system gives financial benefit to disabled people with insurance. “Social Security Disability Insurance pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are “insured,” meaning that you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes” (Benefits for People with Disabilities). The Supplemental Security Income system also helps with financial aid. If desperately needed, the SSI will give the disabled person and/or their family money, depending on how much is needed. Both of these programs argue against the supposed disposability of disabled people.
In conclusion, people with disabilities are mostly seen as disposable by the American society today. This can be seen in depression and victimization in children with disabilities. Children with disabilities are worried about what people think of them, so they are more prone to feelings like this. Anxiety in parents with disabled children is also common. They are concerned about how their children are being treated, especially at school, invoking these feelings. Women also have an increased risk of IPV, because of their increased vulnerability. There are also stories about different people who have shared about their disabilities, which proves that disabled people are more likely to be seen as disposable by society. However, one can argue that disabled people do have help spread across the country, especially in the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income systems. All of these points are reasons that disabled people are seen as disposable by society.
Berg, K. L.; Shiu, C.-S.; Msall, M. E.; Acharya, K. Child: Care, Health & Development. Nov2015, Vol. 41 Issue 6, p989-999. http://search.ebscohost.com/ login.aspx?direct=true&db=cmh&AN=111382444
Julia Buckley. “Disabled woman “humiliated” by Airport Employee who Refused Assistance.” The Independent. 2 January 2018.
Carman, Linda. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care. May2006, Vol. 42 Issue 2, p114-129. 16p. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx. direct=true&db=cmh&AN=20466176
Lynda Jones. Vision Aware. ND. http://www.visionaware.org/info/emotional-support/ personal-stories/crime-and-domestic-violence-stories/violent-crime-against- people-who-are-blind/1235
Langer, Karen G. “Depression and Denial in Psychotherapy of Persons with Disabilities.” American Journal of Psychotherapy, vol. 48, no. 2, Spring1994, p. 181. EBSCOhost, http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx? direct=true&db=f6h&AN=9411171210
Social Security website. ND. NA. https://www.ssa.gov/disability/
Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2016; 12: 1943–1951. Published online 2016 Aug 4. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S107103. https://pwww.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/ PMC4977076/
Throughout this writing process, I’ve done a lot of work in and out of class to make this story the best it possibly can be. I’ve done a lot of revising and adding scenes to try and make my writing better. I hope you enjoy this story.
~ Hazel ~
I listen as the steady beeping of the monitor fades away, and the world goes black. I don’t know how long I’ve been out of it, but according to my superiors, it’s been at least a couple days. When I finally come to, I can’t remember anything from the surgery. Scanning the room, I’m looking for any sign of where I might be, and I see silver walls with monitors around me. I’m alive, so I think the surgery went well. Suddenly, I feel a piercing ringing in my head. I cover my ears and yell, but it does nothing.
“Hello Hazel,” I hear a deep voice interject from the door, and the ringing stops suddenly. Everything comes back to me- I’d volunteered for this surgery. I had willingly gotten a chip implanted into my brain so that the organization could keep watch on my every move during my missions. Because of this surgery, they can now see what I am seeing, and they can make me see messages from them, saying what to do and what not to do.
The man at the door has gray hair, a lanky build, and green eyes that seem to pry into my thoughts.
“Hazel Winwood. Thank you for volunteering. How do you feel?” is the first message I see appear in my line of vision.
“I feel fine. The only thing that’s happened is some ringing in my ears,” I say. That’s probably an understatement. When the ringing happened, I felt like someone had somehow inserted a sound of 120 decibels into my brain.
“Oh, the ringing? Yes, that was me. Just making sure you were reacting normally to stimuli.” He checked off a box on his clipboard.
“So just the ringing?” he inquires.
“Haven’t felt anything yet.”
“Good. It’s looking like you’re going to be one of our best subjects yet,” he assures, still checking off boxes. He exits the room, leaving me alone.
~ Chase ~
I see another dreaded sign for the school dance. Every single year, from when I was 11 until now, I’ve dreaded dances- and I’m 16. You’d think that I’d be able to man up and ask someone, but I’ve gotten rejected so many times, it’s just not worth it anymore. Instead of continuing to worsen my mood, I head off to Physics. I try to immerse myself in the science, like I can most of the time, but this stupid dance can’t seem to leave my head. I look around the room at the girls in my class. I see someone with black hair and green eyes. She’s pretty, right? Answer: Yes, Chase, she is very pretty. And way too out of your league. It’s a week before the dance, so she probably already has a date. It’s like the devil and the angel on my shoulder, but one of them is trying to get me to talk to a girl for once in my life, and the other is trying to talk sense into me. My sensible side wins that fight.
“Chase? Chase,” my teacher demands. Everyone is staring at me, and I realize that I’ve been involved in my thoughts for the first ten minutes of the class. I mentally scold myself. This is why I can’t get a girl to talk to me. I’ve been this way ever since I was a kid: alone, isolated, rejected. I’m a part of something, a part of something that doesn’t allow for much free time or control over my own decisions. I’m a part of this organization, and I have been for years. It’s the only thing I’ve ever belonged to.
~ Hazel ~
I’ve been left sitting alone in the room for two and a half hours when gray-haired man comes in again.
“Agent Winwood. We have a mission for you.”
“Finally,” I think to myself. Out loud, I say “Ok.”
“We need you to infiltrate the other side.”
I feel my heart beat faster than ever, and my pulse starts racing. Infiltrating the other side is one of the most honored, yet dangerous, missions anyone can be assigned. Most of the time, they give assignments like this to adults. Me? I’m barely 16.
~ Chase ~
Physics was my last class of the day, and I’ve never been more relieved to be in my room. I collapse on my bed, and stare up at my blank ceiling. Why am I like this? I’m sure there’s plenty of girls at my school without a date. I can just ask one of them, right? No. All of them would say no, and I’m not about to experience that again. I’d much rather be here, with my comics book and tech projects. My room is pretty much my lab. I’ve built computers, made inventions. I never have homework, so I have to occupy my time somehow, right? I’d prefer to do something other than thinking about my girl problems, so I choose to do this. My dad is an inventor, too. He told me that even when I was little, I liked to go into the garage and to work with him so I could see him build things, so I guess this has been a passion of mine for a while.
I’m working on my minuscule Iron Man suit prototype when I hear a knock come from the door.
“Come in,” I yell, without looking away from the project.
“Hey, Chase,” I hear my dad interrupt. “Whatcha building now?”
“Just another prototype. What’s up?”
“Well, your mom and I have some news for you.”
“What?” I ask nervously.
“Well, it won’t really effect you if you don’t want it to.”
“Ok…what’s going on?”
“We have some new neighbors moving in. They’re buying the house next door. Man and a woman, with a daughter about your age.”
I look down at the floor. I know that both my parents see this as an opportunity for me. They want me to get more “social” and to talk to people other than them, but they don’t understand that I’m better off on my own. There’s a lot of pressure on me to do well in school, and in…other things.
“Chase, come on. You know what I’m going to say. It would be a good thing for you to at least meet her and become friends.”
“Dad, I know.”
“Just try, ok?”
“Sure,” I say, but that’s only because he looks disappointed. I only plan on seeing her once. I’ll go outside, look at her, then nothing will have ever happened. I’ll retreat back into my own little world.
~ Hazel ~
“Me? Are you serious?” I ask gray-hair man.
“Yes, Hazel. You’ve proven yourself very well.”
“Ok. How am I going to infiltrate the other side?”
“Well, we did some research on agents of the other side, and we found one you could get in contact with. He lives near here too, and we purchased a house next door to him. He’s your age. We set you up with a fake family to make it look like you’re just moving in.”
“What’s his name?”
~ Chase ~
I’m in the middle of watching my favorite show when I hear a moving van driving across our street. Is this the new family who’s daughter I’m supposed to socialize with? I quietly walk away from my bed and look out the window. I have to strain my neck in order to see anyone, but when I do, I see the girl. She has a flannel shirt on with jeans and converse. She has light brown hair, green eyes, and freckles. I want to get a closer look, so I run downstairs to look out the living room window. The girl is looking around at our neighborhood, when she sees me looking through the window. I want to leave right away, but I’m frozen in my tracks.
Instead of giving me a judging look, she smiles at me, and instead of smiling back, I keep staring. I probably look like an idiot.
~ Hazel ~
What a way to be welcomed into the neighborhood. I see a boy looking out the window of his house. I think he’s watching me move in. It dawns on me that this must be Chase, so I have to somehow get him to be my friend. I smile at him, but he doesn’t smile back. He just keeps staring. He looks like an idiot.
~ Chase ~
That was the most I’ve interacted with a girl in years. I have no idea what to do when one makes eye contact with me, let alone smiles at me. I decide that I don’t need to know, because I am fine on my own, despite what my parents may think. I’m halfway up the stairs when I hear the doorbell ring. My mom walks up to the door and answers it, like a good neighbor. I run as fast as I can up to my room. I don’t want to do this.
I can hear conversations downstairs that go something like this-
My mom- “Oh hi! You must be the new neighbors!”
The girl’s mom- “Yes! We’re very excited to be here.”
My mom- “And who is this?”
The girl’s mom- “This is Hazel. She’s 16.”
My mom- “I have a son that’s 16! Would you like to meet him?”
My mom- “CHASE!”
Ok, Chase. This is it. You’re going to go talk to a girl. She’s pretty, and you’re going to talk to her. Just say hi, and it’ll all be fine.
I parade down the stairs, and I see Hazel and her mom standing at the door. I try to smile at them. She smiles back at me, and I clearly see that she’s had more experience with this.
“Hi, I’m Hazel. What’s your name?”
“Um…I’m Chase. Chase Brooks.”
~ Hazel ~
So this is Chase. I’m not sure how he’s an agent for the other side, because he’s probably the most awkward person I’ve met in my life. He’s got tousled brown hair and brown eyes. He’s wearing jeans, high tops, and an old t-shirt. His hands are in his pockets, and I can feel his nervousness.
“What school do you go to?” I prompt, trying to start a conversation.
“Oh…um, I go to Wright. What about you?”
“Uh…homeschooled,” I say, trying to be as nonchalant about my true identity as possible.
“So, what do you like to do?”
“I like comic books and science.”
“That’s pretty cool. I like superheroes. Can you show me some of your comics?”
“Yeah, sure. I’m actually working on an Iron Man suit prototype right now!”
“It would be better if I hadn’t failed at making like a zillion before this one,” he replies with a smile. This one is more genuine. He seems to open up to other people better when he can be himself.
Another message shows up in my vision. “Good, Agent Winwood. Keep getting him to open up. Get him to like you.”
For a couple minutes, I forgot that the other side was making me talk to Chase. I remembered what I was here for, and followed Chase up to his room, my real mission now in the front of my mind.
~ Chase ~
“So, this is my room. Yeah, not much to see, I know. The Iron Man prototype is over there on my desk,” I say and gesture over to the lab.
She walks over to my desk and looks at the prototype. Before I can tell her not to touch anything, she grazes her finger over Iron Man’s helmet.
“Ow!” she yells, and jumps away from my desk.
“Yeah, sorry, that’s my bad. I forgot to tell you that it’s still probably dangerous to touch,” I chuckle.
“I had no idea,” she says sarcastically.
“So, why’d you decide to move to the neighborhood where literally nothing ever happens?”
“I don’t know, just looking for a change, I guess.”
“Cool. Well, I hope you like it here.”
“I like what I’ve seen so far.”
PANIC! This is what I was afraid of. Was that comment directed at me? Does she want to be friends? More than friends? We barely know each other. It’s not that I wouldn’t like being friends with her, it’s just…why would someone like her want to be friends with me?
Instead of voicing all my doubts out loud, I look down at the ground and grin.
~ Hazel ~
“Good, Winwood. I think that’s enough for today. I can see you’ve gained his trust. Tomorrow, we continue. For now, I need to speak to you alone,” is the new message I see appear across my line of vision.
“Oh gosh, sorry Chase. I totally forgot that I have to go home and unpack. It was really good to meet you. Maybe we can talk again tomorrow?”
“Yeah, I’d like that. See you later, Hazel.”
I smile at him, and this time he smiles back. I walk out of his room, down the stairs, and out the door. As soon as I’m out of eyeshot, I sprint down the street and towards my house. I go up to my room, and I wait patiently for another message.
“You clearly have some experience with this.”
I grab a piece of paper and write “Not really. He’s just easy to manipulate.”
“Obviously. You must get him to trust you enough so that you can go looking around in his house for proof that he’s part of the other side. As soon as you do that, we can infiltrate his house and arrest him.”
“He actually doesn’t seem that threatening. Do you really think he’s on the other side?”
“Yes. Are you questioning our research, Agent Winwood?”
“No, of course not. I’ll get right to it.”
~ Chase ~
I haven’t been able to stop smiling the whole day. I just talked…to a girl! More importantly, I talked to a girl and it wasn’t the most awkward thing that’s ever happened to me. I sit on my bed, but I feel a lump underneath me. It is none other than Hazel’s jacket.
“Yes! An excuse to go talk to her again!” I think. Whoa, Chase. Don’t get ahead of yourself. You just met her.
I yell up at my mom and tell her that I’m going over to Hazel’s house to return her jacket. I don’t get a response, but I assume that my parents are fine with it, especially considering that I’m talking to someone.
I try to coolly stroll over to her house, but I can’t be cool. It’s just not in my DNA. I walk up to the porch and ring the doorbell. While I’m waiting, I’m trying to get into a position where it looks like I’m comfortable. I land on just standing there with her jacket. Her mom answers the door. “Hi! Chase, was it?” she says.
“Um, yeah. Chase.”
“Oh, well, Hazel left her jacket at my house. Is she here?”
“Yeah, she’s in the basement.”
“Ok, thanks, Mrs…”
I saunter down the stairs into her basement and lean against the wall. She doesn’t hear me come down, she’s so immersed in her movie. And what other movie but Star Wars?
“Man, I love Star Wars!” I interject.
“Oh my gosh, Chase! I didn’t hear you come down.”
“Hey. You left your jacket at my house.”
“Oh, whoops! My fault.”
“Which episode is this?”
“Empire Strikes Back.”
“That’s my favorite!”
“No way, me too!” she responds enthusiastically. “Wanna watch with me?”
“Oh yeah, sure. But what about supper?”
“We can just order a pizza or something.”
“Sure! I don’t think my parents will mind.”
“Alrighty, let’s do this,” she commands.
Maybe it won’t be so bad to have a friend next door.
~ Hazel ~
“Good. You’ve gotten him in your house. Now keep reeling him in. Soon, we’ll have him right where we want him.”
I realize that even though this is my mission, I don’t want Chase to get hurt. He’s too nice, too innocent, to ever hurt anyone else. I look at him on the couch. He’s shoving popcorn in his mouth as fast as he can. How can anyone want to hurt him? I certainly don’t.
~ Hazel ~
“So who’s your favorite character?” he asks, mouth full of popcorn.
“Vader. How about you?”
“No wayyyyy! You like the villain?! I’m sorry, I can’t condone that.” He throws a piece of popcorn my way and it hits me in the shoulder.
“Oh, don’t think you can get away with that, Rebel Scum,” I retaliate. I toss popcorn back at him.
“Rebel Scum?! We. Destroyed. Your. Death Star!” he says, playfully punctuating every word with a popcorn throw. I throw my arms up, pretending like I’ve had enough, and grab a pillow. I smack him in the side of the face, and he graciously falls to the side, onto the couch. His previously messy hair is even messier now. He snatches up the other pillow and hits me with it, but I don’t fall. We go into an all out pillow/popcorn fight for 15 minutes, until Chase realizes we skipped the iconic “I am your father” scene.
“Noooooo! Please go back, Hazel,” he begs.
“Only if you say Vader is better than Luke!”
“Fine,” he concedes, and murmurs it under his breath.
“Thank you,” I say, rewinding. We settle back on the couch, closer than we were before. Once we get to the scene, he grabs my arm, and we both quote along with it. I look at him, and a nerdy smile has taken over his face. I can feel one on my face, too. I look at him and grin, and he looks at me and grins back. His face is red because of the fight we just had.
“You want to know something, Hazel?” he asks.
“You’re the first person in years that would ever hang out with me when they didn’t have to. Since I was 10, I’ve been isolated from humanity, and when I first saw you, I didn’t think I was going to have anything to do with you.”
“When I first saw you, I thought you were the weirdest person ever.”
“And now? Well, now you’re my best friend.”
“I think you might be becoming my best friend too.”
~ Chase ~
I think I have a best friend. WHOA. This has never happened to me. No one’s ever liked me enough to be my partner for a project, let alone my best friend. I have way too many issues for someone to want to be my friend. She doesn’t know who I am, what I’ve done, and I feel bad for not telling her. I’m part of something that she can’t be a part of, or she’ll get hurt.
Despite all of this, Hazel is the best possible friend I could ask for. She’s nice, smart, funny, and we have a lot of things in common. Despite all the things that should be keeping us apart, I think she was meant to move in next to me. It’s like she has a purpose for being here. I know that sounds stupid, but I think it’s true.
~ Hazel ~
Chase Brooks. This is the same boy that I’m supposed to corrupt and get for the organization. They would kill me if they knew this, but I really really don’t think that Chase has anything to do with the other side. Maybe there’s another Chase Brooks. It’s just so hard for me to ever imagine Chase hurting someone. He’s too nice, too innocent.
“Wanna watch Return of the Jedi?” My concerned look melts into a smile, and so does his.
“You know it,” he says with his nerdy smile.
I walk over to the DVD section of the basement and grab out 2 movies.
“Now,” I say. “Bonus features edition or normal edition?”
We look at each other for a few seconds. “Bonus features,” we say in unison.
I laugh, then I put away the normal DVD and insert Return of the Jedi into our Blu-Ray player. When it starts playing, I jam out to the theme song, and he joins me on the other part. After it’s done, we both laugh, and get ready for the opening scene with R2D2 and C3PO.
Things I learn about Chase while watching this movie:
He has almost every line in this movie memorized.
I thought I was a fan of these movies.
He is an even bigger fan.
His favorite character is, in fact, Luke Skywalker.
I never knew I could bond this much with someone I was supposed to hurt.
~ Chase ~
Return of the Jedi is over, and it’s almost midnight. I know that I have to go home now, but I don’t want to. I want to find out what other movies we like and I want to marathon them with her.
“That was the most fun I’ve had in years,” I admit. “We should do it again sometime.”
“Lets do it. How about Back to the Future?”
“This right here: this is why we’re friends.”
“Ok, Chase,” she laughs. I realize I’ve been staring at her for longer than I should. It’s like the day at the window, except she can stand me now. And that’s why I have to tell her. I have to tell her what I’m a part of, all the baggage that comes with me.
“Hazel! Wait…before you go…”
“You, uh, you…forgot your jacket again,” I sigh.
“Oh, gosh, sorry! I’ll see you later, Chase.”
“See you later, Hazel.”
~ Hazel ~
As I walk upstairs after cleaning the basement, I think about Chase. Is he really an agent for the other side? Is this nice, nerdy kid just a cover up? I don’t know what to think anymore, because what I’ve been loyal to for 10 years of my life is all falling apart because of a boy. But he’s not just any boy: he’s smart, nice, funny, kind, genuine, and a million other words that I can’t think of.
I am starting to truly believe that he is not a part of the other side, which means that if I help my organization, he will get hurt for no good reason. I can’t ever let that happen.
~ Chase ~
Why is it so hard for me to tell her? It should be easy to talk to her, about anything really. Even though this should be the most simple thing I’ve ever done, it’s the most difficult. This part of me, no one knows about it: literally no one. Even if I am a part of some organization, I’m still me. In fact, I’m me because of what I do. My secret has taught me to stay strong through all the rejection, all the pain.
As I’m sitting at my desk working in the lab, I pull out my organization files from my drawer. I see my name and my picture shown on the cover. I looked really bad in that picture. My hair was messy, and I was smiling like a serial killer, but that’s not the point. Inside the files were all my mission reports, failures, successes, and all my information. I close them, and look at my reflection on the front cover, and I have to ask myself if that’s really me anymore. Is it who I want to be? Can I find my true self with my missions, or can I find my true self with my projects, and with Hazel? Am I really going to give up what I’ve been a part of for 5 years, just to be a part of something that could end in two minutes?
~ Hazel ~
I can’t do this to him. He’s innocent, and hurting him would make me a monster. I have to tell him. I run over to his house.
“Hi Hazel! Are you here for Chase?” his mom asks.
“Yeah, I am, Mrs. Brooks.”
“Awesome! He’s up in his room.”
I walk up the stairs to Chase’s room and knock on the door. I hear the rustling of papers, then he opens it.
“Hey,” I say softly. He looks at me, confused, and I look back at him. I have to just do this, or both of us are going to get hurt.
“Chase, look. I’m so sorry, but this can’t happen. If we become any closer, bad things are going to happen to you, and I don’t want that. I can’t hurt you.”
“Hazel, what? Why would bad things happen to me?” I see all hope and happiness leave his face, and it feels like someone has reached into my chest and pulled out my heart.
“I…they just would. I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you why. My hands are tied. You wouldn’t understand.”
“All I understand is that I can’t live without my best friend.”
“Chase, I have to go. I’m sorry.”
“Hazel, no. You can’t just leave like this.”
“Chase, just trust me.” I can feel his disappointment radiating, but someday he’ll thank me for this. I walk out of his house for the last time.
Right as the slam of the door ends, I can feel the tears leaking. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ve only known him for a couple days, but it feels like we’ve been best friends for our whole lives. I know I need to forget him, but I just can’t.
~ Chase ~
I don’t know why this hurts so much. I’ve gone 6 years with people rejecting me, ditching me. So why does this feel any different? It shouldn’t, after all. I slowly open the door to my house, and parade up to my room. I know that I should probably be crying now, but I’m not. I think this is because I’m still in shock. Hazel didn’t just ditch me with no explanation, and I’m going to see her again tomorrow. I guess I’m still in denial. Anyway, she just did what I couldn’t. I’m a part of an organization, a secret organization. If she got involved in that, she would get hurt.
“Chase, Hazel’s mom just brought this for you!” my mom calls from downstairs.
I walk down the stairs, and I see an envelope with my name on the counter. I grab it, and retreat back to my room.
This is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write, or do, for that matter. But I have to, for both of us. I can’t have either of us getting more attached to something that can’t happen. If you’re wondering why I made you leave or what this is about, let’s just say that everything in the world is keeping us apart. I’m me, and you’re you. Unless something major happens, we’re never going to see each other again. I’ve gone back to where I belong. Please don’t come after me, or it won’t end well. In any other situation, we would most likely still be watching a movie. But in this situation, if we would’ve stayed friends, you would’ve gotten hurt, and I could never bear to see that. I really hope you understand, and that you forget about me, even though I’ll never forget about you.
Ok, now I might be crying.
~ Hazel ~
I’m sitting at home, making sure that the thing I did was right, when I see cars lighting up outside of my window. What I thought was horrifying at first- they’re at Chase’s house. What I realize is horrifying now- they have my organization’s name on the side. I rush outside, and the gray-haired man steps out of one of the cars. I feel confused and humiliated. This is what I was trying to prevent, so how’d they get here?
“Good work, Agent Winwood.” He shakes my hand, and to my horror, I see Chase looking back at us. There is a look of hurt, betrayal, and understanding on his face. His eyes tell a different story. He is scared for his life, as he should be. He continues looking at me, all but begging for help, as they pin his arms behind his back and push him into the leading car.
“Wait! How did you get here?” I ask.
“We know the address, Hazel. After all, we did choose where you would be based. We figured it was time enough to take matters into our own hands.”
I step into the van with the gray-haired man, and we follow Chase’s car back to the organization. The question I am asking myself: do I help Chase and risk my life or do I pretend I don’t care about him?
~ Chase ~
How did I get here? I didn’t do anything, but somehow, I’m siting in the corner of a car, going somewhere I don’t know, with my hands pinned behind my back and my dignity gone. And Hazel set it all up. I should’ve known, I should’ve taken a hint. Hazel’s goal all along was to get me into this situation, and she did that my earning my trust. How did I not see this coming? No one’s actually talked to me in 6 years, and Hazel’s too good to be my friend.
And then it hits me. Hazel is a part of the organization that’s fighting mine. This is why she had to leave and why she thought I would get hurt. All of her “kindness” had led up to this moment.
I’m immersed in my thoughts when I feel the car stop. They clamber out of the van, and pull me along with them. I’ve been taken to a remote facility, and I have no idea what’s going to happen to me. The facility just looks sketchy, with its silver walls, endless cords, and corpse-ish smell. I have no idea where this is, where I am in town, and I don’t care. All I care about is how I’m going to get out, and if Hazel even cares about me at all. I’m scared, and I’m not afraid to admit it. We walk in the doors, and they shove me into a room that’s pitch black. In other words, I can’t see anything. At least, I can’t see anything until the door opens an hour later, and who is standing there but Hazel Winwood?
“Chase, I’m so so sorry. I made you leave all because I was afraid something like this would happen,” she says quickly. I can see tears starting to form in her eyes.
“Hazel, normally I’d say it’s fine, but this is anything but fine. I am in who knows what, who knows where, and I don’t know what’s about to happen to me.”
“Yes, and like I said, I’m so so sorry.”
“You really didn’t want this to happen?”
“No, Chase, I tried everything to prevent this from happening. I know you’re not a member of the other side.”
“That’s the thing, Hazel: I am a member of the other side.”
“What? You really are?”
“Yes, but you’re still my best friend.”
“Chase, this can’t happen if we’re supposed to be enemies.”
“Yes, yes it can. We can ignore everything. You and I don’t have to listen to our organizations.”
“Chase. Listen to me. We will see each other again, but we have to leave each other if we want to survive. I’m sorry. I can get you out of here, but that’s it.” I can see that she’s trying to stay strong, but she doesn’t want to stay.
“Ok,” I agree.
She holds her hand out to me, and I take it. Maybe I wanted to hold hands with her, but not in this situation. We run to the exit of the facility, surprisingly easy. Hazel’s so smooth with her organization, I don’t know how I didn’t see it earlier. Now that I know what she really is, I can see the vibe she gives off, but I know that when she was with me, it wasn’t all fake, which is why I can’t give up on her, which is why I won’t stop until she’s safe.
“Ok, lets get out of here,” I say.
“Chase, I can’t come with you. I told you that.”
“Hazel, come on. You’ll be safe with me.”
“No I won’t. I’ll be safe here, at least for a while. This isn’t goodbye forever. We will see each other again, I’ll make sure of it.”
“Chase, no. You have to leave before it’s too late,” I say stubbornly.
“Fine. I’ll see you later, Hazel Winwood.”
“See you later, Chase Brooks.”
I begin to run, but then I turn around. “Oh, and Hazel?” I say. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” she responds with tears welling up.
“No, really, thank you,” I say, my voice starting to break. “For everything.”
The Reality of the American Dream
Throughout college and high school, many people have a specific idea of what they want to do in their life. This idea may turn into reality, or it may not. There are many factors that play into this idea of the American Dream. The American Dream is based off of many aspects, some of the most prominent being acceptance, worth, usefulness and freedom. These are illustrated by many texts like Of Mice and Men, Death of A Salesman, and various other poems. The characters in these texts represent these different aspects of the American Dream in their own different ways.
One of the main elements that is represented in the texts about the American Dream is the idea of acceptance and belonging with others. One of the characters that represents this the best is Willy in Of Mice and Men. Willy is talking about how much he loves his wife, then he has another mood swing, saying “I get so lonely…” (Miller 25), which shows just how lonely people can seem when striving for success. Sometimes, when trying to achieve the American Dream, someone can be so caught up in goals and what they have to get done in a certain amount of time. This can cause them to lose focus on what’s important. This can result in not being able to spend time with loved ones, and one may completely cut out time for them to relax. Death of a Salesman also represents this well. Willy is reflecting back on his life and says “Charley, you’re the only friend I got” (Miller 76). This shows the harsh reality of the American Dream sometimes. One can seem so caught up in work and what they have to do that they may lose all their friends. When that happens, a person may suddenly want to be accepted again and belong with a group of people. One has to focus on balancing life between loved ones and work.
In addition to the idea of acceptance being illustrated in Death of a Salesman, it is also illustrated in Of Mice and Men through the character of Crooks, who is not accepted into the bunkhouse society. Because of his skin color, he is isolated from the rest of the group. Everyone in the bunkhouse is white, except for him, so he is not accepted into this society and feels abused and isolated by the other men. Even though this may seem cruel for them to do this to him, he does the same thing. It is said that “he kept his distance and demanded that other people keep theirs” (Steinbeck 67). While someone may feel bad for him, they have to keep in mind that he rested the same burden on other people. All he wanted to do was to belong to a group of people, but he didn’t make it easy for himself.
Just like some people aren’t accepted into the American Dream, others are seen as useless or worthless to share in the American Dream because of a mental or physical defect. One character that is a relevant example of this is Candy from Of Mice and Men. He lost his hand in an accident, which makes him useless in terms of the American Dream. He can no longer work or be of physical use to anyone. Because of this, all hope he had of achieving the American Dream was gone. This is why the dream of George and Lennie was so appealing to him. It allowed him to still have hope and potentially to still be useful in terms of society.
Just like Candy, the boy in Robert Frost’s poem lost a hand and was useless in society’s opinion. Towards the end of the poem, he was going to the hospital to get his hand amputated and he was begging them not to amputate it and take his life. He was crying and was scared, “But the hand was gone already” (Frost 27). Just like Candy, all hope of the American Dream for him was gone, so it is not only that he literally died, but he figuratively died as well. When he died, most people “since they\were not the one dead, turned to their affairs” (Frost 33-34).
While Candy and the boy in the poem had a physical defect, Lennie from Of Mice and Men had a mental defect, so to speak. He wasn’t the smartest, but he was physically useful, which allowed him to kind of participate in the American Dream. Lennie and George made the perfect package because George was scrawny but smart and Lennie was dumb but strong. He couldn’t speak well, but “he can do anything you tell him” (Steinbeck 22). His usefulness lied in his physicality, not his mentality.
If, like George, one was useful and could be a part of the American Dream, then freedom was one of the prime motivations for completing and achieving the American Dream. One character that was a great representation of the need for freedom was George from Of Mice and Men. Freedom seemed to always be on his mind and seemed to always be his focus when thinking about his dream. He wanted his own land “an’ it’s [his], a’n [he] c’n go to it” (Steinbeck 79). The whole concept of being able to do what they want when they want is appealing to them.
There are also many characters from Death of a Salesman that represent this well. Some of these characters are Willy, his wife, and Happy. Willy wants freedom from his income and the stress from having to earn money. He wants to be free of the problems that arise from trying to pay off insurance and his house. He also wants to die the death of a salesman. He wants to be remembered as an amazing person, and he wants to travel the world, and just, well, be free. Happy’s main ambition is also freedom. He wants to come out as the #1 man, and he wants to just have a bunch of girls and money so he can do whatever he wants without having to have permission from anybody. Willy’s wife also wants to be free, kind of from the same thing as Willy. She wants to be able to pay off the insurance so the Loman family didn’t have to stress out anymore.
In order to have freedom in the American Dream, one also has to have worth. One has to be valued by other people in order to achieve their goals and make their dreams reality. For Willy from Death of a Salesman, his worth was found in business. To his standards, he didn’t succeed at this, so he ended up being “worth more dead than alive” (Miller 76). He also finds his worth in acceptance, which he didn’t think he had throughout most of the book, which could be why he ended up committing suicide.
After considering this, one needs to notice there are many elements that fit into the American Dream. Some of these are acceptance, belonging with a group of people, freedom, being able to do what someone wants when they want, worth, and usefulness. All of these elements can be represented in many different ways with characters from various books and poems. Some people achieve the American Dream and some people may not, but it is something everyone strives for in their lifetime.
Frost, Robert. “Poetry: The American Dream in Verse.” poetryfoundation.org. 30 October 17. Web.
Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. Penguin, 1998.
Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. Penguin, 1993.
Parker was walking home when he felt himself fall forward onto the pavement. At first he thought he had just tripped over air like a klutz, but then he felt the throbbing pain in his foot. There was no way air could’ve done that. He looked behind him and say an old, beat up book on the ground. The book had a gold binding, but that wasn’t what stood out. What stood out was his name, Parker Allen, in bold, black letters on the front cover. He had no idea why his name was on the cover, but he was determined to find out. However, he knew that reading the book wouldn’t end well for him. He wanted to walk away, but he felt an irresistible urge pulling him towards his new find. He bent down and picked it up, completely unaware that he was disrupting traffic. He faintly heard honks around him, and the wind from cars passing by flew next to him, ruffling his hair in the breeze, but he didn’t care. He opened the book, blew off the dust, and began to read.
“August 13, 2000 was the most important day in history,” the book said.
“That’s my birthday,” Parker thought. He wondered what else could’ve happened that day. He continued reading.
“This was the day Parker Allen was born. Allen was majorly influential in the lives of others, and died a incredibly brave death. This is the story of his life.”
“Died a brave death? Is this book from the future or something?” Parker muttered to himself. He wanted to stop reading right then and there, but it was almost like the words were speaking to him. He continued the book, and suddenly he was reading about his birth, his first day of school, all his birthdays and parties, his first day of high school, his first dance, and all these monumental moments. As he continued to read, he began to feel more and more like he was connected to the book, and he couldn’t get away. He felt his heart beating along with the rhythm of the words, like they were calling him.
In an instant, he came across a story that intrigued him.
“Allen tripped and fell on the sidewalk on February 22, and found a book that changed his life forever.”
Parker looked at the book, shocked, when he realized that the pressure on his left hand was a lot more than on his right. He noticed there was only about 10 pages left in the book, which was the equivalent to about one night. He recalled that the beginning of the book said he was going to die a brave death. What was he going to do?
Parker decided that if he was going to die tonight, he wanted to know how to possibly prevent it. He stared intently at the book, figuring out that he would eventually turn into an alley, and something, or someone, would shove out of the alley. Simple as that. He just had to keep going straight, and not turn into an alley…ever. He started sprinting home, and he didn’t stop until he was nearly there and had to take a breath. He saw a car darting straight at him, and instinctively dove into the nearest alleyway. He kneeled on the ground, wheezing and coughing.
He realized his mistake only when he saw a hooded figure in the shadows. The figure was wearing all black, or at least that’s what it looked like right now. He saw a one-shot pistol in the man’s left hand.
Parker remembered what the book said about his death, and there definitely wasn’t a person involved. Maybe this wasn’t it. Maybe the book was wrong. He saw the man pull out a one-shot pistol and started running away, praying the book was, in fact, wrong.
He looked back and saw the man sprinting after him. He kept running, refusing to look back again. He heard footsteps behind him, but he didn’t hear the man cocking the gun or trying to take any kind of shot. Maybe that’s because it was a one-shot. His pursuer couldn’t miss, or everything would be over. Parker grabbed his phone out of his pocket, and dialed 911.
“Help—-man chasing me—–has a gun—–87th and Y Street,” he gasped, barely able to talk because he’d been running so much.
Suddenly he heard the sound of metal clanking against itself- the unmistakable cock of a gun. He ran faster, faster, faster, and faster, until he heard the footsteps behind him fade. He took a chance and slowed down, and looked behind him. He saw the hooded man, and was ready to turn and run again, when the man started talking in a robotic monotone. He was unmistakably smiling behind the hood.
“Congratulations, Parker. You’ve defeated the book. At least for now. You will be faced with many different challenges in order for you to survive. These challenges will show up in the book, and you have to figure out how to defeat them. These challenges might not make sense, they might be random, and they might confuse you, but you must defeat them anyway. It does not matter how you survive, but surviving is the only priority.”
Parker turned to the end of the book, and saw words starting to form in the back of the book.
“Parker Allen outran the man in the black hood, but was unable to outrun the mountain lion that chased him down the street and into the forest,” the book said next. Parker scanned the area around him, looking around for any mountain lions that may have been lurking in the shadows. He didn’t see anything, but he felt a sudden searing pain on the back of his leg.
Slowly, he looked back behind him, and down at his leg, and saw a 4 inch gash with blood flowing out of it. His eyes moved from the wound to a large mountain lion behind him, circling him. He recalled what the book said, and realized that if he had any chance of survival, he had to get past this mountain lion first. He stared down the lion, knowing that if he tried to run away, it wouldn’t end well. He tried to run through his options in his head, but his mind was scrambled, so he did the only thing he could think of. He grabbed a rock that was near him, hoping to hit the perfect spot on the lion. He threw the rock with all his strength, and watched as it hit the mountain lion in the head, almost in slow motion.
The lion fell to the ground, and Parker ran away, his mind still whirling with what had just happened. He sprinted further into the forest, watching the book to see what was going to happen.
“Allen outran the lion, but he was unable to dodge the tree branch that fell on him, taking his life,” the writing formed.
Parker immediately looked up, his head darting around, looking for any sign that a branch was about to break. He didn’t see or hear anything, so he kept walking cautiously. After a few minutes in which he moved no more than 10 yards, he heard a cracking noise above him.
That was when he had a moment in which he decided he was done with the book and its games. He took off running through the forest, straight to his house. He looked at the back of the book, and didn’t see any writing on it. He opened the door to his house, slammed it shut, and ran straight to his room. He sighed deeply, and looked in the back of the book one more time for good measure. Nothing.
He sighed in relief, and looked out the window at the sun shining. That was when he saw the man in the black clothes outside his house.