Personal Narrative: My Basketball As A Child

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Personal Narrative: My Basketball As A Child

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Personal Narrative By Taylor Kolling

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Hurry up and get her, sir, there she passes! In other words, he advertises her to the king as young, hot, and down to fuck. The other men surrounding James follow suit, each loudly encouraging him to sleep with a different woman. This kind of knowledgeable guidance was usually especially important for young kings like James. According to Pitscottie, James waited until Angus left Falkland to visit one of his mistresses, then told the captain of his guard that he wanted to go on a massive hunting expedition in the morning. Within weeks of his escape, James had issued a decree charging Angus with treason and requiring Angus to stay seven miles away from him. But that would not be the last of Angus. When James sought to convene a parliament session to officially strip Angus of his titles and lands, Angus sent horsemen to Edinburgh in an attempt to prevent James from entering the city.

James, for his part, would never forgive his ex-stepfather. He hated Angus and his family passionately for the rest of his life. They even convinced him that there would be no moral repercussions — he could have unlimited sex with any woman in Scotland, as long as she was a noblewoman. And they plotted to accumulate spectacular wealth for themselves while keeping the king sexually fulfilled and distracted from politics. Unsurprisingly, the king had a number of illegitimate children — nine of whom we know about, all born to different mothers, and an unknown number not on record.

When he was in Paris for talks regarding marriage to a French princess, members of his entourage reported that he was still writing letters home to Margaret Erskine. By the age of 21, he was the father of at least six children, and possibly more, since some of their birthdates are not recorded. His advisors, afraid he would contract syphilis or die without a legitimate heir, begged him to marry. He did eventually wed the year-old French princess, but she died of tuberculosis within months of arriving in Scotland.

He then married the smart and savvy Mary of Guise, a year-old widowed French noblewoman, and they had a daughter, the famous Mary Queen of Scots. His baby daughter was only six days old. Many were daughters, wives or sisters of high-ranking noblemen. And the anecdote about James and a palace servant that Sir David Lyndsay shared when putting the king on blast for his sexual behavior is framed in ambiguous terms as a potential rape, with Lyndsay mockingly comparing the woman to a squealing pig.

Love this Narratively story? Sign up for our monthly Hidden History newsletter for more great stories of the unsung humans who shaped our world. Send us a story tip. Follow us. Then I found out why. T he first thing I can recall clearly was sitting in a hospital room in the dark. I realized the left side of my face was numb. Hanging on the wall in front of me was a television, but there was something wrong with it too. A ghostly copy was superimposed over the standard set; it was rotated at roughly a degree angle and faded away into the burnt cream walls. Is the TV the problem, or is it me? My mother and a nurse wearing scrubs entered from the left, a disorienting place outside of my field of vision. Why was she so nonchalant?

Considering the haphazard inventory I had just taken, I probably should have demanded answers or cursed a bit. Raised some hell. When I was young, my mother always went on, at length, about the difficulties of raising my prone-to-tantrums, bang-his-head-on-the-concrete-when-angry older brother. And calm. And you never complain. I wanted to ask her what was happening — and where I was. Fairly young — my age, by the look of him — his youth was accentuated by a clean-shaven chin under full, feminine lips and a baseball cap perched precariously on his head, above his boyish face.

He had the look of a perpetually surprised toddler, lips slightly parted in wonder and curiosity. The physical therapist, a blonde woman with chin-length hair, stepped in from stage right, clipboard in hand and a laminated badge dangling from a lanyard around her neck. When she entered, the nurse left, not wanting to crowd the room. The physical therapist pushed a rolling walker to the edge of my bed and beckoned me to rise.

My initial movements were the stop-motion stutter of a crude animation. And missed. I tried again. Yeah, I was wrong. Everything, including myself, felt familiar yet foreign, an already-read book revisited accidentally. The therapist led me down a long hallway lined with other rooms and other patients. Every few feet, the therapist paused and waited for me to inch toward her, patiently watching with a fixed smile for the stop-motion hermit crab to scuttle closer.

A death rattle that made syllables and managed to form words. Her back, still facing me, seemed crystallized in position. Finally, she turned and looked at me for a long moment. When the elevator doors dinged close, she took a deep breath and sighed. L uckily, my memories started to stick after that disconcerting moment with the TV. I started receiving various stories about what had happened. Some true, some, I would eventually come to realize, fiction. Him divulging he was my boyfriend … it felt familiar. How many times had this happened? Stanley cocked his head to the side like a confused dog and considered my question — or at least, I figured he was considering it. Maybe he was worried about me. Maybe my well-being concerned him. But I remembered that detail and I knew I knew him.

In what capacity? Stanley let out a huff of air in exasperation. He shook his head in exaggerated impatience, rolling his eyes. It came back to me early on, distinctly, that he had never wanted to be my boyfriend before this. My skepticism remained even as my memory wavered. Yet, he showed up each day, and I began to believe him when he said his feelings had changed. Other friends of mine who came to see me in the hospital were wary of Stanley, but his insistence on his right to be there and his role in my life stifled any objections that even my best friend, Sam, thought to make.

My mother and I had always communicated infrequently about my romantic endeavors. Later, she said I seemed like I wanted him there. With no memory of the original conversation, I believed him, but I felt overwhelmed. So he got a recruiting job and a room nearby. Instead of walking away or going inside, I just stood and watched him stutter as his face flushed until he finally formulated words. And boy, what words they were. Incapable of speaking, I retreated through the sliding glass door into the kitchen. All of the words I wanted to say slithered through my mind, broken, disconnected. But nothing came from me. As he spoke, he encroached on my space, stepping forward until his face was less than a few inches from mine.

His hands still flapped in the air to either side; I think he may have wanted to grab me by the shoulders but refrained. Stanley pulled his hands back, made a noise that sounded like a mixture of an exasperated moan and a frustrated yelp. All I heard next was the gate slamming behind him. All of the out-of-town transfer students over the age of 22 were corralled on the first floor of the transfer dorm. That dorm became a haven for all of us who had spent our post-high school years not attending college. But we had finally pulled together those community college units to gain admittance to a four-year school.

And by God, we were celebrating. Everyone except me. Stationed at the school-supplied prefab wooden desk underneath my bunk bed sans bottom bunk, I was drinking whiskey and playing music from a USB-connected speaker. Among the gyrating bodies, a short guy in a blue baseball cap, brim pushed up jauntily, slid forward with an elbow pointing at me. He looked too young to be drinking. Later, Stanley would divulge his first impression of me: feet up on my desk, pugging whiskey straight from the bottle and ranting to him about Tom Waits.

He thought I was a bitch. And I would tell him that I thought he was a disrespectful asshole. Before we slept together, Stanley spent all of his time with me and stopped seeing all of the other women he had been involved with. At the end of that year in the transfer dorm together, we all dispersed. But sure enough, he ended up in a sublet off of Laurel Street and would rap on my window from the front porch, softening his big brown eyes when I pulled back the blinds to see who it could be. One day, Stanley, now sitting by that window at the computer chair and desk my sublet provided, broached a conversation we had never touched upon before, one I always avoided with everyone: acquaintances, bar patrons, friends — whatever Stanley was.

I stopped listening after his initial question. A wood frame painted white housed a run-of-the-mill mattress, neither soft nor hard. Stanley peered into my eyes incredulously, daring me to confirm what I could see him working out in his mind. So I did. And I said it for the first time in nearly 10 years. Maybe ask if I wanted a drink? Oh, God, I wanted a drink. Hmm, new to the area — no. I heard the words, I understood them, but none of them stuck with me.

Your eyes water because everything feels overexposed and lacks detail. And then he kissed me gently and we had sex, on a mattress that could have been hard or soft or just fine. And I understood because, I felt, who would want to be with me? In the months after I left the hospital, my memory slowly but surely came back to me. I remembered all of this, about how I met Stanley and what our relationship was like before the accident. But I still had some questions. Some missing pieces — like how I could have let any of this happen. How could I tell you what Stanley had done?

This conversation with Cassie took place before I fell out of the tree, and it came back to me as I gradually regained my memory. It happened on Memorial Day Weekend when we all still lived in the transfer dorms, she said. They left before I returned from — where had I been? Drunk somewhere. Like always. Cassie described a beach bonfire. But then she and Stanley had run into the woods to find firewood. She described Stanley slinging his arm around her neck, the same way he did to me. It was when she fell down that things changed.

She described them losing balance and toppling over a log. With him. And I hated myself. Because I had been awake, drunk but awake, when they returned. Everyone else clambered upstairs to continue the party, but Stanley pulled me into his room and into his bed. After what he had done. W hen Cassie told me all of this, Stanley had been studying abroad for months. Neither of us had heard from him in that time. I heard from other mutual friends he had a girlfriend of sorts. I sighed and tried to keep an even tone. It sounded more like an accusation than a comment; it felt more like an accusation. You need to tell her. Call her right now and make sure you tell her. I n the months following my coma, these memories returned to me in sporadic waves.

I remembered, and then I convinced myself I must be misremembering, I must be wrong. Stanley would storm out whenever I brought up the past, only to return the following day like nothing had happened, which made things even more confusing. A foreboding sensation crept into my gut and my skin became cold and clammy. It was overcast, typical January weather in San Diego, but far from cold. Before we climbed the tree that night, you were telling me how much you hated him. You had him buy a plane ticket back home in front of you to be sure he was really leaving. He had just moved all of his shit into your room after his lease ended, and you wanted him gone. Stanley and I had been involved, but it was long over, and — as usual — Stanley used me right when I thought I was rid of him.

When he came back from studying abroad, he stayed with me for about a week and insisted I mediate a conversation between him and Cassie. He found his own place, but then when the spring quarter ended and his sublease was up, he moved all his shit into my room; I protested but he insisted. I still have no memory of the night I fell out of the tree, but Cassie told me I had made him buy a plane ticket in front of me to be sure that he would leave.

After concluding our phone call, I remained seated on the ground outside. I felt stupid; I was stupid. Stanley had been convincing me he was doing me a favor, that I needed him. When really, he needed me. Still paranoid about what had happened with Cassie and his reputation, he had been using me to convince everyone he was a good person. A week after my call with Cassie, I was baking cookies. Remembering the recipe, the measurements, the order I needed to mix the ingredients, exercising my fine-motor skills to mix them — it was all good practice. It was all rehabilitating, my occupational therapist told me. Above the bowl of sugar and butter, my hands held a jar of peanut butter and an overlarge spoon, motionless.

I stopped to look at her, closing one eye to combat the double vision the damage to my occipital lobe had caused. Even knowing this, knowing my life had been disposable to him, I was too weak of a person to make him leave. You have a lot of competition. This obsession with outward aesthetics culminated in him taking me to Calaveras Mountain, a small mountain in east Carlsbad, and bidding me to run to the top. Taking a knee, I put both hands onto the dirt-covered path and threw up. We were sitting at a Thai restaurant in a strip mall. Across the way, I had briefly worked as a hostess in a restaurant when I was newly 18; they tore it down and built a Red Lobster in its place.

Stanley reeled back as if he had just been slapped. His feminine lips parted and his bottom jaw hung open, aghast. Stanley, enraged, knocked over his tea. It had been almost empty. The outrage felt performative; the spill theatrical. I was beginning to get a headache; I just wished someone would be honest with me — my mom, Stanley, anyone who had been there. Everyone wanted to protect themselves at my expense. But I chose to give it to my parents — the insurance had covered the majority of the medical costs, but my mother had racked up hotel bills staying in San Jose. He knew this — or should have.

Did he ever listen to me? I took the train to work by myself. An eye surgery had corrected my double vision, and I no longer needed to close one eye or wear a patch to see. On paper, I appeared to be a legitimate, functioning adult, and no one asked about my abnormal gait or inability to write by hand. It all matters. But what happened to me was real. Everything — my whole life — my whole life. You could barely string together a sentence before. You interrupted me. You yelled at me until I shook.

I felt — all at once — I felt pain. You did something very wrong to Cassie. And me — you probably stunted the progress I could have made. Goodbye, Stanley. We were able to see each other in person in , then we talked on the phone in the summer of The hold rape culture has on us all makes it nearly impossible for genuine self-reflection to occur in these types of men. I go to therapy to discern which parts of my skepticism are warranted and which are pure paranoia. Sign up for our Newsletter. When the Duffy Brothers were deported from the U. S, they hatched a plan to bring Bonnie-and-Clyde-style armed robbery across the pond. Their plan had more holes than a bullet-riddled safe. T he American gangsters entered the British bank at three minutes to closing time on a Friday afternoon.

Three men — two brothers and an accomplice — arrived outside, wearing black masks and gloves, horn-rimmed glasses, and narrow-brimmed trilby hats pulled low over their foreheads. They were armed with two revolvers and an automatic pistol. It was p. Outside, at the Friday meat market, butchers and wholesalers closed up their stalls and rinsed blood from their cleavers. Inside, at the end of a busy week, bank clerks tallied up receipts and attended to the last straggle of customers, including apron-wearing market workers and a year-old girl.

The brothers were Joe and Tommy Duffy, a pair of self-proclaimed American gangsters. They claimed reputations as violent enforcers and armed robbers — and had the broken noses and gunshot wounds to prove it. Now they were bringing the bullet-spraying American bank robbery to sleepy England, where armed robberies were virtually unknown. But their gangster credentials were about to be severely tested. They had chosen the wrong bank, in the wrong city, at the wrong time, and there would be terrible consequences.

T he Duffy brothers were American gangsters who had been born to Irish parents in Edinburgh, Scotland, two of a family of nine sons. Joe immigrated in , ending up in Detroit, and Tommy followed across the Atlantic a few months later. Joe was then 20 years old and Tommy — the more rambunctious of the pair — was They may also have tried to become farmers. This was the era of the gangster, the bootlegger, the racketeer. Prohibition and a thirst for illicit alcohol were allowing organized crime groups to flourish. Al Capone was waging war on the streets of Chicago. Arnold Rothstein was building a criminal empire in New York.

Prominent gangsters, pictured on the covers of newspapers in chalk-striped suits and fedoras, became nationally infamous. The hit movie Underworld , starring George Bancroft as gang boss Bull Weed, was the first of a series of gangster pictures that helped turn their protagonists into glamorous antiheroes. By their own account, it was the ease of obtaining guns that led the Duffys to become gangsters. The brothers became holdup artists, targeting stores and payroll trucks.

They also ran shipments of booze over the border from Canada for bootlegging gangs and became linked to some of the biggest names in American crime. Tommy claimed Capone offered him a job after spotting him during a boxing match. By the summer of , the brothers were living in New York in a furnished room on the second floor of a red-brick rowhouse on West 11th Street. These were relatively small takes, but the brothers would later claim to have committed several more high-profile armed robberies, including at least one bank robbery.

Certainly, their activities brought them to the attention of law enforcement. Warren listed the Duffy Brothers on a lengthy wanted list of holdup gangs, alongside the likes of the Laughing Gang, the Harlem Terrors also known as the Sucker Gang , and the Headache and Aspirin Gang. Commissioner Warren promised to rid the city of this scourge. One evening in March , the brothers were oiling their revolvers to prepare for a holdup when one of the guns went off and shot Joe in the left shoulder. There, doctors treated the wounds — and called the New York Police Department. Detectives arrested the Duffys and searched their room, where they found the revolvers. The detectives believed they were guilty of several others. Both brothers were convicted of robbery in the first degree and sentenced to 20 to 25 years in jail.

Joe was 24 and Tommy was They would not be eligible for parole until March , 20 years later. During their stays, both brothers experienced deadly riots in which several guards and prisoners were killed. Tommy was in the thick of the trouble and spent six months in solitary confinement. More likely, Roosevelt just wanted the Duffy brothers out of the country. But whatever the truth, the brothers were placed into steerage on the SS Duchess of Richmond , and arrived back in Scotland on U. Independence Day, July 4, , determined to introduce American gangster methods to Britain. It was a hugely exaggerated and often ludicrous account of bullet-blazing shootouts and high-speed pursuits featuring an A-to-Z cast of infamous gangsters. One character it did not feature was Joe Duffy.

It was a more shocking and incriminatory story than the one the brothers had given to the Daily News following their arrest in In that modest account, there was no suggestion of any association with Al Capone or Legs Diamond, or of any criminal activity other than two stickups. Perhaps the brothers were playing down their criminal connections in hopes of leniency. But their circumstances at that time — operating from a rented room with mail-order guns for low-value takes — did not seem particularly glamorous.

The discrepancy between that Daily News story and the Weekly News account suggested that the Duffys wanted to inflate their reputations from small-time crooks to big-time gangsters. With their sensationalist account, the brothers had an agenda. At least initially, they intended to become movie stars. Gangster movies were big business. Hollywood released more than 30 crime pictures between and British studios also churned out crime movies, including the early pictures of Alfred Hitchcock.

But the nearest Joe and Tommy got to silver screen stardom was a period working as movie extras at Elstree Studios near London. Then, according to their anonymous associate, they began to scheme up ways to raise enough money to bribe their way past immigration and back into the American crime game. They tracked down some guns — probably decommissioned World War I weapons that had been reactivated on the black market — and planned an armed robbery. Instead, the Duffys recruited an Edinburgh tracklaying colleague named William Abbott to be the third member of their robbery gang.

Abbott was a married man with a 6-year-old child and was undergoing treatment for tuberculosis. He was known to local police but did not have a criminal record. He certainly had no experience of American gangster methods, nor apparently a full understanding of the implications of using them in Britain. Strict firearms regulations and tough punishments meant armed robberies were extremely rare in Britain. Laws brought in to curb the circulation of military weapons following the war heavily restricted the purchase and possession of guns. If a criminal killed someone while committing a gun crime, they could expect to be hanged. But, according to their anonymous associate, the Duffys were willing to do anything to get back to the United States, no matter the consequences.

While these kinds of crime were virtually nonexistent in Britain, the public was familiar with them. British newspapers awed readers with tales of American armed robberies that seemed as distantly romantic as tales of the old Wild West. Scotland Yard should be on its guard. For the Duffys, Newcastle upon Tyne, in the northeast of England, must have represented an even more appetizing target.

It was more compact and less hectic than London, with fewer police officers — none of them armed with anything more than a truncheon. The Cattle Market branch of Lloyds Bank seemed particularly vulnerable. It was small but busy. The Duffys planned to march through the front door, terrify the occupants into submission with their guns, and walk out the back door with the cash. But Newcastle, a medieval walled city, had a long history of fending off aggressors, from marauding Viking raiders to invading Scottish armies.

Proud of its relentless production of coal, ships and Newcastle Brown Ale, neglected by the government and disregarded by the rest of the country, this was a tough-as-nails city that was used to looking after itself. Its residents — known as Geordies — spoke in a dialect that was mostly impenetrable to outsiders. They were fiercely protective of their community. By , the global depression was biting the city hard. Times were tough, and every penny was wrought from sweat and blood. The people of Newcastle would not give up their hard-earned money without a fight. Shoot him if he moves! Another of the masked robbers, probably Tommy, stepped forward with his revolver and ordered the teller and other employees to hand over their guns.

This was an unnecessary request in England. Joe climbed over the counter and began to empty the cash drawer and fill his pockets with notes. The third robber, Abbott, began to tie their hands behind their backs with green cord. One customer, a year-old girl, either refused or misunderstood and was pushed against a wall with a revolver pressed to her head. Meanwhile, bank clerk Joseph Robson rushed to a barred window at the rear of the building and yelled for help. Workers in the adjacent buildings heard the yells but assumed there was a fire and called the fire brigade rather than the police.

It was a calamitous error. Outside, although the meat market was closed, it was still busy with butchers and other workers, burly men with big, bloodied hands who were clearing out for the week. A crowd of them hurried to the bank, again assuming a fire. One of the butchers, Robert Angus, jumped up onto the window ledge to look inside. He saw the three masked men armed with guns, and the bank staff with their hands in the air. Some of the men began to barricade the entrance to keep the robbers inside.

Angus pushed through the double doors and strode into the bank, with a posse of other market workers behind him. The bank staff, realizing that help had arrived, began to fight back. Harrison, the teller, picked up a cash shovel and struck Joe behind the ear. By now, the fire brigade had arrived, and several firemen joined the fight. Abbott ran toward the door and pointed his revolver at the growing crowd outside. Ainsley, the bank manager, leaped onto Abbott and the two men began to wrestle on the floor. The meat men then pulled fast the outer doors, trapping the robbers inside, where they were outnumbered and fighting for their lives.

Tommy fled down to the basement and into the vault. Another bank clerk, Charles Robson, followed him down and locked him in. One of the customers, Kenneth Richardson, who was tied on the ground, recalled that one of the robbers — probably Joe — fell over him with blood streaming from his face. At some point, one of the robbers — again probably Joe — fired his gun. John Ainsley disarmed Joe and stood over him with the revolver.

Four men leaped onto Abbott and beat him into submission. By now, the police had been called. Workers peered out of windows and came out onto the pavements to watch the action. They lost their nerve then, because they realized the game was up. When Police Inspector Andrew Donohoe entered the bank, he found Joe and Abbott unmasked and bleeding on the floor, surrounded by butchers and bank workers. In the basement, Tommy had surrendered his pistol to a fireman. Ainsley, the bank manager, had cuts to his face, and one of the clerks was slightly injured. Witnesses reported seeing a fourth man who might have been keeping watch hurrying away from the bank as the crowd gathered. But a fourth man was never identified, and the three bank robbers did not get away.

They were dragged from the bank, thrown into a patrol wagon, and taken into police custody. All three gave false names. But Constable David Nielsen of the Edinburgh Police said he knew all three accused men, and he properly identified them by their real names. The men were charged with unlawfully and feloniously using offensive weapons to assault and rob the employees of Lloyds Bank. All three pleaded not guilty. It failed to discharge due to its poor condition. If it had discharged, it would have caused serious injury and perhaps death. They are all equally guilty. I am not guilty and my name is John Wilson.

Joe, Tommy and Abbott were all found guilty. The Duffys appealed their sentences. She had been so traumatized that she could not be called to court as a witness. But that picture had been painted by themselves, and their convictions for armed robbery in the U. The appeal failed. No mercy should be shown to armed bandits, the newspaper declared, because Britain would never tolerate them. In the U. Gun laws were also questioned, but newspaper campaigns to ban the sale of handguns received negative responses. The real-life exploits of armed robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow titillated newspaper readers. Back in Britain, the Duffy brothers were each strapped to a frame and flogged across their backs 15 times with the dreaded cat. It was quite a comedown to be scourged to cells in England after selling a vainglorious story of gangster activities in the United States.

Joe served his prison sentence at top-security Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight and Tommy at the granite-walled Dartmoor in the wilds of Devon. The Duffys would both die in Birmingham, England, in the s. Neither brother ever returned to America, nor to the gangsterism they had fetishized and romanticized. Tommy had already written his ending back in in his Weekly News article. I must say farewell forever to the racket. A s writing contest celebrates the inspiring endurance of the teenage spirit — in the form of heart-bursting crushes, angsty soul-searching and secret sexcapades.

Are they all waiting to get in? Frank, of course, is no head-bopping DJ — but she is a celebrity, arguably the most famous victim of the Holocaust, if there can be something so bizarre, so tragic. Not because of any problem I have with Anne Frank or the museum on my next visit, I was smart enough to get tickets in advance , but the truth is that Nazis murdered another 6 million people besides Frank, including millions of teenagers. In fact, back when I read it in middle school, she was my introduction to the lived experience of someone who had died at the hands of Nazis, and I found her resilience inspiring. And, more importantly, I knew there were so many other stories.

Too many. They had full lives before World War II, and those who were teenagers and young adults would have had their whole lives ahead of them. I, like you, had learned all about the atrocities of the ghettos and concentration camps, and I had the nightmares to match. I was much more interested in how they lived. That is why I became totally fascinated by a collection of hundreds of autobiographies written by Jewish youth in the s. Most of them lived in Poland and wrote about their lives before the war with intimacy and candor as part of a contest sponsored by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. They were absolutely, completely, irreversibly in love, until wait, no, that person sucks, never mind, NEXT!

They wanted to join political movements, chant at the top of their lungs at protests, and make the world a much better, more just place. And their parents always managed to exhaust and totally and utterly embaaaaaaaarrass the heck out of them. Weinreich was interested in what it meant to be Jewish, and especially what a changing generation of young Jews thought about themselves and the world they lived in. They ran announcements around the world and received responses from Jewish teens across Europe, and from as far away as Argentina and Palestine. And they ran another contest in , and a final one in As amazing as the autobiographies are, they are also inherently tragic.

Six years later, around 90 percent of Jewish people living in Poland had been murdered by the Nazis. What the young people created with their writings are more than just a remarkable historical record. They are an unvarnished window into the vibrant, colorful lives of everyday teens that we assume should have had experiences very different from our own. But what they write feels like it could have been written today — from the catty girls who make fun of you for wearing the wrong thing to that friend who just gets you to, sadly, the hate and anti-Semitism they saw and experienced. T he room was dark and the Stormer had started drifting off. He knew that his mom loved him so much, maybe even a little too much, and that she wanted him to succeed, do something for himself and make her proud.

That was one of the reasons he was studying to become a rabbi at yeshiva, or Orthodox Jewish school. Two guys from yeshiva were sleeping over. As the Stormer was falling asleep, he had a strange feeling his friends were still awake. Their way of trying to calm him down was to invite him to join in. This sex scene, and how the Stormer felt about it, is kind of surprising and also sort of expected. The Stormer was in his early teens, and this was s Poland, a devoutly Catholic country. His knowledge of sex was … almost nonexistent. The Stormer did know that two men having sex was called homosexuality, and he knew it was a big no-no. The Stormer was, for sure. They were teenage boys, after all.

Beyond supporting the Communist Party, the KZM also had meetings where members learned about life, which included sex ed. He probably knew less than the Stormer, because no one had ever talked to him about the birds and the bees. The instructor, who would have only been a little bit older than the Poet and the other kids, noticed how quiet the Poet was. Oh, poor kid, he does not get it , I can imagine the instructor thinking. After class, he took the time to break things down for the Poet, which was good — and bad.

Being in the KZM also meant being around girls, which was totally new to the Poet, and a little exposure therapy made him less nervous. We all thought about sex ALL. TIME — welcome to the club. He wanted a girlfriend, but he knew that even if he found one, they would have been expected to abstain until marriage. Unfortunately, he also thought masturbating was shameful rather than a completely normal way to deal with sexual urges.

Followed by giggles. A girl who gave her initials as G. The dude was not being subtle. I have totally been that person who thought they were being subtle, only to be called out later and told that everyone knew exactly what was happening. So I can feel the Commander on this one. Maybe he was just finally trying to build up the courage to say hi, or perhaps just being around her was enough. Someone being obsessed with you is a good thing, right? This is undying, forever, end-game-type love, yes? Unless it is the bad obsession, which is actually possession, and annoying and scary as hell. Over the summer, G.

It was a classic teenage, not-really-mature way of getting out. Followed by desperate tears regardless of the answer. After a little time apart, G. And when distance threatens to tear you apart, you promise undying love forever and ever. A fter chatting with the prostitutes on the streets of Warsaw and gaining a little confidence in the not-looking-like-a-fool-while-talking-to-women department, M. Miriam was pretty, M. He wanted something deeper, a real connection and someone he could talk to.

As he got closer to Miriam, he realized she could be his girlfriend. Miriam loved M. In the Tsukunft youth group in Warsaw, Poland, year-old S. Freylich was trying to play the field. I mean, did I totally crush on the guy who painted his nails black? Yes, yes I did. Maybe he thought it meant he could be a player: have a girlfriend and flirt with other girls. I was shocked that so many of the writers were so open when they wrote about sex and relationships. The teens seemed surprisingly open when talking about sex and relationships. Or, of course, it could have been the other way around too, with the boys exaggerating … just a tad. Yup, I knew those guys in high school, too.

He would have said no, just like he said no to everything she wanted to do. The posters outside the theaters in the s probably made him avert his faux-virgin eyes: the actress Nora Ney thrusting her hip forward, wearing a see-through skirt, while actor Eugeniusz Bodo leaned in to kiss his Tahitian lover. Esther loved reading, the stage, and putting on her own theater performances, even if her conservative and religious father wanted her to have nothing to do with things like that. When Esther saw those posters, I can just imagine her wanting to be Nora Ney, who was born Zoscia Neyman, and leaving her Jewish identity for a spot in Polish cinema. And Esther saved up enough for a ticket and just went. Girl, I know that feeling. Hell, my mom could tell something was up simply by some otherwise invisible aura around me.

That relief of not getting caught also comes with the excitement of knowing you can do it again. My generation millennials and Gen Z came of age with the internet, and this generation similarly had access to information their parents never could have dreamed of, through public schools, radio and movies, and revolutionary political ideas from Zionist, Communist and Socialist groups. They were so much more connected to Polish culture and identity than their parents ever were.

Now, instead of escaping to the movies, she was hanging out with a new friend. In this case, instead of trying to help her get through her depression, they just criticized her for not wearing the latest styles which is definitely not the advice you need when your dad has dropped dead and you feel utterly and hopelessly lost. This is like meeting the coolest girl in school — not the popular girl, but the girl that gives zero shits about what anyone else thinks. And there you are, kinda nerdy, kinda uncool, desperately wanting her to like you. And to your amazement, she does. On long summer nights, Esther read poems and sections of her diary to her friend.

Was this the type of deep friendship where Esther thought, She is the only one who understands me? But Esther might not have known that being in love with her friend in that way was possible. Or maybe she just wanted to sneak out to talk on moonlit walks with someone who really understood her. So she had to at least pretend to give in. The thought makes me smile and applaud Esther for this minor but oh-so-important defiance.

The anonymous writer who described connecting with his friend Yankel because they both wanted to break free from their fathers, wrote about how important it was that he had someone he could really trust. His family lived in a basement apartment, a damp cellar that made it hard for him to breathe and with mold that got everyone sick. He wanted to study and go to high school. Still a teenager, G. When the Tsukunft youth group recruited G. Oppression was his life. Yes, these young people totally joined to make friends and maybe meet a romantic interest see the Poet.

But they also wrote about injustice and what they believed it meant. They sound like young Black Lives Matter and environmental activists today, whose passion reminds me of my own anger about the Iraq War and the invasion of Afghanistan during my high school years. These organizations promised to make their worlds better, if they were willing to do the work. Zionism promised a Jewish identity, a homeland, a renaissance, and the training needed to achieve those goals. A guy named Yudl wrote that he hated the Betar group that some guys tried to get him to join. All they talked about at the meetings were their outfits, brown uniforms with gold buttons, he wrote. Instead, Yudl joined the Bundists, like G. Moniek wanted to go to Paris to become an actor, and had tried to sneak out of Poland twice but had been caught both times and spent a few months in jail.

Getting to France and then going from there to Hollywood is a childish fantasy. He could earn money helping his father sew baby shoes, but like so many other Jewish youths who wrote into the YIVO contest, he struggled with the same question: What am I going to do with my life? But the young people writing these autobiographies had unique challenges as Jews living in Poland, where state-sanctioned anti-Semitism was growing. When G. Not only did the Polish government limit admission to Jews in public high schools, in they capped the number of Jewish students allowed at universities. The proportion of Jews enrolled at university dropped from about 20 percent of all students in to only about 4 percent in For many, including G.

One journalist in the s found a group of girls dancing the hora , the celebratory Jewish wedding dance, on a Krakow street. And also young enough to have a long future, without the need to commit to one thing or one person. You imagine having a lifetime to become yourself and achieve your dreams. The Stormer also tried to emigrate illegally to Palestine but got caught and sent back home. Esther was still teaching students, hoping to get a teaching degree, and confiding in her friend that she was writing her autobiography for the YIVO contest.

We know what happens next. While YIVO researcher Max Weinriech wanted the autobiographies for a contemporary understanding of Jewish youth culture, they ended up creating a treasure trove of sepia-toned teenage vitality. YIVO had more than youth autobiographies when the Nazis arrived in Poland, and Yiddish speakers were forced to read and select which materials the Nazis would take. Fifteen autobiographies, including the writings of the Stormer, the Poet, G. Others had been hidden from the Nazis and were found in Vilnius, Lithuania, in and in , including the memoir of Beba Epstein, which YIVO used to create its first digital exhibit in the fall of But hundreds more, telling hundreds more stories of heartbreak and hope, live in archives, untranslated and mostly unknown.

In these writings, we feel the universal longing of young people who yearn to find their place. We cringe with them when their parents are shitty. We grab a hand, shout and sing along with them in the street. We lean in closer when they tell us about their secret friends and that special love interest. We chuckle when they share how they hooked up with allllllll of those girls. I do have to admit that as much as I love the messy realness of these autobiographies, they still break my heart. But even more, because they never even had the time to figure out whether what they dreamed about at 18 was what they still wanted or needed at 28, 48 or She likely never had a chance to figure her life out … And yet!

Esther, who emptied her beautiful heart and soul across 60 pages of neat Yiddish script, is so fucking hopeful it makes me want to march up alongside her and offer my own rallying cry. As Black Lives Matter protests swept the nation, the rubber bullets and tear gas canisters started to fly. I heard the gun go off and turned my head toward the sound, just in time to watch the spinning aluminum canister slam into my brow. Everything went black. I stumbled. When I regained my balance and opened my eyes, the sight in my right eye was gone.

It was May 30, The country was finally rightly paying attention to police killings. While I dealt with the aftereffects of my own injury and tried to make sense of what had happened, I came up with a new mission for myself: I set out to meet as many of the other people blinded by the police as I could. Lead pellets from the canvas bag ripped through his left eyelid and ruptured the globe of his eyeball. We sat at a picnic table in his suburban backyard and compared notes about our traumas. A plastic deer used for target practice listed to the side a couple of feet behind us. Eventually a group of panicked protesters gathered around him and carried him off the street. He was stabilized and taken to the hospital. In the first three months after being shot, he endured three surgeries: one to stitch up his eye; one enucleation removal of the eye and eyelid reconstruction; and one to fill in his orbit with fat from other parts of his body.

He was also hospitalized for diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening problem common among diabetics. John is sure it was due to his heightened stress and depression, a direct result of being partially blinded. As police forces across the U. In the peace that followed World War I, law enforcement and military officials around the world began developing new weapons for crowd control. The goal was to create tools that would afford authorities the ability to manage large groups of people without relying solely on violent baton charges and lethal force.

Chief among those new weapons was CS gas, more commonly known as tear gas. First discovered in by chemists at Middlebury College, tear gas was understood to be a less toxic substance than the CN gas used in the trenches of Europe. It soon became a common tool for crowd dispersal for police departments across the United States, including during labor strikes and civil rights marches. Today, law enforcement and military forces alike have a wide array of less lethal weapons to draw upon. There are kinetic impact projectiles such as foam-nosed bullets, beanbags, pepper balls and wooden baton rounds, to name a few.

There are chemical irritants such as tear gases, pepper spray and mace, as well as conducted energy devices such as Tasers and stun guns. Flash bangs and smoke grenades are used to disorient targets. Finally, many police departments across the U. O n the same day that John and I were shot, Soren Stevenson was among a group of protesters in Minneapolis who tried to march onto the westbound lane of Interstate Use clear and concise language throughout the essay.

In the case of narrative essays, just like descriptive essays, what you have written only becomes meaningful and effective when the language is carefully, specifically and artfully chosen. You can have all the metaphors in the world but if they fail to make sense and make an impact, you will have lost your purpose for writing your narrative. Use specific language to evoke specific emotions and senses in the reader. Childhood experiences can inspire good narrative essays. In the academe, and in real life professions, narratives can be useful for communicating important ideas.

If you learn early in writing a good narrative in school, you have more than a fair chance of handling different situations in almost any profession, on top of receiving good grades. Developing ideas Read the writing prompts that have been assigned to you and read them carefully, because this will allow you to consider the length of the essay that your teacher or professor have assigned. Choose the prompt that inspires you the most, for obvious reasons, and not because it may seem the easiest. Carefully decide what specific point you want to make out of your narrative.

Narrative essays comes with a thesis statement, no matter how personal they are. You will use that as your point or reason for the kind of story you chose to tell. In , French Elle Magazine Editor-in-chief Jean Dominique Bauby suffered a stroke which eventually became his demise as the prognosis turned out to be locked-in-syndrome, wherein the mental faculties remain intact but most of the body is paralyzed. Narrative Essay Sample pcc. If it lacks organization, sense and proper order of events, you will lose your reader in a maze, so make sure that you write things as they happened and keep a smooth flow in logical progression. Never miss out on important points.

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