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UCI Literature Peer Responses Discussion

UCI Literature Peer Responses Discussion

Question Description

I’m working on a writing question and need an explanation to help me understand better.

hello can u write 4 peer responds for me I’ll send u the work

Module 9 Rewrite of The Liar short story #1

I’m rewriting my first short story in first person rather than 3rd to see how that feels… It prompted a few interesting changes and additions. I am still reluctant to put in too much of the back story up front but hope that the inclusions later are a bit more satisfying. I am unsure if this new title makes sense to anyone beside myself, but it is an improvement over the old one. Sorry to all for missing module 8.

A New Owner

The front door is open and it sure is nice to be greeted with a smile. The realtor walks onto the porch and, making eye contact, she stretches out her hand in greeting. As she says: “Welcome to this lovely home,” with the emphasis on this, I am not surprised that her other hand wraps on top of mine.

Even as I thank her, it’s hard to ignore the difference in our appearance. In comparison to her I am seriously underdressed. In my defense, relative to the condition of the house I’ve just stepped into, my clothing is the better match. I’m wearing my usual work pants and a denim shirt: Worn and good quality certainly, but not dressed up. The realtor is wearing a seamless orange dress that contrasts well with her black hair and dark eyes. She is clearly dressed for success: A success she seems to be willing into her handshake and smile, willing on to this house.

With the handshake complete she produces a polite apologetic smile as her gaze slides off of me and down the steps. She steps aside for me to enter. As I pass I can see her eyes light up with the more serious profit possible in the young professional couple with a toddler who are talking at the bottom of the stairs. Before I make it to the round oak table in the vestibule and pick up the glossy brochure and a business card, she peeks back in and wishes me well and, it seems with a nod to my work clothes, she asks me to “just holler if you need anything.” And with that I’m on my own again. The way I like it.

Old houses like this make me happy. I enjoy seeing the wood paneling in the dining room and picture rails everywhere, the plaster sconces and brass hardware on the doors. Moving slowly through the rooms I imagine both what has been and what might be. The nice thing about empty houses like this is their scope for imagination. Staged homes are less enticing somehow. I don’t like being told how much better a designer could make the space. People don’t live that way. Or, I suppose, maybe just not the people I know. Under it all the bones of houses are obvious no matter how you stage it. I’ve spent a lot of time in empty houses, both fixing them up and also trying to recover from the folks who have moved away. Too many folks leave…

Fresh air fluttering through the window saves me from my introspection and brightens my slow walk through the downstairs rooms. This house was grand once. I wonder if I could afford to buy this one. I know I could flip it. Maybe that’s what I need: This house and I could each use a fresh start. Simply open up a few of these small Victorian rooms. Making a rough sketch in my mind I can clearly see the advantages of combining two small rooms next to the master bedroom, predicting the path the load needs to take to find the foundation. Walls generally line up. The weight can be transferred, but only so far.

Which is why this house, on this day, with the lady in orange in the hallway below, is such a surprise. Something isn’t adding up. The problem seems to be in here, in this small closet in the master bedroom. When I open the door I’m surprised to see that this closet is paneled. Too small and paneled. Something is wrong. Shaking my head I walk down the stairs, past the realtor on her phone now, to confirm my hunch. The toddler and her parents are in the basement making noises as I look at the hallway walls relative to the dining room. Huh. Back upstairs. Yep. I’m right. The walls don’t line up.

I move more quickly this time up to the master bedroom. Doing some quick calculations I begin to tap gently with two fingers along the panels in the back of the closet. Not the sound I’d normally hear as I tap my way across walls to find studs. I carefully extend my attention back into the house and don’t hear anyone nearby. The realtor is still describing a meal she must have had recently and I’m too far away from the young couple to even hear the little girl. No longer tapping, I move my hands up and down along the seams. Feeling almost like a spy, and certainly a bit foolish, I encounter nothing resembling a catch for what I’m hoping is a hidden room. Nothing along the shelf at the back and under it. But then I try pushing harder on the bottom support bracket for the shelf. I can feel a little give to the pressure. Exerting steady pressure along this edge I’m rewarded with a soft click. A movement at the edge as one of the back panels moves ever so slightly toward me.

With visions of skeletons, or canvas wrapped old master paintings, or even a tell-tale heart, I find purchase at the intersection of the wall and brings it an inch out toward the front of the closet. Before I can even see inside a breath of musty air mingles as it escapes into the space I am nervously perched within. Most likely the previous owners didn’t know this was here.

Laughter and the sound of children’s feet below interrupts this discovery and I reluctantly, carefully, reset the door and step out of the closet. My heart is racing and quite literally I do not know what to do. So I walk slowly through all of the upstairs rooms again, looking at the brochure and the picture of the house from the street. With a plan forming, I greet the young family once they make their way upstairs. I shift gears and walk a bit faster down to the basement to have a look around. More accurately, I’m down here to have a look out to the back yard through the half windows. Swiss army knife out, I quickly, quietly, unscrews one window latch and puts the hardware in my pocket. No electronic contacts on this window, that’s good. The same is true for the other doors and windows I pass going upstairs. No one has seen my small theft.

As I leave I thank the woman who greeted me so warmly. I can hear the young girl laughing upstairs as I make my way down the front stairs. The time listed on the sign on the front lawn lets me know when the faded old house will be vacant tonight. Feeling more and more like a secret agent, I head home to dress in darker clothes, and to wait.

Under cover of darkness I return. No flashlight or ski mask, I’m just out for a stroll and I try to make it look natural. It is easier than I had imagined to simply walk into the back yard when no one else is in sight. As I suspected, only the locks on the doors protect this house and not a single electric signal alerts anyone as I slide the basement window up. Lowering myself into the house I’ve become someone else. An adventurer? An investigator? A thief? I suppose, having come this far, I may never be the same.

Patience and a good memory get me up onto the first floor and even to the stairway to the second floor without resorting to the flashlight on the phone. It is important no one on the outside see a light in here. My heart seems to be beating as loud as grandfather clock but I take my time until I see the closet door close behind me. Only then do I turn on my light. Steady pressure. Soft click. Afraid and excited, I know I shouldn’t be here, as I extend the phone into the space I’ve just opened up.

The furniture surprises me in this small space. A small table and a bed. Boxes against the back wall. No chair. No window. No skeletons or theatrical chains. No linens on the bed or blankets. The furniture is shabby and, just as dusty, the three boxes are little more than crates. Taking a deep breath, my heart no longer pounding so loudly I sit on the bed to inspect the first box. I realize it’s been nailed shut. Putting the phone down, positioning it on the table with the light toward the back of the room, I take out my knife and pry open one edge. Old paper. Old papers with ribbon tying them together. I am disappointed that it doesn’t feel like I’m in a movie any more. Gold or jewels would have been easier, the decision to spirit those contents home would be so much easier. Even old paintings would have been better. This, this is the sort of treasure that needs to be found in the light of day and not at night.

I can’t avoid the nagging question that has been on my mind since I pocketed the window hardware earlier. It’s time to admit who I am. If I’m not careful I’ll be the thief who broke into this house. Even full of papers I want to take these boxes. The honorable way would be to scrape up enough for a down payment. Then I could “find” the room once I bought the house. Who am I kidding, I can’t outbid anyone with a real job. In the end I’m still the man with an empty house who always seems to be a day late and a dollar short. I suppose I could visit again tomorrow to discover the room for the woman in orange and the owners, new or old, will get to claim the prize.

I’ve told my share of lies over the years but tonight is different. The movie version in my head has me featured as an investigator still. I guess that’s why I keep the hardware in my pocket–in case I come back tomorrow night. Feeling elated and proud of myself I walk out the back door and close it gently with my hip. Unbidden, standing in the shadow before I depart, I think that with Tracy gone no one will be home to question why I’m carrying these three dusty crates inside in the middle of the night. Careful to casually walk to the car around the block I set them down and open the trunk. It can’t be that hard to explain where I found these boxes. I put them in and close the trunk. If there’s anything good in them. I get in and start what the screen play will describe as my get-away car. Smiling, I know I’ll find a way to explain what I hope is a turn in my fortunes. I’ll find a way, but it won’t include this house.

Original assignment was Module 3 Poem 1 : A Childhood Memory

I revised my original poem, Inverness, and turned it into this more compact piece. I hope this structure is more impactful and easier to understand. I tried to bring some more clarity with this piece, and focused the apology between the daughter and mother. Previously I had written about an apology between a child and her mother’s boyfriend, and I feel that this did not come across clearly in my first draft of the poem. I tried to be bold with this revision and I hope that shows.

Ariana Serrano-Embree

The Sea’s Apology

they walk down to the sea

a mother

a daughter

the mother’s warm hand

wrapped tight

against the daughter’s

small fingers

in silence

they apologize

as equals

in this moment

they let their toes be swallowed

they let their toes be softly eaten

the mouth of the ocean

the ocean’s cold breath

long, slow waves

the voice of the water

saying it too is sorry

welcoming them

and ignoring them

at the same time

together they reach their bodies

in a little further now

thigh deep in something changing now

neither of them can let go

bending down gently

to ask the sea, once again

if she remembers them

Module 2: Short Essay

From the original prompt, I chose a mix of two of the options, as I felt they were both appropriate for what I set out to write:

  • Write about a transformative or unexpected personal experience.
  • Write about a personal experience using scene-building techniques including setting, dialogue, and action.

The main thing I set out to do in this revision was to extend the length. In the original assignment, we were limited to 5-700 words; almost unanimously, the feedback I received contained something along the lines of extending it. If you choose to read this piece, you will see how the original count may not have been enough. In addition, the original ending leaves a lot to be desired. I gave a general gesture about how my life had improved, but was fairly short on detail. I have gone ahead and filled in some of the blanks to better reflect on some of the changes that happened in my life as a result of epilepsy, and the process of healing.

I hope you enjoy reading this, and I deeply appreciate all feedback. Thank you.

Dear Epilepsy

“Do you know where you are?” a voice close by asked.

“You’re going to be alright,” said another voice, as I was lifted onto a stretcher.

I wanted to reply that I wasn’t sure, but the only noise I could make was a grunt. My eyes darted across the room as I looked for a familiar landmark. Seeing desks and carpet, I knew I was in a classroom of some sort, but I did not know how I got there or why. As I was wheeled through the door outside by two paramedics, I began recognizing the faces of my classmates and my professor. I shut my eyes.

I awoke in the back of an ambulance. I asked a paramedic, “Why am I here? Where am I going?”

“We think you’ve just had a seizure,” he replied. “We’re just taking you to the hospital to run some tests.”

We arrived at a crowded emergency room a few minutes later. Without delay, I was transferred to a comfortable hospital bed. Within moments, a physician came to the room. Over the course of the next twenty minutes, we went over the events of the day. I discovered that in the middle of my engineering class, I had abruptly collapsed and began thrashing. We reviewed my medical history along with a battery of other questions. I learned that epilepsy is “treatable” with the right circumstances and medication. However, I’d lose the ability to drive, and with it, a great deal of my independence.

I took the diagnosis in stride. I assured my friends and family that this would not happen again, as if positive thinking was the best cure.

Over the next several years, I found myself and my condition deteriorating. I went from neurologist to neurologist. Despite a myriad of different scans and specialists, the search for an underlying cause remained fruitless. I spent hours of waiting and frustration for every visit, only to be told that my condition was still “without an organic cause”. Even after having done online research and consulted with more sub-specialists, I was never given certainty over my prognosis. To compound this, seizures often happen in clusters, and for me this meant unsteady employment, rapidly declining grades and increasing anxiety. With each incident, I would lose track of time, and needed to tediously retrace the steps of what I had done for the past few days or even weeks.

My sense of hopelessness rose. I ­began opposing comfort, wanting to save others from being burdened with my reality. A few ambulance rides after having seizures in public places were sufficient for turning me–a once social individual–into an agoraphobe. I wondered if my friends viewed me as a liability when going out. Eventually, I stopped epilepsy treatment altogether and resigned myself to my fate. I buried every medication I had, hoping that if they were out of sight, they would be out of my mind. Unable to care for myself, I moved back home. When I arrived in my old room, I was neither sad nor angry–just numb.

One night I awoke in bed, confused and panicked. I was unsure of where I was or how I had gotten there. The only thought running through my mind was that I needed to clear the stomach contents that had risen from my throat. I needed to breathe.

My sheets had been soaked through in sweat and bile, and it was clear I’d had a seizure mid-sleep. Seeking instinctive comfort, I grabbed my phone. I saw one unread message from an old friend I had lost contact with.

“Jake, it’s been a while. How are you doing?”

Too disoriented to come up with words, I put down the phone and cried myself to sleep.

I called him back the next morning. We talked, reflecting upon the events of the past few years. It was evident that my battle with epilepsy over the past five years had become far worse than a physical ailment. I had completely withdrawn from people that cared about me, and I knew it was time to reconnect to the world. In addition to resuming medical treatment, we agreed that I should seek counseling to help with my underlying issues.

With the guidance of my neurologist, this plan was made into a reality. I began a regimen with a more effective seizure medication and sought therapy. I began walking my dog regularly and volunteering. The steady routine afforded me the ability to distract myself from negativity, as well as begin returning to a new balance. The first few counseling sessions went well, as each visit allowed me to gradually open up in an intimate setting. Paced advice given by my therapist began to manifest in significant improvements in mood and attitude. Finally, I began chronicling my daily tasks and future goals into a long term planner, aiming to increase my workload in moderate steps as I regained my mental health. I found myself with a new sense of eagerness to achieve in the professional world, and a more matured mindset better able to tolerate stressors.

I gradually reached out to old social circles. In the beginning, it was mostly old contacts and longtime friends, but in time I expanded my social horizon to include friend circles that I had before lost touch with. Despite expecting social frigidity, I found myself simply welcomed back with open arms.

With a renewed appreciation for life, I set out towards shifting my energy towards pursuing a career as a physician. Due to my illness, I had given the dream of becoming a doctor once before. After experiencing the high quality of care and persistence from my new medical team, I knew I wanted to contribute to the healing process of others. I also looked forward to using my past years of missteps to better empathize and care for my future patients.

My experiences with epilepsy were transformational in two aspects. First was the disease itself, which showed me how health can unexpectedly change someone’s life. And last, that I had the capability to take control of my own problems, however grave they may be.

Describe a house from your childhood using synesthesia. Sounds trigger colors or touch triggers taste. Mingle and use all the senses.

The original assignment was Module 6 Discussion: Short Story 2.

In this revision I eliminated the “preface” which was confusing. I added more details of my original house and much less about the second house. I was not bound by any actual memories and did a lot of embellishing. This is a silly piece and I tried to push the limits on that. Sometimes I felt like I went too far.


Module 6 Discussion: Short Story 2 2,134 words

Like a cement truck unloading cement.

It was the only house I knew until I turned thirteen and a half and we moved to another neighborhood. I don’t know why we moved. I think my life would have been much better if we had stayed, but we didn’t. So we all moved from a middle working class neighborhood full of carpenters, plumbers, public school counselors and tattooed teamsters to one occupied by lawyers, pediatricians, pundits, praddlers and snake oil salesmen. From the colors blue and green, red and orange to grays, vanillas and other colors I don’t really know how to spell.

From the afternoon whiff of burning Mulberry leaves in the autumn that tasted like green pea soup with those little round crackers that would float to $200 grills and older men in Bermuda shorts cooking steaks, not hamburgers or discount hot dogs, with their smily faces and little red hats with American flag sticking out the side.. They even took their Christmas lights down after Christmas rather than just unplugging them for the next year.

But this story is about that first house right there on Give Me a Break Avenue. It’s still there, owned by others with their own memories from within its blue/green apple pumpkin walls. The maple trees, planted by the city pioneers along our squeezy little street have now become giant brooms from another planet. During autumn the street turns a different color with the smell of a thousand -thousand leaves that talk to you in German, Portuguese and Spanish if you listen hard enough.

It was a practical house, brick and mortar with a splash of peanut better, barbecue potatoes chips and orange sodas. It bordered my Brigham Young Commemorative grade school so that with a jump of the fence I was in the schoolyard. Our back yard was not very quiet during recess, and it held mysterious noises at night. We were no where near the Atlantic, but sometimes you could hear the water splashes as the waves hit the coast and the gulls chattered nonsense out my broken bedroom window with a screen.

At times when I was home sick, I could hear my classmates hollering out my back door. And during the summer there were base ball games on the two ball fields. The smell of cut grass was a shift from winter to summer.

Can you hear the police sirens?

The fire trucks?

The the Ice Cream Man?

How about that Union Pacific train whistle?

I can.

My next door neighbor, Darrell, had a grey and black German shepherd named Lucky. I had a chicken named Peeps. She would run around the backyard. The German Shepard was afraid of her. She laid brown eggs that turned red in the proper sunlight. I was the only kid on the block with a chicken. I took it to school once for show and tell.

Like I said, this was a practical house. Part of the housing boom after World War II with three small bedrooms, a basement a front and back yard and a garage my dad built. My bedroom had a wood floor that smelled like an old pirate ship floating unremembered in the lower Pacific in 1857. The other children, a couple real and a few imagined, had their own room. My parents had the other. I had a roommate named Jim who I only saw occasionally.

The front room was where Christmas happened. There was a black and white television in the corner with rabbit ears we had to turn so the television would work. The sofa was wrapped in plastic and made sounds when you passed it. Floor lamps played classical music and table lamps sounded like a Duke Ellington orchestra.

The dining room was just large enough for one table and a rug. There is a Norman Rockwell painting of all of us sitting for dinner trying to consume grandma’s tomato aspect. It covers almost a whole wall next to the fish bowl and the rifle stand. Every now and then Norman would join us for Christmas.

The kitchen was small with a gas stove and a back door that stayed open in the summer. No air conditioning. We later bought a portable air conditioner on wheels that we placed in the doorway and had to add water to. It was noisy. It was a hot house in the summer. We kept the windows open so we could smell the Eucalyptus trees in San Francisco between Fisherman’s Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge. My mother and an occasional relative just out of prison would do the cooking. We were also a half way house for some ne’er-do-well friends and relatives my mother would take in. The kitchen was white. It was always white except on days when it looked quite glowingly yellow.

One bathroom, that’s all. My father shaving with an old shaver and shaving cream he would stir in a bowl and put on his face. I loved to watch him shave. The after shave placed on his face every morning before he left for work. A tub, no shower. The pipes made sounds like baritone coyotes on a dark Canadian night.

We also had two cats. Yolanda was my mothers cat. Pomroy was my cat. Yolanda was a female. A multiple times mother. Pomroy was a cat that was really a dog. He would hang out with other dogs with whiskers that resembled ice sickles we used to put on our Christmas tree. Pomroy was a true ally cat.

He had a staring roll in a number of Saturday morning cartoons for a number of years. He became quite famous and loved by children all over the world. And then one day he ran away. We never heard from him again except for a post card from somewhere in South America.

There were thirteen and a half steps that led into the basement. The fourth, eighth, tenth and thirteenth squeaked. They were also very red and the wood was rotting. Someone had hammered pennies into all of them. Mice lived under the third and eleventh steps. Sometimes we could hear them singing old Romanian mouse tunes. There was a door at the top of the steps that was closed at all times.

If you missed a step or started sleep walking you could die falling down the stairs. It had happened once I was told. Maybe twice.

The basement had no walls when I was really young. They came later. I liked it better when there were no walls, except I got lost a lot.

You didn’t want to fool around in the basement especially at night. The basement lived below the house but it also lived in your dreams. In your dreams there was something down there that even General George Armstrong Custer couldn’t defeat. The dreams always turned into nightmares that Edgar Allen Poe would have been proud to have owned. In my dreams every one had three names.

In the middle of the big room was a player piano that was a reminder of the Jazz era. It had worn down keys with a couple missing. But it still played. You put a roll of Scott Joplin or George Gershwin on and started pumping. The keys moved and music hit the ceiling and bounced off the stuffed rendition of Humphrey Bogart in the corner. Sometimes Scott and George would actually be playing. I never knew how the piano got there and neither did my parents.

There was a little place under the stairs to store and hide stuff. Its walls reminded me of Beethoven’s 5th. There were also guns and swords and bayonets and a bed of sorts, really just a mattress. One of mom’s intakes would sleep in there.

In the back below a poster of Charlie Chaplin and Ethel Barrymore was a large transistor radio. It only played songs from 1964 to 1969. The disk jockeys key up the songs with their funny radio voices that have been dead for forty years. The radio plays music that turns colors after 10 pm. It’s really quite pretty.

The back room is probably where the monster lives, if you ask me. But I’m thinking there might be more than one. A single 60 watt bulb hangs from the ceiling. The room is unfinished, just raw cement and concrete. The washer and dryer are there. There is a drain in the floor and a tub on wheels. The tub is called the suds saver and stinks from water saved from the washer for another day. Some people never forget the hardships of the Great Depression.

Old steamer chests full of ancient cloths, war memories and love letters are piled up in the back and smell like moth balls when you open them up. They are behind the skeleton of J. Edgar Hoover that hangs from the ceiling.

Below the skeleton are cans of paint and applesauce. A place to store my mother’s jams and jellies is next and a picture of Babe Ruth and a 1958 calendar from the local bank. A locked seaman’s chest and thirty seven empty bottles of Lester Wilcox beer are piled up into a pyramid.

The coal room is next. It has blackened walls. It might have been part of the Bastille. We will never know what happened in there.

Next to the water heater is a poster of “TheEnglish Monarchy from Alfred the Great to King George VI, issued by the proprietors of Eno’s Fruit Salt on the occasion of the visit to Canada of Their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. 1939.” My parents brought it back from Canada when they were on their Honeymoon.

The coal room is the last part of my tour. It has to end somewhere. It has no windows and is about the size of an old elevator. It’s cool and cold and has a door that is split in the middle so you can open it half way if you want. You don’t want to stay around here too long and nobody ever comes down here at night.

You won’t hear the Sound of Music within its walls. The atmosphere is much more somber. There is no music there. There is a small metal opening above the outside wall. They used to store coal here when the house was heated by coal. I suppose you would order coal on one of those phones where you would dial the numbers.

“I’d like to order some coal.

OK .How much do you want?

Enough to heat the house for the winter.

Do you have a coal room?


We’ll be out tomorrow.”

A truck would back into our driveway and fill the room with coal. The truck had a little chute in the back and the coal would roll and tumble out. Like a cement truck unloading cement.

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