The first semester of the English course in twelfth grade offered me the opportunity to create and work on my own blog that presents my best writing pieces and photos. I was enthusiastic about the assignment. I had the opportunity to write on different topics, some set up by the teacher, others created on my own. I found out more about my style in both analytical and creative writing. I understood my mistakes, and now I hope I have improved. Also I had the chance to meet with a junior in Kentucky and edit each other’s pieces. However, this was a really hard task since they were not as active as we were. Probably that was the only flow of the project, but I feel really proud of my work that I have created with enthusiasm. However, it was not just the writing and the duty… Now that I have completed the project, I can see what kind of person I really am. Every writing assignment or picture posted here shows a piece of me: a hobby, a belief that I have, something about my past, a precious memory… That is why I will not stop posting my writing and my pictures on the blog because it is like a folder, or a photo album that presents who I am. That is why I would show it to my new friends in order to get to know me better, and I will share it with my old friends so that they can recall the wonderful moments we have spent together. Just as my life goes on, my blog will compile my writing samples and pictures in order to learn from my mistakes and remember what I have lived through. Show must go on…

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"We'll Always have Paris" by Ray Bradbury

“We’ll Always Have Paris” is a collection of stories by Ray Bradbury written in 2008. In the introduction to the book the author writes that the stories are inspired by ideas that he loved and wanted the readers also to love them. The characters of the stories are different and present unique characteristics just as the diversity of the citizens in Paris. They are like pieces of puzzle that construct the world.
One of the stories reveals a common problem of the young people. The plot presents a boy and a girl that have just gone too far in their relationship and are afraid of ruining their friendship. However, their special connection can hardly be ruined: a fact revealed in the end of the story with the description of their holding hands.
There is also a story about an old couple that had spent their entire life in their house. Suddenly they both go outside and take a breath of living, however, when they go back home their daily routine is reestablished. The idea of the story is to present the sadness of the end of life. However it seems to be easier to accept when shared with another person.
There were also stories dedicated to ordinary people, those unable to stand for themselves. One of them showed how a person was tortured by another man throwing apples at him, after the death of the latter; the first one did the same to his grave. This showed how effective the rude words and actions could be to one’s life. Another story reveals the life of a homosexual couple where one of the boys was rude and did not respect the other. Despite given a chance to escape with another man who offered his help, the main character refused because of the pain he would cause to his beloved. Both stories showed how society can press those people unable to stand for themselves, so one should be strong and should not succumb to others.
There is a story named “Pater Caninus” that tells about a dog that gives hope to ill people in a hospital. Even the priests believed in the magical influence the dog had over the people. They really felt relief and hope for the future. This optimistic story shows how people and even animals can help each other just by a single act or gesture that shows understanding and love.
All the stories have unique plot and present different parts of life. They reveal how people’s relationships can help or ruin human life. That is why it is important to find the people that can help you live well in the diverse world and can help you overcome obstacles that can meet you at any corner. “We’ll Always have Paris” shows that the world will always be diverse, right now there are noble and evil people, but joining the better side and helping reduce the other will make the planet a better place where some day good will prevail.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Othello's End - Hate Sorrow and Justice

[To Iago] O, Spartan dog,
More fell than anguish, hunger, or the sea!
Look on the tragic loading of this bed;
This is thy work: the object poisons sight;
Let it be hid. Gratiano, keep the house,
And seize upon the fortunes of the Moor,
For they succeed on you. To you, lord governor,
Remains the censure of this hellish villain;
The time, the place, the torture: O, enforce it!
Myself will straight abroad: and to the state
This heavy act with heavy heart relate.
(Act 2, sc. 2, lines: 424-435)

Shakespeare’s Othello is a tragedy that perfectly presents the image of the best villain – Iago. Apart from being coldhearted, evil, two-faced, and determined to reach his aim, his most precious characteristic is the use of other people to complete his plans. Iago analyzes the possible emotional reactions of the others and is able to control them. His evil plan leads to the tragic end of the story. Iago successfully manipulates the others and succeeds to ruin their lives, but does not fulfill his dream. Lodovico’s words at the end of the tragedy reveal the cruelty of Iago’s evil actions, the pain that is left, and show that justice wins at the end.
In Lodovico’s final speech Shakespeare uses different literary devices in order to express the unseen brutality of Iago’s plan. The metaphor, “Spartan dog” (Act 5, sc. 2, line: 424), expresses the cruelty of the villain’s character. This expression has a historical connotation. The soldiers of Sparta were emotionless; they were described as the perfect warriors. Spartans were trained since childhood to serve their country and die for it; that is why they showed no weakness, no feelings, and no fears. The battle at the Thermopiles reveales that even outnumbered by thousands of soldiers the Spartan men did not give up. This absolute determination to succeed and their emotionless faces made the Spartans the best illustration of emotionless people like Iago. He is also compared to a dog because he is ready to eliminate everyone that can threaten his success. Another expression shows the evil of Iago: “this heavy act with heavy heart relate.” (Act 5, sc. 2, line: 435). The repetition of the adjective “heavy” expresses the extreme pain that an unseen villain has brought in others’ lives. Lodovico’s final speech reveals the hate that he has towards the emotionless villain Iago.
This servant’s inhumane actions leave sadness that is described in Lodovico’s last words. The numerous sighs expressed in the unlimited sorrow due to the end of the lives of Desdemona and Othello. The young couple commits suicide because of Iago’s numerous lies that inspired jealousy in the Moor. Shakespeare describes this evil feeling as “the green-eyed monster” because it makes person behave irrationally. Iago as a villain, who knows the thoughts and feelings of people, inspires jealousy in Othello and watches his evil plan evolving into a tragic story. The Moor’s jealousy leads to the death bodies covering their marriage bed: “Look on the tragic loading on their bed.” (Act 5, sc. 2, line: 426) The metaphorical verb “loading” shows that the mourning has captured all of their lives and will not go away. The tragic sight of the two dead youths forces Lodovico to say:
This is thy work: the object poisons sight;
Let it be hid
(Act 5, sc. 2, lines: 427-8).
According to him Iago’s actions are so evil and tragic that all people there cannot look at what the villain has done. That is why Lodovico orders Gratiano to hide the dead. The evil servant has brought so much sorrow and pain that the town seems to be poisoned: mourning have captured all of it.
Iago brings sadness with his evil actions; that is why the Venetian gentleman pleads for justice: “O, enforce it!” (Act 5, sc. 2, line: 432). According to him Iago has to receive the punishment that he deserves, so that evil can be stopped. All the exclamation points, the sighs and commas show the strong feelings and emotions that Ludovico feels at that moment of great sorrow. He understands that the great evil cannot be erased or fixed, but he wants law to punish Iago. The final sentence of both Lodovico’s speech and Shakespeare’s tragic play is:
Myself will straight abroad: and to the state
This heavy act with heavy heart relate.
(Act 5, sc. 2, lines: 434-435).
Those words show that the evil doings of Iago make every heart of the state sorrowful. Every citizen will remember the tragic story of Othello and Desdemona and the sentence will show that justice always wins at the end.
Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello shows how a villain, as perfect as Iago, can control and manipulate people in order to ruin their lives and fulfill his own dreams. However, even his evil actions cannot put an end to love and good. Justice punishes evil, and praises good. The true love of Othello and Desdemona survives due to the people that will always remember with great sorrow and admire their noble hearts full of love.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Unforgettable Thanksgiving Holiday

Aleko Konstantinov, a great Bulgarian author has said “You should get to know your country in order to love it.” My family and I spent the thanksgiving holiday traveling to the south-western part of our country, Bulgaria. We visited amazing places and shared emotional moments during a trip I will never forget.
Our first stop was in Blagoevgrad, one of the largest towns in the region. It is home of two universities, so while walking around we saw many youths going to school. The town had a beautiful walking zone with many squares with beautiful statues of important historical people. The old town was composed of many houses built during 18-19th century, and we really enjoyed walking around its stony streets. After the morning walk in Blagoevgrad, my parents and I continued driving along Struma river to our next stop.
After a narrow turn the Rupite valley appeared in front of us. This is a sacred place in our country known for the house where Vanga predicted the future and gave hope to those who needed it. The special aura of that place is explained due to the fact that the only sleeping volcano in Bulgaria, Kojuh, is right next to the valley. Now there are a temple, a beautiful park with a spring of 75°C mineral water, and a museum of Vanga. Leaving this paradise we continued our way along the river in order to reach our next place.
There it is: one of the most important places in our history, the Samuil Fortress. There in 1014 Byzantium defeated the Bulgarian army blinding 130 000 soldiers leaving for every hundred one with one eye to lead them. The Bulgarian king, Samuil, died after seeing this tragic scene. On a beautiful hill right next to the Struma river there are four columns connected with a ring showing the exact place of the fortress and a statue of Samuil. We climbed on the ring and saw the beautiful scenery around us and the hill where the south and west boundaries of the country intersect. Then we had a walk along the river passing around trees resembling interesting forms.
Afterwards we went to Sandanski where we spent the night. The following morning we traveled to Melnik, the smallest town in Bulgaria. While driving on the road to Melnik we saw the famous natural sight Melnik’s pyramids: strange but beautiful sandy mountains. Seeing them we asked ourselves how nature can create such strange forms. In the town we visited the Kordopulov house, home of one of the richest Bulgarians in the 18th century. This building combines Bulgarian, western and oriental styles of architecture. Beneath the house there was a basement where wine is preserved. Then we visited Glojene monastery, located on a hill near Melnik. We spent the afternoon walking in Sandanski’s centre.
My family and I spent a wonderful weekend together. Now I realize how unforgettable unexpected trips can be and that beauty and magnificence are in an hour or two-drive away.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Travel Guide to Paris: A City that Inspires Love

I love traveling. My two favorite places, from the cities I have visited so far, both begin with the letter “P” as in pleasant, pretty, peaceful, positive, and perfect places to be. One of them is my hometown, Pleven, and the other is … Paris.
I’ve been to France’s capital two times in my life. However, I feel it is not enough. This city is a colorful mosaic of tradition and modernity, history and future, natural and architectural sights. Paris offers amazing museums and cathedrals as Louver, Notre Dame de Paris, Sacre Coeur. One of the symbols of Paris is the Triumphal Arch that is in the center of the crossing of five major boulevards in the France’s capital. An amazing fact about Paris’s architecture is that each street has its own balcony ornamentation and in the central part of the city there are no skyscrapers. However, there are examples of modern buildings in La Defense suburb. There are also amusement places as Disney Land and Moulin Rouge. All these tourism sights offer information about French history, faith, traditions, and culture.
However, the climax of a trip in Paris is the Eiffel Tower. This architectural miracle is the most breathtaking place in the French capital. I’ve stood below the gigantic tower twice, but each time it was incredible. It’s a feeling that many writers and poets have tried to describe, but it is unique and hard to retell. The first time I was speechless, this architectural achievement makes person think that he is infinitesimal compared to that high tower. However, the tower also reveals that human mind can create miracles. Standing below the Eiffel tower was like a dream come true… The second time another wish of mine was fulfilled, I saw the Eiffel Tower at night sparkling as a Christmas tree. I could not stop taking pictures, but none of them represented the real event that I had the pleasure to experience. It is not surprising that after seeing the symbol of Paris, I couldn’t stop searching for it. Every moment I spent in Paris, I wanted to take pictures of the Tower from many angles, so that I can grasp its beauty and magnificence. Simply said I fell in love with Eiffel’s piece of art and architecture.
The river Seine runs along a city that is home of great architectural, historical, cultural, modern, and amusement places. Paris constantly changes and still preserves its own unique style, and that is why tourists love visiting the capital of France – a place that everyone can fall in love with.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Snowflakes of the Past

The brakes of the train whistled in the dark and quiet snowy night. Through the window Bojidara could see the sign “Pleven.” She was at home. That day her mother, her father, and she had gotten on the train to Pleven in order to celebrate her seventeenth birthday there. They hadn’t used the car because it had been snowing for about two days. Moreover, they had heard that their street was blocked. However, they were decisive about going back home for the important day.
The family descended from the train and stepped on the white, cold, but familiar ground. As they passed through the old train station the feeling of cold escalated. It seemed that the old edifice was the last place a man would want to be on a winter night; even the usual inhabitants of that place, the pigeons, couldn’t be seen… The ground was muddy, the stony walls were cold. Every shop had been closed with lights turned off. The wind was passing through the gates making the body shiver. However, as they passed through the exit the landscape was transformed as if with a magician’s wand.
The family was in a white, snowy fairy tale. The usual cars at the parking lot were missing, the taxis were quiet, even they were not able to offer their services to the passengers. It seemed that the snow had blocked everything. However, the family was not disappointed; they just decided to go home by foot. As they were walking, each of them looked around. The scenery was so different. The streets were white and no car was disturbing the quiet night. The street lamps were spilling light over the trees on the two sides of the main street. They weren’t the black skinny skeletons of the snowless winter anymore; they had become the white guards of the quiet night. As the family members were walking one after the other through the snowy tunnels, the white cover was crunching under their steps. Looking around they could hardly recognize the cars beneath the snow. The streets were lifeless, even in the center of the town people were not present. Only the shop windows and the lamps were lightening the night scenery. The snowflakes were glimmering like tiny diamonds spread around.
It took half an hour for the family to reach their apartment, but they did not feel the cold. The fairy tale they had entered as they reached the town made them feel warm, happy and excited. It had been a long time since the last day the town had been paralyzed by the snowy weather. But was Pleven really sleeping? In fact, it was a time for freedom of mind and emotions. People were not concerned about their work or doing their duties, they had time to stop for a while, look at the white landscape around them and think about childhood. They could live through the magic of Christmas and New Year’s Eve holidays: to be together with the family in the warm living room around the fireplace drinking tea and watching through the window the snowflakes playing around. Those were the thoughts of the family when they reached their house.
As the father turned the key and unlocked the front door, the three of them entered the hall, turned on the lights and saw the Christmas decorations that were still handing down on the walls in the rooms. They could feel the pleasant aroma of the Christmas tree that was still standing next to the window in the living room. They were at home. Tired, but relieved that they reached home, they went to bed. Dara was excited about her upcoming birthday. She had the feeling that it was only the beginning of the fairy tale.
The following morning she woke up early, enthusiastic about her birthday. She got ready and went out for her party with friends. At noon she was waiting at the central square in front of the municipality. As usual, it took them 20 minutes to gather together. After the usual warm hugs and funny greetings, the group walked to Tempo, the pizza restaurant right next to the court. After having lunch, taking pictures and looking at all the presents, the group went out for a walk in the center. They entered a café and sat on the table right next to the bar. They ordered hot chocolate, tea or coffee in order to make themselves warm. The friends talked about their memories from previous years when they were together every day. As always the memories made them laugh. All the childish mistakes made them smile at each other. After a two-hour talk it was time to go home.
As they reached the square in front of the building of the United Bulgarian Bank half of the friends said “goodbye” and she was left with those who lived in her neighborhood: Chris and Christian. The three of them passed through the Town Garden on their way home. The roller coasters were all covered with a white blanket of snow. Usually full of children, this park was quiet and calm. Some people were in a rush to finish their duties and come back to their warm homes. However, the three friends wanted to have more fun. As they were talking about the last days of their vacation, Chris took the birthday presents from Dara. While she was wondering what was going on Christian pushed her in the snow. Then he started covering her with it. They finally had succeeded to do the traditional “Snowy Bear” game. Chris also joined them. The three adolescents had turned into kids. After five minutes of play in the snow they decided to go home. While walking and laughing at what had just happened in the park they started feeling their hands getting cold. All their clothes were wet, their cheeks and fingers were red, but their smiles were still on their faces. It had been a wonderful day, another precious memory that would keep them laughing in the years to come.
The following day the family took a taxi to the train station. While they were traveling through Pleven’s streets, Dara thought of her life in her hometown, everything was calm, she was happy. She saw the snow that was melting, and thought how her childhood had passed away so fast. She could see herself doing usual but so pleasant things at familiar places in the town with her friends and relatives. All memories of her early years were there. That seemed to be too far away, but she always smiled while recalling all those moments that she kept deeply in her heart.
Suddenly the train whistled, it was time to go…away…back to reality.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Dreams and Memories of an ACS Senior

I am walking down the lane and I see the monument with the text “American College of Sofia Founded 1860”. Five years ago I saw it for the first time in my life. Now I am a senior in the college and I have countless memories in the school. However, each time I see the stone with the engraved letters I recall this first day of school five years ago.
It was a rainy day, and my mother and I walked onto the ACS’s campus excited and nervous about the new experience that was awaiting us. I did not know anyone; everything was new, unfamiliar and even scary. After the traditional 8th grade picture, the teachers led us to an unknown place. It turned out to be the stage of the auditorium. Even though I was embarrassed, I felt proud that everyone was congratulating us on our achievement to be accepted to the college. I was full of emotions that day. I was away from my hometown, from my friends, my relatives. The school, the city, the classmates, the classes, everything was so different. However, it was interesting, exciting. I wanted to show my best, to find new friends, to take every opportunity to have fun, learn something new, and do something interesting. Day by day I got used to the life of an ACS prep. It was an adventurous year that I really enjoyed and will never forget.
Now I am a senior, another special year is ahead. I have gained experience, knowledge, self-confidence. ACS taught me not only how to be an excellent student, but also how to be a good person that respects others. Even though I am more mature now, I still enter the college each morning with the same feelings I had in eighth grade: I think how I have to show my best because I had the luck to be accepted here so I had been given the chance to learn so much. I still miss my hometown and my friends and relatives, but I know I have to do well at school in order to make them proud of me. Most of all I have to do my best because of myself, because this is my chance to receive knowledge, experience, to learn how to manage my future life. That is why I look forward to my last year at ACS just as I had expected my first year of my high-school experience.
A year from now I will pass by the engraved monument for my last time as a student in ACS. I will be on my way out and a new beginning will be waiting at the gate. I will still be willing to show my best, but I will have everything that ACS taught me to. As I turn back to see my college for the last time, a tear will drop on my cheek. Nothing will be the same again. Afterwards I will look ahead again and will smile feeling proud that I’ve learnt how to overcome difficult moments, and happy that I’ve spent a lot of precious moments with wonderful people that I will never forget.