the other literature theme

I like looking for themes in stories, and as I was reading this year’s common book, “The Other Wes Moore,” by Wes Moore, I was pleasantly surprised to find one.  Honestly, in most true stories I’ve read in the past, there has not been the pattern of a constant theme; which has been my main turn off toward historical literature.  This story, however, was quite different.  It grabbed my interest because it was written in the manner of a novel, but it held it because of the constant theme of decision-making and outcome.

The Wes Moore boys were dealt the same basic hand of financial distress, mothers under pressure, and generally being ignored because of bigger issues going on in their worlds.  However, the way the boys handled their situations and what they made of their lives was intensely different.

Interestingly enough, the Wes Moore in prison was readily willing to place the blame of his current situation in prison on the expectations of the community around him growing up, rather than himself.

He argued that people expected him to turn out a certain way, so he did.  People expected the author, Wes to be successful, so he followed suit.  The Wes who wrote the book, disagrees with this theory, and I concur.  While the level of community support does tend to factor into one’s success, it does not determine it.  If it is expected that one will fail, he may choose to prove that idea wrong or go along with that assumption.

I’m Lauren The Largemouth Bass and this was an almost objective blog post.


talking with Wes Moore

“The Other Wes Moore,” was the story of two boys by the name of Wes Moore, and how they grew up.  Oddly enough, they had similar living situations.  Neither of them financially had very much, and yet one got into dealing drugs and eventually landed in prison; while the other, the author of the book, became the first African-American Rhodes Scholar from John Hopkins U.  To say their lives turned out differently would be an outrageous understatement.

Wes Moore, author of “The Other Wes Moore,” interviewed with a news panel on his book.  The link to his interview can be found in the previous post.

On the panel, Wes describes how he came across the other Wes Moore, and how they started exchanging letters and became acquainted with one another.  He found it interesting how each of them came to have such different lives when they had been dealt the similar hand of an absent father, single mother, and a few siblings.

Something I found interesting about this interview was the fact that Wes addressed the community as part of the reason he and the other Wes turned out so differently.  He said, there was no single thing his mother or the other Wes’s mother could have done.  He, himself was encouraged by the community and his grandparents to better himself, so he did.  The other Wes, however, only had that encouragement from his older brother, Tony.  Evidently, that encouragement was not enough for him.  I found this odd because the vibe I got from his book was that it was ultimately their individual decisions that molded them, rather than the community.

I’m Lauren The Largemouth Bass and I have nothing to say in this particular bit.

the purpose of purpose

Every story has a purpose, or “take-away.”  This take-away is the heart of a story, without it, the audience has no reason to listen.

In the personal narrative, Genesis, by Bret Lott, Lott describes the first real turning point in his life.  He is a young boy sitting in a church when he receives his first piece of Biblical literature, the book of Psalms.  Immediately, Bret recognizes the importance of this piece of paper, and for the first time on his own, writes his name on it with a stubby golf pencil provided on the backs of the pews.

One begs to ask, who cares?  Until it is explained, the reader doesn’t recognize this moment to be the first step in Lott’s life toward his walk with God and future as a writer.  The value of this piece is the fact that we now know more about Lott and where he began his career and spiritual life.

Though Lott’s exposition of receiving the book and writing his name on it was interesting, the chief part of his narrative was the glimpse of his future.  Without it, he would have is simply trapping the reader in a chasm of inane nothingness.  The point being: one should always have a point.

I’m Lauren The Largemouth Bass and this was an almost absurd blog post.

the acknowledgement of alteration

Every night my dad would tuck me into bed.  We had tickle fights and said our prayers, but what I remember most is when he read to me.  He’d read me any book I wanted, and nine out of ten times, it was a Little Golden Book fairy tale.  He’d crack open the foil spine and read, “Once upon a time.”  The white walls would fade away as Daddy’s voice filled the room.  Clutching my stuffed elephant, I craned my neck to see the pictures.

As time went on, I noticed how not all stories were exactly the same.  Sometimes two different books with the same title had completely different plot lines.  I had another book with a pink cover that had an assortment of fairy tales and children’s poetry.  One of them was the story of Aladdin, which was quite different to the 1992 Disney Classic.  In this version, there were two genies as opposed to just the one I had grown accustomed to from the movie.  I also saw the same pattern of dissimilarities with the Little Mermaid and various narrations of Rapunzel.  I was completely baffled until I came to the only conclusion my six-year-old mind could offer: not all stories were the same because storytellers changed them.

This was revolutionary.  If I didn’t like an ending, who was to say I needed to accept it?  I could bend a fictional world to my will and the characters would be subject to whatever fate I presented them with.  So I began to walk.  I walked around our entire house and out back until I had nowhere else to go but back inside and around the coffee the table.  And around and around I walked.  All the while I thought to myself, what if Aladdin never found the lamp?  What would have happened to the Genie?  Would the Genie have stayed in the Cave of Wonders forever?  Would Aladdin still have pursued a relationship with the Sultan’s daughter, or would he have given up on that dream?  I circled that coffee table over and over, never tiring of the constant motion of one foot in front of the other.  I was a hamster without a wheel.

I never stopped walking.  Today, my coffee table is a small university in Oregon, full of paths with twists and turns and hills.  All the while I am still thinking, dreaming, designing, and writing.

I’m Lauren The Largemouth Bass and this has been an almost underrated blog post.

when I grow up

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

-Everyone Who has Ever Talked To A Four Year Old

I wanted to work at Seaworld and be a dolphin trainer.  I also wanted to own cats.  I wasn’t sure if that was an actual profession, but I wanted to do it anyway.

Ten years later I was in middle school and people started asking me again, “What do you want to do after high school?”  What do I want to do after high school?  I just wanted to survive high school!  Such a response wouldn’t pacify the average friend-of-the-family so I simply said, “I want to be a writer,” with upmost confidence.  That was my story, and I stuck to it all through middle school, and the first two years of high school.

Up through then, my favorite subject had been English.  I liked writing essays and reading books, but I wasn’t sure if writing was a direction I wanted to go in because sometimes it was hard to find money in it.  I felt lost.  High school is precollege.  You take a certain set of classes that will get you into the university that will give you the best education in your major, and I didn’t even know what I wanted.

Beginning of eleventh grade came and everyone was already filling out their applications and studying for the SATs.  My counselor sent a mass request for all of us to talk to her about our plans.  I did what I was asked to do:  I went to her office, and stood in line for an hour and a half until she was free.  I sat down in a chair that smelled about thirty years older than I was as she brought up my profile.

“What do you want to do in life?”

My lips were ready to say the ever-familiar phrase when something stopped me.  I just sat there with my mouth agape and thought about what I wanted to do.  This was college; I do anything.  I could educate myself to be the best whatever-I-wanted that I could be.  I thought about how I liked to read, I liked good dialogue in movies, I liked comparing different styles of character development, I hated pizza rolls and people who wore Uggs in the middle of August, and I spent my time writing stories.  I looked back at her and said, “I want to be a writer,” with upmost bewilderment.

My name is Lauren The Largemouth Bass and I was almost a marine biology major.

an impactful life experience involving a turtle

I used to work at a plastic brick-oriented theme park, which for reasons of my own shall remain unnamed.  I didn’t actually work for said park, I worked for a separate company and happened to be stationed at the theme park.  This unnamed company had bought out all of the carnival games within the park and was run by it’s own employees, including myself.  However, we all wore the same polos with the park’s logo on it, so park guests never knew any different.

In case you didn’t catch the key word, I’ll re-illiterate.  They bought out the carnival games.  I ran carnival games.  I was a carny.  I was a sober carny with a full set of my original teeth; yes it was quite the paradox.

My job at the unnamed theme park, was essentially to lie to people and take their money in exchange for a 20% chance of winning a ten cent toy.  It was great.  Not to say that people didn’t win, plenty of people won, if no one ever won, no one would ever play.  It’s like Vegas, but kid-friendly.

My favorite game to run in particular was the Camel Derby.  It was basically a horse race but with camels.  You would sit at this ski-ball station and roll the ball into the holes, if the ball got into the highest holes, the camel would run faster across the track.  If you beat the other players, you won the prize.  It was my favorite game because there was a winner every race, which translates to the ability to say, “I give out a prize every time,” in a very loud microphone.

One day, a women and her three-month-old daughter came over and I explained the game to her.  Usually we need two players to play the game, but I decided to bend the rules a bit and let them play at one station for one three-dollar round.  Right before we were about to begin a large group of people came over and started to check out the game.  I am paid to say, “Hi, want to play?” so it comes at no surprise that I said “Hi, want to play?”  The moment those words left my lips that women with the bubbly little baby in her lap, completely froze and stared me down.  Her eyes turned to slits and I could almost swear she was baring her teeth.

We played and she lost.  The group left with their prize and she just sat there.  She sat there with that stoney look on her face as if to say, “you disgusting slut.”  I knew that it stupid that she had lost and I understood why she was upset, so I offered her another game where she would race herself for only a dollar.  She said no, she had paid enough.  She got up in a rage over how I baited those other people to come over and threatened to report me.  I would “never work in this town again.”  It’s a well-known cliche, but up through then I had never heard someone actually use it.

It was near the end of the day and I was tired and had some extra stuffed turtles.  So I gave her a turtle.  Some would say I did it was because I was afraid of getting reported and losing my job.  Not so.  I had done my job and my boss would take my side, I gave her the stupid worn-out neon piece of poorly stitched crap to shut her up.  But she didn’t.  She thought I was trying to bribe her and strode off to find my employer.  It was that day that I realized I did not want to spend the rest of my life in retail.

I’m Lauren the Largemouth Bass and this was almost a self-revealing blog post.