The stories

These narratives, drawn from students' personal experiences, were posted on, a narrative website, as well as here

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Ticket is Worth A Thousand Words

By Tom Darcy
"It hasn't happened at Fenway Park for 95 years. The Red Sox are World Champions"
This call by Fox baseball announcer Joe Buck was met by the jubilation of everyone in the common room of Chandler/Dunster, a townhouse residence hall at Stonehill College.
As the 20 or so students jumped around in excitement of what will go down as one of the greatest worst-to-first stories in sports history, Tom Darcy took a minute to appreciate what he just witnessed. A team, who went 86 years without a world series championship and was believed to be cursed, just won its third title in 10 years. Some die-hard Red Sox fans never witnessed a title during their lifetime, yet Tom just witnessed his third at the young age of 20.
Within the days following the Red Sox win, Tom returned home so he could go into Boston for the championship parade with his parents. As he returned to his room for the first time in weeks, something caught his eye. Tom examined a corkboard that he has on a wall in his bedroom full of pictures, pins and other momentos.
There he saw an old ticket stub from an April 27, 2002 Red Sox game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. This particular game was the second game Tom attended, but the first that he was old enough to remember.
Tom has gone to many games since, but this game meant something more than all of the others. This was the game that transformed a mild interest and hobby into a love for the game of baseball.
Tom had played baseball since he was five years old, and took great pride in his collection of baseball cards, but he didn't watch games the way some of his friends did. When Tom's parents told him that he and two of his friends could go to a Red Sox game for his birthday, he was overcome with excitement.
Tom's birthday is in late March, so the Red Sox regular season had not started yet. When Tom's parents purchased his tickets, they did so thinking that a game in early April will have little importance come seasons end. Thankfully, they were wrong.
As the Darcys approached Fenway Park on the day of that game, Tom was fixated on all the sights and sounds on Yawkey way. People sitting on the sidewalks playing the drums, seemingly endless amounts of people adorned in Red Sox shirts, hats, and jerseys, and lots and lots of hot dog vendors.
The Sox didn't waste much time after centerfielder Ricky Henderson hit a leadoff homerun. As the next batter entered the box, Tom's father came back to the news that he had just missed seeing a homerun. Tom found much humor in this.
The game seemed to go by fast for Tom, who wanted to see his favorite player Nomar Garciaparra get a hit. As the game progressed, Tom paid the most attention of when Nomar would get up again, because he seemed to be the only Sox player who hadn't gotten a hit yet.
It was now the seventh inning stretch, the Red Sox were winning easily, and Tom's friend Paul had a craving for cotton candy. As he scanned the crowd for a hawker, Tom's mom looked at the giant scoreboard on the Green Monster in left field and realized that Red Sox staring pitcher Derek Lowe had yet to give up a hit.
She was soon warned not to say "no-hitter" by the fans in the row in front of them. The prospect of seeing a no-hitter was exciting to Tom, but with six batters remaining, it still seemed unlikely. Meanwhile, a cotton candy hawker caught Paul's attention, but, he had just run out of his product. Paul was upset, but he remained optimistic he would get his cotton candy after the hawker promised he would be right back with more.
The eighth inning came and went and Lowe still had not given up a hit. There was a tangible nervous energy that spread throughout the park at this point, which was hard for Tom and his friends to put into words. Everywhere that they looked people were clenching their Red Sox paraphernalia and had strange look on their faces, as if they were bracing for something hurtful.
Top of the ninth. The first two batters come to the plate and are retired in order, no-hitter still intact. Jason Tyner came to bat, and everyone at Fenway Park stood up and cheered, preparing themselves for what could be. With every pitch came an audible gasp from the crowd. Everyone in Tom's row joined hands trying to control their emotions.
Ground ball to second base. Lowe spins of the mound towards the ball, as the second baseman fields and throws on to first to complete the no-hitter. Lowe spins off the mound, throwing his fist in the air, as catcher Jason Varitek comes and picks him off the ground.

Everyone starts jumping up and down in the stands, elated. Everyone, that is, except Paul, who was slouched in his seat cursing the hawker who broke his promise of cotton candy. After the game, the kids were able to go onto the field and run the bases.
As Tom stepped off the stands and onto the field, he entire body felt like pins and needles. Looking up at the now empty stands, Tom imagined what it must be like to play baseball in front of thousands of fans in such a beautiful stadium. Tom's father leaned over and said they were standing on the same field that some of the greatest baseball players have stood since 1912.
Tom's trip down memory lane was snapped when his mom called up to him and said they were ready to go.
Tom pinned the ticket stub back onto the corkboard with a smile, thinking how funny it was that a single event could launch a semi-obsessive love for something that has lasted to this day. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rap is Anything

Posted on Cowbird on November 20th, 2013

By Leland Greeley

    Binary Star and One Be Lo: My Favorite Rap Group and Rapper

I like rap music.

It makes me think about how I view the world. When most people think of “rap”, they see the one, extreme end of the spectrum. A rapper talks about the money he makes, the drugs he does, the alcohol he drinks and how great it is.

I used “he” unintentionally, but the majority of this rap comes from guys. There are female rappers out there, but it is less prevalent.

I enjoy this music, in certain contexts. I describe it as “weekend” music. It’s great for a party. It’s catchy. It's gets people excited for the night.

Am I trying to listen this type of rap on a weekday? Hell no. Every rapper says the same thing in those songs, but just in a different way. As one of my friends explained it, “It’s good. If you don’t listen to it.”

I listen to rap that challenges the stereotypical view of itself.

Please don't call me a “hipster”.

Rap is so great because a person can talk about whatever they want. It doesn’t just have to be for the weekend. Rap can be used as a way of getting beliefs and ideas out to the masses.

I especially like rap because it reminds me of journalism. In journalism, a writer seeks to fit the pieces of a story into a puzzle that tells the story the way it’s intended.

And rap can be created in the same way. I would argue it’s even more difficult as a rapper to do this as one must rhyme as they tell their story. A rapper needs “flow”; timing is critical, just like a journalist needs flow to their stories.

Rap is anything. Some people want to party to it and seek out that type of rap. Some people want to hear a thought-provoking message. It’s a genre that can be based off other genres.

People can try to discredit rap because they only hear the “party”  side of it and see it as just that. But rap can also be an educated medium to shed light on contemporary issues.

Whatever type of rap you seek out, you’ll see it's a reflection of life.

My First Guitar

Appeared on Cowbird November 2013

by Daniel Harnett

I have my parents to blame for my addiction to music—from an early age I was singing along to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones on car rides to school. In middle school my friends and I would exchange our favorite CD’s, comparing the genius of Rock n’Roll titans. But my life took a turn at age 15 when my father bought me my first guitar: a black and white Fender Stratocaster.

All my life I had felt uneducated in musicianship. I was required to take a music class in high school in order to graduate, but I didn’t take it seriously. I reluctantly jumped between instruments; from the piano to the violin it seemed unlikely that I would make any impression on my teachers. I imagine that I appeared clumsy in class as I handled each instrument with fumbling, awkward hands. I barely passed the class but what bothered me was I had no talent; I had no drive to learn what music was about.

One winter my parents hosted a New Year’s Eve party. Friends and family members gathered around Uncle Bill as he plugged his electric guitar into an amplifier on the floor. The guitar roared. Feedback bouncing between the guitar’s pickups and the amplifier gripped me. His head slowly rocked back and forth as he played the licks from my childhood; his connection to these songs were immensely personal. The music flowed while I sat on the carpet floor, and listened. I knew at that moment that the electric guitar would be my obsession.

I asked my parents for an electric guitar for my birthday, which was still six months away. My father—who played the drums in a band with his buddies called “Blue Larry”—didn’t ignore my request. He smiled and agreed to pay for the guitar. He brought me to a nearby Guitar Center and told me to pick out the “right” guitar. But where would I begin?

The store had roughly 200 electric guitars scattered about the store. Some hung on walls, other ay nearby in stands. Greasy employees wandered about the floors, casually chit-chatting with customers and other employees. There were simply too many options when considering brand, style and color. It took an hour before I picked the type of guitar played by my favorite rock star of all time: Jimi Hendrix. The “strat” seemed an obvious choice; it was a true classic, an absolute compliment of musical history.

As it turned out, I was equally as clumsy with the guitar as I was with other instruments. I dropped it a handful of times and broke a few strings here and there, though, miraculously, it still plays to this day. But what changed was unexpected; I was interested in learning and I felt a dedication toward my craft. For the next five years I studied up while my fingers callused and bruised, my ears heard music in ways I never dreamed possible.


By Lucas Brum
Posted on Cowbird on November 20, 2013

It’s a sunny Sunday morning in July. Around 10 a.m., I wake up to the sound of fast-paced Brazilian music coming from the kitchen. This is normal when my father is making Sunday lunch, or almost any other meal during the week.

I get myself out of bed to see what my father is making. I was expecting him to make something that he commonly makes: chicken or a certain cut of pork, among others. In the summer he’ll grill chicken wings, sausages, ribs. This morning, he was going to grill some sausages and chicken wings. But before that, he was making a dish that he doesn’t make very often. And it happened to be my favorite dish.

Empadão de frango.

A dish that is popular in Brazil, it is very similar to a chicken potpie. He takes chicken breasts and puts it through the meat grinder. He takes the ground chicken puts in a large pot and mixes it with chopped garlic, onions, green peas, green olives, tomato sauces, and a few other ingredients. After the chicken cooks, he puts it in a baking pan that is lined with dough he made from scratch. He tops it off with more dough and puts it in the oven for about 40 minutes. After it has cooked and cooled, I cut out a small square piece.

I take my first bite. The combination of flavors creates an eating experience that is second to none. The chicken, garlic, onions, peas, green olives, and other ingredients are a match made in heaven. I compliment the empadão with white rice and wash it all down with an ice cold Coke.

My mom and brother come into the kitchen to get a piece. They enjoy it as much as I do. We compliment my father on a job well done. He jokes that he's the best cook in the family, but I have to agree with him. 

Not only does the empadão bring satisfaction to our taste buds, it brings us together as a family.

The Locket She Forgot

Appeared on November 2013

By Aimee Chiavaroli 

When I was in high school my paternal grandmother saved me her golden locket necklace. It’s a two-dimensional circle with an indented ‘A’ on one side from when she put a bite mark in it. She got the necklace from her mother or grandmother when she was a little girl and she passed it down to me because my first initial is ‘A,’ too. She put a piece of her hair inside the locket when she gave it to me, but it eventually fell out. She included a letter with it, saying she hopes I’ll wear the locket and think of her. And sometimes I do.

The locket reminds me of when I used to stay at her house in Braintree when my grandfather was still alive. My mom worked part time and my dad worked full time, so my mom would take my older brother, Matt, and me to their house after school. They made sure we got our homework done and then they’d let us watch Edward Scissorhands or play Yahtzee. They always had hard candy around the house – usually green peppermints or Werther’s Originals. Being Italian, they cooked us spaghetti and meatballs with the best homemade sauce that Matt and I can remember.

This was before my grandmother had Alzheimer’s or dementia – words my family won’t say. One day I was over my aunt’s house in Abington, where my grandmother lives, and she forgot my name and how we were related. This scared me but my family didn’t make a big deal of it or didn’t act concerned. I went home and cried in my room. I didn’t know anyone else with this disease.

To add to things, she can’t walk around by herself. Since she broke her hip, she needs a walker or someone’s support to get around. Sometimes she doesn’t think that she needs her walker or your help so she’ll push you away because she’s stubborn. She can’t dress herself or go to the bathroom by herself. Sometimes she brushes her hair with a toothbrush. My dad wakes up around five every morning to go to my aunt’s house, after coming home from work at midnight, to get Grammie out of bed and dressed. He gets her a muffin or donut and a coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts every morning. He’ll usually visit her another time during the day before work. I admire him for this because I know how hard it can be.

Over the summer, my dad asks me to babysit Grammie until around dinner time when he would probably finish his plastering job, a side job, at someone’s house. He’ll pay me and all I have to do is talk to her, watch TV with her, and make her lunch. Easy enough. I bring my knitting and my laptop over to keep myself busy. We sit there watching boring day time shows on TLC and Home TV. We watch ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ and shows featuring home renovations. We watch ‘Four Weddings’ and I ask Grammie what she thinks of the women’s dresses. It gets old after a few hours. For lunch I make her a grilled cheese, and like my eight year old brother, she gives about half of it to the dogs.
 I make conversation with her by asking what she’s been doing or if she’s been watching the baseball games. She says she’s been working a lot and hasn’t been watching the games. What else do I say? There isn’t much to talk about because she doesn’t remember anything, or maybe there’s more to talk about, because you can ask her anything, only her response will be made up. I ask her if she has to go to the bathroom often because I don’t want her to forget and wet herself, even though she’s wearing a diaper.

I ask her if she wants to get up and walk around. She wants to see where my aunt’s dogs went because they left the room. I lift her by her underarms to help her stand up out of the chair. I have to force her to use her walker because she doesn’t think she needs it. She complains that I’m treating her like a baby. She doesn’t need my help and can do it on her own.

I walk her through the kitchen and through the computer room. When we pass the staircase, she wants to go up to look for them, but she physically can’t. We get to the next room, the living room, where the dogs are sitting on the rug. She coaxes them to come back into the other room with us. When I help her walk, she gets mad at me. She thinks that she doesn’t need my help. I fight with her, because without my help she’ll fall. She doesn’t want to listen to me.

When I finally get her to go back to the living room to sit in the chair, she’s furious. She’s mad at me for helping her. She yells at me to go home. The boss is gonna be so mad when she comes home and sees that you’re still here. She’s gonna kick you out when she gets here. Just go home already. I laugh about it and play along because that’s what my parents usually do. Grammie, is Auntie Carol the boss? She won’t care if I’m here. She knows I’m here to visit you. Grammie’s persistent. She thinks I did something wrong and that I’m not listening to her. She wants me to leave.

My cheeks turn red hot and I fight back tears. There is nothing I can do to reassure her. I call my dad in a panic while she yells in the background. I tell him that Grammie is freaking out. He says, Aimee, what did you do? I didn’t do anything. I tried to help her. He tells me not to cry because it’ll only make her more upset but I can’t help it. I put her on the phone with him like he asks me to. He tells her to stop being mean to me and to stop yelling at me. I’m back on the phone with my dad and he says he’ll be over soon. She eases up but I want to leave.

My mom, dad, and younger brother finally arrive. They sit down with Grammie and me in the living room. My dad says asks her why she was being mean to me and she says I was being bad. My dad tells her to apologize to me and she gives me a hug. I grab my things and head out the door. My dad and my younger brother stay while my mom brings me home. I cry on the way home and then again when I get upstairs to my room. My mom asks me if there’s any way she can help me, but there really isn’t. She just tells me that that’s how Grammie is sometimes and that she gets angry with my dad all the time.

Was this really my Grandmother? She was there, but not in her head. My dad pushes me to visit her because she’s 92 and probably doesn’t have that much longer, but I’m always hesitant. Sometimes I think she’ll get mad at me again. Even though she forgets what happened that day, I’ll never forget it. I try to put it behind me and laugh with my mom when she tells me a story about Grammie and says well it’s not really funny but you gotta laugh. I’ve learned to roll with it and laugh, but in the back of my mind I’m reminded of how sad it is.

She’s never going to go back to the way she was, but I’ll always have the gold locket to remind me of my real grandmother and the time I spent with her before this disease consumed her.

An Odd Pair of Shoes

Appeared on November 2013

By Kelli O'Keefe

When I was little I always heard that one foot is bigger than the other when growing but I didn’t think it would happen to me.  At one point in my life it was more relevant than it might have been for other children thanks to an odd pair of ballet shoes. 

I was eleven and I had just transitioned from ballet slippers to point shoes a few months prior.  Everything was going well.  Then, one day in practice my feet felt abnormally uncomfortable. 

I had been dancing since I was 5.  I grew up in the studio. So, I noticed when my pointe shoes did not fit right.  Dancers train in ballet slippers.  Pointe shoes were different.  Slippers stretched where pointe shoes hugged the form of your foot.  Pointe shoes wear out but do not stretch out.  It was important the shoe was the perfect fit for your foot. 

Gradually, the shoes began to feel uncomfortable during every practice and every rehearsal.  It began affecting my capability I knew I had to do something.  I told my instructor and she suggested trying a different brand of pointe shoes.  In the dance world, finding the perfect shoe when you begin dancing in pointe shoes was essential.  Changing brands was a big deal.

I went to ‘On your Toes’ a store devoted to dancewear.  I gave the sales clerk my size and she brought over a pair that was a different brand of what I’d been wearing.  I tried them on, danced around a little and, something was off. 

The worker asked me if one foot felt more uncomfortable than the other.  I told her the right is in more pain.  “Let me try something,” she said.  She brought over another unboxed pair.  She handed one to put on my right foot and another to put on my left foot.   I pranced over to the part of the store where you could dance around and try out shoes on the appropriate floor.  After a few moves, I realized I was not uncomfortable.  Things felt normal.

My mother asked the woman what brand she had given me.  She said her original brand but the right shoe is a different size than the left shoe.  I could not believe it.  I thought it was so strange but it worked.  I was a freak but my dancing was back to normal.  I thanked the woman over and over.

My mother was pleased with the solution but not the cost.  Pointe shoes were sold boxed.  She had to purchase two pairs at once to have the different sizes.

My instructors and the studio owner knew my shoes had been bothering me.  They were pleased when I was back to normal at the next rehearsal but shocked as to why.  “A different size for each foot,” my instructor said with a puzzled look.  They said they had never seen anything like it.  One of my instructors began calling me ‘righty tighty, lefty loosey’ as a joke because the problem was my right shoe was tighter.  

 There was a tradition at my studio.  When someone graduated, they put their footprints on a big wall using paint.  Then, they signed their name next to their footprints. When I graduated in 2011, I signed ‘righty tight lefty loosey’ right next to my odd pair of feet.  Eventually, I grew out of my different sized feet but at the studio I’ll always be remembered as ‘right tighty lefty loosey’.