COJO 350 → WRITING RESOURCES → PROVERB EXERCISE

The Proverb Exercise

The assignment was to choose a proverb and illustrate its truth through a personal experience. In essence, the proverb becomes the theme of the piece, with the experience being the topic. Here are the proverbs:

It’s our party, and I’ll pay cuz I have to

When roomies don’t pony up the dough, selflessness turns to bitterness fast.

By Lexy Wolf

Some life lessons hurt, though each lesson has a valuable message. These experiences teach us new ways of living.

It was my first weekend in a new house during my senior year of college. My roommates and I wanted to throw a house-warming party. This seemed exciting, until I realized I was funding this event solo.

I am a giver. I adore buying things for anyone and everyone just to brighten someone’s day. Whether I’m bringing someone Caribou Coffee unexpectedly or paying for a trip to Chicago on a whim, I enjoy giving to the utmost. Something about stores draws me in to find something to buy for someone.

With my giving nature, I decided to pay for whole the housewarming party. All of my roommates willingly agreed to pay me back. “It’s easier just to put it all on one credit card,” one told me. So I caved. I wanted to be a people-pleaser. This led me directly to my high credit-card balance.

I bought it all, from drinks, to food, to decorations. This was going to be the housewarming party of the year, provided by my bank account.

When the party was over, the drinks and food consumed, we knew it was a successful evening. When it came time for my roommates to reimburse me, however, none of them coughed up the dough.

Another part of my personality is that I despise asking people to pay me back. But I had to speak up and confront my roommates to help me pay for the party. They stalled for some time, and then said, “Well I didn’t eat the chips,” or “I didn’t drink anything you bought.”

Lending money to my roommates made me resent them in the long run. They were happy at the time, which was my pleasure, but when the time came to pay and they didn’t, I no longer had that good feeling inside. Lesson learned: I am keeping my hard-earned money to myself.

Successful loss upon unwelcome guidance

Learning to take advice on dieting when one needs it most.

By Courtney Maas

Sometimes I find it hard to take advice from those I love without the feeling that they think they must direct you in your own conquests. The proverb “Good advice is often annoying, bad advice never” was exactly how I felt in a situation last winter.

My best friend and I decided we would begin a new health and fitness regimen to drop some weight before a big vacation over spring break. When a friend tells you she is going on a diet and begins giving you her inside tips, it is as if she is giving you golden information.

My mother was aware that the trip was several months away and had grown sick of my constant complaints that I would wear a bikini with far too much weight around my midsection.

“How many times have I told you,Courtney,” she nagged. “All that you have to do is exercise every day and portion your food. Cut out junk food and fast food. It is really a simple thing, and it takes time and dedication, dear.”

That was the last thing I wanted to hear from my mother. What does she know about dieting? She has had the perfect figure her entire life and has never had to work for it, I assumed. I was annoyed that she had to put in her two cents on my quest for a new body.

At the same time, my best friend, Elinor was telling me about a fad diet she had read in a health and fitness magazine. The “ultimate cleansing diet” involved consuming only liquids for seven days and promised that we would drop two pant sizes.

“We have to do this Courtney,” she said, “Beyonce just did it before the VMA’s and she lost 15 pounds!”

This was incredible news to me: Someone was telling me that all I had to do was consume liquids for a week and I would loose 15 pounds before my vacation.

Three grueling days passed, and I was starving. I had never been so distracted in my life. My mind was focused on was food and how deprived I felt. I lost control and ate a bowl of pasta that night. In addition to the weight added to my stomach, I felt lousy and out of energy.

“What did I tell you?” my mother said, snickering. “I guarantee you do what I told you, and you will be so happy with yourself before you leave for your vacation.”

So I tried it out. I ran four miles everyday and incorporated yoga into my weekly workout routine. I did not eat anything from a drive-through window, and at the same time I was still eating solid food and never felt starved. Three months and 20 pounds less, it was time for my trip. I was ecstatic. I had never felt so confident and good about myself in my life. Although I hated to admit it, I knew my mother was responsible for teaching me that nothing in life comes easily, and that great things are worth the long wait and sincere dedication.

Turning off the noise

The possibilities are endless when you unplug and center yourself.

By Candice Guertin

The blankets begin to loose heat as I shift around in my bed. My toes become cold as I unravel myself from my feather-soft comforter. I reach for my coffee; I know how desperately my body craves the caffeine. It’s mornings I love the most, where in absolute silence I reflect and gather myself for the day.

In a world where everyone seems to be consumed by technology, I wonder what it takes for people to appreciate absolute silence. It’s as if we as a society have become consumed by noise. We are always looking to be hooked up and plugged in, and we never give anything our full attention. Studies show that the human brain can complete tasks most efficiently when the tasks are executed one at a time. But most people are walking, multitasking disasters.

Imagine if people took time out of their days to focus on one thing at a time. People might find the task more enjoyable, and chances are they would do it more efficiently and more successfully. Don’t we owe it to our highly complex minds to give them a moment of silence?

I have found that morning is the best time to get things done. It is a time for me to stretch, to breath deeply and sip my coffee, to be free from the distraction of technology.

My lips aren’t sealed

A girl leaks the truth about her BFF’s boyfriend and his juicy hookup.

By Dana Ashby

I saw him with sparkly pink lipstick all over his face. His hands grabbed her butt so tightly, I’d have bet she had handprints under those jeans. I heard the sharp creak from my nose accidentally nudging the door, and I realized my spying technique needed work. That cheap-looking, 1980s pink lipstick all over his face was not from his girlfriend, my best friend since kindergarten.

“You’re history,” I screeched at him. “Four years and you choose to blow it now?”

Julia and I have known each other since the 5th-grade playground days. We tell each other everything. I know about how she shinnies through the basement window on weekends, parents fast asleep, to visit her boyfriend. She knows that I faked a fever to postpone my last geometry test.

But her boyfriend’s cheating was a secret I could not bear to tell her, knowing her devotion since high school to this guy.

I waited a week, thinking about how to tell my best friend that I saw “him,” and some bleached-out, orange-faced skank kissing at a party. I was stuck. “My best friend will hate me for telling her,” I thought, “but she will hate me more for not telling her.” My mind was spinning with anxiety like my stomach does after riding a Tilt-a-Whirl.

Finally I’d had enough. After a week of shaking hands, inability to make eye contact and loss of appetite, I told her. She called him and proceeded to dump him, then we cried together while sharing a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. I realized that true friends should be honest no matter what the consequences will be. Holding in the truth is not worth the burden.

A major change

Sometimes we choose a direction that others know is wrong.

By Holly Gullickson

St. Thomas welcomed 1,521 students to campus in the 2010 freshman class. The odds are that 50 percent of those students will change their major field of study at least once before graduating, according to one report. I was one of those students. Unfortunately, this change cost me a year’s tutition and time spent in classes that were meaningless towards my new major.

I entered college with the unwavering intent to study biology. I wanted to become a pharmacist, and I took the appropriate courses. When I told my family I wanted to become a pharmacist, they had looks of total confusion on their faces. They knew I loved to write and expected me to study in an expressive field. Throughout high school I complained about my advanced-placement biology class, while AP English class was the favorite of my high school career. They didn’t understand why I would study a topic that I did not love.

The first time I came home from college, my parents and I talked about the direction of my studies. During breakfast I assured them that everything was going fine, but they still seemed worried.

“Holly, are you sure you want to be a pharmacist?” my dad asked. “I just don’t think you will enjoy it.” I have always told you to make sure that when you get older, you do something that you love.”

At the time, it was not the advice I wanted to hear. I wanted an affirmation that I was doing the right thing. I knew it was good advice, but I was being stubborn about becoming a biology major, and the advice was a bit annoying.

My family had offered excellent advice and knew me more than I thought.

“Don’t pick a job for the money,” I remember my dad saying. “Love what you do.”

I look back on freshman year and wonder what I was thinking. I am glad that I am part of the 50 percent of college students who change their major, and my advice to college freshman would be to have an open mind about what major to pursue.

Drunk like me

The difficulty of dealing with an addiction

By Dustin Hassett

As I sat in David Johnson’s living room waiting for him to get off of work, I tried to console his crying girlfriend.

“He will be all right once we get him some help,” I said in my most comforting voice. “He just needs a little push in the right direction.”

She started to cry harder. Having a loved one with an alcohol problem is never something easily dealt with.

David Johnson grew up in a family of drinkers. Holidays, weekend trips to the cabin, even “Monday Night Football,” all were sufficient reasons for the Johnsons to relax with a couple of beers and some scotch. Dave was first caught drinking at a party when he was 15. The police drove him home and talked to his parents. They wrote it off as part of growing up, telling the cop, “Well it’s not like he was out stealing or killing people.”

When Dave turned 18, it became acceptable for him to drink at his house with his family. It was “just what the Johnsons do,” his mother said. College became difficult for Dave. He didn’t know when it was or wasn’t socially acceptable to drink, so he didn’t need long to drop out and go into a field of manual labor. Once he found out he was able to do his job with a hangover, the drinking went from weekly to daily to many times a day. Now that he had received his second DUI, it was time for his friends to sit him down and talk about it.

Dave walked in and immediately knew what was happening.

“All right, let’s get this over with, but can I make a drink, first?” he joked.

We knew we had a long night of explanations ahead.

Is happiness worth it?

The joy you share with friends can lead to complications.

By Jamie Cleven

When I get into something, be it a book, a TV show, or a band, I really get into it, almost to the point where I talk about it so much that I annoy everyone around me. I also act impulsively when dealing with my interests. These impulses hurt others’ feelings because I don’t take anyone else into consideration. Sometimes I speak irrationally or make a comment that I figured was harmless. Later, I’ll get called out and often have to make amends or show I had no intention of being rude. I hate feeling guilty or at fault, so I always try to make the situation better.

A few years ago, I worked up the courage to book a show for a band I liked. I enjoy planning things out, so every so often I would text my friends and work out details for the day the band would play. Two of my friends, Janna and Lindsey, were fed up with my constant talk of this band. They ignored my texts and refused take part in all my planning. I remember feeling confused and betrayed. Why did they have to ruin a night I had anticipated for weeks?

They had no right to be upset; I was planning the event. Despite our hurt feelings, I still had to be there at the show. In the end, they attended as well, making for awkward moments throughout the night. But it was worth it, because I was happy in the end.

I wanted to go to Chicago over winter break two years ago. Another friend, Brittany, expressed interest in going as well. We talked a bit and decided on a date and price range for hotels. Sarah, another friend, heard about the trip through our conversations online. She was outraged that I hadn’t asked if she wanted to go. I honestly hadn’t thought about her or anyone else, but that didn’t mean I was against her coming. When I asked Sarah if she wanted to come, she said, “Not if I’m just an afterthought.” I was much less excited about planning the trip, knowing that I would get only sarcastic responses from Sarah if I ever mentioned it.

I have an impulsive and obsessive personality. I’m not always aware of how my actions affect others. Sometimes, I put feelings aside and try to make the best of it. More often than not, I’ll appear to be having fun, when I’ll really be focusing on the guilt in the back of my head. It’s during those times that my happiness isn’t worth the effort.

How I found my true self by trying to be someone else.

By Katrina Pauly

When I saw her rushing down the hallway, looking worried, I slammed the locker we had shared and darted to class five minutes early. I knew she was wondering why I had ignored all of her calls and text messages the night before, when we were supposed to do homework together. The truth was I didn’t know how tell her that I was through getting into trouble with her and that I had to cut her out of my life completely, something I couldn't have imagined four years earlier.

That’s when I met Jordan, whom I would soon call my best friend. Our friendship eventually began to strangle me, as though Jordan was tying the noose. We spent every waking moment together, and the few moments when we were apart, we flooded each other’s phones with text messages.

Jordan and I thought we were cool, wearing matching miniskirts from Abercrombie and Fitch to school, ditching class and cheating on tests. The only problem was I soon knew the way to the principal’s office like my own backyard. I was transforming into a clone of Jordan.

My mom’s lips quivered the day after she caught me sneaking out of the house with Jordan. It was eerie how sad she looked; I had become used to her shouting that I was grounded every other day, the result of things Jordan and I got ourselves into. At that moment, I realized I couldn’t go on pretending to be Jordan. I was fooling myself into thinking girls who got into trouble were cool, but no one else was fooled. The wild side our friendship brought out was not worth losing myself.

A secret storm

What you know — and can’t tell — can hurt you.

By Kelsey Stehlik

After class, I got an important phone call.

“Can you meet me for 10 minutes before you go to work?” my friend said . My class got out late and I was surprisingly eager to get to work, but I was hungry so I agreed.

“Sure, but it has to be quick,” I said.

After hitting every red light from Cretin to Fairview Ave. I was starting to think maybe I didn’t have time. I had a meeting at 1 p.m. that I couldn’t miss.

I sped up--too fast for a residential neighborhood, and I’m lucky I didn’t encounter the neighborhood cop. His lunch break could have been my first ticket. Flustered, I blew by the only parking spot left at the restaurant and awkwardly had to turn around while my friend watched impatiently.

I got out of the car not noticing my friend’s eyes flickering with excitement. I was focused on the D’amico and Sons cherry chicken salad that was waiting for me on the table. Eager to shovel my food down in half a second, I barely muttered with a full mouth of food, “What’s up”?

“I got a call when I was in line,” my friend said.

“That’s wonderful,” I thought. “I have 800 of those I have to make at work; what difference does that make to me?”

“I got the job,” my friend said . Jumping from my seat, spilling my long-awaited cherry chicken salad on my jacket, I threw my arms around him as he sat there tensely.

“Congratulations!” I said. “I’m so happy for you, I knew you would get it.”

I should have realized the reason for our urgent meeting.

“Who have you told,” I asked.”Who can I tell?”

This was so exciting that I immediately scrolled through the contacts in my Blackberry, drafting a mass text.

“Stop!” my friend said. “It’s still pending a background check, and I would be so embarrassed if something didn’t go right and I couldn’t take the job.”

“Seriously?” I asked in astonishment. Half the fun of getting a new job is telling the rest of the world. I would tell the random woman getting out of her car.

“I’m a horrible liar and I can’t keep a secret,” I told my friend. “Yes, I know that, which is exactly why I hesitated to tell you,” he said, “but you’re the only person who knows, so please do not say anything to anyone.”

A secret is a most heavy burden. All day thoughts of work, food, school and homework filled my head, but none of that mattered compared with this ominous cloud that hoveredover me. How in the world would I keep my mouth shut?

I could lock myself inmy room, tape my mouth shutor deny everything? Lying wasn’t an option becausea two-year-old child easily notices when I’m fibbing. Chances are they can lie better than me, too.

The rest of the day, I couldn’t help but think, “Maybe my friend knew what he was getting into and maybe he told me because he actually wants me to tell everyone.” But I knew this wasn’t the case.

This secret was consuming all of my thoughts. Whether he knew that or not, he trusted me, and I had to make an honest effort to stay true to that promise. This is why friends tell us secrets: to include us in the burden that is consuming their life, too.

Less than two days later, I haven’t told a soul. It may seem a measly detail, but I’m so obvious, a lie detector expert would laugh if I tried.

Soon everyone will know, but at this point I plan on being the last to share. “I won’t tell anyone,” I told my friend. “I promise.”

That was a seal of trust. I signed on to this burden, and for the next few days, it will eat me up.

The day the air clears of this secret is the day my backpack feels 20 pounds lighter.

Forever friends

Separation is a difficult obstacle, but those who stay close help fill the gaps.

By Laura Rothstein

There is nothing like a crisis to place things into perspective. In our day-to-day lives, we easily get caught up in insignificant details. Small things hold control over us and heavily influence our mood more than we realize — that is until something drastic happens to shake us back to reality, immediately reordering our priorities.

The power of friendship is often overlooked, but in a time of need it has proved itself to be one of the great gifts we can offer. I vividly remember the moment I realized this, when my friend told me, “my dad's leaving our family and moving to California.”

Her gaze didn’t leave the waves crashing against the edge of the dock, where we sat in silence, drawing a blank on what to say next.

Words were meaningles. The best thing I could do was hug her. Although we hadn’t talked in months, it felt as if we had never been apart. It’s odd how true friendship always seems to define itself that way: Nothing can truly keep you away. You always turn to certain people because they never seem to let you down. I know, without a doubt, I have these people in my life, and I shouldn’t need an unfortunate event to help me appreciate the good that is always present.

A broken window

The story of a friendship shattered by attitude and disgust

By Nathan Spencer

How we act around others can create a good or bad image in another’s eyes. We often create windows to our true selves rather than opening up for all to see. One “friend” let me break that window in one clean crash.

This friend always was bossy, pointing at people and demanding that they do tasks for him. Some times he would insert his sharp voice into a conversation he was not a part of. He whispered only when he was tired, but yelled on every other occasion. He wasn’t intimidating. He towered over only a few friends when he wasn’t slouching. He could get attention only through his forcefulness, shouting at how stupid someone was for rejecting his ideas.

At one social gathering he declined to take part, shaking his head and saying, “This is lame.” He spent the time clicking away on his computer keyboard or texting another friend. His shifty eyes and narrowed eyebrows implied that the conversation was private.

Later, I got a glimpse of his conversation, and it solidified my opinion of him. The conversation made clear his opinion of everyone at the party. He pointed out how “retarded” the selection of movies or games were.

I had seen enough of how he whined with his arms up in the air about what he thought was “good” and “bad.” That night was the last straw. What the conversation contained went beyond his whining. He truly just hated most people he hung around with. I could never understand why he hung out with them in the first place. No one else saw the conversation, but I could never go back to tolerating his act. My mind was clouded by his disgust.

Cut the fruitcake

Time to clear the air about a family tradition.

By Olivia Cronin

Brothers are obnoxious, especially younger ones. This holds true for my family. The older of my two brothers, Graham, is the comedian, always cracking jokes, speaking in bizarre voices and making up strange names for our dogs, like “Obumbo.” He does anything for a laugh.

The younger one, Arthur, is the attention seeker. Once he has an audience, he will continue until he gets into trouble. Their shenanigans flourish when our parents have company. It never fails.

On Christmas 2007, my family of five sat down to a nice holiday meal with our two grandparents. The meals are always obnoxious because Graham and Arthur think it's comedy hour. On this day, they communicated through sly glances, plotting their next move.

“Who would like coffee with dessert?” Mom said, hoping to detour the mischief. “Olivia, why don't you come help me.” She and I left the table and began to prepare the last bit of food we could fit into our bulging stomachs. As I returned to the dining room, I noticed something was out of place. Graham was missing in action, and that never results in anything good.

“Arthur, where did Graham go?” I asked.

“Oh, he just went to the bathroom,” Arthur responded.

When my mom sat down to finish the dessert, we heard a boisterous fart and saw my grandma lift from her chair.

“Uhh … Mom?” my dad said, trying to hold in his laughter, “Was that you?"

“Oh heavens no!” she said astonished. “Something twisted my toe.”

We all looked under the table and found Graham, barely able to breathe from his laughter.

From that point on, grandma's mysterious farting became the theme of all holidays. Graham even got her a whoopee cushion for Christmas. Every Christmas as we await the fart bomber, who is always ready for attack.

A friend for all seasons

How one alliance defies time and distance.

By Samantha Dooner

Friends come and go, but in my case one friend has stuck through it all.

I met my best friend, Ashley Zuehls, in Kindergarten. Our friendship has been like a roller-coaster ride. We have been inseparable since our elementary years. Through recess, lunch dates, proms, softball games, boy break-ups and school issues, Ashley has never let me down. As I grow up and my needs continue to grow, I know I can always count on her.

I have never had a time when I couldn’t go to her for advice. My sophomore year of high school was difficult. Among family, school and sports, nothing seemed to be going right. Ashley would drop whatever she was doing and drive to my house to console me on any given day.

Then we left home to attence colleges 100 miles apart. As sad as this was, we knew we would continue to keep in touch. The summer of my freshman year in college, my grandpa died, and my boyfriend and I separated. I was down in the dumps. I called Ashley many times. She did her best to console me from two hours away. The moment I got off the phone with her, I looked out my window and she was pulling into my driveway. I couldn’t believe it: She had driven two hours to make sure I was okay.

As much as I don’t want to admit it, I am a needy person. I put a lot of strain on my relationships with friends and family. Ashley is a special person in my life, and I will never take her for granted. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful friend.

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COMMUNICATION AND JOURNALISM 350 | UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS | © 2010
INSTRUCTOR: Michael O’Donnell | mjodonnell@stthomas.edu | 651-962-5281