Saturday, January 19

500 words or less

a start to my personal essay for SVA and CCA.

Almost exactly two years ago, my mom went missing. She accidentally stopped taking her antidepressants after a pharmacy mix up, which messed with her brain chemistry so much that she just left the house one day. It was raining, and she didn't even have any shoes on. I was the last to see her. Not only did I not know something was wrong right then, I hadn't known anything was wrong before that. I had no idea she was depressed until my dad was explaining it to the police officer at our house a few hours later. The support we received from the community was amazing. Not only friends were offering their help, but people we barely even knew. Kids at my school hung up fliers all over the bay, members of our synagogue helped us phone all the hospitals, and our friends made sure we ate, slept, and just were able to keep functioning. My teachers even let me take all my finals late since this was all happening the last week of the semester. My mom came back. She was cold, dirty, and crying. All I could think about lying on the bed with her waiting for the ambulance was the time she fainted in the shower when I was very young. Except this time, she wasn't the one saying everything was going to be ok, I was. I can't describe what happened to me after that. It's not something I can put in words, because I don't even know what it is. All I know is ever since then, I've focused so much more on living my life, and less on just getting through it. My grades dropped, yet it seemed like I cared more about what I was learning. I took up photography soon after that, and haven't put my camera down since. I feel this need to document every moment and every feeling, because who knows if something is going to change it forever tomorrow. Maybe that change will be for the good, but I still want to remember how I got there.


some questions I would have are:
any grammar issues?
what should I expand on or add?
is it cohesive, linear, and generally understandable?
is this a good topic, or should I wright about something else?



California, here I come. right back where I started from.

4 comments:

MC Ceezzle said...

"Not only friends were offering their help, but people we barely even. "
Add the word "knew" at the end.

MC Ceezle said...

Maybe you could write more about the photography and how focusing on it has impacted your life, but you touched on it. This is a really fabulous essay. You talk about a heavy subject, which most people are afraid to do. You have balls, for a girl..

Jacquelyn Nan said...

dude, I have more balls than a man.

but that's not the point, thank you :)

Anna said...

This sentence was a bit awkward: "Not only did I not know something was wrong right then, I hadn't known anything was wrong before that. I had no idea she was depressed until my dad was explaining it to the police officer at our house a few hours later." You might try putting the ideas in a more chrnological order, just for simplicity's sake?

"Not only friends were offering their help"--you want to say "Not only were friends offering their help."

"My teachers even let me take all my finals late since this was all happening the last week of the semester."--the "since" phrase tagged on to the end is a little awkward, and really unnecessary--I'd just say "My teachers even let me take all my finals late." The fact that it's the end of the semester will be understood.

You might think about breaking this material into one or two paragraphs. In particular, at "My mom came back." There's a real break here, and I think it would be best to reflect it in the structure of the essay.

"My grades dropped, yet it seemed like I cared more about what I was learning." This is such a lovely and true notion, articulated with the simplest dignity. So don't diminish its strength with an "it seemed like." Trust yourself to make strong statements--apologetic writing is the biggest weakness I see in college admissions essays.

This is a lovely start at an essay. Besides the notes I made above, the grammar is fantastic, and you do a splendid job of treating a very intense and emotional moment with simple dignity. There's a great peril of becoming maudlin in essays like this, but you never once head that way.

I do think that you are only just hitting the meat of your subject. You say, "I can't describe what happened to me after that," but the truth is you have a very nice start at doing just that--describing how this experience intensified your life and fueled your interest in photography. So don't pull back--develop those ideas, because they are the at the heart and soul of why you're writing this essay in the first place.