i am a rock essay

I Am a Rock

i am a rock essay

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i am a rock essay

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i am a rock essay

Hello darkness, my old friend I’ve come to talk with you again Because a vision softly creeping Left its seeds while I was sleepi… And the vision that was planted in…

i am a rock essay

I’m sitting in the railway station… Got a ticket to my destination. On a tour of one-night stands my s… And every stop is neatly planned f… Homeward bound,

i am a rock essay

It’s a still life water color, Of a now late afternoon, As the sun shines through the curt… And shadows wash the room. And we sit and drink our coffee

i am a rock essay

When you’re weary, feeling small When tears are in your eyes, I’ll… I’m on your side, oh, when times g… And friends just can’t be found Like a bridge over troubled water

i am a rock essay

Are you going to Scarborough Fair Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme Remember me to one who lives there She once was a true love of mine Tell her to make me a cambric shir…

i am a rock essay

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I Am a Rock

Essay by review   •  October 31, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,339 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,396 Views

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I am a rock

When reading or listening to poetry, the main objective for me is to feel moved. Happiness, longing, sadness are some of the feelings that can be achieved just by listening to others' words. It is within these words that creates another world, or separates us from our own. Words all have a certain kind of attachment to them, so if used properly an author can stimulate a reader beyond belief.

Simon and Garfunkel were just those kinds of poets. Their words were able to stimulate an emotion with most of their readers. Simon and Garfunkel are one of my favorite artists, and in my opinion one of the most influential lyricist of their time. In their song, "I am a rock", they are able to make you feel and question for someone who avoiding emotional attachment, and instead of questioning what it might be like, using their words to but you in their place.

From the first stanza of this song, you get put into a scene. You know almost immediately that it is about someone, and it is the middle of December, but without stating the obvious, it paints a more illustrated picture for you. The first line states, "A winters day, in a deep and dark December" and I could almost immediately feel a cool breeze around me. When I normally think of a winter's day, I think of people playing in the snow, and having a good time. This may be because I grew up in Southern California where there has been a lack of snow, but in my head, that is what I imagine. Having them state, in a deep and dark December, turns my attitudes to the more pessimistic way of looking at things. The image of children playing in the snow in my head has now turned to cold and dark emptiness. Reinstating my idea of emptiness, the next line follows with the simply statement, "I am alone". Personally, I hate being alone. So to have the opening words place us in a deep and dark setting, and then state that you are alone, automatically puts me in a negative mindset.

Then to further instate his isolation in the next stanza the narrator admits to being the source of his seclusion. The narrator claims to put walls around him, but then goes into it more to say, " A fortress deep and mighty". The adjectives used to exemplify his position are significant. Usually when I hear there is a wall around something, I do not get put off from it. A wall can be easily trespassed, but a fortress deep and mighty, I would not want to mess with that. It also puts a timeline on the narrator for me. A wall is something that can be built during a short period. However, a fortress deep and mighty would take time and effort in creating. Then you find a little more about the reasoning behind the narrator's choice on isolation stating, "I have no need of friendship, friendship causes pain. Its laughter and its loving I distain". You then find out that he is isolating himself to avoid friendship, since friendship causes pain. When hearing this I can only validate it off of experience. But the one word that shoots out to me in these lines is distain. Distain is such a harsh word choice, in order to distain something you would have to hate it with all of your heart. I just grow curious to think what would make someone distain something so wonderful as friendship.

The third stanza clarifies again some of the reasons behind the narrators despair. He says, "Don't talk of love, but I've heard the words before" telling us that he had experienced it before. Then goes on to tell us, "It's sleeping in my memory. I wont disturb the slumber of feelings that have died". This goes back to giving me a timeline. For something to be sleeping, or dead, must be in remission for a while reminding me that this could of happened a while ago. The narrator then goes to say, "If I never loved, I never would have cried", this is a universal feeling. I cannot even imagine how many times I have heard, or have questioned myself, is it better to have loved and lost then to not love at all. If you have never loved, you would never have to experience the agony of loss,

Essay Sample on Holden Caulfield's Relation to "The Sound of Silence" and "I am a Rock"

"The Sound of Silence'' written by Simon and Garfunkel shares multiple similarities to Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye. First, Holden correlates with the beginning of the song since he is in a place of darkness and is filled with sadness: "Hello, darkness, my old friend / I've come to talk with you again" ("The Sound of Silence"1-2). The song states how sadness is a common and recurring feeling. Holden since the beginning of the novel has been in a constant state of sorrow and torment from his brother, Allie's death. This feeling lingers until the end of the novel where during his visit to Mr. Antolini, he describes Holden's current state: "'This fall I think you’re riding for – it’s a special kind of fall, a horrible kind. The man falling isn’t permitted to feel or hear himself hit bottom. He just keeps falling and falling" (Salinger 101). To Holden, sadness is common as he's been in a condition of continuous pain from the beginning of the story to the end. The next relation between the song and Holden is the connection between his relationship with his mother and the mass of people. The people in the song are described as, "People hearing without listening" ("The Sound of Silence'' 20). This relates to Holden as his mother listens partially to what he has to say, found when Holden is packing away his skates his mom bought him: "She bought me the wrong kind of skates--I wanted racing skates and she bought hockey…"(Salinger end of chapter 7). Like this lyric, Holden's mom hears what he has to say, but doesn't listen fully. The last comparison between the song and Holden is the similarity of how Holden perceives the people around him and their lifestyle. The song describes the people as fools: "'Fools,' said I, ''you do not know / Silence like a cancer grows" ("The Sound of Silence" 24-25). Being compared to something deadly like cancer that grows in silence, the song is saying that if people continue to live their life of silence and not speak up, it will eventually lead to bigger issues. While the song says this, it also refers to the people in it as fools, showing that the song disagrees with the lifestyles of these people. Similar to Holden, the way he refers to people is by referring to them as crooks or phonies. Along with this, Holden disagrees with their lifestyles. His brother D.B. was a fantastic writer who now Holden describes as a "...prostitute"  for becoming a writer for movies in Hollywood instead, implying that Holden thinks D.B. is a phony because he disagrees with how D.B. in Holden's eyes sold himself out and didn't put his talent to good use (Salinger 1).

"I am a Rock" is another song that demonstrates various connections to Holden Caulfield. The first example comes from the chorus of the song which relates to Holden as he is isolated and all alone: "I am a rock / I am an island" ("I am a Rock" 7-8). A rock is an object that has no feelings, it's emotionless, inanimate, and lifeless while an island is by itself, surrounded by ocean representing isolation and loneliness. Holden throughout the story conceals his emotions, like a rock, so he doesn't have to process his grief and cope with the death of his brother, Allie. Like an island, Holden is isolated and alone. While navigating the city after getting kicked out of Pency, Holden is more alone than ever. He has nobody he can talk to, "…I went into this phone booth. I felt like giving somebody a buzz…as soon as I was inside, I couldn't think of anybody to call up (Salinger chapter 9). Holden also refrains from close relationships like the song: "I have no need for friendship / Friendship causes pain" ("I am a Rock" 12-13). Throughout the novel, it becomes evident that there are very few people whom Holden loves, as he sees the rest of the world as phonies and crooks. As one of those people who he loves being Allie, when he left Holden's life from dying of cancer it torments Holden for years, causing him to go in a downward spiral. He refrains from becoming friends with people because the few friends he has had have left him. The last tie between Holden and the song is that similar to the song, Holden puts up walls so he can escape from the real world: "I've built walls / A fortress deep and mighty / That none may penetrate"("I am a Rock" 9-11). Holden has built walls, isolating himself from the real world so he doesn't have to process growing up and dealing with adulthood. Holden describes his ideal job as, "...the catcher in the rye" saving children from falling off of the cliff that transitions them into adulthood (Salinger 93). Holden loves the purity and innocence that is found in children and wants to preserve his own. He however comes to realize that he can't preserve his innocence forever and growing up is inevitable. Holden isolates himself from everything so that he doesn't have to become an adult and turns into what every adult is in his eyes, a phony.

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How It Feels to Be Colored Me, by Zora Neale Hurston

"I remember the very day that I became colored"

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Zora Neal Hurston was a widely-acclaimed Black author of the early 1900s.

"A genius of the South, novelist, folklorist, anthropologist"—those are the words that Alice Walker had inscribed on the tombstone of Zora Neale Hurston. In this personal essay (first published in The World Tomorrow , May 1928), the acclaimed author of Their Eyes Were Watching God explores her own sense of identity through a series of memorable examples and striking metaphors . As Sharon L. Jones has observed, "Hurston's essay challenges the reader to consider race and ethnicity as fluid, evolving, and dynamic rather than static and unchanging"

- Critical Companion to Zora Neale Hurston , 2009

How It Feels to Be Colored Me

by Zora Neale Hurston

1 I am colored but I offer nothing in the way of extenuating circumstances except the fact that I am the only Negro in the United States whose grandfather on the mother's side was not an Indian chief.

2 I remember the very day that I became colored. Up to my thirteenth year I lived in the little Negro town of Eatonville, Florida. It is exclusively a colored town. The only white people I knew passed through the town going to or coming from Orlando. The native whites rode dusty horses, the Northern tourists chugged down the sandy village road in automobiles. The town knew the Southerners and never stopped cane chewing when they passed. But the Northerners were something else again. They were peered at cautiously from behind curtains by the timid. The more venturesome would come out on the porch to watch them go past and got just as much pleasure out of the tourists as the tourists got out of the village.

3 The front porch might seem a daring place for the rest of the town, but it was a gallery seat for me. My favorite place was atop the gatepost. Proscenium box for a born first-nighter. Not only did I enjoy the show, but I didn't mind the actors knowing that I liked it. I usually spoke to them in passing. I'd wave at them and when they returned my salute, I would say something like this: "Howdy-do-well-I-thank-you-where-you-goin'?" Usually, automobile or the horse paused at this, and after a queer exchange of compliments, I would probably "go a piece of the way" with them, as we say in farthest Florida. If one of my family happened to come to the front in time to see me, of course, negotiations would be rudely broken off. But even so, it is clear that I was the first "welcome-to-our-state" Floridian, and I hope the Miami Chamber of Commerce will please take notice.

4 During this period, white people differed from colored to me only in that they rode through town and never lived there. They liked to hear me "speak pieces" and sing and wanted to see me dance the parse-me-la, and gave me generously of their small silver for doing these things, which seemed strange to me for I wanted to do them so much that I needed bribing to stop, only they didn't know it. The colored people gave no dimes. They deplored any joyful tendencies in me, but I was their Zora nevertheless. I belonged to them, to the nearby hotels, to the county—everybody's Zora.

5 But changes came in the family when I was thirteen, and I was sent to school in Jacksonville. I left Eatonville, the town of the oleanders, a Zora. When I disembarked from the riverboat at Jacksonville, she was no more. It seemed that I had suffered a sea change. I was not Zora of Orange County anymore, I was now a little colored girl. I found it out in certain ways. In my heart as well as in the mirror, I became a fast brown—warranted not to rub nor run.

6 But I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all. I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all but about it. Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more of less. No, I do not weep at the world—I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.

7 Someone is always at my elbow reminding me that I am the granddaughter of slaves. It fails to register depression with me. Slavery is sixty years in the past. The operation was successful and the patient is doing well, thank you. The terrible struggle that made me an American out of a potential slave said "On the line!" The Reconstruction said "Get set!" and the generation before said "Go!" I am off to a flying start and I must not halt in the stretch to look behind and weep. Slavery is the price I paid for civilization, and the choice was not with me. It is a bully adventure and worth all that I have paid through my ancestors for it. No one on earth ever had a greater chance for glory. The world to be won and nothing to be lost. It is thrilling to think—to know that for any act of mine, I shall get twice as much praise or twice as much blame. It is quite exciting to hold the center of the national stage, with the spectators not knowing whether to laugh or to weep.

8 The position of my white neighbor is much more difficult. No brown specter pulls up a chair beside me when I sit down to eat. No dark ghost thrusts its leg against mine in bed. The game of keeping what one has is never so exciting as the game of getting.

9 I do not always feel colored. Even now I often achieve the unconscious Zora of Eatonville before the Hegira. I feel most colored when I am thrown against a sharp white background.

10 For instance at Barnard. "Beside the waters of the Hudson" I feel my race. Among the thousand white persons, I am a dark rock surged upon, and overswept, but through it all, I remain myself. When covered by the waters, I am; and the ebb but reveals me again.

11 Sometimes it is the other way around. A white person is set down in our midst, but the contrast is just as sharp for me. For instance, when I sit in the drafty basement that is The New World Cabaret with a white person, my color comes. We enter chatting about any little nothing that we have in common and are seated by the jazz waiters. In the abrupt way that jazz orchestras have, this one plunges into a number. It loses no time in circumlocutions , but gets right down to business. It constricts the thorax and splits the heart with its tempo and narcotic harmonies. This orchestra grows rambunctious, rears on its hind legs and attacks the tonal veil with primitive fury, rending it, clawing it until it breaks through to the jungle beyond. I follow those heathen—follow them exultingly. I dance wildly inside myself; I yell within, I whoop; I shake my assegai above my head, I hurl it true to the mark yeeeeooww! I am in the jungle and living in the jungle way. My face is painted red and yellow and my body is painted blue. My pulse is throbbing like a war drum. I want to slaughter something—give pain, give death to what, I do not know. But the piece ends. The men of the orchestra wipe their lips and rest their fingers. I creep back slowly to the veneer we call civilization with the last tone and find the white friend sitting motionless in his seat, smoking calmly.

12 "Good music they have here," he remarks, drumming the table with his fingertips.

13 Music. The great blobs of purple and red emotion have not touched him. He has only heard what I felt. He is far away and I see him but dimly across the ocean and the continent that have fallen between us. He is so pale with his whiteness then and I am so colored.

14 At certain times I have no race, I am me. When I set my hat at a certain angle and saunter down Seventh Avenue, Harlem City, feeling as snooty as the lions in front of the Forty-Second Street Library, for instance. So far as my feelings are concerned, Peggy Hopkins Joyce on the Boule Mich with her gorgeous raiment, stately carriage, knees knocking together in a most aristocratic manner, has nothing on me. The cosmic Zora emerges. I belong to no race nor time. I am the eternal feminine with its string of beads.

15 I have no separate feeling about being an American citizen and colored. I am merely a fragment of the Great Soul that surges within the boundaries. My country, right or wrong.

16 Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It's beyond me.

17 But in the main, I feel like a brown bag of miscellany propped against a wall. Against a wall in company with other bags, white, red and yellow. Pour out the contents, and there is discovered a jumble of small things priceless and worthless. A first-water diamond, an empty spool, bits of broken glass, lengths of string, a key to a door long since crumbled away, a rusty knife-blade, old shoes saved for a road that never was and never will be, a nail bent under the weight of things too heavy for any nail, a dried flower or two still a little fragrant. In your hand is the brown bag. On the ground before you is the jumble it held—so much like the jumble in the bags, could they be emptied, that all might be dumped in a single heap and the bags refilled without altering the content of any greatly. A bit of colored glass more or less would not matter. Perhaps that is how the Great Stuffer of Bags filled them in the first place—who knows?

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How It Feels to Be Colored Me

By zora neale hurston, how it feels to be colored me metaphors and similes, front porch as gallery seat (metaphor).

Hurston grew up in the all-Black community of Eatonville, Florida until she was thirteen. White Northern tourists traveled through the small town, and Hurston took full advantage of the situation to transform their appearance into a dramatic production. Hurston writes: "The front porch might seem a daring place for the rest of the town, but it was a gallery seat for me. My favorite place was atop the gatepost. Proscenium box for a born first-nighter." In this metaphor, Hurston playfully contrasts the reticence of her neighbors watching the tourists pass from the "gallery seat" of the porch with her own eagerness to sit as close as possible to the figurative stage.

A Dark Rock Surged Upon (Metaphor)

When discussing her experience of feeling racialized on the campus of Barnard College, Hurston writes that "among the thousand white persons, I am a dark rock surged upon, and overswept, but through it all, I remain myself. When covered by the waters, I am; and the ebb but reveals me again." In this metaphor, Hurston uses figurative language to speak of herself as a lone dark rock in a white-water river. The metaphor emphasizes the striking contrast she feels as a Black person in majority-white spaces like a Manhattan college campus.

Pulse Throbbing Like a War Drum (Simile)

When Hurston details her experience at the jazz club, the expressive music stirs up her emotions and makes her "dance wildly" inside herself. She speaks of the musicians and her being transported into "the jungle," likely engaging with a white stereotype in a knowingly tongue-in-cheek way to refer to a shared African heritage. Hurston writes that her "pulse is throbbing like a war drum." In this simile, Hurston continues to emphasize how jazz music evokes a deeply rooted physiological response in her body, comparing her rhythmic pulse to a tribal war drum.

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How It Feels to Be Colored Me Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for How It Feels to Be Colored Me is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

Identify the authors use of an idiom in paragraph 5. Analyze the authors use of figurative language

Sorry, you will need to quote the paragraph in question for me.

How is life in Jacksonville different for Zora?

Hurston moved to Jacksonville by riverboat to attend school there. In Jacksonville is where she first started hearing that she was "a little colored girl." She took this as an infringement on her individual identity, but she was too busy having...

How it feels to be colors

I'm not sure what your question is here. You can check out some metaphors below if that is what you are looking for.


Study Guide for How It Feels to Be Colored Me

How It Feels to Be Colored Me study guide contains a biography of Zora Neale Hurston, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About How It Feels to Be Colored Me
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Essays for How It Feels to Be Colored Me

How It Feels to Be Colored Me essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of How It Feels to Be Colored Me by Zora Neale Hurston.

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i am a rock essay

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Gil Scott-Heron

Gil scott-heron.

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Early Influences

Scott-Heron’s fusion of jazz, blues, soul and funk challenged the status quo with biting satire, unapologetic social commentary, and confrontational poetry.


By Anthony DeCurtis

Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011) believed in what he called “the spirits.” He wasn’t a religious man in conventional terms, but he believed in forces that provided inspiration and that helped people become their true, highest selves. “If you’re supposed to be doing something, the spirits will come and help you,” he told Alec Wilkinson of the New Yorker. “They have helped me out with lines I shouldn’t have known, chords I shouldn’t have known. Every once in a while I get lines from somewhere, and I think, I better write this down.”

Fortunately, he wrote down enough of those lines – and delivered them compellingly in a voice rich with emotional power – to amass an extraordinary body of work that includes albums, novels, and collections of poetry. His deeply textured music, much of it composed by his longtime collaborator Brian Jackson – draws on blues, jazz, soul, and R&B, all of which underlay his sung and spoken-word narratives of Black lives enmeshed in trying times. His songs – masterpieces like “Home Is Where the Hatred Is,” “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” “The Bottle,” “We Almost Lost Detroit,” and “Winter in America” – are clear-eyed and unsentimental, pointed and sardonic, but never without hope.

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The day I returned home after being kidnapped by Islamic terrorists

Beth and Tommy in Portaledge in a tent on the side of a cliff

Beth Rodden is a professional rock climber who, along with three other climbers, was kidnapped and held hostage by Islamic militants in 2000 while on a climbing trip in Kyrgyzstan. The following is excerpted from her new memoir, “A Light Through the Cracks,” about the day she returned home to the U.S. 

Amsterdam, August 2000

By the time my boyfriend, Tommy Caldwell, and I made it to Amsterdam’s gleaming, sterile airport, we had been passed along a half dozen times, like an important but increasingly well-worn package. Military helicopters had brought us and our other two climbing partners from base to base. We’d endured a surreal ride on a private jet from the last military base to the capital, Bishkek, traveling alongside the tipsy and jovial president of Kyrgyzstan. He’d patted us on the shoulders like a grandfather and claimed us long enough for a photo op and a speech to local media in a language we couldn’t understand. Then he handed the four of us off to the American embassy, which scrambled to find us flights home. A few days later, Tommy and I drove across the Kazakhstan border, in a hired car with a diplomatic escort, to the international airport in Almaty, and finally a commercial jet took us from Central Asia to the edge of the Atlantic. Now we had just one more flight to go.

Our tickets were a last-minute mess, and we needed to check on our connection. As we crossed the terminal, I carried a brown paper gift bag from the airport candy shop — despite what we’d been through, I still wanted to bring my older brother a present from this trip. I watched the families clustered around the gates, the lone business travelers perched at the bars, scanning each face around me. I’d been on edge through practically every step of the journey: The embassy in Bishkek had felt almost safe, but at the hotel where they’d sent us to get some sleep, I’d felt vulnerable and stayed vigilant.


In the airport, I was hungry again. When we’d made it to the second army base, the one that felt like a cluster of portable classrooms set down on a vast brown plain, we’d stuffed ourselves with barley and warm buttered bread, but I could not stay full. I had just eaten two chocolate croissants. Still, my stomach felt like a cavern. My brother didn’t really need a present, did he?

I ate half the chocolate in the bag before we got to our gate.

The line at the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines counter felt so orderly. The whole airport did. Just existing there felt like getting a big, soothing hug. When we’d boarded the flight in Kazakhstan, the passengers had formed no line. Everybody just pushed in a scrum toward the plane. Tommy and I stood frozen, like the good, shocked scouts that we were, and got lost in the flood. I felt so fragile, so extremely fragile, and so resigned to that fragile state.

We weren’t safe. That was obvious to me. No line, no order, no rule of law. I loved rules. People smoked openly on that first plane.

“Next,” the flight attendant said as we arrived at the counter. Her voice was as professionally cheerful as her uniform: light blue skirt, light blue jacket, white blouse underneath.

“We’re here to check in for our flight,” I said.

“Wonderful. May I please have your boarding passes?”

I mumbled something apologetic and handed her a few crumpled, dirty sheets of paper. “I think we have to get our seats and stuff from you.”

She pinched her brow as she read our mess of documents. She typed vigorously. I was sure this meant we weren’t going to make it home.

“Can you wait one second?” she asked, flashing a strained smile. She disappeared behind a wall.

Beth Rodden climbing a boulder

I looked at Tommy. He stared into the blank space where the woman had just been. I couldn’t tell if he was as scared as I was, if he was also monitoring the people pooling and flowing around us for any threat. I felt like I had grown an invisible antenna that vibrated continually, never at rest. Never letting me rest. A memory tried to surface inside me: a body in silhouette, sailing off a dark cliff. A crunch, and an exhale. I forced it back down.

Two blond attendants now appeared where there had been one.

“Can you tell me: Was it something KLM did?” the new flight attendant asked.

I looked back at Tommy. Did he know what she was talking about? Did she know what had happened? Tommy shrugged.

“Wait, what?” I said. “What was something . . . ?”

“Well, um, how to say this,” the flight attendant said. “It says on your tickets, ‘Emotionally distressed passengers, please take care.’ So, we are just wondering if it’s something KLM did.” She looked concerned and defensive in her caring, like a hospital billing manager. She didn’t want to know the answer, but she had to ask.

I didn’t want a stranger to try to comfort me, but I did feel the need to comfort her. So I said, “Oh no, definitely not. We were just kidnapped and we want to go home.”

I couldn’t believe how easily the sentence came out. We were just kidnapped . . . I’d never said it so plainly before.

The flight attendant exhaled all her breath at once, stunned and relieved. “Well, good,” she said.

Well, good?

“KLM does our best. How about business-class seats for you two?” She printed our fresh, flat boarding passes. Tommy and I boarded the plane.

We ate every meal and every snack that was offered to us on the long ride home. My hunger was like a portal opened into a galaxy — infinite, absolute. When I was in middle school, I used to watch my older brother, David, eat, stunned by the mountain of food he could consume. Now, it felt strangely freeing to eat with that type of abandon. I hadn’t done that since ninth grade, when I became obsessed with climbing.

I could eat, but I still couldn’t sleep. My anxiety kept me wide awake, and my wakefulness in turn meant I had nothing but space and time for the anxiety to spin itself tighter in my body. I kept wondering if the plane would crash. That seemed possible, maybe even probable, given how the rest of our trip had gone. An appropriate ending, in a way. I wondered if I’d be scared. What would Tommy say to me before impact? Would it hurt? Our backpack, stuffed at our feet, was filled with souvenirs purchased in a blur during our strange interlude in Bishkek, between our flight with the president and our diplomatic drive across the border. I had stuffed the paltry remains of the airport chocolate into our bag alongside the rest of the things we’d acquired: a hand-carved wooden chess set, a wool hanging. Proof that we’d done something major and been somewhere cool. What were we thinking?

Beth Rodden

The backpack that sat at our feet had been lost in transit when we’d first landed in Kyrgyzstan, full of hope for our climbing adventure, and was waiting for us, perversely intact, at the hotel in Bishkek after our escape. We’d left San Francisco with 20 expedition duffels, and all I had left was this backpack filled with trinkets from a country to which I’d never return. Maybe that was why we’d bought them, with the money Tommy had wadded up in his sock just before we were marched away from our camp at gunpoint. Maybe it was some attempt to fabricate a decent memory of the place.

My hands trembled the whole 12 hours to San Francisco. I knew I needed sleep, but if the plane did crash, wasn’t I supposed to be awake for that? I had no idea how to act, what to do or say or who to be when we saw our parents. I’d left as a 20-year-old girl full of herself, ready for the world, sure I was doing something extraordinary. I was living out the dream I’d stared at in the posters I hung on my bedroom wall: climbing to incredible heights in far-off places. My mother had hardly traveled, certainly not by my age. I’d felt so awfully superior as I’d walked down the jetway when we left. I didn’t even turn back to wave.

My parents had given me everything — pride, freedom, confidence. They trusted me. They trusted my decisions. They trusted the world. Now I was returning home a broken mess. I’d spoken to them a few times from the embassy in Bishkek, the words mainly drowned in my tears. I wanted to be small again, so small I could crawl through the phone into their arms, where they’d hold me and shush me and stroke my head. I wanted my mother to say, “Mama’s here, Mama’s here,” just like she always did when I was a girl. I wanted to shrink back into that little-girl body and lay my head in her lap and cry.

How was I supposed to carry myself getting off the jetway? Was the idea to act strong, like I was fine? I was weirdly good at that. Or should I literally run into their arms?

Now — how to do this? How was I supposed to carry myself getting off the jetway? Was the idea to act strong, like I was fine? I was weirdly good at that. Or should I literally run into their arms, like I had been dreaming of doing for the past eight days? I’d never spoken easily with my parents about feelings. They were so kind, so present, and gently but firmly on my team. But inside, I always felt nervous, like there was a line I was afraid to cross, like I needed to be tougher, solid, unbreakable. And even if I could lay my head in my mother’s lap and have her say, “Mama’s here,” would that still work to soothe me? I was not the same person I had been when I left. My thoughts flapped like the loose end of a film in an old-fashioned movie projector, the front reel spinning empty.

I looked over at Tommy. Maybe he’d know what to do. His head was slumped at a 45-degree angle to his chest, his mouth dropped open, snoring. He was sick. His brain was more lucid and less spastic than mine, but his body was breaking down. He had a fever. I envied Tommy’s oblivion. I felt so alone.

We landed. My palms were sweating, but Tommy’s hands felt strong. That felt like a plan: I’d hold his strong hand and we’d present a united front, though I hadn’t told him about my looping, flapping mind. I was trying to stay composed — for him, for me, maybe for my parents too. We collected our bag of souvenirs from under the airplane seats. The souvenirs promised our trip was normal. We were normal. I grabbed a free chocolate bar and a package of cookies from the plane’s galley as we exited. I never did anything like that, but now instead of saying, “Don’t eat that, Rodden,” I thought, “Just in case we don’t have any other food.”

I didn’t race off the plane like I had seen people do in movies, straight into their loved ones’ arms. Instead I walked so slowly that other passengers started passing us. I was desperate to return home, to the narrow twin bed in my parents’ house, on our quiet block filled with minivans and white Honda sedans, to replant myself in the flat farmland around Davis, California, to recommit to the safe wide sidewalks. I just didn’t know how. I wondered if people could tell we’d changed: if we walked differently or stood slightly less straight, if we’d absorbed so much fear and terror that we now emitted it.

Excerpted from “A Light Through the Cracks: A Climber’s Story,” by Beth Rodden. © 2024 Published by Little A Books, May 1, 2024. All Rights Reserved.

Beth Rodden is the author of “A Light Through the Cracks: A Climber’s Story,” out May 2024. 

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Cicada map 2024: See where to find Brood XIX and XIII − and where they've already been spotted

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For many Americans, the cicadas are here .

Trillions of periodical cicadas are already emerging in a rare, two brood event across multiple states , with more expected to come in the following weeks. Thanks to warm temperatures and good conditions, these 13- or 17-year cicadas are emerging from their underground habitats to eat, mate and die, making a whole lot of noise in the process.

Broods XIX and XIII have not emerged together since 1803, and after this year, won't emerge together again until 2245. While they are largely in different states, they are both emerging in parts of Illinois and Iowa.

So if you've seen one cicada or hundreds of cicadas, here's where you can expect to see more this year.

Are cicadas dangerous? Busting myths on the harmfulness of the noisy pests.

Are cicadas already out in 2024?

Adult periodical cicadas from Brood XIX have been spotted by users in multiple states across the Southeast and Midwest including in Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia and Illinois, according to  Cicada Safari , a cicada tracking app developed by Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Through Cicada Safari, users can confirm their sightings of cicadas with pictures, look at a map of other cicada sightings, join a leaderboard with other users and learn more information about cicadas.

2024 cicada map: Check out where Broods XIII, XIX are projected to emerge

The two cicada broods are projected to emerge in a combined 17 states across the South and Midwest. They emerge once the soil eight inches underground reaches 64 degrees, expected to begin in many states in May and lasting through late June.

The two broods  last emerged together in 1803 , when Thomas Jefferson was president.

What is a brood?

According to the  University of Connecticut , broods are classified as "all periodical cicadas of the same life cycle type that emerge in a given year."

A brood of cicadas is made up of different species of the insect that have separate evolutionary histories. These species may have joined the brood at different times or from different sources. These different species are lumped together under the brood because they are in the same region and emerge on a common schedule.

Why do cicadas make so much noise?

You'll have to thank the male cicadas for all that screeching. Male cicadas synchronize their calls and produce congregational songs, according to  Britannica , which establish territory and attract females. There is also a courting call that they make before mating.

Unluckily for us, the 13-year and 17-year brood cicadas  are the loudest , partially because of the sheer number of them that emerge at once.

Group shot of a family in the garden of their house. One woman in the foreground is cutting another's hair, while a girl pushes a baby in a pram and another woman looks on

The families risking everything to keep Ukraine’s trains running – photo essay

Dutch photographer Jelle Krings has been documenting the workers of the Ukrainian railway since the war began. Here, he revisits the families that have kept a war-torn country moving, often to great personal sacrifice

  • Words and pictures by Jelle Krings

I n the early hours of 24 February 2022, when Russian bombs and rockets struck Ukrainian cities and infrastructure throughout the country, railway workers boarded trains heading east. Determined to get as many people as possible to safety , they would end up evacuating millions to Ukraine’s borders in the west.

Ukraine’s new railway chief Yevhen Liashchenko was in the team that guided the network through the first stages of the war. He says his people acted not because they were instructed to but because “they didn’t know any other way”. There was no time for bureaucracy, “decisions were made by the people on the ground, and they love the railway, not as a business but as a family”.

It takes more than 230,000 people to keep the trains running in Ukraine.

The train station in Lyman, Donbas, in ruins after being destroyed by shelling.

The railway station in Lyman, Donbas, destroyed by shelling

Yevhen Liashchenko, chief executive of Ukrainian Railways, standing in a rail shed with a man working on a wagon behind him.

Yevhen Liashchenko, chief executive of Ukrainian railways, has been leading Ukraine’s 230,000 railway workers through the war

Together they run a vast railway network of more than 15,000 miles (24,000km) of track, one that has been invaluable for Ukraine’s ability to withstand the invasion. Despite continual bombing, the network has largely remained operational. Damage to the tracks is swiftly repaired, and shell-hit critical infrastructure is promptly restored.

Over two years, we followed families and workers living by the tracks near the frontlines to find out how the war and the struggle to keep the trains running is shaping their lives.

The Neschcheryakovas

Nadiya Neschcheryakova works as an attendant at a railway crossing in Bucha, about 10 miles from Kyiv. She works in shifts, sharing her post with her mother and two other women. On the morning of the invasion, the sound of explosions pierced the sky above the thick pine forests surrounding her home. She went to work anyway. A few days later, her post at the railway crossing was occupied by Russian troops. Her home in the next village along the track was now at the frontline of the war.

Nadiya Neschcheryakova at her post at a railway crossing in Bucha, near Kyiv. A freight train approaches under an overcast winter sky.

Nadiya Neschcheryakova operates her railway crossing in Bucha, near Kyiv . A freight train passes transporting materials such as wood for possible use in Ukraine’s defensive efforts along the frontline

Remnants of a house, destroyed by shelling, lie in a yard

Remnants of the Neschcheryakovas’ family house, destroyed by shelling, lie in the yard at Spartak, Kyiv oblast

Nadiya Neschcheryakova, right, with her husband, Yuriy, left, on either side of their daughter Kateryna and grandson Andriy.

Nadiya Neschcheryakova with her husband, Yuriy, their daughter Kateryna and grandson Andriy. Yuriy built a new house after their home was destroyed by shelling early in the war

With her husband, daughter and grandson, Nadiya managed to flee to the west where they stayed for a month waiting for the Russian withdrawal from Kyiv. When they returned home, they found their home had been reduced to rubble.

The Petrovs

When the city of Kherson was liberated after nine months of Russian occupation in November 2022, Oleksandr Petrov was sent on a mission to repair the tracks leading to the city. When he set out in a van with a team of repairmen in the morning, he knew the risks: the fields along the tracks were heavily mined in an attempt to slow the Ukrainian advance.

Railway workers wash their wounds after driving over a mine in the Kherson region, November 2022.

Railway workers wash their wounds after driving over a mine in the Kherson region, 13 November 2022. They were carrying out repair works just days after Kherson was liberated. Oleksandr Petrov lost a leg in the incident

Oleksandr shows his prosthetic leg to workers in a railway repair team, Voznesensk, Mykolaiv oblast, Ukraine.

Oleksandr shows his prosthetic leg to workers in a railway repair team in Voznesensk, Mykolaiv oblast. Since his injury, Oleksandr has been given a desk job

Oleksandr Petrov at his parent’s place in Voznesensk. His prosthetic leg is on the floor beside him and there is a wheelchair nearby.

Oleksandr Petrov at his parents’ house in Voznesensk. Family members spend a day at the cemetery to maintain their relatives’ graves and pay their respects

Russian troops were expected to start shelling the city once they’d had a chance to regroup on the other side of the Dnipro River. The civilians left in the city would have to be evacuated by train, so Oleksandr went anyway. Later that day, Oleksandr lost his leg after they drove over a Russian anti-vehicle mine.

The Lyman community

When Ukrainian troops recaptured the railway hub of Lyman from Russian troops in November 2022, it had been under Russian occupation for six months. Since then, it has been on the frontline of the war in Ukraine’s Donbas region. Yet, a small community of railway families continues to live in the basements of their battered apartment buildings on the outskirts of the city.

The Rosokhas family mourn the death of Nina Rosokha who was killed by a Russian artillery strike on Lyman

The Rosokha family mourn the death of Nina Rosokha, who was killed by a Russian artillery strike on Lyman. Nina had worked in a railway service department, her husband was a train driver for 36 years. During the funeral, sounds of fighting could be heard in the nearby Kreminna forest

A forest on the outskirts of Lyman burns after shelling

A forest on the outskirts of Lyman smoulders after shelling. Firefighters do not go into the forests for fear of mines

Fedya (13) plays his accordion outside the apartment building.

Fedya, 13, plays his accordion outside the apartment building where he lives with his mother and grandmother, both of whom work for the railway. Evelyna, 12, with one of her cats

The families in the community stay underground most of the time. The frontline is too close for the air raid alert system to be effective, and artillery and missiles can strike at any moment. The community have paid a heavy price in the war . Railway worker Nina Rosokha was killed on her way to the post office in a Russian artillery strike on a market. During another attack, Lyubov Surzhan’s top-floor apartment was obliterated. A piece of shrapnel skimmed Fedya’s head during a strike on a nearby railway depot. Yet the railway is their home and, despite the danger, they don’t want to leave.

The Mykolaychuks

The Mykolaychuk brothers live in an apartment building in the centre of Podilsk. Both are fifth generation locomotive drivers. Before the invasion, their jobs were mostly local, transporting grain from the region to the port of Odesa. Now, they go farther east towards the frontlines of the war, driving evacuation trains and weapons transports.

A woman in an apartment looks after two toddler girls who have just started walking

Alla Valeriyivna Mykolaychuk in Podilsk with her daughter and niece, both aged one

They don’t get paid if they don’t work, and jobs have become less frequent since the war. With money hard to come by, they have had to sell their family car to make ends meet.

The Tereshchenkos

Olha Tereshchenko survived a Russian attack on a convoy of civilians fleeing the then occupied city of Kupiansk. Her husband and five-year-old son were killed. Consumed with grief, she now works at a railway office in Kharkiv and gets support from her fellow workers there. Urns containing the ashes of her husband and son still sit on a shelf in a nearby crematorium. She hopes to bury them near their home in Kupiansk one day, when the frontline is further away.

Woman walking in a grey, desolate street with a blossom tree in flower

Olha Tereshchenko in Saltivka, the area of Kharkiv where she now lives

A photo of Olha’s dead husband and child on a floral bedspread

Olha’s husband and son, photographed as a baby, were killed in a Russian attack on a civilian convoy. Olha is overcome when she visits their remains in a nearby crematorium: she hopes one day to bury her husband and son near their home in Kupiansk

  • Rights and freedom
  • Rail transport

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