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Read or view the texts provided below and write a personal response to the text of your choice. You may respond in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to:
Diary / Journal Entry
Your writing should focus on one of the texts provided each day, and should be guided by the following question:
What do these texts suggest about an individual’s ability to pursue personal well-being when responding to competing demands? Support your idea(s) with reference to one or more of the texts presented and to your previous knowledge and/or experience.
Be sure to:
Focus on Voice – Find an interesting point of view from which to speak. Direct references are good, but indirect references are often more effective.
Support your idea – Be sure your choice of form will allow you to represent a well-thought-out response to the question.
Plan and revise – Take time to plan, establish and organize an idea, always be revising, and be sure to edit with the remaining time.
“The People Who Feed the United States”
José sits in his room with his sister Sara, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA. José worked in a meatpacking plant until contracting COVID-19 in April 2020. He was in hospital on a ventilator for five months, and still uses an oxygen cylinder. Sara also worked at the factory but left to become a house cleaner. She took care of her brother during his illness. Ismail Ferdous| 2022 World Press Photo Contest
A NUMBERS GAME
We are in his car. “Bell, I’m starving. Want to go for a burger or pizza?”
I panic. Pizza. 285 calories per slice. Burgers. Harder to estimate. Could be anywhere from 400 to 1,000. Stop it, Bella. Be normal. Go on a date with your boyfriend, and be normal. Eat the food. Smile. Be normal.
“Anything is fine! I’m not picky,” I tell him.
“Let’s do pizza. I know this place a few blocks down that makes the best pepperoni pizza, I promise.”
“Can’t wait! That sounds so good right now.”
I hold his hand as he drives. He talks about sports, school, and drama with his parents, but I hear nothing. All I can think about are numbers. 40 more calories if we get pepperoni. What if I get a salad? 245. Is that weird? I can say I had a stomach bug a couple of weeks ago . . . Stop it. Be normal. Be a typical high schooler who eats pepperoni pizza. Wait, that’s normal, right?
We arrive at the restaurant and join our friends. I watch Natalie take a slice of gooey pizza. She wipes the oil from her face and adds more parmesan cheese. 23 calories. “Oh my god, Bella. This is so good. But I don’t know if you can afford to eat it with a gorgeous body like that.”
As she says this, my boyfriend squeezes my waist and leans in for a kiss. My face turns bright red. My stomach rumbles loudly.
“Wow, you’re hungry,” he says to me. “Let’s get in line.”
Our friends laugh, and I join them. “Haha, yeah.”
After ordering, we sit, and he fills the awkward silence by asking me questions. “How are you? How’s track? Are you excited for summer?” I can barely speak. How many calories did I burn on my run? 584, or was it 604? Add 210 from the granola bar I ate afterward. I concentrate on the movement of his lips. But I can’t hear what he is saying until I do the math. 584-210 = 374.
“Bell, are you listening?”
As he says this, I realize the lust that was once there has turned into loss. My loss. Of being able to concentrate on him. Of being a normal teenager, being free. Now all I can think about is the smell of the garlic bread at a table nearby. An obese woman and her son are eating slices of olive pizza.
He notices my uneasiness and shifts to talking about his life. While I listen, I feel my abs under my shirt. Still there. Tomorrow, I will exercise an hour more. Eat 325, burn 325. It’s simple. Calm down. It’s all under control.
Our meal arrives at the table. “Oh yeah, baby,” he says, grabbing a slice. He scarfs it.
“Aren’t you going to eat?” he asks, grease—14 calories—dripping onto his napkin as he takes another bite.
“Oh yeah, sorry. Of course.” Carefully, I pick up a slice and stare at the pieces of pepperoni filled with oil as if I can see my imperfections in their reflection. Breathe. Be normal. Do it. I take a bite. 32 calories. I swallow. I breathe.
In a little while I’ll be drifting up an on-ramp,
sipping coffee from a styrofoam container,
checking my gas gauge with one eye
and twisting the dial of the radio
with the fingers of my third hand,
Looking for a station I can steer to Saturn on.
It seems I have the traveling disease
again, an outbreak of that virus
celebrated by the cracked lips
of a thousand blues musicians—song
about a rooster and a traintrack,
a sunrise and a jug of cherry cherry wine.
It’s the kind of perceptual confusion
that makes your loved ones into strangers,
that makes a highway look like a woman
with air conditioned arms. With a
bottomless cup of coffee for a mouth
and jewelry shaped like pay phone booths
dripping from her ears.
In a little while the radio will
almost have me convinced
that I am doing something romantic,
something to do with “freedom” and “becoming”
instead of fright and flight into
an anonymity so deep
it has no bottom,
only signs to tell you what direction
you are falling in: CHEYENNE, SEATTLE,
WICHITA, DETROIT—Do you hear me,
do you feel me moving through?
With my foot upon the gas,
between the future and the past,
I am here—
here where the desire to vanish
is stronger than the desire to appear
What do these texts suggest about an individual’s ability to pursue personal well-being when responding to competing demands?
Form: What prose form will you be using in your PRT?
PRT: Write your PRT below this line.
This second page is where you can write the essay.
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