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Running head: My Life as a Reader

My Life as a Reader and Teacher: An Autobiographical Response Eric M. Brame University of Central Florida

My Life as a Reader

Autobiographical Response Life is fully complex ironies. In fact, the best one is romantic irony. Yes, I am writing a paper and before you even try to enjoy it, I am letting you know. I hope this doesnt spoil your appetite for adventure. Sadly, this is the worst opening I can use. However, I dont want to give a good opening. My life as reader didnt begin well. In fact, I didnt start learning to read until I was seven. Thus, I was quit ignorant of many things due to this. I was ignorant of my grandmother mentally depriving me of stimuli. Thus, I was an ignorant as a box of rocks. For this reason, there is nothing good as a beginning. Instead of reading, I was forced to watch movies and play Nintendos Super Mario Brothers III. For this reason, I was underdeveloped as a student. It seems that we all have a skeleton in our closet. Well, this time, I can say that we are looking at mine. In the 1990s the San Diego Center for Children declared me as mentally insufficient to maintain myself in society. This is due to the issue of me having a minor form of Aspergers Syndrome (AS). However, it seems that they enjoyed declaring that for the $80,000.00 grant they received each year for students. Thus, it seems that we are witnessing the unraveling of an institution that believes its students are a cash cow. Thus, it seems that I must go through a bit of my biography in order to contextualize my reading experience. I was born in Paget, Bermuda, on June 12, 1984, in the evening, during the birthday of the Queen of England. My father was presented with gifts from her majesty, through a representative, along with my citizenship of the United States and Great Britain. However, this glorious birthright was short lived. When my father moved the Charleston, North Carolina, he was forced to move into a house with my biological mother. According to the story, my biological mother wanted to join a religious group. This issue caused the relationship between my father and my biological mother to unravel. This unraveling sprung into an issue of legal services and a divorce. This divorce allowed my biological mother to collect any furniture she desired. This means that the house in Charleston, North Carolina was left almost bare. However, this is not the worst thing to occur. According to the story, as told to me by my father, confirmed by my adoptive mother, my biological mother decided to retrieve me at certain point and retain me for a few days. After the police entered the property of the religious group, they ordered the group for my return. However, not all was well, as a once upon a time story is. Instead, as my father attests, I had red marks down my back. I can confirm this because I vaguely remember feeling the leather and the feel of a burn. Also, I remember a young adult running from a room, with tears in her eyes. Although this was abusive, I was returned to my father. I was treated at the navy hospital for the lashes. As a person with AS, this was a frustrating time. However, my father was brave enough to endure the torment. Thus, after all was over, he retired from the Navy and received a full honorable discharge. This, however, is not the end. This is only the beginning. Remember, I told you about the romantic irony. Well, you are reading every word on this page. Well, there is a reason, I write well, at this point. For this reason, I will tell you about the issues my experience in California. My father and I moved to California in 1989. The end of the decade was promising for us. However, we only owned a truck from Bermuda, a few clothes, and a retirement we were going to live on for about three weeks. Thus, it seems like a task that we were going to endure for better or for worse. Thus, we were invited by my fathers mother to rent a room in her house. She is the

My Life as a Reader

grandmother I referred to in the beginning of this autobiographical account. For this reason, I must move on to my account as reader. The reason, why I summarized much of my biography is due to context. This context is necessary to explain past issues that affected my reading and writing. My grandmother was not involved in my development as a reader. Instead she used television as a way to keep my mind occupied. There were very few books in the home library. The few that were there could be summed up in the manner of i-1 instead of i+1. This i-1 was due to them being books for children of three years or younger. Also, she never read to me. Another issue I remember vividly is my beating that I received from her. It was with a black, thick, leather belt. It was due to her suggestion, because I was hyper, that my father placed me in the San Diego Center for Children at the age of six. During this very time, I witnessed students, who were hyper, being restrained by counselors crossing their arms and twisting them. The agony was akin to the scream spoken of in Dantes Inferno. It can remember it like the description in the Book of Revelation: And the smoke of their torment went of forever, and forever. I questioned the abuse. However, my mind was not able to articulate my response. I asked the counselors why they did this. Their response was to put me in the same room. However, there was no response of anger from me. Thus, it was punishment for my curiosity. This was all due to me being hyper and having AS. Although this seems very bleak, it there is light at the end of the tunnel. In 1991, my father met Edith London, a Colombian woman, who was destined to adopt me as her own. When I met her for the first time, my Wesley, her son, now my brother, told her to get me out of San Diego Center for Children. When she married my father, she did that very thing. She saw the abuse and removed me from that institution. For an entire month, I was instructed in reading and writing by my brother, through the Hooked-On-Phonics kit my mother purchased. Every day, for four hours, he trained me in phonetic awareness. After that time, I was starting to read the volumes of history my dad owned. I was gaining interest in the very classics that many my age enjoyed. In fact, I was able to read the poetry from the mother goose series. To further my interest, Cajon Park Elementary School, a school in the middle of an affluent community, trained me in creativity. In fact, my brother Steven trained me in the method sports and other activities. Thus, the school in Santee, California repaired the damage that San Diego Center for Children caused. However, this was not the end of the battle. My grandmother saw the growth in my knowledge. I was beginning to question her and everything about her. She was a jealous and malevolent woman. For this reason, she took a dark turn, akin to the wicked stepmother in Cinderella, who wanted to destroy Cinderellas identity. Thus, she attempted to summon my father and newly found mother to court. However, the judge dismissed the case along with other cases she filed. Even the attorney she hired dismissed her after a year. For this reason, she asked to see in downtown San Diego. Thus, my third grade education was a living hell because of her idiocy and the bullying I experienced due to my AS. Although I have Aspergers Syndrome (AS), due to my Colombian mother, my true and loving mother, I have found myself to be independent minded. She taught me to be the witty and straight forward person that I am today. However, this came at a dear price due to my grandmother. My grandmothers actions caused the Brame family to collapse in turns of cohesion. The entire lineage shattered like a full wine bottle dropped from three stories onto a pile of broken concrete.

My Life as a Reader

However, my Colombian lineage remained intact. At the age of ten, I was sent to South America. This was a month before my eleventh birthday. There, in Colombia, I was taught to read, write, and speak in Spanish. Eventually, I acquired the bare basics of the language. For this reason, I became bilingual. However, my mannerisms were considered awkward for the students in Colombia. It seems that they did not understand the issues I was dealing with. For this reason, I know that bullying is an issue in every continent. Although this was the case, I continued to make strides toward gaining my Colombian identity an identity of strength, passion, compassion, and much more. Now that I have discussed, in brief, some of my early biography, I must move on to my Junior High School years. In California, I was educated in a system that designed 7th and 8th grade to be in a satellite campus. Due to my need of support, in the 7th grade and 8th grade, I was placed in mainstream class of Exceptional Student Education (ESE) students. Sadly, I do not remember the 7th grade teachers name that became my mentor. However, I will discuss her impact on my reading interests, which should allow the reader of this reflection to understand what a great teacher is. This teacher was about 56 in height and stocky in build. She was of Caucasian decent and had jet-black hair. Her philosophy of teaching was the philanthropic pedagogy I admire in Augustine of Hippo and John Calvin. She desired the holistic method. In fact, she used a concept we know is the Reading Circle. During the 7th grade, she took a plunge of faith with the students. We were going to read The Outsiders. This is where everything began to become interesting to me. Why did she desire to create an environment that read this type of historical, realistic fiction? Hopefully, this question will be answered in a more convenient place. However, I must continue with the autobiographical response as is. The Outsiders to the 7th graders in my class spoke highly of us, in our mind. We were all attracted to Pony Boy. His method of questioning the status quo allowed us to reflect, in our minds, the misuse of power, and the ability to break free from it. Thus, I wanted to know more each page we read aloud. What would become of Pony Boy and his friend? Why was there so much mistrust between regular students and ESE students? These questions needed to be answered in my mind. What I know now, as a fact, toward all my turmoil, I can say as St. Ambrose attested, as he spoke about turmoil in life: Shall not He take account of their toil, Who will not cast off for ever even those whom He casts off? For David says: God will not cast off for ever, and in opposition to this shall we listen to heresy asserting, He does cast off for ever? David says: God will not for ever cut off His mercy from generation to generation, nor will He forget to be merciful. This is the prophets declaration, and there are those who would maintain a forgetfulness of mercy on Gods part. (Concerning Repentance I.IV) Thus, the teacher, in my view was predestined to come to us with what we needed. We needed a teacher that was able to use literature to mold us into productive individuals. Thus, as the Apostle declares, On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, Why did you make me like this, will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to

My Life as a Reader make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. (Romans 9:20-24 NASB)

Thus, the seed was planted. I was never going to be the same again. Something was stirring. I would not know what it was for another 14 years. It was providence working. Nothing can stand in its way and the time of abuse was coming to an end. Soon, so soon, I was going to see my life change from a thirteen year old to a man in a matter of a couple years. High School would be my victory forge in an environment of turmoil. The 8th grade ended with a ceremony of graduation. I was finally inducted to the halls of Santana High School. It is schools known for its ability to assist non-aristocratic children become true intellectuals. During my 9th grade year, I was introduced to Beowulf, an Anglo-Saxon epic poem, which contained a lot of rich legend. However, it was not The Outsiders. In fact, I was the outsider. I did not emotionally connect with the piece. Thus, it was chalky and dry. In fact, the teacher was concerned about my involvement with the class. My involvement, due to the classics, was mediocre. I had little interest. In fact, I was the student that only did enough to get by. Afterward, I wanted to be left alone. Thus, my advocate had to remove me from that course and place me in her classroom. What is interesting is that the 9th grade teacher pushed us to read the brass knuckle classics without any means to connect. Instead, she wanted us to produce art that was historically accurate toward the piece. However, I had no concept of Anglo-Saxon history or its complexities. Thus, Mrs. Chandler, my advocate, accompanied many of the ESE students, along with me, to the school library. This is where the exploration began. My interest turned to historical fiction. In fact, it was an obsession I held for about two years. For this reason, I even enjoyed young adult literature when Roman and Greek philosophy was involved, including mythology. Thus, I slowly tuning into the Greco-Roman classics. However, I did not find my interest in Hebraic classics until later a part of this reflection I will give in more convenient place. It was because of this concept that I was able to question who I was. Who I was, was starting to form as Paul wrote about the potter and the clay. I was starting to become molded. For this reason, I started to question the bullies. One thing that Roman philosophy taught me was my independence. Greek philosophy taught me to question everything. Hebraic philosophy, which was studied later, taught me to listen. Calvinist (Reformation Christian) philosophy taught me to channel everything I was learning in a loving manner, as per Gods instruction. However, this was only the beginning. In the 11th grade, I was inducted into the split-option program of the United States Army Reserve. Well, surprise, surprise, a great Mary Poppins surprise! You have a person with Aspergers Syndrome going into the Armys Basic Combat Training (BCT). It wasnt just that. I was going to Fort Sill, OK. Let us make a little better! I was going to Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 22nd Brigade, or know as C 1/22. It was a prestigious battery to belong to. The drill sergeants were rough with the recruits. In fact, I remember my stress level breaking and having an almost sudden black out. However, I read the manual and passed every test, except throwing a grenade, which my coordination didnt allow. At least it made it look very awkard. Although I passed the BCT portion, it was only the beginning. I had to return and face the bullies I met in the previous years during my senior year. However, there was something different about me. One event, which I do remember, was a bully that tried to make fun of my last name.

My Life as a Reader

Eventually I had enough. I looked at him straight in the easy, which I never did before. I asked him whether or not I he would like me to gauge out his eyes and use his skull for an ashtray. This I dont recommend for any at all. In fact, do NOT even do this. However, it was an event I remember vividly. After that, it seemed that the bullies left me alone for the most part. Why did my aggression from BCT end this? It seems that bullies bully for the pure power thrill. However, this time, the Army broke down a child and built an adult that was ready thrash any bully in his way. This is one reason I recommend bullies go to Marine Corps Boot Camp or Army BCT. Although I was aggressive for a couple months, I began to mellow out. However, I made a point to the bullies. I was the bullys bully now. In fact, I was trained in BCT to defend those who cannot defend themselves. Let us say it was providence working this entire time After I graduated high school, in December 2013, I was sent to Orlando, FL from Santee, CA to begin my new life. During this time, I was sent, with orders, to the Armys Advanced Individual Training (AIT) center at Fort Lee for my training in the field of Water Treatment Specialist. Thus, I was inducted into Lima Company. This recruit reception area was different from the BCT reception area. They were much more relaxed. However, all military customs and courtesies applied. The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) was my creed. During this time, I was able to gain confidence in hands-on skills I lacked as a child. However, I did not admit to them something was different about me. Instead, I continued on as I was commanded. During this time, I learn how to use the water testing kits, the Reverse Osmosis Purification Unit (ROPU), which consisted of two versions (i.e., 3k ROPU, and 600 ROPU). Also, I was allowed to interact with the drill sergeants in more relaxed setting. Although this was the case, UCMJ and military professionalism applied at all times. This taught me about differentiating between friends, family, and others that spoke to me. In fact, it allowed me to reflect on my methods of approaching people my age. For this reason, I believe I returned to Orlando, FL with the perspective that I was able to enter the United States Army as a full time soldier. In summary, I was able to enter Afghanistan in 2004 and leave the Regular Army in 2006. Afterward, I came into contact with a person that claimed they were 15. Although, I doubted that, he connected me with several of my colleagues, which I am able to say, proudly, that they have survived the test of time, a task only providence can make possible. Although I cut ties with the person I mention, I thank God that he connected me with one my intellectual equals, who lives in Canada at this time. During this time, I just joined Valencia Community College, now Valencia College. I joined the community college as a political science major. However, as my mind understood it then, as I was only new to the Christian Academic world, I hated political science due to a professor that made it unbearable. For this reason, I changed my major to English. I thought this was going to make my time easier. Instead, I witnessed paper assignment after paper assignments enter my hands. I had to read many books, poems, and other forms of writing. For this reason, I noticed my stress level increase. However, my mother, for she was declared by providence, to by my loving mother, told me to hold on to God. Thus, I did. Slowly, I moved further and further through my Associates of Arts in Valencia Community College. I graduated in the December 2008. Although I thought that this was the end of my academic career, providence saw fit to throw me a curb ball. That proverbial ball hit me hard. My mother commanded me to apply to the University of Central Florida. There, I was inducted into the College of Arts and Humanities. During this time, I was asked which track of the English Major I desired. Due to my experience with a substandard creative writing teacher, in

My Life as a Reader

Valencia Community College, I was dismayed at the Creative Writing Track. I didnt like to write manuals. However, I enjoyed reading. For this reason, I asked them to place me into the Literature Track. Thus, I signed up for the creative writing class, although I was nervous about it, among a couple others. Then they asked which minor I would like. I was interested in learning more about Jewish history, literature, and culture. Thus, I signed up for the Judaic Studies Minor. I committed myself to my studies. However, Dr. Kenneth Hanson, along with my friend in Canada, challenged me to learn the philosophy of history, its methods, and applications. This spurred me into a New Historical literary critic. Thus, I specialized in the literature and history of Christianity and Judaism. In fact, I found History of the Holocaust to be inspiring. Dr. Hanson made sure that it was a complex class. There were no clear answers. We were left to strive for answers. Could it be that he wanted us to feel what those in World War II (WWII) felt? Maybe this is the case. For this reason, I realized that academics are a complex endeavor that I was going to face for the rest of my life. In the Spring of 2011, I graduate from the University of Central Florida with my Baccalaurat Degree in English. It seemed like was finished and had nothing else to do. However, providence, yes the sting of providence, said I was not finished. My mother commanded me to look into law school. However, time was fleeting. I enjoyed writing and reading. However, I wanted to apply it as well. For this reason, I took the General Knowledge Test (GKT) portion of the Florida Teachers Certification Examinations (FTCE) and passed. However, I had to take the math portion of the GKT twice. When I passed this portion, I was admitted in to the Teachers Education Master Degree program (MA.T.). I thought this was going to be a program that would be easy. However, it has been extremely challenging for me. In fact, many times I have had to leave my house because I was having a meltdown. Although I have AS, which is a known fact, I have been able to succeed in entering the Golden Key International Honors Society (GKIHS) and the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS). Also, I have completed numerous observation hours. Now, I am reading to enter Florida Virtual School, a challenging and rigorous curriculum that is a mountain, a mountain I must climb as though I am a rock climber, in order to reach the top. However, I was brought to this mountain by providence. In all my adversity, I am here now. With Gods help, nothing is allowed to, or will stop me from reaching the top of the summit. I will see the rich verdure of the valley. I will know theyself, for the Potter knows me and is molding me as I write the remainder of this reflection. In fact, I am no longer afraid, for I am predestined by God, who knows all, molds all, and understands all, to do something in the near future. Although I do not understand it yet, there is a purpose behind me being a great reader, and soon a teacher, and later an attorney, who will be further trained at Seattle University. Although I will enter Seattle University, there is a humbling lesson I learned at the University of Central Florida. We need good teachers and attorneys. Thus, my quest to serve the betterment of children will never be over. In fact, Augustine sums up love through providence as, Thou lovest, without passion; art jealous, without anxiety; repentest, yet grievest not; art angry, yet serene; changest Thy works, Thy purpose unchanged; receivest again what Thou findest, yet didst never lose; never in need, yet rejoicing in gains; never covetous, yet exacting usury. Thou receivest over and above, that Thou mayest owe; and who hath aught that is not Thine? Thou payest debts, owing nothing; remittest debts, losing nothing. And what had I now said, my God, my life, my holy joy? or what saith any man when he speaks

My Life as a Reader of Thee? Yet woe to him that speaketh not, since mute are even the most eloquent. (Confessions I.IV)

Thus, I am now silent due to this reflection. Let it be so. Let me, as providence has declare, mediate on the life lessons I have learned this day. The number one lesson is that children need good teachers and attorneys. Even Jesus said, And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea (Matthew 18:5-6 NASB). In summary, we must teach children to be moral and productive. However, if we dont do that, and we allow them to be destructive, and become destructive adults, it would have been better if we were never born. For this reason, I desire to use my knowledge of reading, writing and literature to teach and teach to the best of my ability. As an attorney, I want to defend the right of students to learn in an environment free from a politicians political desires.