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Brown "advice" essay - Pickle Time


gumdrop41 6 / 30  
Dec 28, 2009   #1
Hey everyone

So this is my essay for Brown's prompt "What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given, and why?"

The second half is REALLY iffy and off-the-top-of-my-head because it's so late, but I really just wanted to get this essay onto essayforum before I went to bed :) so thanks so much!! Also it's a bit long

And some questions I have
-Is the first sentence a fragment? (I have poor grammar)
-Is it too casual? I know that colleges tell you to write in your style and don't write it the way you think colleges want to hear, but I'm not sure if I went over the top

-do I not convey the "advice" aspect enough?
-The bottom 2/3 will definitely change, but for now, is it too preachy? I'm having a hard time writing what I think

Edits and criticisms are greatly appreciated!

Every once in a while, I become the perfect pessimist. I turn into the stereotypical moody teenager, that creature lurking in dark corners, the hunchback retreating into the solidarity of his bell tower. My face, my very posture and the slumped way I walk says "don't make me angry. You won't like me when I'm angry." And so when that time comes, when blue skies seem gray and the cup is not only half empty, it's leaking from a gosh darn crack - that's when it's pickle time.

I began my pickle tradition last year after reading my favorite novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. When Frances Nolan, a young child living in poverty, grows weary and tired of her plain diet, she buys a pickle to chew on. After a day of nibbling and gnawing on the sour thing, she finds that her simple meals of stale bread and potatoes taste delicious once again.

I laughed when I first read that scene, dismissing it as child's play, and quickly forgot it as I continued on through the novel.

However, not long after, I found myself caught in that period of restlessness that I'm sure no one is a stranger to - when the world seems suffocating and daily routines go from monotonous to torturous. When a parent sets too high of expectations, when one feels trapped in their own home and all I could do as a mere teenager was lie on my bed and fume. And after I was finished fuming, I contemplated. That's when I surprisingly found myself thinking, I'm having a pickle day.

Before I knew it, I was sitting at a local coffee shop near my house, and in front of me was half a slice of pickle. It came with the sandwich I ordered, though this time I didn't immediately throw it away - I stared. For sixteen years, I've winced at the sight of them - the murky green colors, the sour smell of brine that drips through your fingers. I felt silly, taking advice from a child in a book. Nevertheless, I picked it up and took a bite, and it tasted as horrid as I feared, but for some reason I'm not sure of, I stayed and chewed slowly.

Because of course, this essay is not just about eating pickles - it's about what the pickle symbolizes. Everyone has those moments when life seems unfair. There's always someone with more money, more luxuries, better grades, fairer parents, happier days. For me at that time, it helps to have a pickle, something sour and unappealing to make remind me of how I must approach the world.

Of course, the slow process of eating is important, forcing me to take the time to simply sit and think. And when I do stop to contemplate, to lay out all the complexities in my life neatly and stop focusing on the little things, I think of my family. They push me because they have that pure, unfathomable trust in me called love. And how can I complain when I've never been hungry a day in my life, when I don't have to work throughout high school. I feel ashamed that I've been so ungrateful to my parents when in only a few months, I'm leaving them. Sometimes, it's the simplest statements that are the clearest. The sweetness of admitting that I have a good life against the sourness of the pickle.

When my mood begins to darken again, I know it's time to take an hour off to go the café.
Pickle day is indeed something to look forward to.
hot1590 - / 1  
Dec 28, 2009   #2
Do you really have to mention that your parents set a high expectation on you? Because I just know that is not a good thing to mention in a college essay, and it sounds as if you have been driven by your parents, like this:

"My parents push me too hard --> I feel bad --> I have a pickle time --> I feel better --> My parents push me too hard again..."

Not a good thing...

So I guess you could give more details on what makes you feel bad, like problems with friends..

Correct me if it's just me feeling this way.
Mustafa1991 8 / 373 4  
Dec 28, 2009   #3
What is the best advice you've been given? You never do say.

Let's grant for a second that it is advice. What kind of advice is it? Seemingly, some nonsense about keeping things in perspective, when you get past the pickle diversion. The prompt has not been satisfied, your parents are allegedly overbearing, and your story is unoriginal.
joosunggrace 7 / 18  
Dec 28, 2009   #4
it's about what the pickle symbolizes

it's redundant to say this.. Take this part out..

And I do agree with mustafa1991 about not being able to see which advice you're talking about (even though he/she could have been a bit nicer... ). I understand where you're going with it.. you just need like a sentence or two actually saying that you sometimes need a taste of something bad to truly enjoy and appreciate what you have now.

hope this helped!

good luck!


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