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"Rice bowl. Husband. Pimples. " - Personal Essay


Melodydk1205 1 / 2  
Dec 21, 2010   #1
Is this essay good enough to make me stand out?:

Rice bowl. Husband. Pimples.
What do those words have in common?
They are part of a famous Chinese saying, though 'warning' seems more accurate. This Chinese saying has challenged me to explore myself and my culture

"Finish every grain of rice or your future husband will have scars and pimples," my mom said in Cantonese.
"Really?" I blurted with an incredulous smirk.
"Fine, don't believe me. You'll see one day," she replied.
Logically, we all know that if children waste rice, that doesn't mean their future spouse will have bad skin. My mom told me this proverb so that I would appreciate every morsel of food that enters my mouth. I didn't know that back then. I naively assumed she truly believed the saying. As a result, I began to doubt every saying and Buddhist colloquialism my mother spoke. I feel a need to understand the facts behind customs and sayings. Why would people believe such incredible things? My ancestors created those Chinese principles and traditions to encourage kids to adhere to such morals and ethics. Through time, they were passed down from generation to generation. Many times, I have accidentally kicked a porcelain Buddha figure. I would then be told to bow down and apologize to the figure before misfortune came my way. That's kind of like the idiom "kick the bucket" (this bucket would be Buddha. Get it? Hah). I don't believe bad luck can come just like that. Interestingly, my attachment to my culture's superstitions and belief heightened my interest with science and fact.

I see my bowl of doubt with the piano. When I play the piano, I see why pianists play a certain style. I notice how they touch the white keys to express just the right timbre of each note and phrase and build up to the ultimate climax and crescendos to then slowly drift away with every diminuendo. They play to move their audience and transfer their love for that particular piece to the audience. I have a hypothesis about what would make the piece better and I have a result. I see why they play through their body gestures and facial expressions. I see how they play so well through the sound of each phrase, the tone of each note. Playing the piano isn't considered scientific and yet it is. The music is like a language, communicating to the audience through each phrase and color change. I practice in order to incite the audience. Of course, long hours of practice require immense discipline. My devotion to the piano has given me a strong sense of diligence and perseverance. I believe these traits are vital considering the field in medicine, where I must handle the long hours and detailed procedures.

At an early age, I was already thinking like a scientist. My life has been shaped by my family, and they have been shaped by their beliefs. When they believe in one thing, I have to question "why" and "how" that is so. As much as I could remember, the rice bowl saying became the spark that caused me to start questioning everything my mom said about the Chinese culture and its customs and traditions. However, I still value the sayings and the Buddhism and Chinese culture of my family. Most importantly, the family time I've spent shaped my perspective of the world and future. It led me to volunteer at my community hospital. It led me to improve at playing the piano. Even more, I've noticed how piano performance styles can help perfect musical works. The proof in enticing audiences is in the pianist's musical form and technique. Currently, I envision myself in the field of scientific research and experimenting in the future. All the questioning, the hypothesizing and finding evidence comes natural to me. The road to getting into medical school and then graduate may sound challenging; but I know I'll be okay because I am confident in my abilities and determination. So, world of science, get ready for my "bowl" of "RICE!"
Carban93 2 / 5  
Dec 22, 2010   #2
The essay loses steam after awhile. Great title and introduction, but it starts to drag.
Chanman 3 / 10  
Dec 22, 2010   #3
Wow... so its not just me, my parents told me the same thing haha :P

I think you are better off starting the second section with the part where you mention your "thinking like a scientist at a young age" that manages to transition much better into the piano thing. Even though your intro was unique with the whole rice thing, I think you are better off talking about something even further regarding science. Let me tell you, 50% of all Asians are going to talk about piano, so you either don't write about it, or write about it in such a unique way that you stand out from the rest. Right now, I don't see your second half of the essay standing out. Your intro is good, keep that.

Just my opinion, hope it helped.
whomp123 6 / 36  
Dec 22, 2010   #4
-Most importantly, the family time I've spent shaped my perspective of the world and future. It led me to volunteer at my community hospital. It led me to improve at playing the piano.

I don't understand how this occured. Or how it relates to your rice bowl theme. Maybe be a little clearer...and say why?
OP Melodydk1205 1 / 2  
Dec 23, 2010   #5
ok. is this essay better??

I remember years back I was sitting on my grandfather's plastic-covered couch listening to an amazing story. My own great great grandfather with his cool long braided pony tail came to work on those Calfornia railroads. He had to leave working on his failing farm to earn more money to support his family. Surprisingly in the end he survived those harsh conditions. My grandfather stressed on how difficult it was for people to travel by boat for months before even reaching land; and he reminded me that I should understand the hardships my parents went through, immigrating to America and making a meager living.

"Are you working your hardest? Are you making your parents proud?"he mumbled.
Of course, I told him what he wanted to hear.
I then asked myself: "What have I been doing? Complaining and reflecting on my unsuccessful performances?" So I've always tried to make my mom be proud of me, but until later did I realize that I had been disppointing my mom because I had always wanted to hurry up and finish performing in case I make any mistakes. Thus, my worry became those wrong notes banging, hitting me with frustration, as I rushed impatiently to finish playing. Every time I played the piano in front of an audience, I wondered how my mom would react afterwards. I became tired of obsessing about perfect performances and listening to my loud heart palpitate every time before I perform. I didn't want my mom's hard earned money spent on piano to go wasted.

A few months later, during a recital, I sat on the black wooden bench, musing on how to touch the white keys to express just the right timbre of each note and phrase and build up to the ultimate climax and crescendos to then slowly drift away with every diminuendo. I played this "love poem" musical work by Liszt like how I had been playing it at home. In my head, I rewinded my middle school love story. I thought of the boy, singing those phrases and chords. Then everything around me seemed to vanish. It was just me and eighty-eight yin and yang keys. Every note seemed to flow out of my hand so naturally in such musical flux. The best thing was that every phrase became my own little puzzle pieces to my love story, the theme of the liebestraume.

I successfully played the piece through without mistakes! I had wondered how I did it. I believed that I wanted to play the love poem. I wanted others to feel exactly what I was feeling and think what I was thinking so that they too could rewind back to their own love stories. I decided to not focus on playing for my mom. The best performances do not from long hours of meticulous practicing thinking about how proud my mom will be in the end. They come from the heart singing those musical surprises and transferring those warm feelings to the audience.

I now know that every choice I make, every goal I reach for, and every road I embark on will not be solely influenced by making my family proud. Thanks to past familial pressures, I have learned to enjoy the process, the journey to reaching goals. I will continue to try to make them proud and show how much I appreciate them. And I finally found out just "how": make the journey my own.
gotchr15t 4 / 4  
Dec 23, 2010   #6
hahha, I like this essay. I could really hear your personality in it, if that makes sense? You did a good job of tying everything together


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