I write a piece at least once every week. I got into it when I read a poem my sister, Nancy, wrote when I was 13 years old. A lot of my poetry revolves around pride, war and being a better person. Here's one of my favorites, because I try to live by it every day.

By Talal Elmasry

There he is again, An obstacle still. The last of all men to be moved. He will…
His stance stays solid, So is my resolve. Stationed I would call it to advance, evolve.
Only he remains between me and dreams. The blood in my veins wild for the world he screens.
He fooled my vision, wrapped me in shackles. Left in a prison with his taxing cackles.
What he doesn’t know. these chains will break, and I won’t move slow with my goals at stake.
I can taste his pain. My final victim… That is my domain. That is my kingdom.
Every time he strolls by I give him a gaze. This may imply why he hasn’t laughed in days.
I have no doubt I’ll soon be free. There’s one way out, and he has the key.
There I am again, the obstacle. See, the last of all men to be moved…is me…

Video games

Ever since I bought an Xbox 360 for my birthday, it's been so much harder to focus on school. They're just too fun these days. I'm an avid Street Fighter fan. I bought Street Fighter 4 on the day it came out, Feb. 18, and I've been playing ti religiously ever since. I've always been into fighting games more than anything, but I also play first-person shooters like Call of Duty and I play all kinds of sports games, especially Madden 2009.

My girlfriend, Kate, always talk about the significance of video games. I always try to make the point that guys look at video games as an extension of themselves and a way to keep their brain sharp. She thinks that's nonsense.

Playing basketball

I can't even begin to explain how helpful basketball has been in my life. I started playing basketball when I was a 6-year-old in kindergarten. My brother, Tarik, was the first to put a basketball in my hands and we had a hoop in our front yard. I played every day after I got out of Eastside High School, usually with my neighbors and kids that lived on my street. Playing hoops really helped me think about my problems and it helped me overcome a lot of stressful times. I had aspirations of being a professional basketball player, especially when I played for Eastside in my freshman and sophomore years, but I needed surgery after I severely broke my ankle in summer practices before my junior year and that allowed writing to be my main focus.

I still play basketball frequently these days. I'll never put it down. A really meaningful moment in my life was when a guy recognized me at Wal-Mart one time. He said, "Aren't you the kid that's always out there playing day and night?" That made me realize that people recognize love and dedication, and as long as I work hard I don't have to go out of my way to show or prove to people that I have love and dedication. Those things will show themselves.