I daydream a lot. I go into another world, created in my own mind, and settle down there. I have used this as a healthy way to disconnect. It has helped me throughout life, as I got older and used daydreaming as an effective tool for creative expression. During the pandemic, I used it as a way to cope, and a way to keep myself engaged, during a chaotic and unpredictable time. I use it now as a place to express myself, a calming environment outside of the world I live in where I can think for my own enjoyment. I find myself coming up with different worlds and people, different characters and stories. Sometimes I make the story fit a realistic perspective, like the character in my head could be someone I meet and would talk to. Other times, I enjoy coming up with absurd, alternate realities and worlds, and just letting my imagination run free. Even if my imagination is not looking where it’s going. It’s not like I don’t get stuck, like I don’t get in my own head and unravel my own ideas, because that does happen sometimes. However, I use daydreaming to break that toxic cycle of rumination and monologuing. I venture into my mind and use it as a method to explore other people’s perspectives. The more I practice being free with my imagination, the more focused and detailed it gets, the more fun it is to play around with. It’s almost like a ball of clay that I shape over and over again. Although, sometimes instead of baking it, I just keep molding, perfecting without worrying about perfection. I don’t think it can be a problem to be in your own world, sometimes that world can help you figure out things in this one. Sometimes distancing yourself from reality, in a balanced way, can help you connect with it better.
I have decided to take the blog in a different direction and I’m exploring an essay format. This is the first essay I have done for the blog, and I would love everyone’s feedback on it. I have written essays before, but I feel especially passionate about this one.
When I started running, it was just because my brother did it. I’ve always looked up to him, and tried to follow in his footsteps. The first day of practice, all the middle school kids ran around on the grassy field in a circle, each of our tiny little scraggly breaths in sync. I was in the back of the pack that day, clearly new to this whole running thing. The next time we had practice, I drove myself to the front. I pushed forward, persevered and in that moment I actually fell in love with running.
By the time I got to high school I was focusing on how running was important for me. I was trying to find out it’s purpose in my life. I knew I didn’t run to stay in shape, I did dance as well and that was enough to stay fit. But I didn’t dance just to stay fit . Dance was another important part of my life, it has a place in my heart, and it is something I have loved and will always love. I had to find a place for running in my heart, if I wanted to keep doing it. I also knew I didn’t run to lose weight, I was happy with my body. Dancing had given me a connection to my mind and body that I didn’t have before, and running only expanded on that. I could feel myself punching to the limit, testing my strength in new ways, and it gave me a balanced sense of self.
The reason I loved running hit me after practice one day. My mom came to pick me up, and asked me how my day went. I casually said it was a great day, but it hadn’t been. I had a rough day, and for some reason I was still happy when my mom came to pick me up. This truly perplexed me. I was giddy and relaxed, but why? Then it hit me, I was just at cross country practice. I had run off all the bad feelings of the day, and the adrenaline replaced those feelings with joyfulness, behind my back! I had finally found my reason to run, it made me happy. Some people would go crazy if they were told to run a 5k, but I get excited! I welcome the pain and exhaustion, because I enjoy the exhilaration that comes with it. When I go out on the run, there’s this point, where it doesn’t feel like I’m running anymore, it feels more like I’m floating, like my body is practically running without me, and I’m just along for the ride. Everything gets painted in elegance, and the world around me is a literal blur of color and light. But here’s the best part, that feeling doesn’t go away when I’ve finished with the run, it stays there for a while. If I run in the morning, the whole day ahead of me is sweeter and easier, if I run at night, the day behind me is wistful and lighter. Either way, when I run my life is brighter, I feel better even if it was actually a really bad day and I’ll forget it ever was. I hope to find peace in a challenging trail run, or to go out on a long road run angry, and come back calm. I want to keep running in my life now that I have found its purpose and meaning for me, and I don’t ever want to stop.
I’m sorry for the late post, things have been crazy lately, but I’m back with a finalized review. I just finished Concrete Rose, and I truly think Angie Thomas outdid herself with this masterpiece. It was so incredible not only to find Mavericks backstory, but to also find out the life behind everyone else, the stories even Starr wasn’t able to tell. Maverick doesn’t make the best choices in his life, he is constantly making mistakes. What’s really heart-breaking is that he constantly tries to make up for his mistakes, even while he’s making new ones. The torturous game of catch-up is hard to read, but that’s the kind of realism I look for in a good book, one that doesn’t just make you feel, but makes you feel like you’re in the story. Angie Thomas has a way of taking universal life experiences and using them to drive the plot. I think the most compelling aspect of the story is Maverick’s relationship with his father, and his own idea of what it means to be a man. By the time we get to know Maverick in The Hate U Give, he is a grown man with a good sense of himself, but in this story, we get to see him without anything, just a kid who needs help. It’s a compelling journey, and a one worthy of high praise. I only hope for even more from Angie Thomas.
I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, things have been pretty hectic lately. I’ve been steadily reading Concrete Rose, and the story’s really developing. Maverick is getting swept up in life’s events, and everything is taking him by surprise. Angie Thomas really captures the chaos of teen parenting and the duality of having to deal with being a parent and going through a lot of growing up yourself. It’s strange going back in time and seeing what makes Maverick the man he is by the time Starr’s born in the other book, but you can also see who he’s going to be and what lies ahead of him that is going to change him into a father with a successful business and a stable life. A truly hidden gem of this book is Maverick’s mother, and getting to see that character in full in Concrete Rose. I haven’t finished the book yet, but I’m excited to get there.
A couple of weeks ago I started the Concrete Rose By: Angie Thomas. I love this book so far, and Thomas does a really nice job of bringing you back through time. Sometimes when I read a book set in the past, or watch a movie, if it’s not handled well, it takes me out of the story. Thomas also creatively goes back in time through a character. When we get introduced to Maverick in The Hate U Give, we see him as a grown man, one who’s been to prison, gotten out of a gang, and raised a family. We also see a man who’s running a successful business and on the brink of pivotal changes in his life. He’s deciding whether or not to move his family out of their tradtional neighborhood and into a more up-scale place. We finally get to see how much Garden Heights means to him and the distinct life choices he made to get to where he is in The Hate U Give. This young Maverick gives new dimension to the character, one that’s mirrored in Starr and Seven. You can really see the influence he has on them, and the influence his mom has on him. The generational journey is inspiring. I have more to read, so I’ll have another post up soon.
Lately I have been writing fiction pieces, but I just got a new book and I’m excited to review it. I have read two of Angie Thomas’ books so far, On the Come Up and The Hate U Give. I loved each of them, and now I get a chance to read another one, Concrete Rose. The book is set 17 years before The Hate U Give, and is from the perspective of Starr’s dad Maverick. I want to know how Angie Thomas gives this male character a voice and how she goes back in time to connect the stories of related characters in her other books. I’m also excited to be transported back into Garden Height’s and see it from a different perspective. It’s going to be an interesting journey and I can’t wait to take it.
My Aunt Shannon is my rock, she’s the closest thing to a mother I’ve ever had, but we’ve had our ups and downs. I got lucky with Bob, my late husband was a sweet guy. Shannon however didn’t get so lucky with Dave, her ex husband. I figured out quickly the reason Shannon said she couldn’t pay my college tuition was because Dave manipulated her. Dave came off nice at first, but underneath he wasn’t. I never got to know him first hand, because as soon as he married Shannon he drove us apart. He made it seem like Shannon’s decision, but I knew Dave was pulling the strings. They’re divorced now, and I don’t bring this up to Shannon because when I do she gets upset and removed. She doesn’t like talking about that time in her life. Dave wasn’t obviously abusive or anything, but he crossed a line my senior year. The week before my graduation my supportive, kind, sweet Aunt Shannon told me she wouldn’t cover my college expenses. I’ve never been so naive I couldn’t see that was him talking, not her. I reconnected with her after the divorce, and we worked hard to heal our relationship.
I still can’t believe I used to live like that. I would get at most 3 hours of sleep a night, go to my classes all day, somehow get in work, and also take care of a 3 year old Chelsea. Just thinking about it gets me stressed out, I mean I am not the kind of person who puts herself in crazy situations like that. Yet, there I was, a 17 year old girl, taking care of my meth head sister’s baby, starting my first year of college, and working shifts at the school cafeteria. I never really had those close friends from college, like that dumb posse group clique thing, with the inside jokes, and the obvious tension from drama unresolved. I never really felt like I needed that type of group though, because Chelsea was my college friend. I can’t believe that I didn’t make that sweet little connection until 40 years after I graduated college.
This semester I took a class at Kutztown University, with Dr. Patricia Kelleher on Women in History. It was interesting to learn how women have lived throughout history, especially because the perspective and experiences of women hasn’t been the focus of my other history courses. This course also influenced some of my writing, so I could understand where my female characters were coming from, and where they were going, and helped develop their voices. I loved learning about the feminist movement, the suffragette movement, how women have fought over time for equality, and are in some ways still fighting today. When I started the blog I was trying to understand the stories of women in history, and related social and political justice issues. Thanks in part to Dr. Kelleher and the class, I now know so much more.
This post is about connecting the original ideas that I based my blog on, history and social justice issues from the perspective of a young woman, and the current direction of the blog. Recently I have posted my fiction pieces about various characters and their worlds. These characters are all female, and they struggle with sexist and misogynistic barriers in modern day society. For example, the young woman at the car dealership has to work hard to be taken seriously, and is often worried about that. She is concerned about not getting respect at her job, because of how young she is, her limited experience, and not being taken seriously especially by her male boss. She puts up a front of being cynical and tough and tries to appear more mature, thinking these traits and this image will make people take her seriously. She puts up this front to counteract the stereotype of the naive young girl, dismissed by her peers, family, and especially in the workplace. When I started the blog, back in 2017, I wrote about women in history dealing with issues of political and social injustice and inequality. Then I moved on to writing reviews for books, focused mainly on young women dealing with some of these same issues. Now I am using creative writing to develop my own female characters, their voices, and how they face injustice and inequality in a modern context. I’ve learned a lot with this journey, and I’m excited to see where it goes.