I visited the annual conference at the Hannah Arendt center this year, and it was amazing. I realized how much has changed since three years ago when I first went. I have learned to ask more of myself and others, and I think this conference had a stronger sense of urgency and purpose. I didn’t see familiar faces, but I was pleased to meet many new ones. I knew some of what to expect, but also knew not to rely on expectations. The speakers were engaging, and I learned so much about something I didn’t even know was a concept until weeks before I went. The theme of the conference was “Revitalizing Democracy: Focusing on Sortition, Citizen Power, and Spaces of Freedom”. I felt ahead of the conference that this was an excellent topic, due to its boldness, history, and implementation today. The concept of sortition in current politics is seen as radical, but it’s been around since ancient Greece. Sortition refers to a randomized system of government. Instead of tedious campaigns and elections, people are chosen for the government through random sampling. It’s like how jury’s are picked in the U.S., except on a much larger scale. In Ireland, sortition was used in practice with the Irish government. The Irish Citizen’s assembly made proposals on policies, and the Irish government responded. The beauty of it was that real Irish citizens were able to speak up and be heard, and government officials listened. I got to hear from people that worked directly with this successful experiment, as well as people right here in America that are going to try such programs. It was amazing to be at the forefront of change, discussing this topic and it’s real applications. I look forward to attending next years conference, and appreciating all the people and ideas it offers.
I like questions, I like the curiosity of people. The audacity to push forward in a dangerous world and search out newness. We would live in such a small world if we weren’t always looking at it from different angle. I’m not a scientist but my favorite part of science is not the answers, it’s the continuous journey to find the answers and then set up new questions.
A true scientist won’t stop after they find the solution, they’ll go looking for the next question , they’ll hunt down the next intellectual struggle. A good artist, a true artist, can barely stop painting, can hardly put down the brush, even if the canvas is packed. They push for a depth they can’t reach, imagine a creation too perfect to achieve, and nearly get there, a masterpiece in any form. A real mathematician can’t just solve the simple problems, they have to keep working until nothing works anymore, and then still advance the equation. The beauty of humanity is the ability to strive towards perfection, despite perfection being an impossible standard. I see humanity as a person, a free-thinking individual with dreams and goals, an ambitious character to say the least. Humanity isn’t perfect, nothing is. Humanity is forever growing and changing, reaching towards an unattainable perfection.
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.