A Love Letter to Maycomb

“Next morning I awoke, looked out the window and nearly died of fright. My screams brought Atticus from his bathroom half-shaven.

‘The world’s endin’, Atticus! Please do something–!’ I dragged him to the window and pointed.

‘No it’s not,’ he said. ‘It’s snowing.'”

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Mockingbird

When I was a freshman in high school, I was scouring the shelves of the school library for something new to devour. I loved books ever since I could remember and I missed reading for fun. I ran my finger down spine after spine until it landed on one. To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee. Huh.

I knew of the book. I’d heard mixed reviews: It was boring. It was pretty good. It was a classic. I picked it up and thought ‘what’s the harm?’

Three days later I closed the back cover and smiled.

We were at my grandpa’s convalescent home and sitting with him while he got his lunch. I set the book down on the table and my mom looked at me with a small smile.

“That didn’t take long,” she said affectionately, no doubt remembering the few nights my light didn’t go out until two am. I immediately launched into a summary of the book before vowing to read it again.

I have. Six times now.

Most of them were school assignments. Analyzing the use of racism and gender roles and Atticus Finch’s role in American literature. A few times they were passing time reads, brought on by no homework and a pause in my demanding theater schedule. Just last Thursday, I pinned up the article announcing an adaptation making it’s way to the 2017-2018 Broadway season before diving into Maycomb of 1933-35 once again. I’ve watched the movie twice in the last week and swooned over Gregory Peck’s Oscar-winning portrayal of Atticus Finch. Needless to say, I adore the book.

And just this morning, I heard the news that Harper Lee had passed at the age of 89. I wasn’t sobbing, fall-on-the-floor upset. But my heart mourns for the woman who brought me the book that has a special place in my heart. Harper Lee gave me a girl like me to look upon and find solace in.

Scout and I share numerous similarities. We grew up knowing how to read since before we could remember. I remember getting angry with my friend in kindergarten when she made up the words to a story we were reading that I knew wasn’t what was printed on the page. We both had older siblings that, although close to, began to drift away from us. We suffered the loss of those close to us: Scout’s mother and my grandpa when I was 16. I regard my father as very Atticus-esque. Despite loving my sister and I very much, he was a man that showed it by “courteous detachment” and expected us to conduct ourselves with maturity and politeness at all times. He is a man that showed his love in little and quiet ways, much like Atticus’ quiet mannerisms that Jem and Scout knew meant he adored them.

The point of this long and sentimental post is that I am forever grateful to Miss Harper Lee for giving me the characters of Maycomb, Alabama. For the length of 281 pages, I learned to step into someone else’s shoes and see life through their eyes.

Thank you Miss Lee.

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A Farewell Letter

How different it is from when we began.

When I signed up for this blog, I was unsure of what college was going to be like. I was my usual babbling self, thinking of the poetic nature of keeping a blog through college and thinking it was going to be like I was in a movie.

It’s been three months and I’m a little less poetic. College has made me realize things about myself and other people and I feel a bit more wiser than I did going into this new world.

I’ve made new friends and lost contact with old ones. I’ve learned I am not a morning person and 2am is a great bedtime for me. I gained a new appreciation for my mom’s cooking and that road trips at 12:30 am are the best time to learn new things about myself and a friend.

School is hard. Currently I feel like I’m going through a crisis with all the things that need to be done before the semester. Finals looming is like a nightmare and I can’t wait to be home with my family for the holidays without the stress of college on my mind for three weeks.

However, I am grateful for all the experiences that I’ve been able to document on this blog. I hope that I’ll be able to keep this blog as my own type of diary through the rest of the year. I suck at keeping written accounts of my life and I find myself looking back over the posts to see what happened that week. This is more fun because I knew I was basically talking to all the people in my writing class. I loved talking to people, even if they were behind a computer screen.

And now, I bid a (slightly dramatic) farewell to my required blog posts. I don’t know exactly the next time I’ll be posting, but fear not my fellow Bruins. I’ll be back.

All my love and blessings,
Brooke

The Self-Publishing World

In class, we’ve talked a lot about self publishing, a recent phenomenon that many authors and traditional book publishers lamented was the end of an era. But that’s only what we’ve heard about self-publishing. No one’s ever explained what to do or how to actually self-publish.

This video uses a great explanation of how Grace Buchele Mineta published her three comic books herself with the help of various websites. She shows her audience that it’s actually a simple process and anyone with a manuscript and hopes to be an author can do it. The most complicated aspect of the process is the task of obtaining an ISBN number and barcode.  

The video makes someone’s dreams of being a writer attainable. It shows the viewers of the  video that all it takes is a few clicks of the mouse and some funds to get their books published. Self publishing isn’t as complicated as everyone wants to make of it and can really get someone’s work out there.

I like how there isn’t a lot of outside help and meddling in the self publishing process when it comes to editing and getting the book out. When I was writing my market analysis, I was shocked by how much goes into bringing a book to the shelves. The self publishing process seemed a bit more simple and gave the author more control over their choices. It also takes the numerous brains working to make the book great out of the equation. There are merits to traditional publishing and there are merits to self-publishing. I think it depends on what your preference is: having total control over your  or letting others have a hand in what you’ve worked on. For me, I believe the self-publishing route would be my best bet because I love having control, but I still need some sort of guide when it comes to editing.

 

Telling a Different Story

When practical E-readers first came out, it seemed like the apocalypse was coming for books and publishing.

Now that people could purchase books on a little tiny tablet-like thing, what would happen to actual, physical books? Would they slowly but surely become as extinct as the dinosaurs or would they struggle on, like the disco days?

In fact, the e-readers did not kill the classic book at all. People still need their physical copies if only for collector’s items that can be signed my authors and so forth. Or they could be the people who don’t believe in the e-reader and believe only in reading the physical copy of the book.

I personally have no strong feelings either way. I begged my parents for a Nook when I was younger because I was the child that lugged five or six books around when we went on vacations. Instead of continuing the tradition and possibly subject me to early onset of hunchback, my parents bought me the first generation Nook. That Christmas morning saw a full minute of squealing and thanking profusely. Birthdays and holidays consequently meant gift cards upon gift cards to Barnes and Noble being gifted. I began to devour books with a fervor again. The fact that if I got bored with one book I could easily choose between twenty more was so much easier than being stuck with lugging the same amount in a bag that looked dangerously close to ripping.

However, there are still books that truly show how beloved they are. My Little Women book is worn and a bit water logged from the night I accidentally dropped it in my bathtub. My copy of Twilight barely has a cover on it. The pages of our Harry Potter series are dog-eared and turn easily due to the fact that they have been read so many times. These books don’t just tell a story written in their pages: they show one that was written by my family and I. How we made it through life with those books.

No e-reader will ever be able to tell those kinds of stories.

The Road Ahead

It’s funny how quickly life can change.

Tuesday night was a normal one for me. Nate and I finished cleaning up after rehearsal and decided to make a Safeway run. Being Stage Manager and ASM meant long nights in Wood-Mar and snacks were needed to keep us going. In Safeway I was up to my usual antics: parading down the aisles with boxes of Capri-Suns and Cheese-It’s stacked so high in my arms you could only see from my eyes up. Nate and I debated the healthiness of Hot Pockets and he laughed as little 5’2 me struggled to keep my treasures from spilling out of my hands.

Then, as Nate was paying for his food, I got the news. My old voice teacher’s mother had passed away. She had been in the hospital since Saturday when she had been found unconscious. They’d been testing for brain activity all day and Angela had finally announced that Sandy was gone. I was crushed. Sandy was like family to me. She’d opened her home to me for six years as I took lessons with Angela and I thought of her like a surrogate Grandmother.

I couldn’t process what was happening. I remember Nate’s arm across my shoulder as he led me back to his car and his offering to buy me a milkshake before taking me home to Hobson. It was a sweet gesture, but I knew that I didn’t want to be at Hobson. I needed to keep myself distracted. I asked him to go somewhere. So we started to drive.

It was dark, and winding roads took us far outside Newberg. He handed me the auxiliary cord and told me to play anything. The first song was a Pentatonix cover. We both began singing along and soon enough, the tears I had been struggling to keep back were gone. I was laughing and singing and there was joy in my heart.

I felt bad, being so happy after Sandy had just passed away and her family was grieving. But I realized later that Sandy wouldn’t have wanted me to be sitting in my dorm room, sinking into a fit of depression. She would have wanted me to be doing exactly what I was doing: hanging out with my friend and having fun. Living my life without the weight of what was happening on my shoulders for just one night.

It reminded me of a movie: two friends driving anywhere with tunes bumpin’ and nothing but endless road stretched out in front of them. I would have moments of grief later, but I always go back to the memory of sitting in Nate’s car and realize that I couldn’t let death and sorrow take away what living was like.

Ink Stained Paper

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There’s a journal that sits in a stack of books in my room back home. At first glance, there is nothing special about that journal. It’s white with multi-colored words of “love” and “peace” with peace signs all over it.

It’s when you pick it up that you realize that this is one special journal. The cover is rough and the protective covering is beginning to bubble. The spine is coming undone and ripping in places. Opening it up, one will see the pages slightly curling and the ink from multiple blue and black pens slightly smudged. The first page is separated from the spine and hanging by the webbing that binds the rest of the spine. The stories in it date back from June 2010 and the last page is dated August 12, 2013. They are a mixture of everything, bits and pieces of my life contained in one central place. It tells a story itself.

You can’t get that with a computer. Sure you can make a folder on a flash drive and keep all your stories there. But I find myself reading back on the old stories in my journal. You can’t do that on a computer unless you open them one by one. Plus, something in a journal can never really be erased unless written with pencil. That way you can see where you began and where the story led you next. On a computer, it’s easy to delete what you don’t like and it’s gone forever.

There are merits to using a computer. Easy to send out to others for opinions. I myself sometimes write on the computer due to my posting on the FanFiction.net website I’m a member of. But the stories that are more special to me are the ones I can keep to myself in my little journal.

A Love for My Friends

What I’ve discovered here is that I am loved.

I’m not saying that I wasn’t loved when I was at home. I have a wonderful and supportive family who encourage me to follow my dreams and do what I love. I mean, why else would they let me go to a private school to get a degree for theater?

I’m mostly talking about the love that I have for my friends and what they have for me. The appreciation and encouragement I feel everyday from people who, a year ago, I wouldn’t have known from Adam.

First, there’s my floor-mates. My wonderful Hob 1 Homies/Hobbits (our official title is still being discussed). Our late night Taco Bell/McDonalds/Fred Meyer runs in Lillian’s car with the newest Justin Bieber song blasting out of our windows, staying up until 2am because we just keep telling stories, etc. The most important of these elements is how if one of us is having a crappy day: someone always has their door open and their ears ready to listen. A shut door on Hob 1 usually signals sleep or class. Other than that, we are always a unit. Sarah and Lillian are wonderful and talented artists, Olivia and I are the theater nuts, Katherine the brilliant and composed English major, and Christina and KariAnna are the wacky, fun social work majors. Each of us come from a different place but share the same love and appreciation for each other.

Now I move onto the crazy bunch that is the GFU Theater Department. I came into this program unsure of how I would find my place among so many talented individuals. It took a while to realize that it wasn’t necessarily talent level that separated us, but experience and strength. The first people I met were my friends Katie and Nate. They made it a point to make me feel included from the very beginning: talking me through some of the newer terminology and traditions that occur, going out for numerous coffee and food trips, driving me back to my dorm when I wasn’t comfortable walking. I feel like the little sister who everyone loves and wants to protect. They have been my source of fun and comfort in such a big transition and I couldn’t have asked for better friends. And everyone from the department has made me feel like I truly belong with them. In an early Tartuffe rehearsal, I was nervous about my large monologue that closes the show. Audrey, a sophomore, took me aside and assured me that everyone was rooting for me to succeed and would encourage me because they had so much faith in me. And our very own Tartuffe Zach would stand backstage with me to give me a thumbs up and hug every time I aced the monologue. As the run went on, Michaela and Sarah (a junior and sophomore respectively) both made points to tell me how wonderful and sweet I was and that they loved performing with me. And our stage manager Chloe and I would have what we called “Booth Confessionals”: going up to the sound booth and fangirling over musicals and boys we were interested in.

Every moment meant so much to me because I felt so loved every time. I felt like I finally belonged somewhere with these people. I can’t wait to make more memories as I continue my journey here at Fox.