Where You From? Pt 1

Where You From? Pt 1

The beginnings of a creative non-fiction essay on growing up in Baltimore
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When people ask me where I’m from, I usually say Northeast Baltimore. That is when the person asking is from either Baltimore or the surrounding towns. If they are not a native Baltimorean, I’d just say, “I’m from Baltimore.” I don’t really know why I do that. Maybe I do it because deep down I know that being from Northeast Baltimore means something socially different than being from West Baltimore, or South Baltimore. It means that someone, from Baltimore, can assume that I went to racially diverse schools, and lived in a racially and socioeconomically diverse neighborhood. It means that my parents and grandparents could possibly be from somewhere other than Virginia or the Carolinas. After I tell them where I am from, they typically reply with, “Oh, you don’t sound like you from Baltimore.”

I was born in the late 80s, and from then through the late 90s, my neighborhood and the neighborhoods within a fifteen-mile radius had a fair amount of black families. Actually, the area was probably mostly white until the mid-90s or so, when the middle-class whites began moving out to Baltimore and Harford counties. In 2002, when we finally moved out to Perry Hall, a town in Baltimore County, our old neighborhood was about ninety percent black.

My parents integrated the street I grew up on. When they moved in in 1976, there were no other black residents on that street. Most of the people there had moved in in the late 40s and 50s when Baltimore had a housing boom after the Second World War. They were white people who probably left the inner city to flee neighborhoods growing progressively black. I wonder what they thought when they saw my mom and dad, two thin black people with thick afros, and Caribbean accents moving into the quaint, but at the time, really nice home on Eurith Avenue. Were they surprised, alarmed, angry, frightened? My mom once told me she could almost feel the stares from windows as she’d walk home every evening after work from the bus stop located at the corner of Hazelwood and Cedonia Avenue. Why were they staring? Did they peer from their windows in wonder, thinking, “How did she afford to move out here?” My parents were in their mid-20s when they purchased the home. But they probably looked a little younger. They weren’t harassed or treated poorly by their neighbors. When my dad first opened his auto repair shop on Bel Air Road, he placed flyers on the windshields of the neighbors’ cars along the street. I wonder if anyone took their car to his shop.

Cover Image Credit: Karin Yearwood

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College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.
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The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:


“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:

“FISH STICK! I NAMED HIM FISH STICK BECAUSE HE'S A FISH STICK, OF COURSE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 59)

When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:


"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

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Must-See Movies For Your Summer

Check out these movies in theaters soon!

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I can't wait till these movies come out. Going to the movies during summer is a great escape from the heat, giving you a few hours in the air conditioning while enjoying a big tub of popcorn.

Here are a few movies to check out this summer when you want to cool down for a little while:

1. "The Lion King"

2. "Aladdin"

3. "The Hustle"

4. "Men in Black: International"

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