Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

Like almost every other book I read, I watched this movie first. I thought that the movie was good, the actors played their roles really well, and the story was interesting. However, I felt that there was probably way more to this story than what they were portraying. Boy, was I right.

My aunt and I were talking about the movie and how we both wanted to read the book. She actually surprised me by sending a copy to me in the mail (special shout-out to Aunt Angie!).

***MAJOR MOVIE AND BOOK SPOILERS AHEAD***

I was surprised when I started reading that the book wasn’t set up like the movie. It didn’t start in the present with a major conflict that the main character was dealing with, it just started from the beginning of J.D.’s life.

It threw me off at first, but I liked it way better. Starting from the beginning really allowed us to see everything through J.D.’s eyes. We got all the background on his family in Kentucky, his Mamaw and Papaw’s move to Ohio and everything that led up to his childhood. It really helped to set the scene and give the reader the sense of hope for a better future by getting out of Kentucky.

If you’ve read the book or seen the movie, you know that his grandparents getting out of Kentucky wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. They never lost their “hillbilly” side and had very strong and aggressive personalities. It made his mothers life very difficult, which in turn made J.D.’s life difficult.

This sort of rut that they were stuck in is something that I think needs to be talked about more. I don’t think people realize it, but when you grow up in circumstances where you’re told this is all you’ll ever amount to and this is what you should expect from life, it’s really hard to get out of that. J.D.’s mom was smart and did well in school, but as he mentions ended up pregnant and divorced before she was even out of her teens. She was just a product of her environment and once she was caught up in it, she didn’t find her way out.

J.D. was on that path as well because he was also stuck in that environment. It wasn’t until he took control of his life and moved in permanently with his Mamaw that his life started to change for the better. Through a series of choices that he made, without any real goals, he became the exception to the rule. He made it to Yale. He made it out of poverty. He was able to improve his life and recognize that he wasn’t the norm for people who grew up the same way.

He also recognized that he didn’t do this on his own. He needed help and he needed people to help him figure out how to get that help. It was actually shocking to me as well when he realized that he could spend less going to Yale than he did going to a local college. It makes sense when you think about it, because there’s plenty of financial aid for people who need it when they go to college, and of course ivy-league schools have lots of money to give. It made really wonder how many people haven’t even tried because they didn’t think they could afford it. How many people were told that they couldn’t accomplish going to a better school because they would end up with too much debt?

Since I watched the movie first, I was shocked to find out that the entire conflict in the movie wasn’t even mentioned in the book. J.D. wasn’t interrupted during his dinner to find out his mother had overdosed and had to drive all night to make it to the hospital. He didn’t take her to a rehab where he had to pay with multiple credit cards. He didn’t catch her trying to use at a dirty motel.

There were mentions of similar situations, but nothing so dramatic as what they portrayed in the movie. It actually made the movie feel cheap and like a disservice to J.D. real, true story. They used his family’s problems to create a dramatic situation that took away from his accomplishment. They made it about Amy Adams, when it should’ve just been about how he got away from her.

It’s not often that I’m disappointed in movie adaptations, but this one is pretty bad in my opinion.

Everything he wrote about was real and interesting. It’s eye-opening and inspiring to see how someone from a totally different background can accomplish more than they ever thought was possible. It really does show that opportunity is out there, but it’s not as accessible as we think.

This was truly a great book and great story. I really hope that everyone who watched the movie takes the time to read the book.

Bullet Journal – February Cover Page

Yay for getting this one posted before the end of the month! I really need to get better about this, I’m trying I promise!

I was trying to think of a way to show love for Valentine’s Day and February without being overly Valentine’s Day, you know? I saw this tattoo drawing on Pinterest that was supposed to represent Persephone and knew that I had to copy it for my bujo.

If you keep up with my blog, you may have seen that I read Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton back in October 2019. I mentioned there how much the story of Persephone and Hades stuck out to me and that I wanted to read more about them. I’ve read a little here and there, but really feel drawn to Persephone. I love that she’s the goddess of Spring and the queen of the Underworld. She can be soft and sweet but also strong and dark. I feel that way about myself sometimes, like I don’t really fit into one box.

I like that they’re one of the few couples in mythology that seem like they have a strong relationship. Hades is completely in love with Persephone, and unlike other gods he doesn’t have extramarital affairs and children all over the place.

They definitely have their problems and are only able to spend half of the year together, so honestly not the ideal relationship, but if we’re being honest what relationship doesn’t have problems? If this is what works for them, then that’s cool, right?

Anyway, I just like that I was able to find a way to make my theme about a love that I find interesting. Thought about doing another Bridgerton drawing, but that might be too much Bridgerton even for me.

There really isn’t much else to write about this month. We’re getting lots of snow, the Groundhog saw his shadow so winter isn’t over any time soon, I’m still working two jobs…

Hopefully I’ll have more to write about new month, but no news is better than bad news, so I’ll take it!

Happy February everyone 🙂

I Burn For You…

Is there anyone who hasn’t binged Bridgerton at this point? Personally, I’ve been considering starting it over for the third time. I was so glad to hear that it had officially been renewed!

When I was in high school I loved doing portraits, but always just did them with pencil. I’ve never attempted portraits in watercolor before, so decided to give this a shot. I had some watercolor cards on hand, so thought this would be cute as a love/valentine’s/anniversary card if it turned out well.

I have to say, I’m pretty happy with it. Simon turned out so well, I sort of impressed myself. Daphne could use some work, but I’m still pretty happy with it.

I decided to put it up for sale on my Etsy account. It’s one of a kind and hand-painted, check it out here.

I definitely want to do more of these, maybe some more famous couples in television and film? We’ll see!

Bullet Journal – January Cover Page

I still can’t believe 2020 is over, what a year. Definitely hoping that 2021 is better, or at least just different.

I know we’re not too far into the year yet, but so far so good. Things seem to be looking up for me. I feel more positive about making plans for the future. It feels a little bit like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and I can finally see it, though time will tell.

I turned 29 earlier this month, which was…weird. It’s strange that I’m in the last year of my twenties. I’ve been reflecting on it a lot recently and I feel pretty good about how I’ve spent my twenties. I’ve traveled to some amazing places, I found a good job, I bought a house on my own. There are a lot of people my age who probably haven’t been fortunate enough to achieve those things yet and I feel pretty good about that.

I also feel like I’ve really discovered myself and have a good understanding of who I am. I’ll be going into my thirties sure of myself and what I want from life. I’m not sure I feel like an adult yet, but do we ever feel like we’re as old as we are after this point?

I guess it’s hard to say how you expect a year to go when you’re still in the beginning, but I’m looking forward to what this year will bring. So, happy New Year everyone and here’s to 2021!

Bullet Journal – December Cover Page

So…I forgot this month to post my cover page (how very 2020 of me). It’s actually kind of a blessing in disguise because now I can make it an end of the year post!

December has been a bit of a wild ride. There’s a new vaccine that’s out, we may be getting another round of stimulus checks (not enough, but long overdue) here in the US. We celebrated Christmas!!

It’s funny actually because I had a lot of people tell me that Christmas didn’t feel the same for them this year because of the coronavirus. My family stopped visiting our entire family years ago, so for awhile it’s just been my parents and my siblings getting together for Christmas Day. For us it was really nice. My parents got me a Bissell Crosswave!

Not much else to update on. I didn’t include the monthly spread this time because it’s pretty much the same thing and the cover pages seem more exciting.

I will say, I’m looking forward to 2021. It just feels like there’s some hope for next year to be better. I know I’m definitely looking forward to things returning to normal as quickly as possible. I’d love to travel again.

Hope everyone made it through 2020 and is looking forward to better times. Happy New Year!

Normal People by Sally Rooney

I loved this book.

The Hulu show was so good, and if you haven’t seen it I HIGHLY recommend it. I knew immediately that I’d have to read the book.

It’s kind of hard to explain, but I really don’t think any form of entertainment has ever really shown the emotions between two people who are so obviously meant to be together but can’t because of situations in their lives and bad timing.

It seems like Connell and Marianne just can’t catch a break. One of them is either in a relationship with someone else when the other is ready or just has too much pride to admit that they’re actually both madly in love with each other. Their relationship is so complicated, but also just kind of works in a way. It’s so frustrating to see them fail over and over again because they can’t communicate.

I feel like this story really does so well because everyone can relate to a situation that was ruined because of miscommunication or just no communication at all. I know I’ve definitely been there.

One thing I do want to say is that at some points this was really hard to read. I honestly didn’t think it’d take me so long, but some parts just made me so sad I felt like I needed to put the book down and take a break for a little.

Definitely an emotional rollercoaster, but highly recommended.

Bullet Journal – November Cover Page & Monthly Spread

So November might be a little crazy, huh? Who would’ve thought that the election would be this close. I decided to do a mail in ballot and dropped it off a few weeks before Election Day, which I think was definitely the right choice. I’m not sure I would’ve wanted to stand in line with everyone on Election Day, it was pretty cold.

I’m writing this before I’m posting it, so I’m hoping we have a better idea of who the next president will be by the time this is posted. Fingers crossed at least!

I took off the beginning of the month just to relax and rest. It felt good to have a little break from everything.

I’m wondering what Thanksgiving will be like this year. I’m not sure yet whether or not my family will be holding it. My sister and I were thinking about doing a Friendsgiving, but I guess we’ll have to see where we are before we can decide for sure.

I’m still feeling pretty good this month. I think I’m doing a good job saving money and getting ready for the holidays. I’m looking forward to Christmas and honestly I’m excited for winter this year. It’s kind of nice knowing I won’t have to drive in to work when it snows. We’re staying positive here, right?

Bullet Journal – October Cover Page & Monthly Spread

So this is really late…I know, I know. October has been a crazy month. I feel like I was really busy and had a lot going on. I don’t know, there really isn’t any excuse, I just dropped the ball with posting.

I actually felt really good this month. I got to spend some time with friends and get out of the house a few times. Halloween is also my favorite holiday, so having the house decorated and everything just made me happy. Trick or treating was definitely different in my neighborhood, but we had a pretty good turnout for it being during a pandemic. I love the kids, they’re the best part of Halloween.

I decided to go with a Coraline theme for the month. I actually dyed my hair blue and dressed up as Coraline for Halloween. It was super fun. Here’s a picture of me with my button eyes:

Honestly not too much else to say. Things are pretty much still the same, but I feel really good. Ready for next month!

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

I really don’t know why, but it took me forever to get through this book. I think it may have been because it was so similar to the show that it wasn’t really interesting to me, or didn’t really add anything to the story enough for me to stay interested. Honestly though, that’s a compliment to the show because it means they did really well with the details!

I will say, the story did get a lot more interesting once we got to the murders and what Grace did remember. I did also like that we got to see Dr. Jordan meeting with more people that knew Grace and that he went to the house where the murders took place.

I expected the hypnotism to be more exciting in the book, but I guess it can’t be too sensational if it’s supposed to be believable. The acting in the show was perfect and made this scene so creepy!

One thing I really didn’t like was how both Jeremiah and Dr. Jordan kind of fled after the hypnotism. It seemed like both of them were trying to be helpful and then it was like they both just gave up. I really thought that they would help her get out sooner, but I guess since this is fiction based on a true story we wouldn’t be able to have her get out of the penitentiary earlier than she actually did.

It was also disappointing that Dr. Jordan’s memory was affected in the war, resulting in him being no help to Grace whatsoever. Honestly it made his whole role in the story pretty pointless. I’m not sure how much of this is historically accurate, but if this is what really happened then that really sucks.

Although I’m not sure myself whether Grace was innocent or if she was suffering from some sort of mental/post-traumatic stress disorder, I am glad that she was pardoned and was able to live the rest of her life with some sort of freedom. She definitely was very unlucky in life, so it was nice that she sort of had a happy ending. Not sure that I wanted her to end up with Jamie, but honestly it could’ve been way worse.

I hope she did have a happy ending. It would be nice to know what really happened.

Bullet Journal – September 2020 Cover Page & Monthly Spread

Happy September everyone! We’re a little more than halfway through the month and there isn’t really much to update everyone on. Although everything is different because of COVID, I feel like I’m starting to feel sort of normal? I know, crazy right?

This is definitely a new normal, but it doesn’t feel quite as suffocating as it did before. Does anyone else feel this way too? I feel like I have some what of a routine again. I’m still working, Fall is basically here, football is on. I don’t know, it just feels like something I can get used to.

Personally I haven’t gone out to eat and I really don’t go to any stores unless it’s for groceries or alcohol. I haven’t really seen any friends since March, which is really weird, but I’m also kind of a homebody so I don’t really feel like I’m suffering too much socially. I actually feel like I’ve been talking to people more often than I would have because we’re checking in with each other to see how we’re doing through everything.

Obviously my dating life has halted completely. I’m okay with that though. I don’t think I have the time or energy for anything new right now and it’s good to just have this time to work on myself.

Anyway, my theme for this month is Alice in Wonderland. I have the phrase “It’s no use going back to yesterday because I was a different person then” from Alice in Wonderland tattooed on my back. It’s something I always go back to whether I’ve had a good/bad/normal day. I use it as a reminder that I’m always growing as a person and to not look back on things that have happened so much because I’ve grown from whatever experience.

I feel like with everything going on, it’s more important that ever to remind myself that everything I experience makes me grow and that I need to keep looking forward rather than looking to the past and wondering how I could have changed things.

I don’t have too much going on this month. The planets are certainly active, so that should be interesting! Also, as you can see, I’ve been terrible about reading. I know, I know. I’ll get on it. Sorry!!

Hope everyone’s having a good month! Happy almost Spooky Season!!