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New Bookstagram!

I’m so excited, because I’ve finally decided to create a “Bookstagram”! I can still be found on my personal account (@iamjuliebeeks), but I thought it would be fun to create an Instagram dedicated to books and book reviews.

The name is: @charlestonbookgirl. If you have any books you would want me to read and review please send them my way!

I hope you’ll follow along!

Candy Cane Christmas

Christmas was Denise’s favorite holiday. That’s not unusual since it’s almost everyone’s favorite holiday, but her story was unusual. It was the Christmas season when her parents adopted her twenty years ago on December 21st, 1998. The anniversary of that with Christmas following soon after was always the best part of her year.

In the last two years though, she had lost both of her parents – one to cancer and one to what she can only describe as a broken heart. Since her Dad died in June, she had been dreading this Christmas season. That was, until around October when a little girl who was seven years old named Tiffany came through the agency she worked at. She was orphaned (both parents died in a plane crash) and had no other relatives to take care of her.

Denise worked at an adoption agency, because had it not been for an adoption agency helping, she never would have met the people who raised her. She wanted to give back, and she felt like this was how to do it.

When she met Tiffany, Denise felt an internal tugging to help. She had always planned to adopt, in a way of honoring her parents, but she planned to wait until she was married and a little older. After she heard Tiffany’s story though, she knew that it was her time now. So, she started the process of adoption (it tends to go quicker when the child is orphaned and when you work at an adoption agency). The Judge had planned to sign the official adoption order on December 19th, but Denise had explained the significance of the 21st, and they all agreed that it would be special to share that date together.

Tiffany had been living with Denise as a foster situation for a little over a month though. She was adjusting, but she didn’t come without issues. She had nightmares almost every night, and she was constantly anxious that something was going to happen to Denise. With everything Tiffany had been through, Denise told herself that it would just take a little bit of time.

The Judge did sign the Order of Adoption on December 21st, 2018, and the girls celebrated with a big lunch at Tiffany’s favorite restaurant in the city, followed by ice skating and a visit to see Santa. Denise was excited to help Santa out and give Tiffany the best Christmas she could afford on her salary. As they left, Tiffany stuffed several candy canes from Santa’s elf into Denise’s bag and took her hand. This little girl was so happy now, and so was she.

That next day Tiffany and Denise spent hours baking cookies and cakes for Christmas, and watching Christmas movies. Any doubts Denise had in the beginning about going forward with Tiffany’s adoption dissipated. She felt like nothing in the world could ruin this Christmas for them.

That night Tiffany had one of her nightmares again. It was different this time though, because once Denise woke her up Tiffany didn’t seem to snap out of it like she had every other time. Denise tried to go back to sleep, but she couldn’t get her mind to settle down. When Tiffany had one of her episodes, it always left Denise a little shaken. It was hard to describe, but her eyes were blank and she didn’t say anything when Denise tried to talk to her about it.

Denise went into the kitchen and made herself a glass of hot chocolate. She sat at the table stirring the marshmallows in her mug, wondering what she could say to help her.

Denise heard footsteps and turned around to see her new daughter in the doorway of the kitchen holding a sharpened candy cane.

“Merry Christmas” Tiffany hissed as she lifted the candy cane in the air and charged toward her.

Be a Friend of the Library!

Happy Saturday y’all!

I am so excited, because yesterday I joined Friends of the Library here in Charleston. I have been wanting to for a while, but I finally did it yesterday at one of their book sales they hold each year at a local library. It was just $20 to join, and it goes toward such a good cause. I even got a free book when I joined, which for me was already worth the $20.

It was an awesome day, because I got twenty books for just $52! I got a few novels I had been wanting to buy but just couldn’t pay full price for (books can get expensive) and I also got a few that I wouldn’t normally buy myself, like some kids’ Christmas books that are classics and some books that go along with the Harry Potter Series.

I love the local library; it has always been my happy place since I was a kid, and I hope that they never become a thing of the past. Groups like Charleston Friends of the Library help to promote the local library and the different programs it has. The goal is to enhance the programs and things the library has in place, by donating time and money.

If it’s something you’d be interested in but you live in a different area, you should definitely check to see if your local library has a similar program. And if you don’t have a library card, well you better go get one of those too!

Have a great day!

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO ME!

Until today, I had no idea about this, but today is apparently my five-year anniversary creating a blog with WordPress. So much has happened to me in five years, but the one thing that remains a constant is my love of writing.

I created this blog one month before I graduated college. So, in the five years since my first post: I have graduated college, graduated law school, and have been practicing law for a year and a half. I’ve fallen in love, and I’ve also met a lot of new friends. I have so many wonderful memories from the past five years.

I have loved writing down my thoughts and my stories here. This blog has been through different stages and names, but I think I have finally found one that I am happy with and that I have been consistent with over the last year.

I’m grateful for everyone who follows me and that has interacted with me over the last five years. Here’s to five more!

A Halloween Well Spent

Halloween is my favorite holiday of all, and I have been preparing all month for it. From the treats and movies to the pumpkin patches and ghost tours, and carving pumpkins I have been trying to soak in all that this spooky month has to offer.

I have my traditions that I do every Halloween, and this Halloween I have also had a couple of new experiences. Every October I make my way through my core list of non-negotiable movies: “Halloweentown”, “Hocus Pocus”, “Practical Magic”, the “Halloween” movies, “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.” “Halloweentown” can be found on Amazon, “Hocus Pocus” plays just about every night on Freeform, “Practical Magic” is on HBO GO, and “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is constantly being shown on Freeform also. AMC plays repeats of Halloween, “Jeepers Creepers”, and “Nightmare on Elm Street” as well. “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” is shown sparingly on local channels, but I also found it on YouTube.

This year, I have seen all of my non-negotiable movies (a couple of times each), and I was also able to go see the new “Halloween” movie that was recently released. This year is the 40th anniversary of the original “Halloween” movie, and I thought the new one was very well done. It even had some funny quirks relating it to the original. I have also been watching “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” on Netflix. This is a sort of remake of everyone’s favorite witch show, “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” There are a lot of similarities to Sabrina, but the new adaptation is much darker and not as generally happy as the older show. The new one is scarier and more violent, and the premise of the show is completely different. The new Sabrina does look strikingly like Melissa Joan Hart though.

Not only is this the 40th anniversary of “Halloween”, it is also the 25th anniversary of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Hocus Pocus”! 1978 and 1993 were very good years for Halloween movies. Hopefully, if you’re like me and these are three of your favorite movies, you’ve had time to watch them this month.

We also went to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party this year! It was absolutely adorable, and I loved getting to go through Magic Kingdom dressed as Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. The decorations were obviously incredible and we left with a ridiculous amount of candy.

I am currently baking my favorite cookies (Halloween Pillsbury Holiday Cookies), with a fall candle going, while continuing to watch “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.” I just so happen to be planning to dress up as a witch tomorrow.

Tomorrow night we are planning a movie fest, and hopefully some Trick or Treaters will stop by. I hope everyone has a great day tomorrow and of course, Happy Halloween!

 

 

A Monday Two Octobers Ago

I write a lot of stories involving scary things on here, and especially since it is October people are watching and reading scary stories. Two Octobers ago though, I met the subject of many nightmares I’d have for the two years since then.

In October of 2016, a man followed me into an elevator at my law school and assaulted me. Today, I felt like writing it all down. It was mid morning, sunny and in the middle of a school building- not exactly a time where I felt like I needed to put my keys through my knuckles like a weapon. The man was arrested, but only after a camera got a view of him assaulting another woman a block away a couple of hours later. I remain very thankful that the City of Charleston’s officers worked quickly and that he was arrested the same night of the incident.

When he was sentenced, I learned that Bob Drayton, Jr. was a schizophrenic, homeless man who had suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome. Every time I think of this happening, I try to remind myself of those facts about him so that I am slow to anger. I try instead to think about if he had not been born into the conditions he was clearly born in, that maybe he would have had a chance to turn out differently. It’s not an excuse for him, but rather an attempt at understanding how a human being could be formed into what I can only describe as hollow.

Without going through every movement and every detail of the assault itself, the best way I can describe this was that it was mind altering. I grew up in a small town where I knew everyone and everyone knew me. I was never in a situation that I was worried for my safety, and I never wondered if I would be harmed or overpowered by a man. I understand how rare that feeling is, and how lucky I am to have lived in that bubble for so long.

Physically, I was fine after this. I was shaken, but as far as physical injuries go, there weren’t any thankfully. Mentally though, since that day I have not been the same person. I am a skeptical person now. I do not see the best in people initially like I once did, and I frankly don’t like being around new people who I don’t know in settings without other people around. It makes me incredibly uncomfortable, and I feel like I constantly have to keep my guard up. He shattered my trusting nature that had always come so naturally to me.

I do not go on elevators with men I do not know anymore. If someone isn’t with me that I know, I will wait until the next elevator comes or I will take the stairs. I’m not sure that this is something I will ever stop doing at this point.

For a long time I was angry at myself that I did not hit him or kick him or do something to stop him, so that at least he wouldn’t have done it to the next girl. I always thought that if I was ever in a situation like that, I would fight hard and that I would be able to defend myself. In actuality I froze, and I was unable to protect myself. My first instinct was flight, and as soon as the elevator doors opened, I ran. He got away because of me, or at least that’s what I told myself in the months following it. You truly don’t know what you’ll do in a situation like that. After learning about all of his mental illnesses, I started to forgive myself slowly, realizing that had I attacked him it was not out of the question he could have had a knife or any other weapon on him that he could have pulled on me.

My anger shifted more into just being thankful that it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. The anger came back when he was sentenced. I wasn’t angry at the judge, or really even him- I was angry at the laws we have in place in South Carolina.

Ultimately, he was sentenced to three years in state prison, with credit for time served. When he was sentenced, he had been in custody for almost a year. When I spoke at his sentencing, where he plead guilty, I told the judge what happened and I asked that he be sentenced to the maximum amount he could be. The judge did sentence him to the maximum of three years, but first he expressed his annoyance that there was only a three-year maximum for this offense, when minor drug offenses carried much harsher minimum sentences. He implored me to try to make a change one day after I became a lawyer.

I have subsequently been pissed off since then at the lack of common sense sentencing guidelines. It is a slap in the face knowing that someone can steal your peace of mind and alter your view of the world you thought you lived in, and only have to serve two years of his three-year sentence. Our state needs to fix not only its mental health system, but many outdated laws and sentencing guidelines in our prison system.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to change the laws to make a physical/sexual assault worth more jail time. It seems like common sense to me, but quite frankly this isn’t an issue that men are prioritizing, because for them it doesn’t have to be a priority.

He is out roaming the streets of Charleston again now, because there is nothing to stop him from doing so. Since he had a record that was pages long before my incident, I assume there is no one helping him try to get his life in order by giving him the medicine he needs or keeping him out of trouble. He recently entered a store downtown that someone I know owns, and even though he isn’t allowed near the school again, I have no doubt that he frequents the bus stop right beside it. I also have no doubt that he will do this again to someone else.

Maybe one day I will get on an elevator again without immediately side-eyeing the person next to me, and maybe one day criminals in our state will at least serve their full sentence out, even if the sentence isn’t what it should be.

 

Finally October

I live in the South where the first day of October does not mean cold weather and beautiful rust and yellow leaves falling. It is normally not chilly even at night. If I were to cuddle in a blanket on my porch right now, I would be sweating and uncomfortable.

But October is still my favorite month for many reasons. I can still dream of the leaves changing colors and the colder weather, even if that won’t happen for at least another month. October 1st is my amazing mom’s birthday, and it has always been fitting to me that my favorite person was born the first day of my favorite month. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I can now have my Halloween decorations out without being completely judged.

October has always signified the start of something for me instead of the end of summer. It’s the start of the season of celebration, holidays that revolve around family (yes, even Halloween) and a time to lose yourself in the distraction of it all. I love decorating and embracing the new colors of each season.

Fall and Halloween is also the only time of year that buying a vegetable puts me in a good mood. Pumpkins are to me what roses are to other women. They brighten up a room and a doorway in my eyes.

Clemson football being in full gear, Halloween movies, fall spices, baking, and candles are just a few of my favorite things about this month, and I spend the rest of my year trying to recreate the feeling these different activities give me.

I know this month won’t last long (it never does), but I plan to enjoy it to the fullest.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”