Social Experiment, Part 1: Places I’ve Lived In Florida

People often say where you grew up, or where you live, has a lot to do with who you become. Some people are fortunate to have spent their entire life in one, singular place. I was not one of those. I have lived in 35+ different homes in my 25 years, which are spread out between two different states, Florida and New Jersey. I was born and raised in Florida, and spent around 17 years of my life there. The other eight years were spent in New Jersey.

Not to say I’ve been unlucky – I’ve experienced many, many different walks of life. I’ve come into contact with many different people, saw things most people would never believe, and I love I’ve been able to experience this. But what do the places I’ve lived have to say about me?

Let’s take a look first, today, at the places I’ve lived in Florida. There are five different towns/cities I’ve resided in, each of which has it’s own story. I’m going to give you a very basic breakdown of census facts for each town/city first. Then I’m going to give you my personal take on having lived there – a short, 100-200 word paragraph on how I would have defined the city personally. Let’s take a look, shall we?


#1 – Dade City (Pasco County)
Total Population: 6,444
Ethnicity Breakdown: 67.3% White, 20.4% Black, 20.6% Hispanic, 2.5% Mixed
Persons Living Below Poverty Level: 33.1%
Median Income: $28,510
Mean Travel Time To Work: 25 minutes
Average Persons Per Household: 2.49

Dade City holds a very dear spot in my heart, seeing as it is for all intents and purposes, my hometown. I spent the earliest years of my childhood here, and my memories of the place are fond, to say the very least. Things that stand out in my mind are the churches, banks, antique shops, farms, roadside stands (selling boiled peanuts, BBQ, and fruit), and old buildings – particularly the old courthouse. I’d say it’s a very tight-knit, small town community. Everybody knows everybody else, and our downtown gatherings are something no one really wants to miss. Downtown gatherings include things like the antique car shows and the Kumquat Festival – we crown a Kumquat Queen and everything. I remember lots of farm land, a historically unchanged downtown, and a very big emphasis on local businesses. No one could forget Olga’s Bakery, Tin Can Pam’s, or the numerous locally-owned antique shops that line downtown.


#2- Zephyrhills (Pasco County)
Total Population: 14,382
Ethnicity Breakdown: 88.7% White, 4.9% Black, 1.4% Asian, 10.4% Hispanic, 2% Mixed
Persons Living Below Poverty Level: 17.8%
Median Income: $35,819
Mean Travel Time To Work: 24.7 minutes
Average Persons Per Household: 2.49

For the longest time, I felt that Zephyrhills was actually a city. This was when I first moved here, after living in Dade City. As you can see from the statistics, the population in Zephyrhills is over double that of my hometown. I learned through my future travels, however, that this does not make it a city. My memories fondly include going to Zephyrhills Park, both as a child myself and with my own little own. I remember the movie theater, the bowling alley, the Wal Mart, the 7-11, and a lot of beautifully tall trees. True to it’s southern heritage, I remember walking barefoot everywhere – yes, I even went into the stores barefoot, since I absolutely loathe shoes. No one looked strangely at me for this, either. Not so true to it’s southern heritage, allowing an influx of northern individuals, were the numerous retirement homes and trailer parks – both the classy and not so classy ones.


#3 – Webster (Sumter County)
Total Population: 805
Ethnicity Breakdown: 56.15% White, 34.53% Black, 3.35% Mixed, 15.16% Hispanic
Persons Living Below Poverty Level: 28.7%
Median Income: $18,000
Mean Travel Time To Work: Unavailable
Average Persons Per Household: 3.19

I remember Webster as being a ridiculously small town, and the total population number tells me my memories serve me correctly. Actually, I mostly remember Webster as being a town lined up beside a railroad track that, otherwise, was nothing but backwoods… and these were VERY REAL backwoods, let me tell you. Roads heading straight into the middle of nowhere – no turn offs for some, too many turn offs for others. The people there always seemed a little off to me, and I know the entire area is locally well known for hauntings and other spooky stuff, with a few well known satanists making their home between the woods in Webster and Ridge Manor Estates – another very backwoods area. Although I lived here for about a year, and visited numerous times after that, this was my only real impression of the area.


#4 – Brooksville (Hernando County)
Total Population: 7,778
Ethnicity Breakdown: 76.9% White, 18% Black, 6.6% Hispanic, 2.1% Mixed
Persons Living Below Poverty: 24.5%
Median Income: $31,970
Mean Travel Time To Work: 21.7%
Average Persons Per Household: 2.34

Since my parents were divorced, a good part of my childhood was spent in Brooksville, where my Daddy and his family life. For fourteen years I spent every other weekend, every other major holiday, and one week every summer here. My memories of this area are of running around barefoot on my family’s farm. I know there is a rather large town area in Brooksville, but my memories like to primarily recall the outskirts and backwoods where I spent most of my time. I’d say my memories mostly include lots of farms, patches of dense woods, dirt roads, and the interesting fact that every home seemed to have a large yard or a lot of acreage attached.


#5 – Ocala, Florida (Marion County)
Total Population: 57,586
Ethnicity Breakdown: 70.7% White, 20.9% Black, 11.7% Hispanic, 2.6% Asian, 2.4% Mixed
Persons Living Below Poverty Level: 23.1%
Median Income: 36,739
Mean Travel Time To Work: 19.5 minutes
Average Persons Per Household: 2.41

I lived in Ocala the shortest amount of time – perhaps two or three months. This was the place that really wrecked my previous ideas of what a city was. In my memories, Ocala is an enormous maze that really made my head spin. Spending the vast majority of my life in small towns, I guess this is a natural reaction. I was interested to find, however, that the outskirts of Ocala are made up of vast expanses of farm land. The interior of the city itself encompassed what seemed like millions of people, hundreds of stores, and billions of cars – there was always traffic. Always.


So, do I think that these places shaped the me I was or the me who I am today? Yes, I definitely do… for some of them, anyways. Dade City, my wonderful little hometown, gave me the soul of a small town southern girl. Zephyrhills gave me a different kind of street smarts, and I suppose what people might call a white-trash edge. Brooksville definitely gave me the knowledge and spirit of a country farm girl. I wouldn’t say Webster or Ocala either one contributed much to myself.

I suppose, without the other two parts of this social experiment, we could say places you spend a large block of time in are the ones who contribute to who you are. I said I felt Webster, where I spent one year in my very early childhood, and Ocala, where I spent two or three months during my teenage years, did not contribute anything… while Brooksville, where I spent extended portions of time for fourteen years, Dade City, where I spent my first 10+ years, and Zephyrhills, where I spent two periods of time accumulating to something around 4 or so years, did contribute. We’ll see if this continues to hold true through the rest of this experiment.

Come back tomorrow for part two, where we’ll take a look at the towns/cities I’ve lived in New Jersey to see what my personal opinion of them was, and whether I believe they shaped my life or personality in any major way. While you wait, check out another relevant post on growing up in different social situations, Surviving Extended Households.

Sneak Peek: Poor Florida Cracker

Well, folks, I said that I would share a sneak peek with you of my current work in progress, Poor Florida Cracker, which is due to be published this upcoming fall. For every like or comment I’ve gotten on my blog in the last two days, I was going to share one sentence. Understandably, I let my blog go stale for quite a bit of time, so the interaction isn’t quite what it used to be. This would have only allowed for five shared sentences. My Facebook isn’t really interacted with as much as before, either, so I’ll be adding on the one like I also got on Facebook. Six sentences from the first chapter of my work in progress. Are you ready? Here we go:

What was it that made this town so simple minded? So cruel? I’d been the butt end of their jokes- young and old, rich and poor alike- since the day I was born. People around town called me names like ‘incest hillbilly’ and ‘backwoods whore.’ The later always makes me laugh, considering the fact I’m still a virgin. Regretfully, the first name holds some small truth.

Please keep in mind that this is still a rough draft, and the final version may be altered in some way. I’ll share more of this upcoming title with you next Tuesday – keep the involvement going! For every like and/or comment I receive on my blog, I will share one sentence. For every person who signs up to follow my blog, I’ll share two! This time I’ll be grabbing my snippets from the beginning of Chapter Three!


In other news, check back with me here on Pen Possessed tomorrow for the first part of a simple social experiment I’ve got under way revolving around the theroy that where you live and/or where you have previously lived in your lifetime effects who you are/who you become. We’ll be taking a look at the basic statistics of the places I’ve lived, and then we’ll see what I personally remember about them. It’s a three part series, and should be lots of fun! Also underway will be some interesting articles about what is going on in the independent community, some advice for writers, and numerous other fun things.

Make sure you don’t miss any of the fun by signing up to follow my blog. You can do that by clicking the link on the right side of this page. See you on the flip side, lovelies!

Poetry Share: Emotional Wares & My Country Home

Hey there, loyal readers! Here are two new poems I’d like to share with you, both of which will be included in my second volume of poetry to be released this upcoming fall. Feel free to share your opinions in the comments below. I always love hearing from you!

Emotional Wares

Emotions displayed on your table of wares,
you have taken from me,
and you have left it here.
I have but a chance to buy back my thoughts,
but will I forsake myself,
for all that I have lost?
Could you hear me crying when you stole these from me,
did you believe I had forgotten,
how you shared with my enemies.
A toast to you, my dear lost cause,
for you have ripped me apart on the inside,
my heart- it has turned and tossed.
Bitter sweet tears had long since dried,
yet to see it all displayed here,
has brought fresh tears to my eyes.
How much for this dream,
and how much can I spare?
I wish back this desire,
have you yet to put a price on this dear?
I must walk away,
for you have taken it all.
I once dreamt of flight,
now I dismally fall.

My Country Home

My home, she calls to me,
I can feel it in my soul.
I know it like no other,
and this is what I know.
The skies seem bluer,
the grass is so green,
others may not see it so,
but I know exactly what I mean.
The people here are friendly,
they are slow and backwards,
while people in the north, they fret,
always running somewhere forwards.
Many think us simple,
and yes, I believe we are,
but I like the way we are,
we move not fast nor far.
You may like your big cities,
the skylines lights so bright,
but I like my country home,
where the only lights are fireflies.
We grow our corn and wheat,
we raise our chickens and cows,
we sit on our front porches,
telling stories and passing on know-hows.
We sing with all our hearts,
strumming on banjo or acoustic,
while city folks head to the clubs,
and say they need to ‘lose it.’
I don’t know the meanings,
of all these strange things,
I’ve been forced to a city life once,
the thought makes my ears ring.
So much noise,
so much light,
I found it hard to remember,
which was day or night.
Feel bad for me if you will,
I know I fear for you,
but I will always miss my country home,
that one fact is true.

Liked what you read? Then check out my first volume of poetry, The Eloquence of A Child: The Poetry of Chelsea Falin, and remember to leave a review – that’s the very best way you can help independent authors like myself. Thanks in advance, darlings!

Never Judge, Because You Never Know


Everyone has heard some sort of phrase on how we should never judge someone. “Judge not lest ye be judged.” “Don’t judge anyone until you have walked a mile in their shoes.” “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” “Never judge a book by it’s cover.” The list could go on and on… Unfortunately, as much as we may preach these phrases or rattle them off, most of us are guilty of judging others. I try my hardest to never fall victim to this, but even I, with all my effort, sometimes find myself wanting to judge others. I’m always willing to change my first opinion, however. But this is besides the point. The real point here is that we really never know what someone is going through. What is on the inside is hidden from us, and many people carry demons from their past with them – and they do so with a smile. Or, they may simply not be letting on what is truly going on at that point in their lives.

Here is a good example:

Today I went to work, and people who knew me noticed that something was wrong. People on the streets, however, only saw a young woman with a limp, pale skin, and sunken in eyes. People probably jumped to numerous conclusions: perhaps they thought I was a drug addict, or disabled. Perhaps they thought I was homeless. Perhaps they thought… well, whatever it was that they thought. I guarentee you nobody guessed the truth: that I had torn all of the ligaments in my knee as part of a repetitive work injury, and that I had worked on it that way for two or three days – that, from shifting the weight to my other, uninjured leg disproportionately, I had also sprained my back. I was wearing a knee brace and a back brace, but both were hidden underneath my clothing.

This is just one example, of course. I can share this one because it effected me personally. Everyone has their own story – and so, we shouldn’t be so quick to judge. On this note, allow me to share a poem I wrote recently (which I promised I would do in my post from earlier today) that goes hand-in-hand with the message I’m trying to share here:

The Struggle

Do you know my struggle?
Have you walked a mile in my shoes?
Have you been where I’ve been?
Have you shared in my blues?

Do you think you really know me?
And all that I have done?
Were you born to live this life?
Well, were you, hun?

Don’t assume or patronize me.
I know what, who, and where I am.
Don’t guess behind my words,
I can afford to offer you no sham.

What you see is truly what you get.
I fake nothing for nobody.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t have scars to hide,
that I am not a multi-layered somebody.

I have made my choices,
and the bed in which I must lay.
I have often gotten on my knees,
and in fervor prayed.

I have hurt those I loved,
and have burdens which I must carry.
I have shared in joyous news,
and have oft’ reason to be merry.

I know the weight of the world,
for it has rest upon my shoulders.
I know how it feels to climb mountains,
and how hard it is to move boulders.

I have kept company with kings and queens,
and lived amongst the dregs of society.
I have been the center of attention,
and alone in the corner – a nobody.

So much have I done,
and so much must I bear.
So much time seems to have passed,
though not many a year.

Love me and understand me,
or hate me if you will.
I am but myself,
and I will always keep it real.

Do you have a story to share relevant to this? Maybe about how you were hiding something that others could not see, or how you misjudged someone? Share it in the comments below, and maybe you’ll find your story featured on the blog this upcoming week!

The Life of A Work-A-Holic


Well, hello there, dear readers. It’s been a while, I know. Unfortunately, my life has been rather hectic lately. After a divorce in October, I’ve suddenly been thrown into the life of a work-a-holic… but no worries, I’m ensuring that this also includes my writing now. I’m delving into finishing up the editing I left off months ago. My newest book, entitled ‘Poor Florida Cracker’, will be published this upcoming fall. So look for it! I’m currently on the last round of edits, page four of 199. I’ll be posting a sneak peek of the book this upcoming Friday, here on the blog. I’ll be posting one sentence for every like and comment I get on this post, and any I post for the rest of the week. Another thing coming up: I’ll be running a nifty little giveaway this weekend, in an effort to get my blog active again and to, of course, reward you lovely readers.

But what do I mean when I say I’ve been thrown into the life of a work-a-holic? Ah, let’s see… I’m currently working two jobs, both of which are as a line cook. I work anywhere between 46 and 62 hours a week, in five or six days, depending. Granted, I live on the shore, so once summer is over my hours will drop drastically. I have to make the money while I can! Speaking of which, it is just about time for me to rush my way to my first day job. Check back with me tonight! I’ll be sharing one of the many  poems I’ve written recently, which will be included in my second volume of poetry, also to be released this upcoming fall. See you on the flip side, my friends!

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: