Meet Diana Staresinic-Deane, Blogger of the Month for March

Diana Staresinic-Deane

If you had asked me back in high school what I expected my career path to be, I would have told you I was leaving Kansas for good. I had accepted a nice scholarship/grant package from the University of Southern California and had grand plans of getting my degree in biomedical engineering and doing something world-changing with my science and math skills.

So understanding how I ended up getting my degree in English at USC and then working in university communications, library reference, mental health, a county history museum, and writing about Kansas places and Kansas true crime is a study in serendipity, good luck, and bad luck.

Which is why this month’s topic is so interesting to me. I’ll be blogging not just about those happy moments, but also the rotten ones that forced me to be brave and change my path. In many ways, those moments of bad luck did more for me than the moments of good luck.

I grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, the first child of a couple who immigrated from present-day Croatia (which was part of Yugoslavia back then). I was that kid could spend hours riding her bike because it gave her time to think. I loved making up stories, mysteries, and reading, and I especially ghost stories. I loved, loved, loved learning, and I was good at math and science (“You’re much too smart to be an English major” was the kind of nonsense I heard on a regular basis) so I was practical and majored in engineering and HATED it. Then I became an adult and changed my major to English and lived a scholastic dream the rest of my undergraduate career.

After breaking up with a longtime boyfriend and swearing off men forever, I ran into an old friend while visiting family in Kansas over Christmas and the next thing I knew, I was giving up my SoCal life and job and moving back to — gulp — Kansas. And not Kansas City, where I grew up, but Emporia, which was, after Los Angeles, a rather shocking experience.

Skip ahead 15 years and you’ll find me, a woman who wanders the Kansas countryside, looking under rocks for the area’s story. I will periodically startle someone who doesn’t know me when I point to a drainage ditch and say, “Wow, that would be a GREAT place to hide a body!” And I’ll share the joy and wonder of the Kansas-y things I find on my blog, Diana Staresinic-Deane: Unearthing Stories on the Prairie.

You can already see the good luck, bad luck, and serendipity working in my personal timeline. I look forward to sharing my luck (and hard-luck) stories with you this month.

Diana Staresinic-Deane, is a Kansan-gone-Californian-gone-Kansan, former library assistant, county history museum manager, writer, history junkie, cemetery photographer, and guinea pig enthusiast. Fascinated by little Kansas towns and their histories, she’s happiest when she’s digging through old newspapers and exploring old cemeteries. She is the author of Shadow on the Hill: The True Story of a 1925 Kansas Murder.

 

6 thoughts on “Meet Diana Staresinic-Deane, Blogger of the Month for March

  1. Lisa says:

    I’m not a native Kansan, and have found it to be one of the most difficult places to live when it comes to making friends and having community. It has its own beauty—but if you are from the ‘outside’–KS can be difficult. Looking forward to reading you in March. 😉

    • Erin O'Donnell says:

      Hi Lisa! I understand what you mean about finding your way into community here. I think it’s a small-town mentality, and midwesterners are generally uncomfortable around strangers, to be honest. Don’t let it discourage you! I’m a native who also left and came back, and even then it was difficult for us. KSWB is a GREAT community, though — right gals??

    • Diana says:

      I totally hear what you’re saying about the challenge of connecting from the outside. It can be especially challenging if you don’t have kids and don’t consider yourself a church goer. I moved back to a Kansas college town in my mid-twenties. I was too old to hang out with the college kids, didn’t have much in common with people my age who had kids or their own, wasn’t a bar-hopper or a church goer, and my colleagues were mostly old enough to be my parents, so it was really awkward reaching out and making friends. Some Kansas towns are very tight-knit and their folks take more time to warm up to you. Otherwise welcome you into the fold right away. Even if you’re not someone who is likely to join social organizations like Kiwanis or Optimists, you might have luck breaking the ice through library book clubs/knitting clubs, historical society events, or volunteering for any community parties (like a Veterans Day celebration or a summer festival). These are easy ways to start interacting with people you might not otherwise have a reason to meet.

      • Edna says:

        I’m the Kansas born and bred, church going, stay at home spouse of a farmer farm wife whose six kids have left the nest. I can still relate. Good advice, Diana. Looking forward to reading your up coming blogs.

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