The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Standing out in a crowd

Janna Maries Maron, an english professor at City College, is also owner of Thinkhouse Collective, a place where people rent out individual workspace. She also is the editor of her own literary magazine, Under the Gum Tree. Tony Wallin | [email protected]

The red boots called to her from the thrift store shelf. She wanted them, but she convinced herself she wouldn’t wear them. The boots taunted her—she couldn’t shake them. She bought the red boots, and they sat on the shelf in her closet for almost a year. It didn’t matter what outfit she tried, they never looked good enough.

Then one day, she decided she wanted to be the girl who wore the red boots. She wanted to be the girl who was proud of whom she is. She wanted to be bold and beautiful.

The red boots don’t stay on the shelf anymore.

A self-proclaimed woman in progress, Janna Marlies Maron is living the life she wants, with no apologies. Along with her husband, Jeremy, Maron runs ThinkHouse Collective, a co-workspace in downtown Sacramento. She also produces “Under the Gum Tree,” her own literary magazine, teaches English at City College, freelance edits, and still makes an effort to live boldly every day and tell her story without shame.

“I’m tall. I have long, curly hair. I don’t blend into the crowd, and I have a really loud laugh,” Maron says of herself. “That stands out.”

On a recent October day, Maron, 33, is wearing a hot pink jacket with a bright daisy pin that catches the eye. Her big brown eyes take in everything and hold nothing back. And yes, her laugh is loud, and it is pure, uninhibited joy. The laugh, the eyes, the fact that she stands at 5 feet, 10 inches are things she can’t help, but they tend to draw attention anyway. The pink jacket? That’s a choice.

“When you get attention because of things you can’t help, that’s a whole other thing to wrestle with,” explains Maron, her voice soft and lilting, but direct. “This jacket? It’s a decision. Do I want to walk around wearing a hot pink jacket drawing attention to myself or not? It’s an attitude.”

An attitude she didn’t always know she possessed.

Growing up in San Ramon, Maron was never encouraged to truly be herself. It wasn’t until pursuing her master’s degree in creative writing at CSU, Sacramento, when she received positive responses to her writing, that she began to see the value in her voice.

“People tell me how much they appreciate my vulnerability and honesty,” Maron says. “I am the best at being vulnerable and honest. Those are the stories I want to tell and the stories I want to help other people tell. It really all comes down to not being ashamed of who you are, and not being ashamed to tell your story in any way that manifests itself.”
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Maron’s writing touched Stephanie Anderson. Now, they work together on “Under the Gum Tree,” Maron’s literary magazine. Four years ago, Anderson remembers meeting Maron when she read an excerpt from the memoir she was writing as her final project for her master’s degree.

“It was really an emotional piece,” says Anderson. “And I remember thinking how brave she was to be so vulnerable in front of a group. She was someone who wasn’t scared or ashamed to share her story.”

Her ability to reveal herself as openly and honestly as possible allows her to live boldly and encourage others to do the same. Her husband, Jeremy Maron, says her unabashed nature was what he noticed first
about her.

“It can be uncomfortable for people at first, but she [Janna] places an expectation on people that she has for herself,” he says. “It can catch you off guard if you aren’t ready for it.”

Janna Marlies Maron chuckles in agreement: “I piss people off. I’m not a subtle person.”

And Maron isn’t ashamed of it. Her daily mission is to live boldly, to wear red boots, to show people she is unashamed of who she is and what she wants. She is looking at life with her big brown eyes, taking what she wants from it, and encouraging others to do the same.

When asked what pearl of wisdom she would pass on to young writers searching for their voice, Maron wrinkles her nose
and her eyes widen.

“Not to be ashamed to go after what you want in life,” says Maron, thoughtfully. “Take it. Don’t just sit there and wait for itto be handed to you. You have to take it.”

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