“Ticket for 1, please” for the Good Life

Last night Friday night, I had a hot ass date.  I’ve liked this chick for years.  Spunky brunette, curvy figure, outgoing aura.  She sported heels, straightened her hair, glossed up her sunburnt lips and wore a dress for me, so I knew she was trying to impress myself.  And I was.  I was wildly impressed with myself.

I went to the movie by myself last Friday night and it was fantastic, let me tell you.  Wearing heels is a rarity in my beachy life in this big town, an occasion I reassure for Vegas, big dates, downtown outings, and important meetings.

Originally, I was supposed to go with my girlfriends to see One Day, the new Anne Hathaway (applause) and Jim Sturgess (sigh) movie based on the novel.  But, I had a free ticket to one theater and my girlfriends had free popcorn (Lauren’s obsession snack) and soda (Caroline rages on caffeine) at the AMC franchise, so I was not offended as we decided via textual message to part ways Friday night, as I understand  the value and allure of good freebie, especially the food kind.

Gaslamp Theater offering a historic cinematic experience

I reassured my girlfriends I love seeing movies by myself as they couldn’t believe how content I was with our Friday night separate but equal plans.  I had my heart sent on using this nearly expired ticket and was also interested in scoping out a new theater (to me) but actually in an old venue with the Old-Hollywood vintage feel to it in the hub of the high-rent Gaslamp District.

It has been awhile since I’ve seen a movie by myself because I’ve been busy as all hell.  I haven’t solo cinema’ed since 2010 I bet.  Now, I used to talk a lot of crap about my older brother who would see movies all the time by himself.  I thought, “What a loner- that cannot be healthy.”  But what I fool I was.

Herein lies the pros of seeing a flick by yourself:

-No one makes you late other than yourself and “piss poor planning” as my Dad says.

-No one takes uncomfortable amount of your popcorn or candies from your personal stash

-No one peeps in your ear “Wait, what did he just say?” (I know I am guilty of this because of being nearly deaf).

-If you cry, if doesn’t count because no one (that knows you) saw or heard you. It’s like a get out of free jail pass in the game of movie Monopoly.

-It’s probably easier to sneak into another movie for a double-header if you are by yourself.

-No one scolds you for putting your feet up on the seat in front of you (if no one is sitting there).

Kris, Katie and I at Sunset Cliffs on the 4th of July at sunset. The greatest girls (and adept creeps) a girl like myself could ask for. They showed me it was cool to hit the movies by myself. Thanks ragers.

Two of my best friends, Kris and Katie, who have really me into the character I am today, turned me on to the idea after we first graduated.  They are such rad independent chicks and they would go all the time solo style and then talk about the movie collectively via Gmail like a viral Book Club.  It was out escape from work at the office, since we were recent graduates working 9-6 for the Man, and didn’t have time to flutter around waiting for someone to see a flick with us on our time.

I think the turning point was when I had missed the bandwagon on seeing the The Hangover and had no one to see it with by the time I was available.  So, after a long day at washingtonpost.com, I hopped across the street to the movie theater in Arlington one Monday night in  July 2009. I think God wanted me to have a good first experience by myself, knowing my insecurities and neediness to be around people all time were high, because He reserved that entire theater for just me.  I felt liberated walking in and out of that theater back into the city knowing I had done something so independent in a typically crowded scene except this time, with baby steps, the theater was dead.  I didn’t feel like one pathetic loser like I had been anticipating afterall and I was convinced I go again frequently.

Since then, I’ve seen a fair amount of films by myself and Kris and Katie and I have discussed these flicks over Gmail as previously stated or we tip each other off that the movie isn’t worth shouting out 13 bones for.  Now, I always went to a theater where a lot of people didn’t know me too well and during times that didn’t get a lot of foot traffic (Tuesday nights, weekend matinees, theaters far from my house or in a new area).  I never went on a Friday night at the Westminster Mall where I’d spot three guys from my high schools, 2 girls I used to babysit ten years ago, one couple I knew from my lax’ing days, and another rando I sort of knew through the grapevine.

But, I had never gone by myself to see a flick on date night, among the masses, let alone downtown, whether in Baltimore, DC, Bethesda.  The theater I had free tickets to was in the center the Gaslamp District’s urban chic nightlife: hosting all the partiers and foodies at the bars, restaurants and clubs on a Friday night.  And I was super pumped to go.

The hustle and bustle of the Gaslamp District in Downtown San Diego

I received numerous texts and emails that day asking what I was getting into that night. If I chose to politely invite them to the chick flick, I was secretly hoping they would decline.   This my first real date night with myself on a weekend night and in San Diego and I was hard-pressed on flying solo.

I think I paid for parking for the first time living in Southern California and chuckled the block-long walk to Will Call over how I was an expensive date. I  splurged on $8 parking and you if you have to pay parking and in SD that is rare, you split it with people, but nope not this time, not with me, myself and I as Hans Solo for One Day this night.

Uncontrollable attacked my body again from Will Call to my seat at the mere thought of checking myself in on Facebook by myself at this theater.  Everyone around me was waste deep in conversations among friends or at least had a mate to have light fare conversation with, but I was heavily involved in an  barbaric laugh attack with myself over a stupid reason.  You would think I don’t get out much.

It was opening day for this RomCom at a 7:25 p.m. showing and it was jammed pack: four couples and me.  I made enough noise for all of them though between shrieks, squeals, and screams I guess because I didn’t have someone to grab his or her’s wrist.  I did actually bring another girl with me, but it was in the form of Chicken Tenders from my girl Wendy’s restaurant that I snagged in the drive-through before.  Wendy’s barbecue sauce didn’t do much when an unexpected accident occurred in the movie other than causing a stain on my real life dress, but that’s another day in the park as messy Jessie, a disease I’ve been coping with since conception.

I walked out of the movie, perturbed by the abrupt ending and dissatisfied over what could have been an earth-shaking lover’s tale in London.  I thought about crying as my girl instinct almost kicked in and then shrugged off the lame urge. I proceeded to  chuckle over how I almost just cried just to cry and not count it.   Then, my ADD kicked in when I saw a another movie’s ad and I thought, “Hey, Let’s bounce back with a happy Double Header!” But, it wasn’t in the cards.  My independent presence was requested at Seth’s going away night on the town by my house, so my loner night ended early.

Being responsible with Katie, Kris and Alan at Seacrets in Ocean City, Memorial Day Weekend 2011.

When I went home in May to Ocean City to do my usual 3-day weekend bender with Katie, Kris and Aly, Aly, who could not get over how “grown up” I seemed.  “You’ve really changed, Jess.  You are so responsible.” JIGGA WHAT?!?!   I was stunned to hear this as I get the complete opposite from Rosemary and Jimbo from time to time.  I thanked for the complaint, but I swore it wasn’t true at first.  “Well, I guess I just fell into it because it literally is just be making decisions for myself out there.  It’s about time because we all know I was all the last person to do everything amongst our girlfriends, Alan (Aly’s nickname).  Last one to chose her college, last one to go away to school, last one to land a relationship, last one to pay a full rent (when you have a makeshift bedroom in the common area, you don’t pay $850 and be on a lease obviously), last one to get benefits in a full time job, and you know that list goes on, Alan.”

Alan (Aly) and I all grown up and on the Vegas Strip.We are posing between Bellagio watershows. She did SD and Vegas with me for the first time this summer. Fun fact: Our dads actually took post grad classes together at MD and remembered each other when they moved us into our dorm sophomore year.

“Yeah, you might have been the last one to do a lot of little milestones, but you were the first one to follow your dream.  You seem so happy; you look so healthy, I’m just proud of you all grown up.”

I think I’m learning maturity through my immaturity.  And I think my immature mature friends are getting me there along with swirls of life lessons we all need to have fast cat-like reactions too.  Mature- because I am my own boss here and immature- because I’m still in my early 20s, in the midst of my life’s learning curve

Young-at-heart Slip and slide in my neighborhood at age 23. Photo by Steph Schaefer, edited by myself

and occasionally not making the smartest decisions. Come on, we are all guilty of that at this age I’d say (parents, I know you are nodding your heads right now). I don’t think vain myself in 2008 could have been a movie by myself.  And I know I didn’t stay in on a Friday night in college to write a paper (beachfront at least) like I did two Fridays ago.

Bench stricken and beachfront writing a paper on a Friday night a block from my house.

Walking out of that theater on Friday night, seeing everyone dressed to kill by in clusters, I felt empowered that I could do something so independent in crowded scene.  Previously, in my immaturity, I think I’d be jealous I wasn’t running amuck downtown with a group of people.  But, in my maturity, I was thanking God I had a free Friday night for this moment: to catch myself ever-evolving growth.

Coincidentally, One Day‘s theme song was one of my favorite songs right now, “The Good Life” by One Republic.  Driving to and from the theater I heard it on my radio and went batsh** crazy each time I heard it, pelting the lyrics to it with the windows down,  sunroof ajar, driving over the Mission Bay and along the Beach to my house.  The best parts of the song:

We’re young enough to say

Oh, this has gotta be the good life
This has gotta be the good life
This could really be a good life, good life

I say, “Oh, got this feeling that you can’t fight”
Like this city is on fire tonight
This could really be a good life, a good, good life…

When you’re happy like a fool, let it take you over
When everything is out you gotta take it in

After the movie, I met up with friends I had not seen in a while to wish Seth good luck in Newport. They all asked why I was late.  Not being my usual crowd, I proudly told them “Sorry I was late.  I caught a movie by myself.”  Instead of sympathy and disgust, I got mostly (got a chuckle or smirk or two which I didn’t mind), “Wow, I’m impressed. I could never do that.” “Yes you can!  It is so freeing!” and I proceeded to rattle off the benefits and they each admitted  how they loathe when someone always asks a lot of questions during it, etc.

So, if you haven’t done it Loyal Readers, go on a ManDate with yourself if you are a bro or SoloSesh if you’re a Sally. I guarantee you will feel better about yourself and you will be in or on the pathway, to the independent “Good Life.” Kris, Katie, Slick and I wish you the best.

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Ode to Jimbo (a 6-months early surprise birthday party poem)

The birthday Patriot, Jim-May 2011

The following is a lil poem diddy I wrote for my PHENOMENAL father, Jimmy, for his Memorial Day Surprise Birthday Party, when I was last home.  In my hay day of middle and high school, I busted out poems all the time with the help of my handy, dandy Scholastic Rhyming Dictionary I got at a third grade book fair (ya, remember those?!?  I bought many an poster and bookmark there!).  I even got a few poems published (I know how lame I sound), so I retreated to my youth and created this for mi padre.  

luv u!

Saw this driving during my 1st week living in PB. From me in CA, to you in MD

End note: I will blog about my dad and some great tales in the near future as well, just as I did for my mom and mother’s day.

Thank you for grilling the meat at your own party.

By the way, the burgers are great and hearty.

Jimbo and his young Jimmy boy Cake for his 60th Semi-surprised Birthday party on Memorial Day, 2011.

I know it’s a bit silly to celebrate 6 months early.

But it’s cool because you are nearly 60 and still burly.

Thanks for being the best Dad to us alive.

We’ve all learned so much from you and thrived.

You are saving our country with your involvement in politics

While still being intelligent and funny in your antics.

The Silver Fox is a local watering hole in my San Diego town that stays open til 6am despite being a pretty dead (but i love it) dive bar. Photo by Rachel Graham.

I’ve told you for years you are a silver fox.

Your humorous ability to light up a room really rocks.

At nearly age 60, you are aging like fine wine.

Steve, Katie, Slick and I are happy to say as our Dad you are all mine.

You’re a heck of a golfer in my eyes at least.

Anyone who can crush it 250 is a beast.

Sizing up the Wakefield Valley hole before crushing it 250 duh.

Mom and you beat up ballroom dance.

Your class resurrected Phil Collins and Elton John music by chance.

You have the smallest pallet I’ve ever met.

Chicken fingers, burgers, or steak is all you will ever restaurant get.

While I’m home I’m trying to turn off every light.

I finally get that if I’m not using it, it shouldn’t be bright…

On long car rides you can be a Bathroom Nazi.

Dad and I at our favorito fontana en Italia, the Fontana de Trevi in Roma-January 2008

But then in Italia, you were so polite saying “grazie!”

Our 3,000 mile journey to San Diego was an amazing road trip!

Dad driving, singing, blue-toothing, and eating inside the CRV in the middle of hurricane terrority (Kasas probably)-October 2010

The days you do expand your pallet you order a French dip.

McD’s, which you should have stock in, has your favorite “freedom” fry.

You’ve always been a nickname kind of guy.

Jonathan looked like a mischievous trip.

So you opted to name our Persian-looking son Slick.

Our darn good Dad and his stellar spawn, Steve, Katie, Me, Slick, and the Silver Fox himself. June 2011. Notice proud parents Katie and Steve's tees!

Steve couldn’t stop from hitting objects with a bat.

So you gave him the infamous alias of Wack.

Being a pumpkin thrice for Halloween was my funk.

So you crowned me with the name of Punk.

Dad cleans up well. Looking draper at Steve's wedding, October 20, 2007, at the Sheraton Hotel in Towson, Md.

“Rosie, my Love!” you call Mom since she’s prettier than any other flower.

You surely melt under her innocence and power.

Jimbo- you really are a classy guy.

You made it really hard to say our roommate goodbye

Thanks again or being the greatest person and Dad to us you could be.

With God as your Savior, the Truth will set you free.

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What’s up Surfs up

PB Surfer off Google images at Tourmaline Street in PB/Birdrock where I attempt this new sport

Surfing and my move out here draw a lot of parallels I realized tonight.  I first started spitting game about this beautiful place last February, but I didn’t make the move till 8 months later in October.  I endured six months of people slamming the idea of San Diego, people presenting me DC/Baltimore jobs that I wasn’t gung-ho about, submitting hundreds of job applications and cover letters,  and finally, swallowing rejection for not being the chosen candidate for the SD positions I  scored first and second round interviews at companies including Callaway, sales firms,  a local surf company and another University.  I think I’ve surfed six or seven times now and I heard you don’t become comfortable until your 30th time at least after you have been rocked by hundreds of waves and felt the right footing on a lucky few. Similarly, last year I took a few interviews, months in time span, had many a confidence boasting conversations and took even “baby steps” (What About Bob reference) to finally get the courage to pop up on my San Diego job surf board successfully in October.  

Ana Banana, my 8 foot long board

High Five's at High Tide with Colleen. Photo by Brian Wong. See more of his surf photography at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1505262113

So, I bought Ana Banana this past spring. Between working 9 to 6, going to grad school part time, having a light social life and unraveling more about Southern California, I haven’t paddled out as much as I would like.

I have only successfully gotten up on my long board once and it was the 5th or 6th time I had paddled out.  I am obviously not adept enough to know how to diagnose a wave often, but that day, during that Friday night sunset session with my visiting best friend, Colleen, and my motley crew of three other surfing mentor friends, conditions were right.  The water was glassy, which is optimal surfing conditions, I learned that day, and the push of the wave just made it more friendly to move around on your board and more inviting for a  pop up.  I wasn’t scared as the turbulent tide raced over Ana Banana this time like my other surf seshes because the waves weren’t rough or chunky, but rather smooth and friendly.  Everyone on their way into the showers and parking lot could not stop gushing about the water’s warm embrace (despite being in the 50s in temp) for especially long board. It was fitting that I got up on my last wave I took in for the night and my friend Brian Wong was screaming “Yeaaaa Jess!  Cowabunga!” as he caught the same wave as me 20 feet to my left, while I was screaming in astonished merriment. 

Photo by Brian Wong. See more of his surf photography at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1505262113

Sometimes it’s just better to act on impulse that becomes repetition like with my golf swing…

8th Hole at Worthington Manor Golf Club, Urbana, Md., July 2007

when I don’t think about it, I crush it 100 yards, but when I try to break it down, I shank it. Currently,  in my novice surf state, I’m uneasy on the board, fumbling my limbs and thinking about the 3 steps (to a pop up) way too much, but in reality, its 3 steps in 1 fell swoop and I need to speed up the 3-1 into one solid motion.  Last week during a weekday sesh, I started a bad habit of getting on all 4s.  Right before I started the bad habit, my former Arlington-living surfer friend Steph said, “whatever you do, don’t go on all 4s-it’s a bad habit and it took me forever to shake.”  If only that idea had not been placed in my head… I only did it for two waves thankfully, so I can still shake that bad habit I pray, but bad habits in my life die hard…chipotle obsession, my sometimes sans-arc shot on the court, the incorrect way to hold a writing utensil (started in kindergarten), my sailor mouth currently.  

After I went on all fours twice, I decided I needed to observe the local greats and comfortables around me and their approaches to the masterful pop-up.  You  learn by example and I remembered, when I took golf lessons,
my dad and my golf instructor would show me videos of textbook swings by Lefty, El Tigre, Vijay, Fred Funk (Univ. of MD Alum by the way) and a million LPGA Asian chicks I forget their names now.   I felt at peace as I straddled Ana Banana in the Pacific while surveying the talent around me.  As I was admiring their swift technique of the final butterfly kick before the all- in- 1-motion pop up – I was taking mental notes in surf school. 

Tonight on jog  along the beach, I halted the run for a few minutes to soak up a surfing lesson from a new angle.  I looked to the left and to the right of me and I was just another pawn on their pensive Pacific Beach pedestrian and runner chessboard.  All of the streets in this one high foot traffic part of the boardwalk blur together, but I had just mentally confirmed for the hundredth time to myself that this moment right here is one of the primary reasons I popped up on my San Diego surf board last year-for this place, for this moment.  I didn’t realize that I stopped to surf stare at the street I will be moving to in two weeks.  I believe in omens and especially when I am not 100 percent sure if I am making the right decision, so my break time on

New digs, Felspar Ave.

Felspar Avenue, the replacement of my current Reed Ave,

Old digs, Reed Ave

verified my tennis shoe tact.  A big allure of this house was that it is a block and a half from the ocean, 100 dollars cheaper, brand new and amenity stacked.  Plus, the Oceano Pacifico will be cat calling me, “You know you want to.  I want you to come here” and I will willingly comply to my new next door neighbor, my aquatic companion’s request to run, walk, bike, surf more since I’ll steps away, not blocks like before.

After my silent future surf-sesh pep talk on Felspar, I stuck up my jog again on the boardwalk toward La Jolla in my Nikes and Winfield field hockey jersey that no one in Southern California recognizes, but I love to pieces. After a mile or so, I nearly tripped because I was too busy watching the free natural sporting event occurring on my left on the Pacific stage once again.  I found a grassy knoll and tried to do some ab work while stalking the surfers’ strokes and jotting bullet points of what to do on Wednesday when I paddle out next, but eventually, I just said screw the abs, admire their legwork.  I wasn’t the only athlete who stopped their workout early to span the current currents in Pacific Beach tonight either.  In fact, couples stopped kissing, homeless men seized their personal affirmations, and little tykes paused their game of catch.  Collectively, yet individually, we all studied the curving boards dance on top of the waves as surfers shredded gnar with their twist of their bodies, some even landing 360s like Kelly Slater.   I learned that I have been popping up too late in the game,

She popped up before the water surges on her

in the midst of the current chaos as it crashes my board and body instead of right before the wave rides over me. In one fell swoop I need to beat the rush, just like I do for big sales, packed happy hours, and

DC Traffic- a serious mood blower

DC beltway traffic. Except this time, I learned it from my own aquatic academics and not from hear-say.  That, I could not have learned from the side or behind angle I was rocking on Ana Banana, waiting in between the sets in the water last week.  I needed to view that head on, face first, front row at the Surfing Show. Just like after hundreds of job applications, I was able to build up the courage to pop up into something new and unfamiliar. Hopefully,  after unsuccessful catches and rough wipeouts, with time, effort, helpful mentoring, I’ll be popping up on my 8 foot Ana Banana, carving through these cold currents, just as I did with my move here.

End note:   Now this is just skillful…Surfing meets skiing in Hawaii…I wish they had the film of his wipe out http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/caught-on-tape-skiing-waves-12882702 

And now for a toucing surfing video, the one-armed, inspirational Bethany Hamilton teaches 6-year-old Leukemia patient, Kendall, how to surf as her Make-A-Wish-Foundation wish.http://espn.go.com/espn/features/mywish/story/_/id/6783789/my-wish-kendall-curnuck-meets-bethany-hamilton

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30 Life Lessons I’ve learned at age 24

I always want to know more details.  See more things.  Meet more people.  When will this run around get old?  I’m not sure yet, my Loyal Reader.

I have a serious fear of age and holding onto my youth.  I think it was part of my escape of reality was to move to San Diego to keep me young.  I still shop at Forever 21 despite being 24 and I am still wearing underwear I’ve had since high school.  When I turned 23, the Facebook event was called “Celebrate the 2nd anniversary of Jessica’s 21st!”  I wanted the lazy people to not do the math, so I appeared younger.

But success is failure turned inside out. You aren’t living unless you are making mistakes and learning from them.  Reflection is powerful and shows your maturity despite your ability to make mistakes.  So, in retrospect, I’ve learned a lot from my errors in my 24 years of existence. My Grandma while on vacation in Myrtle Beach once told me that mothers are never done teaching (she gave one her 40-year-old son a lesson that week herself).  On the other side, daughters and sons therefore are never done learning.

And your series of trials and errors become hysterical because God (or whatever faith you have) has a sense of humor (i.e. passing gas is one of the Lord’s greatest reoccurring jokes).  One of my favorite guy friends, Matt Antol, once told me, “I like how you live life” after I had been to hell and back, but with stars in my eyes the entire time during my  University of Maryland Homecoming experience as a first year Alumni.  Compliments like that make your social suffrage worth it.

On a famous celebrity scale quote, Tucker Max once said, “bad decisions make good stories.”  I am not telling everyone to go sin left and right and to not go with your gut feeling, but at least to take the lesson in stride and to laugh about it.  I’m sure everyone’s Dad would say the same thing of when he clocked his brother in the ribs, breaking two of them, just because his brother took his spot on the sofa during a new episode of Mash.  Sure Dad was grounded for weeks, but at least he felt macho for those weeks and I bet his brother thought twice about not getting up from the couch when directed the next time.

I’ve composed a list of lessons I’ve personally learned firsthand and some I’ve deprived inspiration from some of the greats.  So here are my two cents on my 6th sense, reflection:

1. “Time heals all wounds. “

I’m not sure if this is true yet.  So in the mean time, I think this is better/will suffice, “Time doesn’t heal anything- it’s what you do with that time.”

2. You should always express gratitude because there is always something to be grateful for.  My friend Kristen said she knows a bartender in Arlington, VA, that gives out a free drink to the first person of the night who says “Thank you” after he or she orders.  The bartender has many a night where that does not happen till HOURS after he started working. Can you believe that?  Please always use your manners, friends.

3. “Smile.  It gives you more face value.” –Steel Magnolias

4. “I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot.  I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.” — Audrey Hepburn

Got to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince right?  And seriously, happiest girls are the prettiest girls and this reverts back to smiling giving you more face value (see # 3).

5. Tears are diamonds of the eye.  I know, yee who now never cries saying these sounds bogus, but showing emotion is not always a sign of weakness. Knowing when it is appropriate is an acquired skill.

Typical work out attire

6. If you’re not weird, you need to be.

7. “Life is like a rocking chair.  It gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere.” -Van Wilder

8. “Be your best friend, tell the truth, and overuse I love you

Go to work, do your best, don’t outsmart your common sense

Never let your praying knees get lazy

And love like crazy.” – Lee Brice

9. You can sleep when you’re dead.

10. “A stranger is a friend I just have met yet.” –Myself.

So, go on first dates even if you have doubts.  Even if it doesn’t work out, which it probably won’t (Side note: Remember how you felt when things ended for you to your dismay and let him down gently), it’s just interesting to her another person’s story and you will probably learn something about yourself during the date.  Potential lessons you could pull away with include:  “Man, I’m so much better than him,”  “Damn, I am in no condition to date anyone right now,”  “Wow, he is inspirational- I should book a trip to Amsterdam in 2012 with my tax refund.”  “I am going to start playing fantasy stock market because my retirement comes from the market.”

11. Everyone needs to watch When Harry Met Sally by themselves with their phone turned off in a well-light room.  And everyone should experience the love that Harry and Sally finally realize they have for each other.

Harry Burns: “I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

When Harry Met Sally

12. There is more to life than working out all the time.

13. Everyone has low points when they aren’t in a good place.  It’s how you bounce back that’s worth sharing.

14. Always put your kids first and yourself last.

On a similar note: Don’t get a dog until you are responsible enough.

15. “I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go. Things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right. You believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”-M. Monroe

My dad said something similar a few years ago.  “You didn’t do anything wrong, Jess.  This happened to you because God knew this was holding you back from something bigger and better.  You may not know what that something is today or in 6 months from now, but you will see how your life pans out and be grateful for this pain one day.”

Damn, he is good.  So was Marilyn’s take.

16. “You have no idea how high I can fly.” -Michael Scott on The Office after he drove to New York to quit Dunder Mifflin

Message here: Prove everyone wrong.  Changing  perception is hard, but actions can do it.

17. Don’t be a jerk.  Give back.  Just because the public school system does not demand you to do 150 hours of community service anymore because you graduated high school, doesn’t mean your service to enriching your community should end.  You may have it bad, but someone always has it worse than you.

September 1992, Audrey Hepburn in Somalia. Photo by Robert Wolders”Often the kids would have flies all over them, but she would just go hug them. I had never seen that. Other people had a certain amount of hesitation, but she would just grab them. Children would just come up to hold her hand, touch her,” John Isaac, UN Photographer.

“For Attractive lips, speak words of kindness, For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people, For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry, For Beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day, For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. People, more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself and the other for helping others.”
— Audrey Hepburn

18. Don’t cheat on your lover.  Learn from Tiger, Diana and Charles, Arnold on my Bethesda, Md. “friend” (I wish) Maria Shriver.

Cupid Shuffling with Kristen in Bethesda Winter 2009.

19. When sad, dance it out.  Take Dance Cook’s advice.  “Screw guys.  I just wanna dance!”

Hug loved ones for long times to release soothing chemicals.

Similarly, hug a lot and for long periods of time.  You will feel refreshed.

According to Fox News  (2007), “When the researchers tested the levels of oxytocin after the hug, both men and women showed an increase. However, the researchers also discovered that all of the women had reduced levels of cortisol following the hug. Cortisol is another hormone produced by the adrenal glands as part of the body’s response to stress. The fact that the women participants’ cortisol levels were significantly lower means that females are especially responsive to the calming effects of a hug– proving that a hug a day can go a long way to keeping a woman you love heart healthy.”

To read the entire article, check out http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,249138,00.html

20. Listen to Michael Scott’s words of wisdom.  I wish I had the cash flow to be a home owner as he directs us (sigh on California’s disgusting real estate problems)… 

21. One of my favorite poems since high school by Veronica A. Shoffstall

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today,
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans,
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong,
And you really do have worth.
And you learn and learn…
With every goodbye you learn.

Morning pillow talk with Kait in Cape Charles while Aly pretends she isn't going to wake up to us making fun of her.

22. Take pictures-lots of them, especially candid’s.  You’ll be thankful you captured those vivid memories one day.

Praying for good luck as we throw our coins into the Fontana de Trevi in Roma, January 2008

23.    Travel young.

24.   Learn a 2nd language.  Being bilingual is cool (I teem with envy if you are).  I hope to be there one day.  I bring my college Spanish textbook to the beach to brush up, but I am going to get Spanish language tapes from the library and listen in the car.  You will always be a greater asset for your company, not to mention your might get a free burrito hookup at Chipolte once a relationship is established.

25.  Say you’re sorry when you should and even when you shouldn’t.  At least you will look more polite and courteous when it is not necessary.  People do not say it enough and it is the simplest way to decrease the anger in this world.

Modern Art.  Inexpensive and resourceful.  Post its in urban decor reminding you of things to do.26.  Keep lists.  You will start to forget names and numbers and things you should do/buy even if you are overdosing on Ginkoba pills to improve your memory loss.  Visual reminders will come in handy.

27. “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.” –Moulin Rouge

Love your friends and family eternally.  Afterall, they made you who you are today.

28.  Be spontaneous every once and awhile.  Conquer a fear.  Challenge yourself.  I recently surfed the wave at Wavehouse in front of a crowd of strangers when I had only surfed 3 times before in my life (and had never gotten up on the board) and had never snowboarded or wake boarded before.  

Kait comes to visit last-minute (day after booking). Us girls on Coronado Island's private vast beach with guys I knew from MD, Josh (high school friend) and Flo (Naval Academy friend I knew in undergrad).

One of my best friends got a job that started on the Monday, Nov. 22 in DC and moved from New Orleans to MD on Friday Nov. 12.   She realized she would have 2 weeks off for the rest of her life, so she booked a flight to visit San Diego newbie me on Tuesday Nov. 16.  She arrived the next day on Wednesday, Nov.17 and flew home on Sunday, Nov. 21, the night before her first day of work.  Take notes from jetsetter Kait.  This ties into No. 23-Travel young.

29. Until this song came out, I never really thought about my death. This song hit me because the lyrics are amazing, the sound is serene and The Band Perry is composed of two brothers and a younger sister, aka my family (though we aren’t musically inclined unfortunately).  My version includes strapping Slick and Steve playing Rock Band guitars while I sport a blonde wig, pearls and my Craig’s list cowboy boots as we strum out this song down fabulous Kelly Witte’s property on the Shenandoah River.

No one knows when it will come, but I do know that if I die young, I would die happy.  Thank you friends and family for making that a true statement.  If it isn’t a true statement for you, Loyal Reader, make moves to change it.  It’s never too late.

30.  Concluding thought…This one sums up all of the others.

“As we grow up, we learn that even the one person that wasn’t supposed to ever let you down probably will. You will have your heart-broken probably more than once and it’s harder every time. You’ll break hearts too, so remember how it felt when yours was broken. You’ll fight with your best friend. You’ll blame a new love for things an old one did. You’ll cry because time is passing too fast, and you’ll eventually lose someone you love. So take too many pictures, laugh too much, and love like you’ve never been hurt because every sixty seconds you spend upset is a minute of happiness you’ll never get back. Don’t be afraid that your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin.”

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World’s Greatest Mom, Shrink, and Friend, Rosemary

"One Hot Mama!" She lost 35 pounds recently and loving these flared jeans I bought her for Christmas, December 2010.

If any of you have had the pleasure of meeting and giggling with my soft-spoken, amiable mother, consider yourself lucky.  She probably made you feel like a million bucks, calmed you if you were fretting, and made you view the world in a hue you had never seen before.  These traits are powerful and I am so fortunate to say that these  traits are ravishing Rosemary.   I am proud to say I am Rosemary’s only daughter (insert “only” for “grand” in the lyrics for this song.

She is beautiful.  Inside and out.  I hear it from friends, family and strangers all the time and I know it to be true.  I see her good looks everywhere.  Because I miss her so, I have mirages of my mom’s facets.

We created Pottery together before I left for SD in October. Notice both of our artwork has a palm tree on it.

When I see palm trees, I think of her because she has a SERIOUS thing for

When I see palm trees, I think of my Mom. And paradise (basically synonymous though).

palm trees (half her wardrobe and jewelry collection is palm tree themed).  When I see jewelry, I think of her because she “treats” herself to jewelery shopping sprees often and her accessories always match her outfit in theme.  When I see gelato, I think of her because we softly swallowed some of the best gelato in Italy together (she actually took the picture of me eating gelato in this blog’s header-top right of this page).  Phil Wickham may sing this song, but today, I am singing to my mom.  

As the young bella, I hated salads and as Italians, we ate our salads last.  I was an aspiring pageant contestant (yes, I did do beauty pageants, but my mom was a realistic and supportive mother, not a typical pageant mom) who just wanted to grow up and be stunning like Miss America.  Noticing my disdain for vegetables, usual good parenting struck my mom with the sagacious sentence, “Now Jessie, if you want to grow up and be Miss America, you have to eat salads because salads make girls more gorgeous.”  GAME CHANGER.  I never not finished my salad bowl from that point on.  And I have my mother to thank for my affinity for salads and her amazing good looks because I saw that she was beautiful and I wanted to be as pretty as her.

Both my parents have brown hair and blue eyes, thus, I am their hybrid human.  Thank you, Mom for a debatable half of my appearance (people say I look like both equally and also one more so than the other).  I love when people tell me I look like my mother.  It never gets old.

I think I get my social butterflyness from that Godsend, Rosemary.  She has been a religious education teacher for years, a ballroom dancer with my dad weekly, involved in an acting troupe called “Women of the Bible,” an avid seamstress, a ball room dancer,

She made this dress for me 4 years ago and I am wearing while thinking of her it the first week of work in Newport Beach. What an fantastical seamstress she is!

a movie junkie, and caregiver to my grandmother, not to mention one heck of a sister, mother, and friend to us fortunate folks.  My mom who wasnt an athlete herself, was my biggest female fan (my dad was the male) and attended all my games.  She felt so bad if she had to work late and missed some of it.  She took the time and effort into learning the field hockey, basketball and lacrosse jargon from the stands too.

My parents showcasing their ballroom dancing lesson efforts at wedding in April 2008.

We also relished the arts together as I was a dancer for years (and so she was in her youth) and we also shared a passion for Musicals.  I do remember having my mom drive my dance class friends and I around in the car and my mother, who wasnt even the lean, mean, ball room dancing machine partner she is now, happily pelting out the lyrics simultaneously as me to a song that perfectly describes her love for me today, “I Hope You Dance.”   Lee Ann Womack sings:

” I hope you never lose your sense of wonder 
You get your fill to eat 
But always keep that hunger 
May you never take one single breath for granted 
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed 
I hope you still feel small 
When you stand by the ocean 
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens 
Promise me you’ll give faith a fighting chance 
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance 
I hope you dance.” 

She never grew out of her childhood and relishes reading children books still to this day.  Whereas I have had a mild history of liking younger guys to keep me young as I have an anti-aging issue, my mom keeps herself young by reading children’s literature.  One of her favorite things to do is to read these books to younger cousins and my gosh, does it warm my heart.  In her retirement, she would like to be a librarian and throw in the lab coat.

My mom and I at the Vatican January 2008 after getting blessed by the Pope and sitting near Andrea Bocelli at Mass earlier.

 She reads more than just adolescent books though.  Novels on Italy, motherhood (she made me read Teri Hatcher’s book “Burnt Toast” so we could have mother daughter conversations about it), history, mystery, Harry Potter (of course) and romance.

And now, my mother is a GILF (figure it out).  My bro and his wife are the new proud 2011 parents to a baby nugget making my mom a beaming grandmother.  Now another person will enter our world she can spoil and share her reading passion with, but this time, develop that unique grandmother-granddaughter relationship with.  Congrats, Mom.  I hope one day I can be half the mother you were to us and create more grandchildren for you to play with.

I always chalked up my 4.2 weighted and my 3.8 unweighedt high school GPA to my mother.  She would stay up late with me for moral support while so I wasn’t lonely doing my procrasinating projects.  If it was artistic, she would create masterpieces on my posterboard projects.  She would test me on vocabulary words and the details of famous American battles.  She was a teacher, the predecessor to my college roommates who would stay up and “study” with me  and my rock in just sitting next to me as I wanted to poke my eyes out with my blue paper-mate pen for not staring the assignments earlier at 10:13 p.m. on a school night.

When San Diego became a serious notion in future professional life, she was against it all along because she didn’t want to lose her baby to distance and to a staggering San Diego economy.

La Jolla Cove July 2004, my first time to San Diego

She even told our eye doctor when I was still interviewing, “I could live New York or Carolina, but did she have to choose the furthest point from me?”  When it came  down to it, she revealed she was jealous that she never had the guts to do what I was doing.  Hard for a mother to say for sure.

Then,  I got my offer.  I was a wreck. In recent years, I have proud myself on never crying and not having real, feminine emotions.  I kept crying while laying next to my mom on her gargantuan Sleep Number bed.  She asked why I was crying and since I couldn’t speak because I had that pansy tearing voice, she answered her own question, “It’s because you don’t want to leave your family and friends isn’t it?”  That was it- a big part of it, but not all of it.  This was revolutionary for me and I was having qualms whether I was to start my revolution from that bed at that moment.

That’s when she confidently, unselfishly swooped in and saved the day and my nerves, “This is what you wanted.  You have to do this or you will regret it.  It is going to be great, Jess.  You should and will be happy. ” 

I can’t believe she had the strength to say that to this day, but then again I can, because my mother is an angel with invisible wings.  I knew deep down she didn’t want me to go because we are so close and she loved having me around the area, but this is when she was awarded Mother of the Century Award. She put what I wanted more first in a really plain  way (moms do this a lot on a small-scale daily, but not to a 3,000 mile, expensive and life altering way).  I was scared sh*tless, but hearing my mom finally letting me go when I didn’t think I wanted to go and telling me I had to do it proved she loved me more than she loved herself.   She helped me make the move that I didn’t think I was ready for.  Really tough stuff for a mother to endure and for a daughter to accept, but we did it.She’s so fricking adorable to Skype with and I get pumped to talk to her several times each week.  I told her I was going to blog about her for Mother’s Day.  By the way, sorry I am a day late (you did tell me it was cool to be fashionably late sometimes though?), but I didn’t have my homework companion keeping me on track last night as I was writing my 2nd paper in my MBA program, so thus, I was doing that late night last-minute on Mother’s Day because I am re-learning time management (bit rusty since it’s been two years since I was student). Anyway, my Mom’s response was a humble chuckle and a “uh, Jess why me?  I am so boring.”  Humility I heard right through my cell phone!  Monica Baldwin once said, “What makes humility so desirable is the marvelous thing it does to us; it creates in us a  capacity for the closest possible intimacy with God.”  You are far from monotonous, Mom, especially when you are displaying an angelic trait.

Similar graphic travel tees ("Chicago" because we are in Chicago in this picture) and similar scarves. My twinny mother and me <3. Dad didn't want to join in the fun because he would probably look like a Guido.

Since I was the only girl, my mom took it upon herself to act as my match.  We dressed alike even up til last summer actually.  And I was always happy to be her right hand man/muse in matching.  Rosemary loves graphic travel tees and wears them oh so well (see picture of us in Chicago). That will never change just like my love for her.  So of course on vacation I happily obliged to wear similar touristy outfits with her.

I sent her 20 Purple Irises for early Mother’s Day and also for her Wedding Anniversary on May 5th (so did my brother though we didn’t plan it).  Of course it was also Cinco de Mayo and as a firm believer in themes, she sends me this picture with the caption “Omg  thank you bella!  They are beautiful and so are you!”  Notice the Mexican throw rug/blanket she draped under the floras as she was celebrate Cinco alongside her Anniversary and Mom’s Day.  Too precious this miraculous woman is.

Flowers Slick and I sent Mom for Mother's Day/Wedding Anniversary on Cinco de Mayo. Themer Dreamer my awesome mom is.

God (and Hallmark) created Mother’s Day because your birthday was not enough of a celebration to honor her.  I am so blessed to be her best friend, daughter and confidant.  Thanks for making me who I am and showing me love, Mom.  And thanks for your patience since one day tardy on completing this.

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Dream city now my reality city

So, I did it.  I made my dreams come true at age 23.  My dream city became my real life city.  And I moved from Coast to Coast.  I should have resurrected this once purely designed to showcase a few pieces of my college writing blog months ago and morphed it into about my transition to San Diego all along. But I was too busy getting nice with my this long-awaited love affair and unravelling new places and friendships in my new stomping grounds.  This blog’s tone will change to light and airy for all to see and read.  I’ve documented my social trial and errors through a series of emails to my girlfriends

Cape Charles August 2009. Majority of my best college girlfriends (a few lovebugs missing though)

"The fam that vacays together, stays together."

My family in Myrtle Beach-August 2010. "The fam that vacays together, stays together."68 people total that year I believe.

and closest guy friends at home, but this should be appropriate for all walks of life (yes, you Mom!).  Just kidding mom, I love you and all my familia..

McKeldin Library on the Mall at the University of Maryland

Anyway, for a brief summary of my pre San Diego life, I’ll refresh or enlighten you.  I graduated in May 2009 from the University of Maryland (Go Terps!).  I worked in DC for nearly a year at the washingtonpost.com and then a small event planning company until I was laid off last Spring.  I had a great year living with one of my college best friends and two of her other good friends that I came to grow and love as

Us 4 Terps in Bethesda Rooomates. January 2, 2010 Kiss and Fly (club) in NYC with Bethesda roommates

Ski House (some of us) from Pittsburgh MLK weekend

and also expanded my social circle to more lifelong best friends and guy friends.  That first year out of our college was AN AMAZING Alum year, a transition year, a year of self exploration and declaration.  Despite being stressed at one job and then unemployed, that year of freedom and rebirth was my favorite year of life and I did so many things I wouldn’t have done and so long-term friendships were built that I would not have made if I had not been in DC, single, eventually unemployed, and so willing to do everything and anything because I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.  I remember that my girlfriends had me so socially staked from Labor Day Weekend 2010 through April 2011-no joke.  Every weekend night we had weekends plans either local or out of town we knew about in advance.  It is a busy social structure and it was the perfect remedy I needed at that time.

However, all good things have to come to an end.  I eventually realized I was spinning my wheels in mud in Maryland in a few ways-Confusing my mind with the old boyfriend, drinking in the same saloons every weekend, going on weekend getaways and blowing my unemployed (funemployment?) bank account, parents micromanaging my job applications.  I needed something drastic, a challenge that would snap me into adulthood and into the real, real world.  Something that would help me grow in more ways than one.

Fairly new to single life and being unemployed was a blessing in disguise I realized in retrospect.  When one door closes, another one opens is very true.  In one of my favorite movies despite being unbearably gory at times, Fight Club,  Tyler Durden said, “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we are free to do anything.”  I kept hearing those sentences from my subconscious and from my mental repertoire of great movie quotes, so it really resonated.  The world was my oyster and I wanted to be at the beach.

My parents and I at the Hotel Del Coronado July 2004

In July, 2004 the greatest parents to walk this Earth and I visited some distant family in San Diego to just do something different from our usual Myrtle Beach vacation.  I told them while getting dressed in our downtown San Diego Gaslamp District hotel room, “Now Mom and Dad, I’ve seen a lot of great cities, but once I graduate from college, I will live in San Diego sometime in my 20s.”  “Oh ya Jess?  Ok, just get your diploma and we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. ” Four years later, after I graduated from college, I treated myself to another San Diego adventure

August 2009 photo of La Jolla Cove taken from George's on the Cove restaurant on Prospect

with my graduation money and that trip reaffirmed my heartfelt admiration for Southern California.

Chi-town boat ride. My parentals and I on the Chicago River Boat Tour August 2009. Tribune Company behind us

Baltimore with my little boyfriends and home slices.  Really hard to leave the greatest sets of friends a girl could ask for.

Baltimore with my little boyfriends and home slices

So, I was applying and interviewing for jobs in Virgina, DC, MD, Baltimore, NYC, Long Island, Chicago and San Diego.  But all along, I knew I was so over DC…Too political, too expensive, and so the last 5 years of my life with 6 internships and my social life.  Cough! – need something different.  Chicago, despite being prettier and better than NYC in all ways other than social life, would have been too cold and too much of a challenge since I didn’t have as many vertebrae and bearing in the Windy City (but oh, how I love that city’s aesthetics).   Baltimore, I really wanted if I were to stay east coast, but didn’t have as many contacts. (Sidenote: Though I do want Baltimore when I return to my great state. ) God Bless Federal Hill.  Some of my fondest memories occurred in that stellar part of Baltimore.

Anyway, I eventually realized when I was interviewing that I really wouldn’t be happy unless I got a San Diego job.  I just kept thinking I would hate to be rocking in the chair at the nursing home and some bright-eyed, young visiting granddaughter come popping in to see her grandmother and talk about how great life is in California and crotchety old me would blow out a puff of Virgina Slim smoke and say, “I always wanted to live in San Diego, but just never did it.”  Inhale more from that 3 inch stick.

Now, I have always been a doer, but a safer doer.  The minute I started saying I was looking to move to San Diego, the minute the seed was planted in my hippocampus and the covert pressure I put on myself to get a job out here made it all the more motivating because a lot of people can talk the talk, but can they walk the walk?  I wanted to walk the walk and was embarrassed enough of being a confident, competent recent grad with a résumé teeming with impressive things who was laid off and still unemployed months later, so to say I want California and never do it, would have been more humiliating and I guess I always worked well under pressure with a deadline whether self constructed or real.

So I emailed the UMD Alum Association and told them this is my experience and these are the fields I am trying to break into, etc.  They gave me some leads and one of them was the San Diego Terps Facebook group.  I wrote member a personalized message and I received resounding responses back saying kudos for the Terp to Terp connection and we will definitely forward it around and keep our ears open.  After a few months and a few relationships built up,  the wheels were turning out of my Maryland mud. Jimbo, my Silver Fox padre, after hearing me talk about San Diego for years and in serious terms for months, finally said if I lined up 4 interviews, he would pay for my airfare.  I lined up 4 interviews and 3 coffee dates and boarded a September flight for $230 round trip for 10 days after I nailed down my final and necessary for free flight, 4th interview.

When work meets play-trying to get a job bay side. Applying for more jobs while prepping for Interviews on Mission Bay. Photo taken Sept 2010 at good friend from home and SD, Steph Kisic's apartment patio.

I got an offer with a University here and saw the promise in receiving my MBA for free (have to pay taxes on it though) and accepted it early October. I’ll blog more about this later (road trip, the first few months, meeting friends and celebrity runs ins), but I moved in late October and here I am.  I talked the talk and walked the walk 3,000 miles away from home and into Southern California, 20 minutes from the border where the sunshine performs a sunset dance everyday that never gets old.

San Diego Sunset-it always grounds me. Tournmaline Street, where I surf. Photo taken by my friend Brett Thompson's iPhone.

Myrtle Beach 2008 Roenick side -68 total

I miss my friends and family terribly of course, but never got homesick where I think I need to drop everything and come home.  I am first and foremost, a family man, I always say.  And I am a best friend to a lot of great girls and a good girl space friend to a lot of rad bros at home, but they are all good enough friends that we are able to maintain our friendships despite the 3 hour time difference and 3,000 mile separation.  I love my San Diego life and want to kick out my MBA, but the greatest things in life are free.  For 2, 3, 4 years, I will fly home 3 or 4 times a year for a few weeks and Skype weekly in the mean time while hosting a slew of visitors.

But, I had to do  this for my myself and I am eternally grateful that I was able to follow through with a promise my bright-eyed, California dreaming, 17-year-old self made.  I am poor with gas prices $4.15 a gallon, tax at nearly 9 percent and now driving a gas guzzling SUV like a Californian stereotype, but I am as happy a clam because the world is my oyster,  and I am very much in a sick love affair with a whale’s vagina

.  Darius Rucker sums up my feelings to a tee: For every stoplight I didn’t make Every chance I did or I didn’t take All the nights I went too far All the girls that broke my heart All the doors that I had to close All the things I knew but I didn’t know Thank God for all I missed Cause it led me here to this.” I wouldn’t change a thing about what I have lost and gained the last two years of my life. 

Petco Park and me. View from Nikon tour in the Gaslamp one fine February 2011 morning

Every morning I turn off my smart phone alarm clock, it still feel like I am living in a long-term sabbatical because my dream city is my still surprisingly, my now reality city.  And I am forever grateful.

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Ode to the Farmers! Love, A City Girl

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “When nature has work to be done, she creates a genius to do it.”  These geniuses are the farmers, the unsung heroes of our country.  Though I formerly had an aversion of them, I have developed a remarkable affinity for those once called, “hicks” because they are among America’s hardest workers.  I have been surrounded by the agricultural standard of living my entire life, wishing I was born in a big city, but only recently have I been blessed to come to the realization of my deepest appreciation for their occupation.

Taylorsville, my noteworthy hometown, has demonstrated the sole beauty of the American farmer.  You must first understand the merit of my town.  It is so tiny it does not even have its own post office.  The composition includes houses, farmland, a liquor store, a country and garden store, a pub, three gas stations, and a video store, where the movies are rather outdated and do not even carry DVDs. You are bound to see one of your acquaintances upon a visit to any of these places.  Many people live within three miles of their extended families and most of them work on the farm together.  At the front door of almost every agricultural household, there is a shotgun and/or rifle, greeting the guests and intruders.  In addition, every family owns a bb gun with which the children have shot at random animals for hunting target practice.

Camouflage outfits are commonplace in farm towns.

Every brother and father have, at least, one camouflage suit for the habitual hunting outings. Common apparel at the local high school football game is a Carharrt jacket and slim fitting wranglers or Levi overalls with a plaid flannel shirt underneath.   (If you do not have your own cowboy hat, then it is apparent that you must have moved here recently.) On the weekends, troublesome teenagers relish in cow-tipping, bowling (not cosmic-mind you), spying on their friends, taking part in underage drinking at bonfires and field parties, or trespassing at a farm to swim in the lake with their own epidermis only.  A night out on the town includes a movie at the theater 15 miles away and then consists of walking to dinner at Denny’s. Every home and farm has, at least, one John Deere, because after all nothing runs like a Deer.  Finally, the one event that placed my hometown in the history books occurred in 2002.  That was when the thoroughbred horse,  “Magic Weisner,” who was born and raised at Shamrock Farm in tiny Taylorsville, won first place at the Kentucky Derby.  Shamrock Farm is owned by Dan Rooney, the owner of the Steelers and serves as the largest farm in our county.  Side note: One of the sons of the family that lived on Shamrock farm became one of the most popular guys in school after that.  He was elected our Homecoming King and I was so honored (and cooler by association obviously) to be his date that season.

Now, having this upbringing has taught me a sincere admiration for farmers.   I have come to respect the local farmer for providing our nation with nourishment.  He has one of the most tiring and taxing professions in the world because he works up to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and cannot take sick leave or vacation.  He is solely responsible for the farm’s survival economically and thus, his paycheck is tied directly to how successful a farmer he is.  That farmer is talented and risks everything to feed us.  Large farmers compete by quality, technology, and economics of scale to stay in the overproducing market.  Beef, pork, milk, chicken, corn, wheat, and soybeans are essentially the same commodity price as 25 years ago. But what have the prices of cars, homes, land, machinery, college tuition, health care, and everything else done besides dramatically increase?

Farmers are devoted to politics because they have an extreme concern for our country’s welfare, especially the agricultural development and preservation. Much congressional legislation directly affects their livelihood. They are ethical, God-fearing citizens who work day in and day out diligently in every climate.  Rain makes grain and the lack of rainfall across the country results in disappointing returns for many producers. In addition, farmers are the eternal optimists.  It is the farmers who live the problem, gain benefits and suffers the consequences because they ultimately integrate matters of increasing productivity, stabilizing fertilizers, and pesticide usage, run-off pollution, combined with meteorologically uncertain conditions.

Farming is so complex today that only a select few of the total population could succeed in the occupational field. The general public is trained or goes to college to specialize in a specific job.  However, today’s American Farmer has to have innumerable skills in a multitude of professions to be successful in our fast-changing world.  For example, he has to be a mechanic to repair malfunctioning equipment because time is money in the fields and missing a piece of machinery in the fields is costly.  In addition, he must have an eclectic expertise in welding, accounting, farm law, politics, wildlife, construction, animal husbandry, corporate executive matters, marketing, entomology, plant pathology, plumbing, electricity, research science, and chemistry.  Farmers are not your typical Wall Street businessmen, but they are their own executives in overalls.

The American Farmer: An Executive in Overalls

The average farm family living cost is $40,000-$47,000 per year, requiring $225,000-$300,000 gross revenue.  Only fourteen percent of the Unites States farms generate more than $100,000 in gross income a year.

Henry David Thoreau once said “Simplify, simplify, simplify.” This quote is hardly the mantra of farmers because of all the factors affecting their success.  They are the epitome of taking something complicated and making it look simple.  Knowing some of them, I have learned success is not defined by how much money you make, or how much your car costs, but how the greater good is benefited through their valiant efforts. They continue to uphold traditional American values.  Farmers are beyond American’s urban intelligence because of their agricultural advancements and knowledge.  People need to condone their inane stereotypical image of the average farmer.  Instead, they should cease in vilifying them and start honoring them.  Only then, will America converge in gratitude for their assiduous work.  My only question of confusion of this cultural appreciation is when will our nation acknowledge their greatness?  I excitedly wait for the day that the American farmer is the TIME Magazine’s Man of the Year, just as the

2004 Time Magazine's Man of the Year: The Ameican Soldier

was depicted in 2004.  Though they are unfortunately a dying breed, I have developed the utmost respect and admiration for my Taylorsville neighbors, the American farmers, by witnessing their prolific, adaptive, and adept skills.

Written in Fall of 2004 for college admission essays, including the University of Maryland, College Park, where I was accepted and chose to go for 4 years.

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