Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Evolution of Christmas--Miller Style

As a tribute to what is known as the "Christmas Season," I celebrate with a look back at the days of yore filled with holiday merriment.
We've been doing the ugly sweaters since the 90's--I don't know why it took everyone else so long to catch up.
I was NOT going to be cold.
Awkward family photo and personalized sweatshirt! YES!
I think this one says, "This shit is LEGIT!!!"
Hipster from the beginning.
(Below)...The evolution of my relationship with Santa...
Santa distracts me with a candy cane so I don't realize that it's weird that I'm in the lap of a strange old white guy.
I just figured it out.
Santa and I display mutual contempt for each other.
What's that? You give me PRESENTS?! You're not weird, strange old man!!! You give me stuff! Let's be friends.
I'll have an American Girl doll, a Barbie, a Nintendo, Super Mario Bros. 3 and one of those cars that you can actually drive.

Merry Christmas Eve from Portland, OR!

Greetings to you from Portland, OR which apparently, according to the picture on your left is the "City of Roses." Learn something new every day. From the City of Trees (Boise), to the City of Roses. Whatever city I live in, it smells delicious. Anyways, it has been a blast being on break, as you can imagine. As you know, my mother has moved to the Salem area, so this has been a break outside of the norm. My time in the Salem/Portland area has been filled with delicious food, coffee, wine tasting (Um, had a glass out of a $1400 bottle of wine. No big deal), bike riding, jogging, dog-walking, friend-seeing (BFF Holly), cookie baking, over-consumption of TV and Pinterest (it feels so right...yet so wrong...) and good ol' fashioned "hoopla" (you may use your imagination about what this means). Today, my brother and I were reunited, sharing in a long and varied conversation involving gender, trans-evaluation, and Seinfeld. Rich. Also, POWELL'S.

If you do not know about Powell's, well it is just about one of my favorite places to be, though it can be a bit overwhelming, if you want to know the truth. It is the world's largest independent bookstore, and it is a full city block. I think they have one million books, or some unimpressive number like that. The store is literally so large that it is divided into different sections, each a different color--like a rainbow of literacy. The reason I feel overwhelmed is mainly due to having essentially an unlimited amount of options. Do I want to read about L.A. Gang culture? A guy's trip across America? How to start my own business? Or perhaps how to work less and earn more money? Maybe I want to learn about the lifespan of a jaguar, or how to begin a career in parrot-raising. Whatever the subject, Powell's has a book for you. My personal favourite (I wanted to spell it the British way. This seems like such a classy way to spell "favorite") is the Purple Section, because it is the Sociology and Feminist section, and it also has the bathroom and drinking fountain, definitely making it stand out amongst all the other colours (British again!). A strong second place is the Orange section which offers a copious amount of books on sustainability. Ironically un-green because of all of the paper. You could essentially camp out here and not have to move for hours (unless you want something to eat, in which case you could go to the wonderful little cafe downstairs). I've contemplated hiding out in there after they close down the store, just like Natalie Portman's character does in Wal-Mart in the movie Where the Heart Is, however I can now never do this because I have publicly published this statement, and they will use this evidence against me in court. Powell's is an exciting place to truly experience Portland culture at its finest, and I saw some people with some amazing beards. As you can tell by the below picture, you know that anywhere that appears to have a perpetual issue with rollerbladers (since they needed to post it on a sign) is definitely a place where I want to spend my time.

Anyways, that is all for now. I have been thinking about other things, so I imagine I will write about those things in the near future. As they whisper ever so subtly in Wham's "Last Christmas" (Merry Christmas!) (Go listen to that song, and you will see what I'm talking about). Also, Happy belated Festivus!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Dear friend,
Hello! And the happiest of holidays to you! This year, in an effort to go green, my "gift" to you is this rocking Holiday blog in lieu of the traditional holiday card!!!
Remember to not be a scrooge and give a lot to others this year.
And make sure to spread a lot of Christmas-y cheer!
So the merriest of holidays to you, with love from West Hartford!
So I imagine this is the part where I tell you about my very exciting 2011 and all the cool things that happened to me. I feel very grown up having my own Holiday Blog, let me tell you think that having a holiday blog means that you're well on your way to making it as an accomplished adult? Probably. Definitely. Anyways, this year I started my third year as a Residence Coordinator at Saint Joseph College in West Hartford, CT (and yes, I have an official school blog!). I took some Master's Classes this semester and got smarter. I ran a 5k. I finally saw "Wicked!" I survived Mother Nature including a huge snow storm, a hurricane, and a blackout (Climate Change is not a joke!). I discovered new obsessions in the form of black bean brownies, pinterest, and "Happy Endings." I met new friends. I traveled to New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Vermont, Cleveland, New Hampshire, Sturbridge (Massachusetts), various places in Connecticut, Seattle, Portland, and Boise (home!). I won the lottery and had three children. Oh wait, that did not happen, that is a TV show and instead of three kids there are three sisters and they were known as "The Kardashians." Back to reality--real reality, not their reality. But I got your attention didn't I?! That would have been fun to have won the lottery. Probably not the 3 children though.

OK, but on a serious note, 2011 has really been a great year in so many ways. While there were hard times and lessons learned, there were also so many moments to be thankful for. There were amazing memories with some wonderful people who have changed me in so many ways, and I am so thankful for all that God has given me (it sounds cliche but it is true!). I was blessed with new friends, as well as I had the good fortune to keep building and deepening my relationships with others. My heart is filled with gratitude, laugher, and thanks, and I hope that 2012 brings you the same (unless the world ends. That might put a damper on things).

I'm looking forward to an exciting year ahead. My parents have moved to Salem, Oregon, so I will be spending most of the holiday season/summer in a new location exploring new places! I will am also excited to see Darren Criss in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," with my friend Amanda, going to the Ben and Jerry's Factory in Vermont, eating at Bon Jovi's restaurant in Jersey, seeing Washington, D.C. and running up the Rocky steps in Philly, AND I am going to the 2012 Olympics in LONDON with my family! It's OK to be jealous. Get ready Europeans--the Miller/Troxell clan is coming! And we like pubs!!!

To all my West Coast friends, I miss you dearly! To all my East Coast friends, I am so happy I have gotten to know you these past 2.5 years!

I leave you with this final Christmas gift. Oh, and this one via my friend Beth, just to get you in the holiday spirit! Enjoy! Happy 2012!

Love, Jess

Monday, December 12, 2011


Today I found myself thinking back to a moment a few months ago that I was completely embarrassed about. Disappointed in myself, really. Not my shining moment. I immediately shoved it right back to the place that it came from...locked in a filing cabinet somewhere back deep inside my brain that only Jesus and I have access to. The fact is, I tend to be a fairly nostalgic person, so I frequently visit the past, and "getting over things" can be outside of my abilities, if you want to know the truth. I can find myself drifting back to the days of yore (cerca 1995), or perhaps my college years--you know, the good times. The days when I was footloose and fancy free, not a care in the world I say! Or so I might think. I think back to my childhood, the days before having to do taxes, search for a job, and all I had to do was play with my rollerblade Barbie and watch the sparks come out of her inline skates ( I'm writing this, I'm beginning to wonder if this was the safest toy for a child to's a miracle I am alive).

And when I think back on my past, even those years I associate with complete euphoria--those years that you think, "these are the things life was made for!"--I realize that they have been conveniently edited of the hard times. Because upon further examination and honest reflection, I realize there are quite a few embarrassing moments (oh my GOODNESS am I so glad that blogs were not the mainstream when I was a teen...the private journals are embarrassing enough), moments of great sadness, trials, tribulations, heartbreak and heartache, disappointments with myself, frustrations and fights with friends and family. And I find myself trying to brush these more painful memories off. There are things that I have done that I am not proud of, hurtful words I've said, moments that I'd rather leave in the past, buried somewhere deep and secretive. Because they might just expose me for all that I am, and that is something I'd just as soon keep dark and hidden, locked away for no one else to see.

Because the thing is that in so many ways, these are the memories that I need to embrace. That I need to reframe into something beautiful, because these times, just as much as the happy ones. The fights, those mistakes, the disappointments, these are the things that have made me who who I am, as well as shaped the deep, meaningful, beautiful friendships that I have today. I am a mess, and whether any of us want to believe that about ourselves or not, it's really by the grace of God that I have any of the wonderful people that I do in my life. Donald Miller writes about living a good story, and the thing is, living a good story means that you cannot edit out the parts that you want. You can't get the abridged version--it's so much more meaningful to have the whole thing at your fingertips. It is through the experience of something that we determine to be painful or non-pleasurable that we begin to truly understand the greatness in something else. Well now I'm just getting preachy. But I think these things are true--for how much more do we learn to truly savor bliss when we have experienced pain, love companionship when we have really lived being alone (or for that matter, appreciate solitude when we do not have quiet), or appreciate success when we have failed so many times before.

I've been reading a lot of blogs lately about zen and meditation and minimalism and living in the present. I appreciate these blogs for a variety of reasons, and they help me reflect and live intentionally. There is a big focus on living in the present, and only the present. We talk a lot about how we can't change the past, and of course this is true. But memories are so very important, and I imagine this is why God gave us a memory in the first place (though I find myself continually forgetting things, which is frightening because I am only 26 and have not abused any sort of substances that might explain this phenomenon...). I'll agree that it is important to not live in the past or dwell in it, but there is a certain value in memories--because it is our experiences and our pasts that have made us who we are in the present and who we will be in the future.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Lumberjack vs. Hipster

I've been wondering lately what the difference is between a male hipster and a lumberjack. I think this all started when I was contemplating what to buy my brother for Christmas, as he is a hipster who currently resides in Portland, OR. I'm not sure if it is ironically uncool to be referred to as a hipster, because hipster-ism has become mainstream (just walk into any Urban Outfitters) which is against the countercultural values of the hipster, but hopefully he will forgive me for the categorization for the purposes of this blog. As I began to think through the potential go-to presents, I soon realized that all the items I was listing were simultaneously all of the ingredients for a lumberjack. This got me thinking. What was the difference between a hipster and a lumberjack?

Just look at the things they have in common:
1. Both wear flannel shirts and woolen hats
2. Typically have thick facial hair or full beard. "Scruffy" may also be an appropriate adjective.
3. While we are on the subject of wardrobe, they tend to both wear heavy leather boots with deep treads, whether for climbing mountains or not slipping on rainy pavement.
4. Drink lots of coffee and/or ale out of mugs. May or may not swing mugs back and forth while singing a lively song--this is because their mugs are most likely filled with Christmas cheer.
5. Live in places with a lot of trees (a.k.a. Seattle and Portland).
6. May eat pancakes (though some hipsters may prefer vegan flapjacks, or perhaps they may forego the bacon if they are vegetarians)
7. Both MAY need showers. Lumberjacks after working in the forest all day, hipsters for various reasons (or am I confusing "hipster" with "hippie"? This is not representative of the entire hipster population, but I have met SOME hipsters who have smelled like a vintage shop, cigarettes, and/or a hallucinogenic plant known as "Mary Jane" It stings the nostrils.

For me, the difference really resides in the fact that lumberjacks cut down trees, while hipsters may be trying to save the trees (Again, perhaps I am confusing "hipster" with "hippie?" Though, there does seem to be some overlap between the subcultures. Hipsters might be apathetic, as this is their M.O., but if you live in Seattle or Portland, I anticipate that one's love for the environment is directly correlated to your location to the epicenter of the city, i.e. the closer you are the stronger the tree huggery, as these are big parts of the city's culture). Also a hipster is less likely to own a blue ox or an ax.

Of course we are operating out of stereotypes. Not sure what a "hipster" even is? Check out the definition here. Not sure what a lumberjack is? Read the story of Paul Bunyan, and also make sure not to discredit lumberjacking as a viable career option, as you may be told on a high school career test that this should be your career of choice (well, the more "professional" term is "logger") Yes. That is a real story that happened to yours truly. It's ok to be jealous.

On the left we have a picture of some "hipsters" (when typed into google images). On the right we have the lumberjack (also typed into google images). Differences!?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Why I Own a Flip Phone

Tai incessantly makes fun of me because I own a flip phone. Specifically, the AT&T Nokia (see left. But mine is a handsome and becoming crimson). She says that I am behind the technology curve ball, and that she is embarrassed to be seen with me, and she tells me that they don't even make flip phones anymore for a reason. It should also be moderately telling that when talking to a man at a local establishment, when I pulled out my phone for some reason he said, "Wait. Is that a flip phone? I haven't seen one of those in years." Yeah, that's right Mr. Bar Man. I'm THAT smooth. This just goes to show that neither of these people or the many others who have commented on said phone know the AWESOME perks of the flip phone. It doesn't matter that it randomly deleted half of my phone numbers one day! No! It does not! Because the benefits far outweigh the cons:

1. It is very durable. I have dropped my phone numerous times. Carpet. Cement. Wood floors. Tile. The surface is irrelevant, because it remains strong. Is the screen cracked? Is it broken in half? Nope. Sturdy as a brick. Sure, when dropped it may break into three pieces, but those three pieces still work when put back together. So. Yeah.
2. As my friend Frank March pointed out, you can more accurately express your anger to the person you are speaking with: "WHAT DID YOU SAY???!!! I AM HANGING UP ON YOU!!! **slam your flip phone shut (and because I angrily yell at people on the phone quite frequently in my day-to-day life. I'd say at LEAST once a year). Try this with an iphone as you angrily jab your finger at the screen. Yeah. Doesn't feel quite as cathartic does it? Does it?!
3. When you are bored you can make a small hut or lean-to-like structure out of the flip phone, perhaps for a small Lego man or woman to live in during the cold winter months.
4. No butt dialing on the flip phone! No siree! Nope, your ass will not accidentally sit on those keys and you will not accidentally call your ex boyfriend or text an accidental inappropriate word to your grandma (that is, if she texts)!
5. No pockets in your pants? No problem. Simply open the flip phone half way and slide it onto your belt or the top of your pants. You don't even need a cell phone holder or clip--it's built right into the phone.
6. You can say cool statements like, "Catch you on the FLIP side" or maybe, "If that person calls me ONE more time I'm going to FLIP out!" and that is actually accurate.
7. It was free. What more can I say? Money talks.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Vice Verses

I know that there's a meaning to it all
A little resurrection every time I fall
You got your babies, I got my hearses
Every blessing comes with a set of curses
I got my vices, I got my vice verses
I got my vice verses
Where is God in the night sky?
Where is God in the city light?
Where is God in the earthquake?
Where is God in the genocide?

Where are you in my broken heart?
Everything seems to fall apart
Everything feels rusted over
Tell me that you're there

"Vice Verses" by Switchfoot

Love...Or Something Like It

For many a century, men and women have poised their pens to write their significant others beautiful words professing their deepest affections to them. Soldiers wrote their sweethearts love letters, sent from all around the globe, Lord Byron wrote such lovely lines like "She walks in beauty, like the night." I imagine the recipients of these messages maybe sighed a little "Awww," and got the butterflies in their stomach regions. Apparently, these sorts of things have made people swoon or something like that (or at least, we seem to think they are romantic in the movies and such), but fast forward to the 21st century, and the translation seems to have been lost, especially when using facebook as a means of communication.

Take for example my friend who just received a facebook message from a young gentleman she met a few years ago. The message professed his deepest love for her--and by the sounds of it, he is head over heels, I'm talking like depths-of-the-ocean deep. While I'm sure there are many people who might appreciate the romance and passion, it didn't make a whole lot of sense to us. Do we have hearts of stone?! Have we been so jaded that we cannot appreciate the "old fashioned" ways of communicating romance any more? Nope. The message was terrible really, and dare I say EXTREMELY cheesy. Now mind you, she has not seen this person in two years, so it seemed to come out of nowhere, and was perhaps a "bit much"--you really do have to keep context in mind with these sorts of things--but at least there's no guessing about how he feels, which is a rarity these days I suppose. God bless him, he tried, but he really should have consulted with a friend prior to sending this sucker (in my opinion)! I hope it does not appear that I am making fun, as I acknowledge it takes a lot of guts to put your heart out there, was too grand of a blog-writing opportunity to pass up, so you'll have to forgive me. These are some ACTUAL lines from said poem:

"You eyes are as bright as the star." I am not sure if this was supposed to "the star" like "the sun" or "the star(s)" as in plural, and proof reading apparently did not occur
"Your skin is as soft as a cotton sweater."
"Your eyes are as bright as diamonds." We decided this might be acceptable if this line came attached to a box with a diamond IN it.
"I want to serve you like a king serves his queen." No comment.
"I wanted to make love to you but I had severe lower back pain." Again, no comment. The downside was I actually DID have lower back pain yesterday, causing me to want to giggle and pop pills all at the same time--it was a very paradoxical range of emotions.

While it was agreed that some young woman somewhere might greatly appreciate this gesture, or I imagine if it had been written 100 years ago or so, but we established that this was fairly "gag-worthy." However, we seized this opportunity to write some great lines of our own. Feel free to use on your significant other, you don't even need to give us credit:

"Your mind is as sharp as my best cutlery."
"Your teeth are as white as my most bleached undergarment."
"You smell so good you could replace my febreeze."
"Your eyes are as shiny as an egg yolk and your spirit is just as delicious."
"Your joy is as bright as a bouquet of buttercups on a fresh spring day. With butterflies swirling around them."
"My heart bursts for you like the bubble I am currently blowing with my gum."
"Your smile is as bright as the hamburgler and you steal my heart."
"My love for you shines so bright it can outshine any Nor'Easter blackout."
"My love for you is like a 40--it's always a party!"
"You are the pearl I want in my oyster."

Frankly I see some gems for Valentine's Day. Let me be clear: if you are out there, young suitor, and would like to write me a song, HANDWRITE a letter professing your love for me, the things you appreciate about me, I would certainly love that a lot. But please make sure that it does not come through any social networking sites, and does not create various analogies about parts of me to inanimate objects, and should not be cheesy lines like, "Can I see your tag? Because you MUST have been "Made in Heaven." No, I was not, I was made on earth, and we both know this. Perhaps, "Hi, I am ___________. You seem really hilarious and delightful. Would you like to talk?" My response will most likely be very positive, I can assure you.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Adventures in Mystic

I had all the intentions in the world of writing all about my perfect fall activities as of late. I was going to post some delightful pictures of the orange leaves adorning campus, the Pumpkin Fest, me in a warm woolen hat and mittens, a soccer game I went to...I even had some funny lines in my head like I've "fall-en" for autumn. Okay, that was terrible and no one should be so subject to such horrible pun-nery, and I should have higher standards for myself as a writer. But the point was that, according to my calculations I had a solid four to six weeks left to write about my love of fall. And then Mother Nature decided to dump six to ten inches of snow all over my plans, my autumn, and virtually the entire state of Connecticut.

wasn't overly concerned when I had heard that we were going to get snow. In my opinion, the Connecticut weather team hasn't exactly had the best track record when it comes to meteorology prediction. But everyone has to start somewhere. And they decided go start by being extremely accurate. To quote one of the RA's, "I went to sleep on October 29 and woke up on December 24." Now I want some presents. And unfortunately this particular snow storm, because it came so early, wreaked havoc. To quote one student in particular, the town looked like, "there had been a battle and we lost.". And then the power went out. Awesome.

To make a very long story short (we had to evacuate the campus), I am not writing this blog from West Hartford, but from Mystic, Connecticut. My friend lives here and so graciously let me stay here and use things like electricity. Mystic is the perfect town to be in for Halloween. I feel like it is straight out of the Halloween classic "Hocus Pocus," though without the wizardry. Beautiful quaint New England homes, tiny bookstores, COFFEE SHOPS (and you know how I feel about that!). And I get to watch Glee at its regularly scheduled time, which is awesome because i don't normally get to because of class. Its the little things. And guess what-it's still fall here!

I've been in Mystic with my coworker/friends with three small children, so needless to say we have had some great adventures, though they are still holding out for Chuck E. Cheese. I got to go trick or treating for the first time in oh, I don't know seven years, maybe eight, which made me feel oddly old and young at the same time. I also got to dress up as a pepperoni pizza slice which was ironic because I do not eat meat. Today, I made chocolate chip pancakes for the kiddies, and I got to go to the Mystic Seaport (picture to come) where the kids made banjos while Mom was concerned about them playing the banjos non stop later on. Mystic Seaport is this little historical place where they have boats and horses and know like maybe like it was back in the 1800's when they didn't have power. It felt oddly familiar, especially since I had walked to my car holding a candle the night prior. Additionally, at the Mystic Seaport we had the opportunity to go into an old school Blacksmith shop where members of the Coast Guard were learning how to do whatever Blacksmith-y type things. Lets just say it was hot in that room for a number of reasons, and made me seriously re-evaluate living in a land locked town. All in all we've had a great time, though admittedly this has solidified my commitment to not bringing children into the world, but conversely has strengthened my commitment to being the best aunt ever (Henry Porter, I'm talking to you).

If there's anything that I have learned since being in Mystic it is that this is a reminder to how essential it is to slow down. It's of course been busy, which tends to happen when you work full time and are getting your Master's. But you begin to see what you can go without, what is essential, and to really stop and savor the moment. This morning I went for a jog without my I pod...and I don't know the last time I did that, if ever. I often wondered if it was possible for me to run without it, maybe I'd get bored or focus too much on the pain. But I listened to my feet hitting the pavement, my breath going in and out, and felt my muscles working. And I felt so at peace when I came back. When everything you typically use is gone (ok yes, I'm getting Thoreau on you, and yes, I realize I haven't been completely desolate because I'm writing this from an I pad but for the most part I have three days of clothes and that's about it, so just go with it), it makes you slow down, and you really have to be reminded of these things every once in awhile, you know, a wake up call. But I still want fall back.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Happy Endings

And no, this blog post is not about my current obsession "Happy Endings" as you probably would have initially thought. Though I love Penny (year of Jess, suck it!). Hmmm...I'm not as predictable as you thought...

But what I've found myself perpetually thinking about is happy endings of a different sort. You know, Life Happy Endings. And the question is, do we all get one? And if not, what qualifies someone for a happy ending, and why do some not get them?

We've been taught in this culture that we all get a happy ending--even that we deserve one. Whether that be the perfect spouse, the perfect job, the perfect 2.5 children, the perfect house, ultimately the fulfillment of the American Dream, we want, and hope for, a happy ending [eventually!]. I'm not seeing these are per se my happy endings, though select categories may apply. All the strife and turmoil we may be facing now is someday going to all make sense! We've read fairy tales about this stuff--You know, "happily ever after" and what not. We are taught that "everything happens for a reason," that the "story will come full circle"--as if our life just gets a little bumpy, but eventually everything will pan out. We're taught that our hard work and "can do!" attitude will pay off eventually. Or we believe that God has our back when it comes to our happy ending, we just have to wait, be tested, you know all that stuff. But I wonder if God and life is a lot messier than that. Do we all get a happy ending, does it all come full circle? Does everything get resolved? Or do we change our perspective to mold our reality into our happy ending--even if it's not everything we'd originally hoped? Do we change our definition of our "happy ending," and if so, do we lose faith too quickly in our original wants? Is there always a lesson to be learned from pain, from sorrow, from violence, from death? Or does bad stuff just...happen? What do you say when life is cut off prematurely, and that person never gets to experience their "happy ending."

But perhaps these statements highlight my questions about God, and how in control I believe God to be. Maybe it says a lot about my definition of happiness.

Maybe the problem really is what my Happy Ending looks like. Maybe my problem is that my version of a happy ending is to short-sighted.

And these are things that I sit awake and think about at 12:39 AM--is it coming (the fulfillment of my deepest wants and my greatest desires)? Do I need to change my perspective, or do I dare to keep dreaming? Do I ultimately have to wait until heaven for my happy ending to come true, or is it possible here on earth? Is it even a static state? And how would I begin to define my "happy ending?" When will I finally look back and say, "Ahhhh. I get it now"...or will that happen this side of heaven?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Do not let your fire go out,
spark by irreplaceable spark
In the hopeless swamps of
the not quite
the not yet
and the not at all.
Do not let the hero in your soul perish.
The world you desire can be won.
It exists.
It is real.
It is possible
And it is yours.

— Ayn Rand

--Thanks, Scott Katsma

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Jon Foreman

I've always had great respect for the lead singer of Switchfoot, Jon Foreman. Dare I say that he is one of my own contemporary heroes of the faith. I've been listening to the band Switchfoot for a number of years. It takes me alllllll the way back to high school and throughout college--I watched them in Seattle, I saw them at the Big Easy in Boise (which doesn't even exist anymore). I even got to see Jon Foreman play a last minute solo acoustic set at a coffee shop in Boise.

I'll never forget my sophomore year I went to see them in Seattle with my neighbor from home. As we walked out of the concert, my neighbor said, "That was better than church." And I think what he said was true. When we talk about spirituality, so often we think we have to be in a specific venue, or using specific (churchy) words, instead of just being. We may not say it, but we believe this to be true. While Jon was playing his acoustic show in Boise, I had the opportunity to sit at his feet as he played. And there was something about him--an otherness. He was patient, kind, soft-spoken, caring...something. He didn't sit and preach at us, he just played. It was really very refreshing, to tell you the truth. If you sit and listen to the poetry of their music, the lyrics, and I mean really listen, deep within your soul, deep within your spirit, you will hear something. It is quiet, but it is there. It is in many ways unspoken. This is spirituality.

One of my RA's incessantly teases me because I read The Huffington Post all the time. Maybe it's because a lot of my conversations with her begin something to the effect of, "So I was reading this article on The Huffington Post..." Anyways, you can imagine my pleasure when I found out that Jon Foreman posts articles on the Huff Post once in awhile. And one of my favorites is called "Possessed By Truth."

I'll let you read the article, but basically as a summation, he says that truth is not something that we possess, it is something that possesses us. It simply is what it is...we don't have to prove it. And for so long, I felt like I have to convince people of something, that it is my personal responsibility to educate them on what they are missing out on. I think this in general about church culture--for some reason or another we believe that we have to stand on the proverbial street corner and cram things down people's throats--and here's the doesn't seem to be working (shoot, it turns me off, and I even affiliate myself with the group). We don't stop and listen--we're so concerned with fitting truth in where we can, we're in such a rush to work it into the conversation, that we don't let it run its natural course. But what if we just were. It might take longer. But this is what I appreciate about Jon Foreman (or at least, the one in my mind's eye...obviously I don't know him any better than I know Conan O'Brien, but work with me people!). He is who he is, and these things all sort of just naturally trickles out of him. He does not have to say anything, but one can sense his peace, his genuineness, his compassion. It's not about him proving a point, or speaking the "right" words-- it is about him writing meaningful lyrics, about collaborating with civil rights workers (John Perkins) to bring justice to earth, writing articles, putting together charity events, you know, action. Switchfoot has met harsh criticisms from the Christian community for not using enough of the J-word (Jesus) in their lyrics, or not being "overtly" Christian. But Jon Foreman's faith, in many ways, is what I want mine to look like--it feels natural, it doesn't seem forced. It is active. There is freedom there. And that is very refreshing. There is something magical about God finding us in a bar at a concert, or finding us in poetry, or finding us in music and lyrics, or finding us out on a jog. Truth finds us. Not the other way around.

Perhaps I like Jon Foreman because I have so much to learn from him...but he isn't going to tell me right away. I have to wait. I have a lot of opinions on things. But maybe I need to be quiet and listen. Maybe I don't need to prove anything.

God found me in college, sitting in a classroom, wishing for a new faith that had been made so toxic, been filled with so much judgment and hate, that I began to wonder if faith was even for me anymore. But it was. It was just a matter of pushing through all the filth and the messages where people believed they were teaching me truth, telling me I was doing something wrong, instead of letting truth find me. And the Jesus I found there was so much more welcoming, so much more inviting, so much more freeing, and so much more than the Jesus I had originally believed in. Kind, compassionate, genuine, patient...sound familiar?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Double Entendres

For as long as I can remember, I have been the last to know, in particular when it comes to erm...well...termonology as it relates to sexuality (that's about as nicely as I can put it). Some may describe this as "oblivious," or perhaps "sheltered..." I prefer to think of it as "naive," and I'd like to believe "endearing." I am that person who didn't know what a lot of certain..."terms" meant until I was later into college...people wonder if I was living under a rock, but I will again point to the fact that I am just good ol' naive, or perhaps I simply lack street smarts. I mean they don't teach you these things when they separate girls and boys in the 6th grade. So it's no surprise that I am very good at mistakingly saying double entendres without even realizing that I'm saying them. These statements are typically met with awkward gazes from people, perhaps a giggle, followed by a " you know what that means?" And THEN followed up with me saying, "OHHHHHH. Good to know." It happened again today, but perhaps the most unfortunate instance was during the Fall of 2008, a day that will live on in infamy as one of my top most embarrassing moments.

There we were. It was our big town hall meeting in front of approximately 350 students. I was the Moyer Hall Advisor, and it was my first debut in front of everyone--I was there to introduce myself so students would know who the heck I was. My supervisor at the time said, "Hello everyone, this is Jess. She is the Moyer Hall Advisor. Jess, would you like to say anything?" Unfortunately, yes. Yes I did. "Hi everyone! I would just like to let you all know that this summer I took up baking and cooking as a hobby, so if you stop by my apartment, you just might get lucky!" OHDEARLORD. The crowd was silent. People always joke about crickets chirping during awkward silences, BUT I ACTUALLY HEARD SOME. "Uhhh...!!!! Not THAT WAY!" The crowd burst into laughter, with all the men in the crowd going "woot! woot!" I honestly don't know that my face has ever turned that red, nor my ears turned so bright--I literally could have guided Santa's sleigh that night. There's the phrase "my ears were burning"--they actually WERE on fire. Subsequently, every time thereafter someone ate a cookie in my apartment, they always walked out saying, "I GOT LUCKY IN JESS'S APARTMENT!" There was talk of creating t-shirts to wear after eating in my apartment with the aforementioned catch phrase, I really think it could have been a money maker. Apparently I do not easily learn lessons as a few weeks later I was out shopping for food with my boss for the annual Christmas party, and she picked out a bag of mixed nuts and asked me what I thought about serving them at the parter. "I'm not much of a nut muncher at parties...Oh. Crap." Some things never change.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Kendra and I Take Connecticut!

OK, people, my friend Kendra came to town, and it was a HOOT AND A HALF!!! You can check it out on my SJC blog (will be posted on Tuesday), but I thought I'd post some fun pics!!! To sum up the trip: we ate a LOT of goooooooddddddd food! Nothing wrong with that! So much fun to see my girl!!! P.S. No idea why my alignment is off...but think of it as a creative expression...????

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Listening: "I only wanna be with you" by Hootie and the Blowfish (classic! makes me think of my younger years and riding in the car with Dad)
Eating: full stomach from The Cheesecake Factory :) Crab cake sandwich, sweet potato fries, banana cream cheesecake
Drinking: Nada
Wearing: Hoodie (cuz I'm listening to Hootie?), and my gross black men's soccer shorts I can't seem to get rid of that I have had since 2000.
Feeling: Procrastinating...
Weather: Perfect. I love the evenings.
Wanting: MORE TIME
Needing: TO DO HOMEWORK!! (WAH!)
Thinking: About Occupy Hartford (see blog)
Enjoying: That it's Thursday...which means tomorrow is Friday Fun day! (and Happy Hour!)
Thankful: for all that I have--education, friends, food, shelter--life is pretty durn exciting.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Occupy Hartford

Oh man. As Bob Dylan once said, "The times, they are a-changin'"--and oh glory was he correct (or at least I hope so!). This past Friday night (did "Last Friday Night" by Katy Perry just come into your head? Because it just popped into mine which annoys me because that song is NOT at all related to what I did with my Friday evening) I went to downtown Hartford to stand in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street Protesters. If you don't know about Occupy Wall Street, basically it is all of these protesters that are taking a stand to protest the class divide between the rich and the poor. The divide has grown wider and wider in the past few years, and people are finally saying ENOUGH. And here's the thing; I'm not protesting the fact that people have worked hard and have a lot of money. I'm not disputing that at all. But what I am disputing is that we somehow equate a person making $8 an hour at Target with not working as hard as Lady Gaga who made an estimated 90 million dollars last year (for an interesting article click here). We somehow believe that certain people deserve certain things, and others do not. But what we ALL deserve as human beings is equal access to resources (healthcare anyone?!). I'm not saying that I have any solutions right now, but it seems to me that in a country as rich as ours, the haves should be taking care of the have nots a whole lot more than we are. Basically, the top 10 percent have more wealth than the bottom 90 COMBINED. Like seriously--WHO NEEDS THAT MUCH MONEY?! *NEED being the operative words, not "want"--but we live in the country of excess, so...yeah. My brother told me that if Steve Jobs (R.I.P.) took just ONE of his ONE HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS, he could give each of his Apple employees TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS EACH. I keep praying he left money to his employees, because seriously, how tremendous would that be? It would be too beautiful, because you think of just how hard they work to scrape by (and let me tell you, I have received WONDERFUL service at Apple--they have helped contribute to those billions of dollars!). OK end rant. Anyways, the point is that the top 1 percent control most of the $$$ in this country. The divide is just too big, and it's not because people are lazy or don't work hard enough or all the excuses that the elite try to get the "have nots" to believe about themselves as if they earned their societal position (bull $h!@). There are bigger forces at work here, and it's so much more complicated that personality traits--the way the current system is set up will leave the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer--it's how capitalism is set up to work. Marx predicted it 100 years ago, it's true--in fact he wrote a book about it. Creepy, but true. He actually predicted this very revolution (*surprise!).

But what I love is that people are getting angry about this. Like, pissed. And they are doing something about it. Social movements are the best!!! This isn't about people agreeing or disagreeing with my political view, this is about the fact that a collective group of people is standing together to voice their dissatisfaction with something--we're doing something. What has killed me these past few years since my eyes have been opened (thank you Sociology!), is the amount of apathy present in this country--and this is the country where we should be voicing our opinions of all places!

As I walked around downtown Hartford chanting "WE. ARE. THE 99 PERCENT! YOU. ARE. THE 99 PERCENT!" and "WHAT DOES DEMOCRACY LOOK LIKE? THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!" and feeling particularly hippie-ish, I couldn't help but hope that I'm not being overly optimistic in believing that change is coming, that things are going to be rectified, that things WILL get better. That our government will get itself together and stop representing the people instead of themselves. But it is my faith that propels me to keep on using my voice. Christians pray the Lord's prayer all the time to bring heaven to earth, and to help the poor, and all of that--so, let's get moving!

Oh, by the way, you should sign this petition. Why? Because basically the government thought it would be a GREAT idea to bailout banks, but not the people--so this representative is submitting a bill for all student loan debt to be forgiven. Why will this help our economy? Well, think about it. I have $400 each month in student loans--what am I IMMEDIATELY going to do when I have an extra $400 a month? Probably pay off my car. Probably go travel, probably start saving for a down payment on a house. So the idea is to put money back in the hands of the people, and not bailout corporations that may not effect the greater majority. I LOVE THIS IDEA. And you could get your loans!!! Check out my facebook page for some more articles about Occupy Wall Street!

Friday, September 30, 2011

My SJC Blog

Guess what! I'm like, totally "official" now! I've started blogging for the college I work you can catch more snippets of my life here. I have a fancy schmancy (airbrushed?) photo too. Coolio!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Listening: Really junky E television "news"
Eating: Nada
Drinking: Apple cider--totally into it--IT'S FALL!!!
Wearing: PJ's! And a goofy headband with my hair all rolled up so it's curly in the morning--I get my picture taken for my SJC blog tomorrow (which means I need to head to bed soon to get my beauty rest!
Feeling: Fairly content
Weather: Perfect. I love the evenings.
Wanting: An adventure. Preferably involving a famous person (Let me follow up with this post by stating where this comes from. Today at lunch my coworker was telling us all the cool stories that he had had involving famous people. I would like something of this nature to happen to me)
Needing: TO GO TO BED!
Thinking: I wish I didn't need to sleep
Enjoying: Life and the anticipation of new things on the horizon
Thankful: for my amazing co-worker Tai! She is just too good to me! She continually teaches me new things, inspires me, and I hope I am as good to her as she is to me.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


So I came across this little gem on, the little devil that I have fallen in love with and takes up all of my spare time (that and "Words With Friends"--totally worth buying the ipad to play it). Anyways, I came across this as a form of "quick journaling." I kind of like it--it's a little snap shot of the day, is easy to do, so I might do it every once in awhile for funnsies. So here:

Listening: "Friends" on Nick at Nite." It makes me nervous that this show is now old enough to be considered a "classic"
Eating: Nothing. But earlier today I ate the most delicious apple I have ever had IN MY LIFE that I picked from the orchard yesterday. If this apple was anything like the one Snow White ate, I can see why she bit it.
Drinking: Tea.
Wearing: Jammies
Feeling: T-i-r-e-d but content. Grateful for a wonderful day at the outlets with my friend Beth, and a wonderful RA staff
Weather: Humid--blargh
Wanting: It to be fall.
Needing: to not procrastinate
Thinking: "Oh well"--in relation to the procrastination
Enjoying: "Friends" (see above)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Some various pictures from my summer I haven't had time to post!

First stop: Macrina as always!
B and I at Greenlake!
Picnic dinner in the park! (yes, that is beer in that mug)

There's really just nothing like it
Nope, never gets old!

RA's 11-12!!!
Fire Safety Training!!!

Chappy Takes Cleveland!

Our RA staff is one big happy family. And that big happy family has a pet camel named Chappy. Every week during our staff meeting, we pass around Chappy the Camel and you share your happiest and crappiest moment with the group (get how Chappy got his name? put them together...). The person with the happiest (or crappiest) moment of the week gets to take Chappy home for the week, where he spreads joy and cheer to all whom he encounters. Chappy is also a world-wide (well, intercontinental United States) traveler. He has seen the space needle in Seattle, he has been to the glorious city of Chicago, the wilds of New Hampshire, and during Labor Day weekend he got to visit Cleveland (because it rocks!) when I went to celebrate with my family for my brother Matt's graduation (woo!) and my grandpa's 80th birthday (get it Grandpa!). Below are some of Chappy's adventures:

Chappy lounges at the lake house on Johnson Island
Chappy drinks a delicious cup of joe
Chappy meets Brutus the dog. Friend or Foe? You decide. But mostly likely foe.
Chappy congratulates Matt on his degree, officially being an "educated man" and on paying off his loans for the next ten years. Yeah!