I Begged Them To Chop My Leg Off

“Pretty please?” I asked Nurse Nick, the studly and only male nurse tending to patients in the ER that night. “Then I can start training to become a Paraolympian runner!”

Nurse Nick laughed but refused and left me and my roomie S to our own devices. Our day had been consumed by a trip to urgent care, and then the ER, to diagnose what was happening to the thing I used to call my right leg.

Let me back up a bit.

Remember how I went on a chilly, but amazing, excursion to Europe? Well it turns out that before I left, I contracted poison oak on a hike. Over the course of the trip, the rash – which I had paid very little attention to – turned into full blown cellulitis. Think mega-rash/skin infection. Very unbecoming.

Thus I limped off a 10-hour flight and straight into the waiting arms of my amazing friend.The doctors bandaged me up, gave me my prescriptions, and sent me home for the weekend to recuperate.

Thursday I called out of work sick and took it easy. Friday I went back to work, but tried to stand/walk as little as possible. By Saturday I had deemed myself well enough to spend a friend’s birthday at a Rocky Picture Show viewing until 4 AM.

On Monday, the doctor checked up on everything and said the infection looked almost gone, so I worked my usual hours through to Thursday. By Thursday, however, things had taken a turn for the worse, and a subsequent visit to urgent care confirmed the infection was back, and I had to restart all of the medications that had been driving me crazy all week. Plus it meant my fifth and sixth shots to the glutes. Yikes.

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Waiting for Nurse Nick to wheel me in for an ultrasound of my leg

This weekend, I have dedicated myself to being a model patient. I’m embarrassed to think how much I brushed off truly taking the time necessary to heal on the first round. When you’re in your twenties, you think you’re invincible. My version of ‘taking it easy’ at work meant working like I do normally, but just sitting down when at my desk instead of standing.

I was careless, and I hope you use this as a cautionary tale the next time you fall ill. Please. Do yourself the favor. Treat yourself right, inside and out, and have the courage to tell people you need the time to do so. If you do not, you will get sicker, and you will miss more work and pay more money for medications and doctors visits (which means more glute shots).

You only get one body; treat it well.

Oh, and make sure you know what poison oak is before you hike.

 

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Day 33: Seeing the City Anew

Do you ever feel like home seems a little lackluster after being away? Mind you, I’m grateful for the warm California sunshine as opposed to the gray skies that followed me across Europe, but after my vacation I missed that feeling of waking up every day and thinking, what new things will I discover?

It can be difficult to see past the everyday thrum of daily life and routines. Yet, there are always new things to be discovered in seemingly old, familiar places. When I visited home over the holidays, my aunt and uncle took me antiquing in a downtown area I’d never frequented before. We shopped in immaculately curated stores, grabbed cocoa in a cafe with the locals, and found a shabby-chic thrift store in the basement of an old brick building. I’d lived in NH for twenty-some-odd years before then, and yet there were so many nooks and crannies I had yet to see.

Luckily for me, Los Angeles is still a mystery in many ways. An enormous mystery, filled with historical sights, museums, art, music – you name it. It’s a metropolis brimming with scenic gardens and urban sprawl and beaches – or so I’ve heard.

Coming home to LA made me more determined to be as open-minded and wide-eyed as I can. In this instance, I say the more touristy you are, the better! When I lived in Boston, I thought I’d seen it all. Then, on a whim, I took a Segway tour (yes, dorky helmet and all) of the city and suddenly there was the spot where the Great Molasses Flood happened! I don’t want to live in LA and never see more than one or two neighborhoods.

The other night I pulled out my LA tour-book that I first bought before moving out here, and generated a list of everything I want to see. Then, I randomly assigned each place to a weekend. My first stop was to The Last Bookstore, a brick-and-mortar privately owned local bookstore in Downtown LA renowned for being incredibly cool.

My theme this year was to be more adventurous, in every sense of the word. The byline of that theme, though, was that I would really really make these adventures come to fruition, rather than dreaming the days away. Putting them on my calendar seemed like the logical next step in seeing my visits accomplished.
Until next time, stay touristy my friends!

 

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What day is it? ….Day 31

It has been a week since I returned home from Hawaii! It is time to pull it back from the relaxing, sun filled sky vacation mind set and get back into the flow of reality. I hope you all were not thinking of my absense as falling off the band wagon…again.

My island seista was not a result of months of planning and anxiety. It was merely the product, more like passion, of my partner. He has been itching to back to the islands where he has family. And month ago, I merely had to hit submit and our tickets were bought. This was a little out of character for me.  What was I thinking?! Jess doesn’t take vacations during the busiest part of her work year. To be honest, Jess doesn’t really like taking vacations. Period. Sad right?

I have been programed. I have been set to see taking time for myself as selfish and secondary to everything and every person in my life.

I share the same feelings as Aubrey from one of her recent posts. I am ready to move onto a new step in my career. I am ready to take it a next step with my partner. And ready to make BIG changes, but how could I put that all on pause for a 15 hrs journey to spend 10 days on a beach?

I had spent exactly one full week back at work. I knew this was all worth it when a colleague of mine shared his reaction to a phone call I had with a client. “That is how you come back and crush it.” He is my biggest cheerleader, but he made a great point. I did crush it. That was one of the best conversations I have had and the best part was: it was authentic.

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Take me back! 

This break has created a moment of pause. It allowed me to really take time amongst all of these aspirational changes to really think the all through. Sure, this pause allowed me to see volcanos and sea turtles. It more importantly made me realize why and how to make these changes. It has renergized my pursuit to be the most authentic version of myself. It has alowed me to finally be ok with taking time for myself. Because in the end, we all won. We all benefited from me watching the sunset while New England watched the snow.

Take a day off! Better yet, take 10!

XXOO Jess

Yes, You Need a Selfie Stick

P.S. If you’re curious as to how I chose Copenhagen, this article will explain all. Beware, it’s addicting.

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Back To Business

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There’s a photo on my inspiration board I made that simply reads, “It’s time to work a little harder.” Over the summer, my board sat tucked behind another piece of art in the corner of my room, amidst my unpacked boxes and bags from my August move.

Recently, I unearthed my board, and took a good look at that photo. This summer seems like a blur, but I’ve walked out of it not feeling like my best self. I’ve wanted to blame the heat, and work, and my move, but these things all boil down to excuses for not putting in the extra effort to achieve what I want.

For instance, I stopped writing for the blog because I was “too tired” or “didn’t feel in the mood”. Every day, I’d say tomorrow. The point of writing these posts was to motivate me to accomplish my dreams and pursue new interests alongside my cousin. It feels like when I stopped writing, I stopped thinking that I could do better.

In high school and college, I used to wonder what adults did in their free time. They didn’t have essays to write, practices to attend, plays to rehearse for, tests to study for. Now, as a graduate and semi-adult, I’ve forgotten what it was like to really give every day your all. I achieved so much with 24 hours, even while being a full time student with three part time jobs.

It’s still hotter than hell outside (fall doesn’t exist here), but I’m embracing the metaphorical season change with a new mindset. It’s alright to take a vacation and ease up on the throttle every now and then. What’s important is that you get back on the saddle and continue on your journey. The year isn’t quite over yet, and I want to spend the next few months refocusing my attention on my goals. It’s time to work a little harder, and I could not be more excited to do so!

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Love the One You Travel With

Last weekend, I finally got my life together enough to go on a long weekend trip to San Francisco with my friend S, and we had a blast! It was her first time there, and my first time getting to do all of the fun touristy stuff. We spent the six hour drive singing along to our favorite pop music, were enraptured by the Golden Gate in all of its foggy wonder, and unwittingly were caught up in a disastrous firecracker lighting ceremony that left us simultaneously laughing and coughing our lungs up.

I wasn't kidding about that fog

I wasn’t kidding about that fog

As I’ve mentioned previously, S is my current bunkmate, and we’ve also done some world traveling together. This past weekend went along so smoothly, though, it got me to wondering why we’re so good traveling together, and what lessons I can take from roughing it with her to apply to adventuring with others.

1). We are aware of and respect each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I am terrible with maps, but I am excellent at solidifying plans and making itineraries. S is amazing with directions, but sometimes lacks the foresight to see things through. We know these things about each other, and are accepting of them. Thus, I never try to plot our route without consulting her, and she lets me take the lead in making hotel reservations.

2). We are very go with the flow. I had really, really wanted to climb Coit Tower while we were in the city, and S was hell-bent on an Alcatraz tour. Sadly, Alcatraz had booked up weeks before we had even imagined ourselves visiting, and Coit Tower closed earlier than we were expecting. Rather than pout about it, we turned our extra time and money into an excellent seaside lunch and tour that involved taking a boat out underneath the Golden Gate and around Alcatraz. It was just as good, if not even more exciting, and at the end of the day our change in plans gave us more to do during our next trip there.

3). We are honest about how we’re feeling. Sunday night was supposed to be our fun night of dressing up and bar-hopping, but after a very full day of sightseeing, I was exhausted to my core. I was nervous to admit this to S, because I didn’t want to ruin the evening, but I could barely keep my eyes open in the cab ride over to the Mission district. Turns out, she was really tired too, and we ended up having a quiet movie night back at our AirBnb.

4). We make time for each other’s interests. I don’t think I could name a single Grateful Dead song to save my life, but S wanted to drop by an old house they had lived in, to honor her Uncle’s love of the group. So we made time for it. After all, she had accompanied me on a random detour into a cool glasses shop, where I spent about an hour and a half picking out a new pair. We realized that the trip was for both of us, and that it was important to honor the things each other was interested in.

5). We had an agreed upon plan for money. I wouldn’t say either of us is miserly, but we are still recent graduates trying to get by on minimal wages. Before we even left, we sat down to discuss how much we were each willing to spend (I wanted to keep my entire portion of the trip to $250), how we were going to pay for gas, etc. This way, there were no hard feelings when stopping at the gas station, or when I ate a breakfast I’d packed from home, rather than eating out. Nothing is more painful or awkward than trying to figure out money issues in the heat of the moment.

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Hostess with the Mostest


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Tonight, my apartment is a little too quiet. Maybe that’s because for the first time in about four weeks, it’s just my roommate and I again. We’ve – or rather, I’ve – had a constant stream of friends and family alike crashing anywhere they could find a spot and basking in the miracle that is Southern California weather.

Playing hostess can be a tough gig, especially if you find yourself doing it fairly frequently. That’s why I’ve compiled a quick guide of to opening your home (or teeny apartment) to others!

BEFORE THEY ARRIVE

  • Clear your guests’ stay with your housemates ahead of time if applicable, and be sure to ask, not tell them that you’re having someone over. It’s a courtesy that should always be extended, especially because this is their home too.
  • If your guests are vacationing with you, make sure you’ve taken the appropriate time off from work. Nothing will ruin a trip quicker than having to go in on your planned day off.
  • Determine whether you are picking them up from their chosen port of travel, or if your guests have alternative means of getting around.
  • Ready some clean sheets and towels ahead of time, or at least have your guests’ sleeping arrangements in order. Nobody likes to touch down after six hours of flying to be greeted by dirty linens, or worse – nowhere to crash.
  • Make sure you have an extra set of keys, just in case you need to split up at any time.
  • Throw a few snacks in the fridge. People often end up at your home hungry. You don’t need to go overboard, and don’t feel bad about asking them to pitch in for more groceries as the vacation goes on.

WHILE THEY’RE THERE

  • Establish house rules. Don’t be afraid to bring up topics like whether or not you like shoes left at the door, how you split dishes,

    Mom & I in Santa Monica on her recent visit!

    or whether drinking/smoking are OK in your home. Your guests will appreciate not having to guess and getting in trouble later.

  • Lay out your schedule, if your guests are just staying with you as opposed to vacationing with you. Talk about when you go to work, when you’ll be home, etc. That way, they know not to call you at 3AM for a ride home from the club.
  • Help your friends out by giving them a rough guide to your area. What public transit is available? Are there any local restaurants you like to eat at? What kinds of activities are there to do?
  • Don’t forget to enjoy some quality time together! Even if you can only do one meal, it’s better than nothing, and it pulls you out of your regular routine.

AFTER THEY’RE GONE

  • Be sure to thank your roommate for their support. I plan on treating mine with a gift basket full of his favorite goodies 🙂

 

Your apartment doesn’t need to be the Ritz for everyone to have a good time! For now, though, I’m going to enjoy having my room to myself again.

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Hello sunshine

J

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Winter. A time where cold dwellers, like myself, dream of warm sands, sun, and longer days. For years, my other half has been trying to steal me away to Hawaii to escape the Polar Vortex or any other storm that keeps us bundled up. Finally we have a reason to escape aside from the cold- a wedding! Destination weddings are by far the smartest way to have a wedding. I mean, why else would someone plan a weekend trip to Puerto Rico mid holiday season and with the looming threat of a surprise Nor’easter?

Traveling is a very welcomed and fortunately a frequent experience for me. Equal to the feeling of coming home, the anticipation of planning and leaving for a trip can match the memories made during it. Aubrey and I are very similar in our love of travel. From backpacking to the monotonous work trips around the US, I love the freedom that comes with going somewhere new. Zero expectations and complete autonomy of my schedule are just a few things that make traveling so great!

However, there is one part of traveling I hate the most: packing. I often wish I was the type of person that could pick up and go with only my dreams and a toothbrush.  Sadly it takes a village to keep this girl satisfied on a trip. I am always trying to plan for the unknown which does not help in the packing process.  My strategy is to think like a New England-er. I pack for all weather, all terrain, and all moods. Now, how do I fit this into a carry on?

Safe Travels!

Jess (2)

Starting new with something old

UntitledHappy Saturday! As the fall rolls in, I love to take time and reflect back on everything I have done over the summer(or simply figure out where the time went!) This was the first summer that I was an adult (aka I was working full time). No more were the days of  deciding which friends pool I was going to lounge by or figuring out whose pegs I would ride on en route to said pool. For those who don’t get the “peg” reference, please don’t judge my following story.

Back in the glory days, young 8th graders would ride their BMX bikes around neighborhoods coral-ing their friends to be audience members. Then they preformed for us with some sub-par wheelies and peg stands. Pegs refers to small, metal attachments that can be put onto the tire frame. I believe they were meant to grind rails and do tricks-I saw them as my free mode of transportation for the summer.

My first adult summer consisted of more mature adventures: work, antiquing, work, fun weekend getaways, work, and more antiquing. Antiquing takes on many different types of meanings for myself and my roadies (aka family). It can range from the classic Saturday yard sales to the huge antique barns that litter the back roads of Maine.

For those readers outside of Massachusetts, there are two distinctions between where people spend their summers. You are either a “Cape Cod person” or a “Maine person”. The classic beach or camping debacle. For me- its Maine all the way!

This brings me to my favorite and easiest DIY project: my milk glass lamp. Before I do, here are some basics that brought me to the discovery of this wonderful lamp.

Antique-ing101Be open-As you can see from that image, antique stores are often a jumbled mess. If it is not-your in the wrong place. Take in the cluttered landscape and look for what stands out.

Trust your gut. Just like men and other life decision, your gut can be the keeper of truth or at least the keeper of your taste. If something stays on your mind, then it was meant to be.

Get creative. I like to think there is beauty in everything. Sometimes it will take some paint, a new set of wires, or even some love to make it beautiful.

The moment I saw my lamp I knew….it would take some work. As a rookie, I neglected to take a “before” picture, but I will paint the image for you with my words. At first, it was a lamp with very undistiquishable look. To me it was dirty and rusty-with little appeal. After seeing the price tag, I instantly fell in love. I fell in love with the idea of negotiation-not the lamp it self. To back up-my mom and I (more my mother), love to see how little we can pay for something. To be fair it is always things we want and they are often over priced for their condition. I was determined to use my keen negotiating skills to get this lamp for a price worth it’s sad condition. With some elbow grease and a little help from mom, I was able to walk away with this lamp for half the price! Win!

The biggest challenge with this project was re-wiring. Getting over the intimidation of rewiring was harder than the actual task. Though being a product of an electrician, I had some idea what to do. Here was my process:

  1. Disassemble-Unscrew each part of the lamp and discard all of the electrical mechanisms and wires. Luckily for me, they were all connected!
  2. Clean- Like most things found during an antiquing expedition, this lamp had mounds of dust and dirt caked onto it. I used warm water and dish soap to wash the glass and metal components. Depending on the level of rust and dirt, a stronger solution might work better.
  3. Rewire- I used a kit purchased at a local hardware store. Here is an example from Home Depot! The instructions are excellent and very easy to use. They give you a ton of stuff- you don’t have to use all of it.
  4. Voila!  Here is the final product!

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Jess (2)