Thankful Thursday 14 January 2021

Happy Thursday, dear readers! We’re half-way through the first month of 2021, and I think we’ll keep the current year. It’s up to us to make lemonade out of lemons and finding the tune in the rain to dance to.

I survived almost a week in my new role! I had some anxiety about timing issues and tech issues, so first thing is first, I want to thank all of you that listened. Both issues have been smoothed out, and it truly was first week grumbling. I’ve had another newbie e-mail me some questions and we’re both in the same boat.

I’m learning the reigns, but once I get used to the analytics and get the programming I need to learn, it’ll be all good. With some practice and patience, I will be there in no time (okay, I am giving myself a good six months to learn, which is a good rule of thumb). I’m thankful for my new co-workers, they’ve been very helpful.

I officially joined OCJAC! Rabbi Zash was extremely helpful in signing me up. I can’t wait to join weekly Shabbat Zooms and I can’t wait to tour the galleries, by appointment only. I’m hoping that I can awaken my artistic spirit and maybe I’ll share some of my scrapbooks with the community. I am grateful for this opportunity. Here is their site: https://www.ocjac.org/

I’m thankful that there is less than a week left of the Trump Presidency and he was impeached for the second time. I’m praying for peace on the 20th and that we can usher a wave of kindness in. Stay tuned, I am going to do a special post (or two) leading up the inauguration.

I’m also grateful for friends and family. What are you thankful for today?

Making Pelmeni with Jonathan of RSJ Philadelphia (9 January 2021)

After Shabbat ended on Saturday evening, Jonathan of RSJ Philadelphia hosted a Zoom cooking class. I was excited about learning something new and was happy to see that six others were in attendence.

Pelmeni are Russian dumplings that are similar to Piergis. This was Jonathan’s first time making them too, but his grandmother used to make them. I enjoyed hearing his beautiful memories – of how mixing, kneading, and rolling the dough brought them closer together. It reminded me of when I used to help Nan make spaghetti (same process).

I made my Pelmeni gluten free of course. As I was mixing the dough and meat, listening to Jonathan and the others laugh, I began to laugh. Not only did I remember Nan through Jonathan’s memories of his grandmother, I was making new memories with one friend and new people. Such a beautiful hour!

I decided to cook them the next day and have them for dinner. I boiled the dumplings in chicken broth. I let them cook for 20 minutes and topped it with fennel.

Mom and dad had a few of the dumplings. They thought they were very good, but the dough was a bit too thick. The dough kept sticking to the rolling pin and mom said next time I make them, she will help me roll the dough.

Not perfect, but delicious, and I can’t wait to make them again. Here is the recipe:

INGREDIENTS FOR PELMENI FILLING

2 lb ground meat (chicken, turkey and mixing in ground beef)

1 large onion grated

1/2 tbsp salt to taste

1 tsp pepper to taste

INGREDIENTS FOR PELMENI DOUGH

3 cup flour (depending on brand, you may need to add more)

2/3 cup luke warm water

3 eggs

1 tsp salt

I used beef and veal for the mixture. I also used King Arthur’s Measure for Measure GF all purpose flour.

L’Chaim!

When Friendships End

I know that this is a Happiness Box Project, but loss and sadness are all parts of life. I don’t believe in toxic positivity and think that expression of all feelings leads to a healthy life. A healthy individual experiences all emotions and works through them.

We all need a support system and friends are a healthy part of life. Unfortunately, some friendships don’t last. Some enter for a season, but there is a reason for the season, and some seasons are longer than others. We all grow and change, it’s an inevitable part of life and sometimes good friends don’t follow us. It happens and while it is sad, one really can’t place blame. One reflects and moves on.

Marsha and I aren’t friends anymore. She cited I have too many personal and anxiety issues, which I should get professional help for. I disagree, I was getting professional help and while it helped during the sessions and I can apply to most things in life, with the advent of COVID-19 and being in most of the time, the triggers are unavoidable. Therapy over the phone is not private and I’ve done therapeutic chat rooms that help. However, I don’t believe that was the main reason. I am of a different religion and to some Christians, if they can’t “save” you, you’re a lost cause.

I was actually reevaluating the friendship a few weeks ago when I saw some cards from her that emphasized Jesus and the Christian holidays. She knows how I feel about it all and disregarded. I never really noticed, but since I am cleaning out for new carpets, I saw and I saw it for what it was. I come from a diverse background and I love diversity. We were growing apart and that is okay.

I cut ties and for my sanity, I will not be reevaluating the friendship. She was in my life for a season, the season had a reason, but I am on a different path and I don’t want to be judged harshly for it. That is okay. No blame placed, just a mutual agreement that things weren’t working out.

Thankful Thursday 7 January 2021

Ah, Thursday in a brand new year! So far, so interesting. I would like to say that I do not stand with what happened at the Nation’s Capital yesterday. Like the riots and looting from this past summer, rioting and sedition will not be tolerated. Sedition must be punished federally. We must denounce agitators and we must come together as a nation.

Now, Thankful Thursday! I’m thankful for my friends and family. I’m thankful for Shetana at my full-time job. I’ve been without work for a month (three weeks since I was off for two weeks) because I start my new role on Monday. Today, Shetana finished work early and we played an hours worth of Uno. That was really nice.

Today was my last day going into the office since I had to go in once a week to print. With my new role, I won’t be printing and I’ll be home indefinitely now. 

Tomorrow is my last day in my old role. Before I left the office today, Shetana gave me a big hug and congratulated me. I’m looking forward to it. While I’m a little nervous, I was reading over SQL today and I don’t think it’ll be that bad. It’s like learning a new language. Sometimes I feel bad that I’m not going to be what my college profs envisioned for me: going for my MFA in creative writing and publishing.

While I would love to do that, I have to be practical too. I have chronic conditions and I need benefits. I also like having a 401K. I need a full-time job, but I can always write and publish on the side and that could be extra income. I’m thinking about creating a scrapbook business (for a side-hustle). We’ll see. It’s okay to be something else, especially since I am the one who has to earn the money and live my life.

I’m reading this book called Women Who Worry Too Much and it’s been helpful. Dr. Holly Hazlett-Stevens, the author of the book, suggested keeping a notebook or journal and make a chart ranging from 0 at one end, 50 in the middle, and 100 at the end, then check in with yourself three times per day to see what your worry and anxiety levels are like and write about it. She also suggests writing down your worries and asking yourself the worst that can happen. Then work through that. Mitch suggested that and so did all the other therapists in the past, so I’m going to work on it. I will still do my Happiness Box Project, but I’ll keep a notebook for the worrying.

What are you thankful for today?

Happy New Year! | Upcoming Changes to the Blog

We’re four days into 2021 and I decided on 1/1 that I am taking this year slowly, and hopeful. With that said, my blog is going to reflect that decision.

I will not blog on weekends. I observe Shabbat and that runs from Friday to Saturday evenings. I consider blogging “work” and don’t blog. Sundays are usually reserved for things around the house, grocery shopping and from time to time, ice skating.

I want to focus on mindful concepts this year. Since I am not a trained therapist, I will tie into how these concepts impact my life. Since I am not a trained therapist, I can’t give you advice. I hope to write in a way to inspire.

I was going to have a paid component to this blog in 2021, but I am going to hold off. I want to see how well the mindful concepts work and go back to the drawing board in August or September and see if this is something I want to do for 2022.

I’m embracing the quiet, quarantined life this year and I’m looking forward to it. I want to fill my life with meaning, and I have some odds and ends I want to work on too.

Happy New Year!

Reflecting on Happiness Box 2020

Sorry that this is so late, by the time I organized the first few months of Happiness Box 2020, it was Shabbat time and I tend to not use much technology during Shabbat. Earlier in the day, we ordered sandwiches from Hymie’s (their gluten-free Schmoozer is the best!), then Mom, dad, and I had a Scrabble game night.  (Just mom and I played Scrabble tonight. Mom beat me twice, but it was still fun.)

I was very tired but tuned into The Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Day orchestra on PBS. It was wonderful to lounge while welcoming in the New Year. This New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day was different, but it was enjoyable. After a salmon and filet mignon dinner, I dressed up for the evening, and watched the National Orchestra on PBS. I normally go to the Philadelphia Orchestra for New Year’s Eve, but it was still nice to get dressed up for an evening at home. I enjoyed myself.  

I opened up Happiness Box 2020 on Friday morning. We are getting new carpeting and I had to move everything from my bedroom downstairs. Unlike in previous years, this year the Box Opening is a two parter – I was called for breakfast.  It was nice opening it in the basement, until dad came downstairs, started complaining about boxes since they took their holiday decorations down. He only said the S word, but I told him to take everything upstairs. You know what, the spirit of 2020 and quarantine life! Tina, a friend from Writing.com, said, “typical man!” Ha, yes, probably typical man, but it did make for good videos.

Also, I’m proud of myself: instead of getting mad because perfection was ruined, I let it go and said, “life isn’t perfect! Messy and imperfect make for better lives, videos, pictures, and everything else!” I’m grateful for everything I have, I reminded myself of that.

Here’s a link to the blog that has the video: Happy New Year!

I went through my notes, then organized everything by month. Organizing my notes by month makes it easier to scrapbook.

I re-read the New Year’s card I gave myself and the note I wrote on 1-1-2020. I was visiting Mary and Flo, Nan’s old neighbours and our long-time family friends. Unfortunately, I didn’t get photos of that meeting and in the note I wrote: “I can’t wait to see them throughout the year and get more photos with them!” Sadly, Mary died on 25 March 2020, unrelated to COVID-19. With the COVID-19 restrictions, I haven’t been able to see Flo since 16 March 2020. I did send her cards through the year, but I can’t wait to see her again. I’m glad I did get to see them early on in the year and I’m glad I recorded the stories we told.

I also wrote about the kindness of Mrs. Davenport, my manager at the library, and the joys she brought even while we were furloughed. Unfortunately, Mrs. Davenport passed in June and now that I’m back in the library, it feels so weird not seeing her. I miss her presence. I want to ask the library if I can copy her obituary to put in the scrapbook. I know it may sound odd, but I like adding these types of touches to the scrapbooks.

Then my full-time job. We started off the year at the office, while Revenue Recovery was still downstairs. I wrote about this one lady from one department who remembered which magazines I love and held some Philadelphia magazines for me to read. That was so kind! We moved back upstairs, to the third floor, in February and it was so nice to see friends in Enrollment and Reimbursement again! I also shared laughs with Ms. Pat and Ms. Marva. By mid-March we were all homebound. It’s weird not seeing my co-workers.

Yet, the corporate wellness meetings were the salve we all needed during these unprecedented times. It was nice meeting people from all over the company; mostly people from Florida, Michigan, Tennessee,  New Jersey, and a few people from the Conshohocken office attended. Dr. Stef and Tasha have done wonderful jobs running it (the wellness meetings are still ongoing). I was also able to share my Happiness Box Project, the project interested HR and Kat asked me if she could use my project for training purposes. I gave her the OK and wrote an outline for her. YAY!

I also met Avi and Joel, and later they branched off to start a Torah/Bible Study. The Torah portion was helpful, but I loved how the two connected one another. Both Avi and Joel have other jobs now, but they still continue the studies every Wednesday night.

2020 was the year of Zoom! All of my Jewish groups moved to Zoom and it was interesting holding Shabbat over Zoom. Yet, it was nice to “see” everyone and it was nice to come together to celebrate. In June, Tribe12 held a Pride Shabbat and that was so beautiful. We sang and prayed and talked about LGBT+ issues. In September, Tribe12 held a Zoom meeting to break the Yom Kippur fast together. I can’t fast for health reasons, but I decided to give up sweets for the day. It was nice breaking our fasts together.

I met Rachel at a Shabbat in 2019 and she invited me to her improv group. When everything went online, I was able to attend a few. She also sent me headphones, to make the Zoom meetings easier. That was so nice of her and I’m grateful! I stopped attending in May because they were the same games over and over again, but I’m thinking of starting back up on Monday. They were fun.

I connected with someone from City-Data and he was going to get me set-up with his Synagogue because I wanted to attend online services. We went back and forth, he was in touch with his Rabbi, but things sort of fell flat. I didn’t want to be a pest, but I notice sometimes my Yahoo account (that’s my professional e-mail address) sends safe e-mails into spam. Maybe I will follow up with him, can’t hurt. I’m grateful for his help this year and look forward to conversing with him in 2021.

When things started to meet in person, although limited, I enjoyed Sukkot Shabbat and a Halloween movie with RSJ Philly. They were fun. Now, all gatherings have ceased and they hold events over Zoom now. Next weekend I’ll be learning how to make these Russian dumplings (mine will be gluten-free!) with Jonathon over Zoom. On the 17th, I’ll be making (gluten-free) gyros with Alex over Zoom. At the end of the month, Russian story time on Zoom. I’m looking forward to it.

While my spirituality grew during quarantine, as did my creativity, there were some blah moments. I lost a friend, Anna thought I should be journaling instead of reaching out to her. I told her my Happiness Box Project was my journal and after three months in quarantine, there are some blah notes and same throughout the summer. I felt yucky reading those notes, HOWEVER, I remembered why I started this project, all feelings are valid. I don’t want to be toxically positive and I embraced those blah feelings after I read the notes. They helped me reflect.

These blah moments also led to breakthroughs and discussions, which were written about in other notes. The blah led to discussion, which led to empathy and with empathy one can build joy and/or gratitude. I had a lot of discussions with friends throughout the summer, and while we won’t always see eye to eye that is okay. We all have our own experiences, traumas, and joys, they are not competitions. We all share in humanity and we are all precious beings. Not always seeing eye to eye shouldn’t ruin a friendship and I learned it (again) this year.

Yet, during these tumultuous times, there were a lot of joyful moments. Graduations! When the two brothers up the street from me graduated from Upper Merion Area High School, before they were off to graduate, I congratulated them and we got a selfie together. Their little brother wanted to be in the selfie too and his smile is just pure. When other high school students around me graduated, I wrote out cards and gave them each $10. I felt bad that they couldn’t have the normal ceremony, and I hope the cards gave them some cheer.

I celebrated my Jewish holidays at home and my parents agreed to a few dinners. The Jewish Federation held some classes and I learned from those classes. The dinners were successful! I did a lot of cooking this year and ordered out from time to time, all brought joy.

Reddit! Reddit was another source of joy. The subreddits I joined were uplifting, and I was promoted to Mod. I love being a Mod and building my subreddit. I love running the Discord and I just love the community. For Hanukkah, two people sent me lovely gifts and cards. Someone from the Judaism subreddit also invited me to his Menorah lighting one night and it turned into a Q&A session, it was really nice. Reddit gets a bad rap, but it’s a lovely community.

I would like to share the album with you. I took photos of the notes, in case if you didn’t want to watch the videos. I also hope to start working on a manuscript about the Happiness Box Project and want as many pictures as I can get for a book.

I don’t know what 2021 will bring us, but whatever it does bring us I’m ready! I start my new position, Reimbursement specialist, on 11 January 2021 and I will be homebound until we are called back. I still work at the library two days per week. I have a scrapbook project plan, I’m going to join the JAC and that will be over Zoom for 2021, and I’m prepared.

This year is a special year. At the end of January, it’ll mark 10 years since Christina and I became friends. In April, it’ll mark 10 years since Jeremy and I became friends. In July, it’ll mark 10 years since Andrew and I became friends. In May, it’ll mark 10 years since I’ve started going to Infinite Piercing Shop. I look forward to fostering these friendships!

I hope that you have a wonderful year ahead too, dear reader! Whatever 2021 brings, we are in this together!

~Jessica

Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you. ~Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I opened up Happiness Box 2020 this morning. Two parter – I was called for breakfast. 

 It was nice opening it in the basement, until dad came downstairs, started complaining about boxes since they took their holiday decorations down. He only said the S word, but I told him to take everything upstairs. You know what, the spirit of 2020 and quarantine life! Here are the videos, later I want to re-read through everything off camera, reflect, and take photos before I organize them by month. Organizing by month makes it easier to scrapbook. 

I forgot the press record on the computer for the first 20 minutes, but I was doing an Instagram live, so the first video is what I downloaded from Instagram Live. I love capturing me dumping the box. 

Second one is part II from the computer; I downloaded the part II on Instagram Live, but it didn’t show up on my phone. I think my phone has better video quality, though I sound louder on the computer. 

2020: A Year in Quarantine (And Thankful Thursday 31 December 2020)

During Rosh Hashanah, one of the groups I belong to sent me a touching e-mail about reciting the Shehechiyanu to welcome in the New Year. The Shehechiyanu is a prayer of gratitude that we have reached the holiday season. This prayer usually marks the beginning of a holiday or is recited when something brings immense joy. 2020 has been a merry-go-sorry year mixed with immense hardships, joy and a whole range of emotions.

The holidays are upon us and I’m sure they feel different than normal. I’m hoping that the love, light, and celebrations associated with this time of year is bringing some joy in this “new normal.” (If COVID-19 is still giving you the same sense of malaise as it did in March, that’s okay too; we’re all in this together.)

It’s truly amazing how the first 90 days of Roaring 20’s 2.0 was a complete 180 degrees from the rest of the year. I welcomed in 2020 with ice skating and ice skated until the rink closed on 8 March.

In February, I skated with Silent Philly, which is a program that brings three DJs and the public together. Each headphone they rent out has an individual station dedicated to that DJ.

Silent Philly evenings were fun, especially ice skating along to early 2000’s R&B and hip-hop, the songs I loved (roller) skating to in middle school!

Of course, skating with the River Rink staff and other people I had just met was fun too.

In January, news began circulating from China about the Corona Virus, AKA COVID-19. Some co-workers and I were obsessed with the news and one brought in masks for us to wear at the office. I started to notice some SEPTA riders began wearing their masks as early as mid-January.

There was talk that Chinese officials were canceling the Lunar New Year celebrations in Wuhan and there was dread surrounding the decision. I attended the one in Philadelphia on 26 January, but you could see that Americans were already weary of COVID-19 and avoiding China Town.

Although the Philadelphia Suns and their lion dances didn’t draw the crowds this year, it was nice being together, as community, celebrating each other. We all welcomed in the Year of the Rat with firecrackers.

I ended my evening at Bahn Mi and Bottles since they have delicious gluten-free options. The Vietnamese also celebrate the Lunar New Year and their New Year menu had some delicious dishes. I ended up getting a sticky rice and bean sandwich with shrimp and mushroom pho.

In February, the last hoorah before quarantine lockdown, Anna was in town for the Sideshow Horror Market in Allentown, PA.

Merchant’s Square Mall reminded me of an old-fashioned flea market. When I walked in, a jeweler greeted me and tried to sell me something before I told him no. He pointed out the directions, and I continued on my way to the Sideshow Horror Market showroom.

There were a lot of vendors, but fortunately Anna spotted me and took me to her sales booth. Anna was selling her Women of Horror collection. She is an amazing artist and her series are breathtaking.

We had a successful day, I helped Anna and Alli sell some Valentine’s Day cards and a couple of shirts. Anna and Alli also sold t-shirts and prints.

I was able to walk around a little bit. I met Damian MacDonavan, who hosts Damian’s Dreadfuls on RCN. Unfortunately, we don’t get RCN in King of Prussia/Philadelphia, but I could watch his show on YouTube. He was fun to chat with and his camera assistant was even better. We also met Father Evil; it was an amazing and fun day.

I became a member of the Philadelphia Film Society in January in hopes that this would be the year filled with movies. 1917 was a great movie to start the year! Unfortunately, Onward was the last movie I saw at the PFS on 7 March because in mid-March everything shut down in America and the rest of the world.

12 and 13 March were my last days of being in the library and an office. The library furloughed part-time staff.

Until July, I worked five days per week at home, but in August I now go into RTI once per week (with four days still at home). In mid-October, I went back to the library.

I celebrated 14 years at the Upper Merion Township Library on 28 August and 5 years at RTI on 30 November.

We were sequestered in the house for four months. In those four months, I worked on the scrapbook for Happiness Box 2019. Since I had time to spare, I really designed the layouts and what normally takes me 10 months to complete, I completed Happiness Box 2019’s scrapbook in five months (June instead of November).

I also continued writing my notes of joy and gratitude for Happiness Box 2020 – this project came in handy this year and has inspired others to make their own.

I completed National Poetry Writing Month in April! This was my first time completing since 2017. I’m currently editing the poems and looking at contests to enter for publishing.

I was also able to attend write-ins online through NYC based Gotham’s Writing Workshop. Normally when classes were held in NYC they often conflicted with my travel schedules. Others from around the world had the same opportunity I had and it made workshopping short stories fun. These free write-ins became the highlight of my summer Friday evenings. I have some stories in the works!

I became an expert in Zoom this year. Between my Shabbat groups, Pride in June, book discussions, and Envision’s weekly self-care meeting, I was able to connect with others while still maintaining distance. Zoom has helped me not only keep in touch with friends, but “meet” new people as well.

I participated in a circle journal project with Circle of Friends, my pen pal group. Despite the worldwide moratorium on postal services, Elle was able to send my circle journal back to the US before the start of COVID-19. My journal made it home on 19 October. It was really neat to see where my journal traveled before COVID-19 and during.

I’m the gluten-free and kosher cooking guru! Using recipes that appeared in The Exponent, I made delicious dishes. My favourite this year was learning how to make gluten-free challah bread! I’m still mastering gluten-free baking.

At the start of quarantine, we celebrated one night of Passover. The lessons of Passover could be translated into the lessons of COVID-19.

Vacation During COVID-19

Belmar / Asbury Park, NJ

Summer 2020 – beaches decided to re-open. In June, I wanted to take a three day vacation to the Asbury Park, NJ area. Unfortunately, the Air BNB I stayed in last summer wasn’t comfortable with renting this summer. A lot of hosts on Air BNB weren’t, which is understandable. I finally found a rental in Belmar, NJ with Michele for 17-20 July.

When 17 July rolled around, my first time out of the house since quarantine began in March, I arrived at Michele’s house and was greeted by one of her cute cats and adorable husky. They welcomed me before I was off to the beach.

Michele was a half an hour walk from Belmar Beach. When I arrived on that gray Friday afternoon, the beach was free and empty. Most of the guests were sea gulls and loved trying to steal my towels.

I was able to swim for three hours in rough waves, and unfortunately, I got sunburned. Overcast days can be deceiving!

After a gluten-free oatmeal breakfast shared with Twigs and Roots, Michele’s cats, I walked to Belmar Beach. It was 100 degrees Fahrenheit on the 18th and I enjoyed the seven hours I was in the water. I met some people that I swam with for a little bit. Mostly, I loved catching the waves. The waves were gentle, and I was able to see some fish and crabs swimming around.

I was off to Allaire State Park for Allaire Arts Alive, starting at 5:30. Allaire State Park reminded me of Valley Forge Park. I loved walking around and taking photos before I found the performance area next to the chapel. We were seated 6 feet apart underneath an oak tree and listened to the different performers. They were talented local to the Monmouth County Area musicians. It was a peaceful and serene evening.

Let’s Go Exploring: Tattoos in the “New Normal”

Old Glory Tattoo, Asbury Park, NJ

After spending a few hours at Belmar Beach (after Spring Lake sold out), I hung out with Michele for the rest of the day. I told her I was getting a tattoo; she didn’t mind at all. We watched Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix. While no one can replace Robert Stack, the new series was just as good as the series from the early 90’s.

My tattoo appointment at Old Glory Tattoo Company in Asbury Park was for 5pm, but COVID-19 pushed it to 5:30pm (for room cleaning). Marz was an absolute joy. He put on some Spanish and Basque punk rock, then he also taught me some of the Basque language. In Basque Spain, Hobbes is called Harold since Hobbes doesn’t translate. My choice made him nostalgic and happy – he used a green ink that he bought some time ago and couldn’t use until Calvin’s hat. I also loved watching him tattoo. The way the colours were set up, the whole process reminded me of painting. The ink jars were the palette, the tattoo gun the paint brush, and before a new colour, he washed the nib in water. Marz laughed at my observation. At 6:30pm, I had Calvin and Hobbes and I was all smiles.

When I got back to my Air BNB, I went to my room, removed the bandage, and took a photo of the stunning beauty on my upper arm. As I was walking to the bathroom, Michele greeted me and was excited to see my tattoo. Michele loved Marz’s work too and was just amazed with the quality.

After I washed up, I walked downstairs, and her new guests were watching Hamilton. They invited me to watch with them. I found out they were visiting from Lafayette Hill, which is near me in King of Prussia. Michele’s living room was set up to allow social distancing, so we enjoyed Hamilton, six feet apart. I was grateful that they invited me to watch with them and enjoyed the musical.

Earlier in the day, Jared and I were texting back and forth about dinner. He remembered that I am gluten-free and asked me where to go. After he discovered my suggestions were booked solid, I suggested Barrio Costero and he was able to get reservations for 7pm. When we met at Barrio Costero, Jared was impressed with Marz’s work. Even though Calvin and Hobbes was covered, a little bit of the word bubble showed. We dined outside, which became the new normal in 2020, and talked about our limited travels for the year, forecasting how traveling will change in 2021.

After dinner, Jared and I drove down to Asbury Park beach and took photos with the sun setting in the background. With the waves crashing along the beach, we watched young children squeal in excitement, catching the waves, and hoping that the rough waves wouldn’t tug them in further. Adults were playing volleyball and cursing the scores, it was nice to see the beach so alive at night.

When Jared and I made it back to the boardwalk, we found silly character boards and took selfies. It’s hard to believe we met eight years ago at a Packers game in Green Bay, WI.

Daytrippin’ Adventures

Atlantic City, NJ

I went to Atlantic City for the day on 30 August. Atlantic City is usually my day trip beach. The beach was empty, and I enjoyed the waves for a few hours.

I decided to take a break to get some photos with my Polaroid camera and I walked over to the iconic lifeguard boat. As I was waiting in line, two young women were taking photos of each other. I offered to take their group photo and I also asked if they would take mine. We agreed and chatted about my Happiness Box Project.

Emily loved my idea and shared with me, “I’m doing something similar to you, but instead of a box, I’m just travelling. I lost my husband to cancer a few months ago, I’m blogging about my travels to find meaning.” We exchanged Instagram accounts, and took quarantine selfies with my polaroid camera.

By August, most of the museums re-opened. Summerfest roller skating was cancelled this year, but at the end of July they reopened the amusements. While Summerfest normally closes on Labor Day, the River Rink extended the season until 11 October. The River Rink made the rink a beach with socially distant tables for eating. It was fun riding the Ferris wheel and carousel, but watching people walking around with blow up aliens was the highlight. A group of teenage girls let me borrow their alien, which they named George, and took a photo of me and George. This endearing photo from 12 September can be seen on the first page. George was a good photo buddy.

I went again on 10 October, conquered my fear of the Ferris wheel once and for all! Although I still wanted to hold on tightly as I descended into the air, there were less butterflies in the pit of my stomach. The last photo on page 1 is from my last day at Summer to Oktoberfest at the River Rink; I loved the teen’s overalls, she loved my shirt, and it was a perfect opportunity!

On 16 September, I became the moderator of the Lehigh Valley, PA sub on Reddit. It was an exciting day, as this is my first time being a moderator on any website. I joined Reddit in November 2018 for the gluten-free sub and forgot about it until March 2020. I’ve become active on Reddit since and I am happy to contribute to the site.

Lehigh Valley, PA was an inactive sub and I’ve been working on making it active again; I had to pack my patience after a slow start. Since October, the community has grown, and I’ve generated some discussions about events operating in a limited capacity around the Lehigh Valley and created a Discord stream. I’m excited to see what the future holds for this subreddit and I’m honoured to be a moderator.

“There are no sorrows when we break bread.” ~ Quevedo

By October, some of the groups I belong to were able to start meet-ups again, although the number allowed to attend were severely limited. On 9 October, the last day of Sukkot, I attended the rooftop Sukkot Shabbat at RSJ Moishe House in Philadelphia. I met Jonathan in January at a Shabbat and we kept in touch. Ten people were allowed to attend. By 7:30, we were all there. I met Sarah, an up and coming opera singer and I enjoyed chatting with her throughout the evening about music and theater.

Truly, there are no sorrows when we break bread and share an Uzbek meal. Laughter ensued when we shared gluten-free Graham crackers and marshmallows for s’mores. There was a lot of laughter around the Shabbat table and the campfire.

Halloween was different. Between COVID-19 and the riots, parties were capped to 25% occupancy and although the city didn’t have a curfew for Halloween, many events were cancelled beforehand. I attended a Halloween Costume Cruise on Ben Franklin Yacht from 5-9 pm.

I had a blast as Harley Quinn from Birds of Prey. I met Mr. J, although he was looking more like Joaquin Phoenix than Jared Leto, but I like that Mr. J better. I also saw my Suicide Squad twin and her boyfriend was Heath Ledger’s Joker.

I sat with a nice group of ladies that included me into their group for the evening. They encouraged me to dance, which I’ve always been too shy to do. I had fun dancing to It’s Tricky and Hot in Herre. (I kept masked and socially distanced.)

A rare Halloween full moon, a Blue Hunter’s moon, illuminated the Delaware River and I loved taking photos with the illuminated Philadelphia/Camden water front. Sitting on the deck of the yacht was a perfect way to cool down after a night of dancing.

On 2 November, Dad retired from Montgomery County after 33 years as a deputy sheriff. Dad has a senior SEPTA pass now and I’m hoping I can take him on some adventures!

I am happy to announce that the Rothman Rink at Dilworth Plaza opened its ice-skating rink on 6 November! I spent my self-care day at the rink on 7 November. I also spent time at my favourite piercing shop, Infinite. My piercer was John and he was wonderful. The selfie is featured on page 1.

Winterfest at Penn’s Landing is scheduled to reopen on 27 November! My body is calling for a weekly dose of vitamin ice!

This year was a creative year for me. As you enjoy your handmade card, I decided to create and donate six Hanukkah cards for JRA/Next Gen’s Letters From the Heart. My cards will be delivered with Hanukkah meals to those in need. I also participated in USPS’s Operation Santa. I made a beautiful Christmas card and gifted a camera (plus a Sally’s Beauty gift card) to a 15 year old gal who reminded me of myself when I was a teenager. I shared my blessings this year.

The holidays are going to look different this year. I hope regardless of what the season brings this year that you have a beautiful holiday full of love and light. Happy holidays and best wishes for a healthy and joyful 2021!

Warm regards,

Jessica

P.S. I start 11 January 2021!

This year, I’ve lost two people near and dear to me. In March, I lost Mary Connor, who was a long-time family friend. She was also Nan’s neighbour. In June, I lost Mrs. Davenport, my library manager for the past 13 years.

We also lost a lot of great people this year. Here’s a segment from CBS Sunday Morning, it’s easier to show a video:

Some other memorable moments from 2020:

Biden also won the presidency. Of course, it wasn’t without drama. However, it was a good day. I look forward to the hope and better feelings.

Just for laughs:

My great aunt was also just diagnosed with COVID-19. Joel and Avi are going to pray for her, and I will as well. Please take a moment of silence and prayer.

2020 was truly a merry-go-sorry year. I am thankful for the people I “met” this year, and the lessons that the year has imparted on me.

This evening I write my last note and early tomorrow morning (I’m going to set my alarm for 7am… we’ll see) I open Happiness Box 2020.

2020 was the best year to start Roarin’ 20’s 2.0. Quarantine was a merry-go-sorry experience, but we all learned something from it and I think the lessons we pulled from COVID-19 will serve us going forward this decade. At least, I hope it does. I hope kindness can last and that we can pull together as a community.

Regardless of how we all viewed the year, we were all in this together, and we all experienced a whole range of emotions together. I’m thankful for this blog community, the Writing.com community, and my Jewish communities. I am also thankful for friends and family. Many of you helped during the year. I’m truly thankful for y’all.

Let’s look at New Year’s Eve and the New Year as a Kintsugi. We’re putting the broken pieces together in gold, to make beautiful art.

21 Things That Would Make 2021 Better

  1. Letting go of the worry.
  2. With that said, letting go of caring about what others think and their opinions of me. It’s not bad narcissistic to not listen to everyone. I have a few people I can confide in and I will stick with them if I need help.
  3. Also with that said, letting go of shame that I feel for my past. People can change and even if I wrote about controversial things, I never acted on them. Action matters more than the word. We’re also capable of growth and a teenager has a different thought process than a 31 year old.
  4. I’m getting promoted! I start on 11 January 2021 and with that, I won’t have to go into the office until we are called back. Let’s hope that things won’t get called back until 2022.
  5. Continue paying off debt and being almost debt free.
  6. Investing! I plan to put a little into Acorns each month (my goal is $50 each month).
  7. My spiritual journey! I’m going to start the process forward in 2021! I’m really excited about it!
  8. Joining OCJAC, the Jewish Arts Council that I posted yesterday. I decided I’m going to join.
  9. Making new friends over Zoom.
  10. President Biden!
  11. A new cabinet filled with people from all walks of life.
  12. Peace and unity.
  13. Scrapbooking and card making – monetizing card making (or hope to).
  14. Roller skating!
  15. Travelling, even if it’s local travel.
  16. Getting together with friends, even if it has to be eating outdoors.
  17. Working on a manuscript for the Happiness Box Project.
  18. Getting poetry published.
  19. Leaving City-Data.
  20. Instagram take over of my favourite places, my favourite places loving my photography.
  21. We have survived 2020, and now we know how to have a good time indoors in 2021!