29 Candles: Picture Yourself at Jessica’s Party

Today I turned 29 and I’ll be honest with you, I’m dreading turning 30… hence why I don’t look happy. Part of it is worrying about immigration – most countries want people under 35, also partly health, but mostly I feel like I have wasted my 20s.

Maybe I shouldn’t feel that way because I did get a degree, I did self-publish a few books, I’ve travelled and made friends on my travels, but I am still not in a career I like. I’m working toward what I want to do, though, it’s taking longer than I had hoped. I am working towards moving away, but that is a process.

My aunts and uncles were making a big deal about me turning 30 next year and I said, “please stop. I am not looking forward to 30.” My one uncle asked, “why? That’s not old.” I told him my fears and he said, “Jess, you still have a lot of time. You’re still very young and a lot can change in 5 years. Please don’t worry.” After talking to some friends when I got home, my uncle was right. I shouldn’t fear an age and even if it feels like I’ve wasted my 20s, your 20s are still a time of learning and growth, which is important for the rest of your life. I should enjoy my last year in my 20s.

My uncle opened the pool and I had fun swimming. I can’t wait to spend the rest of the summer swimming! Come weekends, I will swim… Friday evenings will be for skating and Art Museum, Saturday and Sunday for swimming. Mom also ordered me a gluten-free cake that was delicious. I had a good birthday.



Pre-Birthday Celebration at Work

Yesterday, people at my full-time job surprised me with gifts, cards, and a pre-birthday celebration complete with gluten, dairy, and soy free cupcakes. I was verklempt at the kind gestures – they truly made the day before my birthday special. Even the people at my part-time library job gave me hugs and well-wishes.



Since today is my actual birthday, I will try to post photos of the celebration today. For my American friends and followers, I hope you have a great Independence Day!

A Pretty Awesome Friday (and Happy Canada Day)

First, I want to wish my Canadian friends and followers a very happy Canada Day! I celebrate myself; as someone who is working towards moving and getting re-invited for permanent residency, I have celebrated for the past two years. I found a video of singers singing both the Star-Spangled Banner and O Canada! before a Maple Leafs game – to me, the video is symbolic of our countries’ friendship to one another and my hope for this Canada and US Independence Days is that our nations can still remain BFFs despite the Trump administration.

canada flag with mountain range view
Photo by Daniel Joseph Petty on Pexels.com

On Friday after work, I decided to go roller skating. It was 94 degrees and only managed to skate for 25 minutes – it was way too hot to skate for long. I ended up overcoming my fear and riding the Ferris wheel. Thank goodness that the awesome operator didn’t stop it at the top – that is my major fear: heights and getting stuck or falling to my death. The operator took my anxiety into consideration and it was a pleasant experience. Next time I will try it without telling anyone about my anxiety.

After skating, I went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for Final Friday. This month’s theme was the Jazz Age and they had a burlesque show. I have never been to a burlesque show, but I thought why not? It was the art museum and it would be tame. Not really, but it was so much fun. Apparently, Friday was the day I overcame anxiety because during intermission the performers wanted volunteers. I volunteered and I had to do a striptease, involving only taking off my shoes.

I have a lot of social anxiety and I get anxious in situations where people can make fun of me. I was bullied and taunted a lot in middle and high schools (I am big busted, people always made fun of me for that). It’s hard to be “sexy” taking off your shoes and the other two volunteers were comical as well. The audience clapped for us, and I took off my socks as well – the emcee said, “oh, folks, we have someone being adventurous with their socks!” They all clapped and it made me feel great.

The volunteers won free admission to a burlesque show; I might check it out, but I would go to the gay guys one. Josh was my favourite and he was entertaining. After, I had the chance to meet him and another performer (I forget her name). I introduced myself to everyone and they were all really nice. I enjoyed talking to the performers and found them down to Earth. I find some of the more controversial performers are actually the kindest of people.


On Friday, when I returned from my evening in the city, I had a package from Talbots waiting for me. Confused, as my order had already arrived, I opened it and saw a red box with a note attached. I pulled off the plastic bag and opened the note first, then the box.

Turns out the saleswoman from Talbots who sold me interview outfits four years ago and helped me pick out work clothes a few weeks ago sent me a gift -a charm bracelet. She remembered I was a writer when she worked with me in 2014, then we caught up a few weeks ago about looking for a new career and working toward my goal of moving to Canada. What a lovely gift! This made my day even better. Verklempt doesn’t quite describe it.


Thankful Thursday 28 June 2018

Another month has gone by and we are halfway through the year now! It’s crazy how fast 2018 is flying by, but I am grateful for most of the experiences I’ve gone through so far. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings me.

T-Minus five days until my birthday and mom ordered me a gluten and dairy free birthday cake. The bagel shop’s owner’s daughter is a baker and is in the business of making allergy free cakes. Mom got in touch with her and I can’t wait to see what the cake will look and taste like. This will be my first birthday gluten-free. Someone at my full-time job is finding gluten-free treats for me to make my birthday extra special as well. I am thankful for both.

My birthday is 4 July and someone I work with at the library has a birthday on 3 July. She wished me a happy early birthday tonight, I did the same and I will make her a card. I am thankful for the library and I am thankful Steph took my picture tonight for my Happiness Box Project. The theme for summer reading this year is “Libraries rock” and I love the shirts we were given. I wanted a photo so I can remember this for the rest of my life.


On Monday, Kathleen also gave me a surprise – I am truly grateful for her as well.


What are you thankful for?

A Sunny June Morning Strolling Around Mill Grove

Nature makes me happy, as does seeing my owl and blue jay friends at the John J. Audubon Center at Mill Grove in Audubon, Pennsylvania. Dad dropped me off at 10 this morning and I spent an hour and a half wandering the premises. I couldn’t get over how much was added since my last visit in October 2017!

Eventually, I strolled over to the Owl Enclosure and was greeted by a very vocal Odin! I know it might sound weird, but I love chatting with Odin. There is something soothing about chatting with animals; I just love hearing them. Odin even posed for many photos, it was just so much fun spending time with both Luna and Odin.

When I walked over to see Conrad, the blue jay, I was surprised to see the chickens weren’t there. They had a Barbary dove in their place and she was gorgeous. Unfortunately, she wasn’t in a location that I could take many photos. I took photos of the new red tail hawk and played around with Conrad. He had me running back and forth, he is so cheeky.


I had a lovely morning at Mill Grove and can’t wait to go again this summer and fall.

Kindness Out of Hatred

Yet, despite those protesters from the Key of David Christian Church, I found love that day. After the initial meeting, I was so angry that I decided to treat people at the skating rink with kindness. I have Blue Cross insurance and can get in for free, I can get up to four other people in for free as well. I treated a mother and her young son to a day of skating, free of charge. The little boy had to be four or five years old, he thanked me up and down since he was so excited. I saw him throughout the day, he kept waving to me, and said, “thank you again, nice lady. I am having fun!”

Looking back, my heart is melting, but anger from being sick (beginning of the cold) and those hateful people, I didn’t pay that any mind last week. Maybe if I did and maybe if I was not in the throes of illness, it might have prevented me from reacting to when the Key of David people came into the rink to disrupt everyone. I doubt it because I feel strongly about hatred and I will stand up to hatred.  Unfortunately, my ideas of hugging bigots to see the light (I often thought about doing that with ISIS and those who suicide bomb – hug them to stop the attacks, read them Holy Book verses to show them they are wrong in their thinking) and sharing verses won’t work because their ideologies are too twisted. They will have to seek enlightenment on their own if they choose to ever come to the light.

Anyway, at one point I was chatting with a woman about my frustrations and she said, “God is love. At the end of the day, we need to accept people as they are.” Too true. I was raised to love and every day I’m grateful for that. This woman gave me a big hug and reassured me.


Despite the darkness, light can come out of it and light can brighten a dark moment.



Oh yes, before I even went to the rink, I have to call out some kindness. On the el, I asked a gentleman in front of me if he had any tissues because my nose was like a sieve. He didn’t, but someone in another seat overheard me and handed me a bunch of napkins. I thanked him. Again, I will choose to focus on these moments going forward.

Thankful Thursday 21 June 2018

First off, I am thankful for feeling better. I caught a summer cold last weekend and was decommissioned from Sunday until yesterday, though I am still not 100%. I will be resting this weekend – I want to thank everyone who sent me well wishes and my parents for providing some care.

Last Saturday I sort of got into a scuffle – I was sick, it was hot, and bigots anger me. This is what I posted on Writing.com:

“Sad event yesterday. The Christian Taliban were protesting a Muslim festival at the skating rink. I fought with them – Jesus would be ashamed of them because Jesus taught love and acceptance. This is why I became a spiritual and decided to leave Islam and organized religion. I quoted the Bible and Jesus’s teachings of love and acceptance, especially the part, “he without sin should cast the first stone.” I was told by the “preacher” that I was ugly, a lesbian, and that is why I’m not submitting to any man – because I’m too repulsive for one. His wife also said, “we don’t have stones, you ugly harlot.” Seems like I struck a chord, I was right and they didn’t want to be told they are wrong and resorted to insults.

Anyway, after I was trying to hug these Christian Taliban members to show them that all people are the same, I had my skates on and rolled into them. Started a big ruckus and I skated back because once people learn to hate, it’s hard to break it.

Last night I did some digging and apparently, this “pastor” was jailed for ponzi schemes and other investment schemes. He attacked people he was protesting against and disrupted Buddhist Temple gatherings, so he is currently under different lawsuits, as well as being investigated for hate crimes. These people sound like losers, losers that hate themselves and want to bring others down with them. I have seen them before, they were at the LGBT parade last week and I’ve seen them around for several years. I was going to preach love to counter them, but if I see them again, I’m just going to start calling them losers, bring up the different FBI files I found, read the articles about them, tell them they are the ones that are going to burn AND they will always be losers, losers, losers. I think that would do the trick more than love since they don’t respond to that. It would also make me feel better calling them big losers.”

On Monday, I was chatting with Kathleen and like some friends on Writing.com, she was concerned for my safety when reading that. Kathleen and Patrece thought I had every right to stand up to hate, but they advised to just ignore them next time because those bigots will never change and they don’t want me to get hurt. As Patrece wrote (which is what Kathleen said): “It is sad, and unjust what you experienced at this gathering, Jessica. But please do use caution in your actions/reactions. Those who thrive on hate are capable of things beyond your imagination.

While I fully believe in standing up for oneself and what is right for them, it is wise to look long and hard at the enemy. You may be faced with much more than cocky insults should you take the approach you shard above. I don’t argue against your rights or the rights of those you were with and support. I just fear for your safety. If those others were so bold, who knows what other ammunition they possess, aside from the words they used to attack this last time. Sometimes it is best to just be the bigger person and spare yourself the possible danger that may lie ahead.”

I am thankful for them both. (Note: I hope no one thinks that I hate Christians and think all Christians are Christian Taliban members. I don’t hate anyone, but I don’t tolerate hate groups or people who spread hate to disrupt others. I will call anyone out on that, even ISIS. I wish no one was ever raised to hate or resorted to hate in economically challenging times.)

I also received a thank you card from Maddie today thanking me for the birthday card and for inducting her into the Sousalarm Club. She can’t wait to receive the certificate. That made me happy and grateful.

What are you thankful for today?

Father’s Day 2018

Happy Father’s Day! I am battling a summer cold, but I still celebrated my dad today. I am thankful for everything my dad has done for me over the years and for accepting me for who I am. I love my dad.

I am taking my dad to the Ravens/Broncos game on 23 September, then we had a surf-and-turf dinner. Dad enjoyed his day.



Thankful Thursday 14 June 2018

Eid Mubarak! Although I am sending my Muslim friends cards late this year (tomorrow), it’s the thought that counts. I hope everyone has a blessed Eid and even for non-Muslims, I hope that the rest of the year brings you peace and prosperity.

Today is my cousin’s 25th birthday. A few months ago, I requested to induct her into the Sousalarm Club on WRTI, the local classical/jazz music radio station. I requested for either today, Maddie’s birthday, or 30 December, for her first wedding anniversary to her husband. I was late in requesting, so I wasn’t sure. I was surprised when Gregg, my favourite DJ, e-mailed me right away saying he had an opening for June 14 (today). Yesterday, he e-mailed me asking me how I pronounce my last name and how I pronounce Maddie’s last name. I told him and he is so cute when he charms. I have a secret crush on him.

I sent Maddie a card to tell her to listen in – she might have to download the app since she lives in South Carolina now (her hubby is in the Navy) and I sent her a text yesterday to tell her, in case she didn’t get the card. Well, let me tell you, this morning was awesome! Gregg played Stars and Stripes Forever (it’s also Flag Day in the States today) and afterward, he inducted Maddie into the Sousalarm Club with the write-up I wrote.

After it was said and done, Maddie texted me: “Thank you so much Jess! That was great! I never imagined I’d someday be part of the Sousalarm Club!” Who would have thought that such a small gesture (free of charge) would bring so much joy to someone! Maddie used to be in the marching band, she plays instruments, though she is a P.A. (physician assistant) now. Her husband was in the marching band as well, and he used to lead the Naval Academy’s band. They’re both musically inclined and I figured she would like it. I’m thankful she did and I am so happy that being inducted into the Sousalarm Club made her day.

It is also an apology in some way as well. I’ve taken on the more spiritual, I realized that I can’t be part of organized religion because to me it’s too inclusive. I became a Muslim, though I am more interested in Sufism, the more spiritual form of it that Sunnis and Shias don’t recognize – actually, they find Sufis to be heretical. Sufis can be the spiritual portion of any faith. Well, when I was still on Facebook, I was scared that my Muslim friends would call me out for participating with my Catholic and Atheist family members for their events. I didn’t want to go to Maddie’s bridal shower and wedding out of fear.

I did go, most of my true Muslim friends did say that family is more important than religion and they celebrate all of their friends of different faiths by participating, it’s not a sin… I was still worried. Let me tell you, I had a blast. Her shower was secular and her husband is another Christian denomination so her wedding wasn’t Catholic. It was a spiritual wedding that focused on community and bringing others to your table to include them. It was beautiful and being more spiritually inclined, I agreed. When Maddie and her hubby sent me a thank you card, they basically said any time I wanted to visit them in South Carolina, I was welcomed at their table. It was beautiful.

Anyway, I am grateful for the beauty of today. What are you thankful for today?

Pride 2018

This past weekend, cities all over the world held Pride parades to celebrate Pride Month. (Turkey also had a Pride parade, which made me happy to see!) Philadelphia held their parade on Sunday, 10 June 2018 and I am so glad the rain held. The parade was beautiful, I met so many wonderful people, and I was happy that I could celebrate with the LGBT community.



This group. This group, you guys. ❤ All love. I’m asexual, though it’s not something I admit often because it confuses people. I started chatting and asked if I could get a photo. They asked, “are you bi?” I blushed and said, “No, I’m asexual.” They both smiled and said, “that’s okay. You’re welcomed, everyone is welcomed into our group.” First time in a long time I could feel accepted as I am. So much love yesterday.


I added photos and the mementos to my Happiness Box as well. The parade made me so happy and the opportunity to connect with others, it just made me feel awesome. I was an ally in college and I found that once an ally, always an ally.




I was chatting with one of my library co-workers and she said, “I think you should create a book with your photos. I think the LGBT Community would be appreciative of it, especially since it is the 30th anniversary.” I think I will.