Happy (Lunar) New Year! Year of the Rat


On Sunday, 26 January 2020, I ventured into Philadelphia for the Lion Dance Parade in China Town. The day was gorgeous and the Year of the Rat not only drew in the Asian community, but all communities in Philadelphia and the suburbs. It was nice being together, as one people, celebrating each other. Happy New Year! May the Year of the Rat bring you all much peace, health, and prosperity.


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

Remembering Nan

Today is the seventh anniversary since my beloved Nan died. She battled lung cancer for six months and took her final breath on the snowy evening of 25 January 2013. It feels like yesterday and I still miss her a lot.

I’m going to share a few songs and stories of our times together. These songs are some songs Nan liked, disliked, and one she never heard, but it’s a memory I associate with her. These are some of the memories that make me smile.

Between seventh and tenth grades, I was heavily into Nirvana and in 2003, I saw a sweatshirt at Hot Topic that I wanted. I was 14 at the time and obviously unemployed; Nan made a deal with me. I would scrub her bathroom and kitchen floors (she had two bathrooms with tubs, then a bathroom with just a toilet), then she would buy me the sweatshirt. I lived up to the deal of my bargain and a week later, Nan bought me the Nirvana sweatshirt. While it no longer fits me anymore, I still have it hanging up in my closet because it’s such a kind memory.


In February 2004, I discovered Flogging Molly and bought one of their CDs. Nan drove a 2000 Pontiac Firebird that had a cassette player, and since I had a CD walkman converter, Nan would let me play music as we traveled together. I decided to put one of the Flogging Molly CDs in and Nan loved “Devil’s Dance Floor” the most. She thought it was a good dancing piece and really loved the beat. I remember her saying, “maybe you can learn how to dance to this song. Young people don’t dance anymore and it’s such a shame.” I never learned how to dance, but this remained one of our favourite songs that we enjoyed together.

One time in 2004, I decided to play The Doors’ greatest hits and when “Light My Fire” came on, she asked, “did he say ‘senior high’?” I said, “No, he said, ‘she get high'” and Nan didn’t really like that. I think she was afraid it would give me ideas, but it never did because I’m not interested in that lifestyle. Dad was a Doors fan growing up, but I guess he never played Doors for Nan. I didn’t play that CD again, but when one of her nieces visited from Colorado, we enjoyed chatting about Jim and the band.


Although I don’t have a driver’s license, I did learn how to drive. When I was learning how to drive, Nan often drove with me and I felt the most calm when driving with her. Since I have really bad anxiety, that’s why I don’t have a license and after failing the test on the ninth try, both Nan and dad said, “Jessica, driving isn’t for everyone and if you aren’t comfortable with it, the worst thing you can do is force yourself to be comfortable with it. You’ll just have to live in a city.” Anyway, when I was still learning, Nan often accompanied me to summer classes at West Chester University in 2009. She would sit on a bench on campus, reading a book, however, she said students would stop and chat with her. She loved chatting with the students and loved how welcoming everyone was of her. We often listened to Lady Gaga on the drive – she loved Lady Gaga; Nan thought her style was odd, but her voice was beautiful.


You are loved and miss, my dear Nan. You weren’t only my grandmother, you were also my best friend. Your memory is alive and well in my stories.




Thankful Thursday 23 January 2020

Thursday already!? I feel like these weeks just fly by, but I try to savour every moment.

I don’t think I’ll be moving from either position at both jobs, and through my deep breaths and thinking what a co-worker friend told me (“things happen for a reason. There’s a reason why you’re still here and still in the same positions”), I decided to look at the Canadian immigration site. For 2020, they need people in my role, the role I do full-time. Do I like what I do? No, but if it’ll get me there once I save up more money, it’ll help me go back to school to become a therapist. I want to be a therapist.

Also, since they are in need of people in my role, I wonder if that would mean I could get a job to hire me as an American, then sign the papers for residency. If they can’t find citizens or permanent residents that can do the role, that’s when they hire people from other countries. I’ll have to retake my English test, but maybe I will reach out to a Canadian headhunter. Having a job already lined up would negate the monetary requirement for immigration. I can also change my job at any time when I become a permanent resident. Things truly do happen for a reason and I’m thankful for the co-worker friend that gave me that perspective.

I’m thankful for friends and family in general this week for listening and encouraging. I have a blood test for my physical on Saturday and I’m very nervous. Everyone has been wishing me well, another co-worker friend said, “it’s 2020, new Jess and better health!” I’ve been saying that all week. Getting diagnosed with gluten issues, it was helping my liver last year, it has helped my health in general, so I think I’ll be good. Who would have thought getting diagnosed with celiac and sensitivities would have helped? I’m thankful for my health.

Yesterday I had a good hair day and as I was taking a selfie, a biker stopped and said, “hey girl!” I felt so beautiful yesterday and it was a welcomed feeling. I am also thankful of this cold weather.

What are you grateful for?

An Afternoon of Ice Skating

Today I left work at 1 pm and ventured into the city for an afternoon of ice skating. I had lunch at Panera, then I decided to walk to Penn’s Landing to get photos of the landmarks for a circle journal I am sending to New Zealand. As I was walking, I had my own personal soundtrack playing:

This was my favourite song in my sophomore year of high school. I was thinking of this song the other day and yesterday it appeared on my heavy metal playlist on Amazon. It appeared on my playlist today.


‘I just started listening to Asking Alexandria and they’re not bad.

Another favourite from high school. I love Pantera; fitting that I was listening to it walking out of Panera. Back in 2004, dad used to confuse the names. LOL!

I have a soft spot for Drake.

Of course, when I arrived at the skating rink, put on my ice skates and began ice skating, the tone of the soundtrack changed. I listen to everything and tend to get pumped up by everything. Here is the music that graced my hour of ice skating. Perfect workout music too, as well as music that perked up my mood.






I was singing along to this one. I love Lizzo.


Right now I am listening to a special Martin Luther King Jr. tribute put together by the Cleveland Orchestra. Earlier, the Philadelphia Orchestra performed this very piece. I stand with Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision and with the Happiness Box Project I strive to incorporate everyone, and treat everyone with loving kindness.

Ice Skating Sunday

Today I ventured down to the River Rink for a morning ice skate. It has been a month since I last went and it felt great to be back on the ice at Penn’s Landing. This is going to be a music and photo entry. I skated to some great tunes today that not only pumped up my blood, but also pumped up my smiles.

I actually really like this song, it reminds me of “Criminal” by Fiona Apple and that is one of my favourite songs.



He was on SNL last month and I fell in love with this song. It’s catchy and good to skate to.




The wind enjoyed these hits too and I guess Mother Nature wanted a skate partner because she was skating by my side. I held myself with the wind and at times, she was pushing me, then I was pushing her.


I’m leaving work two hours early tomorrow and I will go ice skating again. It’ll be 30 degrees tomorrow and I’m excited to hit the ice! I also can’t wait to see what the soundtrack will be tomorrow – it’ll be snow much fun!

Friday Joy Filled with Nature, Ice Cream, Community and Ice Skating (17 January 2020)

Yesterday I decided to walk to Manayunk. It had been two months and this was my first 3.3 mile walk with my new phone. It was nice taking photos and listening to music without depleting my battery. It was 29 degrees yesterday and walking in the cold was refreshing.

I made it to Manayunk at 4:15, an hour and fifteen minute walk. I really had to go to the bathroom and as I was looking for a public restroom, I finally spotted the Tubby Robot! I first heard of the Tubby Robot last year, meant to visit, couldn’t find it, and kept meaning to find it, so once I found it yesterday I decided to go in. They had dairy and gluten-free chocolate ice cream. I bought a scoop, as well as an enamel pin. After the bathroom break, I dug in, and took notice of the video games they had. The TV was outside and you could play from inside. I was chatting with the staff member about Brooklyn and Brighton Beach, until a babysitting and the young guy she was babysitting came in. We then talked about gluten-free and vegan places. The young guy had a blast playing the video games. I enjoyed the atmosphere, I enjoyed the ice cream, and I want to visit again.

From there, I took the bus to Philadelphia and got to Philadelphia a little after six. Shabbat was at 6:30 and I had plenty of time to walk to the William Way Center. I was early and schmoozed with the other people for a bit. I met Jonathon and Jacob and chatted with them until it was time to take our seats. I sat with Ben, Rick, and Conezy and they were fun to chat with. Ben is from Germany and we were talking about immigrating to other countries. I didn’t get many photos because it was a special MLK weekend Shabbat and most of the talk was about the census and volunteering. I had a good GF vegetarian dinner. Jonathon and Ben gave me their e-mail addresses, I’ll have to e-mail them later. It was nice spending a few hours with community. ❤

I ended the evening ice skating and because of the time, I decided to go to the Rothman Rink instead of the River Rink since Rothman was closer. It felt good to get back onto the ice after a month and I taught a college student how to ice skate. Okay, maybe not, but I showed her how to get started and said, “it’s all about mindset too. I don’t think about falling and I think ‘I got this’ instead, while repeating, ‘I’m an Olympian skater and I got this!'” She and her friend giggled, but they were skating eventually. Mindset is key to everything. Their guy friend, Kyle, was picture taker that night, he took my photos and agreed to a selfie, I gave him a hug before they left. They were really nice.

I had a lovely evening and I’m headed back to the city tomorrow, to the River Rink, for a day of ice skating. It’ll be 30 degrees tomorrow and I’m loving this weather! Perfect weather for fun and community.

Thankful Thursday 16 January 2020

Happy Thursday! I’m finally 100% feeling better and I am grateful to have my health back.

Although the library took down my scrapbook pages for my kindness display, I was allowed to keep the story up. I was chatting with one of my friends and she said I could type it and use their materials. Last weekend I typed it up and last night she printed it, then today I decorated my story. I was able to use the die cuts and markers. The display looks complete now and I’m grateful for my friend. I’m grateful that I was able to keep the story up, just sans the photos. (I’m still never doing a display again.)


There was an incident at the library last night—I don’t know what happened, but as I was shelving books, I heard a young man get up, scream out that he was leaving, and made a paranoid statement. He left his computer on and had Pitbull playing out very loudly. I looked at the computer, it looked eery, but I paused the song. I walked away and five minutes later, six officers were in the library looking for this individual. When I left, I was feeling uneasy; the officers left the library and were canvassing the township building when I left. I walked home and before I left the township, I had my flashlight and two teenagers thought I was a cop and started taunting me. I ran away, uneasy. I didn’t know if they were connected to the person at the library.

Dad picked me up tonight and I’m grateful. I’m grateful that three days a week he takes me to the train in the morning, then mom takes me twice a week. I’m thankful for my health, friends, and family.

What are you thankful for?