Thankful Thursday 3 September 2020

Happy first Thursday in September! I can’t believe we’re in the 9th month of the year and we only have a little over 3.5 months to go until 2021. I made a post on Instagram on Tuesday about the progress of Happiness Box 2020. It grew a bit over the summer, not as much as last year’s (or the previous), but that’s okay. 2020 is a special year and I am grateful for everything I’ve learned this year.

I even decorated the Atlantic City bag.

I’m so thankful that my full-time job holds a Torah/Bible Study and that I can get in touch with learning about Judaism. Avi talked about Rosh Hoshana yesterday and even blew his Shofar. It was a neat experience and I’m grateful Joel came up with the idea. I also like how Joel connects his Christianity with Avi’s Judaism; we really are all connected at the end of the day, it’s truly beautiful.

I’m thankful for my friends. I’ve had a difficult week this week because I chose to let someone go. The friendship was adding more stress than it was worth, especially since it became passive aggressive and the person didn’t really want to communicate. I’m thankful for Anna, Christina, and Marsha for listening.

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

Atlantic City | 30 August 2020


Yesterday I decided to take a day trip to Atlantic City. It’s only an hour and a half by bus and I wanted to get one more beach day in before lifeguards are done for the summer. While summer doesn’t end until 23 September, Labor Day is the unofficial end to the summer in the Northeast and Midwest.

When I arrived, I was surprised that the beach was almost empty! I had someone take my photo in front of the ocean. One with the mask on, and one without. The mask has defined my beach going experience this year and it’ll be fun for the Happiness Box scrapbook. 🙂

The last time I was at this beach, on 25 May 2019, it was a day before I joined the Inked Club. The last time I was here, I was admiring all the tattooed people and dreaming of the day I would have one to show off.

Well, three later… 😂 I approached a tattooed young woman and I asked her if she wouldn’t mind taking a photo of my tattoos, since this was my first Atlantic City experience with them. She smiled, she understood perfectly. Yeah, my tats are still a big deal to me.

Then it was fun, fun, fun in the water! Sweet Cancer baby and her water:

After an hour of swimming, I decided to take a break to get some photos with my Polaroid camera. Taking a photo with the Atlantic City boat is always a must. As I was waiting in line, two young women were taking photos of each other. I offered to take their group photo and they agreed. I also asked if they would take mine. They agreed and one, Emily, said she loved my Polaroid camera, she had one on order and she never sees anyone use them. She hoped she made the right purchase.

I replied, “Oh, I love mine and it comes in handy for my project!” She was interested and after she took my photos, I explained to her what the Happiness Box Project is.

“That’s such a great idea! 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, so I’m just travelling, writing, and blogging to find meaning. I’ve never done this before.” Rebecca, her other friend, and I began chatting. We exchanged Instagram accounts, and after 15 minutes of chatting, we took quarantine selfies with my polaroid camera. I took three of them and gave the other two to Emily and Rebecca.

Before we parted ways, I said to Emily, “if you need any help getting started with blogging or just need to chat, feel free to reach out anytime.” She smiled, and we gave each other socially distant/quarantine hugs. Not actual hugging, but the motions of hugs at a socially safe distance.

The people you meet while travelling. *Bigsmile* Maybe my project is a gift and although blogging doesn’t bring any benefits, maybe it is a useful skill to have.

Anyway, after a water and fruit break, I went back into the water and met a nice guy catching the waves. We started talking and we started talking about travelling and tattoos for a good half an hour, that was fun.

Then the surf started getting rougher and the fun began!


The rough waves also stirred up a lot of seaweed. The seaweed was attracted to me and at one point, I looked like a monster coming out of a lagoon!

At 3:15, I was done in the water and walked around to take photos, as I dried off. I saw a lot of neat sights yesterday. Let me share some of the photos:

I was going to eat dinner at Chickie and Pete’s, but since New Jersey still has the outdoor dining rules, it was a 2.5 hour wait. I couldn’t wait that long since I wanted to get home by 7:30, so I got it to go. I started eating it on the boardwalk, but I got tired of standing and the flies were biting my legs. I took it on my bus trip back to Philadelphia and on Lyft, I finally ate dinner when I got home at 7:30.

I had such a wonderful day. What a wonderful end to the swimming season. Hopefully next year, the beach experience will return to “normal”! Regardless, one more beach day to add to my Happiness Box Project, as well as new friends to keep in touch with on Instagram.

Shabbat 28 August 2020

On Friday I ventured into Philadelphia for the abbreviated Shabbat and the handing out of the Shabboxes.

I was one of the first ones to arrive, at 4:30, Mallory and I wished each other a Shabbat Shalom, chatted for 10 minutes, and then she handed me a Shabbox. I told her, “Thank you. It was nice seeing you, if only for 10 minutes, and I can’t wait until we can gather again in person.” She smiled and said, “Yes!” I did add that I do love the Zoom chats, and I am grateful for them.

I went to Barnes and Noble next. Bought my first Torah, another religious book, then Prevention and Poets & Writers magazine. As I was checking out, the skies opened and it was pouring.

I noticed everyone congregating into Barnes and Nobles and as I went over to the magazines, I noticed Mallory and another young woman standing outside. They waved to me and I went outside to stand with them, socially distant of course.

As I was standing with the Shabbat group, I was too nervous to ask for selfies. Yet, after my purchase, we chatted and laughed as the pouring rain came down.

Since the Challah wasn’t GF, my parents said they had it this morning and it was delicious. I found GF Challah bread dough; I want to order the pan and I’ll make my own that I can eat. I haven’t had Challah bread since my diagnosis.

Thankful Thursday 27 August 2020

The last Thursday in August – this month, like the year, is flying by! In Philadelphia, museums and restaurants are starting to open back up, socially distant of course, and with a mask! The Philadelphia Museum of Art opens next weekend and Barra Rosa opens on 12 September. The restaurant has been closed for 6 months, and I’m glad they’re reopening. I will still be careful.

Tomorrow night, the Hillel Network is getting together for a socially distant Shabbat. We will all be in masks, we will say a prayer, and pick up our Shabboxes. Although it won’t be a big to-do like normally, I’m excited to see people in person, even if for an hour. It’s in Rittenhouse Square Park, so it’s outdoors and they are limiting people, with hour increments. I feel grateful for the free Shabbox and I am eternally grateful that this group has held monthly Shabbat on Zoom during the pandemic.

I’m also thankful for my parents, Anna, Marsha, Christina, and my co-workers from both jobs. What are you grateful for this week?

Welcome, Sweet Monarch!

Quickly emerging
from two weeks in snug casing
Ah, sweet freedom, ah!

Let the wind take me,
let it guide my brand new wings,
I can see the sun!


One of the monarchs emerged today! We have two that are still in the chrysalis and we’re predicting by the weekend, they will be monarchs. I’m hoping mom finds more caterpillars and we can raise Monarchs again. I love doing this each year, but it’s brought meaning during the quarantine. I took the one in the cage, but mom sent me the others. I had to get back to work before he flew away.

Verklempt From Yesterday

Yesterday was so sweet. My neighbour has two girls, 5 and 8. While I was on the swings, the 5 year old came running up to me, saying hi and sat on the swing next to me. Her sister and her friend then took the other swings. We went swinging together, chatted and laughed. The 5 year old said to me, “I saw you were alone and I wanted to join you.” Be still my heart! Didn’t get a photo during, as I was enjoying the moment. This moment made me verklempt.


Thankful Thursday 20 August 2020

Ah, I hear Autumn calling! We’re having a bit of a reprieve with temperatures in the Philadelphia Area tonight. Starting last night, and extending until tomorrow, temps have been low 80s during the day and low 60s at night.

I’ve been enjoying this weather and can’t wait for Autumn. I’m really grateful for this weather and I’m grateful that the playground is opened again. I’ve been enjoying the swings for the past few days.

I went into the office today and I’m thankful for dad for taking me to the train. I’m also thankful for Shetana, Kyle, and Victoria, my other office mates who are allowed with me in the office. They’re limiting it to 2-4 people per day, once per week. Shetana and Kyle sit near me and we just had a good time laughing today, socially distant of course. I’m thankful for the laughter in dark times.

Yesterday my tattoo also turned 1 month old. I’m grateful that it’s healed and Marz did such a beautiful job. The green he used for Calvin’s hat is just a lovely shade of emerald. He opened the bottle just for my tattoo. I remember him saying, “I knew I bought this green for a reason and I’m glad I can finally use it!” All the colours used for my tattoo are looking vivid. I’m just grateful for all of the experiences my tattoos have brought me.


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

City Tavern | 15 August 2020

Remember the time before COVID-19 and when I would get selfies with strangers? Well, on Saturday night I brought it back! From a 6 ft distance of course, and with a mask!

I ended up having dinner at City Tavern; Franklin Institute and City Tavern has a partnership until the end of the month, 25% off of a meal. City Tavern was founded in the mid-1700’s, the meals are Colonial, it’s pricy, for special occasion and I haven’t been there in 5 years. I wanted to go back and 25% off was enticing. I made a reservation for 4:30.

I arrived at 4:15 and had a friendly host. My waiter was pretty cool too. Well, as the host was setting another table, I was waiting for my food, he came to check on me, I asked him about the promotion, and we started chatting. He loved my tattoo and asked how old it was since it still looks fresh. I said, “four weeks.” We chatted about tattoos and their colonial uniform. I absolutely loved it. Then my waiter came and broke up the conversation.

Before I left, I asked the host, whose name was Simon I believe… it was on the check after he took the promotion, if he wouldn’t mind getting a selfie with me. He smiled and he said, “I would love to get a selfie with you!”

He pointed to the side of the tavern. “Let’s pose over here! It’ll look more Colonial!” We snapped a selfie and we’re smiling with our eyes. #SelfieswithStrangers is now back!


Simon was cute. I hope that was his name. I feel like e-mailing City Tavern and telling the owner what a great experience I had. Simon and Greg… Greg was my waiter and he was amazing too.

The Franklin Institute | 15 August 2020

On Friday, I decided to go to the Franklin Institute and I became a member. I love supporting museums and since that museum has a lot of adult activities, it was well worth it to join. (It was also cheaper to become a member than pay for admission and for the special exhibit, which is Madame Tussaud’s The Presidents.)

I went to the Franklin Institute on Saturday and had a blast. It took me two hours to walk through The Presidents by Madame Tussaud’s. I had to take pictures with them. One of the security guards was watching me and as I exited the exhibit, she laughed and said, “it was a joy watching you run back and forth, posing and taking photos with the presidents.” We both laughed. Some were selfies, but mostly self timer.

After, I watched a few experiments, then an eye dissection.I actually like watching dissections. This was a cow’s eye and I learned a lot about the structure of the eye. Our eyes are just like cameras.

4.5 hours of fun! I sent dad some of the president photos, he absolutely loved them and I told him I will take him to see. I also told Christina that I became a member, so one Sunday we will go and enjoy the museum. Now, I’m a Philadelphia Museum of Art and Franklin Institute member. PMA is opened on 6 September!

Another Anniversary…

I met other people during my Green Bay/Milwaukee Trip. Dave and Rich, both from Staten Island, NY. When the hotel shuttle picked me up from Green Bay Mall to take me back to the hotel, Dave and Rich were in the backseat. The shuttle driver introduced us and I thought that was all I was going to see of Dave and Rich.

Two days later, while I was in Milwaukee and visiting the Miller Brewery headquarters, I ran into Dave and Rich again. We spent the day together and had a blast.

Dave and I stayed in touch until 2015, but I haven’t heard from him since. Once my old phone died and I lost everything, Dave never called or texted again. I might make a post on City-Data’s People Finder forum and see if I can find him. Then again, if he wanted to remain in touch, he would have. Ah, well, I cherish the time in Wisconsin, then sports events in Philadelphia. I won’t edit this piece, I’ll keep it as is:

A Sports Trip to Remember
Jessica Marie

“Jessica,” the hotel’s shuttle driver had begun, “meet Rich and Dave. They’re here on a sports trip too and they live near you.”

The driver was friendly—Midwestern friendly—middle aged woman with dirty blonde hair, slightly graying, pulled into a pony tail; I knew she meant well when she introduced me to these young gentlemen, but I was nervous.

I was sitting shotgun; the driver was taking me to the mall and she was taking the guys to Lambeau Field. I turned around and looked the one guy in the eye. I probably didn’t smile, as smiling doesn’t come naturally to me when I’m nervous, but I did say: “Hi, I’m Jessica. I’m from the suburbs of Philadelphia and I’m here to see the Packers. I’m a huge Packers fan.”

Dave was the first one to introduce himself: “I’m Dave. I’m from Staten Island. Although I’m a Giants fan, we wanted to come to see the Packers. This is my friend Rich. We try to take a sports related vacation each year.”

Rich then spoke up and mentioned he was from Brooklyn. I could tell Rich was an introvert as well since Dave did most of the talking. Although, it was a ten minute car ride, I enjoyed talked to them. We talked about sports and our love for Green Bay. When we arrived at the mall, I stepped from the passenger side and said to them, “It was nice meeting you! Maybe we’ll catch up again because I liked talking to you both. A pleasure meeting you!” They returned the same sentiments.

I remember thinking the two guys from New York were really friendly, but between meeting my Facebook friend for the first time, meeting Wayne and Janet, and other friends I made at the Packers game, I put the brief interaction at the back of my mind.

The day was warm and sunny. I had just finished an afternoon at the Milwaukee Zoo and was waiting for the bus to head to Miller Brewery. I felt overwhelmed in Milwaukee, but taking in the city through the bus’s window—Milwaukee had an urban beauty to it.

“Hey! Jessica?” I heard a guy scream out; breaking my concentration from the map. I was confused because I didn’t know anyone in Milwaukee. Yet despite the fear that some stalker knew my name, I looked up and saw Dave and Rich.

“Do you remember us?” Dave continued.

“Yes! Dave and Rich, right?”

We began boarding the bus at this point. “So, where are you headed?”

“Well, I just finished visiting the Milwaukee Zoo. I love going to zoos and I loved the Milwaukee Zoo. I’m trying to find Miller Brewery.”

“Oh! We’re going there next too! Hey, let’s go together!”

I sat in between Rich and Dave. I could tell Dave had been to Milwaukee before because he had a good sense of direction in this huge city. Dave was listening for the stops and I talked to Rich. I wanted to get to know Rich a bit more. Apparently his parents own a store in Brooklyn and he helps run the family business. He’s more a Yankees fan, he prefers baseball over football, but was enjoying the trip.

When we got off the bus and entered through the door of the Miller Brewery, we were instructed to go to the auditorium to watch a video on the history of Miller. We had to wait for what seemed like an eternity for the movie to air, but time spent with giggling and chatting with both Dave and Rich made it worth it.

The whole tour was fun between crazy antics from Rich and Dave, but visiting a new place with new friends is always exciting. When we were touring how beer was made, Dave noticed I loved photography, and was making funny gestures in front of the glass where the beer was being made. I snapped the pictures and the whole thing was priceless. I never laughed so much in my life.

When we made it to the beer garden, we sat at a table. I am not a fan of beer; I opted for a berry beer, then root beer. The guys had many plastic cups of beer, then cheered our day out. Dave said, “to new friends and many more adventures together!” Our glasses clanked and we exchanged numbers.

We had planned to go to dinner before they went to the Brewers/Phillies game (the game I saw the night before) and I went on my Midnight cruise of Lake Michigan. We had planned to go to this sports restaurant, but with how erratic the buses were, we never did go. We parted ways.

I kept in touch with both Dave and Rich. I still hang out with Dave on occasions when there is a sporting event in Philadelphia or other events. It’s nice that he’ll come from Staten Island to visit me because of our shared loved of sports. It’s nice having someone to bond with when it comes to sports or just traveling in general. I am forever grateful to the shuttle driver in Green Bay that introduced me to both Rich and Dave; I am forever grateful for all the friends I met that year in Green Bay and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Word Count: 891

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