Van’sWarped Tour 2018

After walking fifteen minutes from Snap Kitchen to 15/16 Locust Street Station to catch Patco, I felt at peace walking through Rittenhouse Square Park. Mountain Chickadees playing in the fountain, preening their feathers with the spray from the waterfall, while taking their pictures seemed to remove any anxiety I had about walking through Camden. After shooting a few pictures, I knew it was time to get on my merry way to catch the Patco from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Camden, New Jersey.

The walk to the Patco Station from Rittenhouse Square wasn’t far, maybe about ten minutes, though it was a nice day and I didn’t mind the walk. The humidity hadn’t settled in yet and there was a refreshing breeze that made the walk even more beautiful. However, the train station and the train itself was air conditioned and that was nicer; New Jersey Transit is a lot cleaner and cooler than SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority), that I wished I could bottle up some of the cool air to bring to the concert with me. In the fifteen minute train ride, I saw a few people that looked like they were going to Warped Tour as well: dressed in black or plaid, coloured hair, your ultimate punks and goths. As soon as I saw them, I knew I wanted to stay close and follow them to the venue once we hopped off of the train.

I caught up with a couple as we hopped off the train and we walked to the Warped Tour together—since the last time I went to see a concert in Camden was eight years ago and a friend at the time drove,  I wasn’t sure which way to walk.  I know I could have used GPS, but I didn’t want to get stuck in a wrong neighborhood in one of the most dangerous cities in the US. The couple I met was kind and they were fun to walk with in the thirteen minutes it took to get to the venue.  Before we were separated for bag check, I asked if I could get a selfie with them for my Happiness Box. Of course they agreed and were friendly about it. We shook hands, wished each other well, and headed into the venue.

After I made it through bag check, I bought a schedule—$2 for a printed piece of paper; I could have installed the app, but I wanted to save battery. I sat down at a table in the shade and saw that Twiztid was last to perform at 8:10. I checked Instagram and saw that their meet and greet was at 5:45. I jotted the time down and began to plan my day. As I was planning, there was a band standing on a table next to mine with a megaphone announcing their performance time. They sang songs, cajoled crowd members, and anything else that would grab attention. Their voices, though loud, were slightly silenced by the voice in my head that was planning the day.

Ice Nine Kills were on during the meet and greet, but the stage was in Twiztid’s area; I could listen to Ice Nine Kills as I was waiting to meet Jamie and Paul, then see Ice Nine Kills after the meet and greet. Reel Big Fish coincided with Hatebreed, but I could see both by dedicating 20 minutes to each. Warped Tour has five different stages since they have dozens of performers that the tour needs to accommodate; the stages were in different locations and for some groups, I knew I couldn’t make it in time. Bowling for Soup was one, but I was only familiar with 1985 and wanted to see Motionless In White instead.

All of the headlining acts were scheduled for around the same time in the evening, but all of the lesser known or unsigned bands played first. I love supporting up and coming artists and decided to walk over to the Mutant Red Dawn stage since most of who I like would be performing on that stage, I wanted to get an idea of where it was located and how much time I would need to allow myself to get there from other performances. Once I had it figured out, I decided to stay and watch a heavy metal band by the name of My Children, My Bride. I am glad I stayed because I ended up loving their performance.

I rocked out and I loved watching—at a distance—the mosh pits that were starting. Standing at 4 feet, 10 inches, mosh pits scare me and the idea of claustrophobia send chills down my spine. I was caught up in the moment that when the performance ended twenty-five minutes later, I was taken by surprise. The performers announced a meet and greet at 2:10 complete with sweaty hugs—sounded like a date to me and I jotted it down on the schedule.

I had two hours until the My Children, My Bride meet and greet, I decided to walk around and as I began walking, I heard hi-hop coming from a tent. A female rapper was breakdancing and I enjoyed her sound, I decided to check out the Transform tent. The nice thing about Warped Tour is that there isn’t one genre of music playing, there is something for everyone (as someone who listens to everything, this is heaven). Dark Matter, a hip-hop group from Reno, Nevada, was performing their hearts and souls out. They performed for fifteen minutes, followed by a ten-minute interlude of breakdancing. That was fun to watch and photograph. I thought about trying, but decided against it for health reasons.

Next a Linkin Park styled group that combined hip-hop and metal performed. Sky Swamp Orange, a New Haven, Connecticut based group, was amazing. I was bouncing and jumping along, it felt nice to groove to the beats and their sound. For one of their songs, “Eastside,” the lead singer wanted us to sing “you can meet me on the Eastside” and singing along was fun too. I loved their sound so much that I bought their CD and the band signed it for me (as well as my Warped Tour ticket).

After bouncing around in the hot sun, I knew it was time to eat the gluten-free turkey sandwich I packed. I walked across the train tracks and saw that the BB&T Pavilion had places to sit. I sat outside, underneath the awning and pulled out not only my gluten-free sandwich, the schedule as well. As I was planning my afternoon and resting my feet (Converse All Stars are not the shoes to wear for lots of walking, bouncing, and jumping), a group of teenaged boys approached me and asked if they could take a picture of the schedule—the print-out was $2, I know teens don’t have a lot of money—I graciously let them borrow the schedule. They handed it back within a few minutes. I decided to rest my feet some more and checked my phone. I had a text from Christina and we swapped locations, but she wasn’t where I was, I turned my phone back off to save battery, and wandered to the Journey’s Left Foot stage.

May Day Parade was performing and about half-way through, I had a novel idea: I wanted to see if I could find Simple Plan’s booth. While they are not one of my favourite bands, I thought it would be cool if they signed my Warped Tour ticket. As I walked over the train tracks to the other half of the venue, I wondered if I missed their meet and greet; I didn’t even know where their tent was! As I was wandering aimlessly, Doll Skin handed me their set time sticker and other groups handed me swag as well.

I couldn’t find Simple Plan’s tent, but Moral Support’s tent caught my attention: their logo of a paper bag with a smiley face made me smile. I missed their set; they performed while My Children My Bride performed. I bought one of their CDs and the guy selling the merch agreed to a selfie. I thought he was in the band, but who knows if he was or not. I then walked over to the Journey’s Right Foot stage and watched a heavy metal band that was performing. I liked their sound and I liked watching the moshers groove.

I knew I needed to visit the hydration station for more water and I wanted to cool off a bit. I had an hour until My Children, My Bride’s meet and greet and after seeing two bands, I wanted to cool off. The air conditioned venue was opened. While inside, I asked about gluten-free options, but they couldn’t tell me if they had any; I was glad I still had my food left and I am glad I was able to bring it. While cooling off, I met a kind family that I chatted with until 1:55 when I headed for the My Children, My Bride meet and greet.

Making my way over the train tracks again, I found My Children, My Bride’s tent was two tents up from Twiztid’s tent, I stood at the back of the line and made sure my Polaroid camera was ready—the girl managing the merch table told me earlier in the day that pictures with My Children, My Bride and Twiztid were cool, but Motionless in White doesn’t allow photos. When it was my turn, both guys in the band thought the Polaroid camera was the coolest thing since sliced bread. The one had just bought his sister a Polaroid camera and couldn’t wait to see how the photo turned out. The picture was snapped, he started shaking it and the other one said, “dude, you can’t shake those, it says not to.” We laughed and they signed the undeveloped Polaroid (before I left, it was developed and it looked great). I also asked if I could have a sweaty hug, like what they promised after the performance. They both laughed and said, “well we’re not sweaty anymore since we just showered, but a hug sounds great.” I have found musicians love bear hugs.

While I was waiting in line, someone standing next to me said I could get free monster if I was willing to wait in line—people could try as many flavours as they wanted and that caused long lines. I had no wait time and could watch two separate performances. I tried two different flavours of monster; I liked Mutant Red Dawn over the White Lightning flavor. I had the perfect spot to rock out to metal bands sharp tooth and Harm’s Way; I could also watch the crowd surfers float on a sea of hands. I texted Christina and she was near. We met up and watched the Amity Affliction. I missed Simple Plan, but I enjoyed the Amity Affliction and I enjoyed watching a set with Christina.

I headed over to the tent to watch Doll Skin. Doll Skin is an all-girl punk band from Phoenix, Arizona. They almost reminded me of Joan Jett mixed with the Donnas and the Gits, and I liked jumping to their music as well. I didn’t follow them to their merch tent because it was time to catch Reel Big Fish. I loved Reel Big Fish in middle school and I left when they started playing the same song over again, but had different dance moves. I went to watch Hatebreed, but watched as I waited in line for the Twiztid meet and greet.

Meeting Twiztid Again

I was fangirling and hyperventilating a bit after meeting Twiztid again – I know I was crying tears of joy. I decided to eat, then made my way to see Motionless In White. I didn’t have a great view of Motionless in White, but I decided to wait where Twiztid was playing and listened to Motionless in White as I waited for Twiztid. I could see Motionless in White since the stage was next to Twiztid’s stage, and I loved Motionless In White’s performance. I also loved Twiztid’s performance and by the end of it, I was front row since taller people let me get to the front from the second row, especially since I am not a fan of mosh pits. Twiztid killed it, but they always do.

Twiztid was the perfect end to Warped Tour. When the tour was over, the streets near the venue were closed. I had to walk to the main strip and before I exited, I was walking with a father, son, and two of his son’s friends. They were familiar with Camden, walked with me, and waited with me until Lyft came. They said, “we don’t want you waiting alone in Camden. We don’t mind staying with you.” They were super kind and I was grateful. They made sure I arrived home safely.

Meeting Twiztid Again

Yesterday I ventured to the Warped Tour, the final Warped Tour ever, but I will make a separate post at a later time because right now I want to talk about meeting Twiztid again. I think I might have to rename this blog “the Verklempt Diaries” because I had another verklempt moment last night (I had many of those moments).

Twiztid’s meet and greet was for 5:40, but they were a bit late and I was middle of the line. I had to wait about 45 minutes, but it was totally worth it. I brought my Polaroid camera to get a photo with them and they could sign it. They graciously were cool about it and signed it. However, this was the most magical part of the meet and greet: Twiztid was so happy to see me! Both Mono and Jamie smiled when they saw me, then extended their arms out for hugs. Both Mono and Jamie gave me big hugs and said they were so happy to see me. I should also hang out more often. I wished Mono a happy birthday, he smiled, said thank you, gave me a bear hug, then Jamie gave me a hug before I left. I was fangirling and I still am. I love both Jamie and Mono.

The signed Polaroid went into my Happiness Box. I handed my phone to another Juggalo and he took the digital photo.


The set they put on was amazing as well! I was blown away; it was a great way to end the evening and a great way to close out the Warped Tour.

Thankful Thursday 12 July 2018

I’m still thankful for the good health news on Monday and while I’m not out of the woods yet with my liver, I am keeping positive. I’ve been in touch with my cousin who is a physician’s assistant and I’ve been open about my anxieties. She has been a pro in relieving them and I am so thankful for her. Words can’t describe how thankful I am.

Tomorrow I am heading to Vans Warped Tour and I can’t bring my DSLR since it’s considered “professional.” I sold my point and shoot camera for Canada, then the other one died last July, and I didn’t really want to use my phone for photos since I wanted to save battery power. Two people really listened and I am overflowing with point and shoot cameras right now. Aunt Kathy lent me one of hers and my co-worker, Kathleen, let me borrow one of hers. Kathleen’s camera is smaller, so I am going to use her camera tomorrow (I think I will bring both as a backup, then my Polaroid… those should all pass security, right) and then I’ll use Aunt Kathy’s on Sunday for Turk’s Head. I am grateful for both of them.

Cecilia, one of my co-workers from my full-time job, invited me to her engagement party in September! I was so surprised and it made me feel verklempt because sometimes I feel like my dietary restrictions are a pain and that they are a buzzkill to others. I guess not since people invite me to do things with them and it touches my heart. I am thankful for the invite and can’t wait to go.

What are you thankful for today?

Weekends Needed To Heal Your Soul

I had my appointment today and my MRI was normal. However, since my liver phosphate numbers were still elevated, I have to go for a biopsy to rule out the other autoimmune disease and rule out other complications from thyroid disease. I am keeping positive; since I am clear from PSC, I am hopeful that I don’t have PBC either. In my daily positivity mantras, I will continue to speak, “I have a healthy liver” into existence.
I also have to go for an endoscopy. Since I am responding so well to the gluten-free diet, she wants to see if it’s celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Blood tests don’t always indicate celiac disease, but an endoscopy does. An endoscopy doesn’t diagnose non-celiac gluten sensitivity, but cutting out gluten entirely and seeing results is what diagnoses that. I am gluten sensitive for sure. I’ve started adjusting to a gluten and dairy free lifestyle.
I’d like to think that spending time with my aunt and Claire this weekend also helped. On Saturday, Aunt Kathy and I went to the Museum of the American Revolution, then lunch and ice cream (I had vegan ice cream) and we had a blast.
I am thankful for Aunt Kathy and all that she does for me. It felt nice to laugh and catch up. It felt nice to be understood and accepted.
On Sunday, dad dropped me off at Claire’s house in West Chester. I have started making time for friends and family this year and I was excited to spend some time with Claire. I made a delicious gluten and dairy free lunch – gluten-free fettuccine with zoodles and a red pepper sauce. Claire loved this, as she loved the gluten-free blueberry bundt cake I made. Before we cut into the bundt cake, we sang Happy Birthday to one another. She turned 29 in May and since I turned 29 last week, I thought it would be nice. We both laughed.
We then sat outside and caught up. We also had fun taking photos, but what brought us the most joy was when I shared my scrapbook so far of Happiness Box 2017. I have only until mid-July 2017 finished and as Claire was reading my happiness/gratitude, she was smiling. She was feeling happy reading what made me happy. I also wrote a lot about Canadian immigration and when she read about some frustrations, she turned to me and said, “I’m sorry that immigration was frustrating at time.” There was something special about sharing my scrapbook.
Yesterday was special and I am so glad I could spend time with Claire. It was much needed for me too.
This is what my Happiness Box looks like so far:

Thankful Thursday 5 July 2018

First of all, I want to thank everyone who reached out to me yesterday. I know I am still young and I have a lot to accomplish in five years, you are all right: things always change and it’s best to take things one day at a time and be patient. People at both jobs said the same thing; I am thankful for all of you.

I am also thankful for the birthday party yesterday; while some questions were awkward, it was still nice that they did that and my aunt made a gluten-free salad just for me. As a good friend at the full-time job told me this morning, “I know you are depressed, but your family still loves you and you should be thankful that they took the time out of their day to have a party for you, especially since they special ordered gluten and dairy free food you can eat.” She is right, but I won’t beat myself up over it.

Today we had a going away party for Shonte. She starts a new job next week and I am thankful I was invited. Shonte works at my full-time job. We had a great time and she was totally surprised.

What are you thankful for?

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

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.