New Site!

Hello!

I hope this post finds all of you well. I have some exciting news! I launched a new website today! I have combined my blogs and my Sims stories pages into one website:  www.Jes2GStories.com

I hope you will check it out and follow me there.

I started this blog way back in 2006! It was the first of a few blogs. It has gone through many changes, and I will always remember and cherish the fond memories of all the people I have had the privilege to chat with as a result of this blog.

This isn’t a farewell, but more like a see ya later–hopefully at the new site. Take care!

– Jessica

The Train

Sitting here, I heard the sound of a train rolling by. I heard it off in the distance a couple times before, but the blaring horn and clickity-clack of the metal wheels following tracks was much louder tonight than it was before. I don’t actually know where the train tracks are as I have not stumbled upon them yet, but I was glad to hear the train and remembered this story I told my mother once.

I discovered that I enjoyed the sound of distant trains–especially at night as I am falling asleep. It is comforting to me. Every place that I have lived (minus one) has had train tracks nearby. The tracks near the house I grew up in were so close, the house rattled when the train rolled by. It was very loud–and long–but it never bothered me. I don’t think it bothered any of us because we had grown accustomed to it.

When I went away to college, some people would complain about the train near the school. Of course, I didn’t mind it and actually enjoyed it, but I didn’t know why. One bachelors degree and two apartments later, I decided to move closer to work. The area was nice, I enjoyed my new-found independence, but I did not feel at home there. It was a short-lived excursion to a new land, and it was time to go back “home.” But, where is home? Home is where the train is.

I discovered what it was with me and trains. Home is a place where you [should] find refuge, safety, and love. Every place that I called home just so happened to have a train nearby. Somehow, subconsciously, the train had become symbolic of home. Coincidentally (or not), the apartment near work did not have a nearby train.

Whether I concocted this theory in a fit of creativity, or there is truth to it, everyone has something in their lives that remind them of home. Sounds and smells are powerful triggers for memories, and with this being the holiday season, the time is ripe for making new memories and recalling old ones. Whether you return to your place of refuge, work, or do nothing at all this season, be sure to take the time out to share love with those whom you care about the most. You never know what role you play in the production of someone else’s life. You could play a supporting role, be an extra, or maybe even just be part of the set–like a train. Whatever your role is, play it well. Memories are available for the taking. Make some with your family and friends this season while you have the chance.

Am I Grown Yet?

Hi. I’m Jessica, and this is my blog. Remember me?  :-p  I know it’s been a loooooong time since I’ve been here. Forgive me, please! Let’s see…quick update:  since I last wrote, I have become a homeowner (yay!) and I have been working on my book. I’ve noticed that I’m only good at writing one thing at a time. When I’m blogging, I neglect my book. When I’m writing my book, I neglect blogging. When I blog on this site, I neglect the others. When I blog on the other sites, I neglect this one! I suppose my brain only has one creative channel, I guess. Anyway, I’ve actually gotten quite a few new followers this month, and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to say hello and welcome you all. I’m glad you decided to join me despite the fact that it’s been more than a year. I will try to do better.

Here is a thought:  when do you actually “grow up?” I’ve asked myself this question many times at different stages of my life, and each time I leave that thought clueless. I did not enjoy high school. Not one bit! I went to a college prep magnet school, and when I say college prep, I mean college PREP. EVERYTHING about this school was about college from the amount of work the teachers gave us to how available they were. We were even in charge of our own schedules–to a point. When I got to college, it was a breeze. All of my fellow freshman struggled, but I felt like I had already been through it many times. Anyway, I mentioned that to illustrate how tough high school was. I wasn’t “the smart one.” Studying did not come easy for me, and I didn’t retain things well. I didn’t have many friends, and the people whom I called “friends” were probably more warm associates; but that was probably my fault being shy and all. All I ever wanted to do in high school was graduate. I dreamed about going away to college and never returning home. I wanted freedom. I wanted to be my own person. I wanted to be grown. 

I went to college and lived on campus. I got the freedom I wanted, but I still didn’t feel “grown.” So, I thought that if I graduated, got a good job, started making good money, and got my own place, then I would be “grown.” I did all of that, but I still didn’t feel like a real adult. I was 23, so maybe I was too young. Maybe when I turned 25 I would feel it. Nope. Ok, maybe when I buy a house or get married or have children then? Well, I haven’t done the latter two, but I’ve got the house now and I still don’t feel “grown.” I feel “growner” though. The only times I feel completely “grown” is at tax time and when I’m with a mechanic. Other than, I feel like a child playing house…with extremely nice toys 😀

I suppose it’s a good thing that I don’t feel grown at almost 33 years old. After all, they say that age is just a number. At the same token, whenever I hear someone say “when I grow up,” it makes me wonder all over again. When does that actually happen?

Telling All My Business

I’m not a small person. I don’t call myself “big” and definitely never “fat.” Whatever I am, it’s definitely not average.

Shopping is hard because I don’t fit in anyone’s prefabricated bucket. If I go to regular stores that have regular sizes, I have to sift through all the racks in the store to find the one item in the biggest size they carry. Sometimes it’ll do, but most of the time it won’t.  I have a long torso, and most of the time the shirts are just too short. I don’t know about you, but I’m not down with showing my midriff. If I go to the plus sized stores, I have the same problem, but on the opposite end of the spectrum. I have to search the store for the smallest items. Shirts are the worst in these stores because I’m not very busty–at least not busty enough for plus sized shirts. The shirts are long enough, but a lot of times I’ll need to wear a cami underneath because either the neck is cut too low or the arm holes are too big or both!

Pants shopping is a little easier, but it makes me sad. I’m not as wide as whatever the definition of wide is, but I wear wide sizes to fit my fat gut in my pants. I was not blessed with a nice, round backside, and I have skinny legs. So if I get pants that comfortably fit my gut, then they end up being baggy in the leg and have that gap in back. If I try to get skinny or any kind of fitted jeans then I have to walk around with stomach sucked in or wear shape wear to tuck my gut in.

As you can see, it is a happy day when I find clothing that fits me in all the right places.

When I daydream about what life would be like if money was not a concern, do you know what I dream about? Well, besides the cars and what my house will look like, I think about getting a tailor to make clothes that fit my odd body perfectly. I never took the time to find out how much something like that would cost, but I imagine it would be more than what I’m willing to pay right now. I thought the days of having custom fit clothing were far into the future, but to my surprise they are already here! I discovered ILoveFitted.com. ILoveFitted is the sister company to CompletelyFitted.com that specializes in hand-crafted, custom tailored suits, dress shirts, jeans, and ties for men.

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ILoveFitted.com brings hand-crafted, custom fit eShakti dresses, blazers, and tops to women. They are all made by hand according to your measurements–not the standard cookie-cutter size chart that does not take individuals into consideration. First time buyers get $25 off, so I decided that I could not lose by trying it. If you’re like me, then you probably do not like shopping for clothes online because you’re worried about how it will fit. Because you measure yourself (I would highly recommend having someone help you), everything you buy will fit perfectly!

I’m trying to step up my dress game, so I found a dress that looked like it would look great on me without breaking the bank. I have big shoulders, so I tend to buy shirts and dresses with either a v-neck, or something else that detracts attention away from my shoulders to my chest–especially if it’s sleeveless. Ruffles are great for that. I also do not have a defined waistline. So usually I try to stick with A-line dresses, but that gets boring sometimes. Prints are good because they confuse the eye enough to shield the waistline. The dress I bought from ILoveFitted.com is a sleeveless, v-neck dress with pleated ruffles down the front. I like long ruffles because they also shield my gut–ruffles can cover a multitude of sins ;-). Because this dress was made according to my measurements by hand, the seamstress made sure to make the back slightly longer than the front. Why is that important? Well, when your stomach is as big as mine, most of your dresses end up being shorter in the back because your stomach is taking up extra material. So if you make the front longer than the back, when you put it on it will be perfectly balanced. Also, the arm holes were perfectly fitted. In my world, if the arms aren’t perfect, then it’s better to have them loose than too tight. At least with loose arms you can gather it up and tuck some of it in with a safety pin. With tight arms, you run the risk of ripping–not to mention it’s uncomfortable.

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On the red carpet of Kung Fu, Old Skool & Tyrone the Movie premiere.

The prices are very reasonable. When you’re oddly shaped like me, you just can’t run out to any store and get a $5 shirt. You’re used to going to specialty stores and spending a little extra money on looking fabulous. So, when I saw dresses for $80 and $90, I was pleasantly surprised. I thought to myself, “Really? I can pay the same price I would normally pay for a dress that is going to fit me perfectly? Heck yeah!!” The dress I bought as actually $69.95, and the $25 off brought it down to a totally awesome price.

Every woman should have at least one custom fitted dress in her closet. You will feel amazing, and the stress of worrying about wardrobe mishaps, exhaustion from holding your stomach in, and whatever else you go through will be completely eliminated. For once you can go out and focus on having a good time.  Well, unless, of course, you’re worried about your shoes–that’s a different story! I am very happy with my dress, and I will definitely order more dresses, skirts, shirts, and jackets. I can’t wait until they start selling pants.

Be Open

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had an appointment after work. With a 40 minute drive and an hour until arrival, I figured it was ok to engage in some last minute work chatter. Ten minutes went by, and I really needed to get going so I left the conversation. When I got in my car, I saw that I neglected my lunchtime task:  get gas. I went to the closest Shell station to take advantage of my Kroger Fuel Points–I had never been to this station before. As I was pumping gas, a woman in a gray Camry pulled up next to me and greeted me. She said that she needed help. She wasn’t looking for money. All she needed was gas. She was working as a temp for the the city, and today was payday but they did not get paid. She had no money, lived more than 20 miles away, and just wanted to get home to her kids. She showed me her badge to show she was telling the truth about who she was. She apologized over and over for having to inconvenience me but kept expressing her desperation. She had been sitting at the gas station for a half hour trying to gather the courage to ask someone for help. I weighed the evidence in my head and decided that I needed to help her. I just said, “Sure.” She thanked me a thousand times as she kept expressing the severity of her situation. She actually hadn’t eaten that day because she neither had money nor a paycheck. When I was done pumping my own gas, I went to her pump to get her started. Suddenly it occurred to me that she said she had children she was trying to get home to and she had not eaten today. I thought, “If she didn’t have any lunch, I wonder what she plans to do for dinner for the children.” I asked her if she wanted me to buy her something, and she said yes. “What about dinner for your kids?” She thought about it as if she hadn’t even considered it before. She changed her story and decided that the children’s hunger was more important than her own. I asked her what she would like. She didn’t want to inconvenience me more than she already had, so she suggested that I just go next door to Popeye’s. I left her to pump her gas. I didn’t specify an amount because I was using my credit card–I was hoping she would just fill it up. I ordered one of the family meals although I failed to ask her how many children she had. I went to go back to the gas station, but I saw that she had already met me in the parking lot. She was concerned because I didn’t tell her how much she could spend on gas and she didn’t know what to do. I told her she could have filled it up, but hopefully the $40 she did spend took her far enough. I gave her the food and started to wish her well, but she couldn’t stop thanking me. She said she was praying for someone to be nice enough to help her, and this experience was very humbling although she is not a prideful person. The car didn’t even belong to her. She prayed that God would bless me a thousandfold. “God bless you! Thank you so much! God bless you! Thank you so much…” She couldn’t stop. I asked for her name and said that I would keep she and her family in prayer and that I hope everything gets better for her. I practically had to walk away from her and get in my car for her to stop thanking me.

I didn’t do it for the thanks. I didn’t even do it because I want God to bless me. I did it because I’ve been in that situation a lot more times than I care to admit except she was a lot more courageous than I was. I could never bring myself to ask for help. But what if I had not gone to that gas station? What if I went to the one I always go to? What if I weren’t running late? I don’t believe in coincidence, but you call it whatever you want:  karma, reciprocity, a miracle. We need to be open for opportunities to help others. Because I live in a large metropolitan area, everyone is very familiar with street beggars, sign holders, and every other sob story in the book. Most of us are so desensitized to those who cry wolf that we can’t hear or decipher the genuine tears. But you know what? No one ever said that good deeds were easy. There is always a risk. Your reputation, pride, and kindness are on the line when you stick your neck out for someone. I suppose most people are tired of being taken advantage of by charlatans. But, if you’re not open, then you’ll never be able to experience the other side of the cycle. My mother used to say “what goes around comes around.” We shouldn’t do good deeds expecting for good to be done back to us, but it happens. Maybe not in the same way or even in a timely matter, but it will happen. Keep the cycle going and stay open.

 

I Have Commitment Issues…

…when it comes to watching television 😉

tvMy co-workers and I had a pretty intense discussion about this today, so I figured I’d write clue you in. I actually don’t watch much TV. Almost all of the shows I watch (consistently) are network shows–which constantly brings up the question of why I pay for cable. I purposefully only get involved with one or two shows per season. I cannot handle more than that. Well, actually, I take that back. I refuse to handle more than that. Television requires a greater level of commitment than I am willing to give. I’ll explain.

Most good shows require a commitment of one hour per week, 26 weeks per year for five or more years. I know what you’re thinking:  “It’s just one hour per week!” That is correct. But, when you do this times two, three…five shows, I think it is a bit excessive. My co-worker laid it out quite nicely for us as he was explaining why he decided to change his life and stop watching so much TV. Let’s assume for a moment that you work from 8:30 until 5:30. You live in Atlanta in this scenario, so you don’t get home until 6:30ish. You cook as well, so you don’t have dinner until 7:00 or 7:30. Let’s say you finish eating at 8:00. From the time your dinner is over, you have about three hours of “free time” before you hit the sack at 11 or 11:30. Two hours of TV is actually not a bad thing. But in comparison to the grand scheme of things, if all you ever do is wind down in front of the tube every night, then what are you really accomplishing?  Some of that time could be used for a better purpose.

I agreed with his explanation and support his change. My issue with TV is similar. TV, to me, is a black hole that is constantly trying to suck me in. Watching a couple shows a week is fine, although I have to devote years of my life to these fictitious people. The deeper issue is when I’m not watching a show. The vortex begins when I’m trying to find something to watch. Channel surfing is a huge waste of time because you never know how long you’re going to be doing it. And then there is channel hopping. That could go on for hours! I can’t commit my life to spending all of my free time in that way. But, you know what I do feel comfortable doing? Watching movies. The commitment level there is minuscule. When I watch a movie, it’s like I’m saying to myself, “Ok, I am going to commit two hours to this task,” and I sit down, watch the movie, and then I’m free to move on and do whatever I like–even if it is watching another movie. No strings attached! That’s a commitment I can definitely make.

All in all, whether you are an avid TV watcher or not, my point here is not to knock TV watching. To each his own. Maybe your vice is surfing the Net or social media. Whatever it is, just think about how much time you actually devote to “your thing.” Then, think about the things you’ve said that you’ve wanted to do in life. Finally, consider pulling back a little and carve out some time for those things. See if the quality of your life will change. I’ve been in school for the past three years, and my life has been out of sorts. Free time was an oxymoron. Now that I’ve graduated and am getting reacquainted with free time, so far, I’ve spent most of it watching TV. Why? Because I can! (lol) It usually takes me about a month to get over a school year, so I am allowing myself this time of vegetation. However, in a few weeks when I start to feel like I want to be productive, I’ll get back to learning Mandarin and writing my book.

What are some things you will start doing in your free time?

 

My Missing Middle Name

I’m not sure how you grew up, but back in the 80’s, when I was very young, parents made their children write their names, addresses, and phone numbers a thousand times.  This was more than just a writing and learning exercise; It was a rite of passage–a sign that you were no longer a baby.  This exercise served two purposes:  1. so the kids would actually learn to spell their name correctly and learn their address and phone number, and 2. to practice writing.  This was usually done some time after learning to tie shoelaces, but before the end of kindergarten.  I wrote “Jessica Grace Brown” a million times.  That exercise ingrained in my brain that this was my name.  Some kids didn’t like their names and went by nicknames or some other name.  I didn’t really care.  I had a name, and it was mine…at least I thought so.

As I got older, I started to notice some stuff.  Things didn’t really add up.  After all, what is a middle name for if no one recognizes it any way?  Some time during the first half of my senior year I decided that I needed some answers.  I went to the source.

“How come my middle name doesn’t come on anything?”  I asked.

My mother replied, “What do you mean?”

“Everyone else has their full name on their report cards and things except me.  My stuff just says Jessica Brown.”

Without missing a beat, and so casual, she bestowed upon me the answer to my quandary.

“Oh.  That’s because you don’t have a middle name.”

WHAT?!

That was not the answer I was expecting!  I wanted some long, technical answer that started with “Long ago and far away…,” involved monks who built a special computer deep in the alps, and ended with “…and that is why your middle doesn’t show.”  I felt like she ripped out part of my identity.  I didn’t know who I was any more.  I was angry and felt like I had been betrayed.  How could they not tell me this?  What was up with writing “Jessica Grace Brown” a million times?  Who am I??  She said something about when I was born they only had one name picked out, and when they finally selected a middle name they already had the birth certificate and it was going to cost money to get it changed.  At the time I thought that was the most lame excuse of all lame excuses.  It of course makes sense now.  I wanted to give myself a name just to spite my parents, but of course, it does cost money to do that.

Months later at our class ring ceremony all of those feelings resurfaced when I saw that I would be haunted by this my entire life.  Before I confronted my mother, I had already designed my class ring.  I opted to have my signature engraved on the inside of the band.  I signed my whole name.  So, while my classmates were celebrating a milestone, I stood there in anguish, staring this stranger’s ring.  I thought, “This person doesn’t even exist.”