15 December 2014

Let’s go on an adventure!

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random

Sounds like fun right??

As you guys know, travel is a true passion of mine. It fills my need for adventure, and my need to see new places, and try new things. It indulges my love of history and passion for art. And makes me feel like a different version of me, one that can get perspective and a change from her daily life, and wonder about new things. And come back inspired.

The last time I took a solo adventure, it was March 2014 to Paris/Bordeaux and Amsterdam as part of my promotion celebration.

Life is very different now.

Last month, in the wake of losing my grandma and working through my change in perspective from it, I realized what I needed.

I need a break. And a change in scenery.

February 2015 will be my 10-year anniversary living in Chicago. I still love this city, but right now, I’m slowly (and not literally) being smothered by it and my feelings of grief, anger and sadness that eat at me inside.

So, I’ll be leaving Chicago for a little-ish bit. Because before I can get back to being a full fledged daughter, friend and employee, I need to take care of me.

That includes getting out there and going on an adventure, one that will hopefully bring me back to life.

Am I scared? Yes. Am I worried about how things will go and what things will be like when I get back? Yes and yes.

But maybe it’s time to be scared and take a few risks. Because whatever I was doing before didn’t exactly work out. So let’s see how it goes.

More to come.

19 November 2014

Change in perspective

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random

Death casts a long shadow. And for someone with little experience with it, I still learning how to emerge from it.

It’s been a week since my Grandma passed. One week. And it’s been almost two weeks since we got the news about her health and I rushed back to Wisconsin.

Now, I’m back in Chicago and trying to get back in to a routine.

But it feels, weird. The sun still shines, wind blows, and breakfast needs to be made, showers taken, etc. But it just feels different.

The best way to describe how it feels is this:

Imagine a table with cards on it. Organized, meticulously placed in various spots. You stare over the cards, pleased with where things are, how to find them, and adjust them accordingly. Now, imagine someone comes over and flips the table, Real Housewives-style. For a moment you stare at the mess and are like WTF do I do now?? Slowly, you start picking the cards up, and try to place them back on the table where they were before. Then, someone else comes over, watches you work and then flips the table again, cards scattering everywhere. Only this time, you don’t know how to pick the cards up again.

That’s kind of how I feel in this moment.

So for now, I get up and slowly get back to what I did pre-passing.

But the biggest change since I’ve been back is that in my perspective. Things that seemed “earth shattering” before, no longer do. Relationships that bothered me before, or didn’t really make me happy, seem all the more stark and toxic. And, the direction you thought you were heading, even after losing my job, suddenly seems fuzzier. It’s a very confusing time.

Mostly though, I’m trying to just no feel all the time. Take a break from the intense emotion of the last few weeks, and just kind of…be.

I know this will all get better in time. So given the rather downer turn this blog has taken in the last few weeks, I hope you guys will bear with me too.


12 November 2014

Losing a loved one

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random

It’s been a tough week and I’ll explain why.

The last funeral I attended was that of my paternal grandfather, around five years ago. In fact, I can count on one hand how many funerals in total I’ve attended in my life.

Losing a loved one is something I don’t have a lot of experience with.

But now, I have a bit more.

I always knew my maternal grandparents would pass. It’s a reality of life, they are 91 years old, and grandma was in shakier health due to the cruel disease of dementia/early on-set Alzheimers. In fact, recently, family and I had been doing some funeral planning for them. But just because we were planning for it, doesn’t mean I thought it would happen so soon.

And there is nothing that prepares you for when you get the call. Jess, Grandma had a small stroke. She is in the hospital. Then, the next day, you hear that grandma had another stroke, this one more serious. She has about 72 hours, you should come home now.

I will never forget hearing that last part. Standing in my apartment, dressed to go to a job interview and feeling the wind be knocked out of me.

The next 6 days are a blur. It starts with throwing clothes in a suitcase, crying on the train ride home, crying at the hospital when you hold her hand daily, telling her you’re there, and enjoying her last few lucid moments – where she tells you she loves you and that you were a good granddaughter. That breaks your heart.

Then things get more real. You are the one going to the funeral home to plan her cremation, getting the paperwork together for your grandpa to sign. Your 91-year-old grandpa who was married to grandma for 44 years and who is so heartbroken to lose the love of his life, that you cannot help but sob for him too.

Then, you see her in hospice, where she has far fewer lucid moments, in fact, soon she stops talking and opening her eyes altogether. She struggles to breathe and one day when you say goodnight and sweet dreams, you know that could be the last time you see her alive.

And you wait.

Waiting is the hardest part because you try to enjoy the time you have with her, but you know the woman you want to remember is gone. She has been gone for a while, mentally, but you selfishly don’t want her to go just yet. Or sometimes, you do, because the pain of seeing her hooked up to morphine and struggling to breathe is so unfair.

And then it happens. And as ready as you think you are, and as okay as you were with your last goodbye, when you see her for the last time, it brings you to your knees, literally.

The next few hours are a blur again, and you are so sad, but honestly….kind of relieved.

They say bad things happen in “threes.” And I really hope this is my third. I don’t know what I’m supposed to learn from fracturing my leg, losing my job and now losing my grandma, but it’s just cruel.

And now, I grieve, and I keep moving forward from here.

03 November 2014

The first 30 days

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random

It’s been one month since this happened.

It’s still a mix of emotions. So in recognition of this, I thought I’d share what the first 30 days has been like.

It starts out simple. You sleep in, stay up late, or maybe you get up at your normal time because that was your routine. You wake up, make breakfast, watch some TODAY Show, but the act of not going to work feels weird. Because THAT was your routine. But you don’t have a job to go to anymore.

You file for unemployment and start job searching but it all feels like a weird dream. Did this really happen? Yes, it did. You imagine where you could work next, but it’s tough because you didn’t see yourself NOT working to begin with.

News gets out around your former office, you hear from a few people saying sorry and offering to help. Those gestures mean something because your confidence has been destroyed, so maybe that can start building it back up.

People ask, what’s next? And, what’s your plan? Sometimes you know, and other times the idea of something else feels so overwhelming that you just clam up. They mean well, but you don’t know how to answer.

So when some ask, “are you totally signed up for fun-unemployment,” you lie and say, “yep,” because you don’t want to open the floodgates and say, “look I’m a total fucking mess, no, nothing about this has been fun yet.” That’s not what they want to hear.

You have good days where you’re all FUCK YEAH, I’M FINE! And then, something happens and you want to give up. Because being unable to do something that should be so easy, feels like a mountain to climb.

You talk to work friends (who are also your IRL friends) but it’s weird because the thing that brought you together, isn’t there anymore. And it’s weird the first time you see them too. It won’t always be that way, but you’re falling apart (at times) and they’re not. And it’s obvious. Especially when they look at you like you are a kicked puppy, which you are…kind of.

So, you go through the motions of the day and just try to figure it out.

You settle finances and the stress, anxiety and emotion gets to be too much so you get the fuck out of town to clear your head and get away from the signs of your former employed life.

And then you come back, and keep plugging along. You still have good and bad days, and try not to get upset with people who volunteer to help and then don’t follow through. And it makes you more grateful for those who do.

Then, the end of the month comes and you say bye bye health insurance, bye bye corporate gym membership, and it feels like another loss. And it’s bittersweet. Now, you have to fully let go.

But no matter what, you keep moving forward.

I don’t know where we go from here, but forward motion is something.

16 October 2014

Irrational fears

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random

Hey! It’s a non password protected post! And this one is at least 75% more upbeat than the last two posts.

At PT one night, my therapist and I got to talking about our irrational fears. Soon, we had a large group discussion about it and honestly, some of them were pretty funny.

I don’t count spiders, rats, heights or confined spaces as irrational fears, it’s more the…uncommon ones.

At first, I was all, “heck no I don’t have those!” and then, while doing my second round of “monster walks,” I remembered mine. I have two. I’ve told a few friends about them, but they’re so hilarious that I wanted to lighten the mood here with them.

Fear One: Getting stuck in clothing

Here’s the thing, I’m a shapely woman. Wide shoulders, an ample chest and “birthing” hips. That means clothes fit weird because they gap in parts and then are too tight in others. It’s a blessing and a curse.

But, I am very afraid of getting stuck in clothing while trying them on at the store. Specifically, the dresses for women that you have to slide over your head and zipper along your side. Not zipper up the back. Those dresses can create a great shape but given my shapeliness, I either can’t get them over my head or chest and that’s when the panic settles in.

The panic that I cannot get this dress off of my body. This immediately leads to a state of panic, followed by sweating and then the urge to just HULK MY WAY OUT OF THAT FUCKING DRESS. HULK RAGE.

Full disclosure, I have never had to do that, but it’s been close.

Yes, I’m an adult woman and I’m scared of getting stuck in clothing.

Fear Two: Subway grates

If you don’t live in an urban area, this isn’t as big of a deal, but in Chicago, I do anything I can do avoid walking over subway grates. Why? Because they bow down and usually below them is a huge pit. Pit of dirt, rats (I’m guessing) and hard ground.

And every single time I see them, I’m terrified they will bust open at that exact moment and I will fall to the ground and be covered in dirt and rats.

So when I see them, I avoid walking over them at all costs. That sometimes includes cutting people off to get on the non-grate part of the sidewalk, or temporarily cutting in to the street.

But if I HAVE to walk over them, I walk REALLY fast, with my little legs moving like the wind.

I just don’t like them.

What are your irrational fears?



  • Early holiday decorations (not before Thanksgiving!)
  • Muffin tops (not the bakery-kind)
  • Bar Louie restaurant
  • Laundry machine hogs
  • County sales tax (10.25 percent - come on!)
  • Michael Scott
  • Harry & David
  • Chicago meteorologists