50 States Challenge: Texas

Monday, February 25, 2019

October 11th - 14th

POSHFEST 2018!! I was excited when they announced PoshFest was taking place in Texas because it was a state I needed to check off my list. 

My mom tagged along for PoshFest and it was so awesome to share with her this new adventure. PoshFest also felt like a safe bubble.  Everyone was welcoming and meeting people I've been chatting with for over a year through text also turned PoshFest into a high school reunion but with the people you actually wanted to see.

We managed to see a few sights in Dallas.  The Nylo hotel we stayed in had a gorgeous rooftop pool and view of the city. On the first night of PoshFest, we hung out with a few other Poshers and made new friends. The last night was the PoshFest Party and the highlight of the whole weekend.

I did not plan my outfits out the way I should have, but it also didn't matter. I wore a T-Shirt I picked up in Nashville and a Nike tank top I found at Goodwill. Some people went all out and others were relaxed like me.  I love that everyone really went all in for living their own personal style.  Even though I was dressed down, I never felt singled out.

One of the highlights was making it to the very front of the Poshmark group photo.  So, did I feel like I learned a ton at PoshFest?  No, but my mom did and that definitely helped propel us so far this year.  The most important part of PoshFest is the connections and relationships you establish with other Poshers.

So, we'll both be back for PoshFest in 2019 and hope to see you there!!

How Long

Saturday, February 23, 2019

"Why are you here today? Why are you coming forward now?"

Up until this point, I told my story of that night in February 2006 without emotion.  Throughout the weekend, my Monday workday, and the hour long drive up, I hadn't felt much of anything.  Until now.

I tried to hold back a gasping sob as I managed to let out before the tears began to flow, "Because I'm afraid it's happened to someone else and I didn't stop it."


It was a sunny Friday in September. My boss took our little team out to lunch. The weather was nice enough to have the windows open as we drove. And the whole world was talking about Christine Blasey Ford.

I sat back down at my desk after lunch and opened an article discussing the inquiry.  Dr. Ford was questioned about why she was bringing this up now and her response was that she wanted to do the right thing. My head exploded and little bits of guilt and doubt fell around me like confetti.  For so long, I wanted to do the right thing too. But I didn't because I always thought it was thirteen years too late.  So, I sent off an e-mail to my high school and I told them.

The next day, I looked at my mom and I said, "I'm finally reporting him."  She rolled up her sleeves and we searched through endless notes and pictures in a giant tub filled with memories from the last thirty years until she picked up a tiny rectangle card.  "Is this it?" she asked.

Six months ago, as I was working my way through personal items in preparation for my parents' move, I almost threw it away.  I looked at it and I said to myself, "Why am I still holding on to this?" But I kept it anyway.  That night, he gave it to me as a way to keep me connected to him.  I hated it so much I wanted to burn it, but part of me needed it. I needed it to remember it was real.  I needed it so I wouldn't let go.

Then, I prepared myself for the nothing, knowing how these types of things go, especially after almost 13 years.

Monday morning, my high school called to meet that evening. The force of what I was doing slammed into my head like a sledge hammer; I couldn't concentrated at work.  I went home and found my journal from that time.  I flipped it open and read further than I had in years.  There was an entry when I was finally fed up, about three months later, where I knew something needed to be done and it wasn't my fault.  It was a beautiful pep talk I was sending to myself in the present to give me the nudge I needed to move forward.

I asked my brother to come sit with me.  The night it happened, the first person I told was my poor 15 year old brother in our shared bathroom.  We never spoke of it again until that Monday.

Reporting is hard.  I know my ordeal was far easier than others.  If I'm being completely honest, what kept me moving through the story was that I knew I needed to selfishly relieve my guilt.  I know they tell you when something happens to you, it's not your fault.  I believe that and I know that. For a really long time though, I held onto the lie that there was something special about me or something I did to encourage him.  If I believed that, then I could believe he wasn't going to do this to other girls or the way I treated him afterwards would scare him good enough to not try again.  If I keep silent, then he has to be silent, like an unspoken deal.

But that's not how it works.  That Monday, driving home after I spoke with my high school, I really thought about the girl I was at 17.  I was desperate to play into the cool girl role, the one who could keep up with the guys.  I trusted everyone.  I was shy. I was above all other things, quiet. I was a fantastic mark.

The next week flew by.  Local police officers, state troopers, and through them the District Attorney's office contacted me for details and to see what I wanted to do. I was matched up with a state trooper who gave me the facts cold and hard and we both appreciated each other's candidness and honesty.  I told him the truth and he gave me the truth right back.

Ultimately, in the state of Pennsylvania the law changed around the time my incident occurred due to Jerry Sandusky and Penn State. Unfortunately, I was born two months too early and missed the cut off for my case to be pursued today.  And I was okay with that.  Speaking with the state trooper, I told him from the start I knew my chances of "winning" after 13 years were minimal but I admitted to him it wasn't about me.  It was about paving the way for another girl who needed me to open the door for her.

Immediately after I brought my situation to light with my high school, they put him on leave.  Even though they could not move forward legally, the school was still pursuing an internal investigation.  They called and asked me if this was to go through arbitration was I willing to testify.  I told them I would do anything to do the right thing.

The next day they called and told me he resigned.  I later learned he never responded to any of their questions, brought a lawyer and a union representative (which was strange for him to have one in the position he was in) and refused to respond. Months later, it provides some solace.  Maybe he couldn't remember it as clearly as me and didn't want to get caught in a lie; or worse, maybe he couldn't be sure who it was who brought this forward and he couldn't risk bringing more people into this.

And like that, it was over. Wrapped up in a month what took me twelve and a half years of courage to bring forth.

I won and I didn't win.  But I won.  Maybe not against him, but against me.  Against the "what if" game I'd played for 13 years. I don't have to wonder what would happen if I said something because now I know. Back then, I made a long list of things I would lose if I reported him.  I saw all of the things I could never have again, the things I would have to give up, the rumors that would follow me forever.  It was a lie.  I feel like I can do things I never before dreamed.


When I close my eyes, I can see the landscape passing by through the bus window.  I know he's behind me, talking and talking.  I almost smell the pleather seats. I feel the condensation on the window against my forehead, see the blur of the streetlights. I see him stand and stretch.  I hold the little card in my hand, knowing now he gave me the weapon to his own end.

50 States Challenge: Tennessee

Monday, February 18, 2019

September 22-24, 2018

It was interview season and Ricky was on the trail (they call it these corny terms, I didn't make it up).  Nashville was a real potential job move so I tagged along for a quick trip down south to vet the place.

We managed to visit the Parthenon in Centennial Park which I literally did not know was a thing until we walked up to it (not cultured #noshame). It was amazing and the Athena on the inside was nothing short of glorious.

We also made a huge error in trying to keep up with the local cuisine, though.  Nashville does not play around and a plate of Fried Pickles put us into an absolute coma which shut down the rest of the day.  I'm not joking, we barely managed to make it back to our rental place before passing the eff out.

Unfortunately, the next day, the weather was hot and full of heavy life-sucking rain. The streets were empty.  Our plan to walk through a cloud of magical country music melted away.  Instead, we discovered the Opry Mills and Madame Tussads inside. I rubbed elbows with a few famous people.

Afterward, we wandered through Opry Land and holy crappola that place is amazing. When can I move in? Also, Ricky sucks at being an Instagram Boyfriend.

We also wandered around the Grand Ole Opry but nixed the paying tour cause we're cheapos.

The next day, Ricky had his interview and I was on my own.  Initially, I planned a few hours of thrifting but nixed it and detoured to Belle Meade plantation on a self-guided tour.
Yes, I also selfied sitting on the side porch of Belle Meade. The rain was intermittent at best, which also helped to contain any large touristy crowds.

I loved driving in Nashville.  The traffic was so minimal, it was easy to go anywhere, even when I got ridiculously lost and everyone was so freaking friendly it frightened me. I managed to convince Ricky he enjoyed Kacey Musgraves and we listened to her everywhere we went. But, I didn't see myself living there, being apart of the city's fabric.

Ricky matched to Pittsburgh and to Pittsburgh we stay for at least the next few years.

January Reads

Monday, February 4, 2019

Hello Friends and welcome to another exciting installment of What Jen Read!

One of my (many) New Year's Resolutions was to buckle down and get serious about my writing and to do that, I know I need to read, read, read.  My goal is 52 books, 1 book a week.  I won't be mad if I go over.

In January I read a total of 7 books.  My favorite (which is really tough to pull from this crowd) was The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Stephen King

Not Under Forty
Willa Cather
Still Me
Jojo Moyes
The Little Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
Mark Manson

Geek Love
Katherine Dunn

Turtles All The Way Down
John Green

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