23

twentythree

 

I’m not a big “birthday” person. Most people like to take it to the next level when celebrating a birthday, a la Kanye West, but not me. I like to fly a little more under the radar; just cake & candles with my favorite people. Most of these pictures are from parties just like that, where the guest list consists of my parents, grandparents and sister. By the time I was 8, I’d seen enough birthday party disasters (girls crying, fighting, staying up late to do some really weird stuff like stuff their bras & call boys) to know that parties were not for me. Hard pass.

The best birthday was at 11, when my parents gifted me the first three installments of the Harry Potter series (hardcover, bitches). Then, at 18, my boyfriend-not-yet-husband Cory gifted me six or seven books. I pretty much decided right then & there to have his babies. Yesterday, I was overwhelmed with love and gorgeous flowers from friends and family.

Turning 21 is the best birthday nobody remembers, 22 is when you can sing along with Taylor Swift about how awesome you and your friends are, but 23? Y’all proved to me that it’s pretty cool, too.

xo

J.

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Confluence Conference

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Do you have a girl crush?

I don’t necessarily mean in a lesbihonest kind of way (although that’s cool, too). I mean in a idolizing, I-wanna-party-with-that-girl kind of way. Someone you look up to, admire and find totally badass. Do you have one?

I have a handful and they all share one, important thing in common: they give me permission to be more of myself. That’s the secret sauce of leadership: the ability to light the fire of authenticity in others.

I met one of my favorite girl crushes while attending Confluence Conference this weekend. Confluence is for bloggers and digital influencers. On Saturday, about 120 of OKC creatives spent the day nerding out over search engine optimization (SEO), personal branding, blog design and innovation. Kelly Beall of Design Crush told us how much she makes as a full-time blogger (HOLY SHIT!), Cooper House told us how not to totally suck at design and the hotty-hott-hott Royce Young validated our addiction to Twitter.

One of the best talks of the day was given by Kathleen Shannon of Braid Creative, one of my ultimate girl crushes. Kathleen spoke on being your brand, and the overlap of personal and professional. She was gracious enough to chat with me about publications, getting drunk with coworkers and growing dreadlocks. She was incredibly sweet and even posed with me for a crazy cool pic in front of the Lyric Theatre sign.

Thanks for the chat, Kathleen.

And thank you to Confluence for one fun Saturday.

XO

J.

The Work: Fall 2013

This post could be so many things: a rant regarding the perception of conventional agriculture, a manifesto of affection about the Noble Foundation or even the diary entry of a tortured writer whose creative self-image constantly ping-pongs from “I’m a f*cking prodigy” to “This writing is horseshit. I am horseshit. I quit.”

Guys, I never said I wasn’t complicated.

But instead of going into the depths of all that, I invite you to read the latest issue of Legacy magazine. You’ll learn a little more about the Chipotle scandal and the truth about genetically modified crops. You’ll meet passionate farmers & sassy scientists, all working to ensure the future of food.

You’ll see a familiar name (me!) in the byline of a couple features. Lots of people describe seeing their name in print as a thrill, a high, even….I only ever feel a warm wash of humility and the barely audible whisper of my conscious, saying “You’re not there yet, Jess.”

I guess that’s how I know I’m a creative.

Fall 2013 Legacy

Workday Wear

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What I look like on a typical work day. Like I said, lots of black & white.

I don’t really put any more effort into work wear than I do into weekend wear. I do plan outfits ahead of time so I can hit snooze. Once. Okay, twice.

I typically throw my hair up, just anything to keep it out of my way (hey, it’s a lot of hair). I usually wear glasses.

Here’s the workwear staples of my closet:

Black flats (2)

Black tights (2)

Black, tailored blazer (2- 3/4 sleeve, 1 full sleeve. River Island is my favorite)

White tailored blazer (1,Lauren Conrad)

Neutral blazers (2 light pink blazers, lined with neutral print, like leopard)

Cropped, skinny slacks ( 1 black, 1 khaki)

Pencil skirt (1 charcoal, 1 black, 1 white)

Pants (5 black, 3 khaki, 1 white)

I recommend Express for everyday workwear. The cropped skinny pants are the love of my professional life.
I had to pick up this white, peplum dress while in Austin. Because, in my daydreams, my next interview is at Olivia Pope & Associates.

J.

Weekend Wear

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I spend the week days in cropped slacks & tailored blazers. All black, all the time. So when the weekend rolls around I approach my closet with the abandon of an unsupervised toddler. I go print & color crazy. I am just happy to wake up & know that, for the weekend, I decide the dress code. I am my own outfit police. & in Jessicaland, anything goes.

outfit2

Moccasins//Minnetonka Five-Layer Fringe Boot ($97)

Tights//Charlotte Russe (on sale, $7)

Flannel//Urban Outfitters, guys section. (on sale, $10)

Scarf//Pine Boutique in College Station ($16)

Sunglasses// The Pink Pistol, Tishomingo, Okla. ($14)

outfit3 outfit4

Dreads, Dogs & Rap Concerts

A couple days ago, I made the huge mistake of reading an open letter to white people with dreads.

I stumbled across it while Googling some very serious dreadlock questions (is my shampoo going to make my hair mildew? What if my dreads just fall out like a lizard’s tail or something?! etc.) Basically, it’s this very pretty, young black woman ranting about white people with dreadlocks. Although, intellectually, I knew her points were weak at best, I still felt the sting. That’s the risk when you do whatever it is you want to do: the backlash from onlookers. As cool as we all sound when we say “I don’t care what other people think,” the truth is we all care and all want to hear “Way to go! You’re awesome!”

So, I just want to clear up some common misconceptions about dreadlocks in general, and why I chose to have them.

  1. Dreadlocks can, and would naturally, be formed in the hair of any ethnicity. Have you ever seen Tom Hanks in the end of “Cast Away”? That’s not just TV drama…if you were left to your own devices in the wild, you’d have dreadlocks.
  2. Dreadlocks are not just a “black person thing” and certainly weren’t “invented” by black people as the author of the letter suggests. Besides, what is a “black person” thing or a “white person” thing? Could, or should, white people make the same argument about flat irons? Malcolm X wrote a moving piece in his autobiography about “conking” , or trying to straighten, his hair. It was extremely popular style for African-Americans in the 1920s. If this girl ever read Malcolm’s  autobio, she would understand that using hair as a “white” or “black” person thing is dividing and degrading both races.
  3. Dreads have been present in many cultures since the beginning of time. Early Egyptian art depicts dreadlocks, European literature describes the Vikings as having “hair like snakes” or “hair like ropes” and all different cultures of the East have grown dreadlocks for various political and religious reasons. Namely, Indian zealots and healers. The first priest of Jerusalem, James the Just (brother of Jesus) had dreadlocks to his feet. In the Bible, John the Baptist is described as a pretty eclectic dude and man of the wild. We can certainly believe that he had dreadlocks.
  4. Dreadlocks are not my attempt at shock & awe attention. They are virtually unnoticeable, as they are in the most under layer of my hair and since they are still maturing (read: tightening up) they are much shorter than the rest of my hair an virtually invisible. I often wear my hair to work down, half back, in a high bun, in a low bun….no one ever notices. Getting noticed is not the goal, although I do enjoy the positive feedback.
  5. I’d rather dread my hair than dye it….The pursuit of growing dreads is about the purest, most natural form of ourselves vs. what society tells us we should look or be like. Some pursue this same ideal by eating organic or Paleo, by living minimalists lives or by having a home birth. I think it’s  a common thing to want and manifests itself in our society in a lot of different ways.

Okay, I’m done ranting about my hair. In other news:

  • I’m still loving teaching ESL. My students laugh with, &  sometimes at, me every Saturday. 
  • Teddy the Basset Hound and Mack have entered what is best described as an openly homosexual partnership. The boarder/groomer they go to told me their behavior gets increasingly awkward when I’m not around. 
  • Cory & I celebrated one year of marital bliss with tickets to Jay-Z’s Magna Carta World Tour. & you know I love HOV

12 Months, 12 Answers

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We get constant questions about what marriage is really like. Below, we answer some of the most common ones we get, and look back on our first year.

What has surprised you the most?

C: How easy marriage can be.

J: I second that. If someone is telling you marriage is hard, they probably mean their marriage is hard.

What’s the worst part about living together?

C: Sometimes Jessica watches Teen Mom on the only TV we have.

J: Cory is a control freak about dishes. He washes dishes before putting them in the dish washer. Don’t get me wrong, I completely appreciate him doing housework. But he’s a dishes Nazi. I use paper plates and utensils just to avoid his wrath.

What’s the best part about being married? 

C: Having my best friend with me 24/7

J: Agreed. We do everything together. Workout, shower, eat, talk a walk, study, TV, everything. It never gets old.

Is marriage really as tough as everyone makes it out to seem?

C: It can be if you let it. They key is to never stop having fun.

J: In short, no. If you’re making humor and honesty a daily practice, marriage is cake. It’s when you neglect those things that you become resentful of one another, which is the root of all marital evil, I think.

So who cooks?

C: The lady at Panda Express (I’m not sure what her name is)

J: Pizza Hut.

Does marriage make you fat?

C: It hasn’t yet!

J: Marriage looks better on Cory than bachin’ did. He drinks a lot less beer these days. Plus I’m always hounding him about his blood pressure.

What’s the biggest difference in dating vs. marriage?

C: If you have an issue, you have to resolve it. You can’t just hide your problems.

J: Logistics. When you’re dating it’s all about the romance, but when you’re married it’s also about who left the wet laundry in the washer, taking out the trash and how much money you put in savings last paycheck.

What expectations did you enter marriage with?
C: I expected it to be a lot harder than it is.

J: I expected to get overwhelmed by being together all the time. We’ve never lived in the same zip code, and all of a sudden we were in a one bedroom apartment together.

Were those expectations fulfilled?

C: Not at all.

J: No. The transition was seamless.

What’s your favorite memory from the first year?

C: All the trips we’ve taken together. (Frio, CO, Austin, etc.)

J: Making breakfast for dinner. Cory wanted to impress me and would flip a pancake in the air but it fell on the floor…twice. We haven’t made breakfast for dinner since but the memory still makes me laugh.

How has marriage changed your relationship?

C: We’ve gotten a lot closer for sure. We’ve dated for 6 years now but I’ve learned more about her in the last year than the previous 5.

J: We depend on each other more, versus depending on our parents. Emotionally, that’s huge. We’ve emotionally cut the umbilical cord.

What is the hardest part about marriage?

C: Learning that it’s not just about you anymore. Financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc.

J: For me, surprisingly, it has been cutting that cord with my parents. When something happened at work I would call my Dad instead of calling Cory, then I would later tell Cory he just didn’t understand or know what was going on. He said, “Jess, that’s because you don’t let me understand or give me the chance to find out.”  So that was a big learning experience: that Cory & I can always rise to the occasion and the only people stopping us is us. It’s just about taking that responsibility.