JShu on the Journey

A Kansan takes on Missouri

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Goodbye, 2014.

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This is a little late, but better late than never. I started this post before midnight, if that counts for anything. I figured I should hurry and get my year in review post up.

In the last week, my paper has run countless top 10-type stories to wrap up the year that was.

It’s cliche, but it’s good to look back as well as look ahead to the coming 365 days.

Here are some good things that happened in twenty-fourteen.

Travel.

I got around quite a bit this year. In a good way.

In January I went to St. Louis to visit my bestie Mallory. We shopped, she cooked me tasty food, we laughed and went to the Arch. I wish we saw each other more often.

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In April I took a super short road trip to Omaha (it’s two hours away.) for my friend/coworker’s wedding. It was one of the top ones I’ve been two. Kim and Joel are such a fun couple and everyone danced the night away.

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I also stayed in a tiny house, my first and only AirBnB experience to date. It was so cute! I have my eyes on another rental, a home in Western Kansas that’s adorable and cheap and looks like a great off-the-grid retreat type place.

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A month later, I did a longer road trip. I took a week off and drove to Morris, IL, then to Chicago and stayed at a hotel with my good friend Rachel, then Champaign and over to my grandparents’ in Indiana. It was perfect and relaxing.

In November I made the journey to DC. I can’t help myself. It’s my happy place.

I stayed with my friend Melody on Capitol Hill.

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Work.

I’ve had no shortage of interesting things to report on this year, and for that, I’m thankful.

I’ve covered a federal case and carved a niche keeping an eye on federal courts. I broke a lot of stories this year and feel extremely proud of that fact.

I had a few other exciting things happen. One was two schedule changes — first, in January, moving from Tue-Sat. to being Mon.-Fri. and then last week, shifting to days mostly.

I also moved from night police to city hall as my beat. I’m learning more and more of the new beat and I’m enjoying it’s breadth of subject matter. I miss police reporting though. It’s one of the best beats. Minus covering a fire in subzero temps, though…

Also last month I celebrated two years with the paper.

Friends

This year I saw deepened relationships with friends in St. Joe. I didn’t hang out with the crowd I used to as much but sometimes that’s a good thing.

My friends (here and beyond) help get me through a lot this year.

There have been parts of the year that have sucked, but life moves on. It ebbs and flows, despite the obstacles and stuck places.

I keep coming back to Wendell Berry’s poem with the line, “The impeded stream is the one that sings.” It’s true, though. No one gets everything they want and if they did, how boring would they be? How boring and predictable would that existence be?

Perhaps not getting your way is, in itself, a form of grace.

Anyway. I’m hoping you all had a good 2014 and have an even better 2015.

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Written by Jessica

January 1, 2015 at 11:00 am

Honestly, I want to see you be brave.

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Ok. Holy smokes I am in love with this song. I just heard it for the first time over on Lisa-Jo’s blog and it made me a little teary.

I think for the first time, I’m going to participate in her Five-minute Friday challenge. Technically it’s really Saturday, but who’s keeping track? Plus I’m still up and in a Friday kind of mindset.

Five Minute Friday

Each week, she gives a word and you have 5 minutes to set a timer and write up a storm, without editing. It’s supposed to be raw and real and a creative act, free from self-editing (my inner critic makes that especially hard) and self-censoring.

This week’s word: Brave.

Let’s give it a go, shall we?

“My mom said, why can’t you be brave like Jessica?”

The words flitted into my Facebook chat screen, from a far-away friend who is often racked with social insecurity.

Ha. If she knew what it is like to be inside my head, I think she’d find a different view of me. I find it hard to see bravery in my life sometimes, mostly because so much of my life is doubt and anxiety ridden. What do other people say? What do other people think? I wonder.

I’m my own biggest critic.

I’m afraid that I’ll always be more overweight than I want to be, I struggle with being single (which I, in my twisted mindset often equate to being unwanted), I worry that I’ll never quite fit in.

Yet somehow, life moves forward. My fears usually tend to be unfounded. I live a little, learn a little, and try to take deep breaths more.

And try to hang on to a tiny sliver of hope that things will go better than expected, and the belief that God has my back and that he can handle my fears.

Jesus says, “Come to me, all who are weary, and I will give you rest.” Peter says, “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”

I need to take those up more often.

Written by Jessica

May 4, 2013 at 1:47 am

… I also suck at follow-ups.

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So yeah, I just realized I had yet to share my crazy inauguration adventure.

Somehow I managed to pack a ton into two days, and it turned out to be a really fun trip.

After about 8.5 hours of travel (6 by plane, including a 2-hour layover in Chicago, and two and half hours from Philly to Northern Virginia (or NoVa), I arrived at my friend Melody’s new home in the bustling suburb of McLean.

After unpacking a bit and getting my phone all charged up, I was able to take a quick tour with two other mutual friends who now live in NoVa too (I’m really jealous, fyi) and we packed into Melody’s car to head into the city for dinner.

Barricades everywhere.

Barricades everywhere.

Lemme tell you, that was probably not the best decision of our evening. D.C. by car during inauguration weekend…just say no. We went into the downtownish area (Metro Center, Chinatown, that area) and traffic was crazy every which way. Mostly because there were a TON of people in town, plus a lot of routes around the White House/National Mall were closed down for Inauguration festivities.

After about an hour and a half to two hours of trying to maneuver around, with no luck, we finally were able to access the 3rd Street tunnel (huzzah!) and get.out.of.dodge. We ultimately decided to go back to NoVa and do dinner in Old Town Alexandria.

We went to this really cool place, Virtue, and I nearly became delirious over a lack of sleep (I only had about two hours before I had to get up — dang late-night schedule/early morning flight combo!), but a good time was had by all. I seriously have laughed harder with those girls than I have in a long, long time. And I’ve had some good laughs in the last year, so that’s saying something. 🙂

GlimmerGlass colleagues/Olivetians unite!

GlimmerGlass colleagues/Olivetians unite!

We parted, and I tried to head to bed because morning was going to come too soon. I ended up waking up after 5:30ish, and was aiming to be in D.C. before 8. I think I got there a little bit after 7:30. I’m a crazy person, I know.

Compared to 2009, getting into the city was a piece of cake. There was no line at the park-and-ride area at the Metro stop (last time, we went to Vienna, this time I was a few in at West Falls Church), and the train didn’t really start filling up until we were in the city. I got off at Farragut West, when the train was really full (had to squeeze my way out…eek!) and then made my way to meet up with Brandon, a Kansas friend who was in town for a bit.

We finally found each other on Constitution Ave. and then made our way to a spot on the National Mall. I geeked out over the press areas, like these:

CNN's National Mall digs. Not too shabby.

CNN’s National Mall digs. Not too shabby.

Not too bad, either!

I know, I know: I have a problem. I must see what my brethren who make way more money than I do are up to.

So, after walking through several Inauguration volunteers who were dancing and waving and hopped up on legal stimulants and super excited to be there…we found our place not too far out, kinda by the Air and Space Museum/the National Gallery of Art.

Two Kansans in D.C.!

Two Kansans in D.C.!

The crowd!

Free inauguration swag!

Everyone got flags, too! And I’m so excited I’m using lots of exclamation points!!!!!!!!

So, after standing around for a long time, everything got rolling. We were thankfully able to hear everything through speakers and, when the super tall people didn’t step into my line of sight, I could see a monitor to the right of that last photo. It was really, really stinking cool. It made me a little sad that I didn’t have that experience in 2009, when I had tickets to be in a special section, but it was full by the time I got there (even though I got there before 6 a.m.).

Though my feet were hurting, it was really amazing to hear President Obama speak, and to be a part of the crowd. It was something I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Even if Beyonce was lip syncing. 😉

After, Brandon and I went in search of food, then walked around the monuments a bit. We saw the MLK Jr. one, which was fitting for the day (MLK Jr. Day), which was really powerful. It’s a moving memorial.

Then, alas, I had to shuffle back to NoVa to get my stuff and head back up to Maryland, where I’d gotten a hotel room to be closer to Philly for my 6:30 a.m. flight (egad) to Chicago to Kansas City to work that afternoon.

Thankfully I had no issues (other than an intense security line in Philly) and got to work ok, and managed to not get too spacey that Tuesday, despite being up since 3:30 a.m. and working to 10:30ish. (I slept very well that night, that’s for sure!)

So anyway. Yeah, that’s my #inaug2013 story.

Written by Jessica

February 5, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Top 12 for 2012

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With 2013 only a few hours away, I thought I might revisit a type of post I did to look back on 2011.

2012 was a year of upheaval for me. I lived in three states, at no less than four addresses (I bet the USPS hates forwarding my stuff), but it’s been a really good one despite some of the anxiety at points. In no particular order, here are the year’s highlights for me.

1. Moving out of Lady Lake
This was a few days into the new year, and it’s amazing how the change of scenery helped. I left living next to The Villages (and my short commute) to live in a more diverse community, in the Clermont area. I lived with Kimberly, a knitting group buddy, and quickly fell in love with her dog, Bella.

2. Getting a job offer at the MDH
The first few months of 2012 were kind of a roller coaster with this, but I did get the offer to join two of my GlimmerGlass cohorts there. I left my Florida job, which is something I had been wanting to do for a loooong time.

3. Working with friends, non-abusive managers
When I left the MDH, I told my editors that I really liked working for them because they were normal. They thought it was funny, someone calling them normal, but it was true.

4. Living close to family, friends
Enough said! I got to spend time with family a lot, see some of my best friends regularly, hang out in Champaign and even go to the beach in Michigan (where I burned like a lobster). It was great and I was so spoiled to have that.

5. Joining a new knitting crew
Before moving to Morris, I put down my projects and didn’t knit for over a year. Seeing Le Mouton Rouge, I knew I had to stop by to take part in their open knit night. The first night I knew it was a good group of women (oh, how we laughed!) and continued to go as I could. I fell in love with pretty yarns, was encouraged to join Ravelry and inspired to make pretty things. I’ve done a lot more knitting than I thought possible!

6. Getting to visit a nuclear power plant.
Morris is within a 50-mile radius of three working nuclear power plants. One of the three, in Marseilles, turned 30 this year, and I got to take a partial tour. It was pretty awesome to be able to see the inner workings, like seeing spent nuclear fuel or standing outside of the reactor (!!!).

7. Seeing my little sister get married
Bethaney and my brother-in-law, Cody, got engaged last Christmas. They said they were aiming for 2013-2014 for the wedding. Imagine my surprise in May when I was asked to be Maid of Honor for a wedding in August! Ahhh. But all worked out. Bethaney was beautiful, Cody was handsome, and their ring bearer didn’t get too crazy up at the alter.

8. Covering major Chicagoland court case
The Christopher Vaughn trial was my first-ever to cover start to finish. It was at times long and sad as it stretched over five weeks, but I learned a lot and liked covering courts. I’m going to miss that in my current job.

9. Attending my family members’ weddings in October
Speaks for itself. 🙂

10. Getting a second job offer
It came when needed.

11. Learning over and over that God is in control and I need to trust him
This also speaks for itself. I always seem to think I know best, but God provides for our needs…and beyond.

12. Got to see some fun live bands
I went to see Mute Math in Orlando and Remedy Drive in Bourbonnais, which isn’t much, but both were fun.

Going into 2013, I’m hoping for more fun with friends, more good scoops, and hopefully a lot more travel (all my travel this year has been moving!).

Happy 2013!

Written by Jessica

December 31, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Posted in Exploration, Thoughts

Sometimes, you just feel so blessed.

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Today I am thankful for:
• Friends
• Quality time
• Serene views

I had the chance to spend some time up in the Chicago ‘burbs with my friend Brittany. We hiked/walked around Graue Mill park in Oak Brook, and I got to see what Google tells me is one of two operating water-powered gristmills in the state of Illinois. I don’t know what a gristmill is. That’s ok.

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There were paths that looped around past the mill, around a creek, and it was pretty. A lot of the creek was green and mucky, but it was so calm and still. We saw chipmunks and birds, and we even saw this guy, who terrified Brittany.

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He looks far away, but he was actually pretty close. Astoundingly, he moved toward us, not away. At that point, we decided to move back. Since, as I said, Brittany is not a fan of being near deer.

It wasn’t too bad of an afternoon walk.

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Written by Jessica

June 24, 2012 at 12:52 am

Chicago trip

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Sunday, I went to Chicago. Here is the photographic proof.

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It was pretty fun. I forget sometimes how much I adore city life—even the mundane things like using public transportation. I’d never even seen a subway system until I was 18. Someday, maybe my dream of living in a city will be realized. Until then, I’ll have to make the most of small-ish town life.

Written by Jessica

June 19, 2012 at 12:35 am

Posted in Exploration