JShu on the Journey

A Kansan takes on Missouri

Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Things fall apart: January edition.

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It’s 10:30-ish on January 31. I’m ready for a new start already, again, so I’m pretty thankful that February 1 is upon us.

It’s funny. December 31 included work and a date with a boy, the new year beginning with a kiss, a tradition I had not yet ever actually taken part in. A little over a week later, the boy became my first boyfriend. We were boyfriend and girlfriend, a label that felt a little foreign, but right.

Then, less than two weeks later, we weren’t. The words “We need to break up” tumbled out of his lips as we sat in a low-lit Crossroads bar. It all happened so quickly and took me by such surprise, I couldn’t form words to respond.

It feels a lot less raw now, thankfully, but I still am struggling to suddenly write out a guy who had been part of my daily life for the last three months or so, much less get my head around the reasons for our uncoupling.

So anyway. Here I stand on the other side, trying to press forward. I’ve done a decent job of doing that, I think. I think I’m going to pick up watercolor painting, pick up my knitting again. Eventually I’ll rejoin online dating again (reluctantly, again) but for now I need a little space.

Anyway. I don’t want to sound depressed, because as a whole, I’m really not. I’ve been grateful for the kind words of friends and time with them. I have a decent life that stands on its own, apart from being attached to a man.

Oddly enough, between this guy and the last guy I saw, I have this growing feeling that if it’s not him, there is a man out there who will be right. It’s a weird confidence, but it feels true in a way that it hasn’t before.

I just wish he’d hurry up and get here already…


Written by Jessica

January 31, 2016 at 11:48 pm

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.


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.



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.


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.


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.





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.


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.

Written by Jessica

January 1, 2015 at 11:00 am

“And another regrettable thing about death…”

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is the ceasing of your own brand of magic,
which took a whole life to develop and market —
the quips, the witticisms, the slant
adjusted to a few, those loved ones nearest
the lip of the stage, their soft faces blanched
in the footlight glow, their laughter close to tears,
their tears confused with their diamond earrings,
their warm pooled breath in and out with your heartbeat,
their response and your performance twinned.
The jokes over the phone. The memories packed
in the rapid-access file. The whole act.
Who will do it again? That’s it: no one;
imitators and descendants aren’t the same.

-Perfection Wasted by John Updike

This poem has been on my heart tonight.

My colleague, Paul, passed away Sunday, weeks after a serious motorcycle crash sent him to a Kansas City hospital. We were cautiously optimistic at first — he was banged up pretty badly but made it through a rough first week and into two surgeries.

Enter: Sunday night. Facebook. A link from a shared colleague, asking for prayer for a woman. Then I see the link title, from my newspaper: Editor dies suddenly.

Who else could it be? It hits all at once. Then comes a text, a Facebook message. Collective shock, grief. He was only 47.

I’ve only been in my job for a year and 8 months or so, but my desk is feet away from his. He was also on the night side quite frequently since he oversaw my coworkers on the copy desk (they edit/layout pages) and I also work nights.

There are a lot of people who knew him better than I did, and longer, but I know that he was kind, he was funny, and he had amazing taste (both in music and in design). I dunno if you remember those cookies I made way back when, the bourbon-chocolate-bacon combo — those were for him. He challenged me to make cookies involving both bacon AND bourbon.

In recent conversations, we discussed misheard lyrics, food (especially great restaurants in KC), the Big Lebowski and why men die more than women in severe weather (I was willing to say men perhaps are not too stupid to stay out in bad weather to watch, Paul was quite willing to admit that men are stupid).

My heart aches for his family, his wife, his friends, my coworkers who worked for him. I don’t know if you’re into praying or sending good vibes, but whatever the case, feel free to send both in the direction of his loved ones/the newsroom family.

RIP, Paul.

We’ll miss your brand of magic.

Written by Jessica

July 29, 2014 at 3:58 am

Posted in On the Job, Thoughts

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So, as I mentioned in my last post, I’m waiting on an interesting piece of mail.

I have to admit, as I wait for it — possibly for up to another month and a half (I’ve been waiting since the first weekend of May) — it is hard to be patient. I am not naturally a patient person.

My stages of waiting include:

1) Initial zen/excitement
2) Grumpiness that it is taking SO LONG
3) Whininess, for similar reasons
4) Total annoyance
5) Second-guessing that anything is going to happen after all

In this case of waiting, this mail is coming.

It is currently somewhere in between point A and B. It’s in transit. It’s a physical, tangible thing (if pretty mysterious to me at this point) that, barring unusual circumstances, it *should* end up at my door or in my mailbox at some point.

But I can’t help feel like it’s a metaphor for other waiting in my life. (Roll your eyes, I don’t care. I’m a writer and see metaphors everywhere.)

Often I totally discount the thing that I’m waiting for as being in stage 5 — never gonna happen. Currently, a few deferred hopes reside in that category — like finding love and like getting to live in my dream location (which if you don’t know this by now, it’s D.C.).

The older I get, the easier it is to be cynical and to grow bitter about those, even though I don’t want to be.

I want to be hopeful, but it’s hard to be hopeful when it leads to disappointment, and ultimately, sometimes, pain.

I guess I don’t know where exactly I am going with this now. But it’s good to voice this stuff.

Life is so good, but it’s also hard. I wish the waiting part was easier.

Written by Jessica

June 17, 2014 at 4:07 am

Posted in Missouri Living, Thoughts

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Slow and steady. With an emphasis on slow.

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Yesterday marked week six of this 12-week weight loss thing that me and a handful of friends and coworkers are taking part in this year through the local hospital.

I mentioned it in my last blog, and apparently I’ve been a real slacker about posting.

Well, here’s a progress report of sorts: I’ve lost 5.6 pounds, just a smidge under a pound a week.

Last week was kind of celebratory because it actually marked 10 pounds down from where I started trying to lose weight last year after my friend Mallory got married. It only took me over half a year but I’m totally claiming that number. Five more pounds down and I am getting a pedicure. That is what I’m bribing myself with, anyway.

The last six weeks have been really good as far as finding new rhythms of living and being more mindful of what I’m putting into my body/how I’m expending that energy.

I’ve been doing a few things different than usual: working more veggies and fruit into my diet, cutting down pop/drinking more water (still a weakness but I’m doing much better at this), trying to pack my lunch more often.

I give myself the weekends off and allow a little cheating here and there, with the understanding that I have to get back on the bandwagon again Monday.

I’ve also been hitting the gym so much that recently I was recognized by a fellow gym-goer at a gas station.

My friend pestered me to get the My Fitness Pal app, and then further pestered me to fill out my diary each day. When you’re tracking portions and seeing the calorie numbers in front of you, it’s pretty eye opening.

Making these changes has given me a lot of food for thought.

I remember sitting in a college lecture hall in college for a wellness class, and listening to the instructor talk about calories in and calories out being the basis of weight loss and maintenance, and I didn’t believe that it was as simple as that (*though I realize it’s not as simple as that for everyone, particularly people with health conditions/medications that make it hard to lose weight).

My experience so far is validating that, and it’s something that for some reason I didn’t expect to experience (or work).

It’s kind of frustrating that it took so long to get that through my head. And a little frustrating to see how big of a deal nutrition is early on in life, down the road.

I didn’t really grow up in a home where nutrition/exercise were emphasized as important. They mean the world to me, but to be honest: my parents are borderline vegetable-phobes. I’m thankful that I have more varied tastes than them (personally, I LOVE veggies), but I can’t help but think of how different I would be as a person if I was in any other environment/family growing up.

The contest is half over, but I’m planning on continuing on with what I’ve been doing…just got to keep on the bandwagon.

Written by Jessica

February 19, 2014 at 4:40 am

Losing it.

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It’s a little late, but happy 2014, y’all.

It’s been pretty quiet around these parts lately. One of the most exciting (/challenging) things going on is that I decided, somewhat on a whim, to take part in a local hospital’s Pound Plunge. It’s a 12-week weight-loss challenge of sorts, although I hate calling it that. Basically: each week Pound Plungers have to check in and weigh in. Whoever loses the most over the challenge wins prizes.

I’m doubtful that I’ll win anything, but the bigger premise of making changes like eating better and getting regular exercise drew me in.

My second weigh-in (the first one after the initial one) was last week, and even though I’ve only lost a little under a pound, it’s going well enough, I think. My friend badgered me into using the My Fitness Pal app and to record every calorie and minute on the treadmill.

So, I’ve been dragging myself to the gym four times a week and counting everything and trying to eat more veggies and fruit and less of the bad stuff.

It’s hard, yo.

I am a Cheez-It-aholic and I love pop and I while I like cooking, I hate doing dishes (I don’t have a dishwasher in my tiny kitchen). Also, fast food is too easy to get through the work week.

Reading into how diet is so important to weight loss has been really eye-opening, too. I’ve been checking nutrition info websites/labels a lot more.

I’m not sure where this will take me, or even if I’ll lose much, but I think only good stuff can really come out of getting on the bandwagon with this.

I’ve been overweight most of my life, and, in recent years, clinically obese. Sidenote: I hate writing that out and feeling like it’s a word that applies to me, because I don’t see myself as that. ‘Obese’ seems like it’s only for the people who drink liters of pop a day or get stuck in their homes.

Back to the point: it’s really time to do something about it. The amount of weight I’d like to lose is a pretty big number, but maybe breaking it down into small things I can do (and fixing some of my not-so-healthy habits) will make it more manageable.

Anyways. I’ll keep updating periodically here about this and we’ll see where this goes! Wish me a little luck and a lot of willpower! 🙂

Written by Jessica

January 18, 2014 at 7:06 pm

eHarmony: Why I’m not a fan

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I’m a sucker for discounts. Thus, seeing a $14.99/mo. discount for a three-month subscription to eHarmony, I decided, why the hell not? I have $45, no dignity and no dating prospects currently.

Oh yeah, and my best friend met the love of her life on there and they got married two months ago.

Me and my friend.

Me and my friend.

I’ve been on the site twice before. I had a subscription for one month about three years ago, then another month a few months ago.

It’s only been about a week and I’m already hating it again. Here are my hangups about the site.

1) From log-in to the help screen, there are couply-couples coupling it up.

You can’t avoid them.




They’re everywhere, parading their coupledom.


If you’re a little burned out on online dating and harboring some bitter feelings about love, it is more obnoxious than inspiring.

2) Free weekends.

I’ve been warned that this weekend is a free one. I’m battening down the hatches. I get that it’s all about showing off the service and trying to get paying members, but it is kind of shitty to be matched with people without photos (freebie weekenders can’t upload) and who can’t see yours. The first time I was on the site, the only people messaging me were the ones who couldn’t see my photos. It sucked.

3) Physical preferences don’t come into play at all until the profile.

Unlike sites where you can search for your niche, eHarmony delivers matches to you based on your answers to their questionnaire. Now, I filled this out three years ago, but I don’t really remember looks factoring into it.

Since you can’t actively search other matches, you see a lot of people emphasizing how fit they are and how they are super athletes and yadda yadda yadda, presumably to make clear that’s what they’re looking for, too. I know I’m never going to be the apple of their eye — I’m a recovering couch potato who is just now embarking on being more fit and my BMI is off-putting to those who care about that. I get that. It seems like this type is ALL of my matches lately.

On the subject, one thing that I’ve discovered as a thing is that a surprising amount of men put “physically fit” in the section “My friends describe me as,” as if physical fitness is a character trait like the other options, like “intellectual” or “hard-working.”


I’ve decided that these guys are douchebags. Surely you are more interesting than that and have other character traits? And who describes their friends on their physical fitness? I sure don’t. Must be a fit person thing.

4) Profiles don’t offer much space for creativity

Unlike OK Cupid, which I’m also on, the essays tend to elicit short responses. Instead of “What I am doing with my life” and “On a typical Friday night I am,” you get prompts like “The most influential person in my life has been…” and “The most important thing I am looking for in a person is…” and “The one thing I am most passionate about…” (note that the latter just ask for one thing).

5) You can tell when people reject you.

I guess this is true of all dating sites, to some extent, but it still REALLY sucks. My thing lately is when I find a normal, non-marathoner guy I send him a message through the guided messaging (you send questions, they send questions, etc.) and he disappears from my matches. Yup. I’ve been hidden (or blocked, if they disappear from your communications feed, from what I understand of blocking). It’s demoralizing.

So anyway. I’m not sure if I am just terrible with rejection (it’s possible), I’m getting terrible matches (Thanks, eHarmony) or I’m just a social leper, but it’s really bumming me out, man.

It’s a sad thing when a dating site makes me think that OK Cupid isn’t so bad.

Written by Jessica

August 30, 2013 at 1:38 am