Predestined?

February 17, 2015 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Uncategorized

A week prior to my debilitating ski fall, I took a screen shot of this quote Entrepreneur Magazine posted on their Instagram.

quote

I like the quote a lot (more so now), but prior to it’s words becoming so literal for me, it’s not really the kind of quote I’d think would have struck me so much to want to save it. Maybe my subconscious was having me stash it away for when the words would mean more to me – only a week or so later. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. Good quote though.

Why: Part 2 Accepting Help

February 08, 2015 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Uncategorized

Another reason I’ve been told my ACL snapped skiing and put me on the bench for the foreseeable future is, “Maybe this is to teach you to accept help from others more often.”

Even a new friend who doesn’t yet know me that well said this could be the reason while we were having tea the other day.

It’s true, I’m pretty independent. I don’t like to burden people with things I can figure out how to do myself, but I didn’t think anything was really wrong with that.

What happened next taught me sometimes asking, or accepting help from others may not be such a bad thing.

Before tea I had a delicious lunch three blocks down the street at Izakaya. I left my car with that valet who gave me the key because they Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 2.56.47 PMclosed after lunch and I was told my car would be in the alley behind the restaurant. Then, after some goading by my friend who I had lunch with, I got a ride the 3 blocks to have have two tea meetings at Mama’s Secret.

After tea, my new friend offered to drive me to my car. For some reason, I declined, saying my car was just down the block and I was fine.

I hobbled, sans crutches, the three blocks to the alley where my car was parked.

As I walked down the alley the sun started to set and I was cold in my T-shirt and skirt.

I made it almost the whole length of the alley and my calf tightened and a muscle in my quad began to spasm, probably from the disproportionate weight I was putting on it.

I reached the main street on the other end of the alley and still hadn’t found my car. I began to loop the block back to the restaurant, now 3 blocks away in the opposite direction. Cold, in pain and dragging my leg I started crying. I must have been quite the sight.

A block before I reached the restaurant a valet person from another restaurant asked if I was hurt and needed help. I said I was looking for my car, but I was ok.

Thankfully he saw I clearly wasn’t ok and he scooped me up like a baby and carried me to a stoop where he gingerly set me down.

He asked for my key and a description of my car, even though he wasn’t affiliated with the valet that parked it initially. He said he’d be right back.

For a moment the cynical me wondered if I just gave someone the key to steal my car, but I got out a few dollars to tip him should he re-appear. Less than 10 minutes later he did. He parked right in front of me and assisted me to my car. I tried to give him some money, he does after all work for tips, but he refused, saying, “I only wish I could drive your car home for you and hope you’re ok.”

I started crying again (also unusual for me). But, this time the tears were happy, brought on by being the recipient of the kindness of a stranger being selfless. Before that, I was sad, frustrated and seeing the next 7-12 months of recovery as a really long, hard road. I don’t doubt that it’s going to be full of trying times and a lot more frustrating moments, but by opening myself up to accepting help when offered, and sometimes even asking for it when I need it, I think there are some moments of light and love that will pave this journey as well.

Thank you kind valet, I’m only sorry I didn’t ask your name.

Why: Part 1 Need to Slow Down?

February 08, 2015 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Uncategorized

We naturally search for meaning in things we don’t understand.

After I tore my ACL (two weeks ago tomorrow!), friends, colleagues and acquaintances who pretty much all know being active, physically and at work, is a lot of what defines me, tried to explain it by telling me, “Maybe this is the universe’s way of telling you to slow down.”

While I really do appreciate they’re sincerely trying to be helpful, I’m confident – that’s not it. Running, spinning, hot power yoga, time on a tennis court, these are things that Do help slow me down. They calm my mind, allow me to disconnect, get lost in music and return to the real world feeling stronger, mentally and physically.

Losing the ability to be physically active hasn’t allowed me to ‘slow down,’ instead I’m just spending more time in front of my computer, too exhausted by the thought of hopping around to venture out as often and all of that energy formerly spent on physical activity has either transformed itself into anxiety that has no place to be let out or just gone away entirely, leaving me tired – a state that was formerly rare for me.

So no, I don’t think the lesson here is to slow down, my fast-pace lifestyle actually kept me more grounded the average person. It’s just who I am. Who I was. Who I hope to be again.

Torn ACL Got You Down?

February 07, 2015 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Uncategorized

Me too.

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 3.36.29 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-07 at 3.36.39 PM

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog. But, after life dealt me a challenging blow and I couldn’t find online answers to many questions I wanted to know, decided the time was right to resurrect the blog and share my journey from super active, happy and positive – to benched for a bit, the waves of emotion that come with it, lessons learned (learning) – and physical activities that can done with one good leg.

How I Did It

My parents had me in gymnastics twice/week, tennis lessons, horseback riding and playing little league soccer all before I was 10-years-old – and except for maybe freshman year of college, I’ve hardly stopped doing something physically active 4-6 days/week since.

I spin and run as much or more for the mental clarity it gives me as the physical benefits.

Running

Playing tennis is one of my favorite things to do…

tennis

I like to do headstands or handstands every day too. There’s something I find really relaxing about the blood rushing to my head

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And some days I like to kick things…

kickboxing

Not putting at risk the ability to do these things are some of the reasons why  I never skied.

Skiing is something I aspired to learn when I was younger, like grade school younger, but as I got older I learned the fear that comes with knowing how easily you could get hurt hurdling down a mountain and I accepted that it was a sport I probably wouldn’t have the privilege of enjoying in my life. I was ok with that. Being a writer who’s blissful vegging out in front of a fire with my laptop or a book, I love a ski trip as much as the next person and I snowshoe when I can. But, after more than half a dozen ski vacations with my best friend who likes to ski more than some professional skiers I’ve met, I relented and decided to try ski school.

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 3.50.59 PMI liked it. But, still scared that I wasn’t competent enough to control avoiding injury, I went to ski school three more times – and got lucky with a private lesson ¾ times! Each time I went I was told I was perfectly progressing and with a little bit of practice I could become a decent recreational skier. Skiing is one of few things where I only aspired to the middle, to be able to go on a few fun runs and return to my happy place by the fire.

My second time skiing sans ski school (Amber finally told me I’d outgrown my beloved Sesame Street run), I  was feeling good. Post the craziness of Sundance Amber and I went to Powder Mountain, a gorgeous mountain in Eden, Utah that had very few skiers.

After a few falls on our first run as I adjusted to the new terrain (I’d never previously skied anywhere other than Mammoth Mountain), I got in a groove and was cruising. I got comfortable and was going straight down the catwalk runs, picking up speed and loving the adrenaline going over the rollers. I tried to breathe through my rapidly beating heart and enjoying the wind whipping through against my face as I went faster. “I could get used to this,” I thought.

All the way Amber was right next to me, in front of me or in back of me, staying close on runs well below her level to keep coaching me and make sure I was ok.

But, like a parent can’t protect a child from everything,  coaches with even the best intentions can’t prevent the student from sometimes falling.

Maybe it was over confidence, maybe it was a patch of ice, maybe just bad luck or a combination of both, but I had a couple of spectacular falls after a couple of great runs and on that last one, I felt something in my need kind of pop. I’d just got my skis back on after my last fall where they both went flying along with my poles (garage sale!), but my leg was throbbing so much I wasn’t sure it would unbend. I gave myself a minute and tried and realized it was fine (or so I thought). I was a little shaky, but made it the rest of the run and then some back to the lodge.

It was a little sore after I returned my skis, but I figured I was just a little battered and bruised  and was all smiles enjoying a beer at après ski with Amber and two of my favorite British imports Paul Oakenfold and Zen Freeman.

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After the flight back to LA a few hours later my leg felt a little still and swollen, but still not bad enough that I thought anything was really wrong. When Amber noticed me limping at the airport she asked, “Is it really that bad?” and I thought I was being a drama queen, or just tired from the trip, but it just felt better to not try and walk.

The next morning my knee looked like I’d implanted a baseball in it. When the swelling hadn’t subsided by afternoon and my leg became so stiff I couldn’t walk I went to a doctor.  After telling Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 5.00.01 PMme, “It looks like you have some fluid in your knee (Captain Obvious) he moved my knee around and told me it was really loose – until he did the same to my other knee, the ‘control knee’ and it was the same. Then he said, “I think you’re fine, but I’ll do a precautionary MRI and you’re limping, so I’m giving your crutches.”

I had a couple of lessons up and down the hallway on crutches and was laughing, thinking about what Amber would say that my fall put me on crutches – I thought for the next day or two.

Two days and 20 minutes in an MRI machine later I went back for the results.

“ACL” the doctor said, before ushering me into an office to see the MRI on a computer.

He showed me a ‘normal knee’ with a think black band across the knee. “That’s an ACL he said.” Then he showed me my knee. There wasn’t a black band.

As I started to register what that meant I started crying – even though at this point I thought it meant I’d be out for a couple of weeks and maybe need surgery.

When the my doctor, who’s over 70 and brags about   the steel rod in his body and his multitude of other ski injuries like they’re badges of honor started explaining that I’d need surgery and not be able to play tennis again for 9 months to a year, the tears came harder. He told me, “Get it together, you don’t have cancer.”

He did have a point, even if he didn’t have compassion. But, the tears didn’t stop. So, the doctor stopped talking. He said, “I’m not going to continue if you can’t stop crying, you won’t hear any of it.” I told him I could multi-task but he said, “Come back in two weeks after you’ve ingested it, you’ll be a new person.” I told him, “Yes, I’ll be a fat person.”

Ok, maybe I was a bit melodramatic, but I was, I am, fearful about what will happen to a person who’s been active and physically fit for so long, going from six days a week doing a work out – to Zero. I wondered what this this meant for the Grammy and Oscar parties I was slated to work, the trip to SXSW I intended to take, my tennis game I was finally getting good at – not to mention my bank account.

I asked if he had any instructions for me in the interim. He said no. I asked if I should ice my knee. He said, “If you want to.” I asked if it would help and he said there’s not much of a point after the first 48 hours, but do whatever I want.

Once I ‘got it together’ I thought it was odd that a doctor just told me I was broken and chose to leave me that way without further instruction until I came back a couple of weeks later to schedule surgery.

Which leads me to: Doctors & Insurance (Next Post)

Still Mourning…The Magazine Internship

March 30, 2014 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Ramblings

It’s been a minute since I’ve posted a blog, but I just read a story that hit a nerve and incited such frustration that I feel the need to vent. Since I still have this small fingerprint in cyberspace, decided it was a good place.

The article, which appeared in today’s Sunday LA Times is here. But the article itself isn’t the point.

It’s the story of a successful photographer, “One of color photography’s most celebrated pioneers,” who’s putting out a book about his career.

This famed photographer began his career 50 years ago as an intern at National Geographic. It was there, during an internship, where he got an assignment that resulted in a photo that would launch his career.

That’s wonderful.

That’s how (I think) it should be.

FIFTY years ago he was an INTERN at a magazine. That internship led to a career we’re reading about half a century later.

I never received as much as a response to any of the internships to which I applied while a junior in college. I suppose Rolling Stone and Cosmopolitan didn’t appreciate my gift-wrapped portfolio of clips. Or maybe it was the confetti (yes, I made that rookie mistake). Nonetheless, I never underestimated the value of an internship and I later learned first-hand overseeing the internship program in the west coast office of OK! Magazine. Not only were our interns taught crucial lessons they wouldn’t be able to learn in any college class they paid for, but more often than not interns were the first well we went to for new hires.

As of October of last year, entitled Millennials who felt they should be paid for the privilege of interning at some of the most prestigious publications in the world led to Conde Nast cancelling their internship program and many other magazines following suit.

Would William Albert Allard have ever found a platform for his ‘big break’ had he not been privy to an internship at National Geographic? Who knows.

And, who knows how many other William Albert Allard’s will never be discovered now that internships have lost against sue happy 20-somethings who think they should be paid to pay their dues.

#ItsMyBlogAndICanRantIfIWantTo

If I Had Maintained This Blog…

October 08, 2013 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Celebs, Love, Ramblings, Travel

I would have written about my annual birthday trip abroad that this year took me on ethereal trip to Berlin with my sister Kim.

I would have written about the cross-country road trip Dhani Jones and I took as research for our novel in progress. It’s going to be amazing #EmmaandGabe

I would have posted a lot of photos from It’s Gawd, my first foray into movie-making. I was Casting Director and Co-Producer of the film that wrapped last week and stars Tommy Chong, Booboo Stewart, Rebecca Mader, Luke Perry (my teenage self is still smiling), Mara Hall, Cindy Vela an Susie Hillard.

There are many things I would have shared if I maintained this blog. Maybe one day I’ll retroactively share travel tips for Berlin, gems missed by many in Middle America and more about the movie (when it comes out!). In the meantime, if you wonder why this blog hasn’t been maintained..I’ve been traveling, working on a book and a movie ;)

How the Gin Blossoms Led to One Less Lawyer…

September 28, 2013 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Music, Ramblings

At the risk of dating myself…It was 16 years ago when the Gin Blossoms changed the course of my life. I was a waitress in a music bar, the now defunct Long Wong’s in Tempe, AZ – as well as a college student working towards a Political Science degree as a pre-cursor to law school. I’d always coveted the idea of being a writer, but frankly didn’t think I had the talent to be a great writer. I knew I was a good test taker adept at memorizing and regurgitating what I’d read, so I thought I’d do pretty well in law school. Until the Gin Blossoms, a conversation with my mom and the support of my dad changed that.

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It was Aug. 1997, the Gin Blossoms, still soaring on the heels of hits like “Hey Jealousy” and a Grammy nomination were heading for a break-up. Knowing Long Wong’s was a regular stomping ground journalists regularly called and patronized the bar hoping for interviews with the band. One afternoon while working the infrequent day shift I answered the phone when an editor from The Daily Tribune called seeking quotes from the band for a story on one of their super fans, the character who went by the moniker Elvis del Monte. The band declined. When I, their regular waitress and a college sophomore who never did an interview in her life asked for an interview, they humored me.

elvisThe story ran on the cover of the newspaper’s entertainment section and subsequently led to me being offered a job writing about local bars and music. Afterwards my mom said, “If you want to write, switch your major and just do it. It will obviously make you happier.” The rest as they say, is history.

I haven’t seen the Gin Blossoms perform in about a decade, when on a winter night Amber, (who I met when I was a waitress in another music bar in Tempe) and I were living in New York City post-college and took a long train ride to upstate New York to surprise the band. Today, I was scrolling through facebook while procrastinating on the novel I’m writing and saw they’re performing in Beverly Hills, a couple of miles from my house. On a whim I text my old friend, the guitarist Scotty Johnson, pretty sure his number would no longer be the same. He replied minutes later asking if I wanted tickets to the show.

Nostalgia and gratitude are both powerful emotions. Put them together and the feeling is explosive. That’s pretty much how I feel now in anticipation of seeing the Gin Blossoms perform at the Saban Theatre tonight.

Some tickets are still available. If you live in town, they make for a fun night.

On Writing…

July 29, 2013 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Uncategorized

Watching Stephen King’s “Under the Dome” tonight inspired me to pick up his book On Writing, again.

Writing Just Do It

I decided to approach the fiction book I’m currently writing ‘the right way.’ Not that there really is a correct or incorrect approach to penning a novel -although I’m sure some scholars are sure to disagree. What I mean by ‘right way’ is a formulaic way. Or, making sure I’m overly prepared in my research, character and scene development before I write a line of the book itself. Well, except the last line. That one’s already been written and unless the book takes an unforeseen turn, is likely to remain the same.

In getting ready to write I’ve been researching cities during various eras and interviewing my characters like they were real people. I’ve always thought the strategy was interesting and I’ve actually found it to be really fun – albeit time consuming. I sometimes find all of the preparation frustrating when I want to stop with all the prep and just get to devouring the meal, but I think it will ultimately make the writing process easier, and will definitely make the end result better.

I know because I’ve been spending a lot of time reading interviews with prolific authors, re-reading Stephen King’s On Writing…Now it’s time for me to stop reading about writing and start doing some myself. Or, at least get back to researching.

Ok, stopped to read one more link on writing. It speaks the truth…

https://medium.com/writers-on-writing/99f815014df3

Staycation

July 07, 2013 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Uncategorized

Coming to the end of a long 4th of July weekend I’m usually happily exhausted from a long marathon of festivities with friends filled with copious amounts of alcohol and barbecue paired with various red, white and blue-colored sweets.

This year, I did things a bit differently.

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July 4 happened to fall in the middle of a self-imposed 21-day challenge to refrain from alcohol, simply because it’s something I probably haven’t done since I was a freshman in college. When I explained that I wasn’t drinking for a minute and was going to lay low this weekend, more than one person incredulously asked, “Why did decide to do this during 4th of July?!?”

My answer, “Because there’s never a ‘good time’ in my life to jump on the wagon for 21 straight days.” I’ve been told, “Your life is like everyone else’s vacation,” and I can’t deny in many ways that’s been true. There’s always a birthday party, an event (can you go to a liquor launch and not drink?), a wedding (this summer there are several) or a date, so I figured toasting the country celebrating another birthday wasn’t justification to put off the whole detoxification plan.

But, I also knew that to not make myself mentally miserable in the face of temptation, and risk being cranky sober while everyone else was not, (although I like to think I can have as much fun completely sober as I would sipping a lovely libation), I decided to embrace some time staying in.

Although I did go out for a few hours July 4 to party on the beach in Venice and watch fireworks with friends, most of the rest of the weekend was me-time. I burned off my excess of energy (those who know me know that I generally have lots) with yoga, spin and kickboxing classes – then otherwise hardly left the house, spending the days reading, writing, catching up on tivo, movies and sleeping a solid 8 (sometimes nine) hours/night – and I couldn’t have been happier or more relaxed.

petpeeve

I had moments where I questioned whether I was being lame. I sure felt that way when people called and asked what I was doing and I said I was going to stay home and read and write. Even more so when asked the next day, “What did you do all weekend?” But those feelings were fleeting. Even looking at friends photos on Facebook and Instagram I was able to smile at the fun they were happening without FOMO, because I really did exactly what I wanted to do all weekend.

I’ve said before I wish I could just press pause and take a time out to catch up on my life and that’s exactly what my self-imposed exile afforded me. I made a dent in the novel I’m co-writing in my ‘spare time,’ I finished reading one book and began another, I whittled down my previously perilously high stack of unread magazines, I leisurely enjoyed the newspaper each morning, nearly finished season 5 of “Mad Men,” and finally watched the first “Despicable Me” which I’ve been meaning to see since falling in love with the little characters at my friend Brooke’s so themed birthday party – two years ago.

Now Sunday I’m going back into the work week with a feeling of accomplishment that I finally completed some of the tasks that have long lingered on the To Do list.

This weekend was a bit different one for me as far as a holiday weekend goes, but I quite liked it. It reaffirmed you don’t need to go and at every opportunity or be feel bad sometimes curling up the couch instead of raging at a cool party. My friend was worried that I’d been staying home and sleeping more than usual, but it’s odd they’re symptoms of depression when I couldn’t be happier. I’m rested and looking forward to easing back into the land of the living with a social calendar of sober activities with friends this week, like coffee, a tea and a spin class….And I ordered a few bottles of Ben Watts new Watts Up Rose to take to a summer soiree when I’m back off the wagon in 10 days ;)

Hope everyone had a happy and safe weekend doing exactly what they wanted to do too…And know that you don’t always have to go away to enjoy the tranquility of a mental and physical getaway.

Mom. Mommy. Mumma. MUMMMA, MOOOOOOM….

May 08, 2013 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Uncategorized

I was out to dinner with a friend the other day and when she left me alone at the table to go to the ladies room, I check my iPhone. There was a message from my mom with a link to a short video and all she said is, “I remember this. Can’t wait ’till it happens to you.”

I watched the video, twice, (with no sound because I was in a restaurant) and it looked to be to just be a commercial for Google Chrome.

I wrote her ‘I don’t get it.” She said, “Did you Listen to it? How can you Not get it? You did that to me all the time, every time you were grounded…”

That night I listened to it with sound and cracked up as I do indeed remember writing these lyrics nearly verbatim and repeating them several time in my youth. Did you?

Nice my mom can look back now and laugh.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, and all the moms out there!

Aaryn.com