Archive | September, 2013

A Break-Up Letter to the Love of My Life

26 Sep

Well, I can’t say this is an easy letter for me to write. It’s very hard to defy almost 7 years of blinding infatuation. To go against one of the strongest feelings I have ever experienced. To truly open my eyes & point out all the flaws in something that has, for so long, exuded only pure perfection. But I realized that even the greatest loves have their downsides…especially when they are ruining your chances with someone new. 

So sorry, Paris, but I’m breaking up with you.

Remember when we first met? I was 16 years old, gawky in mismatched patterns. I was just looking for a chance to get away. You took me by surprise. Sure, I expected the crepes dripping with warm Nutella & practicing my 2nd tongue to order them. But I never expected you seeping into my pores. It was love at first sight. You boasted your best tourist attractions, things I had only ever seen in stale history book pages. You brought it to life. 11 days was much to short. A 2 hour train for a 2 day stay, but my thoughts were somewhere else. You ruined London for me. You always were the toughest act to follow.Image 

So tough, in fact, that I you made it so that I never wanted to love anyone else again. I counted down the days until we could be reunited. Until I could admire your beauty, & bask in your culture. Fast-forward to study abroad & my mind was already made up. They all told me this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I could go anywhere. But you clouded my judgement. You beckoned me back home. There was no one else. All I wanted was you.

So I traveled across the Atlantic back into your arms. Once again overwhelmed by your perfection, by your grace & astounding beauty. & Everything was flawless…at first. But then we got past our honeymoon stage & Paris, I saw a different side of you. One that made me feel afraid, that made me feel like I didn’t belong. Constant metro glares & side walk stares, & even physical violation. Do men always treat women like that? Like we’re some object that can be ‘accidentally’ fondled on a crowded street. I thought you were supposed to be romantic. 

But then you caught yourself. You showed me all the things I had always dreamed of. Aside from your food & your culture, you showed me what I had been missing. Things like late night strolls hand-in-hand & park bench PDA are best with unwavering passion. Passion I had never experienced with anyone, anywhere else before. You certainly lived up to your reputation, Paris. You were my city & I was so deeply in love.  

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But like any lovers, we had our issues. As much as I tried, no matter how much black I wore or how perfect I spoke your language–I was never quite good enough for you. You changed me. I first flew over so wide-eyed & hopeful, smiling all the time. But with only 5 months by your side & I became almost as cold as you. I had to be. You told me to watch my step around your streets. Because if my hair didn’t give me away, my accent certainly would. I was paranoid. Now approaching strangers on the street were met with icy eyes & I walked with keys between my fingers late at night. I was your city girl now. & I hate to admit it because I loved you so much, but I was so happy to finally fly back home. I missed the optimism in my life. 

After a few months back home though, I dearly missed you again. I missed our late night rendez-vous on the streets & be surrounded by your beautiful aura. But I was stronger now. I had the chance after college to return to you, but I decided it was time for a change. Paris, I don’t know how to tell you this, but I’m dating someone new now. He’s beautiful too. He has great food & culture & cobblestone streets that make me feel like I’m living in another era. Sure, he’s no Paris, but Prague accepts me for who I am. He’s not pretentious & doesn’t make me feel like I have to be either. I can be myself here.

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I’m sorry, Paris, but we all know you’re kind of a snob. Don’t blame me though. I have spent years & years defending you & our love. Telling all those who had awful stereotypes about you & terrible experiences within your city limits that they were wrong. Because they just didn’t get you like I did. But maybe they were right. Prague knows about you too, He has a street named after you. One that is lined with Gucci, Louis Vuitton & Dior. Stores that boast luxury & quality. Stores I can’t afford. Where men in tuxes guard the double doors, reluctantly opening them for people like me. If I even dared to enter at all. 

Paris, did you ever accept me for who I was?

I guess I was so wrapped up in our romance that I was blinded by the fact that I was turning into someone else. Because you wanted me to. Prague welcomed me with open arms. He made it possible for a girl like me, a broke post grad, to stay by his side. What could you offer me, Paris? Minuscule closets infested with rats that will cost me my life savings? Get over yourself. I tried though. I tried to work near you. But once again, you didn’t deem me worthy. Because my French isn’t flawless enough & even if it was all I can picture is snarky co-workers mimicking it. Prague hired me right away. He saw a potential in me that you never did. He’s giving me a chance to grow.

Now, I know breaking up isn’t an easy thing to do. I’m sorry it came to this. It’s just that it’s becoming unhealthy. Before all I could do was compare Prague to you. & A part of me thinks that no matter where I go, you will always be that infamous ex-lover that all future ones will automatically be compared to. But that’s not fair. Because every city is so different. You did a lot of great things for me. If it wasn’t for you, I would have never had the courage to meet Prague at all. You made me independent & fearless. I will always look back on our past with a smile. You are a part of me, forever.

In November, I’m coming back to you for a weekend. It will be our first awkward post-break up encounter & I’m a little nervous. I just know how charming you can be. I know when I see you all those old feelings will come rushing right back. The dreams that have haunted me for months will become reality. But you are a home-wrecker, Paris. So many girls fall in love with you, but how many girls do you love back? Prague is my home now, so even though I may come for a visit or two, I’m not the same girl I used to be. I have (somewhat) moved on, at least for the moment. 

I’m sure someday I will find myself back in your arms, my dear. But for right now, this is just what’s best for us.

Thank you for everything, mon amour,

Je t’aime toujours,

Jessi

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Adult Life is Overrated

17 Sep

Somewhere in between daily spending $8 at Lower Commons with Hawk Dollars (aka: “fake money”) & drinking too much every Thursday at Gillary’s, Roger Williams University was supposed to prepare me for this stage of my life. Sleeping through 9ams & attending free spin classes & ringing up a $25 bar tab on a ‘low key’ night was somehow preparing me for work meetings, proper exercise & budgeting, right? I must have missed that in the fine print of the school Mission Statement because, let me tell you, I wasn’t ready for this at all.

I wasn’t ready for rent, groceries, “proper adult behavior” & just taking care of myself. Sure, I was okay living on my own. Even though RWU was only 1 hr from my hometown of Sutton, Massachusetts it might as well have been on another planet. A misleading planet where students get everything for free, food is delicious (& ridiculously abundant) & your only main concern is making it to class looking vaguely like a functional human being. 

Unfortunately, my fellow recent graduates, college was setting us up for failure. Because life is HARD. Not hard as in ‘Oh my God, we’re going to miss the shuttle because I haven’t pregamed enough’ or the dreaded ‘I have NOTHING to wear tonight!’ Hard as in, ‘What do I want more: a rain coat or to eat dinner or to go to buy some $2 wine?”

Image(Above: Me in college)

Image(Above: Me in college in Europe)

Image(Above: Me as an adult in Europe)

It’s clear what I’ve been choosing.

But all jokes aside, I really have been roughing it lately. But I’m okay with it. I’m not panicking as much as I was when my TEFL program ended. I have an apartment. I have a job. I have a great family. I have awesome friends. What more do I need in life? Sure, some nights I need to skip a meal, or go without any phone credit for a few days, or steal the internet from every Starbucks I see. But this transition isn’t easy for anyone. It doesn’t matter if I am here in Prague or back home in Sutton–life is going to sometimes suck right now. That’s a given. 

Luckily, I get to live like a 5-year-old.

I have started my job at the Keytone School in Prague & really enjoy it so far! I love kids & have always felt like I just click with them. I like to color & run around & watch cartoons & eat pb & js. Maybe that’s why adult life has been so hard for me–because I am a big kid deep down myself. I envy their lives. I envy the fact that if they have a bad day they get to cry over nothing, & if they’re angry they get to roll on the ground kicking. But I have to pretend I am always okay. It’s not fair!

Image(Above: a picture of me & the 2 boys I babysat all summer. Look how happy this picture is! Enjoy your youth, boys)

Luckily though I get paid to be a little kid all day. We sing songs, we paint, we play games. I absolutely love it. There is just something about children that makes me so happy. After getting my TEFL I was torn between this job at Keytone & another job in which I would teach only adults. Everyone told me working with adults would be so much easier. They are professional, respectful & ready to learn.

But then I realized, that’s not what I wanted.

Sure kids have meltdowns, scream, run around, are messy & loud but that’s why I love them. Their creativity & individuality is still so pure. They have not yet been clenched by the jaws of society, telling them what to say or what to do in a classroom setting. They are still learning…but so am I. Most of them have never been a student, but I have never been a teacher. It’s like we’re navigating this new right of passage together. 

And sure there are going to be a lot of times when we cry, get angry & really want our mommys…but over the school year we are going to learn how to deal. & We are going to be just fine!

-JG 🙂

Get Your Freak On

8 Sep

As crazy, rambunctious & outgoing as I seem, I have always had morals. Taught the difference between right & wrong at a very young age, my conscience & I have always had a solid relationship. I have never cheated on a test, I don’t take things that aren’t mine & I know that a sincere apology can go a long way. My moral compass works over time. This has worked really well for me the past 22.5 years & allowed me to learn to love myself, I mean for the most part. I know what I stand for & what kind of person I am & accept it.

Only problem? Sometimes not everyone else does.

I went through my “awkward stage” between 10-12 I guess. Mama G thought too-short bangs were a good look & I had virtually no clue what the world thought of me. It was rough. I had really bad acne & became cripplingly self-conscious (on top of already having the usual body image issues). Pair that with mean girl drama & JG almost never made it to high school. 

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(Above: I have always been a little out there, & am damn proud of it)

 During high school, I was lucky though, I was surrounded by people just as different as me. My friends were an assortment of crazy characters from all over the world. They loved me & accepted me. During this time I discovered my love for acting & did several plays. I felt at home on the stage & in the spotlight. I have always been drawn to odd celebrity personalities: Nicki Minaj, Ke$ha, Iggy Azalea, Conor Oberst, Marilyn Manson, Taylor Momson–the stranger you are, the more I will like you. Pretending to be someone else & taking on a character persona has always come naturally to me too. 

High school wasn’t a rough time for me. I was already pretty sure of who I was by then. Of course I made a few dumb decisions when I started drinking for the first few times, but my conscience never left my side. I was coming into my own. College was the same way. I found people just as unique as myself & made life lasting friendships. I never really felt the need to change who I was so people would like me. 

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(Above: Safari party. I mean who WOULDN’T want to be my friend with face paint like that?)

But during my college years was when I truly realized just how hard it is to be different in our world. It broke my heart to see people brutally bullied, physically attacked & slandered all because of who they were. From this moment on, I did everything I could to stop bullying & educated others about acceptance. I wrote a book in Creative Writing class about the topic that basically changed my life. This is such a bigger issue than people like to believe. 

Lady Gaga, my idol, is one of the most accepting famous people I know. Quick: what did you immediately think of when I simply mentioned her name? She’s crazy? She’s a freak? She’s weird? Shame on you. That’s decades of ‘cultural normalcy’ beaten into your brain. So you viciously judge people from afar. WTF has society done for you, dear reader? Besides tell you you’re overweight, you need to dress in expensive clothes & buy certain toothpastes, face creams & hair products just to get laid? We’re all in the same boat, here. We are all constantly battling outside forces telling us we’re not good enough. We are all searching for self love. We all just want to be ourselves.

Image(‘I just wanna be free, I just wanna be me. I want lots of friends that invite me to their parties. I don’t wanna change & I don’t wanna be ashamed…’)

Traveling to Prague & being thrown head first into young adult life has made me feel like I am 12 years old again. Meeting so many new people & just wanting them to like me. My first impression, like Gaga’s, can go both ways: people either automatically like me or are completely terrified of me. I am loud. I am hyper. I am excited & a little over the top. But I am a good person. I am a good friend. & I shouldn’t have to justify this for anyone. I will keep wearing crazy makeup to parties. I will always be the first to go up & sing karaoke. I will keep being myself, regardless of what you & your insecurities think about it.

I can be Minnie Mouse…Image

 

…and have beach side skeleton photo shoots…

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…or wear more than just animal print to a jungle party…

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…or be a guidette princess for Jerzday…

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…or my greatest role model of all.

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This is who I am. I am weird, I am unique, I am special. But I am happy.

Can you say the same about yourself? Can you wear what you want, say what you want, behave how you want? Or are you too afraid of what others might say? Be yourself. It may take you years & years to be happy or comfortable in your skin, & you may still have moments of weakness. But let me tell you, dear readers, like Gaga said,

You were born this way.

& You are BEAUTIFUL.

-JG 🙂

 

Home, Sweet, Home

4 Sep

So if you don’t know me that well, you may read this post & think I’m a little bipolar. (I promise I’m not!) Remember my last post? It was so depressing. Yeah, I was going through a rough emotional patch, but have no fear because this post is a complete 180! A true optimist to a fault, I never can be sad for long anyways 🙂

So, dear readers, let me fill you in!

I have a new home! On a cute little street called Milešovská, in Prague 3! My metro stop is Jiřího z Poděbrad (aka: JZP since I’m still learning how to say it properly) and it’s right near the Prague tv tower. So far I have seen a lot of young people, expats (people who moved here from other countries), a ton of cute bars & restaurants, plus there’s a daily farmer’s market in the square!

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(Above: JZP Square. With the church & Prague Television Tower right nearby)

Although I’m all nice & settled in my apartment now, it was quite a hassle getting here. I moved out on Saturday from the housing provided during my TEFL Course. Luckily, my friend, Kelly, lives on a nearby street to the apartment, so we decided to help each other move. Best decision ever. I had learned my lesson after trying to move back home from Paris. When I was too cheap to take a taxi to the airport so I hauled almost 100lbs of luggage up endless metro stairs, wearing numerous layers in mid-May. The worst experience of my life. I knew that “I’ll be okay” wouldn’t cut it. We moved Kelly’s things to her apt first successfully, but of course, I am always the captain of the Struggle Bus. We dragged my 55+lbs suitcase due to the fact that the wheel was snapping off. And my other suitcase? The wheel was already broken. Classic Jessi. By the time we got to the apartment, I was ready to collapse. 

But let me tell you: my apartment is so cute! It’s on the 3rd floor of a classic old European building. It has a normal toilet, a normal shower, a washing machine AND a bath tub. This is hitting the jackpot for housing in Europe. My roomies are all awesome too! Olivia is from New Zealand, Deep is from New York & Dan is from Chicago. & They’re all TEFL teachers too, so we’re in the same boat!

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(Above: my adorable room that DOES NOT have lime green walls, blame Instagram)

Another excellent thing about finally having my own place is going to Ikea. I thought going to Forever 21 was sensory overload, Ikea is that x 100. You want everything. You want cheese graters, you want wicker baskets, you want bowls to put potpourri in. & If you know me, you know I am the Queen at compulsively buying things I don’t need. Luckily, I’m broke so I only got bedding, a light & curtains are next so I don’t have to give nightly peepshows for my new neighbors. Great first impressions, per usual!

After I calmed down about having a new apartment/being able to shop at Ikea for said apartment, my excitement reached the roof when I was officially offered my dream job! I am now a preschool/kindergarten teacher at Keytone Skola in Prague 5! (Remember that boss who I cried with about loving my mom? Yeah, don’t tell me I don’t know how to make a good first impression).

http://www.keytone.cz/

^peep the website. that’s my boss in the video aka the sweetest woman ever.

 

Today I met with my boss to discuss everything & realized that it’s going to be a lot of work. But I am so ready! I will teach Monday-Friday for about 4-5hrs a day, plus I have private lessons, PLUS I will get paid for preparation time. Sounds good, right? I mean, I’m hoping this salary is enough to afford rent, groceries, cell phone, visa ish, student loans & fun stuff. Hopefully. Mostly, I am relieved though. I feel like I will be really happy here. 

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(Above: One of the super-creative rooms at Keytone Preschool. It’s sailboat themed.)

One of the first things that my boss said to me today is that she chose me because she felt I modeled the school’s core belief. Last week I was asked to give an hour demo lesson to 5 kids about summer clothes. She said she loved some of my ideas (which I all came up with by myself, btw because Google was no help). She told me that the school believed that children should feel comfortable in the environment, but also that teachers should do more than teach–they should inspire. She said she thinks I have the potential to inspire. Me?! I just am just someone who thanks bus drivers, shakes Veterans hands & holds the door open for people behind me. I am normal, not inspiring! But maybe I can learn to be…

I am so happy. I have a new apartment. I have new friends. I have a new life. I am so excited to see what comes next. And to think that just a few days ago I was so lost. Well, all it took was a little time. 

I’ve left the nest.

I’ve ventured out into the unknown.

& now I feel like I truly have a new home 🙂

-JG