A+ Autobiography

When Mark asked me to move in with him, I packed a bag and we skipped off into a spectacular sunset. Just kidding. We packed up my entire life, hired movers to load the largest U-Haul available, and hit the road eastbound during traffic hour. The sun was setting behind us and the rest of our lives lay before us. Trite, but true. I was excited, smitten, anxious, and hopeful.


Naturally, I’d over packed. Refusing to part with necessities – things like my pink spaghetti strainer, taco griddle, Z Gallerie sofa, dining set, and numerous other things that Mark had duplicates of – we were hauling things across country that we’d never even use. They would sit in boxes and under sheets in an overpriced storage unit in the city. But having before hit a dead end on shacked up road, I worried about donating this stuff. I really couldn’t stomach the idea of having to, once again, buy dishes, televisions, and bath towels should Mark or I declare the same sentiment published in the Terre Haute in 1851, “Go West, young (wo)man, go west.” I’m fully aware of how faithless this sounds. I suppose, in a way, my home goods were my security blanket.

Since shacking up, Mark and I have lived in one condo and three houses in four different cities. In other words, we’re professional packers and expert movers. Thanks for always confirming my address, dear friends. But more importantly, with each move, Mark and I felt increasingly confident that we’ll go many places together, but I won’t ever go back to Arizona alone. While I didn’t fully feel like a Florida girl, I was unequivocally Mark’s girl. Yet, I continued to haul my security blanket from place-to-place.

That all changed with two pink lines.

Being pregnant with my first child has changed my life. I’m sure all moms say this. It’s metamorphic to say the very least. For me, it instantly rooted me to Florida, to my stepchildren, and more so to my husband than I thought possible. I no longer felt like an outsider. Three positive pregnancy tests and boom, I became a bonafide member of this family, and a Sunshine State local. What’s more, I felt foolish for dragging my security blanket around all these years.

Unpacking was liberating, and a little embarrassing. Did I really keep spices? Toothpicks? Oh, hello pizza cutter. Lucky timing because we had recently thrown ours out by mistake. Again. And by we, I mean Mark. He has a habit of leaving them in the pizza box, but I don’t hustle him too hard because I’m grateful he takes out the trash. Marriage goals achieved. I very proudly created a Goodwill box and with each donated item, felt glad to be seriously hooking someone up. I imagined some 20-something-year-old girl happily loading her cart with my martini shaker, champagne flutes, frying pans, icecream scooper, and that pink strainer.

Shedding my security blanket brought me peace and satisfaction. Imagine me, triumphantly clapping my hands together as if wiping away a hard day’s work. However, all my generous donating also brought me to the determination that there are some things I’ll always keep. Some material things are memories worth holding on to. Yes, I hoard sentimental items. Shamelessly. If I can hold an item in my hand and it brings me back to a smile or a story that defines me, it stays.


Before leaving Phoenix over four years ago, we stopped by my mom’s house for a hug and a few essentials she no longer wished to store, but I would never dream of parting with: my Barbie house and limo, photo albums from cheer, slumber parties, and dances, schoolwork and textbooks, trophies, ribbons, sashes, and prom dresses. While my stepdaughters confiscated all my Barbie stuff the moment we became roomies, everything else was and will continue to be safely stored. Except for this gem; this one was too good to keep all to myself.


Autobiography of Jamie Lee Murdick

Written in Mrs. Dobt’s fourth grade class

Quail Run Elementary, Phoenix, Arizona

Grade earned = A+

Part I

Age 0:   

     My name is Jamie Murdick. I was born on Friday at 3:33 pm. The date was September 28th, 1984. I weighed 5 lbs. 8 oz. When I was born I had air bubbles around my heart and lungs. The doctors were afraid that if one of them popped it would put a hole in my heart or lungs. They put me on oxygen and air-vacked me to a hospital that cared for sick newborn babies. My parents were worried sick! They came to visit me every day, and stayed the whole time. Three days later the bubbles dissolved and my parents were able to take me home. I was very lucky!

Age 1:

     I weighed 22 lbs., because I was so tall. My family and I moved from Phoenix, Arizona to Littleton, Colorado. Six months later we moved to Tucson, Arizona.

Age 2:

     My family and I moved to Cave Creek, Arizona. We lived with my grandparents who had a three-story house and a nice pool. Over Christmas break my family and I drove to Michigan to see my dad’s parents.

Age 3:

     My parents bought a house in Phoenix, Arizona. I invited Cortney Schwartz to my birthday party. Cortney and I are really good friends, so are our moms.

Age 4:

     My dad got a job in Palm Springs, California. My mom and I did not go with him, but we visited every other week. We would sometimes go to Disneyland and Sea World. We had fun!

Age 5:

     My family and I moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. My dad got a job to build a golf course there. We went to the Excalibur Hotel and Casino and I won a sword! My friend’s brother stepped in an ant pile. I felt sorry for him. 

Age 6:

     My family and I moved to Newport Beach, California. I went to kindergarten there. My dad was there building a golf course on the beach. It was a great year!

Part II

Age 7:

     We moved back to Phoenix and I entered the first grade at Quail Run Elementary School. My teacher was really nice, but my P.E teacher was the greatest! Her name was Miss Stone. Then she got married and her new name changed to Mrs. Dobt. My little brother was born!

Age 8:

     The summer before I entered second grade I flew back to Michigan to see my Grandma and Grandpa. I had a great time visiting everyone there. My second grade teacher was Mrs. Larson.

Age 9:

     Third grade was easy. My teacher was Mrs. McCutchan. She was very nice.

Age 10:

     In fourth grade my teacher was Mrs. Dobt, and she was really cool! She let us listen to music while we worked. Math got a little bit harder, but I managed to get good grades. Some of my favorite friends were in my class. Amber Fulbright, Tesa Fisher, and Cortney Schwartz just to name a few.

Age 11:

     My mom and I started doing some really heavy duty cleaning on the house. My dad worked on the front and back yards. Once again we were on the move. It will be my little brother A.J.’s first time.

Age 12:

     We ended up moving to Hawaii. We bought a house right on the beach. My dad got a job there, and he was making big bucks every week. For my sixth grade teacher, I had Mr. Robinson He was really mean! I always liked watching T.V. on the huge screen T.V., and playing basketball in an airconditioned room. You wouldn’t believe how big my house was!

Part III

Age 13:

     My mom signed me up for drama classes. I really enjoyed them. I missed my friends more and more, but I made many new ones.

Age 14:

     When I was in the eighth grade I worked at the beach after school. I wasn’t a lifeguard, but I worked in the lifeguard office. My mom got a job working with dolphins. She loved it!

Age 15:

     In the summer I flew back to Phoenix to visit all my friends. I was so happy to see them! I spent most of my time with relatives. I told all my friends I would see them soon. I flew back to Hawaii and started high school.

Age 16:

     On my sixteenth birthday I got a forest green convertible Porsche, with a black top. The car had a phone with two different lines. I loved it! It was really cool!

Age 17:

     In the eleventh grade I made cheer. Prom was coming and I didn’t have a date yet. There was nothing to worry about, because it was only Tuesday and Prom was on Saturday night. That Tuesday I was asked out by Steven Seford. I said yes! He was the most popular guy in the 11thgrade. Prom was great! A couple of weeks later his true personality came out, what a loser. I guess that the most popular guys aren’t always the best.

Age 18:

     Yes, I finally made it to being a senior! I was still a cheerleader, and have been in drama classes since I was 13. The only sad thing is I don’t have a boyfriend. My last prom in high school is coming up, and I have to get a date.  A guy named Johnathan Lesha asked me to go out. I said yes gladly. We had a great time at the prom. Johnathan was so sweet!

Part IV

Age 19:

     I decided that I wanted to go to Paris, France for college. I took French so I could communicate with others there. That summer, Cortney and Tesa flew to Paris to see me. Amber couldn’t come, but she promised she would next summer.

Age 20:

     My second year of college was a blast! Over Christmas break I traveled all around Europe. I brought back many souvenirs and antiques.

Age 21:

     In my third year in college I was rehearsing for a play when a woman named Louise Flesher asked me if I was ever interested in doing some professional acting or modeling. I told her that I’ve wanted to be a famous actress since I was a little girl. She handed me a card with her phone number on it and told me to call her soon.

Age 22:

     It was the year I was to graduate from college. I couldn’t wait to start acting professionally, so I called Louise Flesher. She was so happy to hear from me. Before I knew it I was in a commercial, a T.V. show, and I was going to star in my first movie. Later that year I graduated with a major in Performing Arts, and a minor in Education.

Age 23:

     I married a wonderful Frenchman who was an international lawyer. Later that year we had a baby boy named Ryan. We all moved to the United States and bought a house in Beverly Hills, California and another in New York City.

Age 24:

     It was the year 2008 and flying cars were invented. The best movie of the year was called “Deep Trouble.” I starred in the film as a mermaid. It was one creepy movie nobody ever forgot about.

Part V

Age 25:

     I switched to the William Moris Talent Agency. Our second child was born. A beautiful baby girl named Mara.

Age 26:

     We spent four months in our house in New York so I could star on Broadway in the musical “Freedom.” I was the leading lady.  I had to sing a lot, but I had no problem with it.

Age 27:

     My third child was born. Her name was Miranda. By this time, Ryan was 4 and Mara was 2-years-old.

Age 28:

     My husband, my children, and I all took a cruise ship to Hawaii to see my parents. The kids loved the beach and playing with the dolphins. We all had a blast! We stayed for four months, then we set sail for Hollywood.

Age 29:

     I starred in the movie of a lifetime called “Friends.” It was about two women who were completely different, but somehow they become the best of friends forever. Siskel and Ebert gave it 4 thumbs up.

Age 30:

     As I sit at a table with many people surrounding me, a man on a microphone speaks. He says, “the Academy Award for the year 2014 goes to the best actress of all time for her performance in the movie “Friends,” her name is JAMIE MURDICK!” I cried my way up onto the stage to collect my Oscar. I thanked everyone in every way who got me here today!   

Well, the good news is that, in reality, life went on beyond 30. Is Mrs. Dobt partially to blame for my complex with turning 30? Written when I was 10, two thirds of this is total fantasy. But I’m not sure which is funnier. The real life details I chose to feature: city-hopping, ant piles, and smartly sucking up to my teacher? Or that I thought we’d move to Hawaii, cars would fly, and I’d have the ability to sing well enough that it earned me income?

Thankfully, my real life outshines the fantasy above.  In reality, I’m not famous and I’m not that rich, but I am well traveled, educated, and happy. I married an All-American man of Belgian ancestry whom knows basic French – so my crystal ball wasn’t that cloudy after all. My Belgian great grandmother would be pleased. Plus, he takes me on much more posh vacays than cruises. In a way, I do have three kids. I get to enjoy and nurture my stepchildren, yet I didn’t have to dedicate my twenties to them. Talk about a win-win. Kid me was in fast forward; she wanted to do life too quickly. In real life, I deliberately waited until my thirties to marry and procreate. In my late teens, I somehow knew that taking the long route around the game board of life was what was best. Along the way, I’ve graduated college with an Emmy; chosen careers with unique small businesses that eventually and fatefully led me to Mark; ran in the rain down the streets of London; kissed under the Eiffel Tower; partied until noon in Vegas; met a U.S. President; taken koala selfies in Sydney, and witnessed the sunrising over The Bush while on safari. I’ve taken the time to enjoy my life.  And much to my relief – from the pink spaghetti strainer to the two pink lines on my first pregnancy test – it’s more fulfilling and amusing than I predicted it to be.

And so today, on my 34thbirthday, I’ll channel inventive 10-year-old me and gander a guess at what this year will bring:

Age 34:

            I’ve officially joined the mom club! Of all the (fashionable) hats I’ve worn, this one is my fave. My son, Bradley Phoenix, is healthy and makes us so happy. He likes to squeeze my fingers tightly and, thankfully, is a really good sleeper. He’s already quite the jet-setter. He doesn’t make a big fuss on planes and doesn’t mind all the selfies when sightseeing. Business is booming! I’m really proud of my husband, Mark. He’s working so hard and closing lots of deals. The kids all have straight A’s, and Tyler got his first girlfriend! But the best news of all: we’re expecting another baby! Baby Coppens Arriving December 2019!

What’s the saying? “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars?” Might as well go for it. Who knows, maybe my reality will, once again, be better than fantasy. Time will tell.

Becoming Bradley

What’s in a name? Shakespeare’s Juliet famously persuades “that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” She was love sick, but she wasn’t wrong. Had the rose been named, say, pickle, it still would have been just as beautiful, and easy on the eyes, nose, and fingertips. Likewise, Romeo still would have been a looker had he been called Herbert. But let’s be real, a graceful name helps to make giving and receiving this ethereal flower – or dating a hunk – all the more romantic and extraordinary. Even pregnant and generally famished, I’d rather receive a bouquet of roses than pickles. I know several parents who proudly gave their daughters the middle name Rose. Bottom line, words are powerful and names matter.

When I was 28 weeks pregnant, you were the size of a butternut squash, and your father had exhausted more veto power than I ever could have imagined, we finally named you: Bradley Phoenix Coppens. Never Brad, always Bradley. Your friends and future girlfriends will challenge this – which will, admittedly, annoy me – but your parents will always honor your true name. Your initials are BPC, which I like because it rhymes, and I’m cheeky like that. One day, likely when you’re learning to write your name, you’ll wonder why we named you Bradley Phoenix. You may think: ordinary name, city in the desert, but it’s really so much more than that.  Sweet son, here’s the story of how you became you:

First things first, you needed a first name. As I’m sure you’ve gathered, your dad is particular and forward thinking. In the age of baby name lists saturated with exotic spellings of normal words, nicknames, unisex names, fruits – yes, fruits – and random adjectives, your dad appreciated tradition. He wanted to provide you with a strong name, one where the spelling and origin would never be pondered or judged. He had the foresight to consider that you may become President of the United States or the CEO of a fortune 500 company, which you likely launched, so not only should your name look stately on letterhead, but it needed to be respectable, too. Can citizens or a workforce really get behind a guy named Cloud, Kourage or Cabbage? Your dad thought not.

Shortly after my dentist diagnosed me with pregnancy gingivitis and swollen feet three times their usual size was my new normal, I finally got on your dad’s wavelength. It was like my entire body was oozing with you, yet you had no name other than “baby boy.” It was time to get serious, not to mention monogramming. I presented: Luke, Scott, and Brooks. To which he replied: “Luke Skywalker? No. Scott? Hate it. Brooks? As in Brooks Brothers? Nope.” Veto abuser.

In truth, your dad named you. When I finally urged him to be serious and tell me what names he’s always liked, he very easily offered Bradley, not Brad – reason number 633 that your dad and I were meant to be. He explained that he had wanted to name your brother Bradley, which I thought was particularly profound for such an unsentimental guy like your dad. It became quite evident to me that he’s been waiting to give you this name. He’s been waiting for you. I didn’t reveal it to him just then, but you became Bradley that instant.

On to Phoenix. If you ask me, middle names are of value. They add wholeness to a person’s identity, and if thoughtfully arranged, regality in this basic world. Plus, they’re handy when being disciplined and on marriage invitations, too. I see future me over enunciating your entire name when I’ve busted you sneaking snacks as a kid or out the back door as a teen. The beauty of it will help me cope with the reality that you’re acting like a young, fun me. Karma. Your dad’s a two-name man, and even he agrees that his monogrammed accessories fall short. He’s the type of dad who strives to give his children so much more than he ever had. Names included. But as you’ll learn, your mama is a clever girl and life is like a game of chess. You see, your dad chose your first name, so I automatically got to choose your middle name. Checkmate.

View More: http://briandersonphotos.pass.us/jamiecoppens

While your dad plans ahead for total domination in the corporate or political scene, I said to myself, “What if he becomes an actor or musician? His name has to sound strong, and be unique without being weird.” The hunt was on. I plucked ideas from my baby name list in the notes section of my iPhone. I clicked through baby name lists online. My eyes laser focused on scrolling TV and movie credits. I googled what famous people name their kids and what’s trending in other countries. I considered family names and charming southern ones, too. And then it hit me. I will not give you your first or last name; your middle name was my single shot at giving you a piece of me. A total narcissist would give you their own name, but like I said, initials matter. And while I do have my fair share of obsessions, myself is not one of them. Cancel the hunt. Inspiration was what I needed. Enter nostalgia – my favorite pastime.

Phoenix came to me in a dream. Just kidding. I was swimming with your Gigi and sisters, well, treading water – you’ll eventually accept this about me. But back to you, back to Phoenix. Gigi adored it, naturally. Your sisters thought it sounded cool and weren’t the least bit surprised because they know how much I love my roots. Bradley, when I fly home to Arizona, I cry. When I leave, I cry. Not necessarily because I’m sad, but because Phoenix is – in the cheesiest, yet most honest revelation – my heart. Like so many others who just simply exist where they reside, I didn’t truly realize my affection for Arizona until I left her.

For me, it’s the smell of the desert after the rains or in the dead of night; the sound of the wind rustling bits of desert floor across smooth asphalt; and the colors of the sunrise. Don’t even get me started on the sunsets. They’re the best in the world – and I’ve trotted this globe. When I was a kid, I would watch the sun set behind a mountain and was almost certain that if I just walked to the other side, I’d find it in jammies fast asleep. I’ve closed my eyes and swayed to a rain dance, played barefoot in monsoons, romped through the desert chasing dust storms, pool crashed most of the resorts, and never stopped marveling at the blooming palo verde trees – as yellow and green as brand new Crayola crayons. When a saguaro cactus blooms, you stop and pay attention. If you’re like me, you take a photo. Drive the Loop 101 with me and I’ll bet you I comment on how the mountains look today. Ask your Auntie Jennifer and she’ll tell you I’ve always been like that. Perhaps I’ve been enamored with the Valley of the Sun all along.

Phoenix is where the patriarch of my family, your Great Grandpa Bud, pretended to be your Great Grandma Connie’s date because his friend was too chicken to meet her parents. It might have been the universe’s grandest gesture of all time, because that friend never did get another date and Grandpa and Grandma went on to have a family of four children, 10 grandchildren, and 19 great grandchildren – you make 20. Yes, you have a big family. Here’s a tip from Mommy: Don’t be last in line for the gravy at Thanksgiving or you’re not getting any gravy on Thanksgiving. Sweetheart, it’s every man for himself.

Picturesque Arizona, a backdrop for the “Wild West,” is the backbone of who I am. Like the desert, I’m a tumbleweed of mystery, color, solitude, tranquility, and passion that’s – at once – calculated and reckless. Frankly, if it hadn’t been for your daddy wrangling my heart, I don’t think I would have ever left that place in the sun. My heart’s home has traveled from Phoenix to daddy, and now, with you, back to Phoenix. In me, Phoenix elicits pride, adoration, and heritage.  You already entice much of the same, and we haven’t even been formally introduced. Some say that over the span of your existence, I will give you “my everything,” and you will become “my world.” I have a feeling they’re right. So to begin, I will give you a middle name that means everything to me, a middle name that represents something special in this wide world. Phoenix. I hope you like it. Or can at least appreciate how much thought went into it. Your name is how you meet the world before it has the chance to get to know you. If nothing else, I’ve teed up a nice icebreaking conversation with future employers and girlfriends. Look at me, being a mom and a wingman. I’ve totally got this. You’ve totally got this.

Earlier, I said that words are powerful and names matter. Scratch that, names are meaningful. Your name is meaningful. But nice try, Juliet. You almost had me going there, Shakespeare. Romeo was a Montague, and you are a Coppens. Bradley Phoenix Coppens.

The Best of the Best: Travel Edition

When you travel as often and fabulously as I do, it’s important to sneak small moments of reflection and gratitude somewhere between the time zones. I want to remember how wonderful it is to wander this world.

I usually relax into this reverie just as soon as I’ve organized my Diane von Furstenberg toiletry bag into the seatback pocket, loosened and buckled my seat belt low across my hips, and laid an airline blanket over my legs as if tucking myself into sweet travel. Mark is usually busy firing off last minute emails or reading some depressing world-news, so my brief contemplation of the places we’ve been hardly garners notice at all. To him, I simply look like a young woman blissfully sipping her champagne. And he’d be right about that; I am quite happy that our airline offers preflight bubbly to get into the jet-set spirit.

On this occasion, relaxed and ready to return home from an engagement excursion to London, my gaze fell upon my drink. Like the golden bubbles rushing to meet my greedy lips, memories of some of the very best bits of our travels sprang to mind.

The Best Spa Facial Treatment:

Prepare to raise your brows in disbelief. The very best spa facial treatment I’ve ever had, and I’ve had easily a hundred all over the globe, was inside an Embassy Suites Hotel in Huntsville, Alabama. I’ll pause for a moment; allow you to blink your eyes back down to size. In all seriousness, I mean, this is beauty we’re talking about here. I’m not joking or exaggerating about this in the slightest. ‘Bama brings the beauty.

Let me paint you a picture: Huntsville is a relatively small, but notable city due to its U.S. Army affiliation and southern sensibilities. Every meal resembled Thanksgiving Day and my lengthy bar tab was possibly the cheapest I’ve ever seen it. The Embassy Suites is the nicest and highest rated hotel for miles. It’s located downtown and has pretty adorable views of a large geese-filled pond. The “spa” is located on the 2nd floor and while its lobby area made me feel like I was waiting to see the dentist, the treatment room was warm, quiet, dimly lit, and expertly enhanced with soothing music that didn’t make me want to pee. I have no idea what product line graced my face; all I recall is the movement with which she applied, massaged, and removed everything. It was as if she had an orchestra in her mind and her hands were performing its exquisite sound on my skin. What’s more, I was radiant for days. Should life ever send you to Alabama, pack your fat jeans and book a spa facial.

London Bridge bath time

The Best Bath:

Beginning to see a theme of relaxation here? Yes, I’ll admit; I am fully committed to chilling out. Consider me a lady of leisure. But back to the bath: It’s not every trip that I take time to relax in the bathtub. Considerations like the country’s water quality or my tired tourist desire to hit the sheets usually thwarts the tub’s calling. However, a Japanese style soaker tub overlooking 48 -floors of London’s skyline just couldn’t be ignored.

The view came complete with one of those cup/book racks and bath salts. My clothing hit the floor faster than the salts could sink. Hair up, butt down, this was some of the best sight seeing I’d ever done. The Tower Bridge was even more marvelous from here than it had been from a safe selfie distance. As if on cue, Mark strutted in with bubbly, binoculars, and that generous grin. Channeling my inner Bond Girl, I spied on the royal city, sipped expensive champagne, and began this very blog thanks to that handy book-turned-iPad rack. All details considered, I’ve never had a better bath in my life. Get yours at the Shangri-La Shard, London’s tallest building — boasting brilliant bathtub views.

The Best Hotel Staff:

Constantly checking in and out of hotels, as glamorous as they may be, can be a little daunting at times. True jet-setters come to appreciate things like quality toiletries, turndown service, a high-end well-stocked minibar, and prompt dry cleaning service. To us, it’s so much more than just a place to crash; it’s our home away from home. Which is why a professional, courteous, and well-dressed staff offer the awesome ability to make it more than just a hotel stay; they can make it feel like home sweet home.

Our sweetest stay to date was at the JW Marriott in Hong Kong. We decided to squeeze in a 32-hour layover on our way home from Malaysia since I’d never been before. We arrived starved and sleepy so imagine our satisfaction when hotel staff was prompt to greet us outside of customs, handle our bags, and escort us into a spacious executive hotel car that smelled clean and was stocked with cool water. The china-clad tea and fresh fruit that was hand delivered to our room only accentuated the spectacular city and harbor views that stunned me from the comfort of our bed. Room service was divine. The executive breakfast lounge was the best I’d seen since Bangkok. Doors were opened, cabs were fetched quickly, and staff was always accessible, which really helped make the most of every minute. In Mark’s early corporate days, he lived in this hotel for four months. Ordinarily I’d be baffled by a living arrangement like this, but two sleeps later and I could see why he felt so at home inside this high-rise. Upon our departure, sitting pretty in another luxury hotel car, I whispered a little promise to myself that should life bring me back to Hong Kong, I’d be checking into this JW once more.

Hello Hong Kong

The Best Layover:

When it comes to international travel, layovers are unavoidable. Even a lot of domestic ventures will have you held up in some city for a short time. Consequently, frequent fliers discover their own airport comfort zones across the time zones. The Charlotte airport, for instance, is wonderful for getting your rocking chair-on and enjoying “flights” of wine at a surprisingly trendy bar conveniently located between gates; I’ve done my taxes over a steamy baked potato inside Houston’s Pappadeaux; and sweet Mark satisfied my sweet tooth when he gave me a cupful of skittles to pair with my cold, complimentary beer inside the Dulles United Lounge.

While we do our best to make the most of our ground-bound travel, nothing beats having enough time to ditch the airport and explore where you are. It feels like stealing time and playing hooky simultaneously – a truly fortuitous adventure! When you visit a place briefly you have to take care to take it all in quickly. Rush to visit various landmarks or relax with a view. Either way – experience it. Listen to the language, savor the cuisine, study the architecture, feel the weather on your skin.

Come to think of it, the 32-hours we spent in Hong Kong was the most eventful and exciting layover I’ve ever had. The city was loud, colorful, and crowded. The architecture was stacked and eclectic. The nightclub was surprisingly familiar and its music was on point. Aside from Arabic, this was the biggest language barrier I’d met. High-end and knock-off brands shared the same block. But the champagne cocktails were exquisite and the views were unparalleled. Honestly, sky, water, greenery, cliffs, rolling hills, modern and historic buildings, ships and yachts, old and new – it all combined to be one of the most scenic memories I’ve ever made. Life may never return me to this financial metropolis, but I’ll always have my post card-worthy memory.

The Best Meals:

In the past five years, I traveled to 11 beautiful countries as the Marketing Manager for a defense company, and four more by Mark’s side just for fun. But none of these places ever stood a chance, because I’d already been to and eaten my way through Italy. In 2008, my mama, “nonna”, and I – dubbed the “3 generations” – toured and tasted Italy for two weeks in celebration of my college graduation. When I tell you that we ate pizza, pasta, gelato, and drank wine daily, I am not exaggerating. In fact, I gained back the five pounds that I’d lost the year prior when I nearly starved in Ireland. Everything about Italy is enticing. Its food, its language, its history, its picturesque sights, its people, its arts and culture – it’s all flirting with you. And who doesn’t like a little flirtatious fun?

mj Paris love lock

The Best Sightseeing:

The more you see the world, the more you fall in love with it. I’ll never forget the crashing waves and eroded cliffs of the Amalfi Coast, or the grassy knolls of Ireland – they were perfectly manicured by sheep and highlighted with a rainbow. Talk. About. A. Sight. To. See. Most destinations can offer something special, but truthfully, only one place continues to enchant me: Paris, France.

I’ve been twice and I can’t wait to go again. I’ve seen most all of the landmarks, galleries, and museums, and I’d see them all once or four times more given the opportunity. But there’s something about Paris – it’s like you’re not just seeing the sights, you’re living amongst them too. Take, for example, the time I winked at Mona Lisa over top the heads of Chinese tourists. They flashed a million photos of her iconic face, while she and I simply made eye contact. I wondered if they saw her at all. Or the late afternoon I spent strolling the gardens of Versailles. Sure, I snapped photos, because it’d be negligent not to, but I also paced about imagining what it might have looked like if all the tourists were replaced with 12th century Parisians, making me a member of the court, quite worthy of the crown. Mark and I have taken leisure like the locals, people watching at a street-side café with wine and cheese while embracing as if we were the only two people in the city – Paris belongs to the lovers. We’ve hopefully, and rather cutely I might add, attached a love lock to the Pont des Arts bridge and slipped into lesser known museums and enjoyed the space to gaze. But perhaps the most beloved Parisian experience to date was our early afternoon picnic underneath the Eiffel Tower. I don’t know which I enjoyed more: the fresh baguette with jelly, the bottle of bubbly, or the good-looking American laid out next to me like a Greek god, but I instantly became a big fan of picnics – and Paris.

The Best View:

I’m not the type to willingly stay somewhere that looks like it could be just anywhere, because you have to admit it, this wide world has a lot more beauty to offer you than just some alleyway. I’m talking about a view. To me, it’s absolutely necessary. Just to put how pivotal I think something like “location, location, location” is, realize this: when I watch House Hunters -which is pretty frequently because I’m obsessed with homes, travel, and the competition of guessing which one they’ll choose – nine times out of ten, I forsake all other “wish list” needs and choose the property with the best view. Personally, I’ve signed a lease and even bought a home because they provided me with a majestic mountain view. I wanted the beginning, middle, and end of all my days to be influenced by that scene. Perspective matters!

My hotel homes are no different. The only thing better than slipping on kicks to explore the city is being able to open the curtains and see it bustling right below you. No shoes required.

As far as the best view I’ve ever squinted at – Mark is constantly opening the curtains earlier than I’d prefer – honorable mentions go to: The JW Marriott in Hong Kong, but you already know all about that post card appeal and top-notch staff; the Shangri-la Shard in London, because there’s something powerful about being inside the tallest building in the city, and the Shangri-la in Sydney, Australia, because with sights like the world-famous Sydney Opera House glistening in an orange sunset, sail boats and cruise ships navigating in harmony, and a harbor bridge that normal, everyday humans can hike over like a mountain, the Aussies put on a good show. But ultimately, and with much deliberation, the best view goes to the W Hotel in Washington DC.

All right, I might be a little biased here. After all, this is the place where Mark and I fell in love over a rather tasty room service club sandwich. Or perhaps it’s the career girl in me who will always hold DC in a special place in her heart. Either way, I’ve always felt privileged to be within its walls.

As a guest, I spend nights at the rooftop bar, appropriately named POV, toasting champs with direct view into the White House. I especially like raising my glass when I’ve noticed that the porch light has gone off. “Good night, Mr. President!” I broadcast with drunk-girl enthusiasm. And in the morning, I wake to the sun shining on the Washington Memorial. Its fifty encircling American flags wave good morning, beckoning me to rise and shine. I know it sounds sentimental, but being there makes me happy to be an American.

And that’s what it really comes down to. I’m proud to be an American; grateful to have the opportunity to experience the very best of this world; thrilled to be sharing a life and love with this hunk checking his emails in the window seat; and oh so glad that the flight attendant has just refreshed my glass of champagne. Again.

My Floridian Learning Curve Continues

They say it takes just 21 days to create a new habit. When you really consider how short that segment of time is, it seems entirely possible to not only reinvent your life, but to gracefully cope with its changes, too. Think about it, you could be a whole new you in less time than it takes for one month to pass the calendar. Continue reading

10 Life Lessons My Mama Taught Me

This year, not unlike last, I was out of town on Mother’s Day. At a global rate of $1.99 per minute, I phoned my mama from Istanbul, Turkey to show her the love that had been promised to her back in 1914. You see, thanks to a mother-loving American woman named Anna Jarvis and, according to The University of Virginia, a self-described mama’s boy, President Woodrow Wilson, Mother’s Day is a bona fide national holiday that we Americans celebrate on the second Sunday of May. But let’s be real here, with things like clashing calendars or procrastination in shipping her gift, Mother’s Day could just as easily be celebrated on the third Sunday as it could on a Tuesday. It could even be recognized in an extremely tardy blog post on June 25th. Simply put, the month of May (or June in my case) belongs to the moms. And I’m cool with that; after all, every other day of the year is (insert creepy voice) consumed by the children.

My mama and I rarely talk on the phone; we’re more into the “how have you been?” or “leaving the country again!” texts. Sometimes we FaceTime, which is really awesome now that I’m living on the opposite side of the country and Mexican food lunch dates just aren’t possible anymore. However, it was her holiday so I wanted to hear her voice, and she seemed grateful to hear mine, too. We chatted about my Istanbul sightseeing and how much room service I’d devoured, and her upcoming travel to the Philippines. I warned her of the typhoons and cyclones threatening her next destination and urged her to stay safe and dry – who was the mother here?

After our 20-minute and $40 USD phone call, I scrolled through my Facebook to see how everyone else in my world was honoring their mother. Nearly every single friend took time away from their usually political, travel, partying, or culinary posts to wish their mother a happy day and proudly proclaim that their mom is “the best;” “the kindest;” “the most amazing;” “the most beautiful.” And while that was very thoughtful of them to declare, if it were me and I had to pick just one attributing adjective to describe my mom, it wouldn’t be any of those ordinary words. She isn’t basic, so I’d never assign her a baseline descriptor. She’s complex and charming. She’s fun and funny. So instead, I’d tell you how inspiring she is.

Our relationship is unique. Looking back, I think she was my best and first friend. As a child, I mostly just remember my mom as a beautiful, young person who played and laughed. She had long hair and wore bold lipstick. Her teeth were perfect. Even at such a young age, I could see how persuasive her smile was – I’ve been faithfully brushed my teeth for as long as I can remember. She would put the cereal low so that I could make it myself while she got ready for her day or caught up on her beauty rest. She most definitely molded me into the anti-morning person that I am today. I think my desire to pay people compliments began with her, because whenever I told her how pretty she looked or how great her earrings were, I got to stay up later or she’d play a game with me. We watched soap operas and played hockey in the street. On rainy days, she played Barbies with me and taught me how to write my name in cursive. There’s never been any doubt in my mind that my mom was one of the cool moms.

Time ticks on…the very act of aging alters perceptions…reality rolls right over you. As an adult, we have this ability to look back and see things as they were, not as they seemed. It’s been recommended that I remove my parents from their pedestal. I’ve been informed that they’re just people, not super heroes. With a nose crinkle, I ponder the cool cloud I had her floating in all these years:

In the third grade, three grades beyond the rainy day cursive lesson, I discovered that I’d been doodling a cursive G instead of a J. I was, of course, teased for this error because I had been, of course, bragging about my cursive skills up until that point. I wondered if she hadn’t corrected me because she thought it was cute or because she wasn’t really paying attention. My mother has always been very interested in her own life. She wasn’t one of those moms who drove you all around town or took you to the mall everyday or prepared envied lunches or even baked a birthday cake of your liking – there was a span of a few years where she gave me chocolate with chocolate frosting because that’s what she liked. But, she was one of those moms who painted your nails and put curlers in your hair. She was trusted and well liked. I could tell her my secrets and was never embarrassed to have her around. In high school, my girlfriends and I would put on skits and my mom would video tape them for us. We were never shy of what she’d think because she’s never been a judgmental person. I also appreciated that I could shop in her closet whenever I pleased because she has never ever worn mom jeans.

Sure, I probably could have used more of a mom than a friend during those formative years. I mean, I don’t know how to sew or French braid my hair. And the only real meal I can cook with confidence are her tacos. But based on how damn delicious those are, I wouldn’t trade that one recipe for seventeen.

My mother – the friend, mama, college-graduate even with two children, talented TV producer, and the girl who still sometimes snorts when she laughs – isn’t a conventional parent. But somewhere along her wayward path of parenting, she managed to offer me snippets of unique support and advice that left me inspired enough to actually do what she said.

Of all the things she did and didn’t teach me, here’s what I have come to value most:


This wasn’t bestowed upon me until I was old enough to enter a bar, so kudos to that moral compass. She explained that if someone, particularly a friend amongst a group, wants to buy you a drink – let them. Note that creepy men are exempt from this party lesson. Roofies are bad – all moms know that. Right now, as I’m typing, I just paused to consider my financial commitment to one of most beloved hobbies, that being partying, and I can honestly say that I have invested very little in myself. I can also promise that I have smiled and said “thank you!” for every single beverage that my wallet didn’t pay for. No one likes an ungrateful bitch.


Keeping with the party theme here, this rule is really very simple. Why sit at one bar all night long when you could pick a few in the area and visit them all? Note that this is only recommended when you utilize something like Uber, a taxi, or your own two feet if you’re lucky enough to have a cozy bar scene in your neighborhood. And when the bar-merry-go-round has concluded, finish up where you began and see how different everyone looks there. They’re likely to be bellied-up to the bar telling the same story with a slur while you’ve just sashayed into the place with windblown hair and might even make a cameo on the bar top.


During my mom’s second marriage, she started filling our house with fresh flowers. Perhaps it was to appear more domesticated? Maybe she suddenly discovered that their mere presence made our house more of a home? Either way, it really impacted me. I enjoyed walking through her front door to be greeted by a colorful and fragrant bouquet. My college living arrangements always sort of had a scent of Taco Bell or beer, and I never really felt at home. As an adult, I take a lot of pride in setting flowers by my own front door. It seems silly, but I take a moment to look at them whenever I leave the house. They make where I live my life seem real and beautiful – and who wouldn’t appreciate that?


This was actually mandated. She didn’t care what I majored in so long as I went to and graduated from a university. When I moved into my dorm at Arizona State she mailed me a letter cheerleading me on, but also recommended this: “don’t let your education get into the way of your experience!” I saved that letter somewhere in some box, and even though I haven’t looked at it in years, I can see it perfectly. She wrote in all capital letters with a dull pencil on an ASU letterhead and personalized it with a lipstick kiss at the bottom. Throughout college, she helped me with math homework and laughed as I told her spring break stories. I think it was a healthy balance. And when I was all done, she toasted me with champagne.


This is pretty self-explanatory. But just in case it’s over your head, this is where resilience comes into play. Break-ups suck, but they’re a process. Just go through the motions. Be angry. Be sad. Be wild. Be open to new things and new people. And then, one day, you’ll be happy again without even having to focus on it. That’s the “ok” part. But I can always take solace in the fact that if my mama ever sees that one ex-boyfriend, she’ll “run him over” with her car. See, you’ll be laughing in no time at all.


This is referring to the generally uncomfortable shoes we women wear. Strutting your stuff isn’t easy when the balls of your feet are numb or your toes are pinched, but if you make that fashion commitment early in the night, you had better keep them on all night. There is nothing tackier than a shoeless chick zig-zagging her way through a casino at 4 am because her little feetsies just couldn’t take it anymore. Let’s be honest, we all know that you had them off inside the club too. You want to know how I know this? I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have been walking through a nightclub and literally tripped over a high-heeled shoe. No foot. No body. Just one shoe. Disgusting!
Didn’t your mama teach you better than that? Here, borrow mine.


I can’t even count how many times this phrase was declared in my house growing up. Whether it be some bully brat spreading a rumor about me one day and then getting benched from the team for poor grades the next, or my mom leaving a generous tip to our lunch server only to be rewarded with an even more generous tip during her next shift, or my failure to hold the front door for her and then immediately tripping over the dog, she always sang, “that’s karma for ya!” Big or small, what we do and how we treat each other matters. Karma’s only a bitch when you are.


This is fact. If you were to really magnify the problems, almost any problem, that arise between a man and a woman, you will see that a single indifference can run amuck because he’s an idiot and she’ll take it to crazy town. I wish this weren’t true, but I’ve also learned that it’s better to date a dumbass than a lunatic. Guys, leave the wickedness to the women.


Even if no one will ever see or know you made the effort – you will, and you’ll feel damn pretty for it. I’ve been matching my unmentionables since I was 16, and while I can’t say for certain if anyone has ever appreciated it, it’s always made me feel fashionably in control.


That’s it. She never elaborated beyond that. But what kind of a mother would she be if she hadn’t at least taught me that?

Proud Auntie

If the saying is true, that pets make great baby practice, then I appear to be “put me in, coach” ready – on most days.

On most days, I take care to cuddle, feed, and water my pets. They have toys and space. They are loved and looked after. But on other days, I’m pretty much flunking out: like the Monday I had to take the puppy to the vet because I gave him an ear infection from bathing his face too well, but not drying it enough; or the Saturday I had to confirm the death of our clown fish’s anemone and cringe as Mark netted him out to be unceremoniously tossed into the trash; or the Sunday I wept as Mark boxed our baby bunny for burial, somewhere pretty I implored. Mama had a rough week.

I’m rapidly learning that being a parent is really hard. There are highs and lows; challenges and joys; triumphs and tantrums. I’m just holding onto some promised hope that practice really does in fact make perfect. This is what everyone says, after all.

Fresh out of the practice zone is my best friend of 27 years, Jennifer. She recently had a human baby boy. He’s a soft-skinned babe whose fist is always fuzzy in the photos she sends me so I get the sense that he’s already enjoying life. I watch the videos she sends and stalk photos she posts. I still can’t believe that she made a person and that, from as far as I can see, she’s good at being his mom.

Female best friends have this longing to be very similar. We coordinate outfits; do the same diets; share makeup; borrow shoes; get matching tattoos; order the same cocktails; and even pose the same way in pics – better sides observed, of course. In my usual longing to bear a striking resemblance to my best gal, I started to think how special it’d be if I had a little human, too. She’s at a place I’m yet to be. But as far as I know, you can’t just borrow babies to match your bestie and overnight shipping does not apply here. I needed a new plan. Then I realized that it’s kind of great that she’s charting this new territory first. It’s like she’s voyaging to this dark, mysterious, likely exciting, but potentially scary and absolutely life-changing land and all I have to do is sit back and wait for her to give me the map, inviting me to follow.

Awaiting this treasure map of giggles and baby burps, I resolve to condition my parental skills – you know, put someone else first; exert an unbelievable amount of patience; be bursting with an inexplicable fierceness of love that no one else quite understands; etcetera; etcetera. I recall that back when I was wearing braces and writing poetry, my mama once joked that my twenty-something aged cousin and her new husband were getting a pet in an effort to thwart baby blues. Even then, I thought it was a smart idea; everyone knows that dogs are man’s best friend, but I’ve encountered some real asshole-ish children over the years. Plus, actual little humans still sort of bewilder me – despite my years of education studies and babysitting like a boss – so the decision was clear: a furry fix was precisely what I needed. Consider it a four-legged bridge to a more selfless future.

So, ten days before Jennifer went into labor, I distracted that strange inner “I wanna be a mommy” desire with a dog. But not just any dog, an unbelievably adorable 2.6-pound designer dog that we named London. No bull shit, he looks so much like a teddy bear that his breed is actually called Teddy Bear. Go ahead, squeal with delight – I did. Cuddly sound effects aside though, getting London was a must. I  couldn’t be completely shut out from this mom experience – my FOMO (fear of missing out) pretty much dictated that. Besides, a puppy is the only cuteness contender that even begins to rival baby beauty. Bonus facts: I can dress him up, too. Football jerseys? Ugly Christmas sweater? Preppy button-up? Rain boots? You betcha.

One week and three days down the calendar, on October 30, 2014 to be exact, baby Dylan (Jennifer’s human) graced the planet with his endearing existence. And it was just as I suspected; the new mama peered back from the mystical motherland to reveal that this whole baby thing is downright awesome. In fact, she insists that it’s even better than we’d ever expected.

It’s still wild to realize that our conversations no longer revolve around what to wear or how some dude tried to pick us up. Now, our reality is consumed with furry puppy and bouncing baby pictures and our conversations are almost always interrupted with baby noises or barking. We can’t help it, we just go on and on about our little boys.


Despite our boys’ very different genetics, we’re discovering that raising them brings about very similar experiences and emotions. For instance, we’re both totally capable of functioning with one arm. In fact, most of this blog was written with one thumb because my little babe was napping on the other one. Pardon any typos associated with being his pillow. Now ssshhh, the baby is sleeping. We’ve both learned to time our outings with inclusion of all the “ooohs” and “aaaaahs” people slow us down with. Even the grumpiest of people have been brought to a smile in their presence – it’s like watching Christina Ricci’s character, Wednesday, from the Addams Family movie when she tries to smile with all the happy little blonde girls; beyond awkward yet hilarious. Suffice it to say, all the coos and awes have made us more patient women. Additionally, we’ve both admitted to being devilishly happy if our boy whines when we leave him. We think it means he needs us, and apparently we need that. Is that twisted? Good thing I’ve got more time to practice. We also spend quite a bit of time reconciling fears and phobias about how others interact with our boys. I’m constantly freaked out by how often total strangers want my dog to lick them. I imagine this sort of heebeegeebee to be similar to how some moms feel when strangers touch their pregnant bellies, or living offspring for that matter. “Look with your eyes, not your hands!” Huh, I do sound like a parent.

I’ve got to pump the brakes here; the delete button has been called off the bench. You see, I had this whole long list of more similarities, but let’s be honest, raising a human is a game changer. I can prep all I want; I can brush the dog’s teeth, give the bunny lettuce, talk to the fish so that they recognize me, blah, blah, blah, but when and if I actually do bring a human into this world I am going to be a collision of fear, gratitude, happiness, and pride – and that’s only what I can anticipate. Truthfully, I bet there will be a whole bunch of curveballs coming my way. Not to worry though, I’ll catch them with one arm while the baby rests in the other. Mom skills.

Baby Dylan will be 6 months this week. He just started eating solids and naps every couple of hours with the aid of my sleep machine gift. I didn’t realize it until right now, but he’s my best friend’s new best friend. He is bringing her newfound happiness she never knew existed. She is his entire world. They make a great pair.  And I have to admit, seeing her as a mother is certainly one of the coolest things I’ve seen her do – well besides that wet t-shirt contest freshman year, that was crazy cool. I won’t even be bashful about it; she was my party hero. But now, she’s my mama hero. At least Dylan scored an adventurous one!

I am a proud Auntie. I have been so humbled by my bestie turned mommy. Even Jennifer is committed to her new role as an “aunt.” She obliges my puppy stories and kindly asks how he is. It’s very thoughtful. I am obsessed with my puppy, but I am so looking forward to the day I can give her the sense of pride that only comes from seeing your best friend over the moon in love with a little human of her own. Until then, I’m going to go walk the dog – he’s potty trained now and that makes me damn proud.

Change Your Seat / Change Your Life

I rarely sit in the window seat aboard any airliner. I don’t like the way the flight attendant leans over hoping you’ll help her do her job; as a highly hydrated individual, I feel positively trapped; and I rarely bother to look out the window so what’s the point. Don’t put this baby in the corner.

In fact, beyond the age of six, I can recall only three total times I’ve wound up in a window seat.

Two Years Ago:

Two years ago, this very week to be exact, I departed to a place farther than I’d ever traveled before. The UAE. Since my boss was a loyal American Airlines passenger, I’d have to become one also. Talk about a long journey to start from scratch.

When you fly alone you have a lot of time to just look around and think. I remember how oodles of unpleasantries flooded my mind as the boarding process persisted two minutes past the scheduled departure time: I had virtually no status here despite actually having some mileage with this alliance – it was very clear to see that American must have hit it out of the park with business travelers, let’s say oh, three decades ago, because every single dude in a crusty suit boarded before me. I knew I’d have to pee, but I was stuck between the window and a thankfully thin, but very sleepy looking woman who, believe it or not, had even less status than I; and they didn’t serve champagne, Dos Equis, or any other kind of suitable adult beverage for those of us who aren’t red necks.

All right, rant over. It was time to put some major patience powers into place because after an obscene amount of time, I’d be landing in a place that was sure to be a culture shock and that fact both intimidated and intrigued me.

So, I let this tinsel jet and two other One World birds take me to and from the sandy and stupidly opulent Middle Eastern city of Abu Dhabi – where, as fate would have it, my life was forever changed.  I’ll pause for your laughter or scoff, and I’ll even admit to reading that last line dramatically while proofreading. I’m completely aware how storybook “fate” and “forever” sound, but I’m no bullshitter either, everything truly did change.

It was there, over six hundred days ago, in a smoky bar with an eager, yet talented expat cover band, I met the man who would, at another place in another time and in a whole separate blog of its own, make me second guess every romantic decision I’d made to date, ultimately coming to the realization, with fear and excitement, that what was meant to be for me was still to come (spoiler alert: it’s another window seat).

Sounds flowery huh? And it is; in fact, my days are now filled with said flowers, real talk, laughter, understanding, dancing, affection, and a yearning I’ve never experienced in all my years of chasing where I am now. Yet, the most baffling part of it all is that I discovered all of this while away in some land where gender equality is non-existent and people smoke indoors like it’s 1940. I guess sometimes taking a few steps back really can move you forward in the right direction.

One-Year Ago:

I was sky-bound to a place strikingly different from the sheik and Ferrari-filled streets of the UAE. This time, I was flying to a land below sea level where flavors of creole and gumbo, sounds of trumpet-led bands, and the joys of to-go alcoholic beverages, bare breasts, and blinking beads shun the modesty of the East, all while contributing to the culture and celebration known as Mardi Gras. High-five, Thomas Jefferson.

It had been during one of our real talks that we shared our bucket lists with one another. He wants to take the kids and I on a safari one day, which is perfect because I want to ride an elephant again. We both wanted to party on a yacht somewhere picturesque, attend Fashion Week in NYC, and check out Mardi Gras.

In all honesty, hype aside, Mardi Grad isn’t that spectacular. It’s crowded, dirty, and smelly. For me, it was the company I kept that made the rolled ankle on a pile of deserted beads over hundred-year-old cobblestone worth it. We just laughed and danced and took a million pictures we’ll never even share because they seem to belong in that private memory bank. You know, the ones that are just for you and him.

Perhaps it’s to preserve how special it was. The moment I watched him dance without a care in the world. That smile, that rolling shoulder motion. It was like everything else around me fell silent and slightly transparent, because he was all I could see. Or the moment I caught him smirking at me as I chatted up total strangers because I wanted us to make new friends with people we’d never see again. He just let me be my butterfly self, and even though there were hundreds of loud people all around us it somehow felt like we were the only ones at Mardi Gras. Simply put, they’re the moments you can’t recreate even if you tried.


I’m once again going to give the “I’m a Western girl, in a Middle Eastern world” thing a go. Mark has business to tend to, but being as dedicated to nostalgia as I am, he’s invited me along for the ride.

Not to brag, but we have a pretty impressive list of both similarities and contrasts, which I think contribute to our compatibility as a couple. One of which is that he’s a window seat guy and I’m an aisle girl. It really is the simple stuff, guys. So I’m standing there in the aisle, tucking my belongings into the overhead compartment, when this ever-thoughtful man of mine offers to switch with me because our business class seats faced towards the economy class and he figured I wouldn’t be real keen on being gawked at by Arab men eating cheap airplane food on plastic trays. Yes, my hair is visible and blonde and my body is curvy, now lower your gaze, sir.

Looking around, I knew right away that they’d still be able to see me in the window seat, but when your man is chivalrous it’s best to accept his kindness. Plus, as my mind smartly shifted to my last few window seat experiences I was quickly reasoning how unwicked this seat must actually be. I mean, occasionally sitting there has kind of worked out wonderfully for me. Besides, I don’t feel so trapped in between him and a view. And there won’t be anything awkward about crawling over him to use the restroom. In fact, I think I’ll drink more water now.

Honestly, and in total hindsight of it all, it’s crazy how different things can look when your perspective changes. Now, I can gaze out this double pane window overlooking the middle of anywhere and know that I’m exactly where I’m meant to be. Or I can neglect to look out the window at all and just see him. Either way, the view is nice.

Before lying back to let sleep help dissipate this 14-hour journey, I begin to wonder where my annual contract with the window seat will take me next year? If it’s with him, I’ll go anywhere.

Dear John: The better letter the man of your world needs to receive

Historically, Dear John letters have been bad news. For the recipient that is. With one opening salutation, women were given the passive power to announce, without any chance of rebuttal from the man, that she was done and it was over. Talk about hand-delivered heartbreak. Or freehand freedom. Potato, potata.

I couldn’t have been more than seven-years-old when I first learned of such a tactic. I doubt it was even appropriate for me to be watching this particular television program, but what can I say, pop culture had a heavy hand in raising me. Now, I can’t recall the exact program I was watching, but I do know that a woman left the letter in an envelope on the fireplace mantle and departed with several suitcases. And when the man returned sometime later, he removed his cowboy hat with great sorrow as he gripped the letter between his fingertips. I had questioned how he knew it was for him as the envelope had been marked Dear John, but his name was Matt.

My parents vaguely explained that this was her way of telling him she didn’t love him anymore. I remember feeling so sad for that cowboy. What had he done to deserve this?

Nowadays, people dump your ass via text message or by simply changing their relationship status on Facebook to single, only to receive 43 likes all at your humiliating expense. It’s still a passively cruel world.

So what about the great boyfriends? What sort of letters do they receive? Somewhere over a Midwestern sky, Denver bound, I started pondering this optimistic outlook. Whilst in a champagne cloud, my gaze fell upon my sleeping boyfriend’s face and I knew right then what this “John” and all the great “Johns” deserve to hear:

Dear John,
I love you. What, you’ve already heard that seventeen times today so now it seems impersonal, or even tired? That’s the thing about that three worded phrase. It has this awe-inspiring way of being everything you ever needed to hear at one moment, and then just some words the next. I understand that. So how about accepting one of these three worded phases instead? You’re so special. You are great. You deserve happiness. You’re my friend. I support you. You are hot. Let’s make babies. I trust you. Hold my heart. I am yours.

You see, when I simply say that I love you, my dearest John, all of those phrases are what I actually mean. Now do you see how much easier it is to just sum it all up to “I love you”? And you thought I couldn’t keep a long story short.

But because this letter is long overdue, and there really is so much more to say than these three worded phrases permit, allow me to continue.

I believe in you. I believe in who you are and what you’re living for. I believe you’ll do what you say and say what you mean. You are a good man and you have my support to pursue your dreams and enjoy this life.

I am happy to be apart of your life. After all, you’re the man my heart’s been searching for. I want to be your friend. I want to be the one your smile falls on. I think you’re smart and I know you’ll succeed.

I have faith in our future together. Quite frankly, tomorrow just wouldn’t be the same without you. You’re my favorite person to spend time with and talk to. You’re damn funny, and keeping up with your wit makes me happy.

I recognize that you work hard to provide a comfortable lifestyle for us. These efforts and dedication do not go unnoticed, and are very much appreciated. I am proud of your professional accomplishments. It’s with immense gratitude that I say Thank You and Go Get ‘Em, Babe!

That being said, if your work world took a financial hit of any kind for any reason, I’d gladly serve tables or clean houses or drive a taxi, paint my own nails and shop at Walmart if that meant helping take care of us. What I’m saying here is that my love for you is completely impervious to the economy. I have your back, as you have mine.

I know you have my heart, too. I can sense that it’s always on your mind. You wonder how it feels and make great strides to keep it full and safe. You never intend to hurt me. You’re a man, you will make mistakes, but I know you hold my heart in a safe and adored place.

Speaking of hearts, I love the chest that holds yours. You are extremely good-looking. The attraction I feel towards you is powerful, and borderline perverted. I have a yearning for you that even my lingually-inclined tongue can’t articulate. To put it mildly, I want to be near you or on you as often as possible.

This attraction is smothered with friendship. You’re my bro and I’m your best gal. We can depend on each other and feel fortunate just be hanging out and to have found a connection so real. I won’t ever undervalue your friendship, great boyfriend.

Last, but never least, I love you.

Love always,
Your smitten and adoring girlfriend who wishes you’d wake up so we can share some sharp banter and cold champagne

It’s no surprise to those who know me, but my “John” is actually a good man named Mark. On the rare occasion I’m not ogling over him, I will catch him watching me, looking and loving through all my layers. And I will let him stare even though I feel self-conscious, because it feels good to be under his gaze, and I trust him. I trust him with my heavy heart and eclectic emotions.

I am meant to experience this world and all its love with Mark. And he with me, I do believe. I’d ask you to wish us luck, but we don’t need that; we have love and our love has a letter filled with sincere three worded phrases, plus all the other words “I love you, dearest John” really mean.

A Happy Hour Life

Somewhere in the Sydney sky, Los Angeles-bound, I curiously peruse the “classics” movie selection of my in-flight entertainment. A journey this lengthy has more minutes than the latest new releases can even begin to occupy, so why not? Plus, the boyfriend is fast asleep so the film selection is truly mine. I quickly decide upon “How to Marry a Millionaire.” Its synopsis goes something like this:

Three models with modest means become roommates in a Manhattan apartment that is very much out of their wallets’ reach, even cash combined. But this is neither here nor there, because the apartment is a major part of their elaborate scheme and completely necessary. Because of the apartment, they may act the part of wealthy women, living a wealthy life. And who do wealthy women meet and marry? Well, wealthy well-to-do men, of course. Oh, and it stars Marilyn Monroe. Naturally, my jet-lagged interest has piqued.

Before pressing play, I recall my own marriage plot with a sheepish, yet still hopeful smirk:

When I graduated from college, my boss graciously gave me a month sabbatical to travel, party, sow my oats or whatever, in hopes that I’d return to the office no longer a student intern, but a hard-working career woman – such a cool dude. And so I did. I went to Mexico and Las Vegas. I went on dates. I shopped and did lunch with girlfriends. I slept all day. I watched TV all night. Needless to say, I sowed several joyous oats. After all, I couldn’t possibly let el jefe down so early on the job.

Amongst all of this carefree, adolescent joy, I, in my own weird Jamie-way, began mentally preparing for the next stage in my life: the post 9-5 work day happy hour. You see, I considered this activity a direct route to my future. While I’d left college with a degree in journalism, I didn’t procure that MRS degree that I assumed would be so simple to achieve. I decided that it would be different this time. I was, after all, more of an adult than I’d ever been before. And happy hour is something that adults do. They meet one another, do adult things like drink wine with cheese, and they pair off into marriage. And so my best friend and I would set alarms, rise and shine around noon, get all dolled up in respectable daytime makeup and flattering career ensembles – you know, blouses and bottoms other than cut-off jean shorts – and frequented bars where we suspected other college-educated, white-collar men might grab a beer, or if he’s fancy, a martini. This went on for a few months.

To be perfectly honest, we never really met anyone of interest. Things were different now. We weren’t just college girls anymore. As the months went by, we really did become career women with higher expectations. Thanks for the drink Mr. blah blah, but it doesn’t warrant my phone number, much less a date.

Without even realizing it at the time, my thoughts were precisely on point with “How to Marry a Millionaire” actress Lauren Bacall. There’s a scene where she hustles a casually dressed man out of their apartment, even though he bought them all champagne and deli meats for lunch, proclaiming: “The first rule of this proposition is that gentleman callers have got to wear a necktie. I don’t want to be snobbish about it, but if we begin with characters like that (Mr. Casual) we might just as well throw in the towel right now.”

As the years passed on, happy hours sort of morphed into a friendship activity. I realized that I didn’t really enjoy being picked-up at a bar. I didn’t like the sloppy come-ons, I don’t want to pretend to be interested in your life, and I’m tired of searching for excuses as to why I’m not available tonight, or ever. I came to the bar to catch up with my friend. She isn’t my wingwoman and your company isn’t necessary.

Damn it. Where was I suppose to find my MRS now?

My love of the happy hour was reinvigorated when they became mandatory for work. They were called receptions, not happy hours, but we in the biz recognized this time as, “mandatory fun.” You go, you drink, you network, you shoot an email and connect opportunities. Boom. To me, it was the happiest hour of all. I was getting paid to mingle and I never had a tab.

More years crept by. Receptions, networking, after dinner drinks, emails – all in a day’s work. So imagine my surprise when I met a college-educated white-collar man of serious interest in some bar in some city because we were both partaking in mandatory fun. When I saw him again, months later in some new city, he was in a suit, with a necktie. I remember it exactly. I don’t even have to close my eyes. I can recall the way I melted into my chair as I lapped his tantalizing appearance into me. Finally, my hours and hours of happy hour had paid off. This was it. He was what I’d been blousing-up for and toasting to all these years. And in that instant, I couldn’t think of a single reason why I shouldn’t be available to him right then, and forever.

I’ve been dating the suit for exactly one year. Still, every thing he says interests me. Every suit he wears seduces me. Every happy hour with him is the best happy hour I’ve ever had.

Cheers to never throwing in the towel and cheers to the Happy Hour!

Ghostwriting: Matchmaker’s Online Profile

People are obsessed with and enamored by love. Luckily, for satisfied and smitten prior clients, as well as current relationship-seeking ones, these love-crazed people include me.


I am a romantic and a realist; I’ve got a matchmaker’s heart with a headhunter’s mentality. I may work with a smile – in fact, I’m almost always in good spirits – but I take my job very seriously. After all, I am providing you with the most meaningful introduction of your life.


When we work together, I will listen to your hopes and expectations with veracity and then scrupulously search for those who will suit you best. I am dedicated to finding you your match, someone you can relate to; desire; count on; grow with and enjoy. But I also realize that a genuine and lasting connection takes more than a profile, a blind date or a chance meeting. I specialize in finding my single, selective, and professional clients that special someone who will make them a more fulfilled person. I’m not haphazardly choosing just anyone for a date or two, I am handpicking people who very well might be your final first date.


Since 1996, I’ve successfully headhunted over 300 compatible partners for my clients; 217 of which resulted in marriage.


I credit this professional success, and my clients’ happily ever afters, to the following attributes and facts, a few of which are rooted in my previous career as a Sheriff Deputy:

  • We all have layers – I’ll reveal yours.
  • I began a career in matchmaking long before the web started playing cupid.
  • I believe in love.
  • I respect that people are picky, because I’m selective, too.
  • I regard my responsibilities as a matchmaker much like I did as an expert pistol and rifle marksman in the Sheriff’s Department – if I don’t get it right the first time, which is highly unlikely, I am personally committed to trying a great deal harder the second time. Your heart matters to me.
  • To that end, I never give up.
  • I’m highly accessible. When you curiously shoot me an email, I reply. When you muster up the courage to give me a call, I’m the voice on the other end of the line.
  • After nearly two decades of finding my clients “the one,” I still enjoy what I do.
  • As a Deputy, I committed my life to protecting the citizens of my town. Nowadays, I fiercely protect hearts. The fulfillment this gives me is indescribable.

That’s enough about my success; let’s get to chatting about yours! I’m eager to get to know you – to find you the person who will share all your tomorrows – so reach out if you want to chat about matchmaking, law enforcement or love.