Dang, I’ve really neglected this blog in 2019…probably because I’ve been so damn busy this year! 2019 has been the raddest year in recent history…super stoked to round out the decade with a year like this.
And, yes, apparently I use words like ‘rad’ and ‘stoked’ since moving to Montana. Gahhh!
At the beginning of this year, I was living in Michigan. Remember when I got bangs?
In Feb, I went on an adventure that took me to Denver, LA, and San Diego where I met friends both old and new. Oh, and now I’m moving to Boulder, CO for three months starting in just a few weeks!!
Then, omg I joined a gym FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE to prep for my adventure to Havasupai. Definitely the most challenging trek I’ve ever physically embarked on but holy shit it was incredibly rewarding.
Then, I said goooodbye Michigan at the end of May and embarked on a road trip to my new home in Missoula, Montana. I stopped in Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and probably other places.
Oh, and America is weird and beautiful and lovely.
Did I know anybody in Missoula? Nope.
But I wanted a change and I did it and I MADE FRIENDS AND IT WORKED OUT AND OMG IT’S BEEN THE BEST CHOICE I’VE EVER MADE. Admittedly, it wasn’t always easy. I had moments of *did I make an awful mistake?!!* *how will I make REAL, true friends?!* But ladies and gents, it always works out.
I also started volunteering at the local Humane Society and adopted my new bff, Dolores!
This year was all about saying YES and doing things I’ve always wanted to do!
I’ve always wanted to pick up and move somewhere totally new. So I did it. I also tried skiing and STAND-UP COMEDY which I plan to keeeeeep on doing forever because holy heck it’s incredibly fun and I’m a silly goose for now and forever.
Oh, and remember that time I eloped? I finally signed those divorce papers!!!
On top of a mountain, of course.
Also, I discovered there are trees that naturally smell like VANILLA. Liiiike, this was some Charlie and the Chocolate Factory shit and I WAS SHOOOOOK.
Thank you to absolutely everyone for an incredible 2019! I rounded out the year in Ireland with my cousin and I also have a new godson (dog), Biggie! He’s adorable and I love him.
Cheers to 2020! Keep spreading kindness and cheer, xo
Hi! I’m Jackie, I’m 28, and I’m an only child. Err…only-adult? I’m basically Harry Potter. I have a scar on my forehead and everything. Ask me about it later. Or now. Nah, read this first and then ask later. Sidenote: Did anyone actually LIKE Now and Later candy as a child? They were impossible to chew! It was like trying to eat a piece of concrete smothered in glue. So gross.
But I digress.
So, what is only-child guilt?
RIGHT. So, it’s only recently that I’ve realized that I have this “only-child guilt.” It’s weird and I don’t totally understand it and so, naturally, I felt compelled to write about it. Perhaps someone reading this will be like, YES, I GET IT! ME TOO!
*raises fingers and feet and eyebrows*
A writer can only hope.
I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflecting lately…“why I am the way I am” and the whole bit. I mean, I already know that I have OCS (Only Child Syndrome). But, like, all of the good parts of it (independent, studious, extremely loyal) and none of the bad (selfish, bratty, etc.).
Written like a true only child.
I was curious to see if I’d coined the phrase “only-child guilt” – I really want to coin a phrase before I become one with Earth’s volcanic ash, bits of turquoise, and sparkly gems – but alas I didn’t.
In fact, upon Googling, I came across many articles about parents suffering from “only-child guilt.” That is, feeling guilty about having just one child. Well, that’s a bit different because I am not a parent. Rather, I’m a child. An only one. No siblings here. Wait, do dogs count? And on we go!
Only-children are stereotyped as many things…selfish brats who don’t know how to share, play well with others, or share. Did I mention sharing isn’t really our thing? I’m learning. Shh.
In fact, in 1977, psychologist Toni Falbo stated the presence of siblings “is popularly assumed to have both positive and negative effects, but the lack of siblings is believed to have only negative consequences.”
Are you fucking kidding me, Toni?
Being an only child has been quite a positive experience.
DON’T TOUCH MY COOKIES. GET YOUR OWN YOU CRAZY MONSTER!
Deep breaths. There are enough cookies to go around. (We all know there aren’t.)
Growing up, I wasn’t just the only child in my immediate family. I was also the only grandchild on both sides of my family for the first nine years of my life. The only niece. The only nephew.
Wait, that’s not right…
You get it. I was the only baby-toothed rascal in a world of folks who were taller than me. (Spoiler alert: Nothing’s changed except those babies are now adults with fillings and crowns because I’m actually the cookie monster. Shhhh. Root canals are fun!)
I loved it. Being an only child, that is. (Root canals are NOT fun.) I never felt I was missing out by not having a sibling. I’d watch my friends fight with their brothers and sisters and think, Thank GOODNESS I don’t have to deal with that crap! Sharing is most certainly NOT caring!
I promise I’m working on it. Sharing is great. Except don’t touch my cookies. Ever.
SANTA, I’M LOOKING AT YOU.
As an only child, I was the apple, orange, mango, and kiwi of my parents’ eyes. Sometimes a persimmon if I was lucky, but let’s not get greedy. Sure, I was kept in a bit of a protective bubble but I was the only kid my parents had! I mean, wasn’t it fair that my mom didn’t let me join the high school tennis team out of an irrational fear that I’d break my wrist?!
My parents had huge hopes and dreams and goals and all that good stuff for me. And I was the academic nerd who would deliver! Don’t do drugs! Sex equals babies! Babies suck! I’m an only child! Perfection is key! Roar, roar!
It’s a funny thing when you don’t have siblings. You’re not just one of your parent’s kids.
I didn’t take many risks as a kid. I played it safe. I looked both ways before crossing the suburban streets riddled with squirrels and crunchy leaves. I never snuck out of Fort Knox– er, I mean my house. I studied and stayed home reading rather than going out most weekends. I knew that my parents literally lived and worked for me so who was I to do anything daring or rebellious, surely risking death or worse…cataclysmic embarrassment!
I didn’t know it as a youngin’ but all of this craziness would stir into a mad mix of bubbly emotions that I’m now calling “only-child guilt.”
I earned good grades, was admitted into an excellent university, landed an incredible job in my chosen career, and was very much the picture-perfect epitome of what it looked like to “make one’s parents PROUD.” But I felt lost and unhappy a lot… as if I was living a life that wasn’t really mine. It was the one chosen for me. Purchased for me. Ugh, that sounds hella privileged, I KNOW.
Where I grew up, it was common to be told you could do and be anything with the underlying expectation that that really meant moving into the city (New York, that is) and working your way up the corporate ladder of whatever industry to be “successful.”
In having just one child, my dad could afford to put me through college and I’m so grateful for that. I can’t imagine having to pay back student loans on a writer’s salary (we can’t all be Carrie Bradshaw, folks).
But in recent years, I’ve felt this only-child guilt more than ever. I’ve been given so much and felt as though I wasn’t living up to what was expected of me. But climbing some elusive, imaginary ladder seemed so lame! I’d rather climb real mountains! Hoorah!
But then the guilt creeps back…
Why am I not happy where I am?, I thought ALL THE DAMN TIME. I just want to give everything away and go somewhere new and different. Away from everyone and everything I’ve ever known based on a feeling. A warm, happy, incredible, adventurous, magical feeling that I want to chase chase chase.
But, you see, my parents are my parents. And sometimes I worry that that’s the only identity they have, especially since they had me so young. I’m not sure they know who they are without me. That’s a lot of pressure. And I don’t have a sibling to offset any of that pressure.
I wrote the original version of this piece in October of 2018, after having a conversation with my parents about potentially moving from New York to Montana. I received a lot of pushback from my folks during this conversation which surprised me. I mean, they had always supported my travels! But then I realized they also knew I’d always come back.
I may be a Runaway Rapetti but I always seemed to run back to NY.
And then I found myself feeling guilty about the prospect of moving to Montana: Why don’t you just go back into broadcast? Why don’t you find a company you actually like enough to stick with and make enough money to live on your own and create a life in NYC? Why can’t you just be happy here, near your family? Why can’t you just be everything you were ever expected to be?
But I want a storied life. I need it.
For years, I appeared to never know what I was doing because I felt guilty about actually diving full-steam ahead into what I truly wanted…which was never the same as what my parents wanted for me! I may not have realized that ten years ago as I embarked on my college career, but I’m finally learning.
I spent too many years denying my innermost desires in an effort to stay close to home. The thing is, I didn’t choose to grow up in suburban NY. But I can choose where I go next. And I did!!!
I love my parents and am thankful for the life they’ve given me but this is not just a new chapter in my life, this is a new BOOK. And maybe, just mayyyybe, they need a new book too.
People need to know that they can’t have children and expect that they will want all the same things you may want for them. You can’t expect they will think and act and be just like you.
And you can’t expect them to stay stay stay because – just like stagnant water – that shit can be HAZARDOUS.
I may be 100% of their combined DNA but I’m also stardust and light and adventure and I’m no longer the kid who is content with sticking to what’s “safe”. I’ve always been a bit weird and quirky and I’m embracing that completely, even if it means following pursuits that my parents don’t fully understand. They don’t have to.
I am not my parents and no longer do I have to feel guilty about that.
I will continue to be their ‘Wacky Jackie’ from all parts, near and far.
Did I mention this reservation is tucked away IN the Grand Canyon and the only way to get there is to traverse 20+ miles RT on foot? (I mean, okay, yes you can helicopter in but WHAT FUN IS THAT!?!)
And did I mention that you need a PERMIT to even attempt the hike there?
It’s apparently a BIG DEAL and there are folks who have been trying for YEARS to score permits. They go on sale just one day a year: Feb. 1
I came to find out about this magical place through a fellow couchsurfer I met while in Montana. Remember Montana? And my undying adoration for it? Anyways…
I kept in touch with this fella and he reached out to me at the end of January asking if I’d ever heard of Havasupai. I immediately Googled it and was like, holy bananas, HOW HAVE I NOT HEARD OF THIS WONDERLAND!?
Fast forward to a few days later, Feb. 1st. Everyone and their mothers are visiting this website to try for one of these coveted permits.
Pro Tip: You have to make an account to even attempt to get a permit, so make one IN ADVANCE! Then, as soon as the window opens, you’ll be logged in and ready to go!
I was logged in half an hour before the window even opened to start buying…once 10AM (EST) came around, I was click-click-clicking away!
By 10:51AM, I had gotten through to the calendar page – where you pick out the dates you want (it’s a set parameter of 4 days/3 nights, no exceptions) – THREE times but the site kept crashing on me.
At 11:03AM, IT WORKED!
I had gotten through and I had the confirmation email to PROVE IT!
Beginner’s luck! It took me over an hour but I was persistent.
I also kept trolling Twitter with the #Havasupai tag to see how others were making out. I saw a lot of folks having trouble but there were also some beacons of light who encouraged folks to keep clicking through — and that’s exactly what I did!
I also kept refreshing my browser, which I think many folks were afraid to do…fearing they’d ‘lose their place’ — but those were the people who ended up with no permits at all.
Keep in mind this is not a FREE trip. The below info is straight from the website:
ALL campground reservations are 3 Nights / 4 Days.
$100 per person per weekday night $125 per person per weekend night (Friday/Saturday/Sunday nights)
These prices include all necessary permits, fees, and taxes.
This means that a 3 Night / 4 Day stay will be a total of between $300 and $375 per person (depending upon how many weekend nights are included).
I’ve been told that the prices have gone up significantly (again, I had no idea because I’d never even heard of this, whoopsie!), but I figured it was a solid investment for memories that’d surely last a lifetime.
So, when am I going?! THREE WEEKS FROM TODAY!!!
April 28 – May 2
Fun Fact: This will be my FIRST time legit camping in a tent outside.
It’ll also be the most challenging hike I’ve ever done. Eek!
Stay tuned for my packing list and TONS of photos.
Ah jeez. Just when I had my heart set on moving to Montana, I had to go and venture to Colorado. Another beautiful state with an abundance of snow-capped mountains. 😍
Sure, folks come here for the good ol’ cannabis…in fact, one of my hostel roommates who introduced himself as “Ty Ty” said:
“I just travel to the weed states. I’m going to Seattle next.”
God, I love hostels.
Anyways, I’ll pass on the pot. Not my thing. Luckily, Denver is so much more than dispensaries…though Hostel Fish is conveniently located NEXT DOOR to one if that’s your thing. No smoking IN the rooms though unless you feel like handing over $150. Think of all the edibles you could buy with that! I actually have no idea. Anyways…
I decided to jet to Denver because it’s a hella cheap flight from Detroit.
Like, just 50 smackaroonies. Wooooooo!
If you’re traveling solo, you should ABSOLUTELY stay at Hostel Fish. Weird name, right? Denver’s not known for fish…wait, what about rocky mountain oysters?
NO, THOSE ARE TESTICLES. DON’T LET THEM TRICK YOU.
Okay, okay, the owner’s last name is Fish. The hostel is NOT fish-themed or anything. Nothing fishy about it.
If you’re looking to come to the Mile High City (named for its elevation not the pot stuff jeeeez you guys!), you may come across the 11th Avenue Hostel. DO NOT STAY THERE. I’ve heard that it allegedly smells and there may or may not have been a thrash of bed bugs. I can’t say for sure, but, like, why take a chance?!
I’ve stayed at tons of hostels both in the states and in Europe– Hostel Fish has BY FAR the friendliest staff I’ve ever encountered. Like, they actually hang out with the guests and every single one of ’em has an interesting tale to tell. Plus, the rooms are themed, clean, and – holy heck! – the beds are legitimately COMFY.
There’s a fun bar area (guests get a free drink each night!) and a kitchen too. Every Thursday, the hostel hosts a pub crawl – all the main bars are literally around the corner from Hostel Fish. I went on the pub crawl and tbh the highlight was spotting this WOLF at one of the bars:
The hostel is also located above a super cool restaurant/bar/dance joint called Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox. Even the locals recommend this spot, so you know it’s good. We actually ended our pub crawl at Ophelia’s and had a super fun time on the dance floor.
Much more to say about Denver but this gal needs to get her butt up for an early flight to CA tomorrow!
HI, IT’S JACKIE HERE. I’m currently listening to the 80s pop channel on Pandora (sidenote: apparently I’m a grandma for still using Pandora?!?? whatever), sitting in my new, cozy room in Michigan (yes, MICHIGAN), and reflecting on what the hell has happened in 2018. It’s been a fucking journey. I went back to read the blog post I wrote this time last year and realized I DIDN’T EVEN WRITE ONE. Like, I wrote a “Cheers to 2016!” and “Cheers to 2017!” but I was in such a crappy place this time last year that I couldn’t even properly ‘CHEERS!’ to the New Year. In fact, I was DREADING 2018. This time last year I was four months into a marriage that I knew I shouldn’t be in. I eloped for all the wrong reasons and felt young, dumb, lonely, and lost. And it makes me sad for my 26-year-old self. But, GUESS WHAT!? I’m 27 now (weird) and things are great (fab, in fact) and I’m SO EXCITED for 2019.
I learned so much about myself in 2018. For starters, I let go of a relationship that was sucking the life out of me. It wasn’t an easy thing to do but I’m so much happier for doing it.
thank u, next.
I reflected A LOT on my own self and what brings me happiness and why I am the way that I am and all of that good stuff and I wrote THIS piece and so many of you responded with such kind words and I can’t thank y’all enough for that. I wrote another piece for a writing competition (which I hope to do more of in 2019) that was more of a reflection on my past relationship and, though it didn’t win, I’m thinking I’ll share it on here soon. It’s 5,000 words though, so…grab a cup of coffee first. Writing is extremely cathartic for me but sharing my words is a bit more difficult and I haven’t mustered up the courage to publish that piece yet but I’m working on it…
Earlier this year, I moved to Astoria and then, after six months, I realized it wasn’t for me. I was raised to be a city girl and I have plenty of close friends who live in and around NYC but I craved something a bit simpler, yet more grand and awe-inspiring. I’ve always loved lakes and mountains and I felt like I was forcing myself to be Carrie Bradshaw. Although, we all know she wouldn’t have EVER lived in Astoria. Anyway. I moved back home to Northern Westchester and gave myself some time to figure things out…
…But not before attending a gala, because duh that’s what everyone does in NYC, did you not watch Gossip Girl? JK we kinda snuck in but shhhhhh it’s fine it’s fine. 😂😂
It was my first time back in Europe since Sept. 2017 when I went to Spain with Shanna and her family. This time around I went back to Iceland for a quick 20-hour stint before hopping along to Scotland, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, and England! I traveled by myself, with my best friend, and with friends both new and old…and it was splendid.
^Monica captured a real ‘Jackie’ face there. 😂
Read more about my time in Europe here, here, and here!I did A LOT of cool things in Europe. From eating danish danishes in Denmark and searching for Nessie in Loch Ness to partying in Edinburgh and taking a dip in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, it was an adventure. But, the true highlight may have been nerding out at the Michael Jackson On the Wall Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. OH – and when I was in Berlin I saw the balcony where he dangled baby Blanket from that one time and that was great too. 😂😂😂😂😂
And then there was my GOLDEN BIRTHDAY. I turned 27 on the 27th of September and on that day I found myself on a flight to Kalispell, Montana. By myself, with my Man of the Woods album in hand (of course), I was ready for another adventure. And I’ll save the ravings because I already wrote about how freakin’ awesome it was HERE.
But here are some pics to prove just how PRETTY MONTANA IS:
From Montana, I flew to LA where I reconnected with some of my FAVORITE people who reminded me to listen to my heart and soul and that making big moves and changing things up can be scary but super duper fulfilling. ❤
Back in NY, I celebrated Spencer’s 30th (he doesn’t look a day over 25) and I was even a bridesmaid at Shanna’s wedding! So much good stuff to be happy about — I love you guys! ❤
Holy bananas, 2018 was a good one. I mean, I even witnessed a dog WALK ON WATER earlier this year, like, COME ON ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?! LOOK AT THAT MAJESTIC CREATURE.
My goal for 2019 was to finally move out of NY but woohoo I hit that goal earlier than expected! I’m in Michigan for now but it’s more of a stepping stone (though I’m enjoying it so far!)…I’m getting my feet wet before making the bigger move to MONTANA. I can’t wait! I’ve let go of a lot of things this year (both material and emotional) but it’s allowed for really exciting, incredible things in my life.
Also, this has been my first full year working completely freelance with no in-office jobs and it’s been a hustle but sooooo worth it!!!!
Anyways, thanks for being a part of the adventure! And thank you to all of my new and old friends who’ve made 2018 super kick-ass.