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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Beating The Heat With Swimming... And Book Writing!

The sun was too bright to see the screen... as is probably evident by my eyes.

Today's temperature is 90 degrees with a heat index of 103. It's the first of September and they're not sure when this heat and humidity is going to break. I go to work, then I go swimming at my aunt's. I'm thankful that my aunt lets me use her pool. Today I went swimming and I invested in a ridiculously pink shower cap to protect my newly dyed hair from chlorine. Hey, at least I stood out in the pool! Don't I look just oh so hot. :p I kid, I kid.

With this heat and humidity, I've been working on my book. I have a deadline of November, but I hope to have it done by the end of October. I went through some of my old travel poems because I decided that I want to publish travel poems I wrote in late 2011, 2012, 2013, last year, and of course new poems I write. I'm really excited about finishing As Far As The Eyes Can See.

I finished The Elusive Quest, and as I commented back to Andrew, maybe I should put White Single Young Female In Search of CD in Philly in parenthesis under the title. Andrew thought that blog title was catchy and rather funny. Here is The Elusive Quest:

The Elusive Quest

I headed outside on that bright sunny August day,
Cruisin’ down the street in my 64, loudly at play
out of my iPod headphones, perfect for adventure
seeking music in Philadelphia, I was so sure!

The night before I checked several web catalogues,
FYE sold out, according to the site, unforeseen backlog;
Barnes & Nobel showed great promise, optimism, and hope—
I could sit in Rittenhouse Park and listen to guitar tropes.

I hopped into the 125 on Keebler Road and trees flew by
for 45 minutes the scenery changed as my excitement ran high—
lo and behold, the doors finally opened on Thirtieth Street,
no breakfast in sight, I will start my trip on Fifth with a treat:

French Toast with vanilla crème and berries at Red Owl Tavern,
the dark haired waiter flirts, admiring the caverns
of my quilted Packers wallet—a fan since Favre’s day;
“who is your favorite Packer?” He begins to smile and say,

“oh, definitely Clay Matthews, but I also like Raji,
though I also like Bart Starr—“ wow! with so much emoji,
he continues, “you go way back! Ever traveled out to Green Bay?”
“yes, I went three years ago. So fun! I have a question for you, but hey,”

I asked him if the Philosophical Society was opened yet:
“I don’t see why not. Here’s your check and I’m happy we met!”
I paid and before I cross the street, I stop rather quick—
camera ready, sun shining brightly on the stone fix,

through the doors into a marble lobby and library,
bust of Jefferson, drawings of flowers and fairies,
monarchs, fish; astrolabes, and philosophical diaries—
tales so mysterious, gossipy, and fiery.

Hours upon hours, I travel through windy halls and displays
taking in the air conditioning, I want to stay,
to learn more philosophical wonder, but I know
I want to continue on my journey, through high and low.

People hum around me, I breathe in the hot, humid air
as I amble my way to B & N, Rittenhouse Square;
the park catches my eye, the guitarist’s chord catches my ear,
excitement fills me, but it must wait, the glass door is near—

I walk inside and I am met with a burst of cool air,
rush to the sign to see where they keep CDs and music flair;
but to my dismay I only see music bios and books
and I ask the guy next to me, lost in deep thought in his Nook:

“Hey, does Barnes and Nobel have a music section with CDs?”
he looks up quickly, “Oh, no, at least not one I can see,
but what are you looking for? Repo Records has CDs.”
I blush, “N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton,” glares from my knit black tee

of a heavy metal band, that I’d want a rap album—
he laughs, smiles, and says that the store would have it and then some.
I thanked him and went to the spiritual section for books,
Sufism, then the Arabic script on my back drew in the looks;

suspicion standing in that section, I grab it and go,
with my new purchase, to the park with guitars that bellow,
while reading Me Before You and take in the summer sounds;
lost in a symphonic sea, when the guitar case pounds

I close my book, call a cab to South Street; too hot to walk,
a quick ride as the driver, in a broken English talks—
yet the ride proves fruitless—Repo Records on Fourth and South,
sold out of CDs, but they have it on vinyl! Frown to my mouth.

The record store is a sea of CDs, records, and new shirts,
bands and artists from the teen years filled with angst and hurt;
memories while listening from metal to rap for hours,
time to go, I look at my watch, time seems to hold power.

Walking the eleven blocks from South Street to the Broad Street Line,
I wipe the sweat away from my face without a whine.
Who knows when the subway will arrive, at least it’s cool here,
“Hey, cool shirt,” the echo from the distance I loudly hear—

confused, I look up and see a foreign man walk near me,
“oh, thanks,” I look at him, with a friendly smile and I see
that I am okay. “it’s a shirt from my favorite band.”
We begin to talk, he’s from Egypt, he extends his hand,

and continues to tell me he’s studying very hard here,
and we talk about other hopes and dreams and our small fears;
but as soon as the subway arrives, “goodbye,” we depart—
today isn’t about a CD, but many journeys at heart.

I arrive at FYE on the Avenue of the Arts, hot,
hoping that they have it, 1 o’clock, stomach in knots—
cleared out in the rap section, my heart despairs, cries, and sinks,
walking down the stairs, I failed this elusive CD, it stinks.

Yet, before I walk out the revolving doors, the display—
Straight Outta Compton CDs, hats, and shirts on clear glass they lay,
I pick up the CD, a smile now pasted on my rosy cheeks,

SUCCESS! I leave Philly with a story told for weeks.

I should have captured a picture of holding my N.W.A. CD in front of the sign...
Baymax will suffice for now. Maybe I will go back and get a picture.
Baymax loves F.Y.E. though. I will have a travel section dedicated to Baymax's adventures with me.


I decided to write my own take of a Fourteener poem about meeting "Sam" at the Broad Street Line Station. I'm still debating what to call it. What do you think?

“Set me free, and it’s killing me,” played through my iPod,
reverberating in echoes, an underground station with some light wads,
“Requiem For a Dream” makes me feel less alone and safe;
“hey, nice shirt! Do you know what it says?” I’m a waif,
trying to figure out where the voice came from.
I finally see him standing there, I become calm.
“Yes, ‘ignorance is a crime.’ This is my favorite band.”
He is happy to know what it means, I tell him I can speak,
at least a little Arabic—my voice is meek.
“Can you guess where I came from?” he smiles.
“Baghdad?” Since my shirt says “Baghdad Metal,” it’s wild.
“No, I come from Africa, some place there—“
“Oh, Egypt?!” my voice a wild flair.
He extends his hand, an Arabic name, “but my friends call me Sam.”
“Jessica, nice to meet you.” Our words –wham—
turn into conversations; education, he goes to Temple University,
I tell him I went to WCU, an English major, but liked Arabic, you see—
he urges me that once I have the money to bring my skills to Dubai,
where I could see white sand, seas a crystal blue, and clear aqua skies;
we talk about different cultures, life in the suburbs, our hopes and dreams,
a twenty-minute conversation until the subway screams.
“Be safe and remember to follow your passions,” we depart,
and to think that this Acrassicauda shirt was a two-time conversation starter!


This week is's 15th Birthday (it's hard to believe that my 10th account birthday will be February 24. 2016 - time flies!) and there are different activities site wide. I'll be participating. I wrote this piece for Writer's Cramp:

Walking through Auschwitz one cool day,
several clouds in the murky Austrian sky,
violent winds rustle our hair and begins to play
an eerily tune around the barracks
after “Arbeit Macht Frei” stops us at the gates,
nooses decorate the work camp, as well as an ax—
final remainders of history’s darkness and sadness.
Yet we walk by memorials in German, English, Arabic,
Hebrew, Norwegian, every language—to express gladness
that the lessons of the lives lost and the heroes,
do not go to waste and that we must never forget
what ignorance and hatred that lies below
can do if left uncheck! And as we walk through
the cabins and onto the watchtower, sun peaks
through April clouds, where birds begin to fly too—
why not call Auschwitz something like Auferstehung
as the lives lost have resurrected into new laws,

new hope, and lessons that remind us to never repeat again!

The prompt was changing the name of a landmark. Back in 2007, I went to Auschwitz with the German club (high school). We took a nine day trip to Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Leichtenstein over Spring Break to use our German skills and to learn culture. I'm going to edit this piece and make it more about experiences through Auschwitz. It was an amazing experience and eery. I'd like to go back to Germany - Germany was a beautiful country. Then I'd like to go to Turkey and then Dubai (to use my Arabic language skills, learn more about their culture, and Dubai seems pretty as well).


  1. Hi, dear Jessica Marie!

    I knew about your Pennsylvania heat wave because a friend in York was complaining to me about it earlier today. You are fortunate to have access to your aunt's pool. Was her old pooch out there watching you swim?

    I enjoyed reading these poems which recall your recent travels, your quest for that elusive CD and the nice and helpful people you met.

    I can't imagine a high school German club having the opportunity to travel through several European countries, a nine day trip no less! It was a wonderful opportunity for you to soak up the culture and practice your language skills. The only such opportunity I was afforded in high school was the trip to New York City upon graduation.

    Please note, dear Jessica, that Mrs. Shady and I are doing some out of town traveling of our own beginning tomorrow morning. I will be using a borrowed laptop on the road and my blogging time will be very limited from tomorrow until Sunday when I publish my next post. I just wanted you to know why I will be m.i.a. a great deal of the time between now and then. Thank you, dear friend!

    1. Hi Shady,

      No, the dog wasn't out today. It was too hot for him to be out there. When I went into the house to get changed, I hung out for a while because I wanted to hear about my little cousins' first two days of school. The one began senior year (high school) and the other is a freshman (high school). The freshman hates it so far, but I remember that feeling all too well! Man, it's hard to believe that I was a freshman 11 years ago. I was held back a year; the youngest cousin is 12 years younger than I am. I remember the day he was born! It's crazy how time flies. Anyway, as I was waiting for my cousins, the dog and cat curled up next to me. :)

      I was so fortunate for that trip! I met some neat German people while I was there, but being with a whole group of people from high school was just as fun. There are a lot of Turkish people living in Germany, so I also had delicious Turkish food. I saw mosques in the distance, which was really cool! I remember standing on a hill and seeing one mosque from above. I wanted to go, but the other two in my group said no.

      I also remember our hotel in the Austrian Alps. It snowed that night and the view was breathtaking. I have the prints somewhere, I used to have them on my Facebook,but since I deactivated it...

      I have a friend that lives in Egypt (I met him in college, then he moved back to Egypt) who wants me to visit him, but I told him I'd go to Egypt once things settle down. I would love to go to Egypt as well. I'd love to see the Pyramids and just practice my Arabic.Yep, I know both German and Arabic. I also know some French, but I don't want to visit Paris... I'd see some other part of France before I went to Paris.

      I hope you have a wonderful trip, dear friend Shady! I can't wait to read all about the trip when you return! :)

  2. I love your poetry. It's like accompanying you on a journey.
    I'm assuming WCU is West Chester not Western Carolina......
    Also, I think it was smart to save your new hair color with the cap:)

    1. Thank you, Sandra! I'm about to sign off for the night and work on some more. I had interviews today for a temp agency and didn't get a chance to write earlier. Tomorrow is my part time job and I'm determined to get this book done by November. I love travel writing, especially travel poetry. :)

      Yes, WCU is West Chester University of Pennsylvania.I spent 5.5 years there studying English, Arabic, some German, philosophy, some French, writing, history, anthropology, and a bunch of other stuff. I graduated in December 2013 with a B.A. in English Writing.

      I secretly love that cap. :) I noticed it has a chlorine scent now and probably after tomorrow and the weekend, the chlorine scent inside of the cap will probably be stronger. I hope I can get it out of the terry cloth!

  3. Wow! Very full post. One day I'd love to make it to Europe. If you are going to Egypt, let me know.

    1. I will let you know! I want to save, but I want to wait until things settle down there. I haven't talked to Amir, my friend that moved back there, in a while and I should get back in touch with him.

      I would recommend Germany! I LOVED Germany! It was just so beautiful and had a lot of history.