Coming Out Part 1: When I Knew I Liked Girls

At the end of the day, we as humans just want to be accepted as ourselves. This goes for all nationalities, all races, all religions, all sexualities, all genders. We just want acceptance. 

I don’t see myself as an influencer but as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I do feel a sense of responsibility to be open and honest about my story in hopes that it’ll inspire others to do the same. Being yourself is a scary thing in general but being yourself knowing that there are people who will hate you for your sexuality is an even scarier thing.

I have to keep reminding myself; this is my blog, these are my words, this is my story to share. Opinions and judgments can’t take that away from me. 

Since I came out, I have had a lot of people reach out to me with so many questions. When did you know? How did you know? Are you a lesbian? But you’ve dated guys your whole life, are you sure?

I decided today; this is such a big part of my life – I want to share it. And this is why I write.

To inspire, to influence, to hope that my words resonate with those who have gone through/are going through something similar, to be recognized as an ally for those who are still confused or afraid, to be someone’s safety net if they can’t talk to their friends or family.

When Did I Know

This is a really hard question for me to answer. When I reflect back on my life, from the time I was 12 until right now, there are moments that stand out to me. Looking at them from my current age and perspective, I can recognize that I was confused and having thoughts about girls but at the time, I had no idea. I just remembered being embarrassed and avoiding eye contact when I felt like that. But I didn’t know until I was 23.

And it’s not that I waited until I was 23 to come out because I had known my whole life, I genuinely did not let myself have these thoughts and I think I suppressed them for almost 10 years but they started to resurface and push through when I got to college and at that point, I just knew. All the signs were there and it all started to make sense why everything that felt wrong, was wrong.

There is one specific moment I remember from when I was 13 and had I listened to my gut instead of pushing down these thoughts I deemed “unnatural,” I probably would have come out a lot sooner.

So this specific moment, I had had my first kiss with a boy that summer, probably a few weeks before. Looking back, he was super feminine. As was almost every single guy I dated. Anyways, I went back to work at the family business after camp where I made $13 an hour so you know I was balling without a budget when I turned 14 that fall.

There was this new girl working there when I got back and I immediately took a liking to her. I thought she was so pretty and I would follow her around work while she told me what to do. She had such a positive energy and I just admired her so much and wanted to be her friend. I think she was 19 at the time, so six years older than me. 

Being the supportive employees that we were, we went to see her perform in a play. I don’t remember the name of the play or what her character was, I just remember she had on a white dress and had to kiss a boy at the end of a scene. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her but at the same time, I felt like all eyes were on me while my eyes were on her, which wasn’t the case, but either way, I was humiliated and embarrassed and having kissed a boy, I knew what kissing felt like and the second she kissed the boy from the play, I wanted to be him. Red flag number one.

I remember wondering why? Why was I having these thoughts, she’s a girl, why would I want to kiss a girl? At the time, I had no idea what bi or gay or lesbian meant so I swallowed my humiliation and continued to follow her around work until she went back to college. Pretty sure I cried when she left and I never saw her again until this memory resurfaced and I found her on Instagram. She’s married now and they are a beautiful couple and she looks exactly how I remember.

Flash forward to high school, I remember having so many memories of the guys I brought home and my parents always asked me if they were gay. I think I gravitated towards feminine men because I subconsciously knew I liked women but society told me to be straight, so I was straight. Plus, all of my friends in high school joked about there being “the one” in the group (meaning the gay girl) and they always joked about it being me.

*Disclaimer: I do not identify or refer to myself as gay, bi, lesbian or pan. I do not know and will not force myself into a label until I am sure.*

College is probably where I took an interest in girls but never acted on it. I had a boyfriend for three years and the whole thing felt wrong. Physically and emotionally, we just didn’t click. Little did I know, I wouldn’t click with any guy after him either. Give me all the red flags. I was a walking closet at this point, but I still refused to believe it or act on it.

Most women experiment in college and although I was too scared of what people would think or how my friends and family would react, I had a lot of bisexual friends and so I’d ask questions. The same ones I get asked by a lot of you. How did you know. When did you know. Were you scared. Do you still like guys. Almost as if I was doing some investigation work for my closeted self. All the while being absolutely in awe of these girls who were so confident in themselves and their sexuality. And I was jealous of their freedom and their fluidity.

At this point, something in my life wasn’t working. I knew it, my parents knew it, the guys I was with during this time knew it, but I wouldn’t let myself believe it was because I liked girls. In my mind, I hadn’t met the right guy yet. That’s what all straight guys tell pretty gay girls though, you just haven’t met the right guy yet.

Wrong.

There was no right guy. Still, I went on a lot of dates, met a lot of men, did a lot of things I ultimately regretted because even though this one didn’t feel right, maybe the next one would and on we went until I was really depressed and unhappy with myself.

You know that feeling when you walk into a store and you love how all the clothes look so you pick them out, drape them over your arm and head to the dressing room? You try on different shirts, different pants, different jackets but none of them look good on you. Your shoulders might be a little too muscular or maybe your butts too big for the jeans and the jacket doesn’t work well with your height and by the end of the day, you’re disgusted in yourself and all the clothes you tried on.

That was me. But with men.

And that’s when I realized; maybe it wasn’t something that was wrong with them, maybe it was something that was wrong with me. 

After graduating college, I only really dated one guy and I used “dated” loosely because we only got together a couple of times. When things with him didn’t work out, I gave up. I stopped giving guys the time of day, I put all my focus into my friendships and my work and accepted a job (working for Rob as the majority of you know).

In my mind, I didn’t have time for men and I believed that what was meant to be, would be so I put my dating life on the back burner and threw my energy into my career. For roughly five months, I traveled cross-country and internationally on this journey and it was one of the greatest experiences of self reflection and understanding I have had. Being one with nature will really do that to you.

It wasn’t through this journey that I discovered I liked girls, it was actually after when I had come home. It was one specific moment when I had the realization that I really didn’t want to date men anymore. In fact, I was so disgusted by the idea of seeing another man naked that even the thought of being with a guy made me cringe.

I won’t ever share with you publicly what this exact moment was (if you’re my friend, you probably know) but it went a something along the lines of “it just isn’t right” and “I promise it’s not you.”

I falsely assumed, having given up guys and dating in general for almost three months, I was just going through it. I don’t know what “it” was in this scenario but I had assumed I’d be back on my game when I got home and ready to try dating again.

I was ready to try dating again, but not with men. I kind of woke up with the thought one December morning, while this poor guy was still laying beside me, that I was curious.

I had yet to figure out what curious meant but I had begun to see women in a new way.

(Coming SoonComing Out Part 2: How I Knew I Liked Girls)

 

Debate: Gaffing Fish & Catch and Release

Wow, it has been an unfortunate amount of time since I have been able to sit down and write. Even now, I am at my office waiting for my boss to get out of a meeting and the desk I normally sit as it occupied by our accountant so I am sitting on the steps, computer in lap, feet on the magazines in front of me.

Truth be told, I have been in such a transitional period of my life between moving into a new house, spending time focused on my relationship (which is still relatively new) and working two jobs which literally occupies my attention seven days a week.

For those of you that don’t know, I am currently working for Hogy Lure Company which is a lure manufacturing company based out of Falmouth, Mass. where I recently moved to. On top of that, I still mate for my dad on the Columbia where we run sportfishing charters out of Rock Harbor, located in Orleans, Massachusetts. This I have been doing for six seasons now.

You know you’re getting too old for a job when the new generation of mates are between 13/14-years old. This will be my last summer with him, which is both sad and exciting at the same time. I might work weekends depending on what I’m doing for work a year from now. I hope to be with the same company (Hogy) as I truly enjoy my co-workers and the work that I do.

So, let’s jump into it.

There has always been controversy surrounding the tactics and methods of those within the fishing community, long before I became apart of it. Keep in mind that these following thoughts stem from my short 7-8 years of experience both as a first mate and now through my involvement with Hogy Lures and Salty Cape. I have noticed two common discussions arise through our social media posts on all accounts (Hogy, Salty and Columbia):

  1. Gaffing a fish vs. Netting a fish
  2. Catch and release vs. Keeping fish

And of course, there’s the unfortunate individuals who feel the need to message me directly about my practices and techniques, as if being a jerk in my DM’s is going to either change or influence how I work.

Let me be very, very blunt with you for a minute; messaging someone privately about something you disagree with, especially when you attack them because they do it differently than you, is rude. No ifs, ands or buts about it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, everyone is entitled to their opinion but when you cross the line from a friendly discussion into personally attacking an individual or a business platform because you don’t like how they operate… No.

Gaffing a Fish vs. Netting a Fish

Before we get into this discussion, GAFFING A FISH IN MASSACHUSETTS IS LEGAL IF IT IS 28-INCHES+ AND YOU DO NOT ALREADY HAVE YOUR LIMIT OF ONE FISH PER PERSON. I do not know the laws and regulations of other states, but this is something I frequently hear when our business and our ethics are questioned. I can not speak for the rest of the states, but since we are located in Massachusetts and fish in Massachusetts waters, this is relevant to your knowledge.

That’s it. That should be the end of the discussion but regardless of the law, there are some people who still try to force their use of a net on you, as if their opinions are stronger than the laws put in play by policy holders, law makers and scientists.

I understand why people choose to use a net and I see no problem with it. But I also see no problem with using a gaff and let me explain why:

For starters, these are my personal opinions based on knowledge I have already obtained via personal experience.

When I am recreational fishing (going out for fun, enjoying the sport) I don’t use either a net or a gaff. I use my hands, unhook the fish, maybe snap a picture and release it as quickly as possible.

If I am choosing to use a net, which I have done countless times when fishing with Rob, it is for safety purposes both of the fish and to prevent myself from falling into the water while reaching for the fish.

When I use a gaff, and this is important, there are a few things you need to understand.  The first being, I work on a charter boat – for those of you that don’t know, charter fishing is both different from recreational fishing (for fun, for sport) and commercial fishing (to sell to markets). When charter fishing, Coast Guard allows up to six individuals to board the boat, plus the captain and the mate (8 overall). We are allowed to keep up to one fish per person, meaning we are LEGALLY allowed to have eight fish on the boat that are 28-inches or larger. The people who charter fishing boats like ours are fishing to keep, meaning they want fish to bring home to their families and their friends, to have for dinner, to make into a fish chowder, to freeze for a couple of months down the road. Whatever the reason may be, they want to bring fish home.

In this scenario, I always ask the groups when the board the boat, “Do you guys want fish to bring home?” And if they say yes, we fish to bring home. This is where the gaff comes into play – let me ask you, why wouldn’t you gaff a fish if you were planning on bringing it home and eating it? The gaff serves a variety of purposes – the most important being that it makes sure we get the fish in the boat. Since most people want to bring fish home, it does not matter if the fish is injured during the gaffing process because it is going to die either way. THAT BEING SAID, WE DO NOT GAFF FISH THAT WE ARE NOT BRINGING HOME. Even if the fish is legal, I will lift it over the back of the boat, unhook it and release it properly.

That’s all I have to say about gaffing. My final note being, before you judge someone and attack someone on their personal tactics, methods and techniques, PLEASE familiarize yourself with the states laws and regulations before taking time out of your day to approach someone for simply abiding by state laws. If you are going to attack someone because you disagree with this, your energy is probably best spent emailing those who put these laws into play in the first place.

Lastly, there is nothing wrong with either method. Whether you choose to gaff a fish or net a fish, make sure you are doing it responsibly and in the best interest of the fish. Simply, if you are not keeping the fish, do not gaff it. If you are keeping the fish, be sure that it is 28-inches+.

Catch and Release vs. Keeping Fish

There are laws put in place for a reason. And I can assure you, those of us who charter fish, recreational fish and commercial fish abide by them. Let’s run down the laws really quickly.

Recreational Fishing: One fish per person, 28-inches+. Cannot charter paying customers without a license, cannot sell fish without a license. You must apply and test for these licenses.

Charter Fishing: One fish per person on the boat, 28-inches+. Must have a license to charter paying customers. You must test for this license. Commercial license not required. If you have a commercial license and are also a charter fishing captain, it is illegal to catch commercial fish with the intent to sell on a paid charter.

Commercial Fishing: 15 fish per boat, 34-inches+. You must have a license to sell these fish. You must apply for this license. You are limited to 25lbs. per day. Monday and Thursday are the designated commercial fishing days.

These are the laws, put into play by law makers and policy holders. Why someone would try to argue the law based on their personal opinion is beyond me, but to each their own.

I have had countless messages from individuals messaging me, again verbally attacking me for what our family business does. They say things like, “you’re killing all the fish,” and “you’re the reason there’s no bass in Cape Cod Bay.” I even had someone go as far as saying “How dare you kill fish in my waters.”

Buddy, the ocean doesn’t belong to you. He then went on to argue that the “shore fishing isn’t what it used to be” while proceeding to tell me that “fishing from a boat isn’t real fishing.” That’s a joke if I’ve ever heard one.

Let’s jump right into it then. Simply put, these specific laws are put into play by scientists and analysts who have studied the migratory patterns of striped bass from their spawning season, through their spring run into their fall run and back into estuaries, streams, rivers, etc. to spawn again. Do people honestly think that these regulations would be allowed if these fish were endangered?

It’s one thing if it’s your personal opinion to catch and release, good for you, I suppose you think you are morally and ethically better than those who do not, but that doesn’t make us wrong because again, we follow the laws put into play by those who are actually educated on the subject.

Your experience on the water does not make you an expert.

Your personal opinions do not make you an expert.

Your personal practices do not make you an expert.

Honestly, if you haven’t studied and analyzed the increase/decrease of the striper population in both New England and the Cape Cod area in specific, you are not an expert.

This doesn’t make me an expert either.

But what I can tell you based on keeping up with these studies is that the striper population has increased greatly from the 1980’s and is being maintained, while increasing, well into our current era.  I can tell you that there are more schools of schoolie-sized fish in Cape Cod Bay than there have been in years. I can also tell you that the Great White Shark population probably has a lot to do with the scarcity of legal-sized fish in the area.

And adding to that, those of you that take the time to actually argue tooth and nail with me about us killing fish and ruining the population, I hope you realize that the fish are migrating, and Cape Cod Bay is just a stop on their list. Not seeing a lot of decent sized fish in the bay? That’s because they are moving north, as animals often do when they migrate. They have almost entirely moved out of the bay and should be showing up in Maine any day now if they haven’t already. That doesn’t mean they are extinct or endangered or that we are killing them, it simply means they have moved out of the area.

Again, I reiterate, if you are going to argue the logistics of the laws with anyone, it should be with a letter or an email to the law makers and policy holders. We abide by the STATE LAWS and I know some people think their opinions are more important than the laws, but they’re not.

Practice your catch and release, use your nets, have your opinions but please, respect local businesses and trust that we are simply following the rules and doing our jobs. You don’t agree with it? That’s on you. But being disrespectful and rude because of your own presumptions and disagreements simply won’t solve anything. If anything, it’ll create enemies and annoyances towards your fellow fisherman.

Links for Reference:

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/recreational-saltwater-fishing-regulations

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/learn-about-striped-bass

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/commercial-finfish-regulations

https://www.dragonflysportfishing.com/state-federal-catch-limit/

https://www.onthewater.com/massachusetts-enacts-striped-bass-conservation-regulations

 

 

 

 

 

Myth Busting

The one thing that I hate most about being in the “public eye” (to a very minimal degree) is that I am constantly facing scrutiny and criticism. I often feel like I could solve global warming or impeach Trump and individuals would still have negative things to say about it.

There have been many comments towards me since I left Field Trips. Comments that I have let slide or just ignored because a response didn’t feel warranted. But the more time I spend away from social media, the more assumptions are made. I’ve been very quiet about what’s been it the works for me, yet I am still being questioned about my “relationship” with my former boss and even the “real” reason I left Field Trips, down to people questioning my identity.

So let’s set the record straight on this myth busting edition of “Jamie Is Really Mad.”

  1. “They’re definitely secretly dating!” “That’s the only reason he brought her on the show, so he can f*** her.” “She’s just eye candy to increase his following.” — It genuinely saddens me that the majority of people who commented on my internship/job/whatever it was automatically assumed that we were dating or I was there for some ulterior motive. I understand the assumptions, don’t get me wrong. A young, good-looking, 23-year-old moves into an RV with her boss after knowing him for only a couple of days and the imagination runs wild for those of you who don’t know me. I’ve heard the raunchiest, most disgusting things coming from some people and I can’t help but wonder, how would your mother feel if she knew you were categorizing me based off of your predetermined assumptions about a man and a woman living together? How would your wife or your child feel if you made the same assumptions about their platonic relationships with men? I bet they’d be pretty hurt and offended. So what makes me any different? I’m not allowed to speak up because I’m representing a business and have to control my responses? It’s safe to say I’m pretty happy I’m no longer falling into the category of sleeping with my boss or just being a part of Field Trips because I’m nice to look at. That being said, many of you have used the term “break up” in response to me leaving. To break up with someone, you have to be in an intimate relationship with them, at least because that’s what I’m assuming the majority of people thought. I know, here I am talking about not making assumptions and I’m assuming your thought processes. Don’t get me wrong, you can have a break up with a friend or a family member and many people would probably argue that’s what they meant but we all know it’s not.
  2. “She was really pissed about leaving.” — You guys. Come on. This one is actually funny to me because do you HONESTLY think I would take the time to write such kind things about Rob in my last blog post if I was angry about leaving? If I was angry, I probably would have A. Not even acknowledged it on any social media platforms, B. Deleted him off of all of my social media C. Unfollowed him on social media or D. Pretended I never worked for Field Trips in the first place. I really thought I was clear with y’all about the reason behind all of this. I didn’t need to take time out of my day to satisfy everyone’s curiosity if I didn’t feel genuinely humbled and appreciative of the experience I was given. There is absolutely no animosity between either of us and we still remain good friends. If you don’t believe me, feel free to stalk both of our social medias to notice we do still follow each other and we like/comment/support each other’s posts and what not.
  3. “I heard Nattie up North is why they split.” “She’s working for him now.” “Nattie got more attention in Panama.” — I am not one to ever get jealous of another person’s success, talent or relationship (unless it involves questioning loyalty or trust). I had the privilege of meeting Natalie in Panama after following her on social media for quite some time. She quickly became someone I aspired to be like and somewhat of a celebrity in my eyes. And just like Rob, she is the type of person who is super authentic, down to earth, real in what she does and passionate about fishing. I can only speak for myself but, as far as I am concerned, Natalie had nothing to do with my end on Field Trips. When Rob and I spoke on the phone about my internship coming to an end, he had told me this was something he had decided BEFORE Panama. I’m not sure the truth behind that as Panama was tough for both of us, but Rob has never given me any reason not to trust him, therefore I believe him when he says that. And even if Natalie was going to co-host and begin working with Rob, I would be excited for them! I think they would make a great team together. But she never came up in our discussion about me leaving the show and she appeared in the Panama episodes so much because she was there to fish at Los Buzos, she’s a bit of a YouTube celebrity herself and because she caught some killer fish.
  4. “She’s playing for the other team now.” — This one really got under my skin. For a variety of reasons. None of which is anyone’s business but because we have some homophobes in the house, I guess it’s time to address it. This all goes back to assuming Rob and I were dating in the first place, which I didn’t mind, but to go out of your way to boldly state that I am “playing for the other team” is absolutely not OK and will not be tolerated by me. That being said, if you have a problem with me having a girlfriend, I suggest you unfollow me REAL quick. My personal life and my sexual preference is absolutely no one’s business and not something I appreciate anyone talking about. By all means, if you want to assume I’m sleeping with my boss, that’s all on you. You’ll look like the fool at the end of the day. But to make comments on my sexuality, just because I left the show, AS IF THAT’S THE REASON I LEFT THE SHOW, is disgusting to me. And I really, really mean it when I say, if you don’t support me for ME  (gay, straight, bi, queer, a spaghetti strainer, an airplane, a donkey), take that energy elsewhere because it has no place here. And I am very happy with my girlfriend and very comfortable with my sexuality. Most of the people saying that are probably just mad they don’t have a chance with me, let’s be real. *mic drop*

With all of that being said, I am really excited to share some of the stuff I have coming up. But because none of it is set in stone yet, I have been staying quiet about what’s going on behind the scenes. I do have a really cool trip planned in August of 2019 which I am beyond excited to talk about but I want to wait a little longer until we have everything fine tuned. And of course, I don’t want to announce it months in advance and have it fall through. But it’s going to be worth the wait, I promise.

The future is always going to be a mystery. But between my last post in the beginning of February and this post, at the end of February, I feel like things are starting to fall into place a little bit and I should be able to make some announcements soon about what’s going on and where my future is headed.

I appreciate all the love and support and I really hate using this platform to talk about negative things but I can’t just sit back and let these things be said without acknowledging them or defending myself. Remember to be kind, think about what you say and be aware that everyone is fighting some sort of battle that you know nothing about.

Thank you,
– J

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye to Field Trips

Per my last post, I know I have left a lot of you with unanswered questions to my unanswered thoughts. Rob and I originally had agreed to wait until he was back from his trip to Australia to announce the new development to Field Trips but after our recent conversation, he said he would be OK with me discussing it.

As many of you have asked and guessed, Rob and I have amicably decided to split ways. Although it definitely saddens me to no longer be a part of Field Trips, I know at the end of the day that this is best for both of us.

Nothing specific happened to spark this decision. I spoke in past posts about our difference in work ethics and how, although we operate differently, it works well. But, the more time we worked together, the more different our motivations had become. I found myself feeling really lost and unmotivated and of course, I can’t speak for him, but I’m sure he sensed that my demeanor was beginning to change.

I do think Panama is where I realized it the most. My time there was truthfully so eye-opening and although I was left with a lot of frustration and confusion, I really had the time of my life in the moments that I felt I could be myself. From the gorgeous sunrises on the black sand beaches, to the abundance of fresh fruit and fresh fish that we were blessed with, down to the people from all walks of life that I was lucky enough to meet and share this experience with, Panama was a trip I will never forget.

I spoke briefly about what took place while I was there and I tried to keep it as vague as possible because I don’t want to talk badly about anyone or anything, but at the end of the day, it’s not the business. It’s not the company. It’s not any one person. Nothing specific happened to make me feel the way that I felt. It was a lot of little things combined that made me feel as though I really didn’t belong there.

But all of that aside, I met the most amazing groups of people. My first week there was for the Kayak Fishing World Championship where we had guys from all over the world (The United States, Canada, Singapore, Switzerland, Australia, Germany, Costa Rica). Talk about a rowdy group of men. I am so used to the rambunctious personalities of competitive men so it was almost comforting to be surrounded by these guys every day.

The stories, the memories, the personalities, the knowledge — I wouldn’t trade any of it. All of them were so kind and humble, so encouraging and welcoming, so knowledgeable and skilled in their own tricks and trades. I can only hope I made the positive impact on them that they made on me.

As for my second week there, we had people from the United States, Canada and Ireland. I can not speak more highly of this group of people. It was definitely a different dynamic from the first group as many of these guys (both men and women) weren’t nearly as experienced as the guys we had the week before. But they all knew what they were doing and more importantly, they all knew how to fish. Even the other Jamie, who had never been in a kayak before, kicked ass out on the water battling swells and strong fish.

The guys from Ireland were some of the funniest people I’ve met. But forget it when they start drinking. It’s nearly impossible to understand them. I asked myself so many times, are they speaking English right now? But the beer kept pouring and the conversation kept flowing.

As for Rob and me, I don’t think I could say anything bad about him if I tried. I’m definitely sad my time on the road has come to an end and if I had the chance to do it over, I know what I would change. But thankfully, I am young and will have the opportunity to start over in another career where I will carry his advice and knowledge with me.

To take a chance on a complete stranger, like he did with me, is not something a normal person would do. But Rob is far from normal (in the best ways) and I was really lucky to have him as a boss and a roommate and can absolutely call him one of my life-long friends. Sure, we had our disagreements here and there and we both had issues with one another at certain times. But he gave me a chance when I needed one the most. He made my dreams of travelling come true and fed my passion for fishing.

I remember many of our conversations, most of them leaning towards the passion to change people’s lives and I can honestly say, Rob changed mine. I leave the RV with nothing but gratitude and respect for Rob.

I had visions of us taking over the world and one day having our own TV show about our travels and fishing adventures, but nothing ever goes as planned. And that’s OK. When one door closes, another door opens. And I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me. This internship gave me a taste of the possibilities I can make out of my life and even though I’m not much of a self-starter, I know I have a lot to offer to another business/employer.

Moral of my time on the road: You have the power to make the life you have always dreamed of having. Take a chance on yourself and others will take the chance with you, too. Believe in yourself, challenge yourself, push yourself. The outcome may not be what you thought, but you will learn so much on the journey. And the journey is the most important part; not the destination.

I don’t know my destination, but what fun is life if you do?

Unanswered Thoughts

The more time I spend away from my pen and paper (in this case, my computer and my keyboard) the more scattered and lost my thoughts become.

I took a class in high school at a local college on writing and one of the first exercises we did at the beginning of the course was writing for two minutes straight. The first thoughts that popped into our head. The most random of thoughts. The rules: our pens couldn’t leave the paper and we couldn’t pause to think. No thinking, just writing.

I think I’m going to begin this post the same way we began our classes. Don’t think, just write.

Go.

There are so many things I have in my head. So many things I want to write about but I don’t even know where to start. I’m babysitting the puppy this week. She is the sweetest little thing but she is so vocal. Constantly barks and cries when you’re not paying attention to her but the biggest snuggle monster. I want a puppy of my own one day. I have my dog now but he is a family dog, he isn’t MY dog. But before I can even think about getting a puppy, I have to think about moving out and to think about moving out, I have to think about a more stable income. Things I want to talk about but things I won’t be able to say for another couple of weeks. Panama came and went. That was an experience, one I’ll probably write about in the coming weeks as well. Or maybe today. Who knows. 

I’m sure after getting through my jumbled mess of thoughts, you have a lot of questions. What am I not able to write about yet? Well, I guess you have to wait and see. As for Panama, it was good and bad in a lot of ways. I left feeling very unwelcome and maybe that was something I brought on myself but I have a feeling it was something else entirely. And that all came to light in the following days after returning home.

I remember telling my mom a couple of days in, even if I was invited to go back to Los Buzos, I don’t think I would go. It’s hard for me to write negative things about a person or a business that has done so much for me, especially when I was there out of someone else’s pocket but man, I have never felt so out of place in my entire life. And that’s no ones fault but the dynamic was weird and as the first group left and the second group arrived, it became worse for me.

I’m not the only one who felt it. There were members of the second group who felt the same way about the situation but I ended up taking the brunt of it because A) I am a female and B) I wasn’t paying to be there. So I faced a lot of skepticism, a lot of sexism and just a lot of belittling my entire time there. I really felt like I had no place being there. I often found myself wondering out loud, what the f*ck am I here for?

That being said, those who paid were treated as they should have been. Those who did not pay (me) were not treated so great by individuals who I will not name.

One night I remember specifically, I ended up separating myself from the group and sitting down to write. I’ll share it, I guess. I would like to share more of my authentic writing like this, but I fear judgement.

January 15, 2019 at 8:47 p.m. (Pizza Night Week Two): I wish I could pinpoint exactly how I feel. It’s like the words don’t want to flow from my mouth that is always so fluid in the worst moments. I can’t seem to relate to those I am surrounded by but maybe it’s who I choose to surround myself with, as if I have a choice in most situations. I stare at my reflection and although I recognize myself, I don’t recognize who I have become. I feel like I’m constantly waiting for something to change but am I making conscious choices to change it? As if i know what IT is.

Loneliness sneaks up on me at the strangest times, when I’m surrounded by like-minded people with common interests, rooms filled with strangers that pay no mind to me. Why am I here. I long for recognition and appreciation and I pick apart my flaws when others around me have what I lack. A fluidity, an acceptance, a recognition, a light. I fear mine is dark. I fear no one will understand the depths of my mind in the way that I long to be understood. I fear no one will see me for what I contain, rather than for what I lack. 

I am surrounded by empty voices, voids of people speaking and breaking the muffled silence I am caught up in. Bits of their conversations slip into my head and I jump from voice to voice, clinging to something I can connect with. But I am stuck in the silence. My own silence that I have created. The words won’t form on my bland palette. I choke on my silence, I choke on my breath. I wish I could spit it out onto the plate in front of me. The voices fade once more and I am lost again with the stars above. Floating through my mind like satellites in space, waiting to discover my light. 

[Cue panic attack]

I don’t have much to say about that. Much like Forrest Gump when he finished a story and effortlessly glided into the next one. I finish one train of thought and effortlessly fall into an abyss of similar thoughts that have no place in my head. But they’re there anyways. Regardless, I needed this loneliness to discover the clarity I have been seeking. I needed to panic and write and isolate myself in order to see the dynamic of the situation as clearly as I see it now.

I have never belonged. And maybe most look at that as a weakness, but I have chosen to see it as a strength. Maybe because I have no choice but maybe because it makes me unique. When I am in a group of people, listening to them discuss their days and their experiences, I am often struck with the feeling that no one is being authentic with their words and I zone out. I mentally remove myself from the situation and let my mind wonder to places they don’t often go because I am rarely alone.

And sure, it pains me more often than not to feel like I’m not understood but I don’t feel as though anyone has truly tried to understand me. I’m not even sure I understand myself most days but it’s moments like these, moments like those, that I begin to see myself even more. Even if none of my words make sense in the moment they’re being thought, they often make sense later after I’ve had time to reflect.

This blog has no agenda. This blog has no theme. Much like my life and my thoughts. If we did the same thing every day with the same mentality, there would be no growth. And I find that growth often stems from the most uncomfortable or painful situations. Not saying Panama was either of those adjectives, but it definitely was a place where I was not comfortable and felt more like I was being tolerated rather than accepted.

That’s not a feeling I ever wish to feel again, which is why my removal from certain situations has been warranted, accepted and even appreciated as it now gives me time to focus on myself and my own future rather than someone else’s.

More to come soon.

 

 

Dating on the Road

Caution: Parents and family members of mine are advised to stop reading here.

Seriously, Mom and Dad – do us both a favor, let’s not make holidays awkward – don’t read this one. (If you choose to keep reading, pretend you didn’t).

When I took this job and was told I would be living in an RV full-time with my only source of consistent human interaction being my boss, my first thought was, “How am I going to meet guys on the road?”

You know what I really mean though. It’s like air; it’s not important unless you aren’t getting any.

Simply put, it hasn’t happened. Nor do I see it happening in the near future.

Establishing, and maintaining, any sort of relationship on the road, let alone a brand new one, is not easy. Sure, I could go on dates but it would go a little something like this.

Hypothesis: I can totally meet someone on the road. It might be through a crappy dating website like Bumble or Tinder but I can do it.

Introduction – Hello, my name is Jamie. I travel cross-country living in an RV full-time with my male boss who is eight years older than me. But we’re not dating or hooking up. I probably won’t end up hanging out with you and I definitely won’t date you, but tell me I’m pretty and that you like animals and maybe we can figure something out.

We agree to go on a “date.” Date used as a loose term because to me, it’s really just a waste of my time but I’ll humor you, stranger.

Tell me everything I need to know about you to convince me to go home with you.

If I don’t feel uncomfortable or creeped out, pretend we’ve known each other for more than 35 minutes so I don’t feel as bad about my future decisions.

Contemplate scenario of being raped or murdered. Yeah, I used the R word. It’s a pretty common thought every time women leave their homes and more so when they date. Poor men though, being thought of as potential rapists. How sad. Don’t get too close, my thoughts might ruin your reputation.

Conclusion: go home with said stranger that could rape/murder me (unlikely scenario) or go home to my bed (likely scenario).

Parents, if you have read this far, don’t worry – said scenario has not happened because realistically, I don’t have time to date. Why? Because what are the odds that I am going to take three hours out of my day to meet someone that I probably have no future with when I could be doing something productive? Slim to none. We’ll go with none.

Now, on top of all of the awkward swiping though dating apps and settling on someone that you could possible see yourself making out with, I have to ask Rob to borrow the truck. Tell him that I have a “date” and scramble around the trailer getting ready.

I’ll let you in on a secret – getting ready for a date, when you don’t have a blow dryer or a pair of heels, is time consuming and definitely not worth it. Total waste of make-up, too.

So, say said date happens. You borrow your bosses truck, request an evening off, and drive down to a random bar, in a random town, in a state that you’ve never been to before, to meet up with a random stranger you met online.

Guess what I found at the end of this magical, happy, love rainbow?

A guy in an ugly Christmas sweater that ordered meatloaf and made me split the bill with him.

Magical.

Said date lasted no more than two hours, after I had worked 14 hours of strenuous and time consuming filming.

I trudged home through the mountains and was asleep before 10. Before 10, on a night that I had a date, on a Saturday and before my parents were even home. My parents are in a time zone an hour ahead of me.

What does that say about dating on the road?

Unless I think you might be my husband, it’s not happening.

As Ariana Grande once said,

thanku next

 

Music City U.S.A.

Part of the reason Rob hired me was to help him differentiate between work and play, so he says. His work ethic is admirable and I hope one day to have the same ambition and motivation to sit for 16 hours at a time and grind out an edit or finish a project in one go. But finding a middle ground between work and fun is just as important as meeting deadlines and producing content.

We have been balancing the two quite well between hiking through state parks and trying to immerse ourselves in the truest parts of each state we visit. The part of New York we stayed in, for example, is well-known for it’s wine trails. Naturally, we had to visit a winery (that was actually four wineries in one) and try their unique flavors. And I may have gotten a bit drunk by the end of the whole thing. Check that out. 

Growing up horseback riding and being as obsessed with animals as I am, we had to go riding in Kentucky. It wasn’t even a question. The leaves were changing, the weather was beautiful and I hadn’t been on a horse in at least two months.

Tennessee meant Nashville.

I’ve dreamt of going to Nashville since I discovered what the city was all about. I grew up listening to country music with my dad in the backseat of the jeep, flying down back roads on crisp, summer days. Memories I will carry with me for the rest of my life. He introduced me to my love for music in many ways and although I can’t sing, I’ll always belt out those tunes in the car.

Of course, being the naïve five-year-old that I was, I assumed every single country music star lived in Nashville. I pictured flat landscapes, Taylor Swift strumming her guitar on the sidewalks, backlit bars on every single street corner, cowboy boots and ass-less chaps. Any stereotypical scene from an old Western film; you name it, I pictured it.

And I wanted to see it.

I always thought it would be with my mom or dad, never while traveling cross-country living in an RV full-time with a stranger. I keep using that line but realistically, Rob is anything but a stranger at this point and truthfully, I don’t think I would want to travel the country with anyone else doing anything different than what I am doing right now. (Right now I’m on an airplane flying to Chicago to catch my connecting flight to Boston for Thanksgiving – but you get the idea).

Nashville was absolutely nothing like I expected. We got to the city and instead of seeing those Western bars and saloons I had pictured, we were greeted by towering skyscrapers. Although, there were a lot of people walking around in cowboy hats and cowboy boots. No ass-less chaps, though. You can understand my disappointment, I’m sure.

Our first stop of the day was at the Country Music Hall of Fame which was also nothing like I had expected. Three floors full of names and pictures of musicians I had never heard of who helped shape what country music is today. They’d probably roll over in their graves if they heard the pop-style, modernized country that we’re listening to nowadays.

Our second stop was a little more exhilarating. Being the terrible influence that I am, Rob and I went to get tattoos. His first and my eighth (sorry Mom). Rob has this weird thing where if you explain things in too much scientific detail, he gets really nauseous so he wouldn’t let me explain the process of tattooing beforehand. He kind of went in blind but thankfully, my tattoo artist started before his so he was able to watch my reaction and get used to the sounds of the instruments and sights of the needles.

To end our five/six hours in the city, we went out on the strip. I don’t actually know what you call it but that’s what they would call it in Vegas and that’s exactly what it felt like.

Nashvegas.

We came to a traffic light on Broadway, which is the main street in downtown Nashville, and to our left and right as far as the eye could see, there were lit up signs for bars with recognizable names like Margaritaville and Jason Aldean’s. We were hesitant to settle on the first bar we stumbled across but excited to see the nightlife of the city since neither of us have gone out in a while. About two and a half months for me and roughly the same for Rob, that I know of.

It felt like there was so much to see and even if we spent the whole night there, we wouldn’t have seen it all.

Every single bar had live music streaming from it’s windows from rock, to country to pop. We stopped at the second or third bar we found and ended up having such a fun night. The band was incredible, sang newer country music and involved the crowd throughout their entire performance. They played classic songs as well as old classics and everyone was dancing around the stage and buying the band shots.

They also had this amazing fiddler player. I have heard people play the fiddle before but never the way she did. The Devil Went Down to Georgia is one of the most iconic songs known for its fiddling and she played it brilliantly. If we could have watched her play all night, we probably would have stayed and listened to her until they kicked us out. I had the chills the whole time she was on stage.

We drove back late but the exhaustion was well worth it for the night we had. I really hope to get back one day for a long weekend or something similar. Probably will end up having my bachelorette party there if I ever get married. Rob will definitely be invited to that girls night.

That’s the most amazing thing about this little journey – crossing off cities and statues of places I’ve longed to see since I learned there was more to the world than Cape Cod. I imagine it was like finding out the world wasn’t flat.

So much to explore, so much to do and see and I know there are more little adventures and places waiting for me to find them and fall in love with them.

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish…

Being from a small, coastal town in Massachusetts, living more than five minutes from the ocean felt like a nightmare to me. But, as I travel across the country in a toy hauler, I have noticed that most states are landlocked. Twenty-seven to be exact. Obvious to most but something I was oblivious to.

That’s 126, 352, 125 million people that potentially may never see the ocean in their lifetime. Thirty-nine percent of the United States’ population. How did I figure that out, you’re probably wondering. I did the math because I was curious, and I read somewhere that people like statistics when they’re reading lengthy articles.

Landlocked_US_States.png

Why does this matter? Because I will be spending the next four years traveling within the oceans’ borders of the country with no ocean in sight, (something I never dreamed of doing), except on special occasions.

And Louisiana was one of these occasions.

Arriving at Pointe Aux Chene, I could smell the murky, salt marsh before I stepped out of the car. The temperature was up around the 80’s, humidity was in full force and I was so excited to feel the sun on my face and breathe in that beautiful salty air for a few days.

I probably said it a million times while we were paddling through the marsh, but it reminded me so much of home. Cape Cod is filled with marshy areas and inlets. Two different states, two different oceans (I don’t know if you’d consider the Gulf of Mexico an ocean but, you get the point), hundreds of miles between the two yet, I felt more at home here than I have in any other state.

IMG_2378

For my birthday, my mom got me a sterling-silver bracelet that says “Salty Girl” on it to help me remember where I come from. Salt runs through my veins and coming back to it reminded me why I never wanted to leave in the first place. So obviously, I was more eager than ever to get my butt on the water.

Fishing for reds is different than any other type of fishing I’ve done. There’s two ways to do it; sight casting or just blindly casting and hoping for the best. Unfortunately, the water was murky and we weren’t able to sight cast, which is when you very quietly stand-up paddle through the marsh looking for tailing reds or loud splashes. They are very skittish fish and get spooked easily, therefore, fishing for them requires technique and stealth (both of which I don’t really have yet).

If you’re just blindly casting, like we were, casting towards the edge of the grass or little nooks and skinny canals in the marsh is your best bet.

Still, there were so many different occasions when I would kayak right over a red without seeing it and it would swirl in the mud less than a foot below me and shoot into the grass. Or, I would see it tailing, get excited and over cast or under cast, spooking the fish and just getting frustrated with myself in the process.

That’s the thing about fishing for reds. You have to be quiet but you’re so full of excitement and adrenaline, it’s hard to land your cast perfectly. At least for me, but even the most experienced fisherman have this problem as well.

The only way to get out into the marsh for us was to be towed by the skiff that our photographer (Brooks Beatty) and videographer (Jameson Redding) were using to film us during the day. We used straps to tie ourselves to one another and got a lot of looks while we were being pulled single file out to the fishing grounds.

Once we got there, we split up and I practiced using the power pole to hold me in place while standing and casting. On my fifth cast, I landed one of the first fish of the day. A feisty, beautiful, slot Red Fish that I yanked out of a weeded patch in front of me. Slot means it’s a keeper between 16 and 26 inches.

redfish1

Photography Credit: Robert Field

In my post about Kentucky, I had mentioned how rewarded I felt after persisting all day and finally catching that little largemouth. This feeling was pretty damn close to that. I have never fished for reds before and I was fishing with very experienced men. Being a woman in this industry, I find myself feeling pressured quite often to perform well and keep up with the guys. In this moment, landing a fish so early in the day before most everyone else, I felt exhilarated and really proud of myself.

I wake up every morning chasing that feeling. Whether that be writing a killer blog post that people can relate to, editing a really difficult portion of an episode, hitting a crazy PR in the gym or catching a new species or new personal best, I am excited to see what every day brings. Because it’s always something new and challenging with this lifestyle.

I don’t know what I did to deserve this amazing life of mine but I have such a great appreciation for every moment of the day. I try to live as presently as I can and this is advice I would give to anyone. Stay present, stay in the moment because things can change in the blink of an eye, when you least expect it.

It’s hard for me to preach my beliefs because many of you won’t understand. “It’s harder said than done” is something I hear often when people ask me how I made this choice to do what I do. After I tell them and urge them to follow their dreams too, that is the most common response I get.

And it’s true — but everything is easier said than done. Fear is the biggest thing that holds us back as humans. Fear of commitment, fear of change, fear of failure, fear of being uncomfortable.

But let me tell you something, if you are fearful of chasing your true desires and changing your life to suit your happiness, you won’t ever grow. You will remain in the same unhappy relationship, the same dreaded 9 – 5 job, the same boring town, because it’s what you’re comfortable with. You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable to reshape your life.

This is just my opinion but at 23-years-old, to have left my small hometown and jumped on the road with a man I barely know (who has now become one of my greatest friends), all to pursue my dreams. I can tell you, it was damn worth it.

 

Bluegrass State

These last couple of weeks, I’ve felt a whirlwind of emotions. A dab of homesickness, a splash of not feeling good enough, a sprinkle of self-doubt, a twinge of disappointment. Basically, the recipe for a quitter.

West Virginia left me feeling really pressured to just do better, be better. I left feeling like maybe this lifestyle isn’t meant for me after all. Even though I really want it to be. I considered even looking for other journalism jobs online and giving that 9-5 desk job a try after all.

A lot of that pressure stemmed from not being able to hook a fish in West Virginia, especially after watching everyone around me catch fish. It also came from feeling like I was a burden to Rob. Every time I try something new or have a problem, he has to take time away from fishing/editing to guide me or help me. I found myself feeling really out of place and unable to accept my small failures as what they were.

I needed Kentucky to be different.

Our first (and only) day of fishing was a hard one. Chase, our guide for the day, had recommended Elkhorn Creek as a great spot to float and catch Smallmouth bass. Our last creek float, in West Virginia, I got skunked. Between the mini-rapids and fast moving water, casting and landing a fish wasn’t easy.

But Kentucky was different.

I went into the float more determined and more confident than the last one, knowing that I was capable of keeping up and catching a fish. I think it helped that Chase wasn’t super experienced with kayaking and I felt like we were equal and in this challenge together.

By the days end, Rob had caught a handful, Chase had caught one or two and I hadn’t caught any. Seven hours and I had hooked up once, but I really don’t count it because Rob cast for me.

A couple days prior, when we were leaving WV, I had mentioned that I didn’t catch a fish in the state. And Rob responded that if I had just been persistent and not given up when it got hard, I probably would have caught one.

Going into this float, I made sure that I got the filming done early so I could focus all of my time and attention on catching a fish. I was determined. As the take out came into view, I was feeling really discouraged (and super hungry) so I put my rod down and decided to just call it quits for the day. Ordinarily, I would accept the failure as it was and sulk for the rest of the day. But instead, I picked up the rod and paddled over to the other side of the creek where I threw a few more casts and finally hooked up on a very small Smallmouth bass. I got it to the kayak, lifted it out of the water and it immediately fell of the hook.

I was angry, swore a handful of times but felt motivated because at this point, I had hooked into a fish on my own. Why couldn’t I do it again? The sun was setting but my adrenaline was high as I made my way under the bridge. At this point, I could see the truck and I knew I was running out of time but I kept pushing and finally landed a Largemouth, and the second largest fish of the day.

jamie largemouth

I have never been more proud of myself. Not when I conquered my anxiety. Not when I flew alone for the first time. Not when I graduated college. This. This moment right here is where I found myself being over-the-moon excited for myself. Because I persisted. I kept going. I didn’t give up even though it would be the easier option. I didn’t accept my defeat. I just felt like I earned this. There truthfully wasn’t a second in the day when I stopped fishing. Maybe here and there to drink some water or take a bite of my granola bar but even when I was chewing, I threw my line out. I stayed patient, I stayed persistent, I stayed focused and I persevered.

Such a little accomplishment but it meant so damn much to me. My mom always told me that I am the self-satisfying type of person. Even when I graduated college, everyone made such a fuss over it and I sat there thinking to myself, “this really isn’t a big deal.” I did what I was supposed to do, I went to school, I got my degree in four years and I did it by 22. But then what? I have a piece of paper saying I did something? That wasn’t enough for me. Feeling like my hard work paid off, like it did with this Largemouth, was enough. A feeling I will never forget and the most rewarding fish I have ever caught (for now).

Such a good lesson in not giving up. One more cast, one more paddle, one more bait. You  never know what the next fallen tree has hiding underneath its branches.

meep

 

 

 

Country Road, Take Me Home

Oh, West Virginia. What a weird state you are. The people, the weather, the Internet. If you have Verizon, forget about traveling here. The second we drove over the border from Pennsylvania, my service went from full bars and LTE to Extended 1x. I’ve made way too many trips to the laundromat and the McDonald’s down the street to answer mail and upload content for my devoted 24 blog followers and 86 YouTube subscribers.

Seriously, I am sitting in a cracked booth in a run down McDonald’s right now, clicking away while the scent of soggy french fries and overweight meth addicts wafts through the air. I’m not joking. I think 90% of this towns population is on drugs. Just this town though, the rest of the state has been pretty cool and so have the people.

I don’t really have anything profound or life-changing to write for you guys. Honestly, since I started publicizing my blog more, I have felt a lot of pressure to write about every single state rather than writing what I want to write and when I want to write it. Something I am struggling with because, to be honest, nothing noteworthy or mind blowing happened while we were here.

I didn’t even catch a fish. Not a single one. I went fishing twice and the first day, I had four fish on that I couldn’t land and the second day, I was so focused on not flipping my kayak in the baby rapids that I didn’t really try to catch fish. I did use a bait caster for the first time though without instruction and did pretty well. The guys told me the one I was using isn’t considered “light tackle” so when I try to cast a normal sized one, I’m probably going to get a lot of backlash and screw up the rod and reel. Sorry in advance, Rob.

I did see a pig though. A real porker. Ha. No really though, it was huge. And I held one of Rob’s fish — a Wiper (seen below). (Striper + White Bass = Wiper). I filleted the two Walleye they caught out of the Ohio River with a Bubba Blade and somehow managed to do it really well given the nature of the knife. We were advised by the campground owners not to eat any of the fish caught there, but guys being guys, they devoured it and me being the fish-hating individual I am, didn’t try a single bite. I still ended up throwing up most of the night, though. I think it was the plastic-fueled smoke from the fire. I inhaled way too much of it, and almost sat on a needle, but I was cold so I sucked it up and paid for it later.

DSC09105

Photography Credit: Robert Field

I was thinking about this the other day — If fish from the ocean is called seafood, what is fish from fresh water called? I can’t call Walleye seafood because it came out of a river but is it considered seafood? Things I wonder when I don’t have access to the Internet.

I am going to google it. Hold on.

Alright, here we go. It’s been solved.

The Interwebs have concluded that fresh water fish is not classified as seafood. Seafood is anything that comes out of the sea and is deemed edible by humans. But, in grocery stores and restaurants, most freshwater fish, like Salmon and Tilapia, can be found in the seafood section. Why? For simplicity purposes, but for correct terminology purposes, it would be solely considered as “fish.” Not only is their habitat different but their overall chemical makeup is different as well.. For example, fish found in saltwater and fish found in freshwater contain different levels of omega-3 fatty acids and nutrients, with saltwater fish containing more heart-healthy nutrients than freshwater. Conclusion? Saltwater fish are healthier than freshwater fish and freshwater fish are just fish, not seafood. Mind blown.

Moral of, West Virginia was not as exciting I had hoped. But a lot of exciting things happened. Joe, Nick, Rob and I made a hobo fire on the edge of the Ohio River, used broken driftwood to melt cheese and crackers from Rob’s “adult lunchable” for dinner and hiked over a mile back to our cars in the middle of the night on train tracks.

I did my first river float in the kayak with Rob and Nate, learned how to throw a bait caster on my own, watched Rob catch his first ever, non-hybrid Musky and met Nate’s fiance, Lauren, the day he proposed to her.

I say it almost every time we leave another state, it’s never the state that amazes me. It’s all the people we meet along the way. And even though we ran into some crazy, redneck, banjo playing, hill people, it’s all an adventure in itself and one I wouldn’t change for the world.

Except for the Internet. I would change that.