Archive | July, 2013

Home Sweet Not Home

8 Jul


A completely unrelated photo of Pittsburgh at night.

Yesterday I stood in the airport, tired and fuzzy-eyed, wearing a ridiculous maxi dress that now takes the place of pajamas in my travels.

I was waiting for a flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix when the gate next to me began boarding. “All passengers to Salt Lake City board at Gate F7. All passengers to Salt Lake City board at Gate F7.”

My heart broke a little bit and I almost forced my way onto the plane. “That’s me. Yes, I’m Mary Johnson. Yes, I’m whoever you want me to be. Yes, get me on that plane right now so I can go see the people I love!”

I didn’t do that, obviously. I simply watched and waited politely, envious of each person getting on the flight I should have been on. I then took my own flight to Phoenix.

Oh Phoenix, land of hot weather and perfect internships and no attachments. Phoenix with its mattress that leaves my back with welts and its Café Rio when I am missing home.

Phoenix, Phoenix, Phoenix.

I have nothing against Phoenix. But I also have no love for Phoenix.

Last week I was at a BBQ with a bunch of people I didn’t know. As the introductions were made and the inevitable small talk began I realized just how jumbled my life has been for the past few years.

I’m usually pretty good at fielding small talk questions, at knowing which topics will be most confusing for others, at easing the awkwardness of having to explain my life story when all they were really looking for was a yes/no.

This day, however, was different.

Someone asked me where I was from and I said, “Salt Lake.”

They then asked me if flights were expensive this time of year from Salt Lake and I said, “Well actually I flew from Phoenix.”

And then they said, “Oh, that’s right, you’re in school. Do you go to ASU?” I explained I was at Pepperdine. Studying writing. Which turned into a bigger conversation.

And then the cherry on top was that one of the girls there was a social worker, and she, too, recieved her MSW from the University of Utah. I mentioned I had done the same thing, because really, what are the odds?

This brought up social work. And London. And quitting social work.

After about 15 minutes of this small talk that continued confusing others and myself, the group moved on to bocce and baseball, and the girl I was speaking with said something like, “Wow, you’ve really been all over the place.”

Wow, indeed.

The last few years of my life have been a rollercoaster of choices and moving. I’ve moved to fulfill lifelong dreams. I’ve moved for my career. I’ve moved to satisfy that wanderlust that creeps inside of me at all times whispering, “Maybe here you will discover whatever it is that you’re missing. Maybe here you’ll discover the real you.”

I’ve moved and moved and moved, and even though I’ve chosen these changes, some days I am so tired of moving, so tired of starting over that I have no words. Just exhaustion.

Yesterday I boarded a plane to a place where I have no attachments, was picked up by an ever-kind roommate, collapsed on my hateful mattress and slept.

Maybe one day I will find roots and an easy way to small talk about my life. Until then…

Four Things You May Not Know About Pittsburgh

6 Jul

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1. McDonald’s does NOT do the $1 any size drink deal in the Steel City.  (I KNOW.)

2. In order to pull off an Emma Watson/Perks of Being a Wallflower/David Bowie “Heroes” reenactment in the Fort Pitt tunnel you need three people.  One to take the picture.  One to drive.  One to pose.  Unfortunately, I am still looking for a driver. And a picture taker.

3. Primanti Brothers serves fries on their sandwiches, thus setting a new sandwich standard henceforth, forevermore and straight on til morning.

4. My hair loves the humidity, and not in an ironic, I-must-shave-it-off way, but rather in an it’s-a-Christmas-miracle way.

God bless us, everyone.

Also Pride, Passion, Pittsburgh Pirates.  Because that’s a thing.

Happiness And Unhappiness

3 Jul


The other day I realized I was happy.

I had to pause what I was doing and think it over,  “Wait, today I’m happy.  Is that right?

It’s a funny thing, happiness.  Sneaky little devil, really.

Happiness creeps up on me when I’m not looking, distracted with other things.  It arrives quietly, and takes a seat in the corner of my mind, just out of view.  Sometimes I don’t even notice it’s there at all until it’s disappeared again.

Happiness is too often in retrospect.

Unhappiness, however, arrives with a bang, a loud proclamation, a PAY ATTENTION TO ME RIGHT NOW, JILL in neon letters across the sky. Unhappiness demands all of my energy and presses upon me that this is urgent, this cannot be ignored.

Unhappiness is easy to be consumed in.

Happiness, on the other hand, is simply easy.

Andy Warhol

3 Jul


I really don’t care that much about Beauties. What I really like are Talkers.

–Andy Warhol

Today was a pop art, pencil, pictures in Pittsburgh kind of day.


The Great Outdoors, Or Something Like It

2 Jul


Let’s talk for a minute about that time my extended family rode ATVs and side-by-sides through the Heber mountains.

First, I think it’s necessary to point out that while my extended family may often ride motorcycles in the dirt, my immediate family, aka the”J5s,”  is not used to this sort of activity.  The J5s’ idea of a rip-roaring time is a brisk walk or perhaps a tight Wimbledon bracket challenge.  If we’re feeling really rebellious we might try a new word game!  ATV riding, the great outdoors…not so much in our vocabulary.

My mother once famously said that the only reason she would ever camp would be if she no longer owned a car.

It should be noted this is not an attitude problem. My mother enjoys all sorts of activities. For instance, she and I love to engage in heated, all-night discussions on gender roles in Gone With the Wind.

Some people like the outdoors.  Some people like Rhett Butler.

Moving along.

My father was given the (unenviable) task of driving me, Mam, and Jess in this dune buggy thing, straight out of the Indiana Jones Adventure. We were a loud dune buggy. A  screaming dune buggy.  An “I feel like I’m on a Disney ride!” dune buggy.

Bless him.

And now for a few pictures to explain our journey.


My mom, usually the first woman to weasel her way out of a picture with an, “I’ll take this one!” kept saying, “I look so good dirty!” and jumping into random pictures, all smiles and poses.  It’s like I’d never met her.


My Paps was apparently unfamiliar with the faux-candid photo. When told to “pretend you’re driving” he smiled for the camera.   This, the man who claims he cannot smile on cue.  We’ll save the all-night conversation about gender roles and pictures for another time, but know it’s there and it’s real.


Even though I rode with my face covered as shown in this beautiful shot, I still managed to be so dirty at the end of the whole ordeal that people lined up to take pictures with me.  It was like I was a prop, one of the princesses at Disneyland or a dressed-up gladiator outside the Colosseum, making money as the entertainment.

This last shower I finally felt like the dirt was out of my hair.

Until we meet again, Great Outdoors. Until we meet again.

SheKnows Monday

1 Jul


I know, I know, “SheKnows Saturday” and “SheKnows Sunday” are much catchier titles for a blog post, but, look, I’m not responsible for when my content is released on the site and today has been a big day.

Hashtag sorry I’m not sorry.

(I already regret writing that.)

Here are my latest and greatest articles for SheKnows, all of which have epic sagas behind them:

America’s Smartest Cities. Guys, a Utah city made the top 20.

How to pretend you’ve watched Mad Men aka what happens when a film/television student writes for SheKnows.

Fruit salad sammies

Also, now would be the time for me to lament the death of Google Reader and tell you all that I’m trying out this Bloglovin’ thing.  Follow me here.

Happy Monday to all and to all a good fruit salad sandwich.