Because You Read Me

Because you read me, I wrote more.

Because I wrote more, I got better.

Because I got better, I was accepted into grad school.

And now, I’ll be writing less.


It’s funny how we spend our lives wandering in circles, thinking we’re traveling in straight lines from Point A to Point B(etter).

When I was 16, I read Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War. The author didn’t mean to convince me I had the makings of an international photojournalist… but she did. I slept with her words under my pillow at night, and they led directly to my next big decision.

I went to college at UNC-Chapel Hill because it had the best journalism program in the country. (I followed straight lines, like I said.) Then I came upon an intersection: the week before starting classes, while on my very first backpacking trip, I slipped on wet rocks and sliced my shin down to the bone. Gazing at previously unknown layers of tissue and fat, I realized I’d never been so badly injured. But, looking out over mountains beyond mountains, all I felt was a profound calm. The wilderness showed me I was stronger than I imagined, and that knowledge lured me down another path. My straight line curved: by the time my wound scarred over, I’d traded journalism for anthropology and an imagined future guiding outdoor expeditions around the world.

Of course, my newly charted lines curved again and again. Studying for a semester in Mexico led me to loving Julio, and he became a new link to learning Spanish and living abroad. After a broken heart sent me home to North Carolina, being bilingual was a path into joining the field of global public health. More lines led to marriage, a house, and three dogs. And then, unexpectedly, starting a new job with Duke’s writing program led me to a friend. Her suggestion that I author a blog seemed like just another line shooting off into the unknown, but the thing is: enough lines drawn at specific angles form a hexagon. And a hexagon with the corners sanded down by time looks an awful lot like… a circle.

This Monday and Tuesday, I went to my grad school orientation. Guess where I’m going? UNC-Chapel Hill. Guess what I’m studying? Communication, in the freaking School of Journalism. (I hear it’s still the best program in the country.)


Half the message of this post is an update: With my new focus on school, I’ll be lucky if I post on this blog twice a month. I won’t get to read you all like I used to either, but I’ll think about you all the time. It was writing for this blog that reminded me how much storytelling means to me; how many forms it can take and the vital ways it can change the world. It was working on collaborations with some of you that convinced me I have a real talent for editing and digital publishing.

You were there when I studied for the GRE. You were there when I created my first multimedia project. You were there when I decided I would always write free.

I learned about my acceptance to grad school when the program director called me at work. You guys, she called to thank me for writing. She thanked me for the words on this blog and the ways they moved her. Essentially, Tip of My Tongue is the reason I was admitted to my graduate program, and now I’m going to learn how to make a living doing what I love! If you hadn’t read me in the first place and commented back, this blog would never have gained that kind of power.

Among all the overlapping circles of life, my online friends have become a steady landmark. Thank you all, so much, for helping me find my way.

80 responses to “Because You Read Me

  1. Oh Jennie!
    My heart is singing happiness for you this morning. Best wishes, love and happy happy joy joy as you start this next adventure. You’ve inspired me in more ways than you know and I fully expect to see your pretty face on an author page down the road. xo

    • See, you’re someone I wish I’d gotten to know better when I had more time! But we’ll still see each other and share some happy happy joy joy from time to time, I’m sure of it. πŸ™‚

      P.S. Your prediction? Ditto, but about you.

  2. How wonderful! Congratulations! I’m very happy for you. I hope you’ll still keep all of us in the “blogosphere” updated. Like you, I feel like blogging has really helped me in my professional life (even though no one in my real life even knows about my blog!). πŸ™‚

    • Thanks so much! And I will post when I can – sometimes more, sometimes less. I just didn’t want anyone worrying if I wasn’t around for a solid month.

      And I’m glad you’re in the same boat I am, with blogging being equal parts professional development and passion. I had NO idea when I started writing here how much I would learn.

  3. The earth is falling in a straight line over curved space, therefore, we orbit. Orbits, especially the wobbly ones, are so much more fun than an anything straight because you (eventually) get to see the thing of interest from from every angle before sliding out to look at something else.

  4. Felicidades, Jennie! Bravo! Just when I was getting to know you more and enjoying your talent. 😦 This is so exciting and quite the full circle. I will look forward to your postings, how ever many it may be. πŸ™‚

    • As J tells me every time I mourn the recent blog-for-homework exchange… “But now when you do blog, you’ll write better than ever!” I have to hope that’s true, since I have some genius professors.

      …Y claro, voy a buscarte aqui de vez en cuando para practicar mi espanol! πŸ˜‰

    • Nancy, I’m running after it as fast as I can! The zigging and zagging keeps me on my toes!

      Thank you for having been such a great positive force ever since I found you through the Sisterwives.

  5. Super congrats Jennie. Wishing you a wholeheartedly wholesome year of words… It’s been fun! My blog has also opened up doors for me and without it and people like you, I know my journey wouldn’t have been half much fun πŸ™‚ PS don’t forget my poetry book debuts Sept 1st on Amazon!!! Observant Observings – notice the subliminal messages??! x

    • YES.


      It’s so much better to be surprised than plan everything, especially when life plays one of its sneaky long games. Overwhelming gratitude for forces bigger than yourself is a damn good feeling.

  6. So many congratulations to you, Jennie! We’ll miss you around here, but I’m glad that you’ve received this opportunity. Love and luck to you. I’ll be sure to be here to read when you get the chance to write here. ❀

    • Sam! When you post over at the Sisterwives, I’ll be there to read for sure! Thank you for the love and luck and the long-ago guest post… it’s been a pleasure all the way. πŸ™‚

    • I’ll still be seeing you now and then… but I’ll always smile when I think of you talking about flowers in my hair. Hugs to you, cool dude. Getting to know you has really meant a lot.

  7. Oh my, Jennie. Well done. I’m so proud for you and of you and so happy that you get to take this next step in your life. What a journey it has been so very…remarkable thus far, but I think the best of it is yet to come. I can’t wait to see what you offer the world.

    Thank you for sharing your words here. Thanks for letting me be a part of it. I will take whatever you can offer, and I will savor it like a good glass of wine.

    Godspeed, my friend.

    • Do you know this song by Fun.?

      It has this great line: “Go on, go on, go on, if you were thinking that the worst is yet to come.” Which your comment made me think of, ’cause no matter how busy I get, I have to think this program will show me all kinds of brand new beautiful things – the busy won’t be bad at all in exchange for what I get. Bring on the good, and bring on more people like you! (There aren’t many, that I’m sure of.)

      Someday soon, we really will have that wine – in person! Until then, I’ll come looking for you every time I need a random rap-off. Like what?!

      • Love this song. Have loved it for so very long. Remember it also says, “For once, for once, for once, I get the feeling that I’m right where I belong.”

        I am as excited for you as I would be if we had already had multiple bottles of wine together…in person.

        And a rap off…well I’m beginning to feel like a rap god, rap god.
        All my people from the front to the back nod, back nod
        Now who thinks their arms are long enough to slap box, slap box.
        They say I rap like a robot, so call me….

        • Every night, I write one sentence on a card… there are 365 in a wooden box, and the plan is to keep this up for years to come. It’s fun to see what you were doing, thinking, feeling the year before.

          Anyway… you sharing that song lyric was mine for last night. πŸ™‚

          P.S. Slap boxing?

  8. Congratulations! I’m glad to know I was a participant in a kind of crowdsourcing project! I will still look forward to your posts, and feel confident and glad that many more folks will have a chance to hear your voice.

    • Isn’t it fun when you do good without even trying? πŸ˜‰ It’s been a pleasure getting to know you.

      And I do have the next post whirring around my brain, if I can just find a quiet hour to let it out!

  9. Jennie, that is fabulous! Congrats on getting into the program. My sister did her graduate studies at Duke and just raves about the quality of the program – and she’s been successfully working in the communication field for many years now. You will love it (even though it will have its frustrations), but as my Dad would say, “That’s no step for a stepper.” (He was big on animal analogies – I wouldn’t dare tell you the others. πŸ™‚ ) I feel like we’ve come full circle – I picked you up on FP and fell in love with your wit, style, and brains. I can live on 2 posts a month. And speaking of “full circle,” watch this spot next week.
    Wishing you all the best, Terri

    • I should clarify – I work at Duke, but I’m going to school at UNC. They’re both amazing places, and I’m pretty excited to apply what one gives me to what the other one needs from me as a professional. πŸ™‚

      So… what’s a stepper?

      Also… you’re so kind to say what you did at the end. The feeling is mutual. A friend is struggling with her meditation practice, and I just sent her a link to your post on the details of Bali as something to inspire her!

      • Whoops, silly me. Two great schools in a glorious state. Nothing like having a foot in both camps. πŸ™‚

        A “stepper” is a high-stepping horse show horse (often a Tennessee Walker or Morgan) and they’re gorgeous to watch. My Dad was a country boy so that’s the highest of compliments in his book.

        Enjoy your studies and come back to your peeps when you need a boost. ~Terri

        • When it comes to horses, I’m still an eight-year-old girl with a serious fixation. I’m riding “that’s no step for a stepper” into the sunset!

  10. Only you could break my heart while simultaneously causing it to sing for joy. Happy for you I am. Miss you I will. Deepest respect. Fondest regards.

    • Sandy! Thank you! I’m sad to be stepping back from the Sisterwives, but just knowing y’all are in the world, and getting to traipse by your blogs when I can, fills me with so much joy. xoxo

    • Absolutely! And one of my first classes is on digital writing… hopefully some of the projects will have enough personal passion mixed with the class aspect that I’ll want to share them here. We’re going to play with Storify, which I’ve been wanting to do for a while.

    • “Mazel tov, lovely lady, internet fairy!” <– I think I might need to put this on a custom bumper sticker. πŸ™‚

      Thank you, BTF, for being one of my favorite, stand-out commenters. You have cornered the WordPress market on leaving one-liners that zing with feeling!

    • I think your comments have made me do more Googling to understand them than anyone else’s. And that’s a very good thing. I’ll miss you, but I’ll still be seeing you… just not as much as I’d like. You’re one of the best; one of my favorite out-of-the-blue-now-I-find-myself-wondering-what-you’d-think-about-random-things-in-real-life friends.

      I don’t write as much as I should,
      she said.
      all right, I thought, I don’t get to read her
      often; she doesn’t write as much as she
      scramble grad school.

      • Maybe you already know via a Google search but I was quoting from this:

        Short Order

        I took my girlfriend to your last poetry reading,
        she said.
        yes, yes? I asked.
        she’s young and pretty, she said.
        and? I asked.
        she hated your
        then she stretched out on the couch
        and pulled off her
        I don’t have very good legs,
        she said.
        all right, I thought, I don’t have very good
        poetry; she doesn’t have very good
        scramble two.

        • And because I’ve loved coming here so much and will miss you, I leave you with this excerpt from another Bukowski poem. One of my faves.

          If We Take

          …These things, and others, in content
          show life swinging on a rotten axis.

          But they’ve left us a bit of music
          and a spiked show in the corner,
          a jigger of scotch, a blue necktie,
          a small volume of poems by Rimbaud,
          a horse running as if the devil were
          twisting his tail
          over bluegrass and screaming, and then,
          love again
          like a streetcar turning the corner
          on time,
          the city waiting,
          the wine and the flowers,
          the water walking across the lake
          and summer and winter and summer and summer
          and winter again.

          • I could love this one just because the title runs into the first line – How have I never thought of that? – but of course the last few lines seal the deal. Thank you… poetry is always the best gift.

          • There’s a typo up there. It pushes me right off the fucking precipice when I see that. But I do all if this on my iPhone, so it happens ALL. THE. TIME.

            Can you believe that’s what I obsess on?

          • Fixed it, because I understand anal-retentive editing.

            At least you’re obsessing over typos in a poem, and not numbers on an Excel spreadsheet.

          • P.S. Isn’t it alarming that site owners can edit visitors’ comments into anything they want? I could have made it look like you wrote something monstrous, and no one could prove it wasn’t you who said it.

    • Bethie! Thank you! I’ve wanted this for six years, and it’s finally happening! I used to think I was so far behind all my friends, but now I just think my road had exceptional scenery, so I dawdled longer than most along the way. (You’re part of that scenery! Can you picture yourself hiding in the bushes, waiting to ambush me with awesome?)

  11. I am sooo behind the times here, congratulations!! Have lots of fun πŸ™‚ You will be missed around here (but I must admit I am not blogging much these days either). I look forward to exciting grad school stories!

    • Thanks, love! I am hoping to write something up this week – I had an unexpectedly exciting Labor Day. So… what’s got your attention turned away from writing? πŸ™‚

      • Ooh! I look forward to reading!

        Partially busy at work and not as much time to write (not that I would ever write blog posts at work…ahem). But I’m also just not feeling inspired lately. I might start a post but I tire of it long before I finish. Hopefully I’ll feel inspired again soon…

  12. While some of us have been TERRIBLE at keeping up recently, some of us adore you and your writing! Mazel Tov dear Jennie! You will rock that program, and we will all be reading a lot more by you… in no time! Yours are the posts I don’t delete, even if it takes ages to read them.. trying to get my act back together. I’m so happy for you! xox

    • Annnnnd I just got teary. I miss this blog, and especially you guys, SO VERY MUCH. All the capital letters in the world can’t express it. I keep thinking, “This will be the week I finally write a new post!” or “This will be the day I catch up on reading everyone’s stuff!” and then I realize I have a five-page paper due the day after tomorrow. But even lurking on the sidelines and watching y’all shine is pretty damn fulfilling. ❀

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