Sunday, March 27, 2016

Signing Off

   Saying goodbye is a funny thing.  There never seems to be a good time to do it.  If things are going well but you know you need to leave, you won't want to, because you'll want to continue with the party; but if things are going poorly, you will think you should have left a long time ago.  It's a double edged sword and I hate to be carrying it.

   I've shared a lot of stories with you readers here.  You were there when a friend of mine was killed, when I had to say goodbye to a boyfriend, when I said hello to a new boyfriend, when I traveled, when I fought off alligators, and said hello to chipmunks.  I rang in two New Years on this blog and a few Easters.  You all know what my favorite shoe is and the person I kayak with the most; you know how hard it is for me to get up in the morning and why I do what I do.  You know my struggles, my fears, and my loves.  You know my friends have some of the weirdest last names and you know how important family is to me.  You know where my cousin sleeps when he comes over to my house and what my version of a Go-Pro is called. You know a lot.  However, there are a lot of memories that never made it to the blog.  You'll never know about the time when six of us sat out on the water, crooning to Sam Smith; or the time a beach disappeared and Logan and I had a picnic on a patch of grass; or the first time I went and I got lost; or the time we got called out by the border patrol; some things are just for me, and I am sorry those stories will never be shared.  

   When I suggested to my mom that I quit the blog, she said, "Jillianne, you never finish anything.  Everything you do is always so short-lived."  That may be true.  But right now, in my life, I'm in between a lot of things.  I'm not the same person I was when I started this blog, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.  I have changed in a lot of ways, but I have kept a lot of my old habits at the same time.  I am grateful for what this blog did for me; it gave me a creative outlet when I needed someone to talk to, gave me a God to believe in when I wanted it, and always made for an interesting ice breaker.  It made it across 17 countries and was shared with over 6000 people - which is more than I ever would have dreamed.  I just know I am starting to go in different directions and I want this blog to stay true to what it is supposed to be: dedicated to kayaking. And I just can't be that person right now.  I don't think it was short lived... I think it served its purpose and was successful.  
   I am not saying this is goodbye forever, but it is for a while.  Maybe I'll come back, and tell you the tales I never told.  But maybe I won't.  You'll still find me out there kayaking, but maybe not writing about it afterwards.  If you see me paddling by, feel free to say hello, I'm not mean.  

   A year ago, my family had its second reunion.  At the end of the night, we all went outside to light some Chinese lanterns and set them free into the night sky.  I was so excited (I had seen them do it in the Hangover and had wanted to light one ever since), I grabbed mine and was ready to make my wish.  It took a little longer than I had imagined.  You have to hold the lantern for a few minutes while it fills up with hot air.  The trick is to wait for it to start pulling away.  You can't release it too early, because then it will just crash into the ground or do a barrel roll into the ocean.  Once it is ready, it will let you know and you have to let go.  So that night, I felt mine tug away from my fingers; so I said a prayer for Tricia and opened my hands.  The momentum had built up, so that lantern soared into the sky as if it had someone to see.  I watched as it became smaller and smaller and soon enough, it had become one of the stars.  
   That's what I am doing here: letting go of the blog because I can feel it tugging away.  It can be a beacon for others.  Know what you want and go and get it, stick with it and let it shape you, and then when it's done, let it go.  Maybe I will see you all again, back on the yak.  But if not, know that is okay.  I am out there doing well, letting dreams shape me.  But for now, this is me, saying goodbye.  

   Thank you for everything, I love you all,
   Jillianne Montomgery-Larson 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The First Day of High School

   One of the many differences between high school and college is the winter break.  High schoolers are lucky if they get two weeks.  College students, however, have to endure at least four weeks at home.  I know many high schoolers think that is the dream. Don't be fooled, a lot of it is smoke and mirrors.  Once you taste the freedom college has to offer, it is hard to be tied back up under a roof shared with your parents.  I know plenty of people who are returning to high school today while I still have two more weeks before my school starts.  All I'm trying to say is: Enjoy high school.  Don't wish your life away.  For me, high school was the best four years of my life.  I don't think I would choose to relive that time, but I am able to look back on those days with fondness. So take it all in; memorize the sound of the front doors opening and the slamming of lockers in between classes.

   Here, take my memory of the first day for inspiration.

   It is the day for which everybody has an idea, but no one really realizes its significance until years later. It is the day that everyone has to face, the day about which some have dreams, some have nightmares: The first day of high school.
   I remember mine like it was yesterday: walking through the intimidating double doors, carrying my new lunch box stuffed with goodies from Mom, not knowing a soul. I walked into the cafeteria and saw all the upperclassmen saying their hellos to everyone they did not see over the summer. Across the room, I recognized a girl who had been in my third grade class. Sure, that was over five years ago, but it was something. I wrestled through the terrifying crowd, careful not to step on anybody’s toes. I said hello, and thankfully she knew who I was and gave me a half hug. She, of course, knew multiple people and brought me over to her table of friends to introduce me.
   I sat down and looked at the girl sitting across from me. She had plain brown hair, a pretty face, and wore a sleek pair of black bifocals. She smiled a huge smile and said, “Hello! I’m Rachel!” Then suddenly her face became really serious.  She leaned towards me and asked, “Do you like hockey?” Completely baffled, I just smiled at her. My former classmate told her, “This is Jillianne. Rachel, don’t scare her. She went to PCA (the snooty prep school in the neighboring town) last year.”
   Rachel sighed with understanding and said, “That’s too bad.” Then a boy carrying a breakfast tray came and sat down next to her. Rachel smiled at him and enthusiastically said, “Peter! I’m so happy to see you!” She motioned at me, “This is my new friend, Jillianne!” He gave me a casual smile, and I gave him one back. They continued to chat while Rachel continued to badger me with completely random questions. She asked, “Jillianne, do you watch The Bachelorette?” I shook my head no. She sighed and looked at Peter, “We love watching The Bachelorette, don’t we Peter?” He just continued to eat his breakfast. She looked back at me and said, “I kissed him once, you know.” Peter blushed and just shook his head giving me a look that just said, “I’m sorry.”
   These people were just strangers to me. I did not expect to have any classes with them. Of course, what did I know?  The girl who had asked me about The Bachelorette and the thin boy eating his breakfast would soon become two of the biggest influences my life has ever known.

*End Note: These two people did have a serious impact on the person I am today. However, neither of them are in my present life.  I would call that a curse and a blessing.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The New Year

   When I logged on to this blog, I wasn't expecting much.  The last time I had checked I had around 4800 views, so I figured that number wouldn't have changed much considering the fact that I have been off the grid for just about two months now.  However, surprises are real.  I logged on and was baffled when I saw that #backontheyak had accumulated a total of over 5150 views.  So obviously this blog is not a lost cause and there are still a few of you out there who have an interest in what I have to say.  Thank you for not abandoning me.
   It's January 4, 2016.  How crazy is that? I remember the first time I really realized the magnitude of a New year.  I was on my way to a dance with my YMCA Princess group and the year was 2001, soon to be 2002.  I remember thinking, "2002? That's wild."  I would have to write a different year on all of my papers at school and the teachers would have to erase the pre-set 2001 that had been written on all of the white boards.  One of my friends in the limo said, "Imagine what it will feel like when it's 2010!" I remember scoffing and thinking, "Yeah right, we're never going to get to 2010."  Well here we are in 2016...
   Allow me to have a moment of nostalgia.
   Every year I hear people say how year ____ is going to be "their year." As if they had accomplished nothing and had no source of happiness in the previous year.  Well among all you folks saying that you're leaving everything behind in 2015 and are determined to make 2016 the best year of your life, I'm here to tell you that 2015 was my year.  I kicked the year off by mustering up the courage to attend college.  I did, and I killed it.  Throughout the year I continued to make all A's in my classes, proving to those around me that I wasn't a basket case and I was capable of getting my act together.  Over the summer, I was responsible for maintaining the life of two young boys; they taught me patience and compassion and for once in my life I began to consider that motherhood could be a part of my later adult life.  That job gave me enough funds for me to singlehandedly support my self for the remainder of the year, which felt pretty awesome.  In between acing papers and raising two boys, I traveled alone visiting domestic places such as Austin, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia, along with Washington D.C.  I built a better relationship with old friends and I learned to let go of those new friends who may not have been actual friends.  I obtained a new personal record for the amount of books read in a year, and beefed up on all sorts of walks of life.  I flooded my room with French vocabulary in an attempt to become more literate in a foreign language.  However, somewhere between all of those lines, I also found myself in another personal mental crisis.  I wasn't unhappy, per se, but I wasn't necessarily happy either.  Instead of pulling the plug on my own life or running away to India, I learned the importance of relying on my support system.  I found my footing in the eyes of those who truly loved me.  During the turbulence, I realized that maybe art wasn't the path I needed to live on, but rather a side path that I could find joy in when needed.  The path that I needed to live on, the path that was always in my life but I had never considered building a home on was English.  It has always been something I can be passionate about and it is a subject in which I have always thrived.  I realized that I don't need to be different or peculiar in order for people to find me interesting.  Rather, someone taught me that I am perfectly capable of being loved if I remain 100% true to myself.  This person also taught me that the world isn't always out to get you, and that everything that comes out of a person's mouth isn't always a lie.  This person is my precious Logan and he has given me more than either of us thought possible.  I am able to live with my past and the mistakes that I have made, but I am also able to see a future, which is a new thing that I find... pretty amazing.  There is some goodness and kindness left in the world, and for once in my life, I feel safe and secure and beautiful and loved.
   This was my 2015.  Like most years, I exited the year a much different person than when I entered it.  Honestly, I am exiting the year as a person I never planned on being.  That is not a bad thing; it is actually the greatest blessing I have ever been given.  I entered 2016 in the arms of someone I love under a sky full of colors and blasts, and I am excited to see what the rest of the year has to offer.  Obviously, I can't speak for the rest of the year, but today, I am happy.  I feel myself sliding back into that yak and that puts a smile on my face.
   So thank you to those who haven't given up on my blog.  Thank you to those who abandoned me.  Thank you to my boys for naming me the Battleship Queen and for telling me that you love me.  Thank you to my mother and my father for remaining patient and supportive while I adjust to myself.  Thank you to my sister for coming to me when I was in a dark place and bringing me light before it was too late.  Thank you to my Schloemer family for providing me with a home when mine was not an option.  Thank you to Logan for exceeding all expectations and for constantly sweeping me off my feet and for holding me and kissing my forehead whenever I have a breakdown.  Thank you to everyone who participated in building this stronger and wiser Jillianne that is leaving 2015 and entering 2016.  You are worth more than you know.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Melatonin Thoughts: Episode One

   So it's not even 2 o'clock in the morning here on my beautiful southern college campus and I am awake.  I'm not trying to shock you or anything; a college kid and the wee hours of the morning are no strangers.  But anyway, I'm lying (laying? (chickens lay eggs, Jillianne. Humans lie down. (Right?)) I honestly don't know.) in bed, waiting for my melatonin sleep-aid to kick in and I just thought I'd check in with everyone, make sure you're all alive and well.  Also, besides the fact that this drug puts me out *snaps fingers* like that, I am also going in between this page on my computer and the one that is educating me on Italian folklore, so forgive me if my writing is scattered stylistically.  I also have a small stack of Oreos on my bedside table that I'm enjoying while I wait for this medicine to do its job.  Fun fact: Melatonin is also used to treat anxiety along with lack of sleep.  So I find it kind of ironic that Oreos are my vice of choice, because I feel like if there's anything on this world that would decrease sleep and increase anxiety, it would be Oreos.  But hey, whatever.
   Aren't relationships weird?  It's like, one day everything changes.  I am currently in a relationship, with the wonderful Lo who was featured in an earlier post on this very blog in which you find yourself currently.  He is wonderful, he truly is.  He was sick today, so wish him well.  But anyway, every now and again I will look at him and I'll just have this one macro thought that's really a billion things but it only takes a second for me to get the idea:
   Long before I met Lo, I thought I had met the one.  I was much younger and I was in a very different place in my life.  I would listen to those who said things like "The people you meet in high school won't be in your long-term life" and "high school love isn't forever" and I was just like "you have no idea what you're talking about. But me, I know what I'm talking about. I know it. I'm right."  Well, I was wrong.  And I have never found more delight in being completely wrong.  I spent years determined and convinced that I was going to spend my life with this certain person.  Even after we broke up for the last time, I still thought that after many years we would find our way back to each other and be together again (clearly I've watched far too many John Hughes and Nicholas Sparks movies and I need to go read Tolstoy or something).  But then when I decided to take a semester off instead of starting school, I began to realize that maybe that future wasn't in the cards for me.  I couldn't understand.  Why couldn't that work out for me?  I had already been through hell for many different reasons.  When I start school in January, I expect things to turn around.  I'm not saying I wanted this guy to be at my door step, but I wanted a friend.  I couldn't take any art classes so I had to endure everything else.  I had no friends except for the ones I arrived with and my life was numb.  I didn't hate myself, which was refreshing, but I wasn't in love with myself either.  I also couldn't understand why I wasn't being approached with friendship offers; I'm cute, I'm charming.  Life wasn't going my way and I didn't see why.  By the end of the semester, I'm sick of it.  I begin to make plans to transfer in a year or two to a school where I am adored for my charm and cuteness: Savannah College for Art and Design.   Fall arrives.  I have an art class.  I expect to make a friend.  I also expect this semester to not differ heavily from my previous semester.  I still expect to be in bed by 8, watch a movie on HBO every other day, and finish a book a week.  Once again, I was wrong.
   All that time I spent crying and looking at the sky asking someone up there, "WHY?! Why can't I have the things that I want? Why is everything in my life going wrong?!" That same someone was silently laughing back at me, because little did I know, that everything was actually going very right.
   It's crazy how you can be fully independent one day, and then the next you have this other person that you find yourself dependent on.  I'm not saying I need Lo for my survival.  But I am saying that when he isn't with me, I find myself looking around feeling the same way I felt as a child whenever I left my lunchbox at home.  You can live a day without lunch, but the day is so much better with the lunch, and after a few days without it, you just turn bitter and empty and your friends start offering you their rejected carrot sticks as if that can fill the hole.  He has truly become my other half and that is the best feeling in the whole world.  I actually have someone who twirls me around in the street not because I like it, but because he likes it.  I have someone whom I can tell the weirdest stuff to (I'd give an example, but again, it's weird, and he gets the point).  It's more than having a best friend.  Because yeah, I have best friends and they're sensational, but Lo is my best friend and I'm also in love with him which makes it even better.
   So in those heavy moments when I look at him and smile, the gist of what I'm feeling is something along the lines of "I love you. And I'm so glad my life was so shitty because it was all part of the miracle that got me to you."
   That's not really where I thought this post would take me... All I'm saying is that if you're in a bad place right now, keep your head up.  It's around the corner and you have to trust the world.  Good things are coming, and you have to survive in order to see it.  I promise, it's worth your while.
   I'm out of Oreos, I'll talk to you guys later.

Monday, October 26, 2015


We had a mini yoga session one summer morning.  There were couples sitting out on their porch, sipping their coffee, cheering us on.  It's not an easy thing (yoga on a board, not sipping caffeine on a porch, that's easy), but we managed.  Sarah Anne is obviously a yoga master when it comes to paddle boarding.  And as you can see, I am not.  I did a few poses, but they weren't worthy of photo documentation.