“Again! Again!”

July was an insanely busy month for someone like me who was looking forward to resting. In between querying my novel (no bites yet) and writing both personally and working on my upcoming magazine deadlines, I made the most out of my time and did something fun almost every day. I already shared about my trip to Boston and Nickelodeon Universe in early July (you can read that by clicking here), so here’s an update about the rest of my month.

Strong Family Ties

I haven’t seen my cousins from California in like forever, so I was delighted that my cousin D came to visit with his wife and two children I had never met for four days. It was like the time between when we last saw each other and now didn’t exist because we meshed and melded together right away. We spent a lot of time together checking out the local sites and visiting with my family. We ate, we swam, we saw, and boy, did we laugh! It was such a treat to be together, and I have made it an intention to get out to California in the next year or two to revisit him, my uncle and aunt, and my other two cousins and their families. I had a lot of fun playing “tourist” with them and looking through the local sites through their eyes.

Roller Coaster Palooza Take Two, With A Side Of Baseball

My oldest nephew and I traveled 915 miles in four and a half days as we embarked upon our annual “Roller Coaster Palooza” Road Trip summer tradition. Day One brought us to Adventure Park USA, about 45 minutes from Baltimore, Maryland, then we caught the baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. We were Orioles fans for the evening but kept our eye on the Yankees’ score. The Orioles were down most of the game and tied it up in the 9th but ultimately lost 6-4 in 10 innings. We took a walk down to Baltimore Harbor on Day Two, then headed to Six Flags America in Bowie, Maryland. That evening, we set up shop in a Stafford, Virginia hotel then visited Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Day Three) and King’s Dominion (Day Four). I rallied despite not feeling well and had a fantastic time. Our surprisingly traffic-free drive home allowed us to see the sights of Washington, D.C. along the GPS’s selected route. 

We rode 21 different roller coasters with a total of 24 roller coaster rides at the following places: 

From the outside of Intimidator 305 (I took this photo).

Our biggest coaster conquest both this trip and ever was Intimidator 305 for sure. Known as a “giga” coaster because its height is 305 feet (giga height is 300-399 feet), it was also one of the fastest with its 90 miles-per-hour speed and the first giga we experienced. Its height is quite intimidating, pun intended, and for a while I thought I was going to back out (and black out!). But I did it, and I”ve got the ride photo to prove it! What a rush! Now I feel like I can do anything!

Verbolten was our favorite coaster of the trip, and we intended to ride it several more times but the park shut down due to weather conditions. It is a multi-launch coaster impeccably themed as “an autobahn adventure through the Black Forest” that goes inside and outside with a lot of surprises and three different scenes. In fact, this post’s title stems from our first ride on Verbolten; when we pulled into the station, my nephew cheered with glee and cried, “Again! Again!” I will hear his voice cry “Again! Again!” in my mind’s eye forever.

Again! Again! Indeed!

My nephew listened to one of his required summer reading books and I’m hooked on it! I picked up my very own copy of “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell and resumed reading where we left off in the car with ideas about how to possibly infuse this piece into my journalism program. I think my students would get a lot out of it with regards to ideas and how to make them a reality.

Soothing The Scars

Das Festhaus from a postcard

I am not ashamed to admit that I have many quirks.

One of them is a fear of what I refer to as “forced fan participation,” which stems from an event when I was eight or nine years old. My family took us to Busch Gardens Williamsburg (my only other visit to this park before last week), and we ate in Das Festhaus, which is a large, German eatery with a stage in the middle of long rows of picnic tables on either side that fill the hall. While we were eating, performers from the German Oktoberfest-style show went through the aisles looking for kids to come on stage to be a part of the show. Well, a woman with long blonde braids took my hand and tugged me to get out of my seat. I did not want to, but my parents urged, “Go ahead! It will be fun!” These are all very vivid memories in my mind and I can picture everything like it happened yesterday… childhood trauma, much? Anyway, I did as they wished despite my apprehension, but when I got onto the stage and saw everyone looking at me, I turned and sprinted off the stage to the restroom, where I ducked into a stall and cried behind its closed door, the overwhelming humiliation like an anvil on my body. 

The inside of Das Festhaus, just as I remembered it.

Ever since, I tense up in any situation where I could be forced to participate against my will, even at my own place of employment. If I am the one who makes the decision to participate or facilitate, I’m fine, but if it’s a situation where volunteers are sought from an audience or I’m put on the spot, I panic and tense up, and sometimes, I actually flee just like I did at Das Festhaus all those years ago.

As soon as my feet crossed into the Germany area of Busch Gardens Williamsburg last week, the anvil’s weight returned and prickles ran over my skin. My nephew and I navigated the pathways through the charming area, and my eyes fell upon Das Festhaus.

I stopped in my tracks and took a deep breath. 

We wanted to eat lunch here because of the variety of meals available… but could I do it?

Yes. The answer is: yes, I could.

And I did.

We ended up having the best meal of the trip inside the walls of the building that has never left my memory files, and it was exactly as I remembered, expansive and authentically decorated. And the food was amazing. Sidebar: Well worth getting the one-day meal plan if you go to Busch Gardens Williamsburg, which has amazing options with big, delicious portions, especially at Das Festhaus.

Not by design but because of our schedule, we left before the 12:30 PM show began so we could continue our quest of riding every coaster in the park, which we accomplished just before a nasty weather front arrived. We sought shelter inside Das Festhaus due to the weather with my scars of forced fan participation smoothed and soothed. 

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll hang around to delight in the show at Das Festhaus on my next visit.

Published in American Writers Review 2022: The End Or The Beginning?

Now Available On Amazon!

I’m very excited to share that my story “Five South Thresholds” can be found within the pages of American Writers Review 2022: The End Or The Beginning?” alongside exemplary works from other talented writers, poets, and photographers. You can purchase the paperback or Kindle version of the book on Amazon by clicking here.

No Rest For The Weary

I’ll be hitting the road on another trip next week with family and intend to live each and every August day to its fullest. This morning, I went for an early morning stroll on the beach, and the sea lapping against my legs was exactly what my soul needed. I’ll be visiting her more often, both in the mornings and evenings, and allow her to continue guiding me through life.

Thank you for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With love and gratitude,


“Again! Again!” was posted on jillocone.com on August 4, 2022. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any of my employers. Copyright 2022, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

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