Published in 2019 American Writers Review!

img_5527I am pleased to share that three of my poems appear in the 2019 American Writers Review, a multi-genre literary journal published by San Fedele Press and now available on Amazon in both book and Kindle format. 

The titles of my published poems are “The Sidewinder,” “Futility,” and “Cycle.”

It’s an honor for my poems to appear alongside the work of so many other wonderful writers from around the world.

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Digesting the Goodness

521c8921-b020-4a92-ae9c-89830ae4d8c2I sit here enjoying the silence, exhausted yet satisfied, after spending four intense days at the Yale Writers’ Workshop at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

Had to insert a nod to one of my favorite songs from my own college experience, which did not end on a good note.

This experience, however, DID, on so many levels.

It’s true that everyone has their own shit going on, and most of us are orchestrated every day by a ridiculously rigid schedule, including me. My schedule from April leading up to the workshop was so slammed full, I couldn’t even fit a thin pencil line between events and responsibilities. Other writing events and conferences, editorial assignments, school-related tasks including yearbook distribution and end-of-year procedures, writing, family obligations, homework for my Yale workshop, and a never-ending list of chores related to moving and taking care of my uncle’s estate has stretched me thinner than a rubber band pulled back to its maximum length right before it breaks. I’m mystified that even though I came close to snapping a few times, I’m still in one piece like that rubber band.

As is true with my fellow sufferers of imposter syndrome, I did not think my writing was of the “Yale Writers’ Workshop” caliber. However, I literally had this quote appear in my social media feed right above an ad for the Yale Writers’ Workshop:

 

“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”
― Erin Hanson

With Hanson’s words resonating in my mind, I took a chance and applied despite my feelings of inferiority, believing I’d fail.

However, I realized it was time for me to fly as I wept tears of joy when I read my acceptance email on April 2.

I then cried for a different reason as I faced the truth I’d have to venture out of my comfort zone by driving on roads that frightened me to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.

I promised myself that when it was time to go to Yale, I’d focus solely on the workshop and put all other distractions out of the way, including my feeds, my calendar, and whatever was scribbled on my to-do lists, both real and perpetual.

And I did just that, minus a few Instagram posts…hell, when I see a USPS mailbox decorated like R2D2, I must share!

59c71cb2-50ce-4535-a10f-7f59866ab7fcI’m humbled to have sat in the presence of twelve other phenomenal writers in my workshop titled “The First Ten Pages,” including my teacher, “Marlena” author Julie Buntin. Everyone was kind, enthusiastic, and inspiring as we spent four intense days workshopping the first ten pages of each other’s manuscripts, as well as hearing from speakers Steve Almond, Betsy Lerner, and Chaya Bhuvaneswar. I gained new friends, new insight, and new ideas to re-craft Chapter One-A Novel to make it the best it can be for the reader. I see it, and my intuition knows it is right. My vision will become a reality. I’m looking forward to reading the revised drafts written by my fellow attendees.

And, good news! I successfully navigated the way to and from New Haven surprisingly without any fear! I can do it!

I’m also still absorbing the wonderful advice I acquired from presentations by Neil Gaiman, Amy Tan, and Colum McCann at the third annual Rutgers Writers’ Conference held the first weekend of June.

As I finish out the school year and digest the feedback about my novel, the first steps of Chapter One-A Novel’s re-crafting will begin tomorrow.

I plan to engage more with readers on my blog and to building a better platform over the summer while working on some other side projects.

I’m finally flying…man, my spirit guide would be so proud of me.

Thanks for accompanying me on my journey!

With gratitude, 

Jill

 

Riding the Writing Wave of Inspiration

It’s been quite a writing roller coaster over the past month, replete with inspiration and learning as much as I can from some wonderful authors.

Author Tim O’Brien speaks at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center at Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ

First up: I attended a local event featuring Tim O’Brien, award-winning author of “The Things They Carried” with a dear friend. His approximately 90-minute long presentation featured anecdotes from both his days as a soldier in Vietnam and from his more recent days as a father. He read a few passages from his forthcoming book titled “Dad’s Maybe Book” which is due to be released later this year. After his presentation, Mr. O’Brien graciously stayed for autographs. A few weeks ago, while surveying my late uncle’s bookshelf, I spotted a copy of “The Things They Carried” on his bookshelf. Now, my uncle was not a reader, but he did serve in Vietnam. My eyes welled up with tears when I saw the book, and that’s the copy I brought for Mr. O’Brien to sign. When I handed him the book, he looked at my Uncle’s picture taken in Vietnam and said, “Another one. Did he come home?” I told him yes, he did, but that he recently passed away. Mr. O’Brien gave me his condolences, and I will cherish my signed copy of his work because it belonged to my hero.

My uncle’s copy, forever a keepsake and an inspiration.
March 31, 2019

One of my favorite writing events of the year is the Writing on the River retreat that’s organized by ProjectWriteNow in Red Bank. I’m a teacher ambassador for PWN and the event is not just for the teacher in me, but also the writer in me. Jennifer, Colleen, and Lisa work very hard to make the day special for all attendees, including writing exercises and time to cultivate our own creativity. It’s refreshing and renewing to talk to other educators who either teach writing or write themselves like me, and I left the retreat with new friends and new writing ideas.

Author Paul Lisicky at the William Paterson Spring Writer’s Conference.

I also attended the Spring Writers Conference at William Paterson University last weekend, which gave me the opportunity to learn from writers Paul Lisicky, Nathan Alling Long, and David Burkowski. I left with great strategies for writing that I aim to put into practice, and with a new appreciation and interest in flash fiction. Lisicky is a master at using detail and flowing his words together in a way that makes it sound almost songlike. His work will inspire me to improve my use of detail.

And now, for the big news…As the result of being guided by the universe, I applied to the 2019 Yale Writers Workshop on a whim, which will be held in June. I had to supply a writing sample as a part of my application, so I chose the first two chapters of “Chapter One-A Novel.” It should come as no surprise that I freely admit that I suffer from “imposter syndrome,” so I never in a gazillion years expected to be accepted.

It’s real!

But I was.

After reading the congratulatory email, I was stunned and overjoyed, and yes, I’ll admit that I cried.

I’m going to YALE in June for a four-day long intensive workshop, and I am simply over the moon about it. I keep thinking of that phrase that goes something along the lines of “what if I fail? But darling, what if you fly?” or something like that. I applied thinking I was going to fail by not being accepted.

But I was.

What if I, indeed, fly?

I dream of someday being in a position where I will be able to sign my books for readers and fellow writers like O’Brien, Lisicky, and Alling Long signed for me over the past month.

I used to think it was a pipe dream, but maybe, just maybe, it might come true someday.

Spring Forward, Setback

Keep on, keeping on, that’s what I’m doing tonight as I suck it up after receiving a rejection today for a creative nonfiction piece I submitted for publication consideration last month. I am extremely proud of the piece and had such a good vibe about it being accepted, but I was dead wrong. While I have received many a rejection, this particular one hit me in my gut despite its positive message and encouraging sentiments.

Surfboard with "Surf On"

Such is the life of a writer, I know, but, man…I really thought the piece was going to be accepted.

I’m not giving up, and if this piece and/or my novel titled “Chapter One-A Novel” are meant to be published, I’m confident that the universe will lead me to the right opportunity for each.

And if not, no worries…I spring forward into researching and writing about the history of wave riders here at home in New Jersey and surf on over this setback.

Surf on!

Published: Jersey Shore Magazine Spring 2019 Issue is Available!

img_3654I am pleased to share the Spring 2019 issue of Jersey Shore Magazine, in which I have three articles: Kohr’s Frozen Custard: Celebrating a Century of Cold, Creamy Goodness; Jersey Shore Profile: Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity, and Surf New Jersey.

I was amazed to learn about all of the good that both the Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity and its flagship source of funds, the ReStore, do for people living at the Jersey Shore. Jersey Shore Profile: Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity explains many programs and initiatives available for those who truly need assistance in the Jersey Shore area.

It’s not summer without a cone from Kohr’s, and this summer is noteworthy because the iconic Kohr’s Frozen Custard Seaside locations are gearing up to celebrate their 100-year anniversary. In Kohr’s Frozen Custard: Celebrating a Century of Cold, you can learn about the store history. Owner Greg Kohr is busy both at the helm of his stores and at the center of celebration planning and said that details about the celebration would soon be announced on the Kohr’s Frozen Custard: The Original Facebook Page.

I’m particularly proud of the Surf New Jersey article, which has been one of the most inspirational and energizing pieces I’ve ever written. While I love getting to know the people I interview and write about, interviewing local surf legends about the New Jersey Hall of Fame was simply blissful. I had the opportunity of visiting the New Jersey Surf Museum, which is located at Tuckerton Seaport, and man, what an awesome place! In fact, my article work has sparked an exciting mission to see what kind of books about the history of Jersey’s surf culture are out there. So far, I haven’t found any, and since the book I’m searching for doesn’t seem to exist, might I be so bold as to announce that, no matter how long it takes, I will write it. Stay tuned!

I also provided editorial content, editorial work, and several photographs found in the magazine issue.

Additionally, My work was featured on the New Jersey Education Association website today. I wrote an article titled Manchester Township High School Receives U.S. Flag Flown in Afghanistan Mission.

Finally, I’d like to share a post from fellow writer Mandi Bean, who eloquently described every obstacle I’ve faced as a writer. She’s someone I simply adore and I’m proud to be a member of her writing tribe. You can read her post by clicking here.

Should you be a practicing mathematician, I wish you Happy Pi Day!

3 Poems: Accepted!

IMG_3614[327]I love to write poetry but I freely admit it’s a challenge for me to pen a poem I deem worthy of sharing, so I usually keep my poems to myself.

I also freely admit that I’ve crossed the threshold into a “braver” phase of life, so to speak, so I’ve been stepping outside of my comfort zone in many ways. One such way is by taking some chances and submitting some of my poems here and there to literary journals and publications.

And it paid off. I’m pleased to announce that three of my poems were accepted for publication in the 2019 edition of American Writers Review published by San Fedele Press. My poems titled “The Sidewinder,” “Futility,” and “Cycle” will appear in the publication, which is due to be released mid-spring.

It’s my first acceptance of what I hope are many more.

It took a long time for me to feel at home in my body and in my life, but I’ve finally stepped into “me.”

Welcome home!

I Won The Lottery!

Winner.JPGHere’s a neat little thing that happened last week…

I bought a ticket for the mid-week Powerball drawing. The ticket cost me $2.

My ticket had the winning Powerball number for that day’s drawing. The prize: $4.

I also bought a ticket for the last Mega Millions drawing of the week. The ticket cost me $2.

My ticket had the winning Mega Ball for that day’s drawing. The prize: $2.

Total amount I paid for both tickets: $4.

Total Prize Money: $6

Total Amount Won: $2.

All of my late night prayers were answered and my wishes came true.

I, indeed, won the lottery.

It’s all a matter of perspective, folks.

I am a lottery winner!

 

48 for 48

IMG_3258.JPGToday I turn 48 years old.

How is that even possible?

I’m sitting here contemplating where the hell the last 47 years went. A few years ago, I cursed the fact that my birth year was finally mentioned on those commercials for insurance that begin “If you were born in the years…” and now I’m two years away from the big 5-0.

Suddenly, it dawned on me that turning 48 isn’t all that bad.

I’m still here, still breathing, still learning, still laughing, and still living. What’s there to be bitter about?

There’s actually a lot to be thankful for as February 12 smiles back at me from my planner. As a gift to myself, I penned the following list of 48 reasons why it’s great to turn 48. I hope you can relate to and enjoy my observations and lessons.

  1. I remember when MTV played music videos and the names of all 5 original VeeJays without looking them up: Martha Quinn, Alan Hunter, JJ Jackson, Nina Blackwood, and Mark Goodman. The first music videos I ever saw were “Our House” by Madness followed by “Come Dancing” by The Kinks…my dad taped them for me using our brand-new VCR but not from MTV. Since we didn’t yet get MTV on our cable system, he taped “Friday Night Videos” which aired on NBC.
  2. I can have ice cream for dinner and run with scissors if I want to.
  3. I appreciate real, classic comedies and the good actors who played some of my favorite characters in Cheers, Barney Miller, M*A*S*H, and Seinfeld, to name a few.
  4. I was alive during the US Space Shuttle Program from its first days to its last and witnessed the last Shuttle launch ever, Atlantis in July of 2011, at Kennedy Space Center with my own eyes.
  5. I know who shot J.R.
  6. I can complete one side of a Rubik’s Cube.
  7. I was a guest at Luke and Laura’s wedding.
  8. I saw every Star Wars episode in the theater even before they had episode titles or numbers.
  9. I still get excited when the first snowflakes of the season fall from the sky.
  10. There’s nobody who can slink around better to Beastie’s “Paul Revere” than me.
  11. I know every word to “It Takes Two” by Rob Base and “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel. I learned them by stopping my cassette tape after each line and writing the words down. And for the record, I can still get jiggy with it when I want to.
  12. I can outrun Inky, Pinky, Blinky, and Clyde.
  13. I learned its okay to say “No” to anything that doesn’t bring me joy.
  14. I have treasured friends who are honest and true. My memories with them go way back to the Barry Manilow age of Copacabana and to sharing a table in Kindergarten 1976.
  15. And Speaking of 1976, I remember events that celebrated the Bicentennial of the United States, especially the fire hydrants that were painted to look like historic figures.
  16. I feel a certain sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when I am finished mowing my lawn.
  17. I love to listen to the birds, see the clouds, and feel the ocean and sand caress my feet.
  18. Much of my life is commemorated through my collection of pins, patches, stickers, and little trinkets.
  19. I don’t mind my wrinkles or my crow’s feet. Each line has its own story, and together, they form the roadmap of my journey to now. Sidebar: I really wish society and the media would stop telling me that there’s something wrong with my face and my skin and my weight and everything about the way I look. I’m okay with how I am, assclowns…sell your wares and your forced insecurities somewhere else!
  20. I remember the joy of making out my list for Santa using the newest Sears and JCPenney catalogs and crying over the polka-dotted elephant because he was too cute in my eyes to be a misfit.
  21. I have six true loves: my husband, my two nieces, and my three nephews. Oh, and maybe a seventh if you count Boba Fett.
  22. I’m never too old to play with toys or to get a Happy Meal.
  23. I believe in kindness, compassion, and doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.
  24. There was nothing better than Saturday morning cartoons, especially the Smurfs and the Laffalympics, and I loved the Battle of the Network Stars. I can still hear Mutley’s laugh and Snagglepuss say, “Exit, Stage Right!”
  25. No whammy, no whammy, big money, stop! And Higher, lower, higher, freeze!
  26. I no longer have to refer to things as my “guilty” pleasures. They are my pleasures, plain and simple.
  27. I’ve stopped apologizing for being human. If I’m sad, I’m sad. If I’m angry, I’m angry. If I’m happy, I’m happy. No apologies.
  28. One of my favorite sounds is the ice cream truck on a warm afternoon, and I might be known to flag the truck down from time to time with my money in my hand just like I did when I was little.
  29. My past does not define me. It might have helped form this person, but who I was is not who I am.
  30. I still own a rotary phone and know how to use it. And yes, it still works and was the only functioning phone for days during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. I also remember how awesome it felt to finally get my own phone number for my 14th
  31. I know exactly where I was standing the moment I found out the truth about Santa, and I mean the specific table and seat where I was sitting in my elementary school library. Talk about disillusionment!
  32. I can still picture the interior of the old Grand Union and Jamesway in town and the inside of the local roller rinks.
  33. I remember the gritty sweet taste of Harold’s Cherry Lemonade on the boardwalk and can picture the little fishing game near the Harold’s stand on the way into where the kiddie ride pavilion was…that’s where Castaway Cove golf is now. I can see that in my mind as clear as what I see right now in front of me.
  34. There’s nothing like a slice of Vesuvio’s with a can of Sioux City Sarsparilla.
  35. The smell of salt air mixed with cotton candy and grease will always be the smell of home.
  36. I’m grateful I grew up with friends to play with and a bicycle instead of social media and smart devices.
  37. Four words: Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
  38. I know that no matter how bad things get or how awful a day might be, it could always be worse.
  39. I’ve never experienced another fear like that of the day when Skylab fell to Earth thinking it was going to crash right into my house.
  40. I understand the value of the present moment and truly believe that we are all, indeed, just walking each other home.
  41. Hardly anything of what I’ve worried about ever happened.
  42. Saying goodbye is hard, but not saying goodbye can be harder.
  43. I will always be excited when I go to New York City.
  44. The crack of the bat on a warm, spring day is one of the best sounds in the world.
  45. My soul is happy when I take the long way home.
  46. A piece of sea glass and a shell are the best treasures to find.
  47. I was raised on radio and still listen to it by choice.
  48. This is me. I ain’t a beauty, but hey, I’m alright.

Time sure does go by fast. Embrace the day, my friend. Embrace the day and celebrate all that makes you unabashedly you, every day.

With my love and gratitude…

Jill

And Now, We Move On…

That sounds a little crass, but I assure you it’s not.

The last five weeks have been filled with uncertainty and heartache.

The high was completing the revision of my novel titled Chapter One-A Novel, which I am now ready to resubmit to agents and publishers with confidence.

While improving the story line and removing almost 20,000 words in the process, I took my time with revising grammar/mechanics and with plot development. The resulting manuscript is now worthy of honoring my muse and of publication, at least in my opinion. I am proud of what I have written despite whether or not it gets picked up for representation or not.

img_2466The low of the last five weeks was the sudden illness then passing of my beloved Uncle and godfather. Life will never be the same as I cannot believe I will never hear his voice say “My Miss Jill” or his distinct laugh ever again. I’m working on writing about Uncle’s final journey over his last 37 days, but man, it’s tough to relive some worst emotions and difficult moments of my life. Uncle was the apple of my eye, and I did the best I could to ease his suffering which included spending a lot of time just sitting next to him and holding his hand. His short stay in Hospice has inspired me to look into the possibilities of becoming a Hospice volunteer. His last 37 days definitely taught me several lessons in priorities. While my heart is broken, it’s somewhat a relief that the game of unpredictability is over. Uncle is at peace, as he would want it and as he deserves, and now I move on, albeit with a piece of my heart missing.

I’ve decided that I will no longer publish on my personal blog called “Soulseaker” and will publish here instead. I am grateful for my “Soulseaker” followers, but the purpose of that blog was to find my soul and my passion.

I’ve done that, and now we move on.

One of the last things Uncle whispered to me was, “They weren’t kidding when they said life goes by too fast. It sure does.”

A truer statement has never been whispered by anyone.

And now I move on to fill my life with purpose and impact instead of idling and wasting time, and will do my best to emulate Uncle’s kindness, compassion, and love for all.

It’s time for this writer to write.

Let’s do this.

Nitro’s Check Mark

I took my teenage niece, nephew, and their friend to Six Flags Great Adventure yesterday (August 10, 2018). My husband and I have given Niece and Nephew season passes to Six Flags Great Adventure for Christmas every year since 2015.

What I love most about our gift is that I also get a season pass, which allows me to spend time with them at the park several times a year. Each visit is special to me because it’s our thing, and it’s a great way to help provide a break for my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. If I had a nickel for how many times we laughed together or for each memory we made or silly story we told, I’d be a millionaire by now.

Nephew knows more about Six Flags rides and parks than anyone I’ve ever met. He can tell you when a ride made its park debut, who built it, who designed it, and what park received the ride it might have replaced. He understands the physics and design elements that goes into building a ride and if you ask him what park in the United States had the first looping roller coaster, he will know the answer.

When it comes to actually going on the rides, Niece is fearless and she will go on anything.  Meanwhile, Nephew and I have a similar sense of moderate adventure and we tend to stick to the middle-of-the-road rides and coasters, then when we are ready, we’ll attempt riding a more extreme one.

Our favorite ride is Skull Mountain, which is a fun, little inside coaster that operates in the dark. Two summers ago, Nephew and I set a personal record for going on Skull Mountain 22 times in a row, which took a little over two hours. We only stayed on the ride when the ride queue was empty five times; the rest of the time we got out and walked around. It probably wasn’t my best decision, in hindsight, since I flew to Dublin the following day with a splitting headache.

Our last ride conquests were Superman: Ultimate Flight and Green Lantern at the end of last summer. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the Superman experience, considering riders are face down to simulate Superman’s flight. We conquered Bizarro in April of 2017. Man, that one is fast! It’s like the Batman coaster after it had three energy drinks and a shot of super-charged espresso. Batman: The Ride has always been one of my favorites, and we conquered that one together in 2015 at Six Flags Great Adventure’s Holidays in the Park.

The coasters Nephew and I haven’t found the courage to ride yet are notoriously extreme, and we weren’t sure which coaster we’d be brave enough to conquer this year.

Enter Nitro.

Nitro, from the Six Flags Great Adventure website

When Nitro opened in 2001, it was the tallest and fastest roller coaster in New Jersey (Kingda Ka stole those honors from Nitro a few years later). While Nitro does not have any inversions, it is 230 feet high at its peak (which takes almost 60 seconds to climb) and reaches speeds up to 80 miles per hour in its two minute, twenty second mile-long course.

I went on Nitro once while chaperoning a school trip in 2005, thinking it would be like either Rolling Thunder and Scream Machine, two classic, now long-gone, coasters I loved.

I was completely wrong.

Nitro nearly killed me.

Well, maybe not killed, but the experience scared me tremendously.

I ended up uncontrollably shaking and trembling when I walked off the ride, my legs like jelly and my arm muscles sore for several days later due to how much I strained them as I held onto the restraint as tight as I could.

I vowed I was forever done with the infernal contraption known as Nitro.

I shared my Nitro story with Nephew on several occasions, including yesterday when we safely sat and waited for Niece and Friend to return from Friend’s first time riding the steel beast.

Nephew is older now, and I could see the curiosity twinkling in his eye as he told me what he knew about Nitro while he watched a car roaring along its track. “It was designed by B and M,” he said, “and they have a great safety record.”

There was no doubt about it. He was ready to take the Nitro leap and I wasn’t about to let my fear hold him back.

Niece and Friend returned rather quickly since the wait time was a few minutes at best, and Friend absolutely loved the Nitro experience.

Nephew said that if Friend could do it, he could too.

All three looked at me with pleading eyes but I stubbornly shook my head. “You guys have a great time!” I said as I bid them farewell, then I walked over to where people on the ground could see Nitro’s ride cars leave the loading area. Nephew was safely seated between Niece and Friend as their car passed by, their arms flailing in enthusiastic waves.

“Bye!” they yelled in unison.

They returned 140 seconds later with Nephew wearing the widest smile I’ve ever seen on his face. He gave me a thumbs up from up on high as he jubilantly shrieked, “It was awesome!”

Dammit.

I knew what I had to do.

A minute later, they surrounded me as they jumped around in sheer excitement and joy. A chorus of “please?”s rose up.  Nephew looked me right in my eyes and said, “You can do it. I did it, and so can you.”

I remembered a story told by a colleague who was in a similar situation. Her grandson wanted her to go on a thrill ride with him, and her outlook was, “I can do anything for two minutes.”

Realizing that I could too, I sighed then nodded my head as I said, “Okay.”

A whoop emanated from all three as Niece took my hand to lead me to certain death.

“You’re lucky I love you,” I grumbled as we walked through the air gate to the seats in Row 4.

My pulse raced as I sat down between Niece and Nephew, with Friend to Nephew’s left. The yellow restraints locked and were subsequently checked by the ride attendants. It’s a good thing mine was secure because at the last second, I cried, “I don’t want to do this!” and I honestly would have ran if I could.

However, it was zero hour and flight was not an option.

After the “visual scan” and “all clear” over the loudspeaker by what I was sure was the Grim Reaper disguised as Nitro’s head supervisor, our car was set free.

Nitro, from the Six Flags Great Adventure website

I closed my eyes and leaned my head as far back into my seat as possible. With each upward click, I squeezed Niece’s hand a little tighter. She, along with Nephew and Friend, found my reaction highly amusing. I think they were all laughing, but I can’t exactly remember because I was concentrating so hard on praying for redemption.

“Here we go, Aunt Jill!” Niece shouted as we reached Nitro’s summit.

This is it.

I. Am. Going. To. Die.

Within seconds, we were traveling down the 215-feet drop at the advertised eighty miles-per-hour.  I’m pretty sure my heart rate matched the number of expletives I let fly.

“I’m going to die! My eyes are closed! My eyes are open! No, they’re not! I’m going to die!”

Towards the end of the journey to my undeniable demise, Niece yelled, “Bunny hops!!”

I opened my eyes to see the blue and yellow hilly path we were on as we smoothly rode over each bump. It was surprisingly much smoother than the Runaway Mine Train bunny hops at the end of its path, that was for sure.

“Hold on!”

The car suddenly came to a halting stop.

And I was alive.

Sure, my legs were once again like jelly as we walked off the ride, and I felt a surge of electricity pulsing through my entire body.

But it was a good energy, and I did not die.

The sleek, wicked-fast roller coaster was one of the smoothest rides I’ve ever experienced, and the sensation of weightlessness was exhilarating.

I looked at Nephew, who threw his arms around me and exclaimed, “I’m so proud of you!” Niece and friend hugged me too. “You did it, Aunt Jill!”

Somewhere along the ride route, a remote camera snaps a photograph which is then displayed for about a minute or so on the monitors at the Nitro photo kiosk near the ride’s exit. The picture of our row featured three gleeful faces with arms up in the air and one red face screaming for mercy as she gripped onto the restraint for dear life.

We didn’t buy the photograph, but I’ll be able to picture it perfectly in my mind’s eye for the rest of my life.

The unspoken question hovered in the air around us as we regrouped outside the ride.

It was answered by all four of us walking together once again through Nitro’s entrance.

Three minutes later, a photograph with four delighted smiles in our row flashed upon the photo kiosk’s screen.

2018 Roller Coaster: Nitro. Check mark achieved.

 

Nitro’s Check Mark“: Copyright 2018 – Jill Ocone. This post originally appeared on both the Soulseaker blog (www.soulseaker.com) and the personal blog of Jill Ocone (www.jillocone.com) on August 11, 2018. Views and opinions contained in this post are solely those of the author, who was not compensated in any way by any entity, including Six Flags Great Adventure, the Six Flags corporation, or their affiliates. All rights reserved.