My Name IS…..

dotjyjuwnloadLet me paint you a picture people…. there’s this moment when you walk into a room, full of people you don’t know… and you go to introduce yourself…. and you do it wrong. Yea. Sounds dumb doesn’t it. But it happened to me today. Guys, hopefully you’ve never had this problem. But I am stuck in a transition where my name is… multiple things. Since my divorce I have begun the transition of changing my name back to my maiden name. A name that I haven’t used in 17 years. So my name on paper has been  changed. It’s once again Jeanna Marie Baker. A name that almost feels foreign to me now. I know that’s what it was. What I was born to be. It is who I am. Down deep. It’s the core of me.

imavhhhges-1But as I stood in a room today where I had to introduce myself, as I shook hands, heard their name, I said… “Jeanna Holbrook, nice to meet you.” It came right out of my mouth, perfectly naturally, like it has for a long time, but right about BROOK, I choked on the word. It stuck in my throat, as I realized that I don’t even know what my name is right now. There is an extremely confusing lost moment in that. I pushed through it, made a joke, kept moving. But inside, so much caught in the quiet voice of my mind. Arguing with itself. I am… still me. Why as women do we lose so much of ourselves in a marriage? And as my name continues to change on identification, passports, badges, email accounts…. how long will it take before I know what it is, myself?

Murder of One

crows-1Blue morning Blue morning Wrapped in strands of fist and bone
Curiosity, Kitten,
Doesn’t have to mean you’re on your own
You can look outside your window
He doesn’t have to know
We can talk awhile, baby
We can take it nice and slow
All your life is such a shame, shame, shame
All your love is just a dream, dream, dream
Are you happy when you’re sleeping?
Does he keep you safe and warm?
Does he tell you when you’re sorry?
Does he tell you when you’re wrong?
I’ve been watching you for hours
It’s been years since we were born
dowhghgnload-2We were perfect when we started
I’ve been wondering where we’ve gone
All your life is such a shame
All your love is just a dream
I dreamt I saw you walking up a hillside in the snow
Casting shadows on the winter sky as you stood there
counting crows
One for sorrow Two for joy
Three for girls and four for boys
Five for silver Six for gold and
Seven for a secret never to be told
There’s a bird that nests inside you
Sleeping underneath your skin
When you open up your wings to speak
I wish you’d let me in
All your life is such a shame
All your love is just a dream
Open up your eyes
You can see the flames of your wasted life
You should be ashamed
You don’t want to waste your life
I walk along these hillsides In the summer ‘neath the sunshine
I am feathered by the moonlight falling down on me
Change, change, change

ijjjmages-1This Counting Crows song has been my very, favorite song… since I was 11. It’s changed for me often through the years. The meaning, the emotion, the angst, the hope….actually I suppose it is me that’s changed, the song remains the same. Regardless, I heard it the other night, while I was waiting to meet up with Stuart, and once again I was hearing the song for the first time it seemed, and this is why.

For a long, long time, I lived without ever really being myself. I let myself become a miniature clone of my ex husband, because it was easier than fighting to be myself.  I was tired of arguing. Tired of constantly being wrong. Exhausted with feeling like a crazy person when I disagreed or wanted to do something differently. I learned how to bass fish, I joined his pool team, I watched NASCAR, I allowed LSU throw blankets on the couch… these may seem like little things, but if you knew him, you would know they weren’t. Everything we did, we did hugely. I stopped reading, writing, taking pictures, listening to my favorite bands when we were together, there wasn’t room for who I was, in the marriage.

Are you happy when you’re sleeping?
Does he keep you safe and warm?
Does he tell you when you’re sorry?
Does he tell you when you’re wrong?
I’ve been watching you for hours
It’s been years since we were born.

download-1The way that he asks the questions in the song, they’re on fire. The words are tearing, they’re prying, they’re abrasive, but soft and sweet… he’s asking her… to be honest. To confess where her mind is at. He’s asking her intimate questions, that he already knows the answers to, because he knows that she needs to hear her own answers out loud. He’s trying to make her see the cage that she’s allowed herself to call home.  He did keep her safe, and warm. She was provided for. And told when she was sorry. And told when she was wrong.

It’s through an honest, equal, caring relationship; built on mutual respect and admiration, that I am starting to see just how… not right… my marriage was. It wasn’t healthy. There is so much bound up in my mind over how I allowed that. It is almost confusing for me, because I know myself to be strong. I never necessarily felt weak in my marriage, but I never felt calm and at peace either. It’s an incredibly slow fade.  I recently read an article about nurturers that are in love with narcissistic people, and it’s not that they’re weak, it’s their compassion that is their undoing. It’s their strong desire for those that they care about to be happy and fulfilled that leads them into a world where they’re no longer  taking care of themselves mentally, and a narcissist will continue to just beat them down. It becomes easier to just go along with things than to fight over them. When you do make a stance over something like watching another NASCAR race, or defending the kids over their laundry being done… you’ve been so warped and trained that even hearing yourself argue about it, you instantly feel wrong. It’s a stupid argument. Are you really going to make a stance over watching a certain TV show? Aren’t you over reacting? Aren’t you being stupid? Why are you always such a jerk?
img_3810Looking back into the last ten years, I am starting to see things with an alarming clarity. To be honest, it’s hard to feel worthy of the good, healthy relationship. That itself is actually taking mental retraining. To know that my opinion isn’t going to be an argument or misconstrued as a personal attack. It’s a road that I am walking for the first time. Of course as everything does, my genuine happiness so soon after a divorce, has come with it’s share of criticism from people that think they knew my marriage.  But I’m not focused on that anymore. I can’t be. I carried guilt through the whole marriage, it was always me screwing up, me not doing things that made him happy, me overreacting, my fault, my fault, my fault. And I carried it. Now that I am free from it, I refuse to carry the guilt forward with me. I’ve put it down. The song pours over me again:

There’s a bird that nests inside you
Sleeping underneath your skin
When you open up your wings to speak
I wish you’d let me in

I am finding my focus again. I’m focused on Hailey and Faith seeing their mother be strong and able to care for and defend them on my own. I’m focused on learning to be in a healthy relationship with someone that adores me.  Being a better daughter, sister, friend… person. That’s where my energies are these days. I can’t change my past, but I can use it to make my future better. It comes back to me:

I walk along these hillsides In the summer ‘neath the sunshine
I am feathered by the moonlight falling down on me
Change, change, change.


Because Florida is You

When we met in 1998, I knew you were different than anyone else I had ever known. The way you looked at me, you could see right through me, you knew me. And it was instanteous. I could never keep things from you, or do anything other than just be myself around you. 

At 16 years old, you scared me to death. You were so uniquely intense. We attempted to date for a few weeks, but I wasn’t emotionally ready for any of how I felt toward you. So like most 16 year old girls when they can’t figure things out, I friend zoned you… because I could never explain us. I couldn’t give what we were, a definition. I couldn’t explain why our first kiss; with me in the drivers seat of my car and you sitting in the door jam felt like a movie moment, when I truly barely knew you. But us not dating did not slow us down from spending as much time together as we could.  You didn’t make me strong, you brought out my strengths. You didn’t make me try new things, we learned things together. We could talk for hours, about any and everything. You saw things in the same colors I did. I loved that you could carry on a conversation about football and Shakespeare. You felt no need to be stuck in any specific category. 

It never mattered what we were doing, we made all of it fun. We would sit out on the sand in front of the Gulf and daydream about far away places, yet we never took for granted the beauty right in front of us. We swam at all hours of the night, in the warm salt water. Laid in the sugar sand and stared at the moon. We skipped school on pretty days because passing the beach exit was just not an option. When it would get cold, we would sit on the bottom steps of the boardwalk, I would lean back against you and you would wrap me up and keep me warm. I’ve written a thousand times about standing up out of the sunroof, the Black Crowes playing, you driving and holding on to me but I’ve never said it was you. You made sure I got home from parties safely, even if you had to pick me up and carry me out solely because you would never let me miss curfew. You had told my dad you were bringing me home, and you always did. I dated other people, so did you. But whoever we dated was simply supposed to accept our strange relationship. It wasn’t going anywhere. I’ve written about you so many times, and never made that clear, the moment just never was right. Until now.

We really only knew each other about 18 months during high school, yet you are in all of my memories. Any time I think back, you’re there. Every time I’ve gone home over the last 20 years, I look for you. I call to see if you happen to be going home. Even when I know you aren’t there, sometimes I swear I’ve seen you. If only in a memory. 

When I left to go in the Air Force, you were one of the hardest people in my life to say goodbye to. But we never really said goodbye. You wrote me more letters than anyone while I was gone, sending me pieces of home. When I called my mom to tell her I had orders to come back to Hurlburt Field, she was ecstatic. Then she told me that you had been over to the house a few days before, and decided that since I was gone, you were leaving too. You had just enlisted in the Navy. I cried myself to sleep that night, and in the morning, I decided it was time to go see the world. People don’t really meet their soul mate in high school, do they? 

I’ve been so many places now, but there’s never been a road I’ve stood on, that I didn’t have a momentary thought of how cool it would be to stand there with you.  My children have known your name since I could tell them stories of my younger self. Over the last 20 years we have both been through so much and seen so many things. And when moments were extremely good or insanely bad, it was always each other we went to. Marriage news was met with happy, painful tears. Babies. Death of loved ones. And as if it could be sensed, it would be months without talking, we always called at the right moment. When my little brother was getting married 3,000 miles away from me and I couldn’t make it to see him, all it took was one phone call and you were there to represent. You’ve scooped me up so many times, brushed off the dirt and made me smile again. 

When I found that I couldn’t stop thinking about you and calling you… you came to see me. We were both realizing that we had spent a lot of time trying to put a weird label on a relationship that is actually quite simple. I love you. I have always loved you. And the way you look at me, is different than any look I’ve ever been given. The last few months with you, there haven’t been words beautiful enough to give. Jameson & Vinyl… is our space. A new journey down a familiar road. The reason I could never figure out who you are to me… is because you’re not one thing. You are my best friend. My person. My lazy Sundays and rowdy Fridays. Your arms around me at the bottom of the boardwalk is how I flashback to Florida. It always has been. Florida is home. You are Florida… Home is you. 🐸

Wave After Wave

img_3608Thanksgiving week was an interesting one for me. One full of reflection, thankfulness, relaxation and even some new frustrations. Driving south through Alabama, into the Florida panhandle was beautiful as always. It never disappoints. But arriving at my grandparents house felt like a long awaited trip home. Although I am able to go down there a few times a year, this time felt different. It felt like I was supposed to be back there.

img_3609Within minutes of walking in the door, both Haleigh and Faith had jumped right in and started cooking with Grandma. They had been talking about cooking the whole ride down, and how much they love to sit at her table with her, chatting, chopping, and tasting life. When I was their age, that was always my favorite part of the day with my mom. After school I got undivided attention for about an hour as I sat at the table doing my homework and she made dinner. Sometimes I helped, but those conversations were always the best. Watching my daughters eager to do it with their grandmother made me feel like with all the change and craziness in our lives right now, I am still doing something right with them. It was much needed reassurance, for me.

img_3621After an extremely long summer, I was surrounded by family that I love very much. This year though, I was very aware of the people who were not present. Things have changed drastically around the img_3612Thanksgiving dining room table. It’s weird for something that is so very much the same… to be so different. It’s also strange to feel so much missing, and yet feel so surrounded at the same time. Family is kind of great like that. We played/fought/argued through a couple of board games, watched football, ate entirely too much food, and enjoyed the day. But there’s kind of a new hole in me, where you belong. Knowing you were with family 700 miles away in Houston was comforting, but I became strangely aware of how much I fullsizerenderlove having you around. And how wonderful it feels when you’re with me, when I am with family. Because that’s what you’ve always been. I tried to shake that out of my head as much as possible, because there’s a future there full of great moments, and I needed to take the time to enjoy where I was at.

The weather was incredibly warm, bright and shiny 76 degrees outside. Acorns and leaves falling from the huge oak trees, the only hint at fall. It didn’t take us too long to decide that instead of going shopping Friday we were definitely going to head to the beach. If you’ve never had pumpkin pie and then jumped in the Gulf of Mexico… put it on your list of things to do, because it doesn’t get too much better than that.

It’s always hard to leave my Grandparent’s house. Hard to cross back into Alabama and keep the car pointed North. It has such a tendency to try to turn around. Until next time Florida. xxxooo













When My Car Aims for Florida

floridaThere’s a route in my soul, that I know in my very core. I don’t need GPS, or an atlas. I can get there from anywhere on the planet. Just knowing I am headed there changes things inside of me. There’s a nostalgia that rolls through me, an adrenaline, an ache. I get antsy to leave, just to be on the road with my car aimed at Florida. I’ve been away for so long, yet it’s always back to her safe arms when I need grace and mercy from the roads I travel. She’s a lighthouse, through the hurricanes. A humid, thick sky full of stars, scented with pine, and sand, and salt. She’s an angry thunderstorm rolling in across the Gulf to renew an afternoon. I can feel the pull, my heart is ready. It’s The Black Crowes pouring through the windows.It’s sand in my floorboards that never comes out.

florida2It’s the promise of seeing my Grandparents. Pulling into a driveway that doesn’t change, in a world that changes every second. It’s my daughters in their busy lives with boyfriends and school and constant texting… it’s telling them we are going to Florida and watching them pack at lightning speed because they share that same ache. It’s saying I am leaving on Friday and actually leaving on Wednesday because 3 days just isn’t long enough. It’s where I met you, oh so many years ago. It’s fireworks and lottery tickets. It’s the echo of my mother’s voice calling us in for dinner. My brother, sister and me together, racing, running, playing, fighting. It’s childhood dreams of places far away. It’s trying to get back there ever since. It’s home. It’s Thanksgiving.

Because There Must Be a Beginning

img_3391Like all journeys, there’s a jumping off, or starting point. As there is with this journey, the one I am going to take you on. But what gets left behind occasionally is the how comes, the whys, the explanations, ahhhh the prequel. The reason for the journey. I suppose I am getting a bit ahead of myself, and in doing so, am tangling these words all together.

I have been in the blogging world for the last five years, and spent my whole life writing. My writing doesn’t define me, but it does however, free me. I started blogging 5 years ago when I was going through a separation and didn’t want to continuously vent to family members. My blog was called Xanax or Running Shoes. Because for me, it was a daily choice, and trust me, the running shoes did not always win out.

img_3481As the last five years went by, the marriage patched itself, fell apart, patched itself, and then eventually became too much mental stress for me to handle. As I begin new chapters of my life, I felt it necessary to start fresh. Begin anew. Give myself space to write words that inspired me to the core.

img_3390I am, if nothing else, a survivor. I have the ability to stand up, dust myself off… and keep going. I have scars. Mental. Physical. Hypothetical. But they make me, me. So, I’m ok with that.

I am aware that I just started a blog with a bunch of inspirational pics and one of me looking like I might not be completely sold on the whole idea, but that about sums it up pretty damn good. There’s a lot of good in my life. And there’s a lot of change on the horizon. Let’s fucking do this. Welcome to Jameson & Vinyl. Kick back, it’s sure to get crazy.