“Guys don’t like short hair.”

When I was 20(ish), I decided to cut my hair short.

My hair was a dark brown then, and I liked how simple it was. It was right before a road trip I was taking with my friend Becky, and her mom, Katie. We RVed down the East Coast, which was challenging, invigorating, and really really fun.


Here I am in Kentucky, short hair in tow.

I loved it.

I wasn’t dating anyone at the time, but obviously still wanted to be attractive to the opposite sex. The rural routes we took weren’t exactly through Babe City, so I had limited exposure (as did my short hair cut, that I was crazy about) to guys. It wasn’t until I arrived at our final destination, Daytona, that I got any feedback about how I looked from a dude.

I was at a wedding (friend of a friend), when an older guy, who was talking to someone else, said something I would never forget.

“Guys like long hair,” he said to her, but looking directly at me. “Guys don’t like short hair.”


For a 20 year old girl, that was devastating to hear. While it probably wasn’t intentionally hurtful, I was immediately flooded with doubt. Needless to say, I was too afraid to love my short bob, so I let my hair grow. I didn’t cut it short again until when I was married, and even then, I waited until he was halfway around the world in Iraq.

As silly as it sounds, I wanted to make sure I had something on lock before I risked someone thinking my hair was ugly.

Really foolish.

I feel really sad for that previous version of myself. I remember feeling extremely insecure at 20 anyway, and the discouraging words of that man haunted me for years. I’m embarrassed to admit that it took me a long time to separate “Attractive Melissa” from “Actual Melissa”. Even longer to accept that it was ENTIRELY OK not to force myself into an ideal appearance.

It’s such bullshit. 

I didn’t really recover from that sharp-tongued short hair hating man until I watched House of Cards. Seeing a woman of power rock such a simple, yet elegant look, with SUPER SHORT HAIR made me realize that he was wrong. In fact, 99% of guys that I talked to about HOC found Robin Wright as stunning as I did, pixie cut and all.

But to be fair, I don’t think it was the short hair entirely. I think what anyone likes, is less about preference, and more about confidence. It’s more about ownership over who you are, and how well you wear yourself.

A few weeks ago, I went to see my hairdresser Stephanie (at Arrow in Durham), to cut my hair again. I have no expectation or desire to have my short hair enchant anyone but myself. She cut off 4-5 inches, so my hair is now chin length, and choppy.


I even let her shave underneath.



I wish I could go back in time and confront that guy. Instead of saying nothing, I wish that when he said, “guys don’t like short hair”, I would have looked him right in the eye and said:




If you want more #shorthairdontcare, check out the many adorable minimal haired people posting on Instagram. I spent about 45 minutes trolling.

When each day feels like a melted ice cream sandwich.

“Stop being a melted vanilla ice cream sandwich,” I said.

I don’t remember who it was directed at. I just recall that they were being kind of negative. I was tired, and the only thing I could compare how I felt to was the feeling of sticky, chocolate caked fingertips.

I hate vanilla ice cream sandwiches.

Just look at that smug bastard.

It’s not that vanilla sandwiches are repulsive. They’re just boring. Boring and basic.

So basic in fact, you cannot really hate them, but only tolerate their existence.

To be clear, I’m not talking about the sexy double fudge cayenne pepper avocado daisy flavored ice cream sandwiches you get at food trucks. I’m talking frost bitten bargain brand ice cream sandwiches, the ones you pull out of the back of your freezer when you realize you literally have nothing else to offer your guests.

It’s only after you hesitantly accept an ice cream sandwich that you remember how regrettable they are.

As the white, sticky ice cream starts to drip, and the spongy chocolate cake part sticks to your fingers, you start to question not only this dessert choice, but all of your life choices.

Questions such as the following come to mind:

“Why did I commit to eating this messy disaster?”

“What kind of person does this make me?”

“Who’s that drunk guy by the pool?”

“How can I get out of going home for Christmas?”

“Is Shia LeBeouf ever going to get his illustrious career back?”

I’m obviously being hyperbolic.

But seriously. They’re nothing worse than vanilla ice cream sandwiches, and we all know it. They fall into a category with other tolerable, but regrettable situations: slow but not tragically slow internet, a beer you order and just sort of like, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, Hilary Clinton’s pant suits.

You get the idea.

So what happens when each day feels like that? Like a soggy, but kind of okay backyard treat? When the days mush together, leaving behind a regrettable but somewhat tolerable residue?

What happens is that you blame yourself. You question all of the decisions you’ve made up to that point. You wonder how you became the kind of person that becomes comfortable in that kind of environment.

You know to be honest, I blame you too. You made the choices. You put yourself there. You said “OK sure” to one too many lumpy ice cream sandwiches, and now you’re paying the price.

So what are you going to do about it?

I shared a segment from my book recently that I think aligns to this:

Is it possible that “my refusal – to get too comfortable, to stock up on material clutter, or to stuff my face with too much junk… because I don’t want to settle SO BADLY, I won’t even settle on little things?”

For a period of my life, I was comfortable. I settled for hypothetical ice cream sandwiches.

I rationalized it by telling myself that someday, I would pursue what I really wanted – that I was just killing time. I willingly treaded water. But what I didn’t realize, was by settling, even in seemingly insignificant ways, I was training myself to believe I deserved less.

I finally broke myself out of it by the same shitty choices I made. I started saying no, to everything lackluster… to overly hoppy beers I accidentally ordered and didn’t like, to sundresses I only wore one time because they had an itchy tag, to unsatisfying books I forced myself to read halfway through, then ditched.

I just stopped. And everything changed.

Once I cleared out the clutter, and aggressively pursued things I felt something significant towards, I became happier. Less scared, less uncertain. Even something as simple as buying a bouquet of incredibly fragrant flowers for my desk transformed my day.

Starting my day with prayer, going to get Thai food at lunch, or foregoing a night out at the bar for a Mad Men marathon changed me. Sure, there were times I was still bored, still uncertain or nibbling on ice cream sandwiches… but I started to realize how unsatisfying these things were.

It turned me off to them.

A visit to the National Geographic Museum, the purchase of a drafting table that fits perfectly in my bedroom, the choice to eat proscuitto wrapped mozzerella for dinner… those little things added up to good vibes.

So friend, whoever you are, whatever situation you find yourself in, if it looks/feels anything like moderately long lines for the bathroom, lukewarm sushi, or post-it notes that are starting to use the adhesiveness… turn away.

Turn towards what fills you with joy. Turn towards the things that feel like sunshine, newly sharpened pencils, or the smell of a new book. Stop questioning whether or not you deserve to be gleefully happy, and start pursuing the people and places that will enable you to do so.

I’m right there with you.




Conversations Preview

Whenever I meet someone for the first time, I ask them the same question.

“Where do you see yourself in five years?”

I get mixed responses. Some people awkwardly make a joke, while others just look confused and give the standard, “Uh, I don’t know…”.

I love the people who jump right in.

Like the young southern entrepreneur who tells me about the family he wants to start with his future wife, or the bright eyed, joyful Christian who excitedly talks about how she wants to open a wellness center.

You really get to know someone when you ask them that question.

I’m always full of questions. It’s a defense mechanism against my natural inclination to be shy. When I was young, I was severely speech delayed, causing years of insecurity and anxiety around public speaking, as well as an occasional stutter.

I’ve devised ways to work around it. I’ve forced myself to be outgoing and social. So much in fact, at times, I worry I seem like I’m trying too hard.

So in a crowded bar, when I’m stuck talking to a guy that I’ve only met a few times, and don’t really know anything about, I just bluntly ask something like:

“So, why do you live in North Carolina?” or “Do you like your job?”

This usually ends with me encouraging them to move out of North Carolina, where they were born and raised, thus afraid to leave. Other times, to quit their job to pursue their passion of making their own surfboards, or moving to Berlin.

I’m a girl that fully encourages the idea that YOLO, although I really hate that acronym.

But other times, it’s not a forced question. It’s out of pure curiosity, or a desire for intimacy.

“Tell me a secret,” I’ve mumbled, multiple times, right before I fell asleep besides someone.

The answers have always been different.

There was the murmured, and slightly lazy, “I can’t think of anything…” with a slight chuckle. Then there was the silly, lighthearted, “I like you,” to which I sleepily contested, that it wasn’t a real secret.

And finally, after being asked the question on multiple occasions, after struggling to think of something he considered to be a “secret”, my boyfriend at the time surprised me.

“You tell me a secret,” he said.

“No one has ever asked me that before,” was my reply, before dozing off.

You really get to know someone when you ask them that question.

I wanted to write this book, if you can even consider it one, because that incessant need to ask questions and get answers has inspired a lot of incredible conversations.

You know that conversation – the one that evolves from a common bond. It can be anything you consider special or sacred. Most of mine start with realizing we’re both from Philadelphia and/or despise American cheese.

Or perhaps something more controversial, like whether or not Hillary Clinton should run for office, or how the other person feels about abortion, or the death penalty.

It’s the conversation that engulfs you into your own little bubble, where it’s just you and this other person, and everything around you has ceased to matter or exist. It seems to go on for hours, when at times, it’s no more than just twenty minutes.

It’s only broken by outside circumstance, such as the flicker of lights, when you realize the bar you’re at is about to close, or the realization you’ve been on the phone for two hours and it’s about to die.

But the conversation is too good. You either head down the street, to a gourmet hot dog place on Fayetteville Street you know is open until three, or you just plug in your phone, and lie on your bed at an incredibly awkward angle, just so you can continue talking for the next three hours.

In my lifetime, I’ve been forced to master the art of conversation. Because over the span of ten years, I’ve had over thirty roommates. I’ve lived and traveled all over the U.S. and internationally.

I’m what my friend Susan calls a free spirit. I’m what my parents refer to as indecisive. I’m the person to call if you want to jump onto a cargo train, or hop a last minute flight to Capri.

I’ve worked at two e-commerce companies, one start-up, and currently, an advertising agency in downtown Durham. I spent a summer in South Jersey waiting tables, another summer interning at a record label in Raleigh, and an entirely separate summer at a radio station in Rochester.
Then there was the time spent hitchhiking around Iceland, where I got picked up by at least 15 people, forcing very interesting, and occasionally drowsy conversations, which is a completely different story, and well… book.

“I have never regretted that decision.”

What’s the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself?
I asked everyone I could.


(Inspired by Danielle LaPorte’s recent article, 28 of the Best Things I Ever Did.)


“Transferred colleges from a really small school to a really big school.” – Drunk Matt

“Making my 30 before 30 list and actually doing most of it.”  – Susan Lowerre

“Not smoked crack.” – Anonymous

“Letting go of an ex.” – Marianna Blizzard

“Getting a monthly massage for the past 2 years.” – Meagan Brown

“Finishing the divorce process.” – West Bunting

“Gave up drugs and gang life and moved to NC.” – Anonymous

“Stopped drinkin’” – Hordur Halldorsson

“Starting my own business, it’s hectic but so fulfilling.” – Miranda Murphy

“Learned to say no.” – Samantha Best

“Not being afraid of saying ‘no’.” – Erica Randall

“Up and quit my job in RTP and moved to Boone! I have never regretted that decision.” – Meredith Duyck

“Getting sisterlocks. It may seem like a little thing but it’s boosted my confidence and made me open to new experiences.” – Karole Johnson

“Hooked up with someone else.” - Anonymous

Had my little girl… it’s the best job I’ve ever had and it’s taught me more about patience, strength, optimism and embracing each day — than anything else I’ve done.” – Marianna Pinner

“Going back to school…and waiting until I’m in my 30′s to do it. It’s impacted my life in areas I didn’t even expect.” - Amanda Figley

“Cheated.” – Anonymous

“Having my daughter. Stopped me from doing a lot of stupid shit and grounded me like I couldn’t have imagined. I found my soon to be wife and how I couldn’t be more grateful for that.” – Jimmy Best

“Dumped my loser douche ex and went to grad school.” – Annabel Jones

“Either too hard to decide or too crude to admit.” – Me

10 Rick & Joan Alaskan Cruise Insights

My parents are back from their trip, but still have a TON of stories to share! Here’s 10 insights from their Alaskan adventure!


#1. We were by far the youngest, most adaptive, and pleasant couple on the tour.


Nice t-shirt, Mom!

This is not a lie.


#2. Our favorite traveling companions are New Zealanders!!


We will be visiting there as soon as we Google where that is.

 (Editor’s Note: They’re in for a surprise.)


#3. A new goal is to experience every known form of transportation before this tour is over.


So far we have used a car, plane, train,  taxi, ferry, van, monorail, water taxi, subway, trolley, helicopter (to get to the top of this glacier) and motorcoach.


#4. We will stop having dessert after every meal…

loading zone

loading zone

…in six more days.


#5. Cruises encourage you to try new and different things.

at the original starbucks

at the original starbucks

…can you say “Lotus Spa” Rick Randall?


#6. Poolside pizza and soft serve are not food groups.


They are lifestyle choices.


#7. No one ever wins at Bingo except Joan Randall!!!!!


All that lifelong practice finally paid off big time….thanks kids!!!!


#8. Laugh at our selfie-stick, you fools.  We have the best pictures ever.

Joan at Temple, glory days.

Joan at Temple, glory days, without her selfie-stick.

Thanks Boo-Boo!
(Editor’s Note: My sister Erica is Boo-Boo. I am not Boo-Boo.)


#9. Our lives have become ironic.


Rick in more energizing times.

I’m thriving on daily naps……Rick is the Energizer Bunny.


#10. I so wish our room steward could come home with us.

In Seattle!

In Seattle!

(Editor’s Note: I didn’t ask why.)



Here’s the second post of my mother, Joan’s, blog takeover!  My parents travel to Seattle en route to Alaska!


Rick and I have always wanted to visit Seattle. When we decided to go to Alaska, we developed an elaborate plan to extend our vacation to include this eclectic city.  With  a  3 am ride to the airport courtesy of Erica and Ricky, we arrived by noon.  I knew we were in trouble when our shuttle driver started driving back to the airport. “He was new to the neighborhood” he told me.  “Really? So am I!” I said under my breath.

What a blast we’ve had! 

Here are some of our highlights:

In Seattle!

In Seattle!


Pikes Market - we were lucky enough to visit this venue multiple times thanks to its proximity to the Marriott Waterfront.  Go right before it opens to watch the vendors setting up.  The sights, sounds, and smells are amazing.   Not to mention the fact that we ate our way through it (proshkuyprorusky, three sisters bakery, Lowells).

at the original starbucks

with a new friend

City Pass - we played tourist and bought this pass for $69 each.  We had sunset cocktails at the top of the Space Needle, cruised the Puget Sound, and enjoyed the Aquarium.. The aquarium is not just for kids, my big kid loved!  We had fish and chips on a pier and fed our fries to the seagulls in honor of our niece Samantha!  (She loves those little birdies!)

loading zone

Erica, my sister: “Watch out…he only has a 30 minute loading time.”

Marriott Waterfront is a classy boutique hotel right across from the cruise ship terminal ( we are not that smart….instead we are traveling several hundred more miles to catch our ship).  The hubby’s platinum status with Marriott gave us access to the concierge level and the indoor/outdoor Infiniti pool is a plus.  Classy joint.

Our last afternoon we visited Pioneer Square and did the Bill Spiedel’s underground city tour. The business district (and I mean every business district) burned to the ground in the late 1800s and the original city sidewalks and streets are literally underground. Decided not to do the paranormal version of the tour.

Mr. Restaurant dug it.  


at the original starbucks, yes they are using a selfie stick

Which brings me to the normal of Seattle….its homeless population.   Everywhere we went, there were homeless. It was heartbreaking to see so many people suffering.   It has become an epidemic throughout our country and my heart aches for humanity.  What is wrong with our system?   What is wrong with us?. The most ironic scenario was the man set up across from our hotel carrying the sign “I swallowed my pride but I am still hungry”.  The homeless wander the streets with their pets…my fur babies have no idea how lucky they are.

I hope to always remember Seattle fondly. The reality is that I will always remember the homeless of Seattle more.


Presenting, Joan Tourist.

Just to recap, my mother and father are going to Alaska for their 30th Anniversary. My mom, Joan, has graciously volunteered to take over Driftyland for the majority of their trip. Without further adieu…


In less than 12 hours, my husband and I will head to the airport to begin what most people would call “the trip of a lifetime”.  To me, the last 30 years of marriage that we are going to be celebrating has been “my trip of a lifetime”.   Honestly it has been more of an adventure.



When I say the words “30 years”, I find it hard to fathom.  Most people react by and saying “WOW…..that’s really awesome”.   Our family and friends would probably use the word “unbelievable” rather than “awesome”.  Persistent is a word that infinitely describes both of our personalities.

The secret to our long tenure is definitely patience.  I have a memory like an elephant.  On our wedding night, we were dropped off at a hotel near the airport and Rick told me “to suck it up and carry my own bags!”  I could not help but wonder what I had gotten myself into.

In Florida

In Florida

Rick has told me “to suck it up” many times over the years by encouraging me with tough love. When I was a little girl, I wanted to live in a 4 bedroom Colonial house, have 5 children, and be married to the man of my dreams.   I had no idea what kind of person the man of my dreams would be.   Someone just like my father?  Doubtful.  Someone famous?  Not likely.  Someone perfect? Impossible. Instead I married a boy who turned into that man.  My husband continues to challenge me every day by asking me to look beyond my own self and “to be the bigger person Jones”.  I need more than my share of reminders.

Rick Randall is a kind and sensitive man, a hard worker, an excellent father, and true friend.  BTW…..he’s been in my face since I starting writing this blog annoying the hell out of me and finally admitting that “suck it up” was only the first of many comments he has since regretted.

Happy Anniversary Mr. Restaurant.  Joan Tourist is looking forward to our future adventures together especially at 3 am tomorrow morning……carrying my own bags of course.


28 Candles

When I was 21, I spent the summer in South Jersey. I’ve hidden this well, mainly because for that summer, I was a waitress at T.G.I.Fridays and was seriously rocking a hair-extensioned Hannah Montana look. I worked until 2 or 3 in the morning and dated jerks. I spent evenings playing cards with my family friends and got my first tattoo. For my 21st birthday, my friend Becky threw me a party where we all dressed in colored saran wrap.

Oh, Hannah.


I know…right?

We’ve all done crazy things. I can say that every year, of the past 28 years, has been a complete surprise (especially that one). Each year has been challenging, and invigorating. I did things I never thought I’d do, some without saran wrap.

Don’t get me wrong. There were a lot of wonderful things - hanging out with Catherine and Dan in Blondos, Iceland, chain smoking cigarettes with Tassy Pankow at 4 AM, and house-sitting a grumpy, grey cat named Raisins in Northern England for two weeks. Meeting Oprah Winfrey and The Avett Brothers, coaching junior high cheerleading in Topsail Beach, and driving up to Rochester on weekends in college with Lane, blasting Michael MacDonald and Britney Spears. Singing terrible karaoke on a cruise. Racing to City Hall with Jeff McReynolds after the Phillies won the World Series, and staying up all night watching Woody Allen movies.

On the Arctic Adventure school bus, heading to the glacier.

On the Arctic Adventure school bus, heading to the glacier.

Hopping on the train to D.C. for the weekend to meet up with Jasmin and William to work at Audienti, taking a last minute trip to Chelsea to attend a Jaguar event for Empire Covers. Exploring Paris with Marion, working for the Greater Philadelphia Student Film Festival, cruising around Mt. Hood with Sarah Charniak, and spending the weekend in Palm Springs with A.J. Friedman. Hanging out with Sophia Bush. Living off rotisserie chicken and olives in Nice for a week. Visiting my cousin Logan every summer, taking trips to North Carolina every weekend during my senior year of college and getting featured on the CW Philly for my blog.

With Sophia Bush


The list goes on.

Then again, there were a lot of not so wonderful things. The night that my ex broke up with me, after two years of dating, before taking off for a weekend with his friends. When I decided to leave Philadelphia because I couldn’t afford to live there. On a bus in Reykjavik, when I realized I had to I give up Russell. The afternoon my parents picked me up at cheerleading practice, and told my that my Aunt – my best friend and idol, had taken her own life. The day that a doctor told me that I might not be able to have children, after two miscarriages.

But as is life.

Because the one thing I’ve learned from my 28 years on Earth is that life is inconsistent, thrilling, and occasionally unfair. I’ve also learned that there’s incredible value in both consistency and unpredictability. There’s value in surrounding yourself with people, and being your own best friend.

So in the past 28 years, I’ve made it a point not to leave any stone unturned. I’ve taken every chance I’ve felt a twinge of enthusiasm for and I’ve seen it through to the very end. Everything, everyone I’ve felt passionate about, I’ve pursued, until it didn’t make sense to pursue any longer.

When given the choice, I’ve chosen to act. That guy in college that I was just friends with, but was crazy about? Fuck yeah, I kissed him. That job that I really didn’t like, or see going anywhere? Fuck yeah, I quit it. That pull, that insatiable push to go to Iceland, to Durham, and to Philadelphia? Fuck yeah, I followed it. 

No regrets, bitch.

I hope to continue that go-and-get-it drive in the next year, the next 20 years. It’s something I want to follow through with for the rest of my life. I don’t want to ever forget the feeling of taking an incredible risk, even when it doesn’t work out.

I don’t ever want to forget what it feels like to try. 

I want to keep chasing “it”… whatever “it” is, forever.



Small Worlds

For the past few weeks, I’ve been settling into Durham.

So far, I love it. It feels really good to live somewhere that just clicks. I haven’t felt like this since I lived in Wilmington.


But living in Durham has a price. I didn’t realize what that was until this morning.

For starters, I woke up at 4.

Not intentionally, I just couldn’t sleep. I had a kickball game the night before, which of course, was following by drinking. After playing in the heat, probably not being hydrated enough, and a particularly busy day at work, I was exhausted.


It kind of feels like this.

But still,  I woke up at 4. 4 AM. I tried all of the usual getting back to sleep tricks – flipping the pillow over, sleeping on top of the covers, turning on Netflix for background noise. I prayed for awhile.

Nothing worked.

The exhaustion was mostly from the day before, but admittedly, I’ve been stressed. The kind of stress that’s manageable, but historically, makes me tense and abrupt. Somewhere between snapping at Grace that I didn’t have time to talk to her (when she just wanted to ask me if I wanted some pie, I’m an asshole), to nearly biting West’s head off for misspelling a word in a file name (to be fair, he did it twice)….I realized that something was off.

I just didn’t know what it was.

So after tossing and turning for nearly two hours, I just got up and went to grab breakfast at Whole Foods.

As I scanned the High Brews (a particularly addictive line of cold brew coffees), I thought about everything I had ahead of me that day. Same lineup as always: what projects I had going on at work, how much time I would have for my blog (if any), whether or not I should go to Wilmington that weekend.

That’s the moment when it hit me: my world is very small.


at motorco

I live less than 10 minutes away from my office. I’m close friends with half of our office, and I spent a ton of time with them outside of the office. A few weeks ago, Tassy and I went to her house on a Friday night and spent three hours drinking wine and talking about one of our clients.

I spend at least three or four nights a week at the same bars. I go to lunch with the same people. But oh, I just joined a kickball team…

…and all of my roommates joined.

None of these things are bad. In fact, everything I’m suggesting is “small” is actually something I love doing. It’s provided me with a sense of stability I always lacked before.

But the consequence of a small world is being stuck in patterns. Having the same conversations. Facing the same problems.

And if your world is small enough, those problems and patterns are feel so much bigger than they actually are. So much, that it can kind of feel like the walls are closing in. It’s only right before I feel like Han in the trash compactor, that I remember these patterns and problems aren’t walls, they’re a set of circumstances I’m stuck in.

The only reason I feel like they’re so monumental is because I can’t see beyond them.

My world is too small.

I feel like a lot of people experience this kind of thing. I’ve been talking to Tassy about a super awesome but still being figured out project I’m going to start on the blog…so I don’t think it’ll last.

But the realization – “hey, your world is kind of small,” kind of blows off the walls. It makes you realize how miniscule even your worst problems are. It wipes away anything lackluster, anything forced, and leaves room for bigger and better things.


This blog requires at least one Iceland photo per post.

A bigger world.

Hello, Durham.


A chubby finger is pointed at me.

I raise my eyebrows at the toddler staring at me, and give her a look that clearly says: Nope.

I end up talking to her for a few minutes, through baby babble, gestures, and some help from her actual father. Her name is Julia, she’s two, and she loves jazz. The jazz part I inferred from her breaking into dance when Sinatra starts playing.

I’m at Beyu, a coffee shop/jazz club in downtown Durham



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