Jessica Ashley facebook twitter babble voices pinterest is a single mama in the city, super-savvy editor, writer, video host and shameless shoe whore.
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Just as I was five years ago, I am engrossed.

I am having a hard time turning off the TV, turning away from the stories, the updates and the analysis. I am having a hard time moving on with my day and looking past the people left behind on September 11th -- the widows and children, the partners and fiancees, the friends and bosses and many, many loved ones who lost loved ones. I am having a hard time going about the business of daily life.

And yet, daily living is the thing that I imagine all of those grieving people miss most. It goes without saying that there is much to miss and mourn during the big and shining moments, the walking down the aisle and the emergence of a new life, the toasts at Thanksgiving and retirements, the shredding of too many gifts at the holidays and quiet stillness at significant anniversaries. But I imagine that there continues to be many dull aches in the details of a Monday morning cup of coffee, a walk home from school on a rainy fall day, the quick kiss goodnight, the back-and-forth of where to order carry-out in the neighborhood.

In the five years since September 11th crashed into our lives, I became a wife and had a child. Now that I am a parent, I get it all much more. Just like I did during Hurricane Katrina, during the tsunami, during the aftermath of the last presidential election, I am so much more invested.

My God, I think, what if that was me? My child? The love of my life? My God.

One summer in my college years, I was working as an intern at a television station. On a day off, I was in a bad car accident, rolling my car three times in a grassy median and amazingly, walking away with only a cut on my forehead. Still running on adrenaline, I went into work the next day. The producers I worked with were kind and sent me home to rest. My hard-edged mentor stopped me on my way out.

"When I heard about your accident," she said, touching my arm, having never made any kind of friendly contact with me before, "my heart bled for you."

I was so struck by this at the time. And today, this scene came to mind. My heart bled for you. This image felt so full of pain and sympathy at the time. Yet, every single day, the blood goes in and out of hearts over and over and over again, a physiological detail so quiet, so engrained that we rarely give it any thought.

I thought of all those people at Ground Zero, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, building up necessary scar tissue, remembering and healing, longing and going about living, with hearts bleeding for the boring, relentless gifts of everyday life.

Today, after the moments of silence and the photo retrospectives, I sent my prayers out to the world and to the many souls and survivors of September 11th. I said my prayers for peace in the world, not just for the Arab American mother adding roses and tears to the reflecting pool, but for the Arab mothers on the other side of the globe who has lost her own children to the war.

With one last prayer of thanks for my husband, our beautiful boy, and the blessings of our daily lives, I wrapped my toddler in a jacket and hat, rolled up his pants and went outside to stomp in puddles and play in the rain.

As my boy giggled and sang, splashed in slight puddles and took notice of the leaves papering the sidewalk, I felt it all swell up inside of me.

My God, I thought, this is living.

And this living, I think, is the best memorial there is.

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Well, hello there.

Welcome to Sassafrass. Come on in.

Grab a Diet Fanta and the bag of blue tortilla chips on the counter. Let's get cozy.

Yes, this is one of those 3 million mommy blogs floating around out there, making you feel comfortable about your obsessions and minor paranoia that your lack of interest in coloring just one more Elmo and Zoe playing hockey will lead to therapy bills that make college tuition look like a good trip to the dollar store.

This is one more place where I get to write about all the stuff that is important to me or crosses my mind, and where you read, laugh or fire back, and then check in tomorrow. This is the little space where I spill mama-brags about how hilarious and amazingly adorable my child is, and where my husband gets a Most Frequent Commenter award just to get out of making after-news runs to 7-11 for jasmine green tea and Dove bars.

This is my little piece of heaven where I am sessy as hell, smart as a whip and people say, "Dude. You've got to read this chica's post on RockStar. It is effing hilarious, papi!"

But why why why?

About two years ago, I hired an artist to create a small business website for me. OK, so "hired" might be a stretch. I promised him that my husband would barter out his time with personal training, which never happened. The whole arrangement fizzled out, which was really not that unexpected and really was OK since the artist is the brother of one of my best friends.

Hired? Not ever in my budget. Asking an artist to complete a concrete project on my aggressive schedule? Not penned into my calendar.

The artist/best friend's brother did give me some great parting advice about meta-tags and other cyberspeak that I cannot remember, did not write down, and honestly, sunk in like the instructions the Polish lady at the produce market yells at people choosing seedless watermelons.  After our decision to abandon the project (mostly his) and farewells to fitness (still his), he forwarded me the link to his blog.

Do know I had and have absolutely no hard feelings toward Best Friend's Brother. He is one of the nicest guys and most talented artists I've ever met. He doesn't need to be designing my website. He needs to be hanging his paintings in galleries in River North. He is a survivor, a sweetheart, a hugger. But when he directed me to his blog, he made me cringe.

All I could think as I dutifully clicked through to photos of his artwork, a modest About Me section and a few cheery comments from college buddies still living in Wrigleyville was: Good Lord. Does everyone have to have a freaking blog now?

I made my way through an overly-simplified web hosting template program to create a website for myself. Other than headaches over trying to override a system set to size 9 Ariel font, it costs me very little. It is up and it will do.

I got it up in time to launch my own art business (you see? my artist cracks are justified after all) and soon after, to land a writing job that would require me to put my brushes away for a bit. The job is for a much bigger, slicker website and for the most part, is blogging. Blogging there led to blogging here on my own time, in my own space, on my own not-so-aggressive schedule.

The cosmic answer to my own question is apparently, yes. We all do need our own freaking blog.

My name is Jessica Ashley. I am a feminist mama, a crafty maven, a grrrl who gets all kinds of riled up. I'm a wife, a reality TV junkie, a shoe whore who collects shoes that make no sense to wear to playgroup. I don't have a housekeeper and I will  I swear and I enjoy it. I teach my toddler dance moves courtesy my nights as a clubber with a gold card, perched on a big black amplifier pedestal. I laugh. A lot. I love big and I get geeky with a quickness. I am analytical, artistic and intellectual. I am bootylicious and brave. I am serious and an incessant sassafrass. I am my own best audience.

And really, are there better reasons for beginning a blog?

I'm glad you've joined me. Let's keep this badgrrrl going, shall we?

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