Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Top 10 of a Great 2008

I know what you're thinking: ugh, another top 10 list. But if you're a regular reader of this blog, it's stuff you already know, and if you've just joined in since the summer, you'll get a taste of what was going on around the ol' blog back before my book came out.

So here's my top 10 events of the year, and I blogged about them all (something that surprised me, believe it or not). Think of it as a bit of Jersey Shore cheer and warmth on this cold Christmas week...

10. January at the Jersey Shore

This might seem like an odd thing to put on a top 10 list, but it was a turning point of a trip. I had just reviewed the final manuscript of my book in actual book form and given approval to the cover, so I knew what the book was going to look like but still had no idea if anyone would read it let along buy it and like it. I was still in that jittery "I'm about to become an author" phase.

I went down the shore that week to have my picture taken for the first article I wrote to promote the book -- a rather lenghty piece for Cool Cape May, which turned out to be I think the article most people read and said "hey, that's you!"

This trip was also a reminder of why I love the shore and wrote the book. I hopped off the Garden State Parkway in Ocean City and drove south down the Ocean Drive all the way to Cape May. Even though a lot of stores were closed and it was cold (COLD!), I had a lot of time to think about what had happened the previous year and imagine what would happen once the book came out (and I was way off...)

Then there was the actual picture taking at the top of the Cape May lighthouse, which was was...interesting. And frigid. Here's the final shots with article. It was also an experience that really started my fine working relationship with Exit Zero and friendship with publisher Jack Wright (have fun on vacation!) It also promted me to set up the photo shoot for a similiar piece I'll have on their Ocean City book to make sure it was taken in warmer times. I used to style photo shoots a few years ago. What fun to do it for a shoot that involves you!

9. TV Time.

Now that the summer's over, I can admit that I wasn't a big fan of going on TV. Yes, I am forever grateful that two shows on NBC 10 and CN8 put me on camera, and I'd do it again in a heart beat. But I found TV stressful and nerve wracking. I'm still not over the moon about how I did on the NBC 10! show, though doing "All That & More with Tracy Davidson" show in two parts (filming at my house then a live spot on air) was nifty, and it was cool to say "hey mom! I'm going on TV today." What I really enjoyed, though, was radio -- Preston and Steve were great as was the crew on 95.7 Ben FM, SoJo 104.9 and KYW 1060. Print articles were fun, too, and different since I was on the other side of the journalism table, especially when the magazine I used to edit did a piece on me AND named this blog as best blog in "Best of SJ." The kicker? The book getting a mention in AARP. I cried -- CRIED -- when I saw it. Stupid, yes, but a big deal to me.

8. West Wildwood in the New York Times.
I had pitched this story in August of 2007, right as I was wrapping up the manuscript for my book. My editor, the ever talented and wonderful Dana Jennings (who is currently writing about his cancer treatment for nytimes.com) loved the idea but wanted it to run in the summer (obviously) and said to get in touch in summer 2008, which is exactly what I did. The piece was a lengthy one to put together, but it was worth it, and the article ran in the Friday of Labor Day weekend -- the perfect cap to the summer.

7. Filming the "Down the Shore with Jen" series.
While I was iffy on TV, I loved filming this series, which me and Steve Chernoski shot in a day, starting at sunrise in Atlantic City and finishing at sunset in Cape May. Well -- almost sunrise. I was a little bit late getting down to Atlantic City. I'd never done 95 on the AC Expressway until that day, and then I was sprinting through the Showboat Casino (and, as a friend said, am surprised someone didn't deck me). Turns out it was a foggy day anyway, so I didn't miss much.

It was also the first time I realized that most of this stuff is lodged in my brain. I didn't have a script. I referenced the book a few times before filming just to make sure I had dates right, but I knew most of it.

Here's the first part in the series:

We also got kicked out of the Pier at Caesars that early in the morning (hey, the door was open!). I am forever grateful to Steve for doing me this favor (so go check out his site -- please!)

You can see the entire series here.

6. Emily Swims!
No, I didn't have a picture of when my little gal took a swim, but it's branded in my brain. I was on vacation in Cape May -- the first vacation I've taken in about four years -- and I was so very upset that the summer heat was still hanging out in September (95-100 degrees). So every day, I'd take Emily to Higbee Beach, which is a spot on the Delaware and dog friendly. She liked to chase birds and pad in the water, which is shallow. I'd stand in the water and she kept creeping out deeper. I turned to look at something and then when I turned back to Emily, she was swimming. Yes, another crying moment. My poor little pup had such a bad time before I got her (abuse, being put up for adoption not once but twice) that to see her make that kind of leap was such a Kodak moment (but no Kodak! I know, I know...next summer, I'll bring the camera).

5. This dress.

I know, I know, nothing to do with the shore. But in terms of 2008, that was a single gal moment all the way -- not just that I threw aside any thoughts I had of what a woman my build should wear (the cataloge picture of this dress showed it on a rail thin model whose weight lifting experience seemed to be lifting a cigarette to and from her mouth...I didn't know how it would look on someone who has actual muscles) but also that I wore it even though I didn't have a date. I couldn't bring myself to put the dress away for way too long after that event. Thank goodness I had a camera for THIS one!

4. Phillies win the World Series

This was a personal and professional moment for me. I've been a life long Phillies fan, so the team winning the world series was obviously a huge moment. But I got to write about the series not once, but three times for the New York Times -- all because I took a shot and pitched a story that should have been too late to pitch, then offered to keep helping out. And having a press pass to walk along the parade route on Halloween? Priceless.

3. Italy

Oh my goodness, Italy. What an unexpcted, fun and exciting trip. I wasn't supposed to go -- I had too much to do, I told myself. But I dropped everything one Friday night, booked a ticket, and was in Rome a week later. I'm so glad I did that.

2. The Ocean Drive 10 Miler

A race? A race is number two?! Of course! That race wasn't just the culmination of months of training. It was also a personal accomplishment -- I used running to pull myself out of a long, deep funk that settled in last fall. I couldn't write anything worth reading (or selling) for months after I turned it the manuscript of my book, plus I was dealing with grief over the death of my grandfather and an awful break up that I'd pushed aside while writing the book. So 2008 didn't exactly start on a high note. Training for this race was a major step in turning things around. And crossing that finish line strong? Just amazing. I can't wait to run it again this year.

1. Publishing a book.

I love this picture. My neighbor took it on the day the first copy of my book came in the mail. That is literally an ear to ear grin. I couldn't knock it from my face for days.

Obviously, publishing a book was the highlight of this year. I never thought I'd write a book before I turned 30 let alone one about the Jersey Shore. But it turned out to be the perfect project at the perfect time. Everything that came after it still amazes me, not only in book sales but in how many people care, from the guy who shoulded "I read your blog!" at me from the World Series Parade crowd, to everyone who comes to this site.

So thank you for making this a great 2008, and I'm looking forward to more shore in 2009!

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Regan said...

What a great list, I miss ya!
We need to get together soon, I need a Jen Miller life update!
PS The dress would have been my #2! It doesn't beat the book at #1, but that dress is smokin'!

Maureen said...

Awesome list, Jen! I love the pic of you with the book! You look like a little girl at Christmas with her 'bestest' gift! Congrats on a great year!

CRCHAIR said...

Glad you found me on Twitter and that I could share some of this year's fun moments with you via Twitter and the Blog.

Kimmber said...

Best has got to be the picture with the book. What an accomplishment! 2nd looking that good in that little dress.