la jolla

Long story condensed incredibly short, I got a job working as an intern for a church in La Jolla, California this summer. I know, amazing. As I had no idea what was going to be ahead of me when I quit my job earlier this year, finding out I got the job in La Jolla on my very last day of work was nothing short of Jesus saying “follow me.” And so I’m clinging to his garments and willingly following him south, toward the smell of the ocean and the country’s best fish tacos.

Seeing as how I will be working with high schoolers, and seeing as how they have no idea who I am or what to expect, I decided to write them a letter to ease any concerns they might have about this thirty-year-old intern coming in, who I realize sounds older than Moses to a high schooler, or at least it did to me when I was in high school, and so now that I am thirty I would like to take a moment to apologize and honor all of the “old people” who poured into me as a teenager… you weren’t old.

But you are now. AHAHAHAHAA!

I’ll apologize for that when I’m fifty.

I’m loosing my train of thought… Ah yes, the letter. Seeing as how I both love the written word as well as struggle with A.D.D., I decided to combine my love and my struggle by making this a visual letter of sorts.

Without further ado, the letter…

Dear La Jollanites,

I don’t know how many of you have heard by now, but I’m coming to join your group in a mere three weeks. I know it can be un-nerving to have someone new join the group… especially someone from out of state, especially someone who is originally from the other side of the country (especially when that side of the country is the south), especially someone who is currently living in Portland, Oregon, because as you may or may not know, Portland just may be one of the weirdest cities God graced this earth with.

I wanted to settle any of those nerves by sharing a little bit about myself so you guys and gals can get a little more comfortable with the idea of a newbie joining the group. Here are just a few known and unknown facts about me to ease your minds about this mysterious gal coming to join you…

I once met an angel. It was not nearly as miraculous as I thought it would be, but then again it was in Texas and nothing is ever as miraculous as you think it would be in Texas…


In 2012 I traveled around the country playing the Jurassic Park theme song on the melodica, which is actually how I met Evan when I was in Santa Barbara (the youth pastor who hired me, to those who else are reading this). Don’t worry, I’ll bring my melodica with me…


I am very talented… with my feet. Mostly I use them to climb trees and drink water…


The last time I led a group of high school girls, it looked like this…


(just before they dropped me on my head, which has only happened to me one other time… as a child… thanks dad, for that time you left me on the handle bars of your bicycle when you put the kickstand up and walked away, only to remember you left your child sitting there after she fell off). Memories. So good.

I used to have a dog that made Goliath look like a baby. At 180 pounds, he drank water straight from the kitchen sink and I used to pretend to ride Beauregard like a horse. He may have been part of a Halloween costume once. Then again, he may not have. Don’t mess with Beauregard…


During my road trip around the country, I stayed with some people in Montana and every time I tried to get in the shower, this happened…


… I never showered while staying with them.

I love Jesus, and puns, and making my own Christmas cards…


No. Big. Deal. Except the Jesus part… Big. Deal.

This is my doppelgänger…

Image Image

This was me in high school, which is to say, there is hope…


I once chugged a whole bottle of chocolate syrup in under a minute on a high school ski trip because a guy said he could do it in a minute, to which I said I could do it in fifty-five seconds, to which he said “prove it,” to which I did and won the respect of whoever was in the ski lodge at that moment.


I lost said respect shortly after we began our van ride home and I threw up on the head of the boy I had a crush on at the time. I’m sorry, Zack, I didn’t know you were sleeping under the bench seat.

I make my own face wash…


… and yes, I’d be happy to show you how.

I have been known to make things more complicated than they have to be, but fun is usually always had at least somewhere in the process…


… and yes, an entire game was played this way. I took home the winnings and left behind the imprint of my canines of the bottom three pieces. They remain there to this day. Someone is welcome.

I can sleep anywhere…






I am quite crafty and hate to waste things, which means I can make even the worst of gag gifts be incredibly useful. Take this triple-extra-large shirt of Tupac Shakur…


Just call me En Vogue and tell me I win.

Speaking of winning, I once won a card game with two jacks…


…being JJ never felt more victorious than in that moment.

I love to dance, second only to writing and third only to Jesus. One time I went to Africa and danced so hard I passed out…


Dance parties? Yes please.

NEWSFLASH: Did I mention I like puns? I once went to a halloween party as a newsflash. I spent the better half of that evening with a blessing in disguise…


I worked briefly as a flight attendant for Alaska Airlines (remind me to tell you that story), where I learned how to walk in high heels in a pressurized metal tube some 50,000 feet above the ground while serving ginger ale and singing The Fugees version of “Killing Me Softly…”


Yes, due to my skill set, you might as well call me a ninja. And yes, I kept the extra peanuts.

I most recently worked as a cook at a preschool where I made eating food even more fun than it already is…


And though I left that job, I still get inspired to create with food…


… and I now spend most of my days sitting over the duck pond I live on, feeding ducks and Instagram-ing my breakfast…


But soon I will come join you guys and gals, with all of my ninja skills, plethora of puns, dance moves and food art, and I must say, I am quite excited to join the mix. I feel the need to warn you of the extra large sweat pants covered in paint that I don 80% of my waking hours, so don’t let those scare you, but if it’s hot enough I won’t need them, in which case don’t let my mayonnaise-colored legs scared you… the sun is not so generous with its time here in Portland.

Get excited… it’s gonna be a fun summer! As we say where I’m from, can’t wait to meet all y’all!

Oh, and just because I have already been asked, no… I am no longer a vegan. I do love cows, but not in the way it appears here…


It is as a recovering vegan that I have come to more fully believe these three things:

Life is to be lived, fun is to be had and Jesus is Lord.

See y’all soon!


Author: jenniejoybarrows

Artist. Author. Comedian.

6 thoughts on “la jolla”

  1. JJ…I’m with LJCC and can’t wait to meet you! If fact you’ll be staying at our house 🙂 I know you will enjoy our church and will tolerate living in la Jolla 🙂 see you soon! – Cindi


  2. Hi JJ,

    The Mariani Family loves your blog! Can’t wait to meet you in person and hear more of your wondersul stories. The High Schoolers are in for a breath of fresh air!

    We will be hosting you for a few weeks as well. Safe travels down here.
    Don, Mary Ann, Jordan and Mia (the pup)


  3. JJ – learned even more than I already knew….maybe add the picture of you when you were a baby with your ‘fur cap’ hairdo! Love, Mom


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