Millennial journalist

Recently, I’ve found that I’ve been introducing myself to people very frequently. Whether it is to friends of my housemate Max, interviewees for my newspaper job, or just general folks in Cape May.

“Hi, I’m Rachel. I work as a front desk clerk at the Victorian Motel at the end of the Washington Street Mall, across from Congress Hall. I’m also a freelance journalist and I write for the ‘Cape May Star and Wave’ and ‘Cape May Magazine.'”

I typically leave out that I’m a blogger since it isn’t a paying gig (insert frown emoji & because I’m not very consistent), but if I get further into conversation with people, it usually comes up under other topics.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer and you know, be paid for writing. Maybe some day I can write full time! Working for these local publications has allotted me that opportunity to work as a journalist while covering the town that I have spent so much time in – summers and the off season.

My beat has primarily been covering local municipal meetings. There is so much involved in the way this small town’s boroughs are run…you would have no idea unless you attended the meetings…or you know, read my articles in the newspaper!

I’ve gotten to write articles about events and hard working locals. I previewed Shabbat on the Beach, which was truly a tranquil and spiritual experience (I attended as well). And I got to write about Adelia Jonas, owner of Domino’s pizza in the Villas, which you can read on my blog here.

At work taking photos for my article.

Not every new college graduate can say that they are working in their field of study. But my freelance jobs allow me to let everyone know that my field is alive and well.

And on a side note – I did take two hospitality/tourism classes while in college. Neither of which was anything that prepared me for working in a motel.  You can do all the reading and tests that come with school, but few things prepare you for the field work than actually working in the field.

Though if I was going to recommend a great field, I would recommend my own communication degree – because you really can do anything you find along your path.

Local Domino’s Pizza owner gets national attention

 

DSC_0061

By RACHEL SHUBIN

Special to the Star and Wave

VILLAS — Brazilian immigrant Adelia Jonas has been making pizza for 18 years, and does her job with a smile on her face.

Jonas and her husband own the Domino’s Pizza at 2200 Bayshore Road in Villas.
But Jonas is making more than pizza — she also is making a name for herself both nationally and internationally.

In 2010, Jonas was chosen as Domino’s U.S. Manager of the Year. She received an award at a Domino’s convention in Las Vegas. A plaque hangs in her store for customers to see and recognize her achievement.

“It is the biggest and nationally recognized award we have in our system. Everyone from all the Domino’s in the world gets together there,” Jonas said. “There were over 7,000 people attending. I am very involved in my work and that is why I believe I was chosen.”

This year she was featured in a television commercial for a national Domino’s campaign, traveling to Hollywood to film the commercial.

“It was very exciting because I did not know I was going to Hollywood to shoot a commercial,” she said. “I had an interview with a producer before we shot the commercial about remodeling stores.”

And Jonas recently spoke with Domino’s franchisees and employees in Brazil, where they have more than 200 Domino’s stores. She said she loves communicating with people in the restaurant business and relates to the ultimate goal to bring people together through food.

Jonas said she did not always plan to own her own pizza store. She was living in Brazil and studying for a degree in psychology when she received a phone call from a friend who had just bought his own Domino’s pizza franchise. She put her college degree on hold and left Brazil for America in 2000, heading to New Jersey to work for her friend.

“I always wanted to come to America and learn English. I thought I would come for a couple of months,” Jonas said. “I was planning to go back and finish my degree, but I fell in love with the business.”

Jonas said she started her career by making pizzas and became fluent in English through her interactions with fellow employees. Soon Jonas began to answer phones and take orders, working her way up to being the store manager.

“I worked on the corporate side of Domino’s, where I met my husband. Eight years later, we bought our own franchise,” Jonas said.

Jonas and her husband, Robert, had the option to buy their franchise in Cherry Hill or Villas. After driving around Cape May County and seeing the sunsets, the choice to be near the shore was clear. They also had the opportunity to talk with people and have genuine conversations about the area.DSC_0024

While Jonas’ Domino’s shop is a chain name in a town with many local pizzerias, the competition doesn’t scare her away, she said. Her ability to push her business to succeed is because of her customers.

“I believe that people buy from people. We hold a very well-known brand name known not just for our pizza but our technology,” Jonas said. “I have good connections with our customers. They know who I am and I’m involved with the community, and that’s how I stay competitive.”

Customers can place an order on the Domino’s website and track their order’s progress, from the pizza being made and the name of the employee making it, to the pizza being en route for delivery.

Her community ties are evident when customers come in the store to ask if she will be at local events. For Lower Township’s National Night Out on Aug. 2, Jonas said the store attended and gave away more than 1,000 slices of pizza.

Jonas said her shop stays local because she and her husband live in the area and she employs locals in the store.

Customers come into the store and see Jonas, and know the service is going to exceed expectations. They trust the food they are buying as well as the location.

“My customers know me and know they will get delicious food, even if I’m not the one preparing it,” she said. “I don’t treat my customers as a transaction, money for food. I like to have small talks and conversations with my customers. They know who I am and they ask me about my family in Brazil.”

Jonas has 30 employees at her store, especially locals. Before her employees leave to make a delivery, she tells them to buckle up and drive safely.

“I employ high school and college students. Even people from the sheriff’s office work here,” she said.

Jonas said she makes sure school is a priority for her employees.

“I ask them what they are learning in school and what projects they have coming up. School comes first and I want to make sure my staff is doing well and keeping up in school,” she said.

She said being self-employed is sometimes a challenge.

“When you have your own business, you have to stay focused and have the right mindset. You will be working harder than ever before but for yourself,” she said. “You have a misconception that when you own your own business you have more freedom, but you are now the main part of your organization.”

Jonas says she counts pepperoni slices in her sleep, so a balance between work and life is important.

“This area is a very good place to work and live. I find time to have a good work and life balance so I can enjoy this beautiful place,” Jonas said. “We made the right choice to be surrounded by the water.”

She said she does not get to the beach that often, not an uncommon reality for year-round workers.

“I don’t get to the beach much, but when I do I love doing yoga on the beach and seeing the dolphins swim by,” Jonas said. “I love to go to the zoo anytime I have the chance.  I
go to the zoo at lunchtime and see the animals being fed.

When she needs to get her mind off things, she goes to Wildwood.

“I take my husband and we go for a ride on the Ferris wheel,” she said.

My Ancestry DNA results aka how Jewish am I?

Geneology and family trees have always interested me, my entire life. Knowing my past and where I came from is very important and definitely impacts how I see the world.

My family has a rich history, and I am fortunate to have known many family members growing up. I grew up with four grandparents and very close to my first cousins. I always listened to my grandparent’s stories of their families and childhoods.

On my mother’s side, I have my grandma’s father who owned a shoe store. He was very young when he died, only in his 40s. I got to write a report about him in my senior year of high school.

On my father’s side, I have my other grandma’s father, who had a box making factory. Perhaps my two great grandfathers should have gotten together and sold boxes with shoes! It’s funny how they could have supported each other.

But getting to the part that you’re here to read…my results! I expected everything except the last 3% breakdown. IMG_3630

 

There is no surprise being 99% European because my heritage is certainly linked to my ancestors coming to America from Russia, Hungary, Austria and even Greece.

My mom and I were certain there would be Greek in my blood and we were right, a whopping 10%! It just confirms our knowledge that my great grandfather Kaplan was from Greece.

What surprised me the most was my 1% North African roots. 1% is barely anything, but it’s likely that I had ancestors from either Morocco, Western Sahara, Algeria or Libya. Maybe that explains why I’ve always wanted to be fluent in French. Now, it is also found in Spain, Portugal, and the Middle East. So that could tie me into Sephardic Jewish roots. Maybe my family originated from the Jewish slaves in Egypt.

My ethnicity is 87% European Jewish, which comes from Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Hungary and Israel. It is also found in Germany, France, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Romania, Bosnia, Serbia and Estonia.

The dispersal of Jews throughout Europe has everything to do with why the communities are scattered throughout the Middle East, Europe, North Africa and Central Asia. Between the pogroms and world wars, Jews were on the move. Basically, I make up your typical Ashkenazi Jew.

The other <3% that makes up my ethnicity comes from the Iberian Peninsula, Great Britain, and Ireland. The Iberian Peninsula is Spain and Portugal, which gives me those Sephardic roots I mentioned. I’m more surprised with Great Britain and Ireland.

Great Britain percent primarily comes from England, Scottland, and Wales. It could also come from Ireland, France, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, and Italy. I’m seeing an overlap now.

I’m guessing the Irish in me gives me the pale complexion. Dark brown hair and eyes have to be from the Middle East/Russian roots.

I am so pleased that I picked up the Ancestry DNA kit for $69 when it was on sale. I saved my brother Michael the money, but we know we share the results. In an odd way, the results make me feel closer to my family and ancestors that I didn’t know.

Purchase your own kit through my referral link here, I’ll get $10 and you’ll get 10% off..

And now my friend Max owes me ice cream because I bet I was more Jewish than him and my genetics won!

I’m gonna need an F150

I’ve had this blog post’s headline stuck in my head for a couple of days. I didn’t know exactly where it was going but I had some idea of what I wanted to say about how my next car could potentially be a Ford F150 pick up truck.

Since December 2016, I’ve acquired some furniture that needed to be moved into the basement of my parent’s beach house. Of course, the first piece of furniture would not fit in our family Subaru Outback.

It was dead of winter in Cape May, and a beautiful dresser was on the side of the street – up for grabs.  Not an uncommon sight in town. I saw it and instantly knew I wanted it. We were on the way to my birthday brunch and if it was still there afterward, we were coming to take it home.

I came I saw I salvaged

It was still there, so we took out the drawers and my dad and I drove them back to the house and unloaded them. While we were gone, my mom flagged down a guy with a truck who happened to be on the street at the right moment, and he drove the bureau over to our house. He even helped us put the dresser into the basement and wouldn’t accept a tip. End scene.

A few months later in March, I was driving down the street when I spotted a little blue cabinet, again on the side of the road. Chance of it fitting in my Subaru Forester, pretty likely – if I could get it in myself.

Turns out the guy who left it at the curb popped his head out of the front door and told me it was free to take and he would even help me get it into my car. And just like that, I became the owner of another piece of salvaged furniture.

And then a few weeks later in March I picked up a nightstand when I was on the way back from the beach. The shelf is a little crooked, but it doesn’t mean it’s not usable.

And then that brings me to May of this year, when I was struggling about what kind of desk I wanted in my room of the house I’m renting. I had been planning on moving the desk I already had, but it wasn’t really the right size for writing. And by luck, I found a desk for sale at an amazing price, on a local swap group in Cape May.

The people who sold me the desk helped me get it in my car – I was lucky that the legs screw in/out of the desk, which made transporting it easy. They were even kind enough to make sure I had help getting it into my room. It is an absolutely gorgeous desk and it worked perfectly in my room.

18839272_10213283294335853_3809525501253618461_n

In June I was driving with my parents when I spotted what I thought was a blue stool on the side of the road. I asked my dad to pull over so I could see its condition. Turns out it was a broken chair.

My dad says to me, “Why do I think your next car is going to be an F150?”

I say, “I don’t know, why?”

“Because you keep picking up furniture off the side of the road!” He said.

Yeah, he’s probably right. My Forester can handle a lot, but there are certain sizes that even exceed my cargo capability.

And I even thought to myself this weekend that I might need to find someone with a truck if I was buying a new wicker rocking chair for our front porch. Turns out we ended up ordering a set online…but somehow I sincerely think a bigger car could be in my future.

I have always joked I wanted a Fiat, so I could say “what the fiat,” but now I realize that size is super impractical. I never thought I would drive a truck, I’m just your typical millennial girl… But the more I live in a small town…the more changes are happening.

 

 

A millennial’s ode to complaining

If you know me well you know that I am a relentless complainer, especially when it’s hot outside. My dad is the first to remind me that air conditioning is a luxury, not a privilege. I know, I know – I’m lucky to have grown up not knowing air conditioning. The Victorian Era of Cape May must’ve been a hot and sweaty one.

Of course, there were the two weeks of summer when we rented a beach house without air conditioning. I said to my mom the other day, I don’t remember how I survived that when it was hot. Her reply? “Rachel, you complained. A lot!” I guess it must’ve been so hot I blocked it out of my memory.  Basically, anytime that I would get overheated, I would have a panic attack (as one does) and fret until I cooled down. Yeah, sounds like me.

Yeah, sounds like me. Coming from the girl who would crank the AC in her high school classes, without the teachers noticing. Granted all that did was run cold water through the vents…they found another way to make high school more miserable. I also spent four years of college complaining to anyone who would listen, that the classrooms were always set as if my grandma was in control of the thermostat – set to a minimum of a balmy 75 degrees.

Millennials complain about trivial, “first world problem” issues. But doesn’t everyone? We complain and get labeled as entitled.

I’m a millennial and I complain frequently. It’s kind of our thing…but people complain about millennials too.  Here’s a list of 6 complaints which we are “supposedly” sick of hearing. In my opinion…speak for yourself. Oh, and while I’m on my soapbox, I’d like to say that I’m not killing the napkin industry and I’m not buying so much avocado toast I won’t be able to afford a house…I just won’t be able to afford one anyway because of the economy.

 

img_2415-1
Oh look, I’m using napkins. Surprised?

Millennials complain about real issues too. Like low pay and difficulty finding a job in your field of study.

I think the reason millennials are pictured as “complaining” all the time has to do with the high expectations we have these days. My parents have two houses, so I expected I would have two houses. My Amazon Prime says my package will be here in two days, I expect it to be here in two days. But the expectations I grew up with have changed –especially because of the economy (I know, how many times am I going to repeat that phrase). The guy who said millennials buy too much avocado toast also says some people won’t even own a house in their lifetime. And maybe that will be my case. I just don’t know.

But I think that fact of potentially never owning a home is the exact right that I, as a millennial, has to complain. I want to be a homeowner (whether it is a house or a townhouse) and get the experience that my parents had. Get married, have a nice car, never have to worry about finances (well…).

Low pay is a serious issue, one that every generation has faced. Not all millennials work in high paying jobs. We also aren’t the ones who fucked up the economy (not the point, but just saying). Our families were (and still continue to be) impacted by the 2000s recession.

According to an article from Elite Daily, “Millennials face particularly high rates of unemployment and aren’t making as much money as their parents. That helps explain why roughly 32 percent of millennials are also living with their parents.”

It seems like the odds are stacked against us millennials. Finding a job in your field after college graduation can be tricky. Some people have student loans to pay off, so good luck with buying a house. And if you get a job, you’re lucky to make over minimum wage.

For those of us millennials who choose to work in our field knowing it’s a tough industry (hello journalism, I’m looking at you), we know making ends meet might require more than one steady job.

Yes I’m a millennial and I complain a lot, but I’d like to think I’m not entitled. I want to work and I enjoy the payoff of my hard work. And you know, not be a renter forever. I’m not above complaining and sometimes only focusing on my issues, but overall I want to succeed and be happy. Is that too much to ask?

Got Skin Cancer?

I live at the beach and probably one assumption many people have about me is that I spend a lot of time on the beach. And you would be so very wrong!

I probably can count on one hand the number of times I have sat on the beach in the last few months – most of the times have been fairly recent.

It has less to do with the fact I work full time; it’s a combination of being unwilling to sit on the beach when it is hot and the heat is intense, as much as knowing that I have to slather a thick layer of sunscreen on before I meander the few blocks down the street to the beach. It’s a lazy millennial thing, but it is a habit I try to be steadfast about changing for the better.

I’m a pasty white girl and skin cancer runs in my family. Finding out a family member has skin cancer was the wake-up call that I needed to be better about constantly wearing sunscreen when I’m going to be outside. I always wear sunscreen on my face and I have even started using hair products with sun-shielding ingredients. The last thing you want is a sunburn on your scalp.

The three reasons I think that millennials avoid wearing sunscreen include (but is definitely not limited to): sunscreen is expensive, we forget it in the car and putting on sunscreen is time-consuming and sticky.

Not all sunscreens are expensive. Stores like Target and CVS have both brand name and store brand sunscreens. And 9 times out of 10, the store brand is cheaper and has the same ingredients. Of course, there are expensive brands and “designer sunscreen,” but really you don’t have to shell out $30 when you can spend $10 on a bottle. The price isn’t increasing the amount of sun coverage you’re going to get.  So skip the expensive Sephora designer brands and stick to your budget.

Chances are if you forget something in the car after you’ve dragged your beach bag and chair down to the water, you’re probably not going back to get whatever you forgot. But if you left your sunscreen in the car, going back for it has two benefits. First, you should not only apply sunscreen before or when you get to the beach, but you should also liberally reapply every few hours. However, the real reason you don’t want to leave it in the car is that the heat changes the composition and efficacy. Leaving your sunscreen in the car is going to make the sunscreen weak and not protect you properly. Don’t waste your money and leave it in the hot car (and don’t leave your kid or dog in there either, for what it’s worth).

And last but not least, yuck, sunscreen is sticky and messy! Well, I can’t exactly disparage that from the truth. I hate putting on sunscreen and then sticking to the seat of my car – which is why I sometimes skip going to the beach in general. But there are sunscreens on the market that are now being advertised as non-sticky or non-greasy or no mess! I can’t say if that is true, but I also have had pleasant results with all the Hawaiian Tropic brand sunscreens. It is my go-to sunscreen to use all summer.

I also like to use make up products that have sunscreen built into them – even though it’s usually a low SPF between 15-20 (30 if you’re lucky). And as I mentioned, don’t forget your scalp…also think about your lips and hands! For your hands, I found a great hand lotion from SuperGoop called Forever Young Hand Cream with Sea Buckthorn. It’s great for dry hands and it is so lightweight.

And last but not least, you have to watch your moles. It sounds gross and frankly, I think it kind of is…but checking your moles and regular check-ups at the dermatologist are what saved the lives of my family members. Even I have had full body checks (yes it is cringey but the docs are there to save you not judge you) and have had to get moles removed. It’s one of my least favorite topics to discuss, but it is important.

mole test glamour mag

Every year since 2006, Glamour Magazine publishes a mole chart that has saved the lives of nearly 90 readers who identified their skin cancer from the pictures. The ABCDE’s might just alert you to a mole that has changed and needs attention.

If you take away anything from this post, it is that I hope you’ll remember to wear sunscreen and go to your dermatologist at least once a year. If you can prevent skin cancer, why not? A little sunscreen goes a long way to self-care.

Farmville 2.0

It’s crazy to think sometimes that from the age of 2 you start pre-school and you often don’t stop going to school until you graduate from college, at age 22. Twenty years of schooling in the making, to put you out in the world to find a job (and probably not one in your degree field, but that’s a blog post for another day).

 

IMG_3885
When you ask your mom for a pre-school pic and this is the best she can do. Cute though.

 

I was supposed to go away to college. Specifically, Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. I know, I know, it’s the same name as that once addictive Facebook game, but trust me – the town was not as fun as the game.

I knew I wasn’t ready to leave home, but I was vehemently against going to community college. I wanted to go to George Mason University, which was two miles away from my house. I only got into two colleges, Longwood and Virginia Wesleyan University (it was private and even my scholarship didn’t help). Reality was, I was only left with Longwood as my choice and I dreaded move in day.

Fast forward to August 2012, when I left for Longwood. I was miserable, a mess and arguably the most resistant to change I have ever been. I’ll say that the resistance against me leaving was futile and that is why I ended up coming home. It was a miserable Tuedsay-Saturday for my whole family. I knew move in day wasn’t going to be a happy day, but I didn’t realize it was going to be a nightmare.

 

562026_4583979076481_2001452766_n
Record for fastest assembled & unassembled dorm room? Span of 5 days.

 

I came home and had to reevaluate what I wanted to do about school. I was lucky and was able to reach a deal that would get me into GMU. I went to community college for a semester and then transferred to GMU  for the remainder of my time in college.

Yes, all of that was necessary background information to know before you understand why I feel like I’m living Farmville 2.0 right now.

I recently moved into a house with roommates, so I am finally getting the away from home experience as well as also having roommates experience that I didn’t have when I lived at home while in college. Living in Cape May is easy because I love the beach and the town’s familiarity is comforting. Plus with friends and family close by, it’s not as isolating.

I wasn’t resistant to having a roommate in college, I actually would have had a wonderful roommate in my friend Abbey, who blogs at Idle Ginger Manuscript (yes we are still friends). I was resistant (at first) to having roommates in Cape May, because it would mean living with strangers.

But when I found a place that needed a third roommate, it was a beggars can’t be choosers situation. And I’m glad I went along with it because Chelsea and Max are awesome people. The place I’m living in is a farm style house, complete with 1.5 acres of land, two goats and two chickens. The house however, does not have air conditioning.

 

18839272_10213283294335853_3809525501253618461_n.jpg
My room in the new house. It’s been fun to get new furniture to decorate.

 

Another part to Farmville 2.0 is living without air conditioning. When I was supposed to go to Longwood, I specifically requested the only dorm on campus with air conditioning. Virginia heat can get ugly and I don’t know how the dorm would have felt had I stayed into the heat. But now I’m living in a house without air conditioning – but I do have a window unit in my room.

I’ve never been one to handle heat well and when my room was 85 degrees the other night, I wasn’t happy. But The AC unit did it’s best and by the time I fell asleep it had cooled down to mid-seventies. But I fell asleep and that’s all that matters. It’s an adjustment for sure, but it is worth it to get to stay and work in Cape May fulltime.

I think the thing I’ve learned since I’ve moved to Cape May from Virginia and then from one place to another in Cape May, is that you can’t always be comfortable. Part of life is trying new things and being more open to that – and as cliche as that sounds, I’ve come to realize that not all change is bad if you put yourself in a positive mindset – which is something I lacked during Farmville 1.0.

*Bonus fact – for as small as I thought Farmville was at the time I moved there – the 2010 census said the population was 8,216 people. Versus Cape May in 2010 was 3,607 people. I think it’s all about perception.