So…We’re Doing This…

It’s been two years since I posted a funny story and declared that I was turning my Barefoot Books website into a personal blog (because I really like the idea of being “Barefoot Jess”).  In that time, I have published….ONE post.  What can I say?  I didn’t have inspiration.  I didn’t have a purpose.

Well…now I do.



Thanks For the Memories, Div


I wrote this in 2009, when Marselis Parsons, longtime WCAX News Anchor, retired. After I’d published it, I sent him the link. In the flurry of post-retirement messages and events, he replied and thanked me.

This morning, Marselis died of Cancer. I treasure the memories that I have. And I hope, in some fleeting moment, he understood the impact that he had on my life.

For a little girl in a 300 person town, he was a superstar. And for a woman sitting in the CNN newsroom today, he still is.

I meant it then, and I mean it now….Thanks for the memories, Div.

Originally published 10/15/09

During the summer of 1997, between my Sophomore and Junior years of college, I had what I like to call my “Vermont Student Summer”. During the day I’d scoop Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, sometimes AT the Vermont Teddy Bear factory. And at the end of the day, I’d drive straight up Shelburne Road to my internship in the Sports Department at WCAX. I’d arrive during the 6p newscast (usually smelling of cream and chocolate) and be settled by the time the show was ending and the anchors were filing out of the studio.

Compared to the newsroom I see every day now, WCAX was small and and pretty plain. But at the time, it was the most exciting place I could imagine. Nobody outside of Vermont will understand this, but I saw Marselis Parsons, Sharon Meyer and JJ Cioffi every day. EVERY DAY. Sure, it seems silly now. But, like any kid in any city, I’d grown up watching the local news team every night at 6:00. It didn’t matter that they were just up I-89 in Burlington…these people were on TV.

One of my favorite stories from that summer was when I was working at Ben & Jerrys one Saturday and Marselis Parsons, 6pm anchor and known to friends & colleagues as “Div”, walked into scoop shop. I was still rather new to the station and, being a sports intern, I hadn’t had that much contact with the newsroom team. Still, I saw somebody I recognized and my reflex was to smile and say Hi. For a second, I panicked and worried that he’d think I was an over-familiar fan or worse…a complete dork. Instead, he smiled warmly and said “Hi Jessica!” and introduced me to his entire group as “the newest intern on the sports crew”. Then he said “I wondered if I’d ever bump into you here.” After I scooped their ice cream, he left a good tip and told me he’d see me Monday. It should be said that this entire time there was not one other sound in the ice cream shop. Everyone was staring (some which their mouths open) and as soon as the door shut, they (co-workers, customers) were asking me how I knew Marselis Parsons. My manager later remarked that “Robert Redford came into the shop a few years ago and didn’t get even close to that reaction.”


It’s been 10 years since I left Vermont for the glitz & glamour of 24 hours news, but I still love watching the WCAX 6pm news when I’m home. It just sounds comforting….the opening music, the news about agriculture, the softness (or complete lack) of the letter ‘T’. Marselis’ voice is the background while I’m helping my mom set the table or sitting on the couch with my dad. Unfortunately, next time I go home, the 6 o’clock news will be a little less familiar.

Tonight, Div will say good-bye to his WCAX viewers and the people who have spent a life-time watching him. He’ll wake up tomorrow retired and not having to be somewhere at 6:00 every night. After 42 years, he’ll have absolutely no professional obligation to know what’s happening in Vermont (although something tells me he’ll never quite turn away).

Unlike the long-time anchors in bigger markets, Parsons isn’t slick or flashy. He has no need to be. He’s not some Ron Burgundy-esque blow-hard, full of ego. He doesn’t have molded hair or strangely white veneers. He’s just a guy…the guy you get your news from.

But, you know, he’s still sort of a superstar to me.

Happy Retirement Div.


Broken Shoes and Rock Stars

You could say that I’m the kind of girl who often finds herself in…”situations”.  Sometimes they’re cool situations…sometimes they’re completely bizarre situations…sometimes they’re situations that make me cry (but in a funny ‘I Love Lucy’  “WAAAAAAAA!!!” way).  In my worst, most panic-stricken moments, I often comfort myself with one thought:

This is going to make a really good story.

And that is why we’re here.  I’d like to tell you a story from last night- because it’s fresh in my mind and because it’s incredibly apropos given my current ‘Barefoot Jess’ limbo* (More on that later.  It’ll all make sense in the end, I promise).  This story involves broken shoes and rock stars**…

First, I had the longest day ever yesterday.  I had to go from Amelia’s end-of-the-year Awards Assembly, to work & then to a concert (Devon Allman Band, holla!) – all without going home.  I put some serious thought into what I was going to wear.  The clothing isn’t particularly important, but I was wearing some well-worn (comfy) strappy sandals (it’s pertinent).  I left work and fought in-town traffic for an hour to do some errands, which all ended up being fails anyway.  So, by the time I arrived at Vinyl for the show, I was hungry and marginally cranky.  I’d arrived extremely early (due to the failed errands), so I figured that I’d park and walk somewhere to grab food.  Easy.

After I did the ‘girl thing’- checked my hair, switched my purse- I got out and headed up to street level.  As I was walking up the parking garage ramp, I noticed that one of the straps on my shoe felt loose and I thought ‘huh…I hope they last through the show’.  Almost immediately, my entire left shoe gave out.  It not only broke, it disintegrated.  Every single strap came up and out from under the sole.  And as this happened, I stumbled which OF COURSE caused my other shoe to break.

So, there I was, walking through the parking garage, barefoot, forlornly examining by shoes, SURE that there was a solution.  It was a lost cause…the shoes were in pieces.  I got to the sidewalk, found a wall to sit on and started brain-storming.  I looked through my bag (poor, poor, silly girl).  I texted the friend who was supposed to be meeting me to ask if she could bring some flip-flops, only to get a response that something had come up and she couldn’t make it (WAAA!).  I started trying to figure out where the closest drug store would be (because when I think ‘cheap flip flops’, I think ‘drugstore’).

Had this been a sitcom, or some cheesy movie, this would have been the precise moment that I looked up to see the entire band crossing the street and walking toward me…and how embarrassing would that have been??


Oh yes.

But it wasn’t a big deal, because these guys don’t know me.  They wouldn’t recognize me.  Except for the one guy would would…the drummer, Anthony, who I’d met when I saw them play in Macon and with whom I’d become Facebook friends.  He’d recognize me.  And he did, despite my bad-ass avoidance tactic that I like to call “turning my face away and looking at my phone”.  He may have called me a stalker….but I WAS sitting in front of the venue, without shoes, an hour before doors opened.

The good thing about being mildly acquainted with a member of the band is…you guessed it…they’ve got duct tape. So, we made conversation while I tried to strategically tape my shoes back together.  And, in case you’ve never been in this position, let me assure you that there is no way to look sane cool while taping your strappy sandals back together.

As it turned out, the tape didn’t work.  As I got up to walk away, my shoe fell apart again.  But I appreciate the duct tape generosity.  I would have taken pictures, but it was just too sad.  I eventually realized that there was a Target near-by and I went and bought some flip flops…which I ended up kicking off 3 songs into the concert because, truth be told, I prefer dancing barefoot anyway.

So, there you have it.  I’ve told the story. I’ve staked my claim.  I am, without question…


* I bought the domain ‘’ six months ago because I was selling for Barefoot Books.  Recently, I made the decision to leave the company.  However, I still have this really clever domain name for another year and a half and people keep commenting that ‘Barefoot Jess’ is perfect for me (and I happen to agree).  I’ve been bouncing ideas around for a couple weeks, trying to decide what to do.  After last night, and thanks to a friend responding to this story with “Barefoot Jess has NOT retired!!!” (Thanks Kerri), I think the solution is pretty clear.

** These guys keep telling me that they’re not rock stars.  But I don’t care, I’m still calling them rock stars.  I think they’re rock stars…my kids think they’re rock stars.  If you ever have the opportunity to see the Devon Allman Band live, do it.  They put on a great show.  And every single member of the band is an incredibly talented musician and solid guy.  And, with that, I’m going to stop fan-girling out because I’m embarrassing myself.