Maria Sestito is a former Register reporter and current student at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She shares her unique perspective on life in her column “Jersey Girl,” which runs every other Sunday. Follow Maria on Twitter @RiaSestito or email her at ria.sestito@gmail.com.

My eyes were closed and I was focused on breathing. I tried to keep it steady, consistent enough that I could eventually stop focusing and just be.

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One of my favorite books as a little girl was Golden Sound Story’s version of “The Princess and the Pea.” The image on the front of the 1991 storybook was of a yellow-haired princess wearing a pink, billowing dress and holding a pillow atop of which was a green pea.

People sure do love to hate on some of the things I love – things that, yes, might be bad for me, but are also harmless in comparison to vices other people might have. One of the biggest targets of their trivial criticisms: soda.

Since living in our studio, Cosmo – my cat – has had an increased appetite. The amount I’ve had to spend on cat food has doubled and most of that extra cost is wasted when he vomits on my bed. (My laundry detergent bill has also increased.) I know this is concerning, so I’ve changed his food…

My first semester at Berkeley didn’t turn out exactly as I had hoped. At best, it was up and down. At worst, I felt like I didn’t belong at the school or in journalism at all.

Love doesn’t always find you the way you hope it will. In fact, it usually doesn’t. When it comes – if you’re lucky enough for it to come at all – it’s inconvenient, it’s messy, it’s difficult. And, at the same time, it’s so easy.

One teacher can make or break how you feel about a subject. I’ve been lucky in my life to have many great teachers, especially in my English and writing classes. My luck has continued as I’ve found mentors in journalism, including my editors at the Register.

When I walked into my class Thursday morning, everyone in the room started singing. There was a big balloon waiting for me in my spot at the table along with some birthday cards handcrafted by my classmate’s children. (They used their best stickers!) And, when the song was coming to an end, …

I have lived my life amidst a constant stream of checkpoints. I grew up believing that once ‘thing A’ happened, life would really start — that everything would be better.

I don’t know if it’s the way I grew up or if most of us think this way, but when someone does something nice for me my next thought is “Why?”

My last day as a reporter at the Register is Wednesday. It’s been a good run – nearly three years – but it’s time for me to move on. Where am I going? UC Berkeley.

I love roller coasters. Because of this love, I have a season pass to Six Flags, but I hardly ever go. Although it is only a 10 minute drive from my house, I’ve only been there once this season.

Remember those relationship red flags I talked about ignoring? Well, maybe they did mean something – for both me and the almost, not-so-much man of my dreams.

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If you’re devout, I might be the worst person to go to church with and it has nothing to do with my beliefs. I just can’t handle it.

Dating is a full-time job. Unfortunately, in most cases, it doesn’t pay. I mean that both literally and figuratively.

A guy recently told me that he wanted to make it into my column. I told him that my next few subjects were already lined up, so he would have to stick around for a few weeks. He found a loophole: he ghosted me.

I’ve never been much of a sports fan, but when my team made it to the Super Bowl, I suddenly became a Phanatic – a Philly Phanatic. (Yes, that’s the baseball team mascot, not the football team. I do know that much, but it works.)

When it comes to writing my column, there aren’t many lines I won’t cross. But, I’ve discovered, just because I’m willing to share details of my personal life, doesn’t mean that my partners, friends and family are.

When the “Me too” movement revived last month it was amidst a whirlwind of wildfires scorching areas of Northern California. I saw my friends on Facebook posting away, joining others who have been sexually harassed or assaulted with either a simple #MeToo or by describing their own experience.

Cosmo needed a friend. It didn’t even need to be a friend, actually, just something to keep him company while I was working. So, I did a thing. I bought a fish.

While I stuffed my face with bacon cheesecake, bacon upside down cake and what could have been a bacon birthday cake, pounds and pounds of food were going bad around me.

I recently had a night of revivals – Jamestown Revival and The Revivalists performing at Robert Mondavi Winery. Both bands were good, but the special thing about this night was that it was the first of many events I’ll be going to sans a boyfriend.

I once had a Spider-Man T-shirt that read: “I met my boyfriend on the web.” I don’t have that T-shirt any more, but I still have a crush on Spidey.

The first night of BottleRock, I found myself being taken by the hand and led to the front of the night’s biggest concert by a 17-year-old girl.

After a dip in the ocean and about an hour of reading on the beach, the best thing to do is walk up to the boardwalk to grab a cold lemonade and something to eat.

No matter how much you didn’t like living at home or how badly you wanted to leave, there is something special about going back.

My freshman year of college I went to Emerson in Boston, Massachusetts. It wasn’t the best financial choice, but my gut told me to go there. After a few months of being there, though, my gut told me to leave.

Yountville is the last place I expected to be walking barefoot, carrying my shoes in my hand, doing what must have looked like a walk of shame. Except I wasn’t hungover and the shoes weren’t high-heels.

I need to not only learn how to walk but how to stand.

When I decide I’m going to clean, I typically start with my closet. I love to organize and reorganize my clothes, sometimes planning a few outfits ahead of time or even putting a few items in a discard/donate pile. This week when I went through my closet, though, I got a little sad.

After a few failed months living with my ex and a couple of weeks couch surfing, I’m moving into my own place. It’ll be the first time in my life living without some sort of roommate, housemate, live-in boyfriend, ex-boyfriend or parent. And, I gotta say, I’m excited.

I have sort of a thing for Christmas trees. Not an obsessive thing – more of a nostalgic thing.

This year I spent my 27th birthday the same way I spent my 13th birthday – watching a fellow Libra jump up and down on stage belting out my favorite songs.