1. My hometown is Jamestown, NY
  2. I just returned from a weeklong vacation there with my family
  3. I moved away from Jamestown in 1982
  4. I haven't visited in more than a decade
  5. Jamestown is part of "The Rust Belt"
  6. That means the swath of the country that was ravaged by factory closures beginning in the 1970s
  7. As a child, I grew up at the poverty level, often hearing that the city was "not what it used to be"
  8. That story absolutely became part of my identity
  9. It still is
  10. I didn't want to move away - my Dad forced us to
  11. At the time, it was devastating
  12. He moved us to Kentucky - which, of course, has its own struggles with economic decline
  13. But to me, Lexington, KY was the big city compared to Jamestown
  14. For instance, Lexington had more than two movie theaters, which blew my mind
  15. Jamestown, however, has its own cool Hollywood connections
  16. Primarily, it's the hometown of Lucille Ball
  17. The city now features a Lucille Ball museum (which is fantastic) and a truly impressive comedy festival (which has featured Jerry Seinfeld, Joan Rivers, Nick Offerman, Martin Short and countless others)
  18. The comedy festival brings thousands of visitors into Jamestown each summer
  19. That makes me proud of my hometown
  20. But then there's the stuff that breaks my heart
  21. The drug epidemic, which is hard to wrap my head around
  22. Some of the biggest drug busts in Upstate NY history
    Google "Operation Horseback"
  23. The endless sight of long-abandoned, condemned houses
  24. The warehouses and factories, empty and crumbling under piles of snow
    And the way the snow makes it so beautiful when it really shouldn't be
  25. Today, I met a Jamestown man who is a retired Marine
  26. We talked about Trump
  27. The man expressed his fears
  28. I told him Nixon used to get blackout drunk in the White House, and they'd give the nuke codes to Kissinger so Nixon couldn't use them
  29. That made the Jamestown man laugh
  30. I miss Jamestown, NY - I'm grateful for the time I spent there this week
  31. A teacher once told me that people identify so strongly with their suffering that if you say anything to them other than "What great challenges you have, and look how well you're holding up in the face of them" - they'll view you as an enemy
  32. These are AJ's Texas Hots - a Jamestown, NY delicacy that is basically a hot dog with gravy and onions
  33. Most of my LA friends would probably call them "disgusting"
  34. This week, I ate three of them