My name is Jaen Simone Hawkins.

I grew up on a dirt road, seen here, in Eastern North Carolina.  My brother and I used to run around naked and ride on tractors for fun.  The closest sign of life was an hour away in the ever so charming port city of Wilmington, so we pretended barrels were pools, put snakes in each other's pants, and attacked swarms of bees with cheap tennis rackets.

In our middle and high school years we were basically free farm labor for the family estate.  I wrote multiple letters to Child Services but I'm pretty sure the mail man died trying to navigate all the country roads back to town, and my letters were never received.  But no, it wasn't that bad.  We mostly just complained the whole time and perhaps got half the work done we were supposed to.  But now when I have a minion of my own I can say, "When I was your age I was out working in the field under the scorching hot North Carolina sun.  GO CLEAN THE TOILET NOW."  I'm looking forward to it.

I hated going to school because it was boring and everyone picked on me.  Obviously.  Most of the people in the rural south can't see past the brim of their bright orange hunting hats.  That's not to say there aren't amazing people there, they're simply few and far, far, FAR between.  Needless to say I bounced at the earliest opportunity, and went to the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.  Yes, I'm a smarty pants.  Be jealous.  It was super hard and I wasn't first in my class anymore, but I could wear a dress to prom and everyone thought it was amazing:

I tried to get into NYU but failed miserably and ended up at East Carolina University.  If the world were an ocean (which it mostly is, but that's not the point), Greenville, NC would be the stretch of sand where coolness, culture, and good drivers beach themselves to die.  I'M KIDDING.  Mostly.  59% kidding.  It was (59%) honestly not that bad.  I got drunk for the first time, drove buses in heels, and met my best friend in the world, Zee:

After changing my major seven times I moved to Raleigh and worked at Whole Foods Market (aka the food whole) full-time.  Which basically means I woke up at 5 AM every day to be yelled at by fat, rich white people who wanted their potato salad scooped in a certain way.  Note: do not assume you know how to scoop potato salad.  But Raleigh is a cool town, and I hung out with drag queens, had weave parties with a fabulous fifty-year-old black woman who was (and is still) drunk 23.8 hours out of the day, and attended house parties when I wasn't too busy rigging a coat hanger antenna and watching PBS.

One day I decided I was going to move to New York City, so I threw my two weeks notice into the food whole and packed my bags.  I flew into JFK airport on July 4th, 2011.  No, I didn't see any of the amazing fireworks.  I was too busy lugging two huge suitcases containing my entire existence through the subway.  But I did hear them at some point.  They were loud.

I don't really know what I want to do with my life.  I love writing and WILL publish a book one day.  And it will provide me with multiple summer homes.  Till then, keep reading.