Beyond the borders, part 2

It’s tough being an empty nester, but what’s it like being a flourishing fledgling flown from the nest? Alex Bunten reached out to a few CCS grads to see what kind of impression Charlotters are making on the world.   


Zena Jacobsen with her two young ones.


From Lake Road to the hills of L.A. ­– Zena Jacobsen

The Charlotte News: First, straight to the point, when did you graduate from CCS?

Zena Jacobsen: Oh gosh, it must have been 1996.

TCN: Next most important, where the heck did you go?  

ZJ: Los Angeles! By way of Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Berkeley, New York and then Los Angeles.

TCN: What brought you there? Love, money, weather, lower taxes, sidewalks, better cheese, better lake views? Tell us about it!

ZJ: I never considered making a life in LA until several years ago, when during a winter visit here from New York I started rethinking our (my husband, Jesse, and my) plan to eventually live in northern California (where we met). My husband and I both have family nearby, the weather is way better (than New York and the Bay Area), and we were thinking about having kids and suspected that being close to some grandparents had some benefits that differed from being close to our friends.

TCN: What do you do for gainful employment? And do you enjoy it? What’s the most difficult thing about it?

ZJ: I am a litigation attorney at Quinn Emanuel (a litigation-only firm based in Los Angeles). I spent a summer in the San Francisco office, nearly five years at the New York office, and now have been in the Los Angeles office more than three years. Mainly I have worked on structured finance litigation cases (suing big banks and mortgage originators), but have also worked on antitrust and more general commercial litigation cases. I enjoy my work. My colleagues are super-smart and driven, and our cases are often very complex and interesting. Most difficult thing about work is that it can be very consuming and demand loads of hours…so balance is difficult? We have a three-year-old and a three-month-old, so life is crazy these days!

TCN: Since that fateful day you flew from the nest, what’s the strangest place you’ve been to?

ZJ: The most remote place I’ve been is to a little island called Biopeba in Brazil. It took a plane, taxi, ferry boat, bus and then water taxi to get there.  It was so lovely.

TCN: Better yet, where is the oddest place you have bumped into a Charlotter unexpectedly? (If not a Charlotter, a Vermonter…)

ZJ: If memory serves, I believe the cabin and restaurant owner in Biopeba was a Vermonter, or maybe his brother lived in Vermont? Anyway, I once bumped into a childhood friend from Essex in a tiny town in Costa Rica—that was wild and super fun!

TCN: When you tell your new fandangled foreign friends about where you are from, how do you explain your Charlotte upbringing in 50 words or fewer? (And don’t tell us, you say you are from the “Boston Area” because no one knows where Charlotte, let alone Vermont, is…)

ZJ: First people are thrown off by the pronunciation of “Charlotte,” as fellow Charlotters you all should know what I mean. Then I try to explain the rural-ness of the place –lack of grocery stores, shops, restaurants and then I find the laminated postcard that my mom sent me while I was in college…the postcard where you can make out our barns overlooking the lake.

TCN: Do you have a quintessential Vermont expression that you tell these new fine- feathered folks?

ZJ: Not really an expression per se but I make known my preference for Vermont maple syrup.

TCN: When you think of your alma mater, “Where there’s no better place to learn,” who’s the first person that comes to mind? Why?

ZJ: Oh gosh, mainly my friends! Laura McBride! Rachel Gill! Emily Silman!

TCN: If you could give current CCS kids a piece of advice about their future as cultural attachés of Charlotte, what would it be?

ZJ: You live in a beautiful, wonderful, green, peaceful place, be prepared to love this town forever.

TCN: Do any of your parents/relatives still live in town? If so, have they bought you a subscription to your hometown paper yet? (If not, have a word.)

ZJ: Oh yes, my mother, stepfather and several siblings (from time to time).  And oh yes, I believe they do subscribe to the paper.

TCN: What do you think Charlotte will be like in 20 years?

ZJ: Hopefully very similar to how it is now.

TCN: Would you ever consider moving back?

ZJ: I do, almost every time that I visit during the summer.