S.O.S.! “Some Outrageous Sh*t” you won’t believe!

Earlier this summer, my parents went on a long-awaited Alaskan cruise. It had taken my father until his retirement to convince my mom, the infamous Babs, to set foot on the next Titanic.

She readied herself with Dramamine and shock therapy and off they went. Over the coming days, she sent fun updates and spectacular pictures.


My siblings and I were delighted to see things going so well. On the last night of their cruise, I noticed a mysterious post on Facebook:


I chose to remain optimistic. Perhaps they’d won a “Meet the New Kids On the Block in Anchorage!” giveaway, or at the very least, had had to stay an extra week and fold towel swans to pay off their bar tab.

Then? I got this:


Like…”severed” severed?

Because Babs was fighting for time on one of the ship’s few computers at 75 cents per minute, I didn’t get any more details. I only had time for one quick response.


I let Babs’ boss know she might not be back in the office until the following week, and added that I’d also let him know when we could safely begin the pun-off. He immediately texted Babs,

“I hope you can still catch your flight. Would hate to see you have to thumb your way home.”


Once Babs had proper access to cell towers and data, I learned that my dad had amputated his left thumb from the nail up that morning by leaving his hand in the door frame of their bathroom. The doors were made of Black Sabbath-level heavy metal and could swing shut from their sheer girth.

Now known as the guillotine.

Now known as The Guillotine.

The cruise ship medic said there was no saving the tip of his thumb, though Babs had dutifully brought it with them to the infirmary.

Hang on, Babs. You forgot the straw paper heart.

Hang on, Babs. You forgot the straw paper heart.

They eventually made it to the nearest hand surgeon in Anchorage, four hours away by bus, where doctors the doctor said my father would fare just as well coming home to New Jersey for surgery. No surprise, since their facilities were straight out of Northern Exposure.

Any John Corbett fans out there?

Any John Corbett fans out there?

I expected to see an ashen-faced version of my father, loopy on pain meds, when they finally landed back home. Instead, he was completely lucid and trying to carry his suitcase. Which is when he spotted my welcome home gift:


Babs needed sleep the way I need bacon-flavored vodka and compliments, so I drove my dad to a nearby Urgent Care center, part of Summit Medical Group, for a proper evaluation.

Another fantastic pun courtesy of Babs' boss.

More fantastic wordplay, courtesy of Babs’ boss.

It’s been a little over two months, and Pops has made a pretty full recovery. Did you know they offer physical therapy to the digitally disabled?

And since he’s doing so well?

Bring on the puns.

Bring on the puns. You know you want to.

You know you want to.

Do you have any vacation FIASCO STORIES HAND-Y?


My “Eep” Dating Moment: What Would You Have Done?

Last week, I was tricked back into online dating.


Okay fine. No one promised me candy if I climbed into their van, but someone from Match.com texted me out of the blue.

“Hey! Would you be up for a cup of coffee sometime? I know you said you’re in a relationship but nothing wrong with friends. This is George, the goofy guy from [nearby town].”

George and I had made it to the texting stage back in early April, when I was in the middle of my ’10 first dates in 10 weeks’ phase. We were all set to meet for First Date Coffee when I decided to cancel to pursue a budding romance with someone else. George was very understanding.

His text, now three months later, threw me for a loop. My budding romance had turned out to be anything but, and I’d since sworn off dating with the type of fervor usually reserved for monks and fruitarians.

I mean do I HAVE to be the apple (or grape or banana or whatever the hell that is) of someone's eye?

I mean do I have to be the apple (or pineapple or coconut or whatever the hell that is) of someone’s eye?

I stalled for two days.

“Hi George!” I eventually texted back. “Good to hear from you! That sounds fun – although as friends, we can meet for a drink instead, because who cares about first impressions?!”


I may have a reputation.

We quickly settled on meeting date and location. He suggested the very place I was going to recommend, which seemed to bode well. But did he really think I’d meet him if I was actually in a relationship?

“No f^&*# way,” said my girlfriends. It was a hot topic over happy hour that Friday. “He saw you were back on Match.”

It was true; after a 10+ year failed marriage, two eHarmony heartbreaks and several Match.com face palms (about which I hope to eventually tastefully blog), I had recently logged back onto Match, browsing the bottomless pool of misguided selfies. Each time I thought about messaging someone, I came to my senses.


Leading up to the non-date date, my anxiety morphed into full-on dread. I reread our text exchanges from early April. They were pretty funny. Was I going to have to start shaving my legs again?

On the big day, George and I arrived at exactly the same time. He was tall, nice smile, put together, friendly enough. Definitely nervous and trying to hide it. I was always nervous, too, but if there was one thing I’d learned over the past year: I rocked at first dates. The formula was simple, and had nothing to do with any merit or attractiveness on my part:


“Are you a drinker?” George asked as we walked toward the bar. I shot him a look and he laughed.

B*tch please.

B*tch please.

He never asked if I was, in fact, seeing anyone, and throughout the night, kept leaning his arms across the table. At one point I had to put my hands in my lap to avoid contact. Which meant I couldn’t reach my wine. Bad move, George.

In response to several of my comments about food, music and movies he replied,  “You’re earning points with me.”

Comments like that used to make me blush and giggle; now I just wanted to go home and watch Little People, Big World.

I thought the restaurant closed at 10pm and I could make a smooth escape after two hours, but we wound up talking until nearly midnight.

I feared an awkward hug goodbye in the now-deserted parking lot, so I waved, shouted something about owing him a few book titles and bolted. He looked so taken aback that I wondered if I’d ever hear from him again.

He texted twenty minutes later.

He said he was glad we’d met, and sent a few Instagram clips of him singing. We’d talked about his musical pursuits, but I was surprised to receive four 15-second videos.

All you could see in the videos was his phone, while he earnestly sang over the likes of Seal and Extreme.

Make it stop.

Not exactly like the time I ate that pepper…

After a few moments’ debate, I replied, “NICE!! The last one was my favorite.” Technically, it was true.

The next morning, he texted, “I wanted to ask you, are you booked up over the long weekend? I’m thinking that I could be coaxed to sing you a ditty for a payment in fine wine.”


Apparently, I’d earned enough points to convince him to sing Kiss From A Rose while I bought all of our drinks. Photo credit: GIFSec.com

“Usually I pay based on performance,” I cheekily replied, agreeing to meet for a second date on Sunday, my next available evening.

I ignored his LinkedIn request.

On Wednesday (two days after our initial meeting), he texted, “For today’s entertainment, here’s a humor article I wrote in 2009 for [website name].”

He had never mentioned an interest in writing, but I dutifully clicked on the link de jour.

“The website was blocked by my work filter!” I replied, secretly relieved.

“Hilarious,” he said, and then copied and pasted the entire article into a text message.

I didn't even know you could do that.

I didn’t even know you could do that.

I was running late for a meeting, so put my phone away, planning to read it that afternoon. Which I did. And. Well. Okay. So.

Here’s the thing.

It just…

Well it isn’t that…

You see what I’m trying to say is…



It doesn’t even matter how good or bad the article was. Right? Do people do that? Should I pass out blog business cards on first (non-date) dates?

Because you know I've got 'em.

Because you know I’ve got ’em.

And here’s where I need your help. How would you have responded? I’m not sure I made the right decision.


Dating and Hot Wax Don’t Mix

If you thought my year of eHarmony heartache (as evidenced here and here) might have deterred me from online dating, guess again.

For the past several months, I’ve experienced the highs and lows of Match.com. Stay tuned for future posts, Your Facebook Profile Says You’re Still Married and No, Thank You, I Would Not Like To See A YouTube Video of You Surgically Removing Your Toenails.

One might consider these experiences a sign. Take a little break, Jules, a little step back, they might suggest.

Ha!” I say. “Show me a REAL sign.”

Last night, I was getting ready for a third date with a delightful gentleman who discovered my blog before we ever met, so let me just again say he is especially delightful (and owes me a guest blog post).

He was picking me up for dinner, so I straightened up the house, got all dudded up, lit a few candles (to cover up any Eau De Dog-who-really-needs-a-trip-to-the-groomer) and anxiously awaited his arrival.

Ten minutes before he was due, I blew out the candles. One of them was the sort that has a tea light heating a scented wax cube.


Apparently they’re called wax warmers. Well. That’s disappointing.

It was resting atop a wall sconce. I lifted it down, let’s just say, a tad carelessly.

Suddenly, all the hot, melted wax sloshed out.

Onto my face.

Onto my white dress.

Onto my couch.

It was red.



Have you ever had any last-minute blunders while getting ready for a big night out? (Come on, I know for a fact one of you has had a run-in with a curling iron.)


Oh No He Did NOT (Just Ask For the Key to His Heart Back)

It was three days after Christmas, and he was finally back. Tim had been visiting his family down in Florida over the holidays, missing my momentous move to my new apartment.

Home sweet 'doodle home.

Home sweet ‘doodle home.

In 32 years, it was the first time I’d ever lived alone.

I spent the days leading up to Tim’s return getting both the apartment and myself ready: Tree decorated, curtains hung, hair cut, freshly laundered linens… I did everything short of bake cookies (though I almost did that, too). When Uncle Jesse started barking, I ran downstairs and flung open the door.

“Hi!” I exclaimed.

Tim seemed put off by the dog, who was clawing his way up Tim’s torso, but we finally managed a hug.

“I missed you!” I said.

“Yeah, me too,” he replied.

We’d been dating nearly 6 months. Tim was a quiet finance guy originally from Pennsylvania; I was a sarcastic project manager from Jersey. After my first epic online dating fail following my divorce, I wallowed for a month before accepting that the best way to get over a broken heart was to fall in love again.

I cautiously returned to eHarmony in June, and was once again matched with a 32-year-old tall, slender, blue-eyed, brown-haired conservative, but this time, he lived only 15 miles away instead of 3,000. Better yet, he was a runner, and given my recent affinity insanity, he caught my eye right away. It took a few weeks, but eventually Tim asked for my number and we made plans to meet in Manhattan, near his office, for a drink.

After each of our first few dates, he asked, “So, when can I see you again?”

My family and friends got a good vibe from his pictures, and once my sister met him on our third date, she approved. I wasn’t sure exactly how I felt, but I definitely liked him. He seemed intelligent, mature and kind, an interesting mix of shy and outgoing. Occasionally he dropped a funny line, although he couldn’t spell worth a lik likc lick.

This may be the first F-bomb on my blog. Worth it.

Man, I hope I don’t have any typos in this post.

On our fifth date, Tim asked if we could see each other exclusively. I said yes.

In September, he called while I was lying on the bottom bunk of my temporary bed. I had finally sold my house and was staying with my parents while interviewing for jobs in the area. All of my stuff was in storage, my entire future up in the air; after a divorce and job lay-off, I longed for nothing more than stability.

“So there’s something I have to tell you,” he began, “And I don’t know why I didn’t just bring it up earlier when you asked me what I was doing next weekend…”

My stomach dropped. Oh, here it comes. I finally let my guard down and now he’s going to tell me he has a wife.

“I’m going to a bachelor party in Vegas next weekend. I was going to tell you earlier, but I forgot and then when you asked what I was doing, I don’t know why I didn’t just tell you, because now it looks really bad…”

“So I guess apple-picking is out,” I replied. Aside from having already made specific plans with me, his voice dripped with guilt.


I wanted him to continue being honest with me, so I accepted his apology and [pretended to] let it go. Two weeks later, I prepared for my first official marathon. Tim was going to come out to Long Island and stay overnight, cheering me on for the big event. A few days beforehand, he texted.

“I’m really sorry, but I forgot I have a wedding this weekend.”

I looked at my phone in disbelief.

“Are you serious? Whose wedding?”

“Don’t worry. Not mine ;),” he replied.

“I can’t believe this,” I wrote back. I made a mental list of all the times he’d bailed or rescheduled over the past two months. Like the night he was supposed to meet my parents for dinner. And forgot he had a basketball league outing. Every time, I reacted like The Perfect Girlfriend. Not this time.

Three days later, I finally agreed to talk to him on the phone. “This has been a pattern,” I explained calmly, my heart racing. “And if I can’t rely on you, we have nothing.”

“You’re right, Jules, I know. It’s inexcusable. I’m stressing myself out by not being organized. I just went through my calendar for the entire rest of the year.”

I liked the humble, mature way he dealt with the situation; it felt worthy of a second third fourth fifth chance, though most of my friends violently disagreed.

From then on, he was careful not to break plans with me. In October, he invited me to spend a long weekend out in Pennsylvania visiting his family.


No, no, I helped. See the wine?

“Your brother is introducing me to everyone as your girlfriend,” I teased.

“I would consider you my girlfriend,” he replied. “How do you feel about that?”

“I feel good about that,” I said casually. Inwardly, I beamed.

“You two complement each other beautifully,” his mother whispered in my ear when we left four days later.

The Maverick to my Goose.

Adding some Risky Business to my Top Gun.

Later that month, Tim got drunk at a costume party and dropped the L-bomb. “I think about you all the time,” he slurred. “Don’t break up with me. Please don’t break up with me.”

“Aw, why would I break up with you?” I asked, trying to console him while that funny feeling tingled in my gut. He wouldn’t answer. I ignored it. He was wasted.

On Halloween, he gave me a card that read, “I’m so happy I get to spend my favorite holiday with one of my favorite people. Love, Tim.” I propped it next to my nightstand where I kept the flowers he would sometimes send me.


Flowers. Making bad things less bad since 1762.

Tim spent Thanksgiving with my family, and by December, we were dropping L-bombs stone cold sober. He bought me Book of Mormon tickets for Christmas, and we planned to run the Disney Marathon in January down in Florida.

A stranger insisted on taking this photo during Santacon 2014.

Santacon 2014.

When he showed up on December 28th at my new apartment, I was bursting with anticipation. It had been ten long days since we’d seen each other. One of the last texts he’d sent had been a series of hearts.


I poured us both a drink and gave him the grand tour, asking all about his family Christmas trip. My life was finally coming together: New job, new digs, new relationship. We took a seat on the couch and I tried not to wonder why he was sitting so far away. He kept turning down offers for dinner while we made small talk.

“My eHarmony subscription expires soon,” I said, pulling out my laptop. “Look at the cute thing they sent.” I showed him the PDF storybook detailing our online romance. He leaned over my lap, smiling, asking questions.

Three hours later, I excused myself to use the bathroom, and when I returned, thinking we’d finally start making out, Tim was standing by my bedroom window.

“We need to talk,” he said.

My mouth went dry. I crossed my fishnet-clad legs and hugged my arms over my tight pink sweater. The outfit was brand new.

“I know I’ve been distant lately,” he said, “and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking…. Maybe I’m just not ready for a relationship. Things have gotten really serious… and… I just don’t think we’re right for each other.”


I stood there in shock. He’d introduced me to his parents! We had plans! When he’d shown up at my front door that evening, he’d held a Christmas gift from his brother – a Disney gift certificate with a card that read, “Can’t wait to see you in two weeks!”

“I’m completely mortified,” I breathed, one hand on my chest, not even bothering to hide my tears.

“I’m so sorry,” he said. “I’m really sorry.”

“Well as much as I’d love make this even more awkward…” I said, gesturing towards the door. He wouldn’t leave. Did he want me to tell him it was okay? That I understood?

“Is there something I did? Someone else?” I asked eventually. If he wasn’t going to leave, maybe I could get some answers. I didn’t want to make the same mistake again.

“No, no, no,” he replied, seeming sincere. “You’re so great, that’s why this is so hard. I’m really sorry, Jules.”

After what might have been 5 minutes or 15, we stood by the front door. He placed my apartment key -the one I had just given him as a Christmas gift- on the counter. I nearly gasped; it felt like another one of his sucker punches. I stared at the key, wondering why he still wasn’t leaving.

“My key…?” he asked eventually, his eyes darting between me and the floor.

I lifted my hand to my forehead. “Oh, right…”

I found my purse and knelt down, rooting around until I hit the fancy little gray key fob that opened the doors to his building. I painstakingly pried it from my keyring while he watched.

“I’m really sorry,” he repeated, backing away.

I sunk down on the couch, feeling him hesitate, hovering over me. I vaguely heard the door close, my mind swimming and yet entirely still.

Did he come all the way here just to get his key back?

I guess these things aren't cheap.

I guess these things aren’t cheap.

Have you ever had to ask for your key back (or been asked to fork one over)? What’s the biggest item you’ve lost in a break-up (besides pride)?


GIVEAWAY WINNER: And The Most Miserable Bastard Is…

Wow. You know you’re an underachiever when a blog post writes itself, yet you’re still a week late in publishing it.

The-Happiness-AdvantageLast week Two weeks ago, I asked you to submit tales of run-ins with miserable bastards in an effort to win a copy of Shawn Achor’s “The Happiness Advantage,” a book about positive psychology (see what I did there? A little reverse psychology?).

I don’t know if I should say thank you or I’m sorry for your spectacular entries. You made my first eHarmony experience look like a fairy tale.

And thus, the winner of “The Happiness Advantage” is none other than…

Lorna from Lorna’s Voice!


She’s going to use those stunning peepers to read this amazing book.

Lorna’s entry:

Okay. Here goes. The Reader’s Digest version of a blind date with a Miserable Bastard (MB) that ended up in a marriage proposal from hell.

The MB in question was a pompous ass lawyer. My friend set me up with him. I immediately began questioning my judgement in friends. During our first date all he could about was talk about:

1. himself
2. how much he hated the town we lived in (my home town, his new town)
3. his former girl friend who was of Nordic descent (I’ll call her Icelandic Dream Girl)

I thought it was a “one and done” kind of an evening, but he wanted to see me again for dinner, not just drinks, explaining that he only asked women out on first date for drinks because he didn’t want to waste his time and money for a whole “dinner thing” if the woman wasn’t his type. Charming, huh?

I accepted his dinner invitation. Why?

Because I was:
1. drinking heavily at the time
2. lonely
3. drinking heavily at the time
4. had low self-esteem
5. drinking heavily at the time
6. didn’t want to spend the rest of my life alone

We dated for several months, during which time he berated me every chance he got, which was a lot. He even forced himself on me (like in rape) and blamed me for not liking it, which I apologized for due to (see above list).

After the rape thing, I kind of knew he wasn’t the MB for me. I tried to avoid him by making excuses not to see him. Clever MB must have figured out what I was up to. Icelandic Dream Girl must have pulled something similar.

In a moment of weakness (see above list), I agreed to go with him on an outside adventure. I’m not the outdoorsey type. He fancied himself an Olympian in canoeing. Out we went onto an angry lake in a yellow death trap. I sat on the floor of the canoe which was swamped due waves cresting over the sides, my hands were claws gripping the edges of the damn boat/likely casket. I thought his plan was to drown me. Imagine my surprise when he proposed marriage to me. I told him I had to think about it, wanting to be on terra firma when I told him to screw himself. Which I did.

The end.

Congratulations, Lorna! I’ll be in touch to award your prize. And a martini.

Any new run-ins with miserable bastards? Um, any plans for spring? Talk to me. I love you.


GIVEAWAY CONTEST! Can You Stop Being A Miserable Bastard?

Recently, as part of a huge work conference I coordinated (okay, helped coordinate), we booked an external guest speaker. A guy named Shawn Achor.

I may have geeked out a little.

I may have geeked out a little.

Apart from having a viral TedTalk, Shawn is a New York Times bestselling author who’s even caught God’s Oprah’s attention. (If you do one thing today besides pretending to work, I hope it’s clicking that link.)

Why’s he so popular? Well, he’s super cute he studies happiness, for starters. And who isn’t obsessed with happiness but the most stressed out, miserable population since 1936 (I may have made that last part up)?


Shawn grew up in Texas, all set to become a firefighter, when he got accepted into Harvard on a full scholarship. As he tells it, no one was more surprised than him. He got to campus in awe, but eventually depression snuck up and bit him in the smart, adorable tuckus. Though he struggled, Shawn ultimately succeeded, and was even invited to stay on board as a resident adviser after graduation.

Over time, he noticed a glaring trend: He wasn’t alone. Every year, within a couple of short months, a huge percentage of freshman went from exulting in their good fortune to lamenting their overwhelming workloads. Gone was the excitement and gratitude they felt when they first got to Harvard; in swooped a laser-focus on stress and perfection.


What was happening to these kids? And why? And most importantly, could it be helped?

Through some truly fascinating and entertaining research, Shawn discovered -and forgive the cliche as I oversimplify- that happiness comes from within.

Or you could just wait for your friend to give you a lucky bamboo. (DUDE. THIS THING WORKS.)

Or you could just wait for your friend to give you a lucky bamboo. (DUDE. THIS THING WORKS.)

How many of us tell ourselves, “When I get that promotion, I’ll be happy”? Or, “When I lose 10 pounds, I’ll be happy”? Or my personal favorite, “When bacon goes on sale again, I’ll be happy”? When we constantly define success as a goal that lies ahead of us, we never feel truly satisfied.

The good news is: There’s something we can do about it. And we can do it now. In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn outlines simple Happiness Habits we can all adopt to reverse our negative thought patterns. By putting some of these practices to use, in 21 short days, you’ll report improved levels of happiness in just about every aspect of your life.

If that’s not convincing? Wait’ll you read about how companies embracing positivity are hiring. They’re not wasting their money. They have proof: Optimism yields results, and staggering ones at that.

It isn't the world that'll change - it's you.

Shawn does not like this book cover. I know this because we’re best friends.

Want to win a copy of Shawn’s bestselling book, “The Happiness Advantage”? Simply leave a comment below describing a funny (or otherwise noteworthy) run-in with a miserable bastard!

(…What? That’s positive! That’s funny! I totally get what this book is about!)

I’ll [entirely subjectively] pick an entrant to receive of a copy of the book and announce the winner next week! Contest ends MIDNIGHT EST on Sunday, March 15, 2015. Open to awesome people worldwide.

Disclaimer: I was not given any incentive, monetary or otherwise, to write this. I am just bored waiting for Shawn Achor to accept a second wife. I seriously love Shawn Achor, and this book. 


eHopeful Part 4: Crash Landing

“I can’t believe that was you in those pictures,” Frank slurred from the passenger seat of my car. We were sitting outside of my parents’ house after a night of playing cards with my family, where drinks had been flowing.

He hesitated and then added, “I know this sounds bad, but I never would have dated you if you still looked like that.”

“I know,” I replied. Oh, you wouldn’t date a girl who was 120 pounds overweight? Knock me over with a freaking feather, Frank.

In hindsight, I perhaps jumped the gun here. Perhaps.

In hindsight, I perhaps jumped the gun here. Perhaps.

“I do love you, Jules,” he said next, and I burst into tears.

“I didn’t know what to do or think when you wrote it in the sand [last month when you visited me on base],” he continued. “It really surprised me.”

“I know, I know, it was too soon,” I blubbered. “I’m still afraid to say it out loud. I’m just really scared.”

Frank was a Navy pilot and newly divorced like me. We had met on eHarmony three months earlier, and despite a 3,000-mile gap between us, romance bloomed. (For the rest of the story, I give you: Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.) He was smart, driven, handsome and creative, and showered me with attention and affection.

Also there were cool jets.

Also there were cool jets.

Meeting him felt like destiny, making sense of all of the winding, fragmented roads that had led me to that point.

I can't believe I don't own this sheet music,

I can’t believe I don’t own this sheet music.

In March, Frank and I met face-to-face for the first time in Seattle. It was sublime. Now, in late-April, he was on my turf: New Jersey.

This really happened.

This is an actual screen capture of the itinerary I made.

I had planned a jam-packed agenda for his visit, including trips to New York City and Philadelphia, and then a flight to Chicago for BaconFest 2014 to ring in my 32nd birthday.

Chyeah. It's a thing.

Chyeah. It’s a thing.

After my meltdown in the car outside of my parents’ house, we carried on as if nothing had changed.

During the 3-hour, traffic-filled drive to Philadelphia (Day 6 on the itinerary, in case you’re keeping track), Frank was chattier than usual. Maybe he was bored, riding shotgun instead of piloting my Hyundai Sonata. He suddenly started talking about his family and religion.

“I am bat-crap crazy,” he drawled, “and so is everyone I know, and you usually only hear about people like me on the news.”

[Editor’s Note: I may be paraphrasing.]

His Tennessee accent was strong, even after eight years in Washington state. I swallowed and kept my eyes on the road. Sure, we were very -very- different people, but after all, I didn’t want to date myself, did I?



“This is fine,” I thought. “Maybe I could be the kind of girl he grew up with. Maybe I could drink the Kool-Aid.”


By the time Frank kissed me goodbye at the Chicago O’Hare Airport, I was spent (and sweating bacon grease). Eight days straight with someone you’ve only met once before would have been exhausting for anyone, but when you’re an introvert? Grueling.

When I got home, I still wasn’t sure how to feel. Something was definitely off, but so many things were on. For the next four weeks, I fretted over where we stood. Another nibble fell through on my house, which had now been on the market for over five months, and with no new job prospects on the horizon, I started babysitting. To make matters worse, Frank’s texts went from nonstop to frequent to sporadic.

“Going out with the guys tonight for drinks and then unknown fun,” he said one night in mid-May.

“Enjoy your mystery fun,” I wrote back, my heart sinking.

“I will,” he answered, and I imagined him cackling evilly, relishing in this torture, this test to see how far he could push me. I wanted it to work. I wasn’t ready for the alternative.

A week later, I woke up to an email entitled, “[No Subject]”. Frank had sent it after midnight Pacific Time.

“Jules, I hope you have enjoyed a fun and relaxing weekend with nice weather. There is no easy way to communicate what I need to communicate so I’m being straight to the point…” it began. It was a very nice letter.

Super nice.

So nice it almost covered up the fact that I got dumped.

Via email.


All right – your turn! Terrible break-up stories: GO!!! (You can even tell them in 4 parts if you want. I’ll bring the Ben & Jerry’s bacon Bloody Marys.)

I'm TELLING YOU. It's a thing.

I’m TELLING YOU. It’s a thing.


eHopeful Part 3: High Altitude

“I feel like I’m dreaming,” I texted to one of my closest friends back home.

I was sitting on a piece of sun-bleached driftwood, my feet in the sand, staring west across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The water stretched between the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, where I was planted, and Victoria, British Columbia, approximately 25 miles away.


Every five minutes, a deafening roar pierced the silence. I looked up. This time, two fighter jets soared across the horizon. It was like they were performing synchronized swimming in the sky.

“Cooooooolllll,” I thought. “I’ll have to ask Frank about that move.”

Just a few months earlier, I separated from my husband, got laid off from work, and had no idea where my life was headed. Thanks to the wonders of online dating and a penchant for making the first move, I now found myself 3,000 miles from home, on a 3-day-long first date with a Navy pilot named Frank.

We had met face-to-face in Seattle just two days before (for more, check out Part 1 and Part 2!), and by then, I was pretty sure I’d met my soul mate. I mean, what were the chances my second eHarmony match would mention a love of bacon, hiking and dental floss all in one profile?

I dug my toes a little further into the sand, smiling. The earth was rockier than at Discovery Bay, where we’d been yesterday, serenaded by a nearby group of musicians. We had sat mostly in silence, in between bouts of making out, punch drunk and full of chocolate from a tour of Theo’s – one of the many surprises Frank had had in store for me.


Earlier, we’d ridden the Seattle “Ride the Ducks” Tour, shivering beneath a tiny blanket, while we ventured from land to sea and back to land. Frank had sung along to the corny soundtrack -especially when it was a country song- which did a much better job of warming me up. His voice was on key, deep and rumbling, making me giggle and blush.

eHarmony-Frank-duck-tour eHarmony-Frank-Duck-Tour-2

That morning, Frank made green smoothies at his house and brought one for me for breakfast. It was delicious.

The Auld Holland Inn complimentary breakfast leaves much to the imagination.

The Auld Holland Inn complimentary breakfast leaves much to the imagination.

We had time to kill before he had to report to base, so Frank drove us up to Deception Pass.

“Do you know why they call it that?” he asked.

I shook my head, still not comfortable enough to make my usual jokes.

“The original explorers had trouble finding their way around Whidbey Island and thought it was a peninsula. But we call it that because some pilots try to fly under the bridge, which looks deceptively easy.”

I shuddered at the thought of trying to fly a fighter jet under the tiny archway.


“I was hoping you’d get to see my last flight on the Prowler [before we officially retire it],” Frank apologized. “But now it’s not scheduled until Thursday.”

“That’s okay,” I replied immediately.

“You’ll still get to see me fly today, though,” he added, while I wondered what the heck a Jersey girl with almost zero understanding of the military wore on base. My running outfit? Sneakers? I had only packed one small suitcase.

I tried not to ask too many questions as Frank explained that I needed to keep his I.D. on me in order to get around base. He introduced me to everyone, and some of his squadron shot him a knowing glance when they thought I wasn’t looking. The base reminded me a little bit of a college campus, a self-contained community with its own hotel, McDonald’s and gym. In my bright red raincoat and running shoes, I was sure I’d get thrown out any minute.

I camped out in a large room with movie theater-style seats and a projector screen, trying to look busy with my phone, while everyone else went behind closed doors to discuss top level security clearance-y type things. I glanced around surreptitiously; the back wall held the coffee mugs, each emblazoned with a flight name (think “Maverick” and “Goose”).

“When do I get a flight name?” I asked Frank later.

“You have to earn it,” he replied with mock solemnity. “Want to see us get suited up?”

I’d never been a sucker for a man in uniform, but snapped about a hundred pictures as Frank pulled on one thing after another from his locker.


I am no longer immune.

After missing both his ascent and descent (thanks to my sheer blonditude), Frank led me over to the tarmac to snap this photo:


I was THISCLOSE to getting my picture inside.

That night we shared another romantic dinner and tried not to think about the inevitable.

Our goodbye the next morning was bittersweet, standing in front of my red rental minivan, my age-old insecurities threatening to spill over: How does he feel? Did he have a good time? Does he really want to be with me? As he walked away and put on the final piece of his flight suit, his cap, I thought,

“Nothing will ever be the same.”

I was right.


Stay tuned later this week for the final edition: Part 4: Crash Landing!


eHopeful Part 2: We Have Lift-off

Less than two months after I started corresponding with Frank, the Navy pilot I met through eHarmony, I volunteered to fly 3,000 miles, from New Jersey to Washington, so we could meet face-to-face. (You can read more in Part 1!)


The profile pic that launched a thousand ships (or, you know, one airplane).

“I should have been the one to invite you!” he moaned, which proved how little he knew me. He was the first person I met on eHarmony, and I had been the one to reach out. My middle name might as well be Sadie Hawkins.

Frank and I were communicating endlessly by that point, and I couldn’t bear the suspense any longer. We made plans to meet in Seattle, where we’d spend a night (“IN SEPARATE ROOMS,” I clarified repeatedly) and do some sightseeing, before heading north, closer to base, where I’d spend another two nights, he at home, me in a hotel. He hinted at a few surprises while I shopped for clothes and got my hair cut, both of us more excited as each day passed.

The weirdest part about the whole thing was that no one told me not to go. Not my parents, my siblings or my closest friends. Was I that stubborn? That in need of adventure? It was as if I’d been single for years instead of months; the ink was still wet on my divorce paperwork and I hadn’t been on the market in over ten years, yet I felt ready.

The flight to Seattle went smoothly, unlike picking up my rental car. I was delayed two hours, and wound up with the only thing they had left: A giant red minivan.


“I got this,” I told myself as I drove into a city I’d visited only once before.  “No big deal. Just driving a MINIVAN into downtown Seattle by myself, about to meet my soul mate.”

“Is there any chance I can check in early?” I asked the front desk once I arrived at my hotel. My Pre-Soul Mate Meeting Plan definitely included a shower and change of clothes.

“No, I’m sorry,” the receptionist replied.

I went outside, suddenly feeling panicky, and texted my best friend.

“YOU GO IN THERE AND TELL THEM YOUR SITUATION,” she fired back. I obeyed, stomach in knots.

“I’m sorry,” the receptionist said, unmoved by my romantic tale. “There’s nothing I can do. But I can give you a free parking pass.”

I wound up changing in the main bathroom, right before Frank arrived, two hours early. It looked like I’d be making my grand entrance in the lobby, a la Kate Winslet on the stairs of the Titanic.


Make it count, Frank.

But somehow he had been able to check in (must’ve been the Southern charm of a native Tennessean).

“I can come down or you could meet me up here,” he said, from the shroud of his room.

“I’ll come to you,” I replied, taking a deep breath and heading to the third floor, eager to avoid an audience.

Moments later, I knocked on his door and he swung it open, looking as nervous as I felt. I had worn my black wedge heels, striped cotton dress and yellow cardigan from Old Navy because I knew he liked them, but now was cursing my decision. I felt huge, standing nearly six feet tall, and probably not much lighter than him, though I’d finally hit my goal weight that month. In heels, we were almost the same height, blue eyes anxiously meeting blue eyes.

We awkwardly embraced. Oh no. Oh no. This isn’t how I expected this to go. Will we really click? Was this a mistake? Does he really like me? Does he still think I’m pretty?

We walked the short distance to the Space Needle, struggling for conversation. The March weather was mild compared to temperatures back home, but I shivered anyway. I relied on the people skills I’d honed through my work as a project manager, trying to keep uncomfortable silences at bay. Once atop the Needle, Frank pointed out various landmarks, his command of the territory impressive. He must be used to seeing it from up here, I thought.


I listened to the slow, calm way he spoke, as if this kind of conversation could go on for hours with nothing more pressing to get in the way. A vast contrast to the animated, hyper speed I was used to, having grown up a breath away from New York City. I nodded and pretended to listen, while my head and heart and breath continued their intrinsic rhythm: Go-go-go.


Eventually, as we toured Pike Place Market, accepting the samples of exotic fruits and vegetables offered to us, he took my hand.

Oh thank god. Relief flooded my body. He likes me! 


Our first photo together. Beautiful, no?

eHarmony-Frank-Pike-Place-Market eHarmony-Frank-Pike-Place-monkfish

We shared a candlelit dinner followed by drinks at one of a million hipster bars in the city, where we both finally started to relax. We sat knee to knee in a cozy red booth, staring into each other’s eyes while he occasionally murmured compliments in my ear. I flushed from head to toe. My experience with romance up until then had been young and sweet and tongue in cheek, then familiar, comfortable and tongue in cheek.

I had never been so earnestly wooed.

It was working.


Next up: eHopeful Part 3: High Altitude! (Don’t worry. I’ll wrap this shiz up in Part 4.)


eHopeful Part 1: The Ascent

Meet Jim Bob Frank. Let’s call him Frank. Because frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Okay, yes I do. I soooo do.

Wait, yes I do. I soooo do.

When I joined eHarmony last year -because it seemed the most upstanding of the popular online dating sites- Frank popped up as a match almost right away. For those of you unfamiliar with eHarmony: a) Lucky! and b) They don’t trust you to wade through the man pool on your own. You take what they send you, and what they send you is based on their road-tested algorithm.

Sometimes they even have faces!

Sometimes they even have faces!

It was slim pickings out there, I could already tell, so the fact that Frank lived 3,000 miles away was of little concern. He was my age! And flossed!

I chose the least pushy of my options and sent Frank a smile, then waited with bated breath. By the next morning, we were corresponding through the protective nest of eHarmony’s guided email program.



I soon learned Frank was a conservative Navy pilot from Tennessee (stationed in the Pacific Northwest). I was a liberal project manager from New Jersey (stationed in suburban New Jersey).

Frank grew up with debutante balls and sweet tea, dogs roaming the family farm (and constantly getting hit when they wandered too close to the highway…seriously, how many times did this have to happen before you did something about it, Frank?! Don’t they make leashes in Tennessee?!). I grew up with Green Day and Trader Joe’s, roaming any one of the six mega malls near my house.

But if eHarmony said we were a perfect match, who was I to argue?


Did I mention he was an excellent speller?

We’d both recently endured traumatic divorces, but felt ready and excited for a new relationship. It took three weeks of novel-length letters before we exchanged actual email addresses, and another two weeks before we chatted in real time.

The first phone call was abysmal.

Our emails had been full of clever subject lines and sweeping romantic gestures. Our first phone chat? Stuttering and sweaty palms. The conversation felt forced, dry and unsatisfying. (Er, that’s what she said.) This is never gonna work, I thought.

After we hung up, two and a half brutal hours later, his nervous laugh echoed in my ears. My stomach flip-flopped. There was just something about it. Deep, sincere and rumbling. It reminded me of an old friend.

I couldn’t imagine not hearing that laugh again, and two weeks later, found myself saying, “Why don’t I fly out to Seattle so we can meet?”


Okay so maybe patience isn’t my strong suit.

 Stay tuned for eHopeful Part 2: We Have Lift-off!

How long would you correspond with someone before forcing the issue volunteering to fly 3,000 miles to meet?