Blogging, humor

Canada: Just Like the States Except Not At All.

Go Jules Go Canada Just Like the States Exept Not At All Title Graphic_17APR19

“Hello. Bonjour,” a baby-faced, tow-haired man greeted, nodding curtly at me.

“Hello,” I answered to indicate that, while I was in fact learning French, I didn’t think ‘Where is the bathroom?’ and ‘My dog is beautiful and intelligent’ would be particularly helpful in this moment.

“Do you have any weapons, firearms, commercial goods?” he asked.

“No,” I replied easily, my hands resting on my steering wheel.

“Alcohol?”

“Yes, a case of wine.”

“I’m saw-ry, how much?”

I gulped. “A case…?”

“How many baw-tles is that?”

“Twelve. Well, eleven. I drank one last night.”

Champagne-2-Jules-Apr2013
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, how many of these can I take to Canada, yo?

He raised his eyebrows and looked at the officer in the booth behind him. They began having a hushed conversation. He turned back to me, looking like he was trying not to smile.

“Are you planning to leave them all in Canada?”

“That was the plan,” I said, smiling nervously.

“Why do you have so much wine?”

You don’t get out of this booth much, do you, sir?

“Well, I’m visiting a friend and I thought I should be a good guest and not show up empty-handed… She’s having friends over this weekend to welcome me…”

I wasn’t entirely sure if this was true, but it could be true.

“The first two bottles are free, but you’re going to have to pay a duty charge on the others. You can decide if it’s worth it to keep them. Just pull to the left and go inside.”

$61.90 ($46.30 USD) later, I was back on the road to Nova Scotia, my bubbly safely nestled in my trunk where it belonged. What’s more, my cell service was as bright-eyed and bushy tailed as the border patrol officer (unlike during my most recent adventure…). Things were looking good.

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Really good.

When I hit the small university town of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, nestled an hour northwest of Halifax, I easily navigated the two blocks to my AirBnB apartment. As I was about to pull up the steep driveway, I saw a college-aged woman coming down the sidewalk. I paused to let her pass, but instead she knelt down at the corner of the driveway. My gaze followed her reach and I soon realized she was picking up a large branch that was lying in my path. She moved it aside and grinned at me.

It took me a moment to realize that she was not only offering roadside clean-up, but also allowing me, the non-pedestrian, to pass in front of her.

Oh holy cannolis. I am not in Jersey anymore.

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“Why come everyone is smiling, Mom?”

As soon as I unpacked, I checked my phone.

“I can pop over in a little bit to say hi and we can make a plan for tomorrow, if that works!” my most recent text read.

After years of communicating through our blogs and joking-but-not-really about me visiting, I was finally within a few short miles kilometers of one of my oldest bloggy friends, Sandy from Sandy the Social Butterfly. We’d never video chatted or talked on the phone, but I wasn’t worried. Over the years I’d had nothing but sparkly experiences meeting other bloggers in person.

See?

Sandy arrived a few minutes later and immediately gifted me a bottle of her favorite Nova Scotian wine. Her stunning bright blue eyes sparkled and she was dressed to kill. Meanwhile, I was covered in 10+ hours of car funk and not sure if I’d remembered deodorant.

“I didn’t realize you’d be so tall!” she said.

And I’m only in sneakers, I thought. I didn’t miss my heels, which I’d left back in New Jersey, knowing my 3+ weeks in Maine and Canada wouldn’t call for them.

We gabbed enthusiastically before heading a few blocks downtown for a glass of wine, quickly falling into conversation like old friends. The waiter took our photo and made sure we’d promise to tell him if he should take another one.

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“Canadians are so nice it almost makes me uncomfortable,” I confessed to Sandy.

Over the next few days, Sandy showed me around town, took me to wineries, kicked my ass in her boot camp class, arranged a gorgeous hike, and introduced me to her friends. (Too bad they were real bitches.)

Bitches.

P.S. – Even the dogs in Canada are nicer.

Go-Jules-Go-Jenn-Laila-Split-Rock-hike-Nova-Scotia_14APR2019

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How does it feel when you travel? Do the people start getting nicer…or not?

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humor, I'm Going To Chop My Ear Off Any Day Now, Kvetching, PSAs

An Udder Fail

Go Jules Go An Udder Fail Title Graphic_9APR19

It’s mud season in rural Maine.

I know this because, despite being a New Jersey native, I’m spending most of April in one of my favorite states.

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I mean come on. This doesn’t even have a filter.

I can do this because I quit my job and now my life is filled with rampant lawlessness.

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Did someone say “lawlessness”?

When I arrived in rural Maine, intending to volunteer on a friend’s farm sanctuary for two weeks, I didn’t immediately realize my cell signal had given out. A half hour earlier.

I diligently followed my friend’s instructions to “look for the next driveway after the sanctuary’s entrance,” where my cabin was located. Instead I saw train tracks and a sign that read, “Pavement ends.”

pavement-ends-sign
Say whaaa…?

Being from what you might call a New York City suburb, I interpreted that to mean, “TURN YOUR CAKE ASS AROUND, JERSEY.” I did so happily, heading back towards the sanctuary’s driveway instead.

Big mistake.

Farm Sanctuary driveway Go Jules Go
What I should have done, and soon learned to do: Park at the foot of the driveway and make the mile-long, uphill walk by foot.

“Mud season” wasn’t just a cute saying. My non-all wheel drive sedan squealed for mercy as I attempted to haul her up the hill.

“Oh my GAWD are you f*@#&$ kidding me?” I imagined her saying. “I am sooooo going to need a pedicure after this.”

I had gotten AAA before the trip, though, and felt cavalier mildly confident. (Until later, when I realized I wouldn’t have even been able to call AAA if I HAD gotten stuck.)

Once I made it to the sanctuary, the owner looked confused. I explained that I couldn’t find the cabin. Apparently I was supposed to charge past the “Pavement ends” warning and go another mile or so to “the next driveway.” I felt silly explaining that in Jersey terms, “the next driveway” is usually measured in feet. Sometimes inches. I kept quiet and accepted her gracious offer to lead me there – something I knew she didn’t have time for.

Running a farm sanctuary is No. Joke.

“Thank you so much. Just a warning that I’m going to keep a safe distance from you going downhill.”

She smiled knowingly, casting a glance at my mud-spattered pansy car.

We soon reached the small cabin, which was clean and well lit, warm from gas heat and equipped with the basics. Except internet. Which, I quickly began to realize, was going to throw a wrench into this whoooole plan. I checked my phone; still no service whatsoever.

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Hello…? Is anyone out there…?

“This mayyyy be a problem,” I said, feeling the panic start to rise in my throat, the extent of my remote location settling in.

Let me just text… No.

Let me just look up the nearest… No.

Let me just check the weather for tomorrow and… No.

I waited until she left to execute what would come to be the first of many, many strategies to try to make the next couple of weeks work out.

I’m just going to drive towards a town, and see when my service picks up. I didn’t even bother unpacking, just loaded Uncle Jesse (the dog) back in the car. As I made the first turn, my stomach flip-flopped, trying to memorize my surroundings. Holy god I miss Google maps. The sun would set in less than an hour, so after just a few minutes, I decided to give up and turn around in a church parking lot. The last thing I wanted to do was make the situation worse by getting lost.

As I did a U-turn, I noticed the church’s sign.

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Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

I decided to go back to the sanctuary -walking from the bottom of the driveway this time- and borrow someone’s phone to let my family know I had arrived safely. A volunteer was sorting vegetables and happy to offer her phone, so after I successfully texted Babs (mom), I helped sort produce for the next couple of hours, chatting and feeding Uncle Jesse stray bits of cauliflower.

Go Jules Go farm sanctuary sorting vegetables
One for the bin, one for Uncle Jesse, one for the bi-Uncle Jesse…

Thankfully, my phone still worked as a flashlight, and we made it back to the car and our cabin. It was pitch black. As I unpacked the car, I caught a glimpse of the stars twinkling brightly – the way they only could when not overpowered by street lamps and cramped houses. I stood still, and for the first time in hours, took a deep breath.

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Maybe this will all work out…

I finished unpacking, popped some potatoes in the little oven for Uncle Jesse, and cracked open a bottle of wine, deciding to make the most of my off-grid night. I’d sort out my phone issues in the morning.

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Microsoft Word and random downloaded iTunes songs from 2016: entertaining spoiled New Jerseyians since…I don’t know when, because my phone doesn’t work and I can’t look anything up.

Fast forward two days, and my phone -even with a new, more expensive carrier- still wasn’t working. Nor were my pseudo, DSW-purchased “muck boots,” which I managed to puncture by repeatedly tripping on a sharp rock while cleaning the rabbit houses.

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Thankfully, my $900 paperweight phone’s camera still pulled through.

Every two minutes, I thought of some reason I needed to use my phone, or get online. Upcoming bills I had to pay, friends with momentous events I had planned to check in on, ASMR videos on YouTube I needed to watch, travel plans I’d yet to make…

Shame washed over me in endless, sickening waves. I am so fu@*#^% soft. Here I thought, with my tiny living and frugal spending, I’d become so flexible! So strong! So adaptable! But 48 hours without a phone broke me, and after Sunday’s full work day, I fled back to my comfort zone, checking into a pet-friendly motel 90 minutes south, in one of my favorite parts of Maine.

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And near one of my favorite people, Darla from She’s A Maineiac.

“Does the dial go all the way up to ‘donkey’?” I asked Darla when I stopped by the next day to do laundry.

Laundry donkey setting Go Jules Go

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How would you fare if you were unexpectedly off-grid?

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humor, Project Management

Flying by the Seat of My…Color-Coded Schedule

Go Jules Go Title Graphic_Flying by the seat of my color coded schedule_3APR19

“Life’s an adventure!” they said.

“Escape the ordinary!” they said.

“Embrace the unknown!” they said.

motivation
I prefer quotes like this.

Okay. Maybe by “they” I mean “me,” over this past month. Having rid myself of just about every earthly possession and commitment, you might think life now looks a little like this:

Saved-by-the-bell-party

Er, well, this is awkward. Because, as I gear up for 3+ months on the road, it’s been looking a little more like this:

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“Do I have Uncle Jesse’s rabies vaccination records to get into Canada???”

And this:

Go Jules Go April 2019 calendar
“Did I remember to give Babs access to my color-coded Google calendar?!”

And this:

AirBnBs for April screenshot
“Crap, do any of these have a washer/dryer?!”

In fact, it’s been so much work that I haven’t had time to make more videos (…or write blog posts exceeding 500 words…).

But man.

I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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Hey, wait! I’m carefree! Look! Bubbles! Sunset! Wheeeeee!

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How do you travel? Are you more of a ‘color-coded calendar creator’ or an ‘eh, let’s wing it’ type?

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humor, Kvetching

I Wanted to Sell My Stuff, Not My Soul

I Wanted To Sell My Stuff Not My Soul Go Jules Go Title Graphic 27MAR2019

OH MY GOD I’M SO TIRED.

Remind me never to move out of a third floor walk up and sell all of my stuff ever again.

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I can’t believe my Fitbit is still working.

Have you ever tried to sell anything on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace or the like? Then I apologize in advance for giving you PTSD with this post.

This is my life now.

Facebook Marketplace 1Facebook Marketplace 2Facebook Marketplace 3Facebook Marketplace 4Facebook Marketplace 5

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Do you go the donate route or try to make a few bucks?

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humor

I Met Slomo!

Go Jules Go I Met Slomo Title Graphic 19MAR2019

I lick my lips for the 47th time in an hour and look around. My mouth is so dry that I’m fantasizing about lip balm pots like they’re purple beads on Mardi Gras. My surroundings do little to distract me.

Girl with feet on back of seat, head on knees, sound asleep. How is that comfortable?

Impossibly tiny child watching Monsters, Inc. on an iPhone. I never knew they made headphones that small. Whenever I get up to pee, she places her doll, Bella, in my chair to “save my seat.”

A clean-shaven man in a crisp white shirt plugging away at his laptop, pausing during each draft email, carefully considering what precedes, “Regards, Bill Baker, CPA.” God, I don’t miss Outlook.

I look at my insulated water bottle, concave from the air pressure. If I take another sip, I risk having to use the bathroom. Again. I swallow and look at the top lefthand corner of my phone. Again. Three more hours.

When I booked the “super saver airfare” a month earlier, I had only one thought in mind: getting out of Jersey.

Jules-airport_13MAR2019
The face you make when your ride to the airport hands you guilty pleasure reading, and you don’t yet realize you’re holding a memorial tribute.

Now, after six days in San Diego visiting friends and family, I’m just a few hours from home.

Home.

Or… not. If home is the place where you pay rent, then I only have ten days left to call New Jersey my own. After that, I face a knee-wobbling series of unknowns that has me questioning… EVERYTHING.

What if I was wrong? What if I don’t know myself after all? What if, along with every shred of familiarity and security, I’ve also tossed out my sanity? Who does this? Who, at 36, quits her full-time job, sells all of her stuff, and starts over?

I take a deep breath and press my head into the seat, careful not to touch the recline button lest I invade anyone else’s space even more. I think about the words I heard just a few days earlier, southern California sun on my skin, salt air in my lungs, and rollerblades on my feet.

“Love is the most important thing,” a leather-skinned man said in an easy, Southern accent. “And honor is like the knight, protecting it.”

When my friend Tracy and I spotted him on the Pacific Beach boardwalk -as I had shamelessly hoped we would- he immediately beckoned us over.

(I’m not saying you should watch that whole video…but you should watch that whole video.)

“You’re laughing,” Slomo drawled, skipping over any normal introduction or pleasantries and diving right into a line of thought he seemed to have been working on for years. “Having a sense of humor is so important. Always vote for the guy who still has a sense of humor.”

I thought back to another older man who had recently approached my sister and I at a bar.

“Do ya know why I came over here?” he had asked. We had been immediately taken by his twinkling blue eyes and Irish accent. After we’d failed to produce an adequate answer, he had continued, “B’cause you were laughin’.”

I purse my chapped lips and my pulse steadies, reliving both conversations. I close my eyes and breathe in through my nose, letting the air slide back out as smoothly as Tracy’s skates on the San Diego sidewalk.

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Love and laughter. Yes. That’s why I’m doing this.

Go-Jules-Go_Tracy_Slomo_14MAR2019

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Blogging, Lists, Project Management, Veganiness

What it Really Looked Like to “Follow My Heart”

Go Jules Go Title Graphic What It Really Looked Like to Follow My Heart_13MAR2019

One of my favorite sayings goes, “The harder I work, the luckier I seem to get.”

I’ve thought of it often as I embark on a totally new, risky, amazing phase of my life: quitting my stable, full-time job, selling all of my stuff, and hitting the road to pursue creative passion projects.

The Vegan Dollar YouTube Channel screenshot
Yay! 13 subscribers! Good thing I quit my job for this!

Over the past fifteen years, I’ve had a friend or two suggest that the opportunities I’ve gotten were available to me only because of my age, location or looks. While I undoubtedly experience white privilege and humbly acknowledge my staggering good looks fortune in being born to a nice, middle class family in New Jersey, I’m always saddened when people see it this way.

Following my heart has taken everything I have, and even some things I don’t have – yet. Getting to the pot of gold at the end of the dream rainbow is sweaty, scary and sometimes bittersweet business. So scary, in fact, that the only way to calm my [project manager] nerves is to discuss it in –oh my god I’m so excited– graphical format.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart graph title slide

Getting a divorce.

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Going to therapy. For two and a half years.

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Going back to (and finishing) grad school.

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Getting dumped. …Twice.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 5

Experiencing an earth-shaking epiphany and changing my entire lifestyle [to veganism].

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 4

A lot of sweating. So much sweating. Too much, really.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 1

Setting boundaries and having difficult conversations with people I love.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 5

Asking for help (accountability partners).

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 2

Letting go of friendships that emptied my tank so I could cultivate ones that make my spirit soar.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 3

Exploring all things woo-woo without caring what others thought.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 2

Telling someone how I really felt about them. …And having them not return the feeling.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 6

Believing I was worthy, and already had, all of the joy and love I’d always wanted.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 2

Quitting my stable, cushy job to pursue creative passions.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 5

Moving to a 350 square foot apartment.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 2

Leaving said apartment and getting rid of [nearly] all my possessions.

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Slashing my spending by 80%.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 1

Consistently saying yes to things that made me want to hide in a corner – like meeting new people.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 5

Stopping to question Every. Single. Negative thought and asking, “Is this true or is this a story?”

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 2

Letting go of the belief that anyone else’s opinion of me has anything to do with me.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 3

As you can see, NONE of these things was easy, or pleasant, or preceded by 100% assuredness. There will never be a “right” time to do something that scares you. But the universe doesn’t care how old or young you are, how over or under qualified. When it sees someone taking risks to follow their heart’s calling, it will take note, and oftentimes instantaneously, step in and give you whatever you need – even when you’re not sure what that is.

So, whaddya say? Are you ready to do what it takes in order to achieve your dreams, even if that includes the “impossible”? Your heart is a badass and (s)he just might require that of you.

(Pssst…you know I can’t resist linking to my latest video!)

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What has following your heart looked like for you? (…Does anyone want to hide under this blanket with me? I brought Wheat Thins and Chao cheese.)

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Just For Fun, Wipe the Drool

Poking Holes in Fear-Based Living

Go Jules Go Poking Holes in Fear Based Living Title Graphic 6MAR2019

I stared at the form on my lap, heart racing. Was my handwriting even legible?

I hadn’t been planning to fill out such a form so soon, but as had been the case with most things recently, an opportunity had arisen out of the blue. In fact, the minute I had decided to take inspired actions towards my dream life, chance meetings and synchronistic events tumbled forward like coins from a lucky slot machine. The more I acknowledged and embraced them, the more followed – all like little winks from the universe.

Let it be known, however, that stepping down Fate’s path isn’t always easy, even when all of the arrows are neon pink and screaming your name.

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I mean literally. I find things like this all of the time now.

Usually after I acknowledge a coincidental opportunity, panic sets in and I think of all of the seemingly logical reasons to stay firmly planted in The Known. Then, a familiar internal battle begins: C’mon, Jules. This is how this works. If you want a different life, you have to do things differently. DO NOT LET FEAR WIN. This has been on your bucket list for fifteen years!

I took a deep breath and handed in my form to the spiky-haired woman behind the counter.

GoJulesGo-nose-piercing-form

With that gesture, my tight, sweaty grip on Control released by another inch, allowing my frenemy, Flow, to take over.

I’m really doing this. At 36 years old, I’m really letting a 5-foot-2 man named “Pop” drive a needle through my nose at 6pm on a Thursday. What are his qualifications? Did he go to school for this? Why does he want to stab women with sharp objects? Wow, he really does seem excited about this…

After marking my nose with a purple pen -twice, to get it juuuust right- Pop told me to close my eyes and take a deep breath.

“Wow, that was a good one!” he said.

“I’ve been doing yoga,” I replied. “Is it in?”

“Well, the needle is.”

I clenched the sides of the chair and decided, for what seemed like the 20th time in two minutes, not to pass out.

Pop deftly finished up and then dabbed a tissue at the corner of my left eye.

“Everyone always sheds a tear. Here, have a look!”

He handed me a mirror and I smiled, surprised.

“It’s hardly even red!”

Normally prone to rashes at the slightest irritant (or out of thin air), it was as though my body had been waiting for this new accessory. Within two hours, it seemed like it had always been there. Every time I glanced in the mirror, I felt like I was seeing the real me.

Go Jules Go nose piercing convo with Jenn
Jenn sings like an angel AND sees inside my soul.

The great part about doing things that scare the pee out of you is that it DOES get easier each time. And I’m now something of an expert at homemade saline solution.

…Oh, what’s that? You wanted to see a picture? I didn’t take any of th—

Next up? Pink highlights. Stay tuned.

(Psssst – I just added a new The Vegan Dollar video featuring my new face jewelry tiny house tour! #shamelesscrosspromotion)

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What bucket list item is FEAR keeping you from?!

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