PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS…itty bitty living space.

You’re envisioning your new dream home. Images begin to spring to mind…

A small, cozy nook, under a flight of stairs, with plenty of space for your wand and pet owl.

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No? Okay. How about this: a tiny house with a loft bed and ceiling hooks for your fixed-gear bicycle and kombucha tea jars.

Still no?

All right. Perhaps this: a 300-square foot, 3rd floor walk-up with no oven, coin laundry, and street parking.

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Really? Not even if I told you you’d get to add an extra 10 minutes to your commute?

God, you’re difficult.

Starting November 1st, I’ll call the latter home.

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Who needs homemade cookies and clean sheets, anyway?

“A third floor walk-up? Are you that desperate to win the company Fitbit challenge?” you might be asking. Excellent guess. The truth is, about a year and a half ago, I started making some pretty big changes in the name of Mother Earth.

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The only mother as badass as Babs.

I even started composting, for crying out loud. And let’s not forget those recycled Christmas presents.

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Obviously I have become an environmental hero and goddess to Portlandia fans everywhere.

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I’m just waiting for my proposal. From 2007 Leo, that is.

The Next Big Thing in my journey towards braided armpit hair is downsizing. Right now I live in a 1,200 square foot, 2-bedroom duplex, complete with a yard, sunroom, and plush carpeting thick enough to hide Trump’s tax returns.

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Also there are ghost cows.

When I moved to my current apartment from a 4-bedroom house, it offered plenty of space for my furniture and featured all of my must-haves.

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I mean just look at that flask nook.

As time passed, I realized I needed less room to feel content. I also needed less stuff.

Speaking of, the real reason I’m posting is because I’m trying to get rid of this. Any takers?

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I meant the curtains. Geesh.

Do you have any moving / downsizing advice?

P.S. – Don’t even think about it. I’m keeping that Aladdin VHS tape.

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Baby Got Bac-teria

A couple of weeks ago, at an old-school Italian restaurant in northern New Jersey, my friend and I convinced my sister to sing. Because nothing goes better with pasta fagioli (pronounced fah-ZOOL) than nightly karaoke.

It was the kind of place that makes it impossible for us native Jerseyians to say, “Oh, no, The Sopranos was a gross exaggeration.” After a few glasses of questionable Sangria, my sister relented. Her pick? Baby Got Back.

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A small fan club formed and we all had a good laugh. We could never have predicted just how ominous her song of choice would turn out to be.

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…Wait for it.

One week later, during our usual exercise/excuse-to-gab routine, my sister lowered her voice and said, “There’s something on my butt.”

I looked behind her. “I don’t see anything.”

“No,” she muttered. “Like, in my butt.”

I raised one eyebrow. “Go on.”

“I don’t know what it is, but it hurts like hell.”

“Is it from cycling?” I asked. She and I are avid road cyclists, and that past week she had put in well over 100 miles on her bike.

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Sometimes we have fun, but usually it’s like this. Also I can’t actually raise one eyebrow. I’m sorry I lied about that before.

“I don’t know, but I think I’m going to have to,” she paused dramatically, “Call the doctor.”

Two days later, she was already on her second visit to the OB-GYN.

“I’m going to have to perform a rectal exam,” the doctor said, snapping on a latex glove.

“Can you use a lot of gel?” my sister wept, legs splayed and pride long gone.

In just two days, what turned out to be an abscess had grown larger than the size of an avocado pit, and was located just outside of her… ah, backdoor.

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*knock knock* Who’s th- Never mind! Never mind!!!

“I need you to get rid of it,” my sister pleaded, voice nearing hysteria. “I can’t even sleep!”

“Oh yes, we will,” a second doctor said.

“Can you do it here?”

“We need to go to the hospital.”

My sister looked at me, torn between the relief that this might be over, and the sheer terror one must feel in realizing a scalpel would soon graze their most sensitive of bits.

Yes, I was in the room the whole time.

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I got that crown during the Sister of the Year Award ceremony.

When asked how this happened, or what to do to prevent it, the doctor merely offered, “This is a total fluke. You don’t have to worry about this happening again.”

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I sure hope not, because I found the hospital magazine selection both ironic and distasteful.

Many hours later, when all was said and done drained and doped up, the doctor left my sister with a stern warning:

“I don’t want you exercising for 30 days. Don’t even sweat.”

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So I guess karaoke’s out?

Any other fun medical oddities happening out there? Don’t be shy. We have extra gel.

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I’ve Never Felt More Sorry for Anyone

“Okay, everyone. Now we’re going to head to our outdoor activity!”

The petite, spry woman leading my week-long Humane Education Masters residency program popped up from her crosslegged position on the floor and led a dozen of us to her picturesque coastal Maine backyard.

It was day two of five and we had just finished another vegan lunch, 8-minute Tabata exercise, and circle sharing.

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I glanced to my left, where our cohort’s lone male sat.

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We’ll call him Tom.

Tom was tall, strapping, in his mid-30s, and looked like he’d never gone a day without a kiss on the cheek and a homemade oatmeal-raisin cookie. He headed outside with the rest of us, where we received the following instructions:

“You’re going to pick a partner, and one of you will close your eyes and be led around the garden by your partner. If your partner wants you to smell something, she’ll tap your nose. See something, your eyes. Taste something, your mouth. You’ll take ten minutes, then when you hear the sound of the gong, switch places with your parner.”

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There was an actual gong. It was to the left of that flying saucer. …Or maybe the gong was just wind chimes. I’m not very good at naming things that hang outside.

As I slowly died on the inside, I snuck a look at Tom. His face was unreadable.

“Okay, pick a partner!”

I lost sight of Tom and paired up with a new friend. When it was my turn to lead, I spied him. His eyes were closed as he dutifully allowed a classmate to lead him towards a small pond. I could only imagine what was going through his mind.

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I’d tell you more about the next twenty minutes, but I’ve spent the past month trying to block them out.

So what on earth was this male, meat-loving, midwestern Lutherian doing in northern Maine with a bunch of vegan hippies?

Tom was the new assistant dean of the university issuing our Masters degrees, and was in charge of liasing with the online programs.

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And I thought I’d had some awful jobs.

The next day, three of us were paired with Tom to construct artwork with only what we found in nature. I created a kangaroo pouch out of my t-shirt and set off to scavenge. When I returned fifteen minutes later with my treasures, Tom had already begun pinning branches and leaves to a clothesline.

“Can I borrow one of those acorns?” he asked.

“Sure – take as many as you want!” I replied, and watched as he filled a magazine page-turned-pouch and tied it to the clothesline with a long piece of grass.

As our masterpiece came together, I declared, “We should call this Nature on the Line.”

He nodded approvingly while I attempted to affix two small pinecones to either side of a large one.

“This looks so wrong,” I laughed, holding it up. One of the smaller cones kept falling off. “Now it’s Lance Armstrong.”

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My classmate and I erupted into giggles while Tom chuckled and shook his head. I suddenly realized his presence was the perfect talisman for not only our humane education pursuits, but the political climate everywhere:

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Just because someone doesn’t look like you, doesn’t mean they’re not down to share some nuts.

When have you felt completely out of place?

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I Can’t Believe I’m Telling You This.

When I pulled up to my rental cottage in northern Maine this past weekend, I let out out a sigh of relief. Ten hours in the car with a distressed Labradoodle, two wrong turns, and a long, steep decent via gravel road had been worth it.

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I had booked the cottage nearly nine months earlier, anticipating my summer residency, a week-long retreat required as part of my Humane Education Masters degree program. (YES, it’s a THING.)

I knew after nine-hour days of singing Kumbaya and braiding my cohorts’ armpit hair, this New Jersey native and closet introvert was going to need some alone time.

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I think we all remember what happens when Jules tries to be a team player.

I arrived at my little rustic gem with a view and, per the check-in instructions, headed straight for what I thought was the front door. “Doors will be unlocked,” the instructions read. “The key will be inside in an obvious location. Should you need a spare, it will be under the back doormat.”

I jiggled the handle. The deadbolt, apparently, was working overtime.

I jumped from foot to foot, having had to pee for what felt like 127 hours.

127 hours

I walked around the side of the cottage and saw another door. “Ah, of course,” I said to myself. “This must be it.” I turned the handle and once again – door locks working the night shift.

My bladder screamed as I tried both doors again. I checked and rechecked under both doormats. Uncle Jesse, my dog, bounced around me as if to say, “Is it time to go back to Jersey yet?”

I groaned loudly and walked back to my car to retrieve the check-in instructions. I called all four numbers listed on the paper and not a single person answered. My bathroom situation went from a slightly unpleasant Kevin Costner film to Waterworld.

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I looked around surreptitiously. People were sitting on the porch at the house to the left, but they were almost entirely shrouded by trees. The house at the top of the hill had a partially obstructed view of Fort Knox my cottage, but, maybe no one was home?

There was no time left to wonder. I grabbed a battered box of tissues from my car and tiptoed to the side of the cottage. With one more wary glance up the hill, I said, “F*ck it,” and, well.

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Like we haven’t all peed on the side of a rental cottage in Maine.

The relief was as sublime as the view. I was a woman on a mission now. After wrestling with several ancient windows held secure by what I think were pine tree shivs, I managed to pry one open.

I climbed inside, unlocked both doors, and started unloading my overstuffed car when I saw a man walking down the gravel driveway. He looked like a cross between a young(ish) Jeff Bridges and a basket handwoven by fruitarians.

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That rug basket really pulled the room fruit together.

I gave a shy hello, crusted in sweat, shame and ten hours of car funk, assuming he was headed towards the small staircase that led to the coastline.

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As he neared, it started to feel increasingly awkward. Maybe he was one of the numbers I’d just called? I took a few steps forward and held out my hand.

“Hi…. I’m Jules. …I’m renting the cottage for the week…?”

“I just happened to notice you pull up,” he said. “I live in the black and tan house that’s shaped like a teepee built in 1971 by a blind nudist colony.” He pointed up the hill, his long brown locks swaying in the breeze.

“Oh, yeah, so,” I stammered. Holy hell. He saw…everything. “I couldn’t find the key and no one answered the emergency number, so, I peed my brains out on the lawn and climbed in through the window…”

“I think I know where the key is,” he said without missing a beat. He headed towards the porch and knelt down by a crack in the wooden staircase. “The owner was just here two days ago.” He handed me a small silver key. “Want to give this a try?”

“Wow,” I said sarcastically. “I feel really secure now.”

He laughed and waited for me to try the key, making small talk about my dog and having once lived in New Jersey. Rattled, I tried to shake him off, and he soon headed down the stairs towards the water, as if that had been his plan all along.

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And perhaps it was. Say hello to my new makeshift curtains.

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Tour de Fail

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This is going to be the best day ever.

Because I thought this is what my therapist meant when she said “get a hobby,” every year I now train for a 100-mile bike ride in September. As part of the training plan this year, I signed up for a series of organized bike rides throughout the summer. These bike rides come with roadside support, fully-stocked rest stops, and an ugly t-shirt to commemorate the ride.

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Is that brown or gray? Or both?

This past Saturday, the training ride was a 63-mile charity event for which I signed up namely because the registration fee was cheap. #foreshadowing.

My first second mistake was in thinking a “Stockton University charity bike ride” would leave from Stockton, New Jersey – about an hour southwest of my house. Nay. Stockton University is in Galloway Township, New Jersey (two things I’d never heard of!), a.k.a. exit 44 on the Garden State Parkway, a.k.a. Might As Well Be Cuba.

But, at least it was going to be a leisurely, social ride on a beautiful day – 75 degrees and sunny. “The best day of the weekend!” forecasters declared.

That morning, my alarm went off at 4:45am and as I headed out the door, a blast of cold air took my breath away. “Geesh!” I thought, “It’s June 3rd! Well, I’m sure it’ll warm up in a bit!” I grabbed my coat, picked up my sister, and we headed for the Parkway.

A few minutes in, raindrops hit the windshield.

“No matter!” I said. I checked my trusty weather app and it looked like it would be just fine by the time we arrived in Cuba Galloway Township.

When we parked at Stockton University (seriously, is this like Trump University? Have you ever heard of this place?), we realized we were going to have to wear our winter cycling gear because it was still 55 degrees.

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Where sunshine goes to covfefe die.

As the clock rounded 8:00am, the official start time, an overly cheerful man got on the microphone by the registration tent.

“We just have a few announcements to make…”

My sister shot me a look. We hopped from foot to foot trying to keep warm, and forty-seven announcements later, we finally took off with a huge pack of men going 21 MPH. In the rain. We got sand in our teeth and dirty water splashed in our faces as we pedaled at full race speed.

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Mile 1.

By mile 30, we were starving, soaking wet, and one meltdown in (mine. I am not proud). That’s when our friend, Jen, got a flat tire. Despite being experienced tire-changers, we managed to use up all of our supplies without actually fixing the tire, and were forced to call the roadside support number given to us during registration.

A girl answered and said, “What? You’re where? Your bike has a flat tire? Hang on, let me see if I can find someone. …No, you have to call a different number. Do you have a pen and paper?”

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Oh, yes. Please do hold whilst I grab my trusty scroll from the back of my bi–NO I DON’T HAVE A F@#$^% PEN AND PAPER!

“At least the fully loaded rest stop is only two miles away!” we said a half an hour later when we were back on the road. “Mmm, what do you think they’ll have? Bagels? Peanut butter & jelly?? Cookies???”

By then, our mouths were watering more than the skies overhead. We pulled up to the rest stop and looked around. There were three port-a-potties and one square folding table holding water, four gel packs, and half a dozen green bananas.

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Oh thank god. I was afraid I’d have to ride another 31 miles in the rain without any food.

We shared the fig bar I had stuffed into my saddle bag and readied ourselves for another cocktail of gravel and tears (did I mention it was an out and back, all flat ride, meaning you never stopped pedaling, mostly into headwind?). Before we made it two blocks from the rest stop, we heard a hiss coming from my sister’s front tire.

As I turned to head back to her, I started tipping to the left. My left foot was clipped into my bike pedal, meaning there was only one thing that could happen next.

*splat*

Splayed on the road and hovering close to the double yellow line, I unclipped my foot, leaving my shoe dangling from the pedal.

“It’s not that I’m not helping you!” Jen shouted from a few feet away. “I’m just stopping traffic!”

I hobbled over to the curb, avoiding eye contact with the line of cars inching past us.

Four years later, we finally finished. Our prize?

A two and a half hour car ride home.

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We shoulda gone to Cuba.

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An Idle Mind is Santa’s Workshop

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One week off.

One glorious week off.

I can hike!

I can read magazines!

I can blow dry my hair!

Or:

Anyone feel like getting together for a jam session? We can just eat jam if you want.

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Nailed it.

Once upon a time, I fancied myself quite the crafter.

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I literally couldn’t find any examples of my crafts that didn’t involve bacon.

I even got two of my closest friends on board for an annual Kristmas Krafty Korner. Or at least that’s what we called it until we realized we were holding yearly KKK meetings.

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That’s the house where we gather to burn the books!

This year, I thought I’d combine my crafting and planet-saving endeavors to make soy wax candles out of recycled wine bottles.

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I mean how hard could it be?

I’d seen this amazing glass-cutting trick involving yarn, nail polish remover, and fire, which I think we can all agree sounds like a good time. My mom, Babs, and I diligently emptied wine bottle after wine bottle all week, until we had enough to get going.

We wrapped those bottles in nail polish remover-covered yarn, lit them on fire, and…

Nothing.

I checked the YouTube videos again. And again. We tried a different nail polish remover. A different yarn. Heck, we even tried 90 proof booze. Nothing was burning through these babies. Finally, I sucked it up and bought a glass cutter from Michael’s, which looked like a cross between a guillotine and a giant protractor.

And that was great. Except for the part where that didn’t work either.

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A cruise ship bathroom door makes cuts better than this. (If you didn’t get that, I insist you drop everything and read this post.)

Here’s where you probably think I gave up. But nay! Babs had mason jars.

And at last:

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Any other holiday miracles happening out there?

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One Trashy Post

Oh, sweet, fuzzy, forgiving chipmunks.

I had high hopes. I really did. Despite adding a graduate program to my plate, I thought I could still check in on the reg. Now I don’t even have time to type regular.

Yet with twinkly lights shining and my local Trader Joe’s up and running again, I can’t help but think of how much I miss you! And in the spirit of spreading good cheer…

Behold, the final project for my Environment Ethics class.

Psst – Babs is in it.

Oh. Sure. Now you’ll watch.

How’ve you been?! What’d I miss?! …Michelle Obama ISN’T our next president? Wow. Um. Okay. 

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Are Polygamist Pumpkins Legal?

Whew, I’m exhausted from sorting through all of the entries to my Halloween contest! I barely had time to dust off my slutty chipmunk costume.

Ha ha ha. Just kidding.

There were only two entries.

And I loved them all both. Almost as much as I love my sister wife and our 47 children.

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My real-life sister and I took things to the next level this Halloween.

In fact, I loved your entries so much that I tossed them into my cauldron and brewed up a batch of winning for everyone!  That’s right. For the first time in Go Jules Go Halloween contest history, I’ve combined your entries into a single jack-o-lantern carving!

Congratulations Lone Grey Squirrel and Peg-o-Legs Ramblings! You WON!

In response to my question, How would the world look if YOU were in charge?, you submitted the following gems:

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Now that we have our winners, it’s time to get down to carving business. As usual, I was filled with self-doubt. Could I come up with a design worthy of Peg-o-Leg and Lone Grey Squirrel’s submissions? My fears compounded after visiting Rise of the Jack-o-Lanterns.

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Babs (mom) isn’t sure I can hack it.

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Most of the carvings were a YUUGE hit. This one was just a six.

Based on Peg-o-Leg’s comment that if she ruled the world all IRS employees would have to wear the same uniform, the Julesie Crest Ensemble, I began my design.

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Next, the design transfer.

And lastly, the expert carving.

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If only you could see what my floor looked like at this moment.

Okay, so maybe you’re not impressed. Just wait until you hear what this REALLY is. A hacked up gourd? Oh, no, no, no.

In homage to Lone Grey Squirrel’s entry, this pumpkin is THE ultimate teaching tool for any Cat Sensitivity Training program – the only program of its kind aimed at reducing squirrel and chipmunk anxiety. If the felines fail to pay attention, all you need to do is turn out the lights, fire up a match, and BAM!

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A chipmunk crest will be forever emblazoned in their vision, turning them immediately vegetarian.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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Don’t let #47 stay up too late eating candy.

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Huh. Didn’t think I’d see THAT today.

It was just another Wednesday, albeit an unseasonably warm one in northern New Jersey, as I walked my dog through the neighborhood.

The autumn leaves were a Crayola box of gold, crimson, and green, and I snapped a photo when I reached my destination: a half-mile, gravel-lined walking trail near a local park.


I tried not to think of my mounting to do list and the fact that I was sweating profusely in mid-October as I walked briskly beneath the canopy. After thirty minutes, I reached my highest level of Zen (that is to say, an almost manageable degree of panic) and headed home.

Stepping back onto paved roads, I heard a strange shuffle to my right.

I looked up, and…

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There is a dog on a roof, said my Zen mind.

There is a DOG on a ROOF, said my anxiety.

There is a BLOG POST in your POCKET, said my inner chipmunk.

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Now that I’ve had time to consider this sight more deeply, I’ve come up with a few possible explanations:

  1. He’s a watch dog for a new K-9 super breed who can fly, bend steel with their minds, and resist the smell of crotches.
  2. He’s trying to catch a glimpse of Canada, so he knows what to expect after the next presidential inauguration.
  3. Anything is better than hearing his owner complain about work. I mean seriously, how hard is it to neglect pets for a living?
  4. He is a she, and she’s waiting for the right stud for whom to let down her tail of gold.

What do YOU think? 

P.S. – You still have one more day to enter THE GREATEST GIVEAWAY CONTEST EVER (ends MIDNIGHT EST, FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21st)!

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