humor

“Do I Have to be Angry to be Intelligent?”

GoJulesGo Title Graphic_do i have to be angry to be intelligent__.27MAY2020png

“YES. That’s IT!” I thought, putting down the newspaper clipping.

I gazed around my bedroom, its dusty rose walls matching my new 15-year-old style: shabby chic. My artwork -mostly sketches of my favorite actors- filled the walls, and next to my desk, where I spent long hours writing fan fiction, sat a collection of intensely sincere CDs by singer-songwriters I worshipped.

On top of the stack was Jewel’s Pieces of You, an album I listened, warbled, and cried to for roughly 99.98% of 1997. Which is probably why my dad thought to hand me that particular news clipping, featuring an interview with Jewel herself. The title quote was, “Do I have to be angry to be intelligent?”

Jewel Pieces of You album cover
I can’t for the life of me find evidence of this quote, so you’ll just have to trust me.

I thought back to my 8th grade class, who, at the end of the school year, had voted me “Most Likely to Host QVC.” As a sensitive, straight-A student who’d never once thought about peddling jade brooches while sporting a fake tan, I was flummoxed.

“Why?” I finally worked up the nerve to ask my classmates.

“Because you’re always smiling!” they replied, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

I inwardly scoffed. I shared a home with not one, but two, bonafide geniuses, and while I never reached their intellectual heights, being smart was THE MOST IMPORTANT THING.

QVC
And QVC? Not on the list. Photo credit

By the time Jewel’s quote found its way into my hands a year or two later, I felt completely misunderstood. Just because I was smiling and non-threatening, did that automatically make me clueless and dopey?

“PREACH!” I wanted to cry as I read the article.

Jewel, a fellow blonde who, like me, loved art, animals, nature, and poetry, had had a similar struggle in being taken seriously. And while I use the word “struggle” loosely, fully acknowledging the privileged place from which I write, this issue has resurfaced in my life time and time again.

In fact, by the time I was an adult, I had almost entirely stopped reading -once my favorite pastime- because the books I wanted to read weren’t the “smart” ones.

Harry Potter series
Oh, thank god. Smart people are reading these. Platform 9 3/4, here I come!

After what felt like a brief hall pass to study creative writing in college, I had to choose a career. I wanted to work on screenplays, but was that “smart”?

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Of course not! All smart people know that writers wind up living under bridges and disappointing their parents!

So, naturally I picked a career that looked intelligent, even if it was laughably opposed to the artistic, spiritual, independent person I actually was.

Corporate office
Cue 14 years in Cubicle City. Photo credit

During my 20s and 30s, not a single person genuinely questioned that choice. In fact, it was usually admired and celebrated – or completely ignored because it was sooo obviously the right decision. Just like going to college, having a steady corporate job meant you were smart. And smart, much like extroversion and facial symmetry, wins.

The first time I decided to rebel, I did it right here – by starting this blog!

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(Annnd working on it mostly from the aforementioned cubicle.)

It was 2011, and I was now a married homeowner (more “smart” decisions). I called it “Go Guilty Pleasures!” and aired all of my secrets – all of the embarrassing, ridiculous, wonderful things that I liked just because they made my heart sing. ‘NSync, Glee, reality TV, dogs in costume, slap bracelets… I had a lifetime of skeletons to reveal.

The blog may have seemed over-the-top silly (and, er, probably still does), but that was the point. I was on a mission to prove, if only to myself, that “smart” and “silly” weren’t mutually exclusive. And if they were? Well then, dammit, I was choosing silly.

Jules Brain May 2020

Still, though, a part of me was haunted by this notion that I’d never seem intelligent because I was too busy having fun. In 2016, when I became vegan and enrolled in a Humane Education Masters program (so I could seem smart about my new lifestyle), I spent two and a half years studying the world’s atrocities – from human rights to environmental protection to animal rights.

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Yeah, okay. I see it now. Always smiling.

More often than not, I felt enraged by the suffering of my fellow beings and the planet we shared. I wanted to cry and scream and tell people how their choices were impacting ev-e-ry-thing.

But I didn’t.

In biting my tongue, I felt like a failure. I began to wonder if my entire life philosophy -the Golden Rule- needed revisiting.

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“I don’t care how YOU like being treated! Look how YOU’RE treating animals!!” -Thing I Never Said

“My brother called the other day and, for the first time ever, it’s like he read the news. He was PISSED [about the state of the world],” a friend recently said. “I was like, ‘Finally!'”

I stayed silent, wondering for what felt like the ten thousandth time: Do we have to be angry to be intelligent? By now, my age-old question had grown to include: What role does anger have in our lives and in our advocacy?

Is it okay to allow anger to fuel us? Where is the line? Do we break into animal labs and set executives’ houses on fire? What about lecturing our friends?

Or is anger simply a step on the journey? One we use to help pry open our own eyes so that we can better understand ourselves and the plight of others? If someone chooses to operate -and address others- from a place of anger, is this the easy choice or the hard one?

When does anger stop being inspiration and start becoming toxic?

For instance, how would you have reacted to this post had I come in guns blazing, instead of telling a story and then posing the above series of questions?

I get it. When things are f&#*ed up, anger is the first choice. It’s the natural choice. Sometimes we need to light shit on fire (IN THE METAPHORICAL SENSE, people). Anger can inspire change and the courage to point out injustices. But I’m not convinced that anger is the final stop. After all, anger may help shine a light on society’s faults, but will it fix them?

Again recognizing my limited and wildly privileged perspective, I can tell you that working through and past anger is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do – and I do it every. Single. Day. If I can’t? I try to avoid public gatherings and conversation topics entirely.

Because I think you deserve better from me.

Because I think my campaigns deserve better from me.

And because I believe we all deserve to live from a place of peace.

Isn’t that…smart?

Jane Goodall
Photo credit

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How has anger helped or hindered you?

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humor, Just For Fun, Lists

Do You Have the Right Quarantine Skills?

Go Jules Go Do You Have the Right Quarantine Skills Title Graphic 13MAY2020

Recently, my friend Dakota asked, “If you could acquire any two skills during quarantine, what would they be?”

Apparently, running three marathons in nine days didn’t count.

Uncle Jesse double rainbow Maston 2020
It’s okay, Dakota Rainbow Cloudjumper. Uncle Jesse and I forgive you. (In all seriousness, Dakota and his wife, Chelsea, are two of my biggest cheerleaders and I LOVE THEM SO MUCH.)

Based on Dakota’s prompt, I wrote a blog post within minutes. Before I could hit ‘Publish,’ SOMETHING MAGICAL HAPPENED.

A deep-seated wish come true.

A phoenix rising from the ashes!

A…much better version of the post I’d already drafted…what the f#%@?!

After 3+ years of waiting and peer pressuring hoping, my bloggy BFF, sparring partner, and doppleganger, The Byronic Man, HAD A NEW POST.

This is the part where I could have put up photos of B-Man in drag, but I’m a good friend.

And it looked like not much had changed: HE WAS STILL INSIDE MY HEAD. So, I’ll let him cover the quarantine goals category, and I’ll gladly move on, my party hat slap bracelet firmly in place. (Although it’s worth noting that I already had the rest of this post written as part of my original draft, including the retro B-Man shout-out.)

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When bloggy BFFs collide. After a run. In the rain. …Whose idea was this anyway?

Acquiring new skills seems kinda hard, anyway. Besides, if these are end times (and who says they aren’t?), what are the most marketable skills we already possess? How can we prove to our quarantine comrades that they shouldn’t eat us first? I’ll take a crack at it, and then I want to hear from you!

Go Jules Go’s Quarantine Survival Skills

I…

1. …give fantastic compliments. Did you know you’re the only person I write this blog for?

Go Jules Go title graphic In the Middle of the Woods Naked_3JUL2019
And would I ever lie to you?

2. …can make anything out of raw cashews.

3. …can sew. …Assuming you only need cute Christmas ornaments.

GotC-bacon
They’re vegan.

4. …have long arms = strong selfie game.

Babs Jules NYC May 2019
YOU CAN’T EVEN TELL I’M THE ONE TAKING THIS.

5. …will carry 15 extra pounds up a mountain if it means we get to have potato quesadillas in the morning.

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FACT.

6. …know how to say 1,000+ words in French. None of them go together, but never mind that.

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Pain! Chouette! Chapeau! …See?

7. …write excellent thank you notes. This can only help our diplomacy efforts with neighboring communities.

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It’s the thought (and not the penmanship) that counts, right?

8. …know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em. Wait, we’re talking about fitted sheets, right?

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It was a whole thing. What? You weren’t here in 2012?

9. …understand the ancient art of numerology. Sort of. I’m pretty sure we can stop worrying about 666.

666 angel numer
Toldja.

10. …am a follower. Even though my head was clearly made for a crown, I’m most comfortable standing in someone else’s shadow and won’t upset the group dynamics.

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We are all in this together.

11. …don’t really understand the ancient art of numerology and think that ending on #11 means we won’t die. (My superstitions could save us all.)

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Then again, maybe don’t rely on me for survival.

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So, what are your top quarantine/end of days skillz?

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humor

Not Your Momma’s Marathon Advice

Last year, I got some really good phenomenal advice – which is generally how I like the transaction to occur. You, Oh Wise One, give advice, and I, inferior and questioning little human, smile and nod.

Jules Valentines Day Feb 2020
Whatever you say, boss. I’m already drunk.

“You have to remember that where you are right now is exactly the right place from which to teach,” this Sage Advice Giver said. “There is someone out there at this very moment, experiencing what you did a few months or years ago, and they need to hear from you, just a step or two ahead.”

“Huh,” I replied, nodding, still not completely convinced.

“Think about it,” Ms. Guru continued. “If you had just held your first basketball and Michael Jordan announced he was your new coach, what would happen? Everything would sail over your head because he’s like 14 feet tall you’d have no idea what he was talking about, you’d be intimidated, and you’d probably throw in the towel thinking how you’d never get to his level.”

Michael Jordan
Jeez Michael, you don’t have to rub it in. Photo credit

“Mmm,” I said, starting to catch on.

“We need coaches and mentors who are still on the same playing field. There are people who need and want to learn from you, right where you are, just as you are, today.”

And there it was.

In that instant, everything changed.

I, Go Jules Go, lover of chipmunks and pouring the last, saltiest, kettle cooked BBQ potato chip crumbs down her pie hole whilst googling Stephen Colbert’s astrological sign, was reborn.

O Magazine Oprah advice
I felt like Oprah.

Fast-forward to present day, when one of my good friends mentioned that she’s toying with the idea of running a marathon in 2021.

“I have no doubt in my mind that you could do it with far more ease than you think,” I texted.

“Well that’s good to hear! My only goals would be to finish and not die,” she replied.

“You have the best attitude and strength, physically and mentally [of anyone I know]. It’d be a done deal,” I went on, feeling only slightly guilty about the blatant peer pressure.

Erin Jules marathon hats FootZone Oct 2019
AND you have the look, EK.

As we went back and forth, I began to think of all of the things I wished I had known about marathon running several years ago, and how great it would have been to have received that advice from, well, someone like me. Someone whose goal was also to “finish and not die.” Someone who didn’t run track growing up, who didn’t (and still doesn’t) understand the phrase “zero drop sneakers,” and whose childhood influences were more, “Let’s watch TGI Friday and order more cheesy breadsticks” than, “What do you want in your green smoothie?”

Jules-green-smoothie
This wouldn’t be half bad with vodka.

When I ran my first two marathons in 2014, my life was a Made for TV Special: divorce, job lay-off, new romance, new failed romance, moving back in with my parents (…at age 32…). I’d never run before and, fueled by chaos and cute men, I went too far, too fast, quickly paying the price with an I.T. band injury.

IT band injury
I.T. Band. The lamest band in the history of time. Photo credit 

While I completed two marathons, it was ultimately painful and punishing.

When I decided to pack up and move across the country in 2019, I knew everything would be different. I would run again, taking advantage of central Oregon’s outdoor splendor, and it would be good.

Jules Crater Lake Aug 2019
So good. Oh crap, is it time to start running?

Last fall, settled in my beautiful new home, I began training in earnest with one simple goal: to make this the most painless experience possible.

Jules half marathon training Sep 2019
Annnnd I definitely didn’t fall twice on this training run. Nope. Not me.

Now, after having just run three marathons in nine days sans injury (chyeah I did just say that), I’m happy to report: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. So let’s do this.

Not Your Mommas Marathon Advice Go Jules Go title graphic 6MAY2020

Expect to have 14 different races in one marathon.

Running 26.2 miles is kind of like watching Tiger King. You are now on an emotional rollercoaster full of ups and downs you simply could never have prepared for.

Tiger King
Would you rather: Bottle feed a full-grown tiger or run a marathon?

SLOW DOWN, Buck-o.

On race day, you’ll be raring to go. Go slower than you can even stand to (and then silently judge all of the jackals who take off like their race bibs are on fire). Your body will thank you later. Like on mile 23 when all you want to do is find a bean bag chair and a box of wine.

bean bag wine chair
Or better yet…

DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU.

I’ve been known to eat Nutter Butters and falafel wraps before and during long runs. But please don’t do anything weird on race day. Don’t try new food or compression socks or chaffing sticks or, god forbid, shoes.

tour-de-fail-t-shirt
And please please pretty please don’t wear the unwashed, chemical-laden, ugly-ass race shirt you just received for THE RACE YOU’RE CURRENTLY RUNNING. Sweet baby Jesus, does no one believe in jinxing anymore?! How about rashes? Do we believe in those?

Incorporate as many plant-based meals into your diet as possible.

This will reduce inflammation and help your body recover in ways you can’t begin to imagine. (Don’t believe me? Check out The Game Changers.) I was vegan for almost four years before running three marathons in nine days last month, and that never would have happened without a plant-i-ful diet.

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Oh, what’s that? You’re looking for someone who can help you with this? Hmm…

Miles 20 to 26.2 won’t kill you, but you might want them to.

You’ll never hate the fraction 2/10 more in your life. No amount of physical training can prepare you for those final miles. You have to want it, mentally. Unlike U.S. banks, you have to think, “THERE IS NO BAIL OUT PLAN.”

Lori Philly half marathon high five Nov 2014
Also, it is 100% okay to throat punch any person who says, “Almost there!” when you’re anywhere within this mile range. (Photo: My sister gettin’ ‘er done during the 2014 Philly half marathon.)

And most importantly, know…

You don’t have to ‘look’ or ‘feel’ like a runner (whatever the hell that means) to crush a marathon.

Just. Start. Running. You WILL have shitty training runs. You won’t want to leave the house. Do it anyway. Because, often when you least expect it, you will also have AMAZING runs. You will feel highs you didn’t know you could feel without potential jail time.

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Did someone say jail time?

Happy, Injury-Free Running!

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How do you feel about giving advice? 

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