humor

I Wouldn’t Go Back… Would You?

“How do you meet people here?” the baby-faced cashier asked, deftly punching keys on her register.

After spending a Kohl’s gift card on much-needed, post-quarantine clothes, the cashier and I had struck up a conversation about moving to Bend, Oregon – a common topic in a town full of transplants.

“I got really lucky,” I explained. “I had a few friends here who introduced me to a bunch of people as soon as I got here.”

“Wow, that is lucky,” she replied wistfully.

“But there are a bunch of great groups you can join!” I offered, rattling off some examples of how I’d met other people. “There are some really nice running groups here, even if you’re not a runner. Everyone hangs out afterwards for beer.”

“I guess I’ll have to wait a year then,” she laughed.

Realizing that she wasn’t yet legal drinking age, my heart melted. She could have been me at 20. Pale, tall, overweight, hopelessly sweet. I bet someone once told her she was “made for retail,” too.

18-year-old Jules dressed to (not) impress for her role as Retail Store Clerk of the Year at a Harry Potter book release party.

“It was so nice meeting you,” I smiled as I gathered my bag and headed into the high desert heat.

I thought about that cashier all night long. Her kindness and sincerity, loneliness, and what I imagined to be sky-high dreams. How she let me do most of the talking and showed genuine interest in and compassion for a complete stranger. When I was just a little younger than her, also working in retail, an older coworker -and soon to be best friend- took me under her wing and showed me the world’s wonders. A late bloomer, I was in my late teens and early 20s before I really started living.

22-year-old Jules marries the lead singer of a rock band. (True story. Although that outfit is all lies.)

Now, at 39, I so badly wanted to tell that sweet young woman at Kohl’s about the untold adventures she would surely have. The heartbreaks and “sex, drugs and rock and roll” and monotony and horrible jobs and great jobs and moves and upsizing and downsizing and new friends and lost friends and weight loss and weight gain and lessons learned and mistakes made and death and birth and epiphanies and ice cream pints and crying yourself to sleep.

I would tell her it gets better.

Even when it doesn’t.

I would tell her suddenly you’ll be almost 40 and still wonder (and care) if people like you and if your dream of your soulmate just came from a Disney movie and if this is -dear god- as good as your ass is ever gonna look and if that freckle got bigger overnight and is actually deadly skin cancer and if you go broke how bad would it really be to live in your parents’ basement and speaking of what on earth are you going to do when your parents are gone and at least you have your dog but oh f*ck he’s 11 and you’ve gotta come up with a plan and you’ve checked all the boxes and gotten all the credentials and kissed all the right butts only to find out.

There is no plan.

Why the f@%# didn’t anyone tell me there’s no plan?!

And yet.

I would tell her, “20 years ago, I doubted my sexiness, humor, intellect, and power even more than I do today. You’ll come to cling to the version of yourself who realizes that anyone worth knowing and anything worth doing embraces all of you – even the older, slightly saggier you.”

Sunset lighting: masking wrinkles since forever.

Nope. I wouldn’t go back to 20. …Would you?

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humor

The First Damn Page

This is awful, this is awful, this is SO awful…

I adjusted my sports bra and sniffled. Everything hurt. And why was my nose running anyway?

Is this pavement getting HARDER?

I glanced at my watch. Oh, you’ve got to be f!%&@ kidding me. 0.67 miles?!

How did people do this? Why did people do this? Running had to be -positively no way around it abso-freaking-lutely- the worst possible idea since scorpion bowls.

But it seemed like such a good idea at the time…

It was 2014, and, newly divorced and influenced by a number of sporty friends, I’d decided to turn my daily walks into daily jogs. I’d never run more than a mile, and had nothing charitable to say about the “sport.” Psh. Sport. Masochism at its finest.

Despite my entire body screaming at me to come to my senses, I trudged onward. After I passed mile one and closed in on mile two, the strangest, most miraculous, most unexpected thing happened.

It. Stopped. Hurting.

I nearly keeled over from the shock of NOT WANTING TO KEEL OVER. Is this… can this… is this how people do this?!

I stand, er, lie corrected.

Within a few days, I went from never having run more than a mile to running six. In a row. And then a half marathon six weeks after that. And then a full marathon a few months later. I had cracked the code. I had done the thing that only DOING THE THING can show you:

The first mile is the hardest.

Okay so also [cycling] mile 100 is the hardest.

So is the first time you say to someone, “I don’t think this is working out.”

So is the first day on a new job when everyone is using lingo and technology that flies over your head.

So is the first moment you leave the known for the unknown.

In my experience, if I can get past the starting line, I’ve already won the race.

I’ve been thinking a lot about starts and finishes because springtime is so full of contrast, especially in Bend, Oregon. One minute you’re pulling up the zipper on your “puffy” coat (mandatory clothing in the Pacific Northwest), the next you’re sunning your shoulders on a local trail.

Bright, beautiful wildflowers begin to pop up in the most unexpected, seemingly inhospitable places – like between lava rock or thick sand. And even though it happens every year, springtime always feels like something brand new. A birth, rather than a rebirth.

Am I the rock or the flower? OR AM I BOTH? –Deep Thoughts with Go Jules Go

During the long, cold, fallow winter, it’s nearly impossible to remember that in a few months’ time, your neighbor will once again pull out the grill every night, the sound of squeaky wheels on concrete wafting through your open window.

During the lowest lows of heartache, job uncertainty, and loss, you feel like you’ll never begin again. Or perhaps it’s that long-held dream -the kind you’ve had for so long you don’t know who you’d be without it- whose fulfillment seems more unattainable with every passing day.

I’ve wanted to write a book for as long as I can remember. In fact, according to an article in the New York Times, 81% of Americans want to write a book. And almost no one does.

Why?

It’s that first damn page.

Sadly, so many times we never get to mile two and learn this ultimate life hack. Because the best part? Tackling the first mile of any race makes all the other “first miles” easier, too. 

Never in a million years did I envision my first published book being a cookbook. Let alone one that I (co) wrote, photographed, designed, and marketed – despite having zero expertise in any one of those categories.

It’s the hardest project I’ve ever undertaken. Every element involved a first step – something I’d never done before. I doubted myself in almost every moment.

Except when I asked these cuties to be on the cover. Zero doubts there.

Now that copies are about to land in people’s hands, and I experienced the unadulterated horror of seeing that my first news interview added 40 pounds and involved me eating my hair on air in a windy park for 60 seconds (and prompted a whole slew of, er, uncharitable comments from meat-loving locals), I’m battling another first: Putting myself out there – really, really out there. Which of course involves finding the confidence to keep saying, “I made this, it’s good, and I’m proud of it.” Which of course means saying, “I’m worthy.”

Still working on that one.

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Thank you so much to everyone who has supported BEEFLESS CAKES at every stage. You’ve kept me from setting up permanent residence under a blanket. I love you!

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