humor

BEST T-SHIRT COLLECTION EVER?

If you read last week’s post, you already know that my social media presence lives somewhere between Eepsville and Creepytown, USA. Instead of letting strange lurkers bother us, though, why not capitalize on their incredible…creativity?

I mean, let’s say you had access to all of the search terms that ever led people to your blog. Would you just sit on this information?

Nay!

You would turn that shiz into t-shirts and sell them in your pretend blog store PRONTO!

And then give your fake paying customers the EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK!

BEHOLD [what happens when you spend too much time on Zazzle]…

Oh, what, you don’t believe me? Have a peek:

But wait, there’s more!

And what I plan to add to my own private collection…

~*~*~*~*~

What do you think? Perfect Christmas gifts, no?

~*~*~*~*~

humor

ORBITING: Is This Really a Thing?

“Sometimes I put up a story [on Instagram or Facebook] just to see who’s watching.”

“Wait. Tell me more,” I stared at my friend.

“Yeah, you can totally see who views your stories [that disappear after 24 hours]! It’s a great way to see if an ex is still creeping on your social media.”

As my friend explained more, it made sense. Unlike with normal feed posts, stories capture who has viewed them, so you actually get some insight into not only the total view count, but into exactly which followers have been checking out your stuff. In other words, anyone silently lurking on your social media, never liking or commenting, is CAUGHT. Watching you.

Amazing.

Terrifying.

Intriguing…

As a long-time blogger, I’m well aware of the depressing statistic that only 1% of readers ever leave a comment. 10% might like your posts, if you’re lucky. So even though you can see how MANY people visit your site [via behind-the-scenes analytics], you never know WHO’S reading.

But I’ve always assumed at least three exes, two bosses, and my father are reading every post. Hence the consistent lack of truly juicy details.

This was brand new territory.

Over the past few weeks, as part of building my [alter ego] The Vegan Dollar YouTube channel, I started regularly posting and sharing stories on my associated Instagram account. Right away, I noticed a familiar face checking out every. single. story. Sometimes within minutes of hitting publish.

Don’t mind if I do.

Wait. Didn’t he follow my account like a year ago? I thought that was an accident…I guess it wasn’t! I clicked on his profile image. His account was private. I didn’t follow back.

BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE INSANE.

BECAUSE HE DUMPED ME SIX YEARS AGO.

AND WE HAVEN’T SPOKEN SINCE.

Yup. That’s right. The infamous fellow who texted heart emojis just hours before asking for his apartment key back is now watching every single story…on my vegan brand account…

And I wasn’t even vegan when we dated! BECAUSE THAT WAS SIX YEARS AGO.

What. The. Actual. Fudgcicles.

I immediately snapped into research mode. After about an hour, I stumbled on a post that referred to this exact phenomenon. “Orbiting,” the article called it. (And apparently I was late to the scene.)

The definition provided by Urban Dictionary.

With this new phrase in my back pocket, I dug deeper. Unfortunately, I soon discovered tale after tale of people -women, especially- with experiences just like mine. In one case, the woman reached out to her peeping-Tom-ex-who-had-dumped-her-years-ago. “Hey, I noticed you’ve been watching my stories,” she messaged. “What’s up? How are you?” The guy never wrote back and immediately blocked her.

Even reputable sites like Psychology Today provided little helpful guidance. “If it bothers you, block them,” said the majority. “Don’t read into it,” common counsel advised. “They’re probably just curious.” And my personal favorite, “Get over it.”

But…

But…

But…

Is this okay? Are we okay with leaving it at that? Forgiving stalking just because it’s (arguably) passive? And furthermore, putting the onus on the stalked?

Does having a public social media account give implicit permission for any and all lurking? Are we signing a contract that says, “Sorry, pal, you asked for it”?

In fairness, I am asking for it sometimes.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve creeped on a page or two in my day. Truuuuust me. And there are certainly instances where exes can remain friends on social media, even if they need to take an initial pause after a break-up. But consistently checking out the content of someone you dumped years ago and with whom you haven’t exchanged a single word, like, or comment since?

Are we really okay with that?

What about a family member with whom you might have had a fallen out, but then notice they’re watching every story of yours on Facebook, while refusing to have an actual conversation?

Is that okay?

Where is the line between curiosity and cruelty?

…Is there one?

~*~*~*~*~*~

Um. So. Hey. Don’t forget to leave a comment 😉

~*~*~*~*~*~

humor

11:11: Don’t Read This Unless You Want Your Mind Blown

I’ve had this blog for nearly ten years.

Ten years.

Ten years of (mostly) sheer tomfoolery. From mustaches to missing thumbs to Made for TV specials, it might be easy to think I naturally see the humor in everything. That the universe winks upon my charmed world and I wink back.

Surprise! I am deeply depressed in this photo!

But the truth is, THIS BLOG makes me see the humor in everything. It forces me to consider how I WANT to be and to turn that into reality.

I need that. We all do.

Even though I’m pretty sure only my mom and two ex-boyfriends are reading this.

Aside from needing to force myself into seeing the lighter side of life, I also need to force myself OUT of being, well, a bit of a…tightwad. As part of my project manager nature, I like to track money. Think about money. BE IN CONTROL of money.

MINE. ALL MINE!!!!

In order to combat this miserliness, I make myself donate money on a regular basis – to various causes that align with my values. Because despite my practicality, I believe money, just like everything, is simply energy. It flows if you let it flow. And if you believe something is scarce? You’ll experience scarceness.

In other words, the more worried I am about money, the more I make a habit of giving it away.

It…sucks. I feel stupid. Reckless. Pissed off.

I…don’t…want…to!!!

And then, quickly, always, I feel…wonderful.

I hesitate to share the following story because it seems like a major #humblebrag, but, well, once you read it, you’ll (hopefully) see that I JUST HAD TO.

After all, I don’t shy away from the woo-woo synchronicities up in here.

Before I fled the recent wildfires here in Oregon, I made a guilt-ridden, combat-Scrooge-Jules donation to the Red Cross, hoping to help some of those faceless heroes fighting fires and other altogether badass things.

My donation was for $1,111.

Because, you know. 11:11. It’s a lucky number full of all kinds of mysticism, and if you’re like me, you’ve always made a wish whenever you’ve caught the clock at that hour.

I’m not messing around here, universe.

With that donation under my belt, I made the long drive from Oregon to New Jersey to stay with family for a couple of weeks. I worried during the entire 3,000 mile drive. Was I hand-sanitizing well enough? How would my home state feel after all of these months, especially during a pandemic? Were my friends in Bend doing okay with all of that smoke? Did I make a big mistake by not getting a t-shirt at the world’s largest truck stop?

When I arrived in New Jersey, a strange series of events ensued – all during three consecutive days.

First, my sister paid me back for a COVID-canceled trip: $150.

Next, my father wrote me a check for another family trip that I’d made a deposit for (but had mistakenly thought he’d already paid for): $933.

Then, I went out to (outdoor, masked) dinner with my two best New Jersey girlfriends, Mary and Jenn. Mary drove and after we parked, I stepped out of her car and looked down.

“Uh, Mary, there’s a bunch of money in your car…” I said, my voice muffled behind my mask.

I grabbed a wad of $5 and $1 bills that were wedged between the passenger door and seat. I hadn’t noticed them when I’d gotten in. Mary furrowed her brows.

“I haven’t even driven this car in months [because of the pandemic]. I have no idea where that came from.”

“I think it looks like more than it is because of all of the singles…”

I counted the bills. $28.

“Well, perfect, our tip is covered,” Mary smirked.

We joked about it until our dinner bill came. I quickly calculated a 20% tip.

“Holy shit you guys, a 20% tip comes out to exactly…$28!”

Mary and Jenn were already onboard Jules’s Woo-Woo Bandwagon, so we simply laughed about how cool and “typical” the whole thing was.

20 years of this.

The next day, as I quietly sipped my coffee on my parents’ living room couch, I suddenly thought, “Huh. All of this money I’ve unexpectedly stumbled upon probably amounts to close to what I just donated to the Red Cross…”

I got out my phone and tallied the numbers.

$150.

$933.

$28.

Sure enough…the total was:

$1,111.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Psst…need some help menu planning this Thanksgiving? Your search is over!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

humor

Carving a Way: Lessons Learned from a Lifetime of Pumpkin Carving

Right now I’m staring down a bright orange, symmetrical pumpkin. “CARVE ME,” he’s whispering seductively. As I consider this new blank canvas, I can’t help but think back on all of the carvings I’ve done over the years decades. Sure, there are the actual carvings

But then there’s the other kind, too. The pathways -relationships, careers, goals- we carve out for ourselves one stroke at a time. Wouldn’t it be great if we always knew the outcome when we set out with starry eyes and orange-handled knives? Or if someone gave us a book of patterns and all we had to do was choose our favorite one?

I’ll take option b(utt), please.

What if pumpkin carving lessons were actually life lessons we could learn from? Oh wait…

WARNING: Heavy-handed metaphors ahead.

LESSON #1 – Give Yourself Room to Breathe

Have you ever cut open the top of your pumpkin only to realize you can’t actually fit your hand inside to scoop out the guts? But you keep trying anyway? Several minutes later, with an aching paw, you face the inevitable and carve a larger hole, hoping it doesn’t infringe on your carving territory.

Lately, I’ve realized how often I say ‘yes’ to things only to later have to backpedal with profuse apologies and gut-wrenching guilt. Instead of knowing ahead of time that I need more space -in order to thrive, grow, and create- I dive into commitments and invitations blindly, not wanting to disappoint anyone. In the end, I wind up bruised and frustrated. The beauty of making this mistake so many times, though, is that I’m starting to learn just where the line needs to go.

Sorry. No can do. Working on a masterpiece here.

LESSON #2 – Prepare to Laugh at Yourself

If you’ve ever carved a pumpkin, you’ve probably had that “oh sh*t” moment when a crucial piece falls inside or your crescent moon winds up looking more like a misshapen croissant. Right then, time and effort (and maybe a few bucks) feel wasted.

Much like the $40 you spent on that pet torture device.

I have an independent streak as wide as Bob Ross’s fro, especially when it comes to pumpkin carving. Only a Jules original will do. Which means…my patterns usually suck at least a little. But I don’t care. Because they’re mine.

One of the very best things about having this blog -besides how it connects me to you- is that it allows me to view every experience through a humorist’s lens. Dating, celebrity obsessions, missing thumbs, more dating… it’s all GREAT. The more embarrassing, the better.

LESSON #3 – The Right Tools Will Help You Succeed

Bigger is always better, right? Yeah, maybe when it comes to your Halloween candy haul, but definitely not when it comes to pumpkin carving knives. Those itty, bitty, jagged knives you find inside the $4.99 carving kits are actually the best! They’re sharper than a vampire’s fangs and handle detail really well.

Even in 2011, Uncle Jesse the Doodle Dog knew he’d score some pumpkin guts if he waited long enough.

Last winter, I was extremely depressed. For months. By the time I started to turn a corner, a global pandemic slammed us. This year, I decided to arm myself with a fully loaded toolkit to combat those winter blues. (It also helps that I won’t be kicking off the season by moving during a ridiculous snowstorm.) I’ve got plans to see family for Christmas (unlike last year), a backlog of exciting creative projects, and a car that doesn’t slide down icy hills. Bring it, Winter 2020.

But maybe don’t bring it too much.

LESSON #4 – There’s ALWAYS a Messy Part

Before you can even start carving, there’s the decidedly sticky process of ripping out your pumpkin’s guts. I hate this part. Everyone hates this part.

If you don’t hate this part, I’m very concerned for you and also will you please come over and help me with my pumpkin?

An hour later, though, the gooey gore is a distant memory as you sit cross-legged in your darkened closet, shouting for the nearest family member to come admire your handiwork.

“Guys. GUYS. It’s UNCLE JESSE. *PLAYING UNO.* …Why? I don’t need a ‘why’!!!”

This life lesson is one of the more obvious, but it bears repeating. Just like the old “caterpillar into a butterfly” metaphor, anything beautiful that I have ever carved -in pumpkins or in life- has only come after “the goo stage.”

LESSON #5 – …And There’s ALWAYS a Light at the End Bottom of the Tunnel Jack-o-Lantern

What’s that? You took your lopsided croissant moon and turned it into a full moon? Your one-fanged vampire has decided to embrace his flaws? Your black cat looks creepier without a tail? You did it! You figured out life!

Because your life IS a work of art.

Even when it isn’t.

Very little ever goes according to plan, even when we have the perfect tools, the perfect pattern, the perfect pumpkin. But if you can roll with it? Your (jack-o-lantern) light will shine brighter than them all.

~*~*~*~*~*~

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

~*~*~*~*~*~

humor

I WANT MY MOMMY (Dethroned: Part Two)

(For part one, click here.)

“Hi, can you hear me?”

“Yes! Is everything okay?”

Babs’s voice came through my car’s speakers loud and clear, surprising me. I wasn’t expecting such strong cell service in eastern Oregon.

Hello…?

“Yes, but I’m, ah, driving east because OREGON IS ON FIRE,” I replied.

“Oh my god, Pop and I were watching on the news. It looks awful. Is Bend safe?”

“Yeah, so far, but the smoke reached hazardous levels this morning and I was like, ‘Nope.’ I’ve been driving east for 90 minutes and it’s still smoky. It feels apocolyptic.”

View as I bolted out of Bend on September 11, 2020. Looks like fog, right? Nope. That’s wildfire smoke (on an otherwise sunny day).

“Wow…well, you know, you could always come here.”

I hadn’t dared suggest it. Not only was “here” still 3,000 miles away, in New Jersey, but my parents were firmly situated in the vulnerable population group when it came to COVID-19. Even though I hadn’t seen another soul in over a week, was it too risky?

“Go see Grammy?!?!!?!” -Uncle Jesse (the doodle dog)

“I was thinking about it!” I laughed. “I’m gonna stock up on wine at Trader Joe’s in Boise and keep you posted.”

Priorities.

That night I made it past Salt Lake City and my fate was sealed: New Jersey or bust. Was it selfish? Crazy? Would state border police stop me and shove a giant Q-Tip up my nose? Send me packing back to Oregon? Put me in one of those cute little jail cells like on Once Upon a Time?

Aw.

I hadn’t seen my family since early December. Before moving to Bend, Oregon in June 2019, I lived mere minutes from my parents, sister, niece, and nephew. Game nights, family dinners, and weekend outings were standard fare.

After a stressful move to a new apartment last November during a massive snow storm, battling severe winter depression, and then, you know, a GLOBAL PANDEMIC, my priorities had fully shifted from “greatest global good” to “DEAR GOD SOMEONE PLEASE GIVE ME A HUG.”

I put pedal to the metal as I burned through 11 states in four days. It felt amazing to have a plan. To work towards a tangible goal. To learn every country song currently topping the charts. To head towards the promise of human interaction – under the same roof! I basked in the glow of those formless, wordless things that turn “existence” into “life.” Hand sanitizer, masks, and pushing doors open with sweater sleeves were tiny prices to pay for the return of hope.

Over the following month, I filled my family love tank to the brim.

“Wow, you drove all the way back to Bend with your mom? How did that go?” several people asked after hearing that I made the long return trip from New Jersey to Oregon with Babs in tow.

Impromptu photo shoot near Des Moines, Iowa.

“You know, any other time maybe we would have gotten on each other’s nerves, but it was great. I just kept thinking, ‘What if this is the only time I ever get to do this?'” I answered.

A new perspective had settled in. A calm acceptance that this might be as good as it gets. A project manager and lifelong planner, I was finally starting to make decisions based on, “What makes sense today?” The ultimate answer, of course, has always been the same -follow love- but the approach was different.

To many of us, “love” equals “security,” and that means planning and preparing to care for our families, communities, and environment in the future. Heck, that’s why I’m vegan. But what if…we can’t? I’ve spent nearly four decades with my eyes firmly planted on the horizon; sometimes a source of comfort, but more often, anxiety.

To operate under the seemingly morbid idea that tomorrow might be worse -or never come at all- brought a strange sense of peace. It turns out that decisions made by asking, “How do I follow love and joy today?” are pretty damn solid.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Happy birthday, Babs!!!

~*~*~*~*~*~

humor

Dethroned: Part One

“How are you?”

Even from 3,000 miles away, I could hear the wry cackle that always brewed beneath my best friend’s words. I adjusted the phone.

“Oh, you know. Situation normal.”

We laughed loudly.

“Honestly, what’s the right answer?” I asked.

“I think you just gave it,” she replied.

It was April 24th. I had been social distancing since March 7th. ‘I was born for this,’ I joked in the beginning. A classic introvert, I’d spent years coming up with convincing excuses to spend Friday nights at home, alone, mainlining peanut butter straight from the jar. ‘I just feel bad for all of my extrovert friends,’ I added.

Do they make one that covers your whole face?

Throughout March, a persistent, medium-level anxiety infused even my most treasured pastimes. Like other single, middle-class, white women in their 30s, I obsessively consumed the news, processed carbs, and every quarantine-themed offering on Netflix. As I flipped between State of the Union addresses, my 401k balance, and Kate Winslet with an American accent, I couldn’t decide which was most horrifying.

Just kidding, Kate. Everything you do is right. Photo credit

“I’m loving this time,” one of my most extroverted friends confessed in an email in the beginning of April. “It’s fascinating to me how taking away the option to go places and DO things lets me just be present and focus on all the other stuff I love to do.”

I stared at my computer screen. “Loving this time”? This was the guy who needed to install a revolving door on his guest room. This was the guy who helped convince me to move 3,000 miles away, from New Jersey to Oregon, to enjoy the community he and his wife single-handedly created! What is happening? 

An extrovert making lemonade out of lemons (or, you know, salad out of kale).

A few weeks later, my phone lit up with a text from The Second Most Extroverted Person in Oregon.

“How are you holding up?”

“I’m two seconds from drawing a face on a volleyball,” I fired back.

“LOL I’m actually getting used to this,” she replied.

Once again, I stared at the screen. Seriously? What is HAPPENING?

Zoom chats. Virtual marathons. Stress baking. Spring cleaning. John Krasinski.

A roster that would have made me salivate in February now looked a To Do list from hell. (Okay, John Krasinski still looked pretty good.) As I stared at my dog, my lone companion and tragically underpaid therapist, I felt my Queen Introvert crown slide from atop my head, hitting the ground with an unceremonious thud. If a throne crumbles in quarantine and nobody’s there to hear it…

My virtual birthday party and slipping crown.

By September, my world was, quite literally, on fire. Record-breaking forest fires raged throughout California and the Pacific Northwest. Entire towns destroyed, lives lost, families displaced. As the air quality in Bend, Oregon reached “hazardous” levels, I cast one last look at my dusty crown and smoke-filled apartment before jumping in the car and flooring it.

To be continued…

humor

What’s the Hardest Thing You’ve Ever Done?

“Sooo, all we have to do is get right up there,” I said, pointing my camera towards the mountain looming in the distance.

“Easy,” Stefanie replied, grinning.

I was already breathing heavily from the first two miles. This central Oregon trail clearly had no intention of showing any mercy.

While the trailhead sign passively proclaimed the summit was six miles away, it didn’t specify the elevation gain during those six miles: 4,900 feet. 490 flights of stairs. Half of which was loose sand and lava rock, meaning you took at least two steps for every one step forward.

Thankfully, I had had several experienced friends and candid AllTrails reviewers warn me:

As Stefanie and I slogged up South Sister mountain this past Saturday, pausing often to catch our breath, I started singing Gnarls Barkley. After that, Maroon 5.

“Songs keep popping in my head,” I explained, realizing that this always happened when I wanted to separate my body from my mind.

Eventually I fell silent, but there was one song that just wouldn’t quit, even after we summited: Justin Timberlake’s “The Hard Stuff.”

Anybody can be in love on a sunny day
Anybody can turn and run when it starts to rain
And everybody wishes all the skies were blue
But that ain’t the kind of love I’m lookin’ to have with you
So give me the hard stuff

The kind that makes you real
I’ll be there when the storm comes
‘Cause I want the hard stuff
When they’re throwin’ sticks and stones
We can cut each other to the bone
I’m never gonna give you up
‘Cause I want the hard stuff (hard stuff)
Yeah I want the hard stuff (hard stuff, yeah)

Sure, my big toenails were currently undergoing a messy divorce with my feet, but you know what was really hard? Actual divorce. Sure, that celebratory beer was now looking to make an encore performance, but you know what was more nauseating? Telling everyone I loved in New Jersey that I was moving 3,000 miles away. Sure, my head was throbbing thanks to a faulty alarm and zero caffeine that morning, but you know what was even more painful? Losing my first real mentor to cancer.

I welcomed pain complemented by sweat, jokes, and lukewarm water. The kind of pain whose reward was almost always immediately apparent.

“I feel so lucky that I have strong enough legs to carry me up a mountain,” Stefanie mused, as if she could hear my thoughts.

I immediately recalled something The Byronic Man had said during last summer’s three day yoga and running retreat (you know, the one with the no clothes or cell service or booze).

“I know it sounds morbid,” he had begun, “But sometimes during a hard run, I’ll think about what it would be like if I couldn’t do this.”

As Stefanie and I slipped and stumbled our way back down the mountain, we gave a breathless hello to a handsome, wiry man perched on a dusty boulder. He, like everyone else, was taking a much-needed break during the final, grueling ascent.

“Not bad for a 45-year-old with two broken hips,” he grimaced.

“Wow,” I replied. I hope he doesn’t mean they’re broken right now. “Yeah, this is probably the hardest hike I’ve ever done!”

“I’ve done harder,” he said.

“Don’t say that!” I teased. “We were feeling really good about ourselves!”

Smuggy McSmuggersons.

As we continued downward, I thought again about the subjectivity of “hard.” As the above AllTrails reviewer so aptly put it, “Super hard for one person might be pretty doable for another.”

“Stef, do you know I’m closer to that guy’s age than I am to yours?”

Stefanie looked confused for a moment.

“Yeah,” I went on. “You’re 30, I’m 38, he’s 45.”

And it doesn’t matter at all, I thought.

Even on a trail notoriously described as, “THE HARDEST F@^*#*@% THING I’VE EVER DONE IN MY LIFE,” there were people of all ages passing us, including mountain goat-like runners shouting gleefully as they slid on piles of lava rock, “This is actually better than if it were all sand!”

So what really makes something hard? Is it simply a matter of perspective?

Because even at 10,000 feet, crossing a slushy glacier is looking, ah, difficult.

And once we achieve that higher perspective, do we always maintain it? Does scaling one mountain mean you’ve, in essence, scaled them all?

Or do we simply return home to a newer, hopefully slightly improved version of ourselves, now ready to find a taller mountain to climb?

If that’s the case, can I at least sit for a while first?

~*~*~*~*~*~

What’s the “hardest” thing you’ve ever done? Would you do it again?

~*~*~*~*~*~

humor

Women Who Drink Tea…And Me.

“And then at night I usually have…”

There it was again. Another toned, beautiful, successful woman detailing her daily routine. It always ended the same way.

“…a cup of tea, or hot water with lemon.”

I picture these women in their perfectly matching, unstained leisurewear (“pajamas”? Ha. As if.), long, slender legs tucked easily under their perky bums, one elbow draped over the arm of a modern yet cozy Pottery Barn sofa.

And of course the couch is white. Photo by Paige Cody on Unsplash

The 2.5 children and Golden Retriever are nestled in bed, and her tall, square-jawed husband kisses the top of her subtly highlighted head before settling in at the other end of the couch, adjusting the glasses that somehow turn him from Jude Law into even sexier Jude Law.

Who’s with me?

On a particularly rough day, Tea Lady still pours her herbal tonic, but instead of picking up the latest [insert impressively topical author here], she turns to Jude Law and says,

“Babe, want to watch a rom-com tonight?”

In my mind, these are The Women Who Drink Tea at Night.

Where are all the Women Who Drink (Too Much) Wine at Night? Are they, like me, wise enough to sign off of social media and devote their attention solely to Netflix and the contents of their freezers?

Second dinner is served.

In a year that’s felt like someone took an adult coloring book and started scribbling WAY the hell outside the lines -and not in a cute, “Oh, look how creative Johnny is!” but more, “Oh, f!&#, we’re gonna have to get this kid tested” kind of way- I’ve decided to make 2020’s pit of despair all about me.

I’m a privileged white woman. With a blog. And a YouTube channel. What did you expect? (Please ignore the lettuce. I have no idea how that got there.)

As each month passes and some new, unimaginable tragedy strikes, I sink a little deeper into the hungry jaws of helplessness. In the absence of anything certain, my anxiety fills the gaps with Worst Case prophecies. In this dark space of unknowing, my default setting takes over. Self-doubt and her cousin, self-loathing, seep through the walls of my subconscious, doing that thing they do best.

If only I drank Earl Grey at night.

My favorite dust collectors.

Tea Woman knows what to do. Tea Woman knows how to ward off demons with a good night’s sleep and breakfast smoothies. Tea Woman has all the answers.

If I lost weight. If I started meditating again. If I made another list. If whoever I am now could just become whoever sips tea, these feelings would find their way from “frightening” to “freedom.”

I pour another glass of wine and stare ahead, bleary-eyed. “Captive,” a new Netflix series about hostage victims, flickers onscreen.

I mean… I guess it could be worse.

~*~*~*~*~

What has your 2020 coping strategy looked like? More “Long Island Iced Tea” than Celestial Seasonings finest? …No? Just me?

~*~*~*~*~

Blonde Moments, humor, Just For Fun, Lists

#NeverInNewJersey Round 3!

#NeverInNewJersey Round 3 title graphic 19AUG20

When I moved to Bend, Oregon in June 2019, I knew there’d be an adjustment period. (See: #NeverInNewJersey Round 1 and Round 2.) What I didn’t realize, but probably should have given that I lived in New Jersey for 37 years, was that my people prefer clothes more than your average West Coaster that adjustment period would continue well into my second year in Bend.

00100lportrait_00100_burst20190902115641673_cover
For a woman who hates dating, I sure have seen a lot of naked butts this year.

Which means it’s time for…

#NeverInNewJersey: Round 3!

(For Exhibits A-G click here and here!)

#NEVERINNEWJERSEY EXHIBIT H – Finders Keepers…Or Not

These photos are just from this summer – that’s how common this central Oregon phenomenon of being…what’s it called…honorable…is. Lost glasses, keys, jackets, and water bottles are constantly placed in logical, visible spots, clearly with the hope that their owners will return. I’ve even seen a $200+ bike helmet.

And things like this [on a local community Facebook page] are far from uncommon:

FB found wallet

#NEVERINNEWJERSEY EXHIBIT I – BEHOLD ALL OF OUR RULES…Or Not

Deschutes National Forest dog rules

I just love this sign so much. This is where my mind went as soon as I read it:

A group of stodgy, suited stiffs enters a windowless conference room, each taking a seat around a long, mahogany table. 

“THIS MEETING OF RULE SETTING FOR CENTRAL OREGON IS NOW IN SESSION,” the woman at the head of the table booms, while her assistant jots down her every word with quill and ink. “RULE ONE: NO ONE MUST PARKETH AT ANY NATIONAL FOREST SITE WITHOUT A PASS.”

“RULE TWO: NO ONE – I REPEAT NO ONE – MAY MAKETH A PEEP ONCE THE CLOCK STRIKES TEN P.M.,” another councilperson adds. 

“RULE THREE: CANINES MUST BE KEPT ON A LEASH AT ALL TIMES,” a third man continues, frowning. “AT. ALL. TIMES!” He clears his throat. “You know…except if the sweet little boofalicious doodle-y wonderfulness gets hot and needs a wittle drinky poo for his wittle mouth oh yes who’s a good boy he is yes he is.”

See what I’m saying? So. Great.

Uncle Jesse Duffy Lake Summer 2020
Uncle Jesse agrees.

#NEVERININEWJERSEY EXHIBIT J – No, Really. It’s lawlessness here.

Look at these rogue cows, on hiking trails, giving zero f*@%s:

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Not unlike these these cows:

Cows on trail OR 1

This parking spot shouldn’t be allowed:

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This beach-all-to-myself definitely shouldn’t be allowed:

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And who does this frog think he is?

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#NEVERINNEWJERSEY EXHIBIT K – DON’T YOU PEOPLE WORK?

I noticed something strange as soon as I moved to Bend last June. No one seemed to follow a schedule. “It must just seem that way,” I told myself. “Because it’s a tourist town.”

But then I started seeing lots of these:

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That’s right. Mid-week yard sales. They’re everywhere out here. They’re everywhere, and I don’t understand. In New Jersey, yard sales happen on Saturdays and Sundays. You know. When people are…available.

#NEVERINNEWJERSEY EXHIBIT L – That family inside a new picture frame? They live here.

I was scrolling through Instagram the other day and did a double-take. “Wait. Do I know these people?” I thought.

I had to stare at the gorgeous family for several long seconds before realizing it was an advertisement.

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Do you live in a place that catches you off guard? Are these examples surprising or commonplace to you?

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Blogging, PSAs

Progress Doesn’t Have to Taste Like Bird Food

Go Jules Go title graphic_Progress doesn't have to taste like bird food_29JUL20

*beep beep beep beep*

I reached over and silenced my phone’s alarm, Uncle Jesse barely lifting his head in acknowledgment. As soon as I got out of bed, he stood up, stretched, and curled into a ball right on top of my pillow.

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“Not today, Uncle Jesse, you’re coming with me,” I said, shuffling over to my dresser and yanking out a pair of clean black stretch pants.

Hearing the upbeat tone of my voice, he jumped off the bed and eagerly sniffed the clothing in my hand. Deeming the scent what must have been ‘baked-in exercise funk,’ he twirled in a circle and began his stretching routine.

Uncle Jesse gorge 29FEB20
I LOVE YOUR FUNK.

It was 7:15am on a Sunday and Bend, Oregon’s high desert summer sun had finally worn me down. “I WILL go running before it feels like Satan’s belly button,” I had vowed the night before as I’d set my alarm.

When our run was over, I fixed a healthy breakfast and set to work on my latest project – another course with Plant-Based with Robin: “Is that Bird Food?” I was excited about this one.

Is That Bird Food AD - Aug 2020 promo
And not just because Canva graphics make me look like I know what I’m doing.

By the end of the day, I felt proud, strong, and accomplished. …Until about 9pm. When I wanted snacks.

All the snacks.

Instead of putting myself to bed -for an even earlier, harder work-out the next day- I caved.

Toast sounds great. And those peanut butter pretzels… Ooh and that chocolate Kate just sent from Germany!

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I mean gifts don’t have calories, right?

I went to bed full, and full of knowing I’d be unhappy with myself in the morning. On the heels of last week’s shame spiral, I wondered how I could let such a good day slip through my fingers in its final moments.

Was it anxiety? Lack of willpower? Plain ol’ fat-sugar-salt addiction?

Or had I subconsciously decided at some point -based on my unique blend of childhood experiences and genetic make-up- that my ‘ceiling’ was this? Living somewhere halfway between my old life and my new, not quite fully realized, new one?

Go Jules Go: Before & After(ish)

Robin and I have talked a lot about progress vs. perfection as we develop our plant-based living courses.

“I get it. We all have those days,” I said in our first course [about easy meal ideas during quarantine]. “So plan for them. Are you going to be running around all day on Wednesday? Social distance happy hour-ing on Friday? Get the frozen pizza, get the margarita. Plan on it. Work with your schedule and preferences instead of against them.”

It was easy to give this advice, so much harder to swallow it myself.

One thing had changed, though. Instead of thinking that all hope was lost (“what’s the point? Might as well eat nothing but fried Oreos!”), instead of making a series of harsh, empty promises (“tomorrow I’ll eat nothing but lettuce”), I laid my head down on Sunday night and thought, just as I had after last week’s disastrous outing: Tomorrow is a new day.

And isn’t that what progress really looks like?

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