humor

#NeverInNewJersey

After spending the better part of my 37 27 years in New Jersey, not far from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, I moved to Bend, Oregon last June. I was pretty sure I’d completed my Oregon transformation by the time I embarked on my first backpacking trip in September.

Socks with sandals. Need I say more?

Then I had to buy a Subaru.

Annnnd NOW the transformation is complete.

One of the most fascinating things about moving across the country has been observing the utter lack of jadedness among my new neighbors. And how, in a town of over 100,000, EVERYONE KNOWS EACH OTHER. I find myself constantly sending the New Jersey crew texts like, “I don’t remember what a car horn sounds like,” and, “Someone just BOUGHT MY GROCERIES,” and, “[Sara] and I just realized we went out with the same guy.”

Which is why I now hide in my apartment and make YouTube videos.

In fact, this happens so regularly that I’m about to fill an entire blog post with examples FROM THE PAST WEEK ALONE.

(Shout out to Rainbow Cloudjumper, who came up with this priceless new hashtag. )

He plucks his ideas from starlit skies whilst soaring through the air on magic and moonbeams.

#NEVERINNEWJERSEY EXHIBIT A

While in line at Starbucks (you can take the girl outta Jersey, but you can’t take the crippling addiction to overpriced lattes outta the girl), this happened:

WOMAN IN FRONT OF ME (holding out giant reusable cup): Hi, is there any chance I can get some water in this? I can pay you.

BARISTA: Of course! I’m so sorry you had to wait in line just for water. We never charge for that.

WOMAN IN FRONT OF ME: I insist. I really, really appreciate it.

BARISTA (handing her the now-filled cup): It’s no problem at all!

WOMAN IN FRONT OF ME: Can I at least tip you?

BARISTA: We don’t accept tips, but that’s so nice of you.

WOMAN IN FRONT OF ME (waving a $20 bill): Please, I want to.

BARISTA (taking bill): Uh, well, okay, thank you so much.

ME (silently): How the f@&*% do I follow that?

Perhaps you’d like a copy of my new calendar, barista? (It’ll only cost you $20. Hey! Look at that!)

#NEVERINNEWJERSEY EXHIBIT B

This snowman:

Built right in front of my door, for me, by my new 9-year-old neighbor with whom I’ve exchanged three words. Because love and puppies and rainbows.

#NEVERINNEWJERSEY EXHIBIT C

I had two girlfriends over for dinner the other night. Within five minutes, this:

GIRLFRIEND #1: Where do you live?

GIRLFRIEND #2: I live in [blah blah] neighborhood.

GIRLFRIEND #1: Oh! One of my really good friends lives there! She said there’s lots of neighborhood drama. Do you know the crazy lady who won’t let anyone park in front of her house?

GIRLFRIEND #2: I *am* the crazy lady.

Uh, hey! Everyone! Look over here! Uncle Jesse has a new toy! Cool, right? …Right?

#NEVERINNEWJERSEY EXHIBIT D

Every month, friends host a vegan potluck at the Environmental Center. It’s basically a #NeverInNJ free-for-all. This month:

(MY FRIEND) STEFANIE (to a new woman we’d never met): Hi, I’m Stefanie.

NEW WOMAN: Hi, I’m [New Woman]. Isn’t Bend amazing? Someone just gave me four snow tires for free! Hey, want to go snowshoeing tomorrow?

STEFANIE: Sure!

ME: You can borrow my Sno-Park pass!

Central Oregon: Where Even the Snow is Nicer!

Honestly, I could keep going, but my alarm just went off. That must mean it’s time to go compliment someone.

~*~*~*~*~*~

humor

Dear Camelback Mountain Resort: YOU SLEEP ON A BED OF LIES.

Attn: All personnel including Irene

Camelback Mountain Resort

301 Resort Dr.

Tannersville, PA 18372

I humbly write to you today, one month, one week, and one day after “experiencing” your establishment on the occasion of my twin niece and nephew’s Sweet 16. Yes, some time has passed since we became acquainted, yet the memory of your commitment to serving fresh hell wafts through my dreams nightmares as though t’were yesterday.

I shan’t soon forget how you forced me into a serpentine line as long and disturbing as John Mayer’s dating history in order to acquire what you casually referred to as “wrist bands,” but what I soon came to learn were our room keys. A room key in plastic! Upon my wrist! Beneath which untold germs, mold, and general discomfort could mightily persist!

A wrist band or a cesspool of regret? Photo credit

My shock had yet truly taken hold, for soon I entered the chamber with which my wrist band provided access. You call this a “queen” bed? A queen of what land? Methinks you would make a killing in the fairytale business.

“Suite equipped with dining table for 6!” your website also proclaimed.

I can scarcely speak of what happened next. Surely -surely- your founders grasped math and commerce’s fundamental principles when devising your arcade ticketing system. I’ve no doubt the Laser Tag council spent long hours debating the most reasonable fee for 127 seconds of disappointment. Yet, when I completed this “game,” along with my sister, niece, nephew and three of their dear friends, why, I realized we’d spent $87.19!

My sister had to get a second job to pay for this “Escape Cube.”

We tried not to let this phase us, nor did we let the ghastly humidity levels of your indoor water park overcome our senses, because we had a grand feast ahead. A hand-delivered smorgasbord of pizza and cake! Why, what better way to celebrate the birth of two 16-year-olds who successfully emerged from my sister’s womb with minimal physical and only slightly staggering emotional damage?

“I had you both at once so I’d never have to go through this again.”

Imagine our surprise when, 45 minutes past the scheduled arrival time, Irene wheeled a rickety cart into our “suite,” rasping, “WHOSE BIRTHDAY IS IT? YOURS? SORRY WE DON’T HAVE ANY CANDLES. NOT ALLOWED.”

As usual, I did my very best to try to save the day.

The teenage contingent bravely sampled the “pizza” and we mustered as much enthusiasm as we possibly could in front of the dim, lifeless “birthday” cake. We flicked the switch on the “fireplace” and stared at the snowless “mountains” just outside our window. “Can one snow tube without snow?” we wondered.

When the clock struck 10:30pm, my sister and I rocked each other to sleep. Not for comfort, of course. There was simply no other way we’d both fit on the bed.

Ugh. Double ugh.

Kind Regards,

Go Jules Go

humor

Your New Life Has Arrived! (some assembly required)

I instinctively lifted my foot off the gas pedal and gripped the steeling wheel. My car slid backwards as I stared in the rearview mirror, wondering when the pick-up truck behind me would realize what was happening. Before or after we collided?

I can’t believe this. I cannot believe this.

The truck narrowly missed me, charging up the steep hill while I reached a trembling hand toward my hazard lights. As if it was my poor, low-riding, two-wheel drive Acura’s fault for not being able to overcome central Oregon’s lack of snow management.

F$&@%. What am I going to do?

No. Just…no.

Meet Suba-Ruby. SHE EATS CRAPPILY MANAGED ROADS FOR BREAKFAST!

Over the coming days, I moved countless boxes over icy sidewalks, painted walls and ceilings that felt like sandpaper, and waited for my couch to arrive so I could collapse at the end of each long day in anything other than a cold, metal camp chair.

I want my mommy.

And my couch did arrive. …Three weeks later.

F@&% you, Ashley Furniture!!! …No! No, wait! I’m just kidding. I love you. Come in. Do you want water? Cookies? Marijuana-infused soda (apparently that’s a thing here)?

I also checked my inbox repeatedly for any updates on a job offer I’d accepted earlier in the month. By the second week of December, with the apartment still in partial chaos and no news on the job, I flew to New Jersey for my twin niece and nephew’s Sweet 16, a.k.a. A New Circle of Hell that Requires Its Own Blog Post.

I now know what it feels like to be Leonardo DiCaprio in the face of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences circa 1993-2015: totally invisible. I had to sneak this photo before they kicked me out. I THOUGHT I WAS THE COOL AUNT. I THOUGHT I WAS THE COOL AUNT!!!!

Throughout the last few scattered and uncertain weeks, I kept myself sane by continuing my marathon training and French lessons, binge watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and creating the greatest calendar the world has ever known.

I know. I KNOW.

I also became an expert in cheap furniture assembly…

…Are there supposed to be this many leftover pieces?

…learned how to paint ceilings in high heels…

Because there was No. Way! I was going back to Home Depot for a pole extender.

…spent my first Christmas without my family…

…learned I can no longer party like it’s 1999…

…and attended my first drum circle, along with 66 other women.

You would have loved it, Jenn. (Photo taken from our 2019 Kristmas Krafty Korner – YES! We’ve kept the tradition going every year SINCE FIRST DOCUMENTED IN 2011 ON THIS VERY BLOG! …Not sure about our crafts, but both my camera and Jenn’s cocktail recipes have markedly improved.)

Though life kept marching onward, a familiar soundtrack accompanied every moment. Am I doing the right thing? Will I like this new job? Is this really the proper place and time to spend all of my savings on furniture plant roots? Will I ever find TRUE love? Why is Uncle Jesse looking at me like that? 

It seems I forgot to read the fine print on the “Live Your Dream Life!” manual.

I also went temporarily color blind when picking the bathroom paint color.

Despite taking a series of ballsy actions over the past year (like quitting a steady corporate job, selling all of my stuff, and moving across the country), building my dream life has felt a bit like parasailing. You experience the thrill of soaring freely through the air, all the while still tethered to whatever beliefs, constraints, and values you had before. Crippling insecurities, societal expectations, questionable past decisions… they don’t go away the minute you decide to spread your wings. 

Thankfully we are not tethered to paint colors. Ahhh. Much better.

Now, from the comfort of my new couch, Suba-Ruby sleeping soundly in the parking lot, I feel my pulse finally beginning to settle. Though the past six months have brought wave after wave of change, and though I cried at my friend’s Thanksgiving table when talking about having to sell my old car often think I might capsize beneath it all, I know I’m home. Because that boat I’m tethered to isn’t my shortcomings or my past or my fears – it’s my heart. No matter where I go, I can’t be anywhere BUT home.

~*~*~*~*~

What are you hoping 2020 will bring? (Psst, I’m sorry I’ve been gone so long. I’VE MISSED YOU EVERY DAY.)

~*~*~*~*~

humor

I Haven’t the Foggiest…No Wait. I Have.

Go Jules Go Title Graphic I haven't the foggiest... No wait. I have_20NOV2019png

Oh dear god no.

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Not today, Satan.

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I gripped the steering wheel and navigated countless potholes with the dexterity of a drunk toddler. I massaged my jaw. My ears were popping. Why were my ears popping?

Oh my f$^*&@ god. Is that snow?

I hadn’t seen another soul in at least a half an hour. I turned my phone off. Not like I had service anyway; might as well keep the battery fully loaded.

26 miles to go. A marathon. Well, at least I know I can walk it if I have to.

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It’s a thing I do because I never really loved myself.

I went over my emergency plan for the twentieth time. I had my winter jacket, gloves, plenty of food and water, and a half a tank of gas. If my car decided to crawl into one of these cavernous potholes and never come out (I have a history with potholes), I’d probably survive. Maybe. I mean, I think so. I glanced at my temperature gauge.

I should have known this road trip wasn’t going to end well.

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Did I mention I have a history with potholes?

After an hour of navigating treacherous national forest roads between Packwood and White Salmon, Washington, I was never happier to see pavement. I’d been on the road for nine days ogling the Pacific Northwest.

With promising job prospects on the horizon, I figured it might be the last opportunity for a while for this Jersey girl to freely explore the terrain outside of Bend, Oregon (my new hometown).

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Not that the Bend sights deserve straying from.

From Mendocino, California to Cannon Beach, Oregon, most of the trip was fog-filled.

I began to wonder if it was a metaphor. (With no one but Uncle Jesse to keep me company, I had plenty of time to work on Deep Thoughts with Go Jules Go.)  Even though it felt like my life was finally headed in the right direction, was I still not seeing things clearly? Was this a reminder to keep moving forward, even if I couldn’t make out what was ahead?

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That’s not the “portrait” camera effect. That’s fog, I swear. Okay, it’s portrait view AND fog.

By the time I got to “NF-23” in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, nine days in, I was ready for sunshine.

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And wine. So much wine.

Thankfully, I got just that as I neared the Columbia River Gorge. Squinting, I pulled down my car’s visor and decided to do a quick loop to check out The Dalles and Hood River before settling into my AirBNB in White Salmon, WA. As I approached The Dalles, a white SUV zoomed past me and suddenly did a U-turn.

Oh my god. Are those…am I…being pulled over?

“Ma’am, I clocked you going 68 in a 55.”

Seriously? 55? On a highway going downhill?

“I’m so sorry. I’ve never been here before.”

I’ve only ever gotten one speeding ticket…when was that…14 years ago? God, I’m old.

With trembling hands, I forked over my license and registration, Uncle Jesse letting loose a series of piercing warning barks. When the officer returned a few minutes later, I was sure the paper in his hands was my big, fat ticket.

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Well, at least I got to see this (at a bookshop in Mendocino, CA) before I went to jail.

“I’m going to let you off with just a warning this time. You take care of yourself.”

“Thank you so much,” I breathed, shocked. “I’m so sorry.”

I drove off checking my speedometer every .00009 seconds. When I finally made it back to the AirBNB, I knew exactly what would calm my nerves: Korbel’s finest and the latest episode of Counting On. (You do know this blog’s original name was Go Guilty Pleasures, right?)

I pulled up the wifi network and entered the password.

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Fog or no fog, one thing was clear: It was time to go home and see what was around the next bend.

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So long, NF-23.

~*~*~*~*~*~

How do you fare on the road and with The Great Unknown? Any advice?

~*~*~*~*~*~

humor

Letting Your Guard Rails Down

Go Jules Go Title Graphic Letting Your Guard Rails Down_13NOV2019

Not as nice as Bend, not as nice as Bend…

Sights whirred past as I tried my damndest not to go over 80 MPH. A giant, snow-capped mountain greeted me in the distance.

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Not bad. Not as nice as the Cascades…

When I reached my destination, the little mountain town of Mt. Shasta, California, I parked the car and let Uncle Jesse stretch his legs.

Every passerby -not that there were many- smiled and said hello. While my new home in Bend, Oregon seemed to have ruined me for any other town, there was one consistent theme along the west coast thus far.

The people.

Also the hats. A lot of hats out here.

“I’m Georgie, by the way!” the adorable receptionist-slash-barista said as she extended a slender hand. By now I was checking out of my hip Mt. Shasta motel and we’d spent the past ten minutes chit-chatting.

“If you and your husband are ever in Bend, you have my name and I have a second bedroom!” I said as I waved goodbye.

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Assuming you don’t mind sharing a bed.

Earlier in the week, I had decided to tick a few more west coast cities off my bucket list, and was pleasantly surprised when I found I could greet strangers like old friends as I wound my way from central Oregon to northern California. This whole…trusting…thing was kinda…nice.

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Almost as nice as the tap water.

During a recent trip back to New Jersey, my home state, I was startled to realize just how far I’d already let my guard down. After only four months in Bend, I’d forgotten how to avoid eye contact. To jump to the worst possible conclusion. To regard every kind act with suspicion.

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Oh, the landlord planted flowers? OVER WHOSE DEAD BODY?

I used to wear my cynicism, like most east coasters, as a badge of honor. You’re handing me a flier? Asking me how my day is? Hah! Go scratch, pal! I’ve got things to do! Places to be! Scowls to perfect!

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Vodka to drink!

But after just one week in Bend, I’d made a dozen friends and felt the reassuring hand of something I never knew I’d been missing: Community. Suddenly, I wasn’t afraid to ask for -or offer- help. A ride to the airport, some extra boxes, paint supplies, you name it. My new hometown’s selfless generosity was infectious.

Here I am getting free metalsmithing lessons from the one and only Jim Dailing!

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Oh! And here’s a recent haul of free groceries from friends who just streamlined their diet! (Not pictured: The free wine some other friends dropped off just days before. …Yes, my reputation as the unhealthiest most fun vegan in Oregon precedes me.)

And sure, you’re gonna have to steal my sarcasm and pizza standards from my cold, dead hands (which I hope are buried under some beautiful flowers), but this whole neighborly love thing?

Bring it on.

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

Did you grow up in a don’t-make-eye-contact kind of environment, or a here’s-a-cup-of-sugar-you-didn’t-even-ask for place? Do you prefer one over the other?

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

humor, PSAs

The (Oregon) Transformation is Complete

Go Jules Go title graphic the Oregon Transformation is Complete_2OCT2019

The following entries have been recovered from the diaries of beloved blogger and former Jersey girl, Go Jules Go. Her current whereabouts are unknown. Presumably because, according to her new neighbors, “The service here sucks.”

Day 1: Arrive in Bend, Oregon. Apartment appears well-appointed, though several disturbing items were left on the counter. “Gifts,” the landlord claims. I remain suspicious.

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Day 2: Attend first social gathering under the guise of celebrating someone’s birth. I do not trust these people. Why do they look so…happy?

Day 6: Forced to attend nudist retreat. My plans to go unnoticed thwarted by bathing suit, yet how else do I protect myself amidst the steaming pools of hippie tears hot springs? Must not show nipples weakness.

Day 9: Have risen at 6am for three days straight to engage in something called “trail running.” Zero alcohol remains in my system, yet I suspect they’ve slipped something into my kombucha. I feel…well.

Day 12: Small children and classical music-listening puppies surround me. I fear I am beginning to crack.

Day 21: Ford raging river and sustain 923 bug bites. My survival skills have improved markedly.

Day 30: Discover Trivia Night’s discount beer and tots. They are on to me.

Day 37: Have begun making strange hand gestures following outdoor pursuits. The situation is becoming increasingly dire.

Day 44: Learn the art of metalsmithing from a man who would not accept compensation. What drives the human spirit in this land of zero expectation?

Day 57: The hand gestures have become second nature; I can no longer fight it.

Day 63: Have accepted that I will never know real pizza again.

Day 70: Complete something called a “10k race”… “for charity.” Would have been charitable to not force feed participants hard cider 30 seconds following this strange event.

Day 71: Witness skinny dippers in a frigid lake. Oregonians must fear clothing the way I fear I’ll never stop watching The Hills on Amazon Prime.

Day 80: Trucker hat and race “tech” shirt. Uncle Jesse no longer recognizes me.

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Day 90: Socks with sandals. All hope is lost.

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This is the last known recording from Go Jules Go. If you have any information, please contact 1-800-CRY4HLP.

~*~*~*~*~*~

What transformations have you undergone?

~*~*~*~*~*~

humor

This Wasn’t the Plan

Go Jules Go Title Graphic This Wasnt the Plan_4SEP2019

“We’re just gonna gun it,” Erin said.

The three of us stared up the hill from the safety of Erin’s Jeep.

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“If that Sprinter van could do it, we can do it,” Other Erin said.

Less off-road-worthy vehicles lined the road, their passengers watching to see who would tackle the beast next. On the other side of the cavernous potholes sat one of the best hikes in the area.

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And in central Oregon, that’s saying something.

Erin floored it and in a matter of seconds we knew: this wasn’t happening. Other Erin hopped out of the car.

“Okay, turn your wheels this way!” she shouted, motioning with her arms. My heart raced. We were dangerously close to rolling off the edge of the road.

“Don’t worry, the trees will stop a fall,” Erin assured me.

I peered over the side of the car, clutching Uncle Jesse. I am not ready to die.

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Well, you’ve done it again, Mom.

By the time Other Erin said, “Okay, your front wheel is off the ground,” I wanted to cry.

“I’m sorry, I need to get out,” I blurted and quickly grabbed Uncle Jesse’s leash, fleeing for solid ground.

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As I scurried down the hill to join the other onlookers, overhearing Other Erin say, “Okay, now three wheels are off the ground,” I thought back to the weekend’s adventures. It was Monday, Labor Day, and I was certain I couldn’t have crammed anymore excitement into a three-day period.

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I’M GOOD.

First, there was Uncle Jesse’s inaugural 10k, after which I drank a free hard cider (because this is Oregon), promptly vomited, then hiked uphill to a picture perfect lake where a new friend floated in a unicorn raft while I watched from a hammock strung between two Ponderosa pines.

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Then I picked up some Pacific Crest Trail hitchhikers who needed a lift and ran into a family whose raft tipped in the Deschutes River rapids, waiting with them until help arrived, followed by an impromptu sing-a-long at a friend’s house. That was Saturday.

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Uncle Jesse post-10k. Show off.

Speckled between those moments were more live music, planning my first backpacking trip, skinny dipping in a lake (okay, maybe that was a spectator sport for some), and hard cider – that I did manage to keep down.

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A year ago, I was slogging away on a Masters thesis, working full-time in Corporate America, hauling my $25-a-week Trader Joe’s groceries to a third floor walk-up into a 350 square foot apartment in suburban New Jersey, scrimping and saving every penny I could. I had planned to stay in my hometown for at least three more years, until I had just the right number stockpiled in my checking account.

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Uncle Jesse finds the only place he can spread out in the tiny apartment.

A year ago, the idea of living in a place where I could hike to a new lake every day, make instant friends, and bump into neighbors on the top of a mountain (more than once), was unfathomable.

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Hey, I know you!

A year ago, I hadn’t even met the friends who would help convince me to move to Bend, Oregon, sight unseen.

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They’re very persuasive.

As I watched Steve, a stranger and Patron Saint of Pothole Navigating, climb into Erin’s Jeep and expertly back us away from certain death, I knew life had many more twists and turns in store.

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Did someone say “twists and turns”?

A short while later, the Erins and some of my other new friends toasted on the shoreline of a beautiful, almost completely private, lake. While it wasn’t the hike we’d set out to do, we couldn’t argue against our good fortune.

“To Plan B,” we said in unison.

“And Steve!”

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Steve, you really missed out. (They’re naked.)

~*~*~*~*~*~

How has life surprised you?

~*~*~*~*~*~