Category Archives: humor

Failure is totally an option.

About a year and a half ago, I visited my brother and his girlfriend in Tucson, Arizona. I was eager to see the sights, and after a little coaxing, we drove the long, meandering 25 miles to the top of Mt. Lemmon. Sunny and 60 degrees at the base, there was snow at the summit. Between that and an elevation gain of over 5,000 feet, I never expected to see this:

Almost immediately, I began planning my own Tucson cycling adventure. I would bring along my sister and a close friend, and together we too would conquer Mt. Lemmon.

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Easy peasy. Photo credit

We arrived in Tucson last week with grand plans: Climb a mountain and drink all the beer.

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A flight of brewskies at noon o’clock the day before an endurance event. Duh.

When I asked my sister and friend if they wanted to drive up the mountain for a sneak peak peek, they gave a resounding, “Hell no!” We had recently done some long, challenging rides, and felt cocky confident.

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Remember this one?

The night before our trek, a man named Robert met us in a dentist office parking lot with three rental road bikes.

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You say “a strange man asked you to meet him in the bushes just behind the dumpster” like it’s a bad thing…

“Eh, it’ll take you a few hours and three bottles of water to get to the top,” Robert said. “I’ve done it a bunch of times.”

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Okay, Robert! I trust you, Robert!

The next morning, when we finally arrived at the base of the mountain (a 45-minute drive from our AirBnb), I looked at my sister. “Oh my god,” I said. “I left my helmet in your suitcase.” My sister spun around and spotted another cyclist in the parking lot. “Excuse me,” she called. “Are you from around here? Do you know where we can buy a helmet?”

We were prepared to drive to the nearest Walmart, but our new cycling friend, Gary, rummaged in the back of his car and pulled out a well-worn white helmet. Without a moment’s hesitation, he walked over and began fitting it on my head, pulling the chin strap tightly.

“That should work,” he said with a smile and a nod.

“Crap,” I told him. “I almost got out of this.”

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Goddamn you, Gary.

By then it was 9:30am, and the sun felt like it was sitting squarely atop my borrowed head gear. We took off and before long, everything hurt. Numb hands, aching legs, and dull chills – everything I’d dreamt of and more.

Two hours in, my sister and I stopped for our 87th break and said, almost in unison, “Well, I can’t breathe and I’m out of water.”

We were at mile 7.

Of 25.

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But our cycling gear made it the full 2,433 miles home – right at the weight limit! Which is especially impressive when you consider how much shame was inside.

P.S. – Here’s our friend at the top. She’s a machine. Ain’t that right, KB!

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She was really impressed with the view.

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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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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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I Ran 10 Miles And I’m Really Not Sure How I Feel About It.

If you’re wondering why I haven’t been blogging much lately, I’m here to confirm your suspicions.

I was abducted by aliens.

It actually wasn't bad. I love hats.

It actually wasn’t bad. I love hats.

After undergoing a series of surprisingly enjoyable probes, I returned to earth (well, New Jersey, so, debatable) a changed woman.

The type of woman I never, ever thought I’d be.

A…a… Oh god. Don’t make me say it.

A runner. I’m a runner now, okay?

I talk to people who I thought were my friends about hydration belts and minimalist shoes and something called GU.

Unless one of these is bacon-flavored, PASS.

Unless one of these is bacon-flavored, PASS.

I look at charts like this and pretend I understand.

Image courtesy of buildleaneatclean.wordpress.com.

Seriously. What the Fudge Stripes is a tempo run? Does listening to the 80s workout mix on Pandora while I run the dishwasher count? (Image courtesy of buildleaneatclean.wordpress.com.)

Perhaps most tellingly, I feel great! can barely move.

We're gonna need a clean up in aisle 6.

Clean up in aisle 6.

Up until 4 weeks ago, the farthest I’d ever “run” was 2 miles. The only race I’d ever completed was a 5K. 8 years ago.

So after managing to jog a whole 3 miles 3 weeks ago, I signed up for a half marathon on May 18th.

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Because I never really loved myself.

That gave me 8 weeks to train. “It’s down the shore,” I said, using the native phrase for [describing] any part of the Jersey coastline. “It’s flat. I’ve got this.”

“Do the first two miles and it’s all downhill,” I huffed during my first long run.

That worked. Except when it was uphill.

“It’s all mental,” I puffed.

That worked. Except when my right calf went numb at mile 5.

I somehow hit 10 miles on Thursday. More importantly, so did my dog, Uncle Jesse.

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May 18th is now less than 5 weeks away, and the one thought that’s genuinely keeping me going? “If I don’t live to see BaconFest [next weekend], pig heads will roll.”

Why else would anyone ever exercise?

Why else would anyone ever exercise?

So, have you ever lost your mind any tips for me? (Note: I’m especially interested in advice about carb-loading.)

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Oh F%#&. My Mom Got A Smart Phone.

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You heard correctly, Chipmunks:

My mom, Babs, got her first smart phone!

Sticking with this would have been smart.

Sticking with this would have been smart.

The adventure started when my dad gave her a Radio Shack gift certificate for Christmas, intending to let me help Babs actually purchase the phone. Because he never really loved me.

Now, I love my iPhone, but wouldn’t exactly call myself a smart phone expert. My only solid advice was, “Get the gold one, it’s pretty.”

Wow, I really need to stop biting my nails.

Wow, I really need to stop biting my nails.

Two hours at Radio Shack and the death of my soul later, Babs got her first lesson from me:

“See this blue icon with the A? That’s your app store. Click it and type in Macy’s.”

Any good teacher knows you have to speak your student's language.

Any good teacher knows you have to speak your student’s language.

While she took to the shopping apps like nobody’s business, the past few weeks have looked like this:

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And my very favorite:

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…Wait for it…

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I [just called to say I] love you, Babs. Thanks for letting me use those screen shots for the world’s amusement.

How do you/your parents fare with technology? Any gadget gift fails?

P.S. – I suck royally for not responding to recent comments. Rest assured my absence has only made my heart grow fonder, and I totally want to have 10,000 of your babies.

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Lemme Guess. My Future’s In That Folder.

Last Thursday, I wrote a post on the fly while waiting to find out if I still had a [project management] job. Literally.

After three and a half hours of focused work and productivity, I finally got the alert that someone in senior management was ready for me. I steeled myself and entered her office.

“I don’t envy your job today!” I said as brightly as I could. I was relieved no one from Human Resources was present; it was just the two of us. Apparently, they trusted us not to staple anyone’s face or set ergonomically correct chairs on fire.

She gave a kind hello, but didn’t beat around the bush.

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Even though, yes, this was the career equivalent of, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” or “It’s not you, it’s me,” I’d have time to blog, to bake, to blog about baking…

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Don’t worry. I’ll explain everything.

…to stop and smell the roses, to follow signs from the heavens…

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And I knew someone who’d be particularly happy to have me home every day.

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Another silver lining to all of this? The outpouring of support and encouragement from colleagues, friends, family and you. Some of you have even contacted me offline about job opportunities, and the ridiculously thoughtful Misty of Misty’s Laws just sent this care package:

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Misty warned me not to try to spend the gold coins.

My last day is the 18th, and after that? Well, if you thought my blog contests were epic before, hoo boy.

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Have you ever made or considered a major career change?

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Talking Animals Are My Favorite

Hi Chipmunks! I went to the zoo on Saturday.

Jealous? You should be. Here’s what happened.

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Happy captioning!

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What’s UP With That Lady?

***Psst: This is my 300th post! So you really should like it and leave a glowing comment. I don’t even care if you read it.***

So I’m married to this guy they call Peppermeister.

He likes peppers. A lot.

He likes peppers. A lot.

Which means I like peppers. A lot.

All kidding aside, I’ve learned to embrace my beloved’s hobby of growing insanely spicy peppers. This past weekend, I even agreed to go to Bower’s Chile Pepper Festival in eastern Pennsylvania.

We took his car, since mine decided it’s done with life.

The evolution of my transmission fluid, as depicted by Darrin, the auto shop guru.

The evolution of [two flushes of] my transmission fluid, as depicted by Darrin, Auto Shop Guru, Sep 7, 2013. “Yours was like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

For $5, we found a sweet parking spot a couple of blocks away. In an Amish man’s yard. I appreciated both his entrepreneurial nature and his lawn accessories.

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We had no idea what to expect, but the festival was jalapeñopoppin’. There were plenty of vendors touting everything from mild pepper mustards and jams and homegrown delights…

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…to “butt-puckering” demon-peppers:

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Mostly, I tried not to lose Peppermeister amid his people.

Seriously. They all looked like this.

Seriously. They all looked like this.

I even partook in the madness.

I actually love this one: Hinkelhatz.

This is actually one of my favorites (I know. I have a favorite): Hinkelhatz.

But my two favorite moments had nothing to do with peppers. Not really, anyway.

FAVORITE MOMENT #1

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“She just wanted the attention,” Peppermeister, the Psych major, said on the ride home. “Did you notice she wouldn’t eat it until everyone was watching?”

“I gave her a lot of attention. I told her she was insane. I thought she’d like it.”

“She didn’t want the attention of WOMEN.”

“Ahhhhhhh.”

FAVORITE MOMENT #2

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We took a wagon ride over to the nearby pepper farm, and they left it up to the passengers to decide how many could fit on the wagon.

“I think we should sit on opposite sides so both legs are touching strangers,” Peppermeister joked while we waited on line.

He never could have imagined a woman would squeeze herself onboard…and on his lap. Without a single word.

What are your favorite “people watching” places and/or moments?

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5 Stages of Exercise Grief

Now that I’m living life with a Fitbit (a.k.a. the pedometer on crack), I feel I owe you some dieting advice and exercise tips.

It'll only cost you $100 and your soul.

It’ll only cost you $100 and your soul.

For example, did you know either 8 shots of vodka or a bottle of champagne is a perfectly valid meal substitute, calorically speaking?

And you don't even have to chew!

And you don’t even have to chew!

As for exercise, just take a gander at my personal trainer:

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Isn’t he magnificent? I call him Tadd, with two D’s, because he looks like he inspired every DoubleMint commercial ever made.

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Tadd leads my 8-Minute video work-outs, and is very beautiful and nice. Tadd reminds me to “keep smiling, gang! After all, it’s only 8 goddamn minutes!”

There are four DVDs in here. You do the math.

There are four DVDs in here. Tadd’s not very good at math.

Despite Tadd’s belief in the power of tomato cans as handheld weights and unitards as a general life choice, I leave him feeling less than optimistic.

Sure, my buns are burning up, Tadd, but so is my will to live.

5 Stages of Exercise Grief

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What’s your least favorite exercise? 

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Who Wants To Be A Studio Audience Member?

I’ve lived in northern New Jersey my entire life, which means constant access to pork roll and Bon Jovi some pretty cool stuff, like the myriad New York City happenings, a mere 25 miles away.

It’s easy to take this proximity for granted; I’ve only met a few other people who leverage one especially cool perk: Television show tapings!

Babs (my mom) is one of those people.

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That’s right, Chipmunks! On Monday, Babs and I saw a taping of The Daily Show! Okay, The Daily Show Lite. While Jon Stewart is off coloring or basket-weaving or directing movies this summer, John Oliver, a Daily Show correspondent, is hosting.

Watch out, Jon. He's good.

Watch out, Jon. He’s good.

“Nice!” you’re probably thinking. “Why doesn’t everyone do this?”

Hey, great question, you. Shows with studio audiences are usually desperate to fill the house 5 days a week, so tickets are easy to come by (with some exceptions).

But.

While the tickets are free, they still have a price: Shows overbook, so even if you’ve reserved tickets, you have to [take off from work and] arrive early to pick them up – several hours before the taping begins. Then you have to return later, get back in line, and wait some more.

In any kind of weather.

I'm the moron in dark blue jeans in 90-degree heat.

I’m the moron in dark blue jeans in 90-degree heat.

And there’s still no guarantee you’ll actually get in.

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The studio entrance.

Which is why it’s important to get drunk resourceful. For example, find a mom Babs who won a poop-ton of lottery scratch-off tickets from a radio station:

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25 lotto tickets: $50. Post Scratch-Off Carpal Tunnel Meds: $80. Winnings: $4. That face: Priceless.

Booze: $30. Lotto tickets: $50 free. Winnings: $4. That face: Priceless.

I imagine this waiting game is similar to childbirth. You forget about all of that boring, painful, hot, sticky, gross stuff once you feel the love. (I bet it’s exactly the same, am I right, parents?) Cue the ice-cold studio and geeking out.

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One of the only shows I've ever been to where they allowed pictures during designated times.

One of the only shows I’ve ever been to where they allowed pictures during designated times.

You also forget about all of that waiting when the audience warm-up act starts picking on your mother (note: the following is based on actual events, a la Rescue 9-1-1):

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You DEFINITELY forget about that waiting when the host gives the audience a personal hello, sincere thanks, and answers questions.

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And you totally, totally, TOTALLY forget about that waiting when you spot yourself on TV that same night:

Didja miss me? Okay, fine, that wasn’t really fair. Let me help ya out:

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Especially epic since The Daily Show almost never features their audience on the live show.

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Psst: If you’re in the New York City area and would like tickets to a Daily Show taping, check out this page.

Have you ever been to a television show taping? If not, would it be worth all of that uncertainty and waiting to you? What show tops your list?

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