humor

My Mane Issue: A Tribute

Before we dive in: I’m so sorry about last week’s email notification debacle! (Wherein my subscribers got an email notification saying I had a new, password-protected blog post available.) You didn’t miss a post, but to make it up to you, this week I’m offering the greatest blog post I’ve ever written.*

*this week

The follicle foibles I mentioned two weeks ago have raged on, and I’ve now colored my hair as many times as I’ve moved in the last six years.

Attempts #1,347-1,351.

The first time I ever dyed my hair, I was in my mid-teens. I had grown up a natural blonde…

Why cut your child’s hair free-form when you can use a bowl instead? P.S. – Happy birthday [to my brother], Bryan! I did NOT print our family portrait on a face mask or blanket for you this year. You’re welcome.

…but by the time I hit teen years, my hair color had faded into some sort of strange nothingness. It wasn’t blonde. Or brown. Or gray. Or anything. In trying to reclaim my roots (pun soooo intended), I wound up with a Chucky-esque, clown-orange hue. I eventually gave up, chopped off the offending remnants, and went au naturel.

I think we can all agree: everything in this photo needs to go away.

That didn’t last long.

By 19, I was determined. I would be Jules. Jules Blonde.

Why is this photo in my blog archives? What is this?

Though I’ve stayed primarily blonde through my late 30s, you can rest assured I’ve tried going brunette.

March 2010

“I don’t like it. It isn’t you,” my boss and mentor said, when, at 27, I decided to switch things up and come to work sporting a dark brown mane. By that point she’d known me as a blonde for five years.

Well this is awkward.

Her name was Carol and I worshipped her. She had a barely tamed, reddish-gray, curly bob, wore boxy, black jumpers over patterned turtlenecks, chunky black orthopedic flats, and took no prisoners. She was a mid-level manager in a high-level pharmaceutical company, and for some reason decided that employing a creative writing major with zero corporate experience was a swell idea.

At 22 years old, I got a plastic ID badge, a 401k, and a fast lesson in office politics and Excel spreadsheets.

My entire life from 2007-2011.

In those days, I didn’t know it was wrong to race into your boss’s office at 7:45am and holler, “I GOT A NEW CAR IT’S A BEETLE CONVERTIBLE COME LOOK COME LOOK!”

Clearly I have a lot of bad ideas.

In those days, I didn’t know it was noteworthy to start a weekly “Cookie Day” and host potlucks in the dreary back conference room.

In those days, I didn’t know that writing ironic birthday poems, baking cheesecake, and hanging Despair.com calendars across your cubicle was endearing.

“I just have to tell you,” Carol said after a few months on the job, “I finally read what that poster said because I just couldn’t believe you’d have one of ‘those’ [motivational] calendars. I was so relieved.”

Actual poster hanging in my first cubicle.

In those days, all I knew was that the people I saw every day from 9 to 5 had lost a sparkle in their eyes and I was naive enough to think I could bring it back with baked goods and bad great jokes.

After Carol’s hair comment, I didn’t stay brunette for long, and in returning to blonde, I saw that she was right. Over the years I worked with her, she made a few enemies and more than a few missteps, but she always saw me.

Not long after that, she died of cancer. It’s been over ten years and I still can’t really think of her without crying.

When someone sees you, it lives forever.

So. While I’ve enjoyed this latest pitstop [thanks to a botched bleach job] and treasure my friends’ kind words…

…I’ll be back to blonde myself soon.

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Do you have a similar attachment to an aspect of your appearance?

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humor

10 Years of Blogging and All I Got Was…

This Friday, February 26, 2021, marks my 10 year blogiversary. It all started with a post about my puppy, Uncle Jesse.

In case you’re wondering, he’s doing well.

Too well, some might say.

In 2011, after years in a beige-walled cubicle, I needed an outlet for my creative writing background. You know, something my mom could read for a chuckle. I didn’t expect that, within a year, I’d meet some of the most influential people in my life – creative, kind-hearted, hilarious humans who I’m lucky enough to call friends to this day.

Not sure what they’d call me…

This blog has seen me through divorce, dating disasters, job losses, career changes, a cross-country move, countless sweat-fests, ethical epiphanies, and more than a few woo-woo experiences. Most importantly, it documents my keen eye for talent.

I dare you to search “Darren Criss” (a.k.a. “Second Husband”) on this blog. …And noooo, I don’t find it all cringe-y that I jokingly called him “Second Husband” for two years and then ACTUALLY GOT A DIVORCE…

I originally called this blog “Go Guilty Pleasures!” and wrote light-hearted posts detailing my many (many) embarrassing obsessions. The presentation was silly, but brewing beneath the surface was my aching desire to help others feel at home in their own skin. No trolls, bullies, or bigots allowed. It wound up being fantastic training in diplomacy, improv (answering every comment with, “Yes! And…”), and memoir writing.

In fact, even after years of studying writing in college, I didn’t find my voice until starting this blog (at age 28).

Apparently my voice rhymes.

A lot has changed over the years, and most of the old readership has faded away, but having this port to dock my creativity, during stormy and sunny seasons alike, has brought immeasurable joy.

But what have I REALLY gotten from having this blog? The bittersweet reminder that some things never change.

AUGUST 2011:

I have ketchup in my hair. Obviously. How else would you color correct green hair?

FEBRUARY 2021:

As I write this post, I’m simultaneously trying to find someone to hand-deliver hair dye to fix what just happened here.

What I lack in posting consistency, I like to think I make up for in character consistency.

Thanks for sticking around.

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humor

Digging for Answers

I just watched a new Netflix movie, The Dig.

Because I’ve already watched EVERY OTHER ONLINE STREAMING OFFERING SWEET CHIPMUNKS CAN I GET VACCINATED YET?

Based on a true story, The Dig is about a lady with lumps in her lawn. What, you want more? Okay. It’s 1939. A wealthy British widow (the lovely Carey Mulligan) hires an amateur excavator/archaeologist (played wonderfully by Ralph Fiennes) to dig up these odd, massive hills dotting her property; she suspects they could be covering up something of historic significance.

As I watched Fiennes methodically plotting his dig and carefully setting to work, I was struck by the sheer beauty of it. The tenderness, care, and focus on a future outcome rooted entirely in honoring the past.

So often now things seem rushed. Careless. Disposable. Selfish and singular. Flurries of social media posts, appliances that break before you take them out of the box, decisions made out of convenience versus the greater good. I’m as guilty as anyone of resting on my privilege, posting seven “look at my food!” Instagram stories in a row, and pressing ‘Buy Now’ on questionably-sourced products.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I HAVE NO REGRETS.

Why can we handle an archeological dig with such tender patience, yet treat each other and our shared future so carelessly? Furthermore, why can’t we apply the same loving consideration when we mine our own hearts and past(s)? Can you imagine the world if we approached it and ourselves with such reverence?

The cynic in me says, “We’re only careful when someone stands to make a fortune – either in money or fame or both.” But that doesn’t explain the characters in The Dig. Their motivations were based in truth-seeking and respect for the past. And, sure, a desire to be remembered for something bigger than themselves, but in this case, I’d argue it was less ego-driven and more altruistic.

As the movie played on and two more characters entered the scene – a young archeologist couple – a new question came to mind: Is it possible to find treasure without also finding sorrow and struggle?

Speaking of dirt…

It’s no epiphany, and perhaps just a sign of my aging conscience, but I watched The Dig and longed for simpler times and a purer future for us all. I love movies that make me cry. Think. Laugh. Preferably all in one film.

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What have you watched lately that’s struck a chord? (Next on my list: The Last Blockbuster and Feels Good Man.)

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humor

I’m Having a Party and You’re Invited

Hey! What’s up! How are you! Why am I using so many exclamation marks! I don’t know! There’s just something in the air!

And it rhymes with Schmala Schmarris!

I don’t want to keep you from your own celebrations, but if you’re looking for even more uplifting stories while you wait to pop the bubbly, I thought it’d be fun to share some of the REALLY cool stuff I’ve seen lately.

(I’ve cried enough while watching the news this month. I figured you might be feeling the same.)

If You’re Looking for #WomanPower or #Entrepreneur Inspiration…

Check out Axiology’s story.

My friend, Ericka, launched this cruelty-free beauty company right here in Bend, OR, and their waste-free, multi-use balmies landed on OPRAH’S FAVORITE THINGS LIST! I’m excited to interview Ericka in the future, but in the meantime, I can’t recommend her products enough.

If You’re Looking for a Feel-Good Movie*…

Check out “The Grizzlies” on Netflix, based on the true story of a group of Inuit high school students who live in a small Arctic town struggling with the highest suicide rate in North America. Cue: preppy, young history teacher from the city who takes the only job he can find and decides to teach them how to play lacrosse. I especially loved how they included an update on the actual students and teachers at the end of the film.

*I hesitate to post this for fear of promoting the simplification of solutions to systemic problems…but watching this movie made me want to BE AND DO BETTER, so I’m including it here**.

**I really hate having to qualify things that make me want to be a better human***.

***But unfortunately it’s important to do so because watching a movie isn’t going to help unless you take action afterwards****.

****I promise the rest of this post is free of footnotes.

If You’re Looking to Take a Trip Without Leaving the Couch

Uncle Jesse at our neighborhood go-to spot last week. Bend, OR.

My French Chronicles just pulled together a wonderful two-minute video, “Bloggers with a View,” featuring quick clips from around the world (including Bend!). She’s got more collaborative projects in the works, so if you’re interested in participating, head over and say hi!

If You’re Looking for a Healthy Living Jump-Start Before You’re Seen in Public Again…

What are you looking at me for? I kid! Actually, over at Plant-Based Point, Robin and I have oodles on this topic. Including this fun, fact-filled video, “Why Your Energy Tank is on E,” and this blog post, 21 Foods for 2021.

And whether you’re rockin’ your quarantine bod or better, why not clothe it in our new merch?

If You’re Looking for a Really Great Podcast Episode

I love Rich Roll. He’s smart, eloquent, sensitive, vegan, badass, and driven. In episode #567, he interviews Joe De Sena, founder of Spartan and a bunch of other crazy endurance events. Maybe it’s the Jersey girl in me, but I laughed out loud (along with Roll) listening to this Queens native tell his fascinating story.

I actually wrote a whole long intro to this blog post about the power of doing hard things. One of them is knowing when to shut up.

If You’re Looking for…YOU

Okay I know I just insinuated that I was about to shut up, but real quick, I just want to give an insufficient, yet utterly heartfelt, thanks to YOU. If you made it to this point in my post, I’m going to assume you choose hope over all else. And even if you don’t? I love you anyway. So there.

“Rock Face” seen at my go-to running spot. Two months later, people are still updating it with new nature-inspired expressions.

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What/who else should be on this list?

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humor

Imagine if…

I glanced to my right and let out an astonished chuckle. Shifting in my seat, I looked right again.

The clouds had lowered themselves in such a way that they were somehow part of the sprawling, high desert ground, the northern Nevada mountains peeking out over top. They looked solid yet ethereal. Upside down. A fairytale landscape.

I couldn’t safely stop to snap a photo, so I hope you’ll use your imagination [and settle for this photo taken a few days earlier in Nevada].

I wondered how many fanciful reasons I could come up with for this sight.

Even the clouds gained weight in 2020…

A giant sky troll got mad and smooshed them down…

A GROUND troll started weight lifting and pushed them UP…

The clouds were hungover, couldn’t get out of bed, and like seriously why are mountains such show-offs anyway…

The mountains were taking a shower and didn’t want road warriors like me to see their, ah, peaks and valleys…

The mountains were getting ready for a grand performance and the clouds were their theater curtain…

Maybe it was the monotonous driving; nine hours with little more than radio static to keep me company. Or the stress of the past year. Or maybe this was just how my brain worked. Either way, a surge of energy swirled around my heart.

There was magic in this moment. Not just because the sight itself was otherworldly. But because it catapulted me into my imagination, a place where time was meaningless and the more something made me giggle, the more valid it was.

Those moments were commonplace in 2019.

When I got back home, I stared at my laptop wallpaper, where I proudly displayed my vision board. A cliché exercise, to be sure, but I’ll be damned if it didn’t produce some of that mountain magic.

A snippet of my current vision board. By the way, feel free to forward this blog to 1,111,300 of your closest friends.

In fact, over the past few years, I’ve had to update my vision board regularly because the images on it KEEP COMING TRUE. Usually not in the exact way I pictured, but that’s how the universe works. Wishes are granted through chance encounters, strangers’ smiles, and saying “yes” when all you want to do is sleep.

2020 robbed us of many things, including some of those opportunities to bump into each other, smile, and say, “Yes!” But now the cloud curtains are parting and reminding us that the mountains and magic were there all along.

Happy 2021, Chipmunks.

I have a vision board. I light magic candles. And I fall asleep at 9pm on New Year’s Eve.

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humor

Christmas Letter: 2020 Edition

Dearest Friends, Family & Adoring Fans,

Wow, can you believe another year has come and (almost) gone? It flew by in such a haze of joy, stability, and stocked shelves! I’m so excited to share some of my 2020 highlights – and, gosh, I hope your year was as awesome as mine!

In January and February, good friends gleefully gathered for birthday parties, clothing swaps, tubing with drag queens, and snowshoeing…

This is going to be the BEST YEAR YET.

In March, I–OH MY GOD FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE WHA-? WHY? HUH? TOILET PAPER??

I, like many others, focused on what I could control.

And by that I mean my carb intake. (I did not make this. I know my limits. I bought it here.)

I wasn’t worried about the calories because, hey, this would all be over soon and I was training for a marathon! Which wound up being steeped in cheers, medals, and merriment.

Wow, Uncle Jesse, look at this turn out!

Speaking of, April also found me “celebrating” my birthday alone, surrounded by friends I found in magazine pages.

Guys. GUYS. Wait’ll I tell you my summer plans!

And then I hit a new low.

…Why do you exist?

Once I realized the answer to my expanding waistline wasn’t in cauliflower form, I began weightlifting with a generous COVID bubble friend/former personal trainer.

Stacy, you say, “You made vegan mac and cheese 14 days in a row” like it’s a bad thing…

Feeling a little better immediately, I made the monumental decision to get bangs accept my first date in weeks months let’s not talk about it.

Quickly remembering why I don’t date, Uncle Jesse and I planned a series of hikes where no one would tell us they never called like they said they would because they were waiting to see if they could take someone ELSE out on a date that weekend (YES THAT’S A THING THAT HAPPENS).

We first tackled a spectacular canyon hike and had a great time both got burnt paws.

And then, a month later, just when we were sure things couldn’t get worse…

It would be many weeks before we trusted each other again.

Well, no matter, later in the summer, we scaled new heights during a hike that was supposed to have one of the best views in central Oregon!

The future looks so clear from here!

For our next stunning hike, we climbed on our hands and knees for a half an hour and found a pile of rocks! I wondered if we would need them before the next toilet paper run.

I am dead on the inside!

Not to be dissuaded, I sought my next pile of rocks atop the infamous South Sister Mountain.

The universe, sensing someone might be feeling a droplet of joy, quickly reminded us that it was still 2020.

Not fog. Wildfire smoke in Bend, OR (September 2020).

By Halloween, the only people willing to come out from under their blankets were:

The Witches of Bend, OR.

Early November summary:

And then, butt-puckering Election Night was upon us.

And soon (maybe “soon” is a tad subjective) signs of hope sprung up.

Feeling buoyed by thoughts of 2021, I buckled down on my new business venture

Which resulted in no fewer than 1,000 photos like this.

And I think we all started to see what would soon be in the distant past…

…Making way for something merry and bright.

May 2021 bring EVERYTHING you have on your wish list. Unless it’s Justin Timberlake. Dibs.

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humor

Change Tastes Good: How I developed an appetite for uncertainty

“Is anyone using the Long Island house next weekend?” I typed, biting my lip. I proofread the email to my aunt one last time before hitting send. I’m sure she won’t mind…

My aunt owned a small, rustic family home near a bay that was one of my favorite getaway spots (and favorite places to paint without permission). It was the perfect place to hide my new secret.

I walked away from the computer and got ready for that night’s group cycling ride. Every Wednesday night, a few girlfriends and I would sweat through our padded Spandex shorts as an excuse to go eat sushi and drink wine afterwards.

Sometimes we even got on the bikes!

That night, we went to one of our usual Asian fusion spots.

“May I please have two orders of the avocado roll?” I asked when the waiter appeared, my heart pounding.

When our food arrived, one of my friends glanced over at my plate.

“What, you’re not eating meat now?” she asked with a smile.

I gulped. “Actually…no.”

I cringed, waiting for the fall out. But Jules, I don’t know anyone who loves bacon as much as you. What about cheese? Butter? Smoked salmon?!

In fairness, I did have a bit of a reputation. (Jules circa 2012)

My friends tilted their heads. “How come?”

“I watched this documentary,” I began in a rush, feeling my face crimson. “And I saw things I can’t unsee.”

They nodded as if to say, “Fair enough,” and the conversation quickly pivoted.

That was it…? I inwardly sighed with relief and stopped worrying where the conversation would land.

While holed up in Long Island for the weekend, I read every plant-based cookbook I could get my hands on, tinkering in the old kitchen with things I’d never tried before. Tempeh…huh. Flax seeds…all right.

Oh thank god.

It was terrifying.

Just a few years earlier, I’d been vacationing in that same small Cape Cod-style house with my now ex-husband, wondering if we’d have kids and whether we’d ever be financially stable enough to take that plunge.

Hello…? Future…? If I have kids do I have to put on clothes? (I’m kidding. I had a bathing suit on here. I only get naked in the middle of the woods.)

A few years later, in 2019, I’d be living in a 350-square foot apartment before quitting my steady, corporate job and moving across the country to pursue an entirely different life.

In 2016, unaware that I was straddling major life events, I hadn’t quite learned to embrace the unknown. With each spare second, I turned my vegan epiphany into a research project, reading every plant-based blog under the sun and even enrolling in a related Masters program. I quickly created a framework and milestones for “being vegan,” like completing grad school and signing up for a plant-based meal plan.

Being in the middle of change is a little like being in the eye of the storm. Things are swirling so quickly around you that you can’t even process the chaos. But suddenly you’re staying up past midnight, again, triple-checking that you locked the front door, and obsessively picking out the perfect picture frame for your desk. Control begs to be heard and yet, counterintuitively, the only way to quiet her cries is to let her go completely.

But what if I NEVER LEARN TO PREDICT EVERY POSSIBLE OUTCOME OF EVERY POSSIBLE SCENARIO?

If recent years (especially this one!) have taught me anything, it’s that very little ever goes according to plan. The beautiful thing about accepting this, and relinquishing control, is that you start to get excited about the unknown. Well, gosh, how amazing might things be, beyond my wildest imagination? Who KNOWS what chance meeting or conversation I might have tomorrow that changes the ENTIRE TRAJECTORY of my life…

Like that time I won an Emmy.

Since I know what we focus on expands, I know if I focus on the infinite possibilities, I’ll always have something to look forward to. And if I focus on the endless opportunities of an uncertain life, well, then…

Signed,

(The Future) Mrs. Justin Timberlake

(A slightly altered version of this post will soon be cross-featured on my new baby/business venture, PlantBasedPoint.com, launched in partnership with Robin [more on her soon]! Huzzah!)

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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…

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What do you think? Perfect Christmas gifts, no?

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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?

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

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