humor, I'm Going To Chop My Ear Off Any Day Now, Kvetching, PSAs

An Udder Fail

Go Jules Go An Udder Fail Title Graphic_9APR19

It’s mud season in rural Maine.

I know this because, despite being a New Jersey native, I’m spending most of April in one of my favorite states.

Uncle-Jesse-Maine-sunset
I mean come on. This doesn’t even have a filter.

I can do this because I quit my job and now my life is filled with rampant lawlessness.

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Did someone say “lawlessness”?

When I arrived in rural Maine, intending to volunteer on a friend’s farm sanctuary for two weeks, I didn’t immediately realize my cell signal had given out. A half hour earlier.

I diligently followed my friend’s instructions to “look for the next driveway after the sanctuary’s entrance,” where my cabin was located. Instead I saw train tracks and a sign that read, “Pavement ends.”

pavement-ends-sign
Say whaaa…?

Being from what you might call a New York City suburb, I interpreted that to mean, “TURN YOUR CAKE ASS AROUND, JERSEY.” I did so happily, heading back towards the sanctuary’s driveway instead.

Big mistake.

Farm Sanctuary driveway Go Jules Go
What I should have done, and soon learned to do: Park at the foot of the driveway and make the mile-long, uphill walk by foot.

“Mud season” wasn’t just a cute saying. My non-all wheel drive sedan squealed for mercy as I attempted to haul her up the hill.

“Oh my GAWD are you f*@#&$ kidding me?” I imagined her saying. “I am sooooo going to need a pedicure after this.”

I had gotten AAA before the trip, though, and felt cavalier mildly confident. (Until later, when I realized I wouldn’t have even been able to call AAA if I HAD gotten stuck.)

Once I made it to the sanctuary, the owner looked confused. I explained that I couldn’t find the cabin. Apparently I was supposed to charge past the “Pavement ends” warning and go another mile or so to “the next driveway.” I felt silly explaining that in Jersey terms, “the next driveway” is usually measured in feet. Sometimes inches. I kept quiet and accepted her gracious offer to lead me there – something I knew she didn’t have time for.

Running a farm sanctuary is No. Joke.

“Thank you so much. Just a warning that I’m going to keep a safe distance from you going downhill.”

She smiled knowingly, casting a glance at my mud-spattered pansy car.

We soon reached the small cabin, which was clean and well lit, warm from gas heat and equipped with the basics. Except internet. Which, I quickly began to realize, was going to throw a wrench into this whoooole plan. I checked my phone; still no service whatsoever.

mvimg_20190406_112454
Hello…? Is anyone out there…?

“This mayyyy be a problem,” I said, feeling the panic start to rise in my throat, the extent of my remote location settling in.

Let me just text… No.

Let me just look up the nearest… No.

Let me just check the weather for tomorrow and… No.

I waited until she left to execute what would come to be the first of many, many strategies to try to make the next couple of weeks work out.

I’m just going to drive towards a town, and see when my service picks up. I didn’t even bother unpacking, just loaded Uncle Jesse (the dog) back in the car. As I made the first turn, my stomach flip-flopped, trying to memorize my surroundings. Holy god I miss Google maps. The sun would set in less than an hour, so after just a few minutes, I decided to give up and turn around in a church parking lot. The last thing I wanted to do was make the situation worse by getting lost.

As I did a U-turn, I noticed the church’s sign.

mvimg_20190405_181258
Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

I decided to go back to the sanctuary -walking from the bottom of the driveway this time- and borrow someone’s phone to let my family know I had arrived safely. A volunteer was sorting vegetables and happy to offer her phone, so after I successfully texted Babs (mom), I helped sort produce for the next couple of hours, chatting and feeding Uncle Jesse stray bits of cauliflower.

Go Jules Go farm sanctuary sorting vegetables
One for the bin, one for Uncle Jesse, one for the bi-Uncle Jesse…

Thankfully, my phone still worked as a flashlight, and we made it back to the car and our cabin. It was pitch black. As I unpacked the car, I caught a glimpse of the stars twinkling brightly – the way they only could when not overpowered by street lamps and cramped houses. I stood still, and for the first time in hours, took a deep breath.

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Maybe this will all work out…

I finished unpacking, popped some potatoes in the little oven for Uncle Jesse, and cracked open a bottle of wine, deciding to make the most of my off-grid night. I’d sort out my phone issues in the morning.

img_20190405_222419
Microsoft Word and random downloaded iTunes songs from 2016: entertaining spoiled New Jerseyians since…I don’t know when, because my phone doesn’t work and I can’t look anything up.

Fast forward two days, and my phone -even with a new, more expensive carrier- still wasn’t working. Nor were my pseudo, DSW-purchased “muck boots,” which I managed to puncture by repeatedly tripping on a sharp rock while cleaning the rabbit houses.

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Thankfully, my $900 paperweight phone’s camera still pulled through.

Every two minutes, I thought of some reason I needed to use my phone, or get online. Upcoming bills I had to pay, friends with momentous events I had planned to check in on, ASMR videos on YouTube I needed to watch, travel plans I’d yet to make…

Shame washed over me in endless, sickening waves. I am so fu@*#^% soft. Here I thought, with my tiny living and frugal spending, I’d become so flexible! So strong! So adaptable! But 48 hours without a phone broke me, and after Sunday’s full work day, I fled back to my comfort zone, checking into a pet-friendly motel 90 minutes south, in one of my favorite parts of Maine.

mvimg_20190409_113809
And near one of my favorite people, Darla from She’s A Maineiac.

“Does the dial go all the way up to ‘donkey’?” I asked Darla when I stopped by the next day to do laundry.

Laundry donkey setting Go Jules Go

~*~*~*~*~*~

How would you fare if you were unexpectedly off-grid?

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humor, Kvetching

I Wanted to Sell My Stuff, Not My Soul

I Wanted To Sell My Stuff Not My Soul Go Jules Go Title Graphic 27MAR2019

OH MY GOD I’M SO TIRED.

Remind me never to move out of a third floor walk up and sell all of my stuff ever again.

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I can’t believe my Fitbit is still working.

Have you ever tried to sell anything on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace or the like? Then I apologize in advance for giving you PTSD with this post.

This is my life now.

Facebook Marketplace 1Facebook Marketplace 2Facebook Marketplace 3Facebook Marketplace 4Facebook Marketplace 5

~*~*~*~*~*~

Do you go the donate route or try to make a few bucks?

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humor, I'm Going To Chop My Ear Off Any Day Now, Kvetching, Project Management, PSAs

The Career You Should Pursue if You Hate Being Happy

gojulesgo_the-career-you-should-pursue_title-graphic_30jan19

I love my coworkers and get to do a lot of cool things at my job. Last week, however, involved the kind of work you should only do if you hate joy.

Event management.

Now, I’ve done a lot of event planning in my day, and it can be hugely rewarding. But even in those cases, it’s filled with chaos and unpredictability. No matter how much you plan pray, anticipate, pray and prepare pray, nothing ever goes 100% smoothly. You just have to hope no one else notices.

Jules-losing-it-FB-post-inside-out-pants
Kind of like this.

When I got to the event location last week, my stomach dropped. Not enough chairs. I had requested more chairs the night before, but it still wasn’t enough; people were filtering in late and filling the aisles, disrupting the meeting. In four years, we’d never had such a turn-out. A great problem to have, but once again, experience and pre-planning did diddly-squat, resulting in me looking like an incompetent asshat.

I stood against the wall trying to tell myself it wasn’t a big deal, my stomach knotting as I begun to realize there was no way we were going to have enough time to transition from the current meeting set-up to the one beginning 15 minutes later.

And I was going to have 100+ people, including The Big Boss, there to witness me not making things happen.

I braced myself like Michael Richards circa 2006.

michael-richards-seinfeld
“Sooo, 13 years later and you still can’t go out in public? Impressive.” Photo credit

When the dreaded 15 minute transition period hit, the A/V crew ran around plugging and pulling things from the podium while I frantically tried to set up my laptop and connect to the new audio conference line.

go jules go event planning
Six minutes ’til showtime.

“Is the speaker here?” Big Boss asked.

I smiled serenely. “He is! [Coworker] just went to get him!”

I returned my gaze to the computer screen, checking to see if I had the updated presentation materials that had come in minutes before. Hurry, hurry, hurry, I thought, knowing pretty soon my screen would be projected in front of 100 people so I’d better get the hell out of my inbox.

Okay, download new slides to desktop, close Outlook, sound off, Instant messenger off, PowerPoint slides open for each of the speakers, oh crap you need the webcast link from the email, open Outlook, get link, dial in, is screen working yet, where is the new A/V team, why can’t I hear anything on the line, do we have enough lavalier mics, where is the handheld, holy crap it’s loud in here and I can’t hear the operator, this is never going to work, oh my god, why did we think this was going to work, is the speaker here, is he mic’d, oookay now everyone is seeing a picture of my dog (just kidding I totally wanted that to happen), does Big Boss have her intro notes

go jules go desktop uncle jesse
You’re welcome.

Okay. Okay. We have lift off! Holy sh*t what is that box on the screen and how do I get rid of it? Okay, okay, we can just slide it over here in the corner… okay, we’re fine, we’re fine…Oh my GOD that’s the wrong slide deck, say hi to Uncle Jesse again everyone…okay, we’re moving along now…oh for the LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY his mic isn’t turned on…

Once the main speaker took the stage, the next 45 minutes went by in a blur, my only thought being, Please please please let that be the updated version of his slides WITHOUT ANY EMBEDDED VIDEOS DEAR GOD PLEASE and let everyone on the line actually be able to hear. The speaker was a pro and fielded questions from a lively, engaged audience, allowing me to convince myself that in the end, the entire thing was a smashing success.

As soon as it ended, I grabbed my lap top, made a beeline for the parking lot, and wept into my ice cold coffee.

Jules-pout
A *gulp* smashing *sob* success.

~*~*~*~*~

To event planners everywhere: I bow down to you (which you probably can’t see because you’re too busy wiping snot off your travel mug). …Can you please share your secrets?

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Just For Fun, Kvetching, New Jersey is breathtaking

Snow Many Women, Snow Little Time

Ah, snow.

pretty-snow

It blankets the drab and sometimes unforgiving world in a pristine swath of white, sparkling like a new beginning. You always know it’s going to snow because of the sky and the smell. And the stillness. The wind quiets and the clouds create an alabaster ceiling. If you breathe in deeply, your nostrils tingle with a chill that’s more inviting than foreboding, and you’ll catch the faintest hint of ice, a scent that’s almost impossible to describe.

Ah, snow.

snow-tree-down

God%^*&@#$^*!!!!

Every March the clock springs forward giving us more precious hours of sunlight, and at least in New Jersey, a crocus or two pops from the ground, winking and promising that Spring is nearly here.

crocus-stock-photo

We make plans, eagerly lugging our bicycles and gardening tools from the basement, and then Mother Nature says, “Psych!”

bad-snow-message-1

I suppose it makes sense that the ones who face Mother Nature’s wrath head on have something huge in common: gender.

During last week’s nor’easter, I received text after text from female friends and colleagues. It looked a little like this:

snow-girl-power-text-2

snow-girl-power-text-1

Over the next 24 hours, my gal pals rallied as they faced everything from:

Broken equipment…

snow blower deathsnowblower-death-2

snow-shoveling

…to driving 40+ miles to work…

snow-traffic

snow-girl-power-driving

…to fixing a broken generator…

snow-power-out

 

Yes, sir ma’am. These ladies put the “win” in “winter.”

bloody-snow-text

I’m hashtag blessed to have so many women in my life who handle Mother Nature’s little curveballs with poise wine, grace vodka, and humor. It doesn’t hurt that they now write blog posts for me, too.

How are ya’ll doing? Everybody good? Have (girl) power?

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

Kvetching, New Jersey is breathtaking, PSAs

WTF? You’ve Been SERVED.

citation note pads

Earlier this week I told you about THOSE G.D. CHURCH BELLS that go off at ALL HOURS one block from my new apartment.

Church-bells

After four months in this neighborhood, I’m starting to wonder what the ever-loving chipmunks is going on. The church bells are just the beginning. Odder still, this town is a mere two miles from where I grew up, and yet it’s as if I’ve stepped into The Upside Down. Nothing here makes sense, and it’s starting to scare me.

stranger-things-winona-rider
New Jersey: As confounding as Winona Ryder’s comeback.

Since everyone else seems to have accepted this lunacy as status quo, I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands.

That’s right.

Go Jules Go, keeper of peace, server of justice, lover of being alone and eating peanut butter straight from the jar without any interruptions thank you very much, HAS ARRIVED.

Jules-old-timey-sheriff
Helloooo, sweet, cinnamon-swirly justice!

First order of business? Handing out citations to the town’s most egregious offenders. Aside from His-Church-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, behold:

CITATION #1

Wile-e-coyote

A few weeks ago, someone left -I’m not making this up- a red package labeled “TNT” on top of a mailbox on my block. A passerby notified the police, and within moments, the bomb squad arrived. These cartoonish hijinx shut down my street and kept me from enjoying the eight cases of wine I’d just purchased from Trader Joe’s for an entire hour.

WTF-citation-coyote

CITATION #2

sad-dessert

Hi. Meet my dessert. She comes from a restaurant around the corner from my apartment, where they also consider Bachelorette tea parties the height of merriment. Don’t they know it’s not dessert unless you hate yourself afterwards?

WTF-citation-dessert

CITATION #3

citation-tree

The town center’s crowning Christmas jewel, and the view from my living room all December long.

WTF-citation-tree

CITATION #4

And last, but certainly not least…

Neighbor-note-doctored

I found this note in my mailbox on Tuesday, from someone I had only briefly met when I first moved in. “Phoebe” later revealed her question via text: “Hey, would you be interested in swapping apartments [from your studio to my much more expensive 1-bedroom]? My boyfriend and I just broke up :(.”

WTF-citation-neighbor

I’m sure this won’t be the last of the nefarious acts in my new topsy-turvy world. Stay tuned. Stay vigilant. Stay safe. Sheriff Jules, over and out.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Any heinousness happening in your neighborhood?

~*~*~*~*~*~

Kvetching, New Jersey is breathtaking, PSAs

For the Love of All That’s Holy

Church-bells

Dear Catholic Church One Block from My New Apartment,

Since moving to your neighborhood late last year, your house of worship has turned mine into one of horrors.

Today, a cold, rainy Saturday perfect for staying in bed, your bells rang out at 7:24AM, 8:00AM, 9:37AM, 10:32AM, 11:24AM, 12:00PM, 5:24PM, 6:29PM, 8:01PM and counting, each time lasting no less than one full minute.

Have you a gargoyle in training?

gargoyle
ALL THE BELLSSSSSSS!!! Photo credit

I wish I could say this event was extraordinary, but alas, your belligerent bells remind me daily that sleep is for sinners. Were I to understand the reasoning behind your inventive cadence, perhaps I could rest soundly.

Concerned Heathen Citizen,

Jules

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

Can anyone explain this? Am I missing something (besides sleep)??

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

humor, Just For Fun, Kvetching

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:

Cycling_Mt_Lemon
Photo credit

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.

Mt-Lemmon_Wendy-Point_Bike-Ride_Tucson_AZ
Easy peasy. Photo credit

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

Mt-Lemmon-beer
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.

Tour-de-France-lies
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.

Mt-Lemmon-bikes
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.”

Mt-Lemmon-Jules-water
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.”

Mt-Lemmon-base
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.

Mt-Lemmon-suitcase
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!

Mt-Lemmon-summit
She was really impressed with the view.

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