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.
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.
We make plans, eagerly lugging our bicycles and gardening tools from the basement, and then Mother Nature says, “Psych!”
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:
Over the next 24 hours, my gal pals rallied as they faced everything from:
…to driving 40+ miles to work…
…to fixing a broken generator…
Yes, sir ma’am. These ladies put the “win” in “winter.”
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?
Earlier this week I told you about THOSE G.D. CHURCH BELLS that go off at ALL HOURS one block from my new apartment.
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.
Since everyone else seems to have accepted this lunacy as status quo, I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands.
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.
First order of business? Handing out citations to the town’s most egregious offenders. Aside from His-Church-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, behold:
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.
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?
The town center’s crowning Christmas jewel, and the view from my living room all December long.
And last, but certainly not least…
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 :(.”
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.
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?
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,
Can anyone explain this? Am I missing something (besides sleep)??
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.
We arrived in Tucson last week with grand plans: Climb a mountain and drink all the beer.
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.
The night before our trek, a man named Robert met us in a dentist office parking lot with three rental road bikes.
“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.”
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.”
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.
P.S. – Here’s our friend at the top. She’s a machine. Ain’t that right, KB!
Because I thought this is what my therapist meant when she said “get a hobby,” every year I now train for a 100-mile bike ride in September. As part of the training plan this year, I signed up for a series of organized bike rides throughout the summer. These bike rides come with roadside support, fully-stocked rest stops, and an ugly t-shirt to commemorate the ride.
This past Saturday, the training ride was a 63-mile charity event for which I signed up namely because the registration fee was cheap. #foreshadowing.
My first second mistake was in thinking a “Stockton University charity bike ride” would leave from Stockton, New Jersey – about an hour southwest of my house. Nay. Stockton University is in Galloway Township, New Jersey (two things I’d never heard of!), a.k.a. exit 44 on the Garden State Parkway, a.k.a. Might As Well Be Cuba.
But, at least it was going to be a leisurely, social ride on a beautiful day – 75 degrees and sunny. “The best day of the weekend!” forecasters declared.
That morning, my alarm went off at 4:45am and as I headed out the door, a blast of cold air took my breath away. “Geesh!” I thought, “It’s June 3rd! Well, I’m sure it’ll warm up in a bit!” I grabbed my coat, picked up my sister, and we headed for the Parkway.
A few minutes in, raindrops hit the windshield.
“No matter!” I said. I checked my trusty weather app and it looked like it would be just fine by the time we arrived in Cuba Galloway Township.
When we parked at Stockton University (seriously, is this like Trump University? Have you ever heard of this place?), we realized we were going to have to wear our winter cycling gear because it was still 55 degrees.
As the clock rounded 8:00am, the official start time, an overly cheerful man got on the microphone by the registration tent.
“We just have a few announcements to make…”
My sister shot me a look. We hopped from foot to foot trying to keep warm, and forty-seven announcements later, we finally took off with a huge pack of men going 21 MPH. In the rain. We got sand in our teeth and dirty water splashed in our faces as we pedaled at full race speed.
By mile 30, we were starving, soaking wet, and one meltdown in (mine. I am not proud). That’s when our friend, Jen, got a flat tire. Despite being experienced tire-changers, we managed to use up all of our supplies without actually fixing the tire, and were forced to call the roadside support number given to us during registration.
A girl answered and said, “What? You’re where? Your bike has a flat tire? Hang on, let me see if I can find someone. …No, you have to call a different number. Do you have a pen and paper?”
“At least the fully loaded rest stop is only two miles away!” we said a half an hour later when we were back on the road. “Mmm, what do you think they’ll have? Bagels? Peanut butter & jelly?? Cookies???”
By then, our mouths were watering more than the skies overhead. We pulled up to the rest stop and looked around. There were three port-a-potties and one square folding table holding water, four gel packs, and half a dozen green bananas.
We shared the fig bar I had stuffed into my saddle bag and readied ourselves for another cocktail of gravel and tears (did I mention it was an out and back, all flat ride, meaning you never stopped pedaling, mostly into headwind?). Before we made it two blocks from the rest stop, we heard a hiss coming from my sister’s front tire.
As I turned to head back to her, I started tipping to the left. My left foot was clipped into my bike pedal, meaning there was only one thing that could happen next.
Splayed on the road and hovering close to the double yellow line, I unclipped my foot, leaving my shoe dangling from the pedal.
“It’s not that I’m not helping you!” Jen shouted from a few feet away. “I’m just stopping traffic!”
I hobbled over to the curb, avoiding eye contact with the line of cars inching past us.
Doctors, hospitals, and anything containing the word “hemoglobin” terrify me.
It all started when I was 15, and had my blood drawn for the first time. They thought I might have mono. (If that’s The Kissing Disease, I was the exception. For some reason, boys didn’t seem to like my braces, glasses, and white tights combo.)
I was nervous, but insisted on going into the office alone. I was fine until the nurse said she needed to take an extra vial of blood, and handed me the one she’d just filled.
It was warm.
With my blood.
Like blood that should be inside of my body, with me blissfully unaware of its temperature.
A few minutes later, Babs (my mom) found me passed out on the bathroom floor. Since then, I haven’t been able to set foot inside a doctor’s office or hospital without some level of panic. If you were to take my blood pressure results during any of these visits in earnest, I should be dead.
Now that I’ve reached a point in life where retirement planning is starting to mean something, I’ve decided it’s time to face fears, if only so I can collect big in 29 years.
In the past month, I’ve gone to the dentist twice, the doctor’s once, and I even voluntarily had a small amount of blood drawn for a workplace annual health assessment. And I only cried a tinylittle moderate amount!
On Sunday, I’ve decided to up the ante: I’m donating blood. And I’m making Babs hold the warm vial of blood my hand this time.
Have you ever gotten over a phobia?
P.S. – Things I learned from writing this post: Bloodletting is one word. THAT IS NOT OKAY.