humor, Lists, Project Management

What I Wish I’d Known BEFORE My Month-Long Road Trip

I shift in my seat, lifting a hand to massage the knots in my neck. I glance at my notepad.

148 miles on this highway. Great. At least it’s not snowing. 

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Ha. Just kidding. Happy spring.

It’s been almost three weeks since I packed my car, left New Jersey, and headed north. Resigning from corporate America in March, I had had a one track mind:

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ALL THE TRAVEL!!!!!

It sounds like a dream come true, right? Freedom, adventure, new friends… What could go wrong?

Go Jules Go Title Graphic What I wish Id Known Before My Month Long Road Trip_24APR2019

Unlimited Cell Service? Psssshhh.

After discovering that the middle of Maine was a dead zone (at least for me), I took to hand writing my directions before entering unknown territory. Luckily, the impressively eclectic radio stations provided the perfect soundtrack for my 90s-style, Google maps-less travel. (Rant for another day: Why does New York City radio have the most monochromatic music on the face of the planet?)

directions to Canada
148 miles doesn’t look so bad when you’re singing Beastie Boys at the top of your lungs.

“Fully Equipped Kitchen” Means Very Different Things to Different People

If you’re planning to do any cooking on the road, and assuming your lodging (mostly AirBnbs, in my case) will come equipped with certain basics as described — think again. Here are some common items missing in one or all of my AirBnb kitchens: Ice cube trays, wine opener, strainer (colander), dishwasher soap/cleaner, pot large enough for boiling pasta, curtains (ahem), and spatula.

Curtain-less window
Thankfully, this looks right in through to the bathroom. On a busy highway.

Sitting All Day is Exhausting

Even with my lead foot, I couldn’t turn the drive from Nova Scotia to mid-coast Maine into anything less than a 10-hour trek. After 5-6 hours, everything starts to hurt, and even cycling in frigid, rainy headwind starts to sound appealing.

Jules-collapsed-on-floor
On second thought…

You’re Going to Spend More Money Than You Think You Are

As a [former] project manager, I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t fully acknowledge the ‘over deadline, over budget’ mantra that accompanies so many projects – including road trip ones. Besides ALL THE GASOLINE, unplanned expenditures are bound to crop up almost daily. Like, oh, I don’t know, duty charges on your case of wine, forgetting your dog’s kibble and discovering he’ll accept no substitutions apart from homemade people food, and ice cube trays/spatulas/THINGS ANY NORMAL KITCHEN SHOULD HAVE.

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%*&*@. He’s never eating kibble again.

But lest you think road travel is all a pile of tears…

Most People Are Mostly Nice. Really Nice.

By far the best part of traveling alone is forcing yourself to rely on the kindness of others. Rarely did I find anyone who wasn’t more than willing to offer the insider scoop, their washer/dryer, or just a general helping hand. I’m headed back to New Jersey with friendships and experiences I never would have had were I to stay inside my comfort zone.

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Comfort zone? What comfort zone?

And isn’t that the whole point?

Next time, though? I’m bringing my $%&*@! colander.

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Have you ever road tripped? Was it what you expected?

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Blogging, Lists, Project Management, Veganiness

What it Really Looked Like to “Follow My Heart”

Go Jules Go Title Graphic What It Really Looked Like to Follow My Heart_13MAR2019

One of my favorite sayings goes, “The harder I work, the luckier I seem to get.”

I’ve thought of it often as I embark on a totally new, risky, amazing phase of my life: quitting my stable, full-time job, selling all of my stuff, and hitting the road to pursue creative passion projects.

The Vegan Dollar YouTube Channel screenshot
Yay! 13 subscribers! Good thing I quit my job for this!

Over the past fifteen years, I’ve had a friend or two suggest that the opportunities I’ve gotten were available to me only because of my age, location or looks. While I undoubtedly experience white privilege and humbly acknowledge my staggering good looks fortune in being born to a nice, middle class family in New Jersey, I’m always saddened when people see it this way.

Following my heart has taken everything I have, and even some things I don’t have – yet. Getting to the pot of gold at the end of the dream rainbow is sweaty, scary and sometimes bittersweet business. So scary, in fact, that the only way to calm my [project manager] nerves is to discuss it in –oh my god I’m so excited– graphical format.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart graph title slide

Getting a divorce.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 6

Going to therapy. For two and a half years.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 4

Going back to (and finishing) grad school.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 3

Getting dumped. …Twice.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 5

Experiencing an earth-shaking epiphany and changing my entire lifestyle [to veganism].

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 4

A lot of sweating. So much sweating. Too much, really.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 1

Setting boundaries and having difficult conversations with people I love.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 5

Asking for help (accountability partners).

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 2

Letting go of friendships that emptied my tank so I could cultivate ones that make my spirit soar.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 3

Exploring all things woo-woo without caring what others thought.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 2

Telling someone how I really felt about them. …And having them not return the feeling.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 6

Believing I was worthy, and already had, all of the joy and love I’d always wanted.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 2

Quitting my stable, cushy job to pursue creative passions.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 5

Moving to a 350 square foot apartment.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 2

Leaving said apartment and getting rid of [nearly] all my possessions.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 3

Slashing my spending by 80%.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 1

Consistently saying yes to things that made me want to hide in a corner – like meeting new people.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 5

Stopping to question Every. Single. Negative thought and asking, “Is this true or is this a story?”

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 2

Letting go of the belief that anyone else’s opinion of me has anything to do with me.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 3

As you can see, NONE of these things was easy, or pleasant, or preceded by 100% assuredness. There will never be a “right” time to do something that scares you. But the universe doesn’t care how old or young you are, how over or under qualified. When it sees someone taking risks to follow their heart’s calling, it will take note, and oftentimes instantaneously, step in and give you whatever you need – even when you’re not sure what that is.

So, whaddya say? Are you ready to do what it takes in order to achieve your dreams, even if that includes the “impossible”? Your heart is a badass and (s)he just might require that of you.

(Pssst…you know I can’t resist linking to my latest video!)

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What has following your heart looked like for you? (…Does anyone want to hide under this blanket with me? I brought Wheat Thins and Chao cheese.)

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Just For Fun, Lists

When You Expect the Unexpected…

when you expect

The tail end of 2018 saw a slew of surprises, leading me to believe that 2019 is bound to bring in more of The Unexpected. AND I EXPECT IT TO BE AWESOME.

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That’s one way of saying I’ve recently begun experimenting with [Bic pens and] tattoo designs.
To celebrate this, I thought it would be fun to relive December’s unexpected events and my surprising takeaway from each:

Surprise #1

I got my friend Janeen a “1-hour medicine healing ceremony” session for her birthday because she’s even kookier than I am. On a lovely Saturday in mid-December, we headed into New York City to get our crystal-woo-woo on. The shop was located on the 5th floor of a building in Greenwich Village.

We spent the first five minutes ringing the bell and asking the construction workers next door how to get in. Eventually, they pointed to a creepy stairwell and we ascended 8,000 flights to our destination.

Once inside a small, fragrant room, an attractive woman began ‘reading the collective energy’ of the 12 ladies forming a circle around her. (“Ma’am, I think you’re picking up ‘sweat’ and ‘confusion.'”) We then laid down on heated mats, nestled under blankets, while she chanted and waved incense, carefully stepping between our legs. Just as I was starting to relax, eyes closed and breathing deeply, she whacked my chest with a large, dried palm leaf.

Surprise Takeaway: Never assume you understand the definition of the word “healing.”

Surprise #2

The following weekend, my sister drove me over to Babs’ (mom’s), anticipating our “surprise early Christmas present” from Babs.

“What do you think it’ll be?” my sister asked.

“It’s either strippers or a vegan cooking class,” I replied. “Not that I’ve given this any thought. And you know what I just realized yesterday?” I paused before blurting, “Mom and Pop didn’t really do anything to celebrate me just getting the Masters. I feel like a jerk saying this, but I would have thought they’d want to go out to dinner or something...”

My sister and I were still talking about this as I opened my parents’ front door.

“SURPRISE!!!!!!!!”

I was suddenly surrounded by friends and family, champagne, and gobs of gifts.

Surprise Takeway: You are always loved so much more than you think you are.

Surprise #3

I wasn’t going to blog about this since the idea is to stay anonymous, but this was so much fun that I feel like I have to tell you to try it, too (especially if you can rope in some kiddos)…

To round out the end of 2018, I actually won money from one of the scratch-offs that my family loves to give each Christmas. Chyeahhh!

I took my big, fat $50 winnings, got a bunch of $5 bills, and then my nephew and I wrote encouraging note cards and left each $5 bill and a card all around town for people to find [in Ziploc bags lest Mother Nature not cooperate].

We’re definitely going to make it a new tradition. Here’s one of my 15-year-old nephew’s cards – can you see why I couldn’t keep this to myself?!

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I know. He needs his own blog ASAP.

Surprise Takeway: It’s really, really fun to give away money, even when you’re worried about never having enough of it.

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humor, Lists, Project Management

Well THAT Didn’t Go According to Plan

I’ve been a project manager for over a decade. That suggests a few things.

  1. I’m organized.
  2. I make sh&t happen.
  3. I REALLY like lists.

Phrases like Type A, OCD, and Post-It Hoarder might even be crossing your mind.

Jules-organized-fridge
Huh. I don’t see it.

Well. Okay. Fine. I like when things go according to plan. At the very least, I like HAVING a plan. Some sort of scaffolding upon which to begin arranging my masterpieces.

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Do you think this just happens?

I also really, really hate messing up or not meeting my goals.

nailed-it-mason-jar-candles-blog
I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.

I’m learning to take a step back, harness my Zen, be the river flowing around the rocks, yadda yadda…

Jules-meditating-Zac-Efron-spirit-guide
Picturing Zac Efron shirtless helps.

…And if any detours from my plans are funny, I’ve gotten REALLY good at embracing them.

Jules-losing-it-FB-post-inside-out-pants
Thanks, blogging.

Here are a few recent favorite fails “detours.”

Well that didn't go according to plan

The Mannequin Did It! (1 of 3)

On Monday, my manager, Karla, and I enjoyed lunch during one of our biweekly check-ins. After covering business, we dug into fun stories from our personal lives. We laughed, I finished my tray of warm, delicious bhindi masala, and left her office with, as usual, a skip in my step. Life is grand!

When I returned to her office later that afternoon, I noticed something strange on her desk.

“Did I do that?” I asked, horrified, picturing my steaming, fragrant lunch resting on the gleaming, elegant wood in that exact same spot just hours earlier.

Jules-ruins-desk

Karla burst out laughing. “I wasn’t going to say anything…”

I immediately started Googling replacement desks.

desk-saran-wrap
That should do it.

Now That’s What I Call Commitment (2 of 3)

health-in-motion-scary-sign

Okay. I can’t take credit for this, but I just love it.

This is a sign around the corner from my house. You know when it looked fantastic? Halloween.

Do you know when I took this picture? Yesterday.

tide-stick
Maybe this will help?

At least they’re ready for 2019. This project manager approves.

I Just Wanted an Excuse to Post this Picture (3 of 3)

Did you know I went to Dubai in 2016? …That’s okay. Most people missed it. Even people in Dubai. A fairly last-minute meeting brought my boss and I there for a whirlwind 36-hour trip.

Jules-Dubai-burj khalifa_Oct2016

A fellow project manager was our tour guide and he crammed in lots of exciting stops for us. My boss was especially tickled when he took us to a restaurant called The Meat House.

Jules-pout

At one point, he brought us to The Dubai Mall and led us towards a little kiosk. Before we knew what was happening, people were handing us shiny things, saying, “Put this on. Now hold this.”

My boss and I glanced at each other warily, but it was too late. There was no getting out of this.

IMG_1858
You haven’t lived until you unexpectedly play dress-up with your boss.

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Anything you’re apologizing to your coworkers for?

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humor, Just For Fun, Lists

A Mannequin? I Manne-CAN’T Believe This…

I’ve had strange weeks before. This past week, though. Well. This past week has been fun.

A MANNEQUIN_ I Manne-CAN'T believe it! (1)

“Aca-‘scuse Me?” (Exhibit 1 of 3)

A few weeks ago, Babs (mom) sent me a text.

“I have two tickets to an acapella Christmas show at at NJPAC on Dec 1 @ 8pm. Any chance you’d go?”

Longtime readers know “anything”+ “acapella” elicits the following response from me:

GoJulesGo gets ready for BlogHer'12

Based on all of the times Babs and I had been to college acapella performances, I figured an NJPAC-worthy show would be Glee meets Pitch Perfect. I hoped they’d cover Mariah Carey, maybe a little Jackson 5, and my all-time favorite, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

“This is going to be so fun!” we squealed over Sangria on Saturday night, the show now only an hour away. As the clock neared 8pm, we scooted past two blue-haired ladies, took our seats and opened the program.

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“You said you’ve heard them before?” I whispered to Babs.

“I think so,” she replied. “On the radio.”

I looked at the song list and back at Babs, eyes as wide as Christmas saucers.

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This doesn’t look like Mariah Carey…

Suddenly, the lights dimmed, a hush fell over the crowd, and twelve men in full-on penguin suits (not the fun kind) solemnly formed a semi-circle, singing at an octave they probably could have heard in whatever country the decidedly-NOT-Mariah-Carey song originated.

Tears of laughter streamed down my face and my shoulders shook as I tried not to make a sound.

“I’M SO SORRY,” Babs whispered, and I snorted audibly.

Trapped in our aisle until intermission, we counted down the somber, unrecognizable songs one by one, each featuring a soloist who, while talented, sang higher than seemed safe.

Manne-CANT post 2

As soon as the last la Navidad was warbled, we ran out of there faster than my mascara. Did I mention Stephen Colbert was interviewing Meryl Streep on the stage next door?

“Shut Your Neck, I Mean, Face Right Now” (Exhibit 2 of 3)

This next story really needs no introduction. Here’s the message I received from my manager last Friday:

Karla-squirrel-tattoo

“I Manne-CAN’T Believe It” (Exhibit 3 of 3)

Last Wednesday morning, I stepped into the elevator at work and secretly played my favorite “I Wonder What Floor S/He’s Getting Off On” game. As usual, I correctly predicted another “8th floor.” (When the purse matches the shoes, or the dress socks are festively patterned, it’s definitely an 8th floor.)

This time, though, when the elevator doors opened, I spotted something…unusual. A woman, sitting in a chair near the coffee machine, frozen in place. Her hair had a strange, dull luster and she stared blankly into the distance.

Is that a…is she a…?

Manne-CANT post 3
I’ve chosen to protect her identity. Given the length of her skirt, I think you can understand why.

Yes. It was a mannequin. (Excuse me, “pulse-challenged,” as we’ve been coached to say by our Diversity & Inclusion team.) Enjoying Starbucks and playing Candy Crush like any normal employee at 8am on a Wednesday. She and I proceeded to have a lengthy conversation about “the 7th floors,” and when I returned to my own floor, I asked everyone I could find:

“Did you know the robots have already taken over?”

“I think it’s a decoy,” Karla replied, scratching her new neck tattoo. “Like the fake dog cut-outs they put in fields to keep geese away. They want to stop us from going to the 8th floor and stealing the good coffee.”

That’s a solid theory, Karla. But if I need to start updating my resume, you’ll let me know, right? …Right?

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It’s because Mercury’s in retrograde, isn’t it?

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Food, Lists, Veganiness

Save Money and More: My Top 5 Vegan Food Hacks

Everywhere I turn, I hear people say, “How can I be more like Go Jules Go? What’s up with this vegan thing? What do you eat? Do you save money?”

I’ve only been vegan for two years, but I’ve been a foodie for 35 and counting, which means you can be dang sure I’ve found a way to eat fabulous fare even after parting ways with my old standbys, cheese and bacon.

Whether you’re interested in improving your health, spending less money, or putting your dollars towards preserving the planet and protecting animals, just a few vegan food choices here and there can truly rock (y)our world (and your wallet).

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase the linked product, at no additional cost to you. I only ever link to products that I truly love. Like this.

Go Jules Go’s Top 5 Money-Saving Vegan Food Hacks

1. Frozen potato and onion pierogies

pierogies

Poppy’s brand pierogies are currently EIGHTY CENTS a package at my local New Jersey ShopRite. Caramelize an onion, maybe toss in some bell pepper or spinach, and put your carb-o-phobia on hold while you enjoy this filling meal for two. (I dip mine in ketchup…shhh.)

2. MUNG BEANS (yes, they demand all caps)

mung-beans

I buy these little green gems in bulk from Whole Foods and, when combined with onion, garlic, ginger and coconut milk, you have yourself a fine ass curry. They taste like a delicious split pea-bean hybrid, and they’re a nice change of pace from your standard lentils and legumes. (In fact, Just brand is coming out with a vegan scrambled egg liquid made out of mung beans!)

3. Peanut (satay) sauce 

peanut-sauce-bowl-2

Need I say more?  Use some of that leftover fresh garlic and ginger from your mung bean curry, and – bam! Put over pasta, stir fry, rice/grain bowls, even raw cabbage/veggies for a salad… you can’t go wrong. You can prepare ahead of time if you’re entertaining (it’s a major crowd-pleaser) and it even freezes pretty well. My go-to recipe is a lot like this, with some lime juice and cilantro thrown in.

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When it comes to peanut sauce, the sky’s the limit! (With Sriracha hearts because I’m a show-off.)

4. Banana ice cream

banana-ice-cream
What? You think it looks like… YOU’RE SO IMMATURE.

Do you like watching freezer-burned bananas turn into creamy dog doo deliciousness? This “recipe” is that magical! Peel a couple of ripe bananas, cut them into chunks, and pop them in the freezer for a few hours. (I don’t recommend leaving them in there for more than 24 hours.) Then, put them in a food processor and let it go. Wait at least a minute or two, and you’ll have yourself some silky smooth banana fro-yo. You can add chocolate chips, peanut butter, cocoa, strawberries, your lost dreams of ever working on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, whatever. It’s miraculous! (AND cheap. AND healthy. You’re welcome.)

5. V-Dog kibble

Uncle-jesse-v-dog

Hear me out. After gobs of research and learning that vets prescribe plant-based kibble to dogs with skin conditions, I switched my 8-year-old pooch, Uncle Jesse, to V-Dog. (Whereupon he immediately rejected the old stuff.) That was over a year ago and he’s crushing it, with a flawless bill of health from his normal vet. While this decision wasn’t financially driven, it turns out V-Dog costs about half of what I was spending on high-end animal-based kibble. (It smells so decent I might actually try it. If I do I promise to blog about it.)

vegan-Uncle-jesse

And because I love you – a bonus hack!

6. InstaPot Hummus

InstaPot
KNEEL BEFORE ME AND BEHOLD MY AWESOME POWER TO ROAST, RICE COOK, STEAM, PRESSURE COOK, STERILIZE, SEAR, SAUTEE, AND SLOW COOK!

If you’re one of the proud new owners of an InstaPot, the countertop multi-cooker on crack and Amazon’s #1 Christmas gift for “The Person You Care About But Also Resent Because They’re Implicitly Forcing You to Feed Into the Consumerist Machine to Prove Your Affection,” this recipe is for you! My manager who totally reads this blog and did I mention she is the cat’s meow? sent me this amazing InstaPot hummus recipe using dried chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans). The trick is using the warm, cooked beans and cooking liquid to whip ’em into a pillowy bean dream after they’re done in the iPot (I’m trademarking that). Grab a bag of dried chickpeas for about $1.00 and don’t do what I did yesterday, which is cave to convenience.

hummus-rip-off
Guess how much. No, no. Just guess. FOUR DOLLARS. FOUR. DOLLARS!!

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Have you tried (or would you try) any of these? Have any other plant-based hacks?

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Blogging, Lists, Uncle Jesse

Dogs Are Better Than Babies. So Trade Yours, Don.

Today things get ugly. As ugly as your babies. I kid, I kid.

Grab your boxing gloves, Chipmunks, because Don, of don of all trades, and I are going head-to-head over:

Dogs vs. Babies

Dogs-vs-Babies-Don-Jules

We each get up to ten points to make our case. Don may be a father, lawyer and cop, but totally lets me boss him around little does this man-of-allegedly-every-occupation know, I have experience in blog debates. Many moons ago, Third Husband proposed we discuss the merits (or lack thereof) of Glee, and I think we can all agree that after taking a slushie to the face, I emerged the clear victor.

Sweet, sweet, cherry-flavored victory.
Sweet, sweet, cherry-flavored victory.

I’m a little scared to read Don’s opposing argument, though. Not because I’m worried about valid points, god no, but because he’s a shamelessly verbose, terrible person with zero filter; there’s no telling where he’ll take this. He’s already cursed and posted fake sonogram pictures on my Facebook wall, sending both my mother and mother-in-law into a frenzy:

Don's caption? "Awesome...SOOOOOO excited for you guys!!"
Don’s caption? “Awesome…SOOOOOO excited for you guys!!”

So, Don. As much as I like to play dirty, get your mind out of the gutter and grab the leash (that one’s just killing you, isn’t it?). By the time you’re through reading this, you’ll be ready to trade your ten thousand sticky offspring for a downy-soft ‘doodle.

Why Dogs Doodles Are Better Than Babies

1. They sleep a lot.

Like, a lot a lot. Soooo much.
Like, a lot a lot. Soooo much.

2. They’re not smart enough for college (can you spell S-A-V-I-N-G-S?).

Dogs-vs-Babies-Uncle-Jesse-scholar

3. They don’t bug you when you’re hungover sick.

I'll be here. If you need me. Remote's by your pillow.
I’ll be here. If you need me. Remote’s by your pillow.

4. They understand Full House quotes at 10 weeks old.

5. You get to pick the cartoons / car music.

None of this creepy sh*t.
None of this creepy sh*t.

6. No back talk.

Though they may judge you with their incredibly soulful eyes.
Just incredibly telling soulful gazes.

7. Chick / Hunk magnet.

We are a HUGE hit with the neighborhood AARF AARP, crowd.
HUGE hit with the neighborhood AARF, I mean, AARP crowd.

8. As long as you feed them regularly, they don’t judge your alcohol dependency.

Okay maybe a little.
I think he’s just hungry.

9. You get to pick their halloween costumes. Indefinitely.

Hakuna matata, dog owners. DYFS is just for humans.
Hakuna matata, dog owners. DYFS is just for humans.

10. You don’t have to deal with other dogs’ parents if you don’t want to.

Although everyone knows 'dog people' are a superior breed.
Although everyone knows ‘dog people’ are a superior breed.

Note how I kept this nice and short, for your reading pleasure. Because I care about you, and respect your time, Debate Decision-makers. Unlike some people.

I look forward to hearing how right I am. (In case you missed it, here’s the link to Don’s inferior opposing argument.)

Did I miss any reasons why dogs are better than rug rats?

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