Category Archives: PSAs

Knock, knock! Who’s there? THE WORST NEIGHBORS EVER!

A year and a half ago, I moved into a quaint two-family home. There aren’t many historic houses in the area, and my entryway bears a unique mark of pride:

img_1295-2
Of course, this agèd gem comes with a few charms that some might find off-putting: low ceilings, slanted floors, light switches to nowhere, and my personal favorite:

Ghost cows.

ghost-cow.PNG

The house is a renovated cow barn, and late at night, I can almost hear the far-off cattle cries.

img_1679

I think they’re coming from the beam where I hide my flask.

I haven’t told anyone this, but I stopped eating meat a few months ago, and my top theory is that the ghost cows took over my body.

IMG_5745

Jules circa 2014

img_1206

Jules circa 2016

In fact, now that I think about it, the cows were probably behind the sconce incident of April 2015.

crime-scene-couch

But I digress.

Recently, my quiet and respectful human and living neighbors, with whom I share a very, very (did I say very?) thin wall, moved out. I recall overhearing something about “carpenter bees” and “allergies,” but I was too busy Googling Yankee candle scents to appease undead livestock to fully appreciate their rationale.

Strange families were suddenly perusing the now-vacant apartment next door. This past weekend, I stepped outside and nearly collided with an older gentleman.

“You’ve probably surmised that I’m looking at the apartment,” he said in an I’m-just-a-guy-who-likes-hugs-and-hey-I-wonder-how-many-human-heads-will-fit-in-that-freezer tone.

“Ah,” I replied, avoiding eye contact and wondering why his tour included my half of the yard.

Uncle Jesse, my dog, barked loudly from inside.

Craigslist-apartment-ad

This is the actual apartment ad. Oops.

Since this run-in, I haven’t been able to shake the nightmares of what who might move in next door.

Please, help prepare me: What’s your worst neighbor story?

Lucky-Bamboo

My lucky bamboo (a housewarming gift) committed suicide long ago. I need all the help I can get.

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

I Have Tasted the Impossible!

I grab my shirt and pull it away from me. The skyscrapers of Manhattan have formed a barrier, trapping the early August humidity and dashing any hope that a breeze might dry the sweat running down my back.

“Do you think we’ll get a table?” my sister asks.

It’s 11:45am on Saturday and we’re part of a line snaking down 8th Avenue and 22nd Street. In 15 minutes, they’ll open the doors to Chelsea district’s Momofuku Nishi.

img_1165
We can already taste the succulent red meat and pan-fried char, our mouths watering at thoughts of the secret-sauce-and-blood-soaked bun.

Today, we would taste the impossible.

That’s right. Today we would sample the acclaimed brainchild of Patrick Brown, founder and CEO of California-based start-up Impossible Foods. According to all accounts, Brown had managed to create a plant-based burger that sizzled, bled and -hopefully- satisfied just like its meat-based counterpart.

Despite enjoying many bacon and cheese-smothered burgers in my day, I’ve always been a fan of veggie burgers. The ones that tasted like vegetables, that is. The more a veggie patty tried to disguise itself as meat, the more it seemed to fail.

img_1178

Until (spoiler alert) now.

Using a combination of science and more science, Impossible Foods attempted a feat no man nor chipmunk had yet mastered: Making vegetables actually mimic meat. How did they do it? Through reverse-engineering taste and including loads of something called heme. Heme is what peanut butter is to Reese’s cups, what cherry Chapstick is to a Katy Perry song, what Miss Piggy is to Kermit.

It’s the stuff that makes something what it is.

heme

Or, you know, if you want to be all LITERAL about it, it’s an “iron-containing compound of the porphyrin class that forms the nonprotein part of hemoglobin and some other biological molecules.” (Credit: Wikipedia)

Brown combined heme -the thing that gives beef its meaty, bloody flavor- and a number of plant products (namely potatoes, soybeans, and coconut) to achieve the Impossible Burger. A longtime vegan and accomplished biochemist, he wanted to make a veggie burger for people who loved meat. After all, who would forego succulent, savory bovine for lentils and chalky carrots?

img_1180

Us, apparently.

And we’re not alone:

Impossible Foods surveyed 600 “hard core middle America burger lovers” about their eating habits and asked them whether they’d choose a plant-based burger if it was identical—in taste and cost—to the beef version. Nearly 70% said they would. –Wall Street Journal

But with production costs still too high to actually offer the Impossible Burger to the masses, you have to wonder: is it worth all of the trouble? I mean, cholesterol aside, is there really anything that bad about sticking to the traditional?

cost-of-beef

According to NPR, this is what goes into producing a single beef patty. Photo Credit

With plans for a slow but powerful movement, Impossible Foods is piloting their burger in limited quantities in places like New York City, and soon, San Francisco. Within five years, we can expect to see some pretty happy cows, but for now, some pretty happy humans:


Do you think the Impossible Burger can do the impossible? Would you try it?

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

I’ve Been Published in German! That is so KNALLHART.

Rachels-Table-pepper-queen

Rachel is smokin’ hot.

When my saucy friend and spicy pepper queen, Rachel of Rachel’s Table, contacted me to write an article about running for Gore apparel’s blog, published in both English and German, my first thought was,

“I can’t! I’m a fraud! Wait, you work for Gore apparel now? Green, size medium large, please.”

I hadn’t run in almost a year, thanks to injury and pancakes. But I did have a story about running to tell. I hope you’ll check it out, if only to see how space-agey energy gels translates to German.

Running Isn’t Everything, But I Owe Everything to Running (English site)

Running Isn’t Everything, But I Owe Everything to Running (German site…come on, you know you want to)

Happy New Year, Chipmunks! 2016’s gonna be a knockout year; I can feel it in my tail.

This is me. Running away from 2015. And 2014. And 2013, come to think of it.

This is me. Running away from 2015. And 2014. And 2013, come to think of it.

~*~*~*~*~*~

How Do You Feel About Sacrificial Bloodletting?

I have White Coat Syndrome.

Doctors, hospitals, and anything containing the word “hemoglobin” terrify me.

This is the real Red Room of Pain.

The real Red Room of Pain.

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.

I mean, seriously. This was seriously next to me during my last doctor's visit.

I mean, seriously. This was next to me during my last doctor’s visit.

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.

blood-pressure

Tell me this doesn’t look like a medieval torture wall.

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 tiny little moderate amount!

Where dreams go to die.

Where fears go to die.

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.

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

I Got Stuck In A Stairwell (And I Liked It)

endless-stairs-jules

Last week, I spent a few days in New York City, watching many months of work come to fruition. As a project manager in the pharmaceutical industry, my colleagues and I had been planning a bioethics-themed symposium for ages. Finally, the event had arrived.

The symposium took place on the 40th floor of 7 World Trade Center. The views were spectacular.

7-world-trade-view

Things were going well on our first day, but I was anxious. There was a “networking lunch” at noon. Trying to pretend I knew anything about anything compassionate use of medicines for an hour and a half, among some of the country’s foremost ethicists, seemed daunting.

For the first few minutes during lunch, I checked my email in the hallway, doing my best to look busy and important. When I glanced up, I noticed an exit sign.

“I could do a little exploring,” I thought. “Stretch my legs.”

There wasn’t any indication that this was an emergency only exit, so off I scampered into the obviously post-9/11 constructed stairwell. The stairs were wide and well marked with fluorescent tape.

As I descended, I noticed each floor bore signs that read, “Nearest re-entry on floor 36.”

The floors in between had only locked doors, not even a pad to swipe your badge – if you had a badge.

The 36th floor did have a pad, but I decided onward and downward was the way to go. Also I had no badge. No doubt some floor would have public access, and if not, I could piggyback off of one of the people I was bound to see.

And I did see someone. Around floor 20. By then, I was determined to see this thing through. Because surely -surely- I could exit on the ground floor.

The final floors were daunting. There were no doors at all, and large, brightly lit ticker tape signs announcing, “EXIT THIS WAY >>>>>>>>>.”

I finally made it to the ground floor, wobbly-kneed and decidedly damp, only to see this:

emergency-exit-alarm

Knowing there was a red ‘call if you’re a moron’ phone back on the 11th floor, I turned around and began my long ascent.

When I reached the 4th floor, a tall, brunette man in a fleece jacket appeared.

“Can I help you?” he asked suspiciously.

He looked like Brody from Homeland.

“I’m trapped!” I blurted.

“Yeah. You’re supposed to be on the 40th floor.”

Which is when it hit me. Nicholas Brody had been watching me for forty. Floors.

“Come with me,” he said, leading me to the 5th floor. He looked like he knew 17 ways to kill someone with a rubber band.

Ma'am, you're, like, not even CLOSE to the 40th floor.

Ma’am, you’re, like, not even CLOSE to the 40th floor.

When he opened the 5th floor door and I saw it wasn’t an interrogation room, I breathed a sigh of relief.

“Bless you.”

He found someone to babysit me on the way to the proper elevator bank, and when I eventually made it back to the 40th floor, I ducked into a bathroom stall and desperately swabbed my head with toilet paper.

When I felt fairly certain I’d stopped sweating, I emerged from the stall and washed my hands. I looked up to see my entire forehead covered in toilet paper bits.

Guess it coulda been worse.

Guess it coulda been worse.

Have you ever gotten stuck in a compromising position?

~*~*~*~*~*~

S.O.S.! “Some Outrageous Sh*t” you won’t believe!

Earlier this summer, my parents went on a long-awaited Alaskan cruise. It had taken my father until his retirement to convince my mom, the infamous Babs, to set foot on the next Titanic.

She readied herself with Dramamine and shock therapy and off they went. Over the coming days, she sent fun updates and spectacular pictures.

Pop-thumb-text

My siblings and I were delighted to see things going so well. On the last night of their cruise, I noticed a mysterious post on Facebook:

Pop-thumb-FB-SOS

I chose to remain optimistic. Perhaps they’d won a “Meet the New Kids On the Block in Anchorage!” giveaway, or at the very least, had had to stay an extra week and fold towel swans to pay off their bar tab.

Then? I got this:

Pop-thumb-severed-FB-PM

Like…”severed” severed?

Because Babs was fighting for time on one of the ship’s few computers at 75 cents per minute, I didn’t get any more details. I only had time for one quick response.

Pop-thumb-too-soon-FB-PM

I let Babs’ boss know she might not be back in the office until the following week, and added that I’d also let him know when we could safely begin the pun-off. He immediately texted Babs,

“I hope you can still catch your flight. Would hate to see you have to thumb your way home.”

Hilarious.

Once Babs had proper access to cell towers and data, I learned that my dad had amputated his left thumb from the nail up that morning by leaving his hand in the door frame of their bathroom. The doors were made of Black Sabbath-level heavy metal and could swing shut from their sheer girth.

Now known as the guillotine.

Now known as The Guillotine.

The cruise ship medic said there was no saving the tip of his thumb, though Babs had dutifully brought it with them to the infirmary.

Hang on, Babs. You forgot the straw paper heart.

Hang on, Babs. You forgot the straw paper heart.

They eventually made it to the nearest hand surgeon in Anchorage, four hours away by bus, where doctors the doctor said my father would fare just as well coming home to New Jersey for surgery. No surprise, since their facilities were straight out of Northern Exposure.

Any John Corbett fans out there?

Any John Corbett fans out there?

I expected to see an ashen-faced version of my father, loopy on pain meds, when they finally landed back home. Instead, he was completely lucid and trying to carry his suitcase. Which is when he spotted my welcome home gift:

Pop-thumb-whiskey

Babs needed sleep the way I need bacon-flavored vodka and compliments, so I drove my dad to a nearby Urgent Care center, part of Summit Medical Group, for a proper evaluation.

Another fantastic pun courtesy of Babs' boss.

More fantastic wordplay, courtesy of Babs’ boss.

It’s been a little over two months, and Pops has made a pretty full recovery. Did you know they offer physical therapy to the digitally disabled?

And since he’s doing so well?

Bring on the puns.

Bring on the puns. You know you want to.

You know you want to.

Do you have any vacation FIASCO STORIES HAND-Y?

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

My “Eep” Dating Moment: What Would You Have Done?

Last week, I was tricked back into online dating.

IMG_3017

Okay fine. No one promised me candy if I climbed into their van, but someone from Match.com texted me out of the blue.

“Hey! Would you be up for a cup of coffee sometime? I know you said you’re in a relationship but nothing wrong with friends. This is George, the goofy guy from [nearby town].”

George and I had made it to the texting stage back in early April, when I was in the middle of my ’10 first dates in 10 weeks’ phase. We were all set to meet for First Date Coffee when I decided to cancel to pursue a budding romance with someone else. George was very understanding.

His text, now three months later, threw me for a loop. My budding romance had turned out to be anything but, and I’d since sworn off dating with the type of fervor usually reserved for monks and fruitarians.

I mean do I HAVE to be the apple (or grape or banana or whatever the hell that is) of someone's eye?

I mean do I have to be the apple (or pineapple or coconut or whatever the hell that is) of someone’s eye?

I stalled for two days.

“Hi George!” I eventually texted back. “Good to hear from you! That sounds fun – although as friends, we can meet for a drink instead, because who cares about first impressions?!”

Drinking-Champagne

I may have a reputation.

We quickly settled on meeting date and location. He suggested the very place I was going to recommend, which seemed to bode well. But did he really think I’d meet him if I was actually in a relationship?

“No f^&*# way,” said my girlfriends. It was a hot topic over happy hour that Friday. “He saw you were back on Match.”

It was true; after a 10+ year failed marriage, two eHarmony heartbreaks and several Match.com face palms (about which I hope to eventually tastefully blog), I had recently logged back onto Match, browsing the bottomless pool of misguided selfies. Each time I thought about messaging someone, I came to my senses.

Match-misguided-selfie

Leading up to the non-date date, my anxiety morphed into full-on dread. I reread our text exchanges from early April. They were pretty funny. Was I going to have to start shaving my legs again?

On the big day, George and I arrived at exactly the same time. He was tall, nice smile, put together, friendly enough. Definitely nervous and trying to hide it. I was always nervous, too, but if there was one thing I’d learned over the past year: I rocked at first dates. The formula was simple, and had nothing to do with any merit or attractiveness on my part:

dating-formula

“Are you a drinker?” George asked as we walked toward the bar. I shot him a look and he laughed.

B*tch please.

B*tch please.

He never asked if I was, in fact, seeing anyone, and throughout the night, kept leaning his arms across the table. At one point I had to put my hands in my lap to avoid contact. Which meant I couldn’t reach my wine. Bad move, George.

In response to several of my comments about food, music and movies he replied,  “You’re earning points with me.”

Comments like that used to make me blush and giggle; now I just wanted to go home and watch Little People, Big World.

I thought the restaurant closed at 10pm and I could make a smooth escape after two hours, but we wound up talking until nearly midnight.

I feared an awkward hug goodbye in the now-deserted parking lot, so I waved, shouted something about owing him a few book titles and bolted. He looked so taken aback that I wondered if I’d ever hear from him again.

He texted twenty minutes later.

He said he was glad we’d met, and sent a few Instagram clips of him singing. We’d talked about his musical pursuits, but I was surprised to receive four 15-second videos.

All you could see in the videos was his phone, while he earnestly sang over the likes of Seal and Extreme.

Make it stop.

Not exactly like the time I ate that pepper…

After a few moments’ debate, I replied, “NICE!! The last one was my favorite.” Technically, it was true.

The next morning, he texted, “I wanted to ask you, are you booked up over the long weekend? I’m thinking that I could be coaxed to sing you a ditty for a payment in fine wine.”

GIFSec.com

Apparently, I’d earned enough points to convince him to sing Kiss From A Rose while I bought all of our drinks. Photo credit: GIFSec.com

“Usually I pay based on performance,” I cheekily replied, agreeing to meet for a second date on Sunday, my next available evening.

I ignored his LinkedIn request.

On Wednesday (two days after our initial meeting), he texted, “For today’s entertainment, here’s a humor article I wrote in 2009 for [website name].”

He had never mentioned an interest in writing, but I dutifully clicked on the link de jour.

“The website was blocked by my work filter!” I replied, secretly relieved.

“Hilarious,” he said, and then copied and pasted the entire article into a text message.

I didn't even know you could do that.

I didn’t even know you could do that.

I was running late for a meeting, so put my phone away, planning to read it that afternoon. Which I did. And. Well. Okay. So.

Here’s the thing.

It just…

Well it isn’t that…

You see what I’m trying to say is…

Sigh.

Okay.

It doesn’t even matter how good or bad the article was. Right? Do people do that? Should I pass out blog business cards on first (non-date) dates?

Because you know I've got 'em.

Because you know I’ve got ’em.

And here’s where I need your help. How would you have responded? I’m not sure I made the right decision.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Oh No He Did NOT (Just Ask For the Key to His Heart Back)

It was three days after Christmas, and he was finally back. Tim had been visiting his family down in Florida over the holidays, missing my momentous move to my new apartment.

Home sweet 'doodle home.

Home sweet ‘doodle home.

In 32 years, it was the first time I’d ever lived alone.

I spent the days leading up to Tim’s return getting both the apartment and myself ready: Tree decorated, curtains hung, hair cut, freshly laundered linens… I did everything short of bake cookies (though I almost did that, too). When Uncle Jesse started barking, I ran downstairs and flung open the door.

“Hi!” I exclaimed.

Tim seemed put off by the dog, who was clawing his way up Tim’s torso, but we finally managed a hug.

“I missed you!” I said.

“Yeah, me too,” he replied.

We’d been dating nearly 6 months. Tim was a quiet finance guy originally from Pennsylvania; I was a sarcastic project manager from Jersey. After my first epic online dating fail following my divorce, I wallowed for a month before accepting that the best way to get over a broken heart was to fall in love again.

I cautiously returned to eHarmony in June, and was once again matched with a 32-year-old tall, slender, blue-eyed, brown-haired conservative, but this time, he lived only 15 miles away instead of 3,000. Better yet, he was a runner, and given my recent affinity insanity, he caught my eye right away. It took a few weeks, but eventually Tim asked for my number and we made plans to meet in Manhattan, near his office, for a drink.

After each of our first few dates, he asked, “So, when can I see you again?”

My family and friends got a good vibe from his pictures, and once my sister met him on our third date, she approved. I wasn’t sure exactly how I felt, but I definitely liked him. He seemed intelligent, mature and kind, an interesting mix of shy and outgoing. Occasionally he dropped a funny line, although he couldn’t spell worth a lik likc lick.

This may be the first F-bomb on my blog. Worth it.

Man, I hope I don’t have any typos in this post.

On our fifth date, Tim asked if we could see each other exclusively. I said yes.

In September, he called while I was lying on the bottom bunk of my temporary bed. I had finally sold my house and was staying with my parents while interviewing for jobs in the area. All of my stuff was in storage, my entire future up in the air; after a divorce and job lay-off, I longed for nothing more than stability.

“So there’s something I have to tell you,” he began, “And I don’t know why I didn’t just bring it up earlier when you asked me what I was doing next weekend…”

My stomach dropped. Oh, here it comes. I finally let my guard down and now he’s going to tell me he has a wife.

“I’m going to a bachelor party in Vegas next weekend. I was going to tell you earlier, but I forgot and then when you asked what I was doing, I don’t know why I didn’t just tell you, because now it looks really bad…”

“So I guess apple-picking is out,” I replied. Aside from having already made specific plans with me, his voice dripped with guilt.

eHarmony-Tim-Jules-apple-picking

I wanted him to continue being honest with me, so I accepted his apology and [pretended to] let it go. Two weeks later, I prepared for my first official marathon. Tim was going to come out to Long Island and stay overnight, cheering me on for the big event. A few days beforehand, he texted.

“I’m really sorry, but I forgot I have a wedding this weekend.”

I looked at my phone in disbelief.

“Are you serious? Whose wedding?”

“Don’t worry. Not mine😉,” he replied.

“I can’t believe this,” I wrote back. I made a mental list of all the times he’d bailed or rescheduled over the past two months. Like the night he was supposed to meet my parents for dinner. And forgot he had a basketball league outing. Every time, I reacted like The Perfect Girlfriend. Not this time.

Three days later, I finally agreed to talk to him on the phone. “This has been a pattern,” I explained calmly, my heart racing. “And if I can’t rely on you, we have nothing.”

“You’re right, Jules, I know. It’s inexcusable. I’m stressing myself out by not being organized. I just went through my calendar for the entire rest of the year.”

I liked the humble, mature way he dealt with the situation; it felt worthy of a second third fourth fifth chance, though most of my friends violently disagreed.

From then on, he was careful not to break plans with me. In October, he invited me to spend a long weekend out in Pennsylvania visiting his family.

eHarmony-Tim-family-puzzle

No, no, I helped. See the wine?

“Your brother is introducing me to everyone as your girlfriend,” I teased.

“I would consider you my girlfriend,” he replied. “How do you feel about that?”

“I feel good about that,” I said casually. Inwardly, I beamed.

“You two complement each other beautifully,” his mother whispered in my ear when we left four days later.

The Maverick to my Goose.

Adding some Risky Business to my Top Gun.

Later that month, Tim got drunk at a costume party and dropped the L-bomb. “I think about you all the time,” he slurred. “Don’t break up with me. Please don’t break up with me.”

“Aw, why would I break up with you?” I asked, trying to console him while that funny feeling tingled in my gut. He wouldn’t answer. I ignored it. He was wasted.

On Halloween, he gave me a card that read, “I’m so happy I get to spend my favorite holiday with one of my favorite people. Love, Tim.” I propped it next to my nightstand where I kept the flowers he would sometimes send me.

eHarmony-Tim-flowers

Flowers. Making bad things less bad since 1762.

Tim spent Thanksgiving with my family, and by December, we were dropping L-bombs stone cold sober. He bought me Book of Mormon tickets for Christmas, and we planned to run the Disney Marathon in January down in Florida.

A stranger insisted on taking this photo during Santacon 2014.

Santacon 2014.

When he showed up on December 28th at my new apartment, I was bursting with anticipation. It had been ten long days since we’d seen each other. One of the last texts he’d sent had been a series of hearts.

hearts-iPhone

I poured us both a drink and gave him the grand tour, asking all about his family Christmas trip. My life was finally coming together: New job, new digs, new relationship. We took a seat on the couch and I tried not to wonder why he was sitting so far away. He kept turning down offers for dinner while we made small talk.

“My eHarmony subscription expires soon,” I said, pulling out my laptop. “Look at the cute thing they sent.” I showed him the PDF storybook detailing our online romance. He leaned over my lap, smiling, asking questions.

Three hours later, I excused myself to use the bathroom, and when I returned, thinking we’d finally start making out, Tim was standing by my bedroom window.

“We need to talk,” he said.

My mouth went dry. I crossed my fishnet-clad legs and hugged my arms over my tight pink sweater. The outfit was brand new.

“I know I’ve been distant lately,” he said, “and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking…. Maybe I’m just not ready for a relationship. Things have gotten really serious… and… I just don’t think we’re right for each other.”

eHarmony-Tim-fishnets

I stood there in shock. He’d introduced me to his parents! We had plans! When he’d shown up at my front door that evening, he’d held a Christmas gift from his brother – a Disney gift certificate with a card that read, “Can’t wait to see you in two weeks!”

“I’m completely mortified,” I breathed, one hand on my chest, not even bothering to hide my tears.

“I’m so sorry,” he said. “I’m really sorry.”

“Well as much as I’d love make this even more awkward…” I said, gesturing towards the door. He wouldn’t leave. Did he want me to tell him it was okay? That I understood?

“Is there something I did? Someone else?” I asked eventually. If he wasn’t going to leave, maybe I could get some answers. I didn’t want to make the same mistake again.

“No, no, no,” he replied, seeming sincere. “You’re so great, that’s why this is so hard. I’m really sorry, Jules.”

After what might have been 5 minutes or 15, we stood by the front door. He placed my apartment key -the one I had just given him as a Christmas gift- on the counter. I nearly gasped; it felt like another one of his sucker punches. I stared at the key, wondering why he still wasn’t leaving.

“My key…?” he asked eventually, his eyes darting between me and the floor.

I lifted my hand to my forehead. “Oh, right…”

I found my purse and knelt down, rooting around until I hit the fancy little gray key fob that opened the doors to his building. I painstakingly pried it from my keyring while he watched.

“I’m really sorry,” he repeated, backing away.

I sunk down on the couch, feeling him hesitate, hovering over me. I vaguely heard the door close, my mind swimming and yet entirely still.

Did he come all the way here just to get his key back?

I guess these things aren't cheap.

I guess these things aren’t cheap.

Have you ever had to ask for your key back (or been asked to fork one over)? What’s the biggest item you’ve lost in a break-up (besides pride)?

~*~*~*~*~*~

eHopeful Part 4: Crash Landing

“I can’t believe that was you in those pictures,” Frank slurred from the passenger seat of my car. We were sitting outside of my parents’ house after a night of playing cards with my family, where drinks had been flowing.

He hesitated and then added, “I know this sounds bad, but I never would have dated you if you still looked like that.”

“I know,” I replied. Oh, you wouldn’t date a girl who was 120 pounds overweight? Knock me over with a freaking feather, Frank.

In hindsight, I perhaps jumped the gun here. Perhaps.

In hindsight, I perhaps jumped the gun here. Perhaps.

“I do love you, Jules,” he said next, and I burst into tears.

“I didn’t know what to do or think when you wrote it in the sand [last month when you visited me on base],” he continued. “It really surprised me.”

“I know, I know, it was too soon,” I blubbered. “I’m still afraid to say it out loud. I’m just really scared.”

Frank was a Navy pilot and newly divorced like me. We had met on eHarmony three months earlier, and despite a 3,000-mile gap between us, romance bloomed. (For the rest of the story, I give you: Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.) He was smart, driven, handsome and creative, and showered me with attention and affection.

Also there were cool jets.

Also there were cool jets.

Meeting him felt like destiny, making sense of all of the winding, fragmented roads that had led me to that point.

I can't believe I don't own this sheet music,

I can’t believe I don’t own this sheet music.

In March, Frank and I met face-to-face for the first time in Seattle. It was sublime. Now, in late-April, he was on my turf: New Jersey.

This really happened.

This is an actual screen capture of the itinerary I made.

I had planned a jam-packed agenda for his visit, including trips to New York City and Philadelphia, and then a flight to Chicago for BaconFest 2014 to ring in my 32nd birthday.

Chyeah. It's a thing.

Chyeah. It’s a thing.

After my meltdown in the car outside of my parents’ house, we carried on as if nothing had changed.

During the 3-hour, traffic-filled drive to Philadelphia (Day 6 on the itinerary, in case you’re keeping track), Frank was chattier than usual. Maybe he was bored, riding shotgun instead of piloting my Hyundai Sonata. He suddenly started talking about his family and religion.

“I am bat-crap crazy,” he drawled, “and so is everyone I know, and you usually only hear about people like me on the news.”

[Editor’s Note: I may be paraphrasing.]

His Tennessee accent was strong, even after eight years in Washington state. I swallowed and kept my eyes on the road. Sure, we were very -very- different people, but after all, I didn’t want to date myself, did I?

eHarmony-Frank-Jules-Lady-and-the-Tramp

Although…

“This is fine,” I thought. “Maybe I could be the kind of girl he grew up with. Maybe I could drink the Kool-Aid.”

eHarmony-Frank-Kool-Aid

By the time Frank kissed me goodbye at the Chicago O’Hare Airport, I was spent (and sweating bacon grease). Eight days straight with someone you’ve only met once before would have been exhausting for anyone, but when you’re an introvert? Grueling.

When I got home, I still wasn’t sure how to feel. Something was definitely off, but so many things were on. For the next four weeks, I fretted over where we stood. Another nibble fell through on my house, which had now been on the market for over five months, and with no new job prospects on the horizon, I started babysitting. To make matters worse, Frank’s texts went from nonstop to frequent to sporadic.

“Going out with the guys tonight for drinks and then unknown fun,” he said one night in mid-May.

“Enjoy your mystery fun,” I wrote back, my heart sinking.

“I will,” he answered, and I imagined him cackling evilly, relishing in this torture, this test to see how far he could push me. I wanted it to work. I wasn’t ready for the alternative.

A week later, I woke up to an email entitled, “[No Subject]”. Frank had sent it after midnight Pacific Time.

“Jules, I hope you have enjoyed a fun and relaxing weekend with nice weather. There is no easy way to communicate what I need to communicate so I’m being straight to the point…” it began. It was a very nice letter.

Super nice.

So nice it almost covered up the fact that I got dumped.

Via email.

eHarmony-Frank-someecard

All right – your turn! Terrible break-up stories: GO!!! (You can even tell them in 4 parts if you want. I’ll bring the Ben & Jerry’s bacon Bloody Marys.)

I'm TELLING YOU. It's a thing.

I’m TELLING YOU. It’s a thing.

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

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.

running-wild-half-logo

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.

running-UJ-Jules

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.)

~*~*~*~*~*~