Category Archives: PSAs

PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS…itty bitty living space.

You’re envisioning your new dream home. Images begin to spring to mind…

A small, cozy nook, under a flight of stairs, with plenty of space for your wand and pet owl.

Harry-Potter-staircase

No? Okay. How about this: a tiny house with a loft bed and ceiling hooks for your fixed-gear bicycle and kombucha tea jars.

Still no?

All right. Perhaps this: a 300-square foot, 3rd floor walk-up with no oven, coin laundry, and street parking.

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Really? Not even if I told you you’d get to add an extra 10 minutes to your commute?

God, you’re difficult.

Starting November 1st, I’ll call the latter home.

TX-Jules-pregame

Who needs homemade cookies and clean sheets, anyway?

“A third floor walk-up? Are you that desperate to win the company Fitbit challenge?” you might be asking. Excellent guess. The truth is, about a year and a half ago, I started making some pretty big changes in the name of Mother Earth.

Babs Sheet Go Jules Go

The only mother as badass as Babs.

I even started composting, for crying out loud. And let’s not forget those recycled Christmas presents.

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Obviously I have become an environmental hero and goddess to Portlandia fans everywhere.

Leo-planet

I’m just waiting for my proposal. From 2007 Leo, that is.

The Next Big Thing in my journey towards braided armpit hair is downsizing. Right now I live in a 1,200 square foot, 2-bedroom duplex, complete with a yard, sunroom, and plush carpeting thick enough to hide Trump’s tax returns.

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Also there are ghost cows.

When I moved to my current apartment from a 4-bedroom house, it offered plenty of space for my furniture and featured all of my must-haves.

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I mean just look at that flask nook.

As time passed, I realized I needed less room to feel content. I also needed less stuff.

Speaking of, the real reason I’m posting is because I’m trying to get rid of this. Any takers?

doodle-for-sale

I meant the curtains. Geesh.

Do you have any moving / downsizing advice?

P.S. – Don’t even think about it. I’m keeping that Aladdin VHS tape.

Aladdin-itty-bitty-living-space

~*~*~*~*~*~

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Tour de Fail

Tour-de-Fail-2

This is going to be the best day ever.

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.

tour-de-fail-t-shirt

Is that brown or gray? Or both?

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.

tour-de-fail-trump-u

Where sunshine goes to covfefe die.

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.

Fail-wet-cat

Mile 1.

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?”

tour-de-fail-scroll-quill

Oh, yes. Please do hold whilst I grab my trusty scroll from the back of my bi–NO I DON’T HAVE A F@#$^% 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.

aid-less-station-tour-de-fail

Oh thank god. I was afraid I’d have to ride another 31 miles in the rain without any food.

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.

*splat*

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.

Four years later, we finally finished. Our prize?

A two and a half hour car ride home.

Tour-de-France-lies

We shoulda gone to Cuba.

 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

One Trashy Post

Oh, sweet, fuzzy, forgiving chipmunks.

I had high hopes. I really did. Despite adding a graduate program to my plate, I thought I could still check in on the reg. Now I don’t even have time to type regular.

Yet with twinkly lights shining and my local Trader Joe’s up and running again, I can’t help but think of how much I miss you! And in the spirit of spreading good cheer…

Behold, the final project for my Environment Ethics class.

Psst – Babs is in it.

Oh. Sure. Now you’ll watch.

How’ve you been?! What’d I miss?! …Michelle Obama ISN’T our next president? Wow. Um. Okay. 

~*~*~*~*~*~

This Can’t Be Good.

This week has been filled with a delightful series of diversions. It’s amazing this post even ma–


Whoa.

What the…?

Is that my backyard?

I got home yesterday and someone had planted flowers. Lovely purple, orange and yellow, ah, daisies geraniums I-don’t-know-’ems, just to the side of my door.

I assumed it was the landlord, but even still, like any New Jersey native, my first instinct was suspicion.

I immediately texted a photo to Babs (my mom).

“Check the house. Is anything missing?” she replied in two seconds flat.

“Maybe he’s just trying to be nice?” My words sounded weak, even in writing.

“Did he use the flowers from your flower box?” she asked.

“No…” I answered.

“I hope they’re not flowers FOR YOUR GRAVE.”

“I hope I don’t come home tomorrow and they spell, ‘YOU’RE EVICTED.'”

It’s not that my landlord is a bad guy. No, no, no. He just, well, he seems to be of the more frugal variety, and in almost two years of renting, I haven’t seen any other display of Mother Nature’s bounty.

I’ll keep you posted. Random acts of kindness must not be trusted.

Have you had any surprises lately?

P.S. – Seriously, guys. What the hell kind of flowers are those?

~*~*~*~*~

 

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:

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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.

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

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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.

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Jules circa 2014

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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 Manhattan skyscrapers 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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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?

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