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I’ve Never Felt More Sorry for Anyone

“Okay, everyone. Now we’re going to head to our outdoor activity!”

The petite, spry woman leading my week-long Humane Education Masters residency program popped up from her crosslegged position on the floor and led a dozen of us to her picturesque coastal Maine backyard.

It was day two of five and we had just finished another vegan lunch, 8-minute Tabata exercise, and circle sharing.

Residency-Tabata-menu

I glanced to my left, where our cohort’s lone male sat.

Residency-all-girls-Tom
We’ll call him Tom.

Tom was tall, strapping, in his mid-30s, and looked like he’d never gone a day without a kiss on the cheek and a homemade oatmeal-raisin cookie. He headed outside with the rest of us, where we received the following instructions:

“You’re going to pick a partner, and one of you will close your eyes and be led around the garden by your partner. If your partner wants you to smell something, she’ll tap your nose. See something, your eyes. Taste something, your mouth. You’ll take ten minutes, then when you hear the sound of the gong, switch places with your parner.”

Residency-gong
There was an actual gong. It was to the left of that flying saucer. …Or maybe the gong was just wind chimes. I’m not very good at naming things that hang outside.

As I slowly died on the inside, I snuck a look at Tom. His face was unreadable.

“Okay, pick a partner!”

I lost sight of Tom and paired up with a new friend. When it was my turn to lead, I spied him. His eyes were closed as he dutifully allowed a classmate to lead him towards a small pond. I could only imagine what was going through his mind.

Residency-pond

I’d tell you more about the next twenty minutes, but I’ve spent the past month trying to block them out.

So what on earth was this male, meat-loving, midwestern Lutherian doing in northern Maine with a bunch of vegan hippies?

Tom was the new assistant dean of the university issuing our Masters degrees, and was in charge of liasing with the online programs.

GoJulesGo-PMbootcamp
And I thought I’d had some awful jobs.

The next day, three of us were paired with Tom to construct artwork with only what we found in nature. I created a kangaroo pouch out of my t-shirt and set off to scavenge. When I returned fifteen minutes later with my treasures, Tom had already begun pinning branches and leaves to a clothesline.

“Can I borrow one of those acorns?” he asked.

“Sure – take as many as you want!” I replied, and watched as he filled a magazine page-turned-pouch and tied it to the clothesline with a long piece of grass.

As our masterpiece came together, I declared, “We should call this Nature on the Line.”

He nodded approvingly while I attempted to affix two small pinecones to either side of a large one.

“This looks so wrong,” I laughed, holding it up. One of the smaller cones kept falling off. “Now it’s Lance Armstrong.”

Jules-pinecone-Lance-Armstrong

My classmate and I erupted into giggles while Tom chuckled and shook his head. I suddenly realized his presence was the perfect talisman for not only our humane education pursuits, but the political climate everywhere:

img_3747
Just because someone doesn’t look like you, doesn’t mean they’re not down to share some nuts.

When have you felt completely out of place?

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Rule the World AND Win the Greatest Giveaway – Leave a Comment by Oct 21, 2016!

My Fellow Chipmunks,

It’s that time of year again! Orange heads at every turn, scare tactics full of fluff hay, stress eating Tootsie Roll pops…

And oh yeah, it’s Halloween!

That means you can enter THE BEST contest ever known to the interwebz for a chance to win a CUSTOM JACK-O-LANTERN, carved poorly by yours truly!!

All you have to do is leave a comment describing how you would rule the country. Or the planet. Or the universe.

Here’s how I would do it:

The Rules

Simply leave a comment below describing what the world would look like if YOU were in charge.

The Prize

A custom jack-o-lantern, carved just for you by Go Jules Go. Don’t think that’s the greatest thing you’ve ever heard? Think again!

For more on past winners, click here, here or here.

The Deadline

MIDNIGHT EST, FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21st. (Winner Announced 6am EST, Monday, October 31st.)

gojulesgo-kid-Halloween-1993
I’m so excited I could pee brush my teeth.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Uncategorized

You Did What with a Toothpick?

“I saw there was a food festival in Flemington,” Babs, my mom, said on Sunday morning.

It was 10:30am and we were standing in my living room, the only two people in New Jersey who hadn’t escaped ‘down the shore’ (as we Jerseyians say) for the weekend. We were searching for something to do besides go to the movies. Again.

“I can only find times for 2015,” I groaned, looking at my phone. “And they say 4pm! Who starts a food festival at 4pm on a Sunday in August?”

After another five minutes of fruitlessly browsing NJ.com and Facebook, I looked at Babs.

“I feel like I want to see something I’ve never seen before.”

I said it facetiously, figuring I’d settle for some roadside tomatoes and a latte. We’d lived in New Jersey my whole life, a.k.a. 34 29 years. There wasn’t much we hadn’t seen.

Spank-Babs-Jules
This seems as good a time as any to remind you of the time we went to the theatrical rendition of 50 Shades of Grey.

“Well, there’s a toothpick sculpture exhibit in Morristown,” Babs said casually.

I put down my phone and stared at her, mouth agape.

“Seriously?”

“Yeah.”

“Oh my god.”

And just like that, our mother-daughter day went from mundane to magical.

All of this unexpected splendor got me thinking.

I’d applied for -and gotten accepted to- a Masters Program that started on Tuesday. On top of a full-time job, the syllabi for my first two classes seemed daunting. In fact, over the past two months, I’d spent more than a few days doing activities with what one could only call dutiful merriment. All things I had been looking forward to initially…

And yet.

Why does making plans two, four, seven months out always sound so shiny and promising, yet the closer they come, the more we say, “What the f&*@ was I thinking?”

GoJulesGo-noodle
Team-building exercises involving dried spaghetti: perfect example.

I wondered if Stan Munro, the toothpick maestro himself, ever got halfway through a project only to think, “Well, this was a colossal waste of time.”

What, really, made the difference between, “This is just a stack of toothpicks” and, “Holy sh*t, this is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before”?

Sure, sure, sure. We all know about the power of positivity and points of view and pots of gold at the end of the 9-to-5 rainbow.

But what actually makes us choose the straight and narrow versus the winding road, stripes versus polka dots, coffee versus more coffee? And how can you know before you click ‘submit’ that you won’t spend hours, weeks, months or years second-guessing your decision?

img_1230
Do you think this was Stan’s Plan A?

Have you ever set a goal and regretted it? Not regretted it? Pretended it never happened?

P.S. – If you’re in the area, you can see the toothpick extravaganza for yourself at the Morris Museum through August 31st! (Who loves you?)

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

 

Uncategorized

Taking Selfies Is Really Hard (When You Have A Dog)

I know you’ve been DYING to hear how things are going with my Fitbit (a.k.a. the pedometer on crack).

And what are social media outlets for if not to inflate our successes and ignore our failures share both our successes and failures in the hopes of better connecting with our fellow (wo)man?

ha ha ha “Failures.”

As if!

I’m more than halfway to my goal! Woot woot!

You may recall I started keeping track of calories and steps via the FitBit back in July, after struggling with a 2 year-long weight loss plateau. I chose the most aggressive plan (-2 pounds a week), and am now on a first-name basis with the people on the opposite end of town, thanks to all the walking.

I didn’t even realize how far I’d come until I started needing belts to hold up all of my pants. In honor of my shrinking backside, I treated myself to a new pair of [on sale-had-coupon-and-gift-card] blue jeans – in a size I hadn’t bought since 2006.

skinny-jeansI took the above picture because this is what happened when I tried to take a selfie:

Interrupted-3

Interrupted-2 Interrupted-1 Interrupted-4 Uncle-Jesse-jealous-of-selfie

If you could photobomb anyone, who would it be, and under what circumstances?

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Campaign Goes Live!

It’s my very first reblog! I was saving it for someone special. I hope you’ll join me in supporting the uber-talented Myra from My Parents Are Crazier Than Yours, through donations and/or words of encouragement, as she raises money in order to continue her amazing web series! Go Myra Go!

My Parents Are Crazier Than Yours


My fellow appreciators of dysfunctional comedy,

Today, hot off the presses and right to you – the brand new campaign to fund the next 5 episodes of “My Parents are Crazier than Yours” is LIVE!

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/my-parents-are-crazier-than-yours/x/3530339

It was with your help that the pilot episode was born – now at almost 80,000 hits on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5qFiKjkpgg&feature=youtu.be
I want to do it again – bigger, better, funnier and more dysfunctional than ever.

Donors to the cause get some great perks, like a visit to the set and time with the cast, your crazy parent stories live on video, t-shirts, small roles, and even producer credits.

I thank you for your love and support. If you can’t contribute financially, help me spread the word through Facebook, Twitter and email. It all counts!!

P.S. stay tuned for my next blog entry about my parents fighting in public.

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/my-parents-are-crazier-than-yours/x/3530339

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New Jersey is breathtaking, PSAs, Uncategorized

6 Things You Need To Know Before Taking Up Hiking

Alternate titles: R.I.P. Big Toenail; I Can’t Feel My Butt; Who Needs Heel Skin, Anyway?

I logged 17 miles in hiking this weekend, Chipmunks. (And I saw you! Yes. I saw my first chipmunk since December!)

Local hiking splendor.
Local hiking splendor.

You’re probably wondering who I am and what I’ve done to Jules. I have a confession. When I’m not drinking and Googling bacon recipes, I like to go outside and get my sweat nature on. I can’t stand running, and cyclists make me think devil thoughts, but give me a dirt path, some shady trees and a mountain view payoff, and I’m there faster than you can say, “Does this trail mix have chocolate chips? Because that’s really the only kind worth buying.”

Mt. Monadnock, 2005.
Mt. Monadnock, 2005.

It’s been a while since I’ve hit the hardcore trails , but in order to combat the three B’s (boredom, bumming and broke-itude) that have slammed me lately, I decided to get my Timberland mojo back. I’ve been tackling the relatively tame local trails over the past couple of months, and had planned on spending the summer working up to trails like the steep ‘Stairway to Heaven’ in northern New Jersey, with the ultimate goal of hitting Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire this fall.

But.

The stubborn Taurus in me had other plans. “Did the 6+ mile loop again today,” I told my first husband, Peppermeister, on Saturday. “Doing 10 tomorrow.”

Hike-1-prep

Then I picked this trail:

Hike-2-map Hike-3-description

Then I drove an hour there. I was ready and rarin’ to go.

Hike-4-stache-potty Hike-5-Tammany-trailhead

6 Things You Need to Know Before Taking Up Hiking

1. Just because a sign seems to promise bears, this does not mean you’ll finally carry out that long awaited convo with the Shakespearean meme bear.

Hike-6-AT-bear-sign

Hike-7-Shakespeare-bear-meme

2. Hiking Guide Books ‘under’ embellish.

Hike-10-book-lies

3. By mile 7, you will not look like someone from an LL Bean catalog. Even though everyone else you encounter, inevitably, won’t have broken a sweat.

Hike-8-exhausted Hike-9-handsome-Uncle-Jesse

4. In New Jersey, you can run, but you can’t hide. From cicadas.

Hike-11-cicada

5. Some Most times, you’ll see some cool ass shiz.

Hike-12-dead-snake

Hike-13-heliport-view

hiking-14-SunfishPond-rocksHike-14-summit

6. You will have every right to come home and do nothing but act superior, drink champagne and eat all of it. Just… all of it.

Hike-15-celebrate

Is there a sport / activity you think is borderline insane, but you love it anyway? Or one that, no matter what, you’d never be caught dead doing?

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