humor, Lists, PSAs

PLEASE STOP SAYING “JOURNEY”

Have you lost weight recently?

Gained weight?

Tried a new wellness product?

Had children?

Sold a house?

Adopted a puppy?

Stopped eating meat?

Farted in the wind?

You have?! That’s wonderful! And? That is NOT A JOURNEY.

You do not need to “curate” (dry heave) the “seasons” (gag) of your life by calling everything a “journey” (help).

The only three times using the word “journey” is acceptable:

1. You have traversed a great distance – literally.

2. You made it into American Idol’s Top 24 and are explaining to Ryan Seacrest that your late/ailing grandmother is the reason you auditioned in the first place.

3. You’re at any Jersey wedding, ever, and someone asks, “Who sings this?”

Still confused? Please review this definition:

Image courtesy of Google

Notice how neither example includes crystals, yoga, or rich white people.

And to my journey-uttering readers: know that there is still hope. Allow me to illustrate through a few recent stories from my life. May this empower (wretch) you to consider (vomit) three alternate suggestions to your favorite word.

#1 – My Dating Journey A Ceaseless Dumpster Fire on the Slow March to Certain Death

DISCLAIMER: Name(s) changed.

“So do you want to meet for a drink…?”

“I don’t think so.”

I stared at my phone in shock. Michael and I had been texting incessantly for the past week after meeting on Hinge, the only dating app with which I seemed to have any luck. (I didn’t say it was good luck.)

“Or coffee…?” I offered. Maybe he doesn’t drink.

It was rare that I’d text someone this much, but he’d been traveling for work over New Years, so we’d had no option to meet in person. Until now. Michael was back in Oregon and I’d assumed he was as eager to go on a real date as I was.

“Nah,” he replied.

“I’m so confused, lol,” I finally replied after several minutes, almost near tears.

“What’s confusing?” he asked.

“I figured you’d want to meet when you got back…”

“Wellll I don’t drink, and coffee dates are so awkward and I always wind up getting ghosted.”

This guy gets ghosted? Nearly 6’4″, 30ish, muscular, with thick hair and kind eyes, Michael’s abs butt face could’ve sold out theaters. He looks like a g.d. Avengers character!

“I have a facial tick,” he explained and I almost audibly sighed in relief. “Sometimes I blink a lot and so coffee dates aren’t good for me. I’m feeling really blinky today.”

“Well I’d just be trying to get to know you better, so I can promise you that that wouldn’t bother me at all,” I replied, my mind racing for alternate options that didn’t involve my apartment.

Michael was a van lifer, so suggesting we meet at his place wasn’t exactly a good choice, either. After going back and forth a little more, I finally caved.

“Okay, why don’t you just come here,” I said. Originally a Jersey girl, my two and a half years in adorable, innocent central Oregon had lowered my defenses. Or maybe it was just those abs that smile.

When Michael arrived and I heard his voice, soft and sweet, I knew I had nothing to fear (at least in the you-want-to-see-my-head-unattached-to-my-body kind of way). I created a distraction that I hoped would put him at ease: dog tricks! I’d filled Uncle Jesse’s puzzle with treats in preparation.

Did I mention he’s pursuing a degree in applied physics in the fall?

“You’ve gotta see this,” I told Michael as he took off his jacket and sneakers. I stared at the giant shoes now sitting by the front door; they somehow managed to dwarf my size 11 sneakers. Though I loved solitude, the sight made me feel warm. Safe.

After Uncle Jesse showed off his puzzle, I got Michael a drink and tried to avoid direct eye contact; I could see he was blinking and didn’t want to make him uncomfortable. He was right. If this had been a coffee date it would have been incredibly awkward.

We eventually sat on the couch and he downed glass after glass of water. I’d been on enough first dates recently to appreciate that there might actually be a universe in which I wasn’t the most nervous person in the room.

After about an hour, Michael made a move, and I wasn’t surprised that he suddenly found his stride. Apparently he was just fine on first dates when they didn’t involve talking.

In a matter of weeks, we were “exclusive” and I texted friends, “I think I have my first boyfriend in four years.”

Fast forward a few more weeks…

“We’re just in different places in life.”

I was the one who sent the text. Michael and I had agreed that we communicated better and more openly via text messaging, so it seemed like the right way to end things. I explained that his lateness, lack of balanced conversation (turns out he liked to talk…a lot), and failure to contribute to anything financially had been part of “a pattern of inconsideration” that I couldn’t ignore.

“I’m truly sorry things didn’t work out,” I ended my lengthy note, my heart in my throat. “And I wish you all the best things that life has to offer.”

And…

…I never heard from him again.

#2 – My Freelancing Journey Toxic People are Everywhere and I’m Very Tired

Dear Toxic Boss,

It is with sadness unadulterated glee that I submit my resignation after just one week of working for you. In our short time together, I experienced a level of unprofessionalism usually reserved for public office.

You may recall that during my interview, you:

  • compared the freelance hiring process to dating
  • told me how much you paid your other freelancer (double what you were willing to pay me)
  • explained how you knew I was motivated to do a good job because you had the power to leave a bad review on a public platform
  • said the word “p***y” when quoting Donald Trump
  • compared giving feedback to employees to “redirecting a child” who’s gone astray

You hired me to help promote a completed product for which you hadn’t “any idea of” the intended buyer. I enjoyed billing you for the hours spent revising the same five paragraphs. When I suggested that it may not be wise to include those 650+ words in 5-point font on a half-page print advertisement, you made it clear that you knew best – despite having had no previous success in selling similar products.

Shoot. Now you’re not gonna finish reading this post because you’re too busy racing to buy this product.

During our initial days together, you asked that we not engage in lengthy email exchanges since you were paying me “by the minute,” then proceeded to send no fewer than five emails per day at a length that would make James Joyce swoon. I appreciated the opportunity to hone my reading comprehension whilst deciphering your unformatted, stream of consciousness, mansplain-y missives.

I wish you nothing but the best in spending your undeserved investment fortune on your passion product that absolutely no one would ever purchase without your monetary incentives.

Warmly Hotly,

Go Jules Go

#3 – My Running Journey Why Privileged White People Should Be Institutionalized: Part #437

I’m currently mentoring a wonderful local running group and we have our big 5k race this weekend. The best part has been that I’m required to email the group once a week. This means that they have had no choice but to admire my cleverness and Uncle Jesse’s head tilts as I’ve assaulted their inboxes with these photos over the past eight weeks.

Last week, I also imparted my pearls of wisdom about “race day mentality.”

HAVE FUN,” I wrote in boldfaced caps. “When you see people on race morning who look like they’re about to go into 17 hours of brain surgery and they’re THE ONLY ONES WHO CAN SAVE LITTLE JOHNNY, enjoy knowing that you have the appropriate mindset. A celebratory one! You’re outside! You’re moving! Encouraging others and making new friends! You’ve already succeeded and this delightful romp in gorgeous Bend, Oregon is just icing on the cake. Mmm. Icing.”

When it comes to formal athletic pursuits, I’ve definitely taken myself WAY too seriously in the past and then had to remember: I’m not curing cancer here! I’m part of a bunch of middle-aged, privileged, white people who pay to get up at 5am, crap our brains out in disgusting port-a-potties, sweat for hours on end, and then get an ugly shirt we’re never going to wear.

Is that brown or gray? Or both?

Tell me we don’t all deserve to be institutionalized.

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What are your trigger words (and is “trigger” one of them)?

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Dating, humor

“You Picked THAT Photo?” The Time My Face Was Used to Catfish

You have (1) unread message.

“Ugh,” I groaned. Another spam message. This particular alert had been popping up in my inbox for days and I decided to finally open a new tab to log into LinkedIn and deal with it.

It’s, like, SO EXHAUSTING to open a WHOLE NEW TAB.

What I didn’t expect to see was this:

Hi Jules, someone is using your photos on an OkCupid profile [profile link]. Was recently messaging this person claiming to be Hannah in LDN and googled the photos and they’re actually yours, and you don’t live remotely near. Just warning you so you can report it.”

“What kind of holy high hell specific spammy sh*t is this?!” I wondered. Afraid to click on the link, I instead clicked on the sender, David’s, profile. His intro, connections, and credentials seemed far too specific and normal to be fake. I bit the bullet and clicked on the OkCupid profile link he had provided.

“Log in to view singles in your area!” the website shouted when I tried to view Hannah’s profile.

Farts. I have to create an OkCupid account just to see this?! Hmm. Maybe it’s a sign I should try OkCupid! After all, my recent dating experiences using other online apps had been largely abysmal.

Seriously. Abysmal.

I quickly created a profile, adding the bare minimum requirements, and retried the link from David.

And there she was.

“She picked that photo?!” I marveled.

I mean I guess it made sense. You’d want to use ‘real’ looking images if you were gonna go full catfish. I scrolled through the profile. I’d just watched Love Hard on Netflix and felt catapulted into its plot, wherein a 30-something guy, Josh (who, oddly, looked a lot like David from LinkedIn) creates a fake dating profile to lure in a cute, unsuspecting journalist, Natalie, whose job was to write about her love life fails.

I’ve got you beat, Natalie.

In the movie, Josh tells Natalie that everything else besides the photos was really him: the voice she talked to on the phone every night, the favorite foods and movies, the sense of humor. Hannah’s profile was a full throttle Josh. The details depicted a real, living, breathing person – who was absolutely nothing like me. I was half tempted to let her* keep using my photos.

*I’ve chosen to use she/her pronouns since that’s what “Hannah” used.

You really committed to the OkCupid questionnaire, Hannah.

I get it, girl. I wanted to write. It’s a sh*t show out there.

On the other hand, I empathized with David and anyone else getting duped. I’d personally seen everything from wildly inaccurate photos to fake phone numbers.

“Oh, wow, this is a first!” I replied to David. “Thanks so much for the heads up – am reporting now!”

After reporting the account, it was swiftly removed by the OkCupid overlords. I wondered how the whole process worked.

Maybe Hannah was a scam artist trying to score money or a pathological liar. Or maybe she was a stone cold fox and just didn’t want her image out there. Her profile mentioned that she was into “persuasion, hypnosis, and mind control.” Maybe this was all part of some grand experiment that we’d someday see on Netflix’s latest special, Love Hard and Catfish Harder.

Wow, Hannah and I are an 81% match! PLOT TWIST.

And how could the OkCupid team be sure I was the woman behind the photos? Did Hannah put up a fight? While my ego was stroked by the incident (“Ooh! Someone chose MY photos!”), I also couldn’t help but be curious about how deep David had gotten with her before uncovering the truth. How must it feel to fall for someone and then discover the ‘real’ person behind the photos? It’s disappointing enough to meet someone [after any online exchange] and not click in person, let alone after weeks or months of messaging.

In the end, the whole thing left me a little sad. Whatever the specifics, surely at least one person got hurt. Because of this blog and my business, I have no choice but to be utterly upfront. Simply search “Jules” + any number of other basic terms and there I am in all of my dorky glory.

Oop! You found me!

After Hannah’s profile disappeared and within days of joining OkCupid, I discovered a potential match. Our message exchange was uncharacteristically delightful, and we wound up arranging to meet. After setting the time and location, my match sent one more note.

So, just a heads up, I was looking at your profile again and noticed that you are 5’8″. I’m 5’6″. For me personally, that is absolutely not a problem. For some people it is, some people it isn’t. Online dating can be a harsh world. But I didn’t want that to be a surprise in person tomorrow. If that changes anything, just let me know.”

I quickly responded that it wasn’t an issue for me if it wasn’t an issue for him, and jokes ensued. I couldn’t help but wonder, though… was that a Catfish Lite? He hadn’t listed his height, so technically hadn’t lied.

“When you go to the doctor’s or wherever and have to fill out forms,” I recently asked a few divorced female friends. “Do you check the box that says ‘single’ or ‘divorced’?”

“Oh, ‘single’!” they unanimously replied.

“I always check ‘divorced’!” I said, surprised I stood alone in this survey.

Did it matter? Weren’t they both accurate? I thought about how many first/second/third/fourth/fifth dates I’d been on where the guy suddenly revealed his ‘in progress’ divorce, kids, or the woman living in his spare bedroom (that one happened twice!).

Where’s the line between omission and deception?

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What do you think? When it comes to the early stages of dating, do these details even really matter? When is it okay to withhold information and when is it not?

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humor

What Women Want Single Guys to Know

“You’re buying [next time] since you made me put on pants and do my hair, right?” I texted, attaching a selfie.

“Absolutely! You’re so gorgeous,” Jake replied.

I put my phone down and sighed. I’d just spent 90 minutes on my First Date Fabulosity Routine, only to have my date, Jake, bail at the last minute.

Bad move, Jake.

“I had to run my roommate to urgent care. Kidney pain apparently. Doing okay, on meds now but still stuck here. I feel so bad!” he had explained.

I took his word for it, and we rescheduled for the following Tuesday. In the meantime, he texted daily. When Tuesday morning rolled around, Jake wrote,

“Another belt snapped on my car last night.”

“So it sounds like we should postpone,” I replied, not wanting a repeat of last week, where I sat alone on my couch with perfect hair.

I debated throwing in the towel, clicking over to Jake’s Hinge profile. Dammit, he’s really cute.

“So now that your car is back in action, should we try this again?? Third time is the charm?” I texted the next day.

“Yeah! Tomorrow night? I have an orientation tomorrow morning and don’t want to be groggy.”

“Tomorrow works for me!”

In the early afternoon [on the next day], I texted,

“Hi! How did orientation go? Just confirming plan for this evening. …5? At [a food truck lot]?”

“We just finished, 5 might be a bit too early. I’d like to take a shower and all that when I get home.”

“No problem – just let me know what time works for you!”

Since I had the green light, I hopped in the shower around 4pm and began the plucking/curling/poofing/pulling [on tight pants] routine.

“I’m pretty nervous to be honest,” Jake wrote at 4:30pm.

He wasn’t the first guy to admit this and I responded with my usual reassurance.

“Aw really? I’m really chatty and bubbly and have lots of great (terrible) dating stories and I ask lots of (easy) questions if that helps. As long as you don’t show me YouTube clips of you surgically removing your big toenails or say that you have an alien blood type that doesn’t get COVID*, you’ll be golden. *based on true stories.”

“The f*ckkk,” he wrote back.

“See? Nothing to worry about.”

“I’m still nervous.”

“Well then let’s get you a beer, stat.”

“I’ve still gotta shower… Had a little [outdoor ski] fun [after the orientation]. Just got home.”

I looked at the clock. It was 5pm, so I figured I had an hour to kill and poured a small glass of wine. My phone binged again.

“I hate to even ask this but I’d do the same time tomorrow at [the same food truck lot].”

I stared at my phone in disbelief, a series of possible responses flying through my head. What came out was,

“Lol ummm.”

When he didn’t reply right away, I added, “What happened?”

“Just not feeling it right now,” Jake said.

I felt heat rise from my neck to my face. Is. He. F@&%#. Kidding. Me?!?! I immediately started texting my friends. A few minutes later, my phone sounded again.

“Nothing personal, just not feeling like drinks and people,” Jake added. It was now 5:19pm.

I thought of a hundred different responses – all of the things I wanted him to know about how inconsiderate, selfish, and hurtful this was. I wanted to tell him how many times I sucked it up and SHOWED UP -for dates, concerts, work events, birthday parties, bridal showers- when I wasn’t “feeling it.” How many times I was dying on the inside, but smiled, asked questions, and tried to make the other person feel valued. This guy couldn’t put on pants, drive seven minutes away, and spend 90 minutes letting a cute blonde carry the conversation? After already bailing twice? To make matters worse, he’d even had a glimpse into my beautification process after the first time he’d bailed.

At least the crazy ones showed up and bought me a drink, Jake!

As my mind raced with potential replies, I realized the best thing I could do was simply unmatch him on Hinge and archive our text message thread. Any of my emotional responses would just make me look like as much of an asshat as he did.

However.

There’s a reason I love having a blog.

And thus, I give to you:

Thanks to the wonderful women [of all ages and marital statuses] who shared their utterly badass advice. We hope you’ll pay it forward and pass this along (and share your own advice in the comments section)!

Men, please do the following: 1) Be on time. 2) Do what you say you’re going to do. 3) Be kind. 4) Know yourself (as in, don’t string me along if you know we aren’t a match).” -Lora L.

Be honest, be yourself, don’t play it too cool (i.e., three day waiting period on follow up communication). If looking for a relationship, give reasonable time to get to know a person before rushing to judgment, but be upfront about not being into the other person so you don’t waste their time. Oh, and come with your own condoms. (I would tell the woman to always have her own, too.) Get your junk checked between partners. And expect to be asked.” -Anonymous

Advice for men dating women in their forties: Forty-something women generally have their shit together and have low tolerance for men who are not self aware. Bring your best self and we are good to go. :)” Signed, Jen O.

Don’t do any of this.

1. Don’t show up in sweatpant shorts on the first date 2. Don’t cry about your ex on the first date 3. Be funny 4. Ask your date questions 5. Clip your fingernails 6. Dont say offensive things like “trump is a gift from heaven” or “COVID isn’t real” unless you are certain the other person feels the same way 7. Don’t talk about how much you miss living with your mother 8. Learn to play the guitar 9. Be open to new experiences 10. Show kindness to animals and waitstaff 11. No whining or complaining on the first date 12. Don’t flake when you make plans unless there is a bonafide reason 13. Don’t say you’ll call/text when you have no intent to do so 14. View dating as an adventure and have fun with it! 15. Meet in a public place in case she’s a psycho 16. Don’t be clueless, learn to read social cues 18. Do not, under any circumstance, send a Dick pic unless clearly requested.” –Pam @ I Choose This

As some f&@&* questions. Don’t make her carry the conversation. Be more interested than attempting to be interesting.” -Taryn D.

Don’t misrepresent yourself. Don’t paint yourself in the light that you think the woman wants to see, so that you seem perfectly compatible. Be honest about who you are. She’ll find out anyway.” –Donna Rubin Design

Oh. Is that your singing voice?

1) Don’t put photos of your children on your dating profile. They have rights to privacy. 2) Asking questions about your date’s interests, hobbies, skills, family, life, thoughts, etc. is a nice, human thing to do and shows you’re interested. 3) I feel like a bad feminist for saying it, but pay. Pay for the first round. It shows respect. 4) We don’t care how many animals you have killed. We don’t want to see the dead fish pic. 5) Is it time to get sexy? Make sure she comes first. Period. If I just want you to pound out my sadness, I’ll tell you. Otherwise, I prefer real, reciprocal sex.” -Anne K.

1) If you know what you’re looking for, be upfront about it. The worst we can say is no. But, isn’t it better to be on the same page? It’s definitely a dick move to pretend to be looking for something more serious when you really just want to hit it and quit it. There are people out there of all genders looking for anything from one night stands to long term monogamy…find the one that wants what you want! 2) It’s okay not to know what you want. But be honest about it and/or try to practice some impulse control and take things slow until you figure it out. 3) Consent is sexy…informed consent is sexier. Have the conversations about birth control, protection, and STI testing. And (obviously!) be respectful about boundaries there. 4) Don’t be afraid to start the conversation. I don’t remember the last time a man I dated initiated any conversation on the above topics. It’s exhausting to always have to be the one to bring these conversations up! I would hope that -even if we’re just banging one out and going our separate ways- that you would care that I don’t get hurt emotionally or physically. It’s just basic human to human decency and dignity. 5) If someone (doesn’t matter if it’s your wife or one night stands) sends you the gift of a nude, UNLESS SHE EXPLICITLY TELLS YOU TO SHOW THE WORLD, you keep it to yourself! I want you to see my tits – not your weird best friend!” -Allie D.

Don’t lie about your height.” -Anonymous

Be clear about your intentions and feelings. If you intend on just having sex and not getting emotionally involved, say so. A dick such honesty does not make. The dick move is in making us think you’re interested in an emotional connection and over time hurting us by not giving it. Also, be willing to pay. Unless your date is clearly in a better paying job than you (which statistically is unlikely), the person who makes more should be willing to pay more. Since that is likely you, respect our plight with glass ceilings throughout time and plan to pay. Lastly, respond to messages within 24 hours and include a reciprocating question or follow-up item. Stop assuming women will lead every bit of a conversation. It’s exhausting.” -Shawna W.

The first word that came to mind was respect.  I don’t know if I’d say ‘treat your date with the same respect as you would your mom,’ but something like that.
Respect covers a whole lot of things like honesty, being on time, knowing how to listen, and not talking about weird stuff or your ex (at least not at the beginning, unless it’s really funny, then maybe). Hygiene does come in a very close second, though.  Maybe even that comes under respect; respect yourself enough to take care of your body and think about how that will impact your date.” -Babs S.

It all just boils down to: be nice and don’t be a jackass.” -Anonymous

Hear that, Nick?

1.  We don’t need you, so calm down. 2.  Manners go a LONG way. 3.  We don’t want a mental dump of your life, let’s start with your favorite food. 4.  If something turns you off on the first date, we feel it too, so be honest. RED FLAGS: 1.  Mentioning a bad relationship w your family, it is fine if it exists, but let’s not jump to what Christmas w the in laws could turn into on our 1st date. 2.  Disrespectful behavior while out on said date (rude to waitstaff, impatience, etc.). 3.  Odors…. In general….  A shower and scrub is always needed pre-date. 4.  DO NOT BATHE in your cologne. Things that are well received: 1.  Genuine smiles. 2.  Sharing of stories, letting the convo go where it goes. 3.  Showing a picture of your fur baby (if you have one). 4.  Talking about something you have passion for (hiking, outdoors, photography, your work, etc.). -Dorothy Z.

Recurring Themes

Buy (at least) the First Round

Be Upfront About Your Intentions

Help Drive the Conversation

As for my advice, well… here’s what I would have said to Jake [if I’d thought he’d have been receptive to feedback]:

As someone in her late 30s who’s been married and dated a fair bit, perhaps I can impart some wisdom from down the road so you don’t miss another opportunity with another amazing woman: If you’re absolutely forced to cancel on a woman (whether it’s at the last minute or not), do everything in your power to make it up to her. She has likely arranged her entire day around meeting you and put extra effort into looking nice. If you’re lucky enough to have the chance to try again, show up with bells on. In the initial dating stages, don’t ever, EVER tell her you’re ‘just not feeling it’ when you have plans to hang out. She’ll have put her cutest outfit on, done her hair, and been ready to carry the conversation; the least you can do is show up. Canceling last minute, no matter the reason, conveys selfishness and inconsideration – hardly the hallmarks of a stand-up guy. If she has any self-respect whatsoever, you’ll send her running for the hills. Best of luck, [Jake]. I’m sure you’re a great guy and smart enough not to make the same mistake tw- ah, four times.”

Really, though? I think it all boils down to this:

Figure out how to make her feel safe and seen, and she’ll gift you with her whole self.

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What’s your advice?

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