The following entries have been recovered from the diaries of beloved blogger and former Jersey girl, Go Jules Go. Her current whereabouts are unknown. Presumably because, according to her new neighbors, “The service here sucks.”
Day 1: Arrive in Bend, Oregon. Apartment appears well-appointed, though several disturbing items were left on the counter. “Gifts,” the landlord claims. I remain suspicious.
Day 2: Attend first social gathering under the guise of celebrating someone’s birth. I do not trust these people. Why do they look so…happy?
Day 6: Forced to attend nudist retreat. My plans to go unnoticed thwarted by bathing suit, yet how else do I protect myself amidst the steaming pools of hippie tears hot springs? Must not show nipples weakness.
Day 9: Have risen at 6am for three days straight to engage in something called “trail running.” Zero alcohol remains in my system, yet I suspect they’ve slipped something into my kombucha. I feel…well.
Day 12: Small children and classical music-listening puppies surround me. I fear I am beginning to crack.
Day 21: Ford raging river and sustain 923 bug bites. My survival skills have improved markedly.
Day 30: Discover Trivia Night’s discount beer and tots. They are on to me.
Day 37: Have begun making strange hand gestures following outdoor pursuits. The situation is becoming increasingly dire.
Day 44: Learn the art of metalsmithing from a man who would not accept compensation. What drives the human spirit in this land of zero expectation?
Day 57: The hand gestures have become second nature; I can no longer fight it.
Day 63: Have accepted that I will never know real pizza again.
Day 70: Complete something called a “10k race”… “for charity.” Would have been charitable to not force feed participants hard cider 30 seconds following this strange event.
Day 71: Witness skinny dippers in a frigid lake. Oregonians must fear clothing the way I fear I’ll never stop watching The Hills on Amazon Prime.
Day 80: Trucker hat and race “tech” shirt. Uncle Jesse no longer recognizes me.
Day 90: Socks with sandals. All hope is lost.
This is the last known recording from Go Jules Go. If you have any information, please contact 1-800-CRY4HLP.
I know this because, despite being a New Jersey native, I’m spending most of April in one of my favorite states.
I can do this because I quit my job and now my life is filled with rampant lawlessness.
When I arrived in rural Maine, intending to volunteer on a friend’s farm sanctuary for two weeks, I didn’t immediately realize my cell signal had given out. A half hour earlier.
I diligently followed my friend’s instructions to “look for the next driveway after the sanctuary’s entrance,” where my cabin was located. Instead I saw train tracks and a sign that read, “Pavement ends.”
Being from what you might call a New York City suburb, I interpreted that to mean, “TURN YOUR CAKE ASS AROUND, JERSEY.” I did so happily, heading back towards the sanctuary’s driveway instead.
“Mud season” wasn’t just a cute saying. My non-all wheel drive sedan squealed for mercy as I attempted to haul her up the hill.
“Oh my GAWD are you f*@#&$ kidding me?” I imagined her saying. “I am sooooo going to need a pedicure after this.”
I had gotten AAA before the trip, though, and felt cavalier mildly confident. (Until later, when I realized I wouldn’t have even been able to call AAA if I HAD gotten stuck.)
Once I made it to the sanctuary, the owner looked confused. I explained that I couldn’t find the cabin. Apparently I was supposed to charge past the “Pavement ends” warning and go another mile or so to “the next driveway.” I felt silly explaining that in Jersey terms, “the next driveway” is usually measured in feet. Sometimes inches. I kept quiet and accepted her gracious offer to lead me there – something I knew she didn’t have time for.
Running a farm sanctuary is No. Joke.
“Thank you so much. Just a warning that I’m going to keep a safe distance from you going downhill.”
She smiled knowingly, casting a glance at my mud-spattered pansy car.
We soon reached the small cabin, which was clean and well lit, warm from gas heat and equipped with the basics. Except internet. Which, I quickly began to realize, was going to throw a wrench into this whoooole plan. I checked my phone; still no service whatsoever.
“This mayyyy be a problem,” I said, feeling the panic start to rise in my throat, the extent of my remote location settling in.
Let me just text… No.
Let me just look up the nearest… No.
Let me just check the weather for tomorrow and… No.
I waited until she left to execute what would come to be the first of many, many strategies to try to make the next couple of weeks work out.
I’m just going to drive towards a town, and see when my service picks up. I didn’t even bother unpacking, just loaded Uncle Jesse (the dog) back in the car. As I made the first turn, my stomach flip-flopped, trying to memorize my surroundings. Holy god I miss Google maps. The sun would set in less than an hour, so after just a few minutes, I decided to give up and turn around in a church parking lot. The last thing I wanted to do was make the situation worse by getting lost.
As I did a U-turn, I noticed the church’s sign.
I decided to go back to the sanctuary -walking from the bottom of the driveway this time- and borrow someone’s phone to let my family know I had arrived safely. A volunteer was sorting vegetables and happy to offer her phone, so after I successfully texted Babs (mom), I helped sort produce for the next couple of hours, chatting and feeding Uncle Jesse stray bits of cauliflower.
Thankfully, my phone still worked as a flashlight, and we made it back to the car and our cabin. It was pitch black. As I unpacked the car, I caught a glimpse of the stars twinkling brightly – the way they only could when not overpowered by street lamps and cramped houses. I stood still, and for the first time in hours, took a deep breath.
Maybe this will all work out…
I finished unpacking, popped some potatoes in the little oven for Uncle Jesse, and cracked open a bottle of wine, deciding to make the most of my off-grid night. I’d sort out my phone issues in the morning.
Fast forward two days, and my phone -even with a new, more expensive carrier- still wasn’t working. Nor were my pseudo, DSW-purchased “muck boots,” which I managed to puncture by repeatedly tripping on a sharp rock while cleaning the rabbit houses.
Every two minutes, I thought of some reason I needed to use my phone, or get online. Upcoming bills I had to pay, friends with momentous events I had planned to check in on, ASMR videos on YouTube I needed to watch, travel plans I’d yet to make…
Shame washed over me in endless, sickening waves. I am so fu@*#^% soft. Here I thought, with my tiny living and frugal spending, I’d become so flexible! So strong! So adaptable! But 48 hours without a phone broke me, and after Sunday’s full work day, I fled back to my comfort zone, checking into a pet-friendly motel 90 minutes south, in one of my favorite parts of Maine.
“Does the dial go all the way up to ‘donkey’?” I asked Darla when I stopped by the next day to do laundry.
How would you fare if you were unexpectedly off-grid?
Earlier this week I told you about THOSE G.D. CHURCH BELLS that go off at ALL HOURS one block from my new apartment.
After four months in this neighborhood, I’m starting to wonder what the ever-loving chipmunks is going on. The church bells are just the beginning. Odder still, this town is a mere two miles from where I grew up, and yet it’s as if I’ve stepped into The Upside Down. Nothing here makes sense, and it’s starting to scare me.
Since everyone else seems to have accepted this lunacy as status quo, I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands.
Go Jules Go, keeper of peace, server of justice, lover of being alone and eating peanut butter straight from the jar without any interruptions thank you very much, HAS ARRIVED.
First order of business? Handing out citations to the town’s most egregious offenders. Aside from His-Church-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, behold:
A few weeks ago, someone left -I’m not making this up- a red package labeled “TNT” on top of a mailbox on my block. A passerby notified the police, and within moments, the bomb squad arrived. These cartoonish hijinx shut down my street and kept me from enjoying the eight cases of wine I’d just purchased from Trader Joe’s for an entire hour.
Hi. Meet my dessert. She comes from a restaurant around the corner from my apartment, where they also consider Bachelorette tea parties the height of merriment. Don’t they know it’s not dessert unless you hate yourself afterwards?
The town center’s crowning Christmas jewel, and the view from my living room all December long.
And last, but certainly not least…
I found this note in my mailbox on Tuesday, from someone I had only briefly met when I first moved in. “Phoebe” later revealed her question via text: “Hey, would you be interested in swapping apartments [from your studio to my much more expensive 1-bedroom]? My boyfriend and I just broke up :(.”
I’m sure this won’t be the last of the nefarious acts in my new topsy-turvy world. Stay tuned. Stay vigilant. Stay safe. Sheriff Jules, over and out.
In angsting over pondering what to write about this week, it occurred to me that I needn’t labor so hard. After all, it’s Labor Day weekend for us Americans, and the only work we should be doing is squeezing every last, sweaty drop out of summer before she packs her bags and says sayonara for another year.
So, from the bottom of my Jersey girl heart fringe top, I wish you a safe, healthy and happy holiday. And to my fellow chipmunks across the globe sharing in the season’s end: Yes, yes you have every right to judge us.
So you’re probably thinking I’m going to start this post like I always do, by greeting you as my fuzzy, wuzzy, li’l Chipmunks. Well, I would, but Peppermeister (First Husband) told me snakes eat chipmunks. And I just don’t want to take that kind of chance here.
You see, on Saturday, amidst hour number 8,002 of yard work, I went over to the pool filter and lifted the cover so I could clean it out. We had just had a big storm, so I knew it would be full of crud.
Oh, I was right about that.
I’d like to take this time to remind you that I live in New Jersey. The reason I stay here is simple: NO SCARY CREATURES (unless you count our politicians). No scorpions, no box jellyfish, no dementors, and no grizzlies (I don’t think. Don’t burst my bubble).
Now, okay, this snake was probably only 18 inches long, and a harmless garter at that, but that didn’t stop me from letting out a strangled cry and jumping back 5 feet.
I made Peppemeister repeat the process when he got home, so he too might have something to blog about. Which is when we discovered it was still very much alive.
Now that I’ve had a few days to recover, I’ve decided I’ve given this snake far too much power. And I know I’m not alone; so many people are terrified of snakes.
I’m going to take care of all that for you, right here, right now. It’s the least I can do considering you’re probably still pissed from hearing that I have a pool and haven’t invited you over.
Allow me to present to you:
BOB, the Worst Stand-Up Comic Snake of All-Time
And so you see, snakes are nothing to be afraid of. Until they start telling jokes.
Have you ever encountered any unwanted critters in your dwelling?
I’m from the land of opportunity, where the streets are paved in gold[en tanning lotion] and the hills run with honey [-colored highlights].
Where, when driving 35 miles east to work, I pass not one, not two, but three shopping malls. Fuhgeddaboudit.
Where, most importantly, it’s not considered at all rude to shout, “Get the hell oudda here!”
That’s right. These are my brethren bubbies:
Being from “The Garden State” can be confusing. People fly into Newark Airport and, if not distracted by the acrid smell of industry’s finest power plants, come to realize there isn’t a flower or turnip in sight*. Fuhgeddaboudit.
If they ask for a hoagie or a pop, they may be met with, “Oh! Speak English!” We identify most with our ‘exit’ – the number of the Garden State Parkway exit you take to get to our hometown, whatever that might be (135 in the house, yo!). New York City is simply “The City” (if appropriate, a borough is specified), and getting the world’s best pizza and bagels from any seedy-looking strip mall is not so much appreciated as it is expected. Fuhgeddaboudit. You might have noticed my liberal use of “Fuhgeddaboudit” throughout this post. That’s another confusing thing about New Jersey. Not only can you get away with saying this (in joking fashion or with all the sincerity of a mother chipmunk tending to her teeny, tiny baby chipmunks), you can use it in a number of conflicting ways: You need a ride to the train station because you’re getting your Mazda tramp stamped? Fuhgeddaboudit! Your mother-in-law told your hairdresser to tone down your pouf? Fuhgeddaboudit! You tried those calzones at Vinny’s? Fuhgeddaboudit! As you can see, it means both “Of course! Don’t think twice!” and “Aw hell no!” Most commonly, though, as Urban Dictionary so eloquently states, it means: “The subject is unequivocally excellent; further thought and analysis are unnecessary.” …My head hurts. Does anyone want to do shots? What do you love/hate about your motherland? *Let us remember, though, I have a barn. Jersey has so much to offer**. **Fuhgeddaboudit! Photo Credits:#1 (postcard) – edisonnewjerseyhomes.com#2 (Jersey Shore cast) – jerseyshoreshow.org#3 (t-shirt) – raggedshirts.com