Julie's Blog

        Julie's blog is dedicated to shining a light on life from the female perspective; sometimes feminine, sometimes feminist, but always funny! Through her humor, she has survived life’s ups and downs, including a high-pressure corporate career, a down-sizing layoff, and two bouts with cancer on an HMO.

WHY I CAN’T MEDITATE

Posted on February 11, 2016

I’m kind of an anxious person. I have a lot of trouble relaxing. Everyone keeps telling me I need to learn to meditate.


I’ve recently tried three different meditation CD’s and each one actually made my anxiety worse.  The first one was a “body scan” exercise. This is not optimal for squeamish people.  I try to follow the instructor’s commands:


Focus at the very top of your head…that’s right … close your eyes, take a deep breathe…now picture your skull relaxing …then imagine relaxing all of the the ligaments that hold your eye sockets in place… feel the blood cleansing the cells in your brain.


Yuck!  Are you kidding me?  Does anyone find this relaxing?


Maybe Jeffrey Dahmer?


I don’t want to hear the words nostril, ligaments, skull, or vertebrae …ever!  If I become too hyper-aware of how my body works, I start feeling really nauseous.  That CD isn’t going to work for me!


The next one I try is with a world renowned therapist.  I’m listening to him and starting to get into the zone.  I’m visualizing my perfect corner of the world as he is instructing me to do.  I am starting to feel very relaxed.  Yes, this is more like it.  I feel calm and I am blocking out the rest of the world. That’s more like it! This is so peaceful.  I hear his gentle voice:


“Go on, create that perfect place that only you know about.  What does it look like?  What does it feel like?  Go ahead, touch it….toooooouch it!


Okay. Where is he going with this?


“Touch it? You touch it, you pervert!!!”


Oh Great!! Now I can’t get the creepy uncle thoughts out of my head.

Damn.  This CD isn’t going to work either.


Two down, one to go.


Maybe third time is the charm. He has a slight accent. I can’t quite detect the origin.  Is it Indian?  Pakistani?  Hindu? Hmmmm…..Hindu is such a peaceful philosophy of life, Yoga, meditation, enlightenment.  It’s a shame that such peaceful people get lumped in with Islamic extremists...


Focus Julie! Focus!


You are supposed to be relaxing!

I wonder what makes a person turn to terrorism? Is it correlated with high unemployment?


STOP IT, JULIE! JUST STOP IT! FOCUS!


I try to tune into his voice again.

“Take deep breathes. Feel your chest rise and fall.”


Hmmm, how does one go about buying a suicide bomber jacket?  Does Amazon sell them on line?  Do they buy the vest separately and add the explosives later?  Do they care about what color the vest is?  If black is sold out do they order red or would that make them stand out too much?

If I google this out of curiosity, will I end up on a terrorist watch list?”


What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I focus? Who cares what color a suicide bomber vest is?


Oh forget about it! This isn’t working! Thoughts of nausea, suicide bombers and molestation are filling my head. This isn’t normal? What is the matter with me?!?!?!


As a last resort let me try meditating to just plain instrumental music and relaxing background sounds. Yes, this is very nice.  I am finally relaxing now. I think this is my solution, a lovely mix of music...  and is that rainfall in the background?  I love the sound of rain on the roof.  This is great.  It feels so cleansing.  No words or images to distract my crazy thought process.


Oh No! Now I have to pee!  It must be the water sounds.  I’m just hopeless!


Forget about meditation, where’s my Xanax?


1 Comment

I think I just stole a plant!

Posted on February 5, 2016


The other day, I went to my local grocery store to pick up a few items. While I was there, I saw a really cute plant that would look great in our townhouse.

When I got to the check out, there was only one line open. The man checking out in front of me looked like he was stockpiling for Armageddon. Waiting for him to unload his overflowing cart was more than my ADD personality could tolerate.


He looked at me, then glanced down at my four items (including the plant). I thought he was going to say, “Why don’t you go ahead of me, you only have a few things?” What he said instead was, “Why don’t you try the self check-out?” Is it my imagination, or is there a link between menopause and the death of chivalry?


“ I am not very good with technology.” I replied.


“Oh, come on, just try it.” He quipped back.


Why I was taking advice from someone who didn’t have the decency to let me and my four items cut in front of him, I will never know. Then I thought, “Maybe this is meant to happen to help me take that first step and get over my fear of new technology?” Suddenly feeling brave, I decided to give it a try.


Everything was going smoothly.  I would scan each item under the red laser beam and hear a gentle “beep” tallying my purchases. “This isn’t so bad! Actually, it’s kind of fun! I should really step out of my comfort zone more often.”


As I tried to scan the plant. I didn’t hear the beep. I tried turning the plant sideways to scan it, still no beep. I turned it upside down and tried again, soil pouring all over the counter, still... no beep? Suddenly, the automated check-out turns into Robocop, loudly alerting the entire store,


“Calling attendant for assistance, Calling attendant for assistance!”


I flushed with embarrassment, looking around for a human attendant to come to my rescue... nothing!  Then the electronic voice calms down and says to me, “Your total is $13.07.”


That’s impossible, the plant alone is $16.99.


Suddenly I began to feel a little naughty! I glanced around to confirm that no human attendant ever had any intention of helping me, then I quickly took out a $20.00 bill and fed it to the machine to pay.  The automated check-out is now my partner in crime and quickly shoots out my change. I am beginning to like this self-check-out!


I instantaneously made the following justifications:

  • I wanted to go through the normal check-out line, but Mr. Chipmunk wouldn’t let me cut in line.
  • No one is available to help me with the self-check-out, even after the automated machine loudly alerted everyone in the store that someone incompetent was trying to use it.
  • No one but me knows that the plant did not scan.

A surge of adrenaline rushed through me. I smiled as I exited the store, whizzing by Mr. Chipmunk.  I felt even more justified, he wasn’t even half way through unloading his cart!


Oh my God, I just stole a plant!


As I drove home, my neurosis started to kick in.  What if there were security cameras in the store?  What If they took my picture and it will be hanging in the window with the caption: “Have you seen this woman, she is wanted for plant theft?”  What if this was a set up on one of those stupid reality shows where there are hidden cameras trying to catch people behaving badly!!!


(Side-Note: I hate those shows. Just watching them makes me feel morally conflicted because I am always torn between who I have the most contempt for. Is it the dim-witted predator that is so easily lured with cookies or that creepy journalist who is always trying to catch the dim-witted predator? I am then sickened by my own assessment of the show because it makes me question my moral compass.)


So, now I worried that I was going to be taken into a room with some cookies and told that my life was now over because I stole a plant. I got home and decided I really loved the plant and wanted to feel good about having it in my home.  I knew myself, I would wake up in the middle of the night obsessing about this.  So I did something that no one in the history of self-check-out has ever done:


*****

“ Winn Dixie, how can I help you?”


“Hi, I need to talk to the manager of your plant department.”


“I am the store manager, can I help you with something.”


“Yes, it’s actually kind of a funny story. I bet I am the only person that will ever call and admit this to you. You know that cute little holly bush with the red buds on it.  Isn’t it pretty?  You know you really should have more than one check-out line. There was this guy ahead of me and he had all this stuff…anyway, I really love the plant and want it to have positive energy in my home and if I didn’t pay for it, that wouldn’t be good energy …like from a Karma standpoint? Right?”


“What is it that I can help you with today, Ma’am?”


“Oh God, you must think I’m crazy. I’m sorry.  Let me start over.  I tried using the self check out since you only had one line open and the guy ahead of me was stocking up for a long winter…anyway, I didn’t realize until I got home that I didn’t pay for the plant.  Well actually I realized it in the car, well to be perfectly honest…”


She interrupted me, “It’s okay, really. Don’t worry about it. It’s not a big deal. You can pay for it next time you come in.”


“Are you sure?” I replied.


“Yes. It’s okay…really. ” She hung up before I could ask her if I was going to be on the next Dateline special episode, “To Catch a Plant Thief.”  I think i just stole a plant!


2 Comments

BACK OFF OF MY HERO!

Posted on February 12, 2016

Did Gloria Steinem recently screw up by insinuating that young women are voting for Bernie because, “That’s where the boys are?”


Absolutely!


However, can we please put this in context! (See the end of my rant if you are unfamiliar with her accomplishments).  The reason she is my hero is personal... Gloria Steinem made it okay for a woman growing up in my generation to say, “Thanks, but no thanks” to a traditional life of being a wife and mother.  I had a smart, accomplished, beautiful role model to look up to when navigating a life of non-conformity.


In my day, there were only two: Gloria Steinem and Mary Richards from the Tyler Moore Show. That’s it!!!


So, if in her eighties, she says a few things that aren’t well thought out, I for one, absolutely can let it go and I urge others to do the same!  When I compare her recent faux pas to things that come out of my 80 year old mother’s mouth, this is pretty tame!


For example, last Thanksgiving dinner after a few glasses of wine, my mother started to openly discuss some of the most mortifying personal details of my youth.  I couldn’t stop her!  Yes, I went through a brief but troubling “bad boy” phase and I am sure it was traumatizing for her… but to bring it up decades later at Thanksgiving in front of my fiancé…really Mom???


I was completely embarrassed, but you know what? I forgave her.  However, It does still makes me cringe every time I think about it.


Back to Gloria:


We need to grow up as a culture and embrace the crazy shit that older people have earned the right to say!  She was just pontificating!


We need to allow for discussion that hasn’t yet reached a conclusion. If she would have just said, “Is it possible that young women may be voting for Bernie because he’s the cooler choice?” This comment would have been perfectly acceptable, and an intelligent, insightful discussion would have followed.  Sadly, we are in such a “gotcha” mode that even our heroes and heroines are not immune to this ridiculous scrutiny.


I say… “Let it go!”


Biggest Accomplishments

• Co-founder of New York Magazine in 1968, where she was a city-political columnist. The new York Magazine talks about life, culture, politics, and the style of New York city

• Co-Founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC). This Organization was founded to help more females get into political office; also, to help the movement for women rights.

• The Co-Founder and Editor of Ms. Magazine in 1972. The first issue was printed in January 1972. It’s know for Feminist Stands.

• Gloria Steinem wrote the book, Revolution from Within: a book of self-esteem in 1992. This book is about how self-esteem is an important part of life, and when you have none life can be hard at times.

• In 1993, Gloria Steinem was inducted into the Woman’s Hall of Fame

2 Comments

You can’t say, “Good Morning?”

Posted on February 23, 2016

For the last two decades I have walked around a large beautiful lake near my house. Almost every morning, I walk past a very attractive, annoyingly fit woman in her late 50’s. She always moves at an abrupt pace, with a stern look on her face; her countenance like a substitute teacher trying to intimidate a class that would otherwise misbehave.


As she walks, she lifts hand weights to the rhythm of her steps. So, between the 0 % body fat and the superwoman multi-tasking, I have felt more than a twinge of envy over the years.  However, every time I see her, I smile and politely say, “Good Morning!”


Here’s my dilemma: She never says “Hello” back to me… and, she never even smiles back…EVER!


At first, I tried to ignore it, but YEARS have gone by with me saying “good morning.”


Still, her response? …CRICKETS…NOTHING…NADA!


Frankly, I started to build up a palpable resentment to her coldness.  Bear in mind I am not a petty person!   In the overall scheme of life, this is not a major issue.  However, I must admit I was getting quite irritated every time I would see her and she would ignore my civility so blatantly.

I was perplexed at how to respond to the situation.  Do I compromise my own standards of decency and friendliness and stop saying, “Hello” because she doesn’t respond?  Or, do I keep saying, “Hello” only to be ignored and “dissed.”


One time in particular really stands out in my mind.  It was while I was battling cancer and it was the first time I decided to go out in public without a wig.  My hair had grown in enough that I felt I could bravely venture out and not scare small children with my bald shiny head.


I walked by her saying my usual, “Good Morning” and when my words were unrequited, I started to seethe with anger.  What kind of a person can witness another human being go through cancer and not have enough decency to at least smile?   I’m not asking for her to offer me a ride to chemo, but come on lady!!!   We have walked around this lake together for two decades!  Are you that cold?


I never said, “Hello” to her or smiled at her again. We would pass each other in icy silence and I had to consciously breathe and talk myself out of my brewing hostility when I would pass by her.


Meanwhile, last week, I was having a conversation with my friend Susan, who also lives near the lake in a different development. I described this woman and explained how awful she was to me.


Susan asked , “What does she look like? Is she that really fit woman that always walks briskly with weights in her hands?”


“Yes! That’s her! That’s the bitch that won’t say good morning!”


“Julie, that woman is blind!!!”


6 Comments

My Lipstick is discontinued…Again!

Posted on February 27, 2016

I know this may sound crazy, but I am starting to believe there is a universal conspiracy that is determined to make sure I do not have access to a lipstick that looks good on me.


I am not one of those women who looks good in just any shade of lipstick. The purpose of makeup is to look “better” when you use it, right?  Most lipsticks don’t enhance my face. If the color is pretty, it actually has the opposite effect. Wow…pretty color lipstick, that would look great on someone else!


For some odd reason, most lipsticks are not flattering on me. In my entire five decades on the planet, I have only found three….that’s right, three lipsticks that make me look better than wearing no lipstick at all.

I can name them:


  1. Circa 1980: Plantation Punch: Diane Von Furstenberg
  2. 2008: Merle Norman dual lip pencil in Milk Chocolate
  3. 2015: Estee Lauder Barely Nude

I get so excited when I find a shade that looks good on me since it happens so rarely.


Here’s where the conspiracy theory comes in:


These three shades have something in common. Shortly after I joyously have discovered that I love the color on me, the manufacturer discontinues the shade!!!  Do they realize how devastating this is to me?


Now, I am not a wimp! I have survived cancer…TWICE…so I have learned not to sweat the small stuff. But this isn’t small! This is huge!!! The universe is messing with my look!  I grieved the loss of Plantation Punch from 1985 until 2008 when I found Merle Norman Milk Chocolate lip pencil. I was so excited! However, when I was getting low and set out to buy a replacement, I learned that it, too, had been discontinued.

I continued to grieve this loss until I joyfully discovered Estee Lauder Barely Nude.


I could tell I “nailed it” because I would get so many compliments and heartfelt confessions from people who love me, ”Julie, don’t ever change that color lipstick…I didn’t know how to tell you this, but this is the first color I really like on you.”


Well, guess what?

I went to replenish my color at the Estee Lauder make-up counter and hear the following devastating words: “Oh, we no longer carry that color, it’s been discontinued. Can I help you with another color?”


Let me digress a moment and embellish on how uncomfortable this situation is for me.  I hate going to those fancy make up counters to buy make up.  I am a drug store make up girl.  I do not feel comfortable buying makeup from a perfectly flawless beauty, dressed in a white lab coat, blessed with freakishly genetically perfect pore-less skin.  So, I have to force myself past my comfort zone to even approach the Estee Lauder counter.  When I hear the news, “Oh, that color has been discontinued, would you like to try something else?” I want to scream...


‘NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…You don’t understand!!!!

You have no idea how freakishly lucky you are that you can just go on with life and try another shade of lipstick.  Not all women are so blessed! Some of us search a lifetime to find the perfect color!  I can’t just “pick another shade!”


So, I carry remnants of my two favorite shades around in my cosmetic bag (I did eventually give up on the shade from 1980).  Every time I see a new lipstick shade that I think resembles my beloved discarded colors, I do the test on my hand and it never quite matches my original true love.


So, I just want to pose a question to lipstick manufacturers: Do you realize how you are messing with my look? Do you have any idea how hard it is for some women to find that right shade of lipstick? Are you all men? Do you not understand the impact of your decisions? Can I speak with your marketing department?


Can someone please help me?

4 Comments

Don’t bring your gun to the grocery store!

Posted on March 14, 2016

WHAT???????????

I admit I’m a little sleepy from the whole Daylight Savings, Monday morning, out of coffee brain fog…But I can’t believe what I am reading!!

I decided I wanted to check out the new Trader Joe’s Grocery Store that opened up, not too far from my house. I went on the website to get directions…and I saw this letter prominently displayed:


Customer Update

An Update to Our Customers Regarding Guns in Our Stores

February 08, 2016.  In light of recent customer feedback and questions, we would like to clarify our long-standing preference that customers not bring guns into our stores.

We acknowledge and respect the rights of everyone involved in this important, often emotionally charged, debate. We feel gun policy should be addressed by governmental and law enforcement agencies.  As we do with other important issues related to our business, we listen to our customers and Crew—and use the feedback we

receive in our decision making.

Our approach has always been to follow local laws; and while that will not change, we want to make clear we do not welcome weapons of any kind in our stores. We respectfully request that customers not bring firearms into our stores.

Thank you.


...Me again...

I can’t help but wonder what provoked this letter?  Did someone think that Trader Joe’s was a shooting range not a grocery store? Do I need to wear a bullet proof vest when I go down the freezer Isle? Should I practice “playing dead” so I am one of the lucky few who make it out of the produce section alive?

Did I set my clock wrong and we have somehow time-traveled back to the Wild West or is it the future and Trump is our President?

Wrapped up in my sheets

Posted on April 3, 2016

It’s 2:00 a.m., and I am doing what millions of other insomniacs are doing at this very moment, watching the Home Shopping Network, also known as “HSN.”


Perhaps the lack of sleep is hindering my judgment, but I am getting all excited about this “All- in-One Three Piece Sheet Set!”


Get this! The top sheet, fitted sheet, and bed skirt are all sewn together in one piece! The perky HSN host explains with excitement: “You will never have to tuck in a sheet again!”


It looks so neat and pretty on TV and I needed new sheets anyway. I briefly agonize over the color choices and decide on the shade called “golden buttercream.” Doesn’t that just sound delicious?


I wait with anticipation for my UPS package. A few days later the bedding arrives. I am so excited to see what it looks like on my bed that I eagerly unwrap the package and mumble to myself that I will wash it after I figure out this all-in-one system.


As I begin to immediately unravel this beautiful massive pile of gold material, it occurs to me that I never actually saw the perky HSN hosts put the sheets ON a bed. She lovingly stroked them, yes, admired them, yes, but never actually demonstrated how to put them on. As I search for some indication of a starting point to attach the bedding to the actual bed, I start getting tangled up in the sheets.


Now, I’m trapped…yes, trapped, in my new bedding. I’m frustrated … and a heated inner dialogue with myself begins. As a result of far too much time alone lately, I have developed two conflicting personalities in my head. My self-talk persona might be considered schizophrenic… There’s nice Julie, “You got this! You are a very intelligent person. This is a piece of cake…you can do this!” Then there’s the crazy, mean, verbally abusive Julie: “You idiot!!! You have no idea how to figure this out, do you? How on earth do you get through an entire day? You can’t even figure out how to make your bed? It’s all downhill from here. You better start looking into Assisted Living facilities immediately!”


Finally! After more time than I care to publicly admit (let’s just say two meals were consumed in this time-frame) I find the elastic puckered “shower cap” area that is clearly the fitted portion of the sheet. BUT, it’s not that easy to proceed from here. The top sheet is sewn onto the fitted sheet which is sewn onto the bed skirt. It’s all one horrible sea of gold material.


Why did I pick gold anyway? In fact, I have never seen so much gold in my life! Boy, they sucked me right in with the name, “golden buttercream.” The more annoyed I get as I am trying to assemble this contraption, the more I start thinking of more appropriate names for this color, like… “sea of urine.”


Exhausted and in need of a break, I lay on my unmade bed surrounded by this horrible excuse for a solution to a problem I didn’t even have in the first place! I think back to the enthusiastic sales pitch that got me to buy these sheets, “You’ll never have to tuck in a sheet again!”

What was I thinking? What’s so bad about tucking in my sheets? It sure beats spending hours trying to figure out how 20 yards of hideous gold fabric sewn together in one piece is supposed to change my life for the better!


No more HSN for me!


Well, maybe just one more purchase for old times’ sake. It’s Customer Appreciation Day and “Today’s Special Value” just happens to be this really cute pair of shoes I can’t live without!

2 Comments

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Zumba after cancer? Really?

Posted on February 5, 2016

My friend Judy and I are taking a beginning Zumba class for my first blog entry. We approach our destination with much trepidation.

I have a lot of apprehension about anything requiring physical exertion.

The difference between my approach and Judy’s is quite apparent. Judy and I are about the same age, However, her petite frame looks great in spandex. She brings a head band, towel, and water. I, on the other hand, bring a tote bag with all of my medications and a battery operated fan for my relentless hot flashes. I usually turn my phone off when I take classes, but I wanted to have quick access to 911 if necessary.

As we enter the room, I wonder if the Zumba class is in here, or have we accidentally stumbled into “Hot Yoga.” Between the temperature of the room and my hot flashes, I am sweating profusely already and class hasn’t even started. I begin to surreptitiously eye Judy’s towel to mop off my forehead.

I notice an enormous fan in the front corner of the class which poses a problem. Do I stand in front of it calling attention to the new nerdy white chic in class or comfortably hide in the back of the room and risk collapsing from heat exhaustion? I manage to procure a spot that allows me to move freely back and forth as I gauge which is more important, avoiding embarrassment or staying cool.

I notice the full length mirror in the front of the room and as I see my reflection, many thoughts go through my head. The first is, “I thought I was cuter than this…the second is…what was I thinking with this exercise outfit, I look like I am on my way to a funeral but couldn’t fit into my clothes, so I had to wear black stretch pants.

As the class unfolds we are thrust into a fast paced world of movements , often uncomfortable and embarrassing…gyrating, shimmying, swirling, squatting, marching …it was all a blur… At the epitome of my self-consciousness, I burp up my fish oil supplement just to punctuate the unpleasantness of the experience.

2 Comments