A Bachelorette’s New Year’s Resolutions

Mount Diablo, near San Francisco, California.  July 2014.*

Mount Diablo, near San Francisco, California. July 2014.*

Should I take a vow of celibacy? Should I quit dating entirely? I mean, I was divorced 13 years ago. Maybe I’m not meant to be in a relationship. But what if my soul mate really is out there? He could be in Australia right now, hanging out with Lucas and wrestling kangaroos for fun. Then again, my favorite definition of insanity is, “Keep doing the same thing, expecting different results.” Maybe it’s time to stop dating.

  1. Date only the best guys.  No more going out with whomever asks; no sir-ee.  Even if it would be a good story.  Even if, like Aladdin, he might be a “diamond in the rough.”  Nope, gotta stick to The List.  Unless he looks like David Tennant or Christopher Reeves in his Superman days; then all bets are off.
  2. Lose that last 10 lbs.  I know this was on last year’s list, too.  I did lose 7 lbs; just found them again.  In 2015, I’ll lose them, and there will not be a Search and Rescue Mission led by Wine and Nachos.  That means cutting back on the wine, and I’ll make that sacrifice.
  3. Cut back on wine.  Ok, need to make this a measurable goal.  Wine only once a week.  Hmm, need to make a reasonable goal.  Wine only twice a week.
  4. Workout more.  Again, goals need to be measurable.  Workout 6 times a week.  Note to self: buy Advil.
  5. Pay off those credit cards.  To meet this goal, I need to stay out of the Dallas Galleria, even and ESPECIALLY when Steve Madden has sales.  (Don’t take it personally, Steve, you know I love you.  My black, buckled boots are my favorites; that’s why I bought them in black and brown.  They were half price, after all.)  Unsubscribe from Victoria Secret’s mailing list.  (Vicky, I love your semi-annual sales, but my bra drawer is full.  Really, I can go a year without buying 6 new bras.  I think I can, I think I can…)  Avoid Ann Taylor.  (Ann, my closet is full.  I don’t need any new suits or cute dress pants or the best jeans ever.  Really, I don’t.  And don’t send me a coupon, either, because that just makes you look desperate.)  I’ll miss you, old friends!
  6. Spend more time with friends.  Just not the couples, so much, because they remind me that I’m alone.  Wait, that’s over half my friend base.  Ok, spend time with couples, but make sure to talk about how much I love my job and how school fills my free time.  Avoid set-ups at all costs (reminder to self: Billy Ray and both my ex-husbands were blind dates).
  7. Finish writing Book 2.  Book 1 was completed in 2009; I’ve had 5 years to work on book 2.  In that time, I’ve gone through 2 major relationships (defined as a year or more each), 2 moves (local, but still significant), started 2 new jobs (one was a transfer within the same company, but a major life event nonetheless), and completed most of my master degree at 2 different universities.  Wait, no wonder I haven’t had time to write.  No excuses in 2015!
  8. Complete my master’s degree.  I’m on track to finish it in December 2015; gotta make it happen!  Only 1 class/semester plus research and thesis, so should be pretty easy, as grad school goes.  I mean, how hard could 1 class be?  Um, except my last class included quantum physics, so maybe I shouldn’t say that.  Shit, I had better buy the book and start studying now.
  9. Hike more.  It makes me happy to walk through forests and climb up hills.  I should do it more, so that I’m happier.  (With that kind of logic, celibacy should be off the table.)

Whew, I think that’s enough. I didn’t add a career goal, but then, I just started a new job in November.

Maybe I should swear off dating for a year. After all, Liz Gilbert took a vow of chastity for a year, and she ended up writing an award-winning book that was turned into a movie (Eat, Pray, Love). Then again, I was single for a year from September 1, 2014 to August 29, 2014 and my life hasn’t changed. Would three more days make any difference? Maybe if I traveled the world and found peace in India, in an ashram, like good ol’ Liz. Hmmm, looking back at #5 – maybe next year.

Here’s hoping that 2015 kicks 2014’s ass! Happy New Year everybody!

Cheers!

For more of my wisdom, follow me on Facebook or Instagram @jules_strawberry_rules .

Did you get an Amazon or Kindle gift card for Christmas? Read about Jules’ worst dates; the best of ‘em!

*The picture was taken by Sally Strawberry. I didn’t really fall, in case you were curious. I’m just a really good actor. This picture has no relation to the text; it’s just one of my favorites. Cheers!

Lilly is on her way!

“Oh, Jules, I’m so excited!” Lilly said with hearts in her eyes and a big smile. “I’m going to see the love of my life! We’re going to tape our first meeting as we move toward each other at the airport. Every expression is going to be caught on film – I can’t wait!” Lilly is getting on a plane today for her much-anticipated trip to Australia to meet Lucas.

Dallas_Australia

“Not surprising, since both of you are photographers,” I said. “I’m so excited for y’all! I’ve seen your count down on Facebook. What did he mean, that he’s almost ready for you?! You’ve planned this trip for months!”

“I know right!” she said smiling. “He said that had one more thing to do. Whatever that means! I don’t care! I’ll be in his arms tomorrow!” She positively beamed.

Lilly and Lucas give me hope that love still exists in the world. I mean, what a truly impossible love story! They met on Facebook in a photography group. They were friends for over a year before they admitted that they had feelings for each other. Though they were literally a world away from each other, they committed to dating long distance. Can’t get much further apart than Texas to Australia! And now, Lilly is on a plane on her way to meet him in person for the first time.

“Jules, I promise to send you the video,” Lilly said. “And I promise to send you updates to post on your blog. Eeeeee! I’m so freakin excited! I’m going to meet the love of my life!

I found myself smiling a huge, silly grin to match her own. That kind of love and excitement is so contagious! I love it! I love seeing people in love. I can’t wait to hear more!

Cheers!

For more of my wisdom, follow me on Facebook or Instagram @jules_strawberry_rules .

Did you get an Amazon or Kindle gift card for Christmas? Read about Jules’ worst dates; the best of ‘em!

Girl’s Night Out

Jules and Lilly, Dec. 17

Jules and Lilly, Dec. 17

“Look into my eyes. Seriously, did you think, in your heart of hearts, that he was your soul mate?” Karen held my hands in hers and looked at me very intently. If you had just walked up, you might not guess that five minutes before, she had been laughing and calling for another round of shots. An attractive woman with dark, exotic coloring, she might have had Spanish or Middle Eastern ancestry. She told me that she was from Denver.

“No,” I said, telling her what she wanted to hear.

“That’s right,” she said. “Now, me and John knew. We just knew!” John was the handsome, fit country boy standing beside her. He was from east Texas, out near Kilgore.

I smiled politely, but she was not helping. I turned to Lilly as soon as I could get away from her.

“She means well,” I said. “But who really knows the answer to that? Does anyone really go on a first date thinking, This guy is the one?!

“You don’t believe in love at first sight?” Lilly asked.

“Some people claim to know. I thought I found my soul mate –twice. Now, I’m twice divorced. So I don’t trust my judgment,” I admitted. I sighed, nodding towards the love birds. “There’s nothing worse than going to the bar to nurse a broken heart after a breakup, then to have to listen to a happy couple smugly give you advice.”

Karen and John kissed and hugged each other tightly. I turned away. I was in mourning for a dead relationship; I didn’t want to see someone else’s happy, healthy relationship flaunted in front of me.

“She means well,” Lilly said, only halfway talking to me while sending a message to her Australian Lover.

I sighed again. Going out to get a drink with the girls was supposed to make me feel better, not worse.

To get the conversation back on track, I brought up the blog that I was working on. “What is the worst way that someone broke up with you?”

Karen smiled with hearts in her eyes. “I haven’t ever had a bad breakup,” she told me.

John agreed. I suspected that they were both lying to protect their lovey dovey bubble. Damn it. I mean, good for them. I hope it lasts as long as possible.

Lilly did her part by sharing one of her stories. “I dated this guy for over a year. Finally, his sister tells me, Lilly, he’s gay! He’s just using you to keep Mom and Dad off his back. This was just last year, too.”

We all sympathized with her. “How awful, to be used like that!” Karen said

“How could he string you along for over a year?!” Patty said. Patty was in her early 40’s, very attractive with long blonde hair.

“What about you, Patty?” I asked. “Help me out, give me another story for my blog.”

“Well,” she said, becoming rather serious, “I caught my husband cheating on me. He didn’t know, that I knew. So I just waited until he received his Christmas bonus: $15,000. I took it out of the bank and left him.”

“Wow! Did you have to give it back, after the lawyers got involved?” I asked. Usually bank records were examined and recent withdraws became part of the divorce agreement.

“Nope. That’s my money. And he gives me $20,000 every year, too,” she said.

Suddenly, I felt better. Not about the money, but about the fact that Patty found her power. She had been in a bad situation, and she could have let her husband’s unfaithfulness devastate her. Instead, she found a way to come out on top.

“To moving on!” I said, raising my glass of wine.

“To moving on!” my friends said, toasting. “Patty, you’re my new best friend. You’re awesome!”

“And to think—we were going to walk out of this bar an hour ago,” Lilly said.

Karen added, “We saw you and just thought, Those ladies look like fun. We should invite them over here. And I’m so glad that we did!”

“Me too!” I said, smiling. “A night out was just what I needed!”

Cheers!

Did you get an Amazon or Kindle gift card for Christmas? Read about Jules’ worst dates; the best of ‘em!

For more of my wisdom, follow me on Facebook or Instagram @jules_strawberry_rules .

A Bachelorette Christmas Carol: The Ghost of Christmas (and Relationships) Future

Jules, Size 2 (2012)

Jules, Size 2*

“OhmyGod—is that me?! I look so skinny!” I squealed. “My hair glows, I look FANTASTIC!! I must be a size 2!”

The Ghost of Christmas Future nodded. “Yep, that’s you, 120 pounds. You’ve been working out daily and are eating right. Lilly, Allie, and you speed walk at the mall instead of visiting bars. You have competitions to see who can drink the most water and you quit drinking wine because of the empty calories.”

We looked at each other for minute, then we both cracked up laughing. “You had me going, right up to quit drinking wine,” I said, holding my sides and guffawing.

In the blink of an eye, Future-Jules looked just like regular ol’ me, all 140-pounds worth. She poured herself a glass of cabernet.

“Is that Sally? She still looks 17,” I said.

“She still is 17. Welcome to December 28, 2014.” The Ghost looked smug.

“What? I thought you were taking me to Christmas Future? As in, 10 years down the road—2024 or so,” I said, pouting.

The Ghost laughed so hard, her belly shook. “Who knows what the future holds? This is what you have planned for Sunday, four days hence. Now do you want to see, or not?”

“Of course I do,” I said, still feeling cheated. “But 10 years down the line would have been better.”

“Deal with it!” the feisty Ghost said. Geez, she sounded like family.

I watched as Christmas-Jules (sounds like a poinsettia-shaped necklace) hugged Sally. “She was at her Dad’s house for Christmas,” I said absently. “I missed her so much.”

We sat down with Jack in the living room to start our Christmas ritual. First Sally opened a present, then Jack, then me. We went around the room until all the gifts had been opened. Santa tried to get us the same number of gifts each year; but Sally usually had the most, even if Santa spent the same amount of money on each of us. She liked unwrapping presents, so Santa would wrap everything separately. He even wrapped the candy in her stocking, much to her delight.

“Everyone’s so happy. We’re having a great time! I love spending time with my darlings. And they love the presents I got them: beef jerky for Jack and Doctor Who t-shirts for Sally. So why are we here?”

“Because you told the Ghost of Christmas Past, No matter how well a relationship starts, it always ends poorly. I wish this year was over all ready.

“Wait, these are good relationships! My kids, my friends – I love them! And they love me!”

“So you’re saying that not all relationships suck? They don’t all end poorly?”

“No, damn it! Now take me home, so that I can wake on Christmas morning. So that I can enjoy time with family and friends.”

“There’s hope for you yet! I had planned to take you to your mother’s grave and ask you how long your parents were married,” The Ghost told me.

“40 years, ‘til the day she died,” I said softly.

“Indeed. But you surprised me! Your kids were enough. Now, I hope you take time to visit Elizabeth and her family too…” The Ghost said, wagging her finger at me.

“Of course! Now, get me home before I see what Sally gave me. I want to be surprised,” I said. “Hopefully, it’s the new Megan Trainor CD. Because I’m all about that bass!”

Before I could sing another word, I was back in my bed. “No treble!” I mumbled happily.  “I wonder if my cute neighbor is still single.”

Merry Christmas!

Cheers!

Last minute gift idea: the gift of laughter!

For more of my wisdom, follow me on Facebook or Instagram @jules_strawberry_rules .

*The picture is from 2012.  That’s what happens when all I eat is veggies.  YOLO!  Cheers!

 

A Bacholerette Christmas Carol: The Ghost of Christmas (and Relationships) Present

“I am the Ghost of Christmas Present!” The Ghost intoned.

“I am the Drinker of Wine!” I answered. “And the Writer of Blogs!”

Unimpressed, the Ghost grabbed my hand. In a blink, we were standing in my kitchen, watching me make coffee.

Jules-Christmas-Day was dressed in workout clothes and her hair was soaked with sweat.

“Looks like I had another hard workout,” I said. “Trying to lose just one more pounds before the New Year weigh-in.”

The Ghost nodded. Then he glanced meaningfully at the empty wine bottle on the counter.

“So I had a glass of wine on Christmas Eve. Jesus turned water into wine, it’s his birthday, so it seemed an appropriate choice,” I told him.

Did he honestly just roll his eyes? Can ghosts do that?

Jules-CD answered the ringing cell phone. “Hello? Uh, Elizabeth, I don’t think I’ll make it today. No, I’m not sick, I just…I just feel like staying home. Ok? It’s been a rough year. Thanks for understanding. Kiss the kids for me. Goodbye.”

“Now she spends the day sitting in front of the TV, watching old chickflicks on Netflix, and wondering why she’s alone.”

“She—I—am alone because I choose to be. You heard the call. I didn’t feel like celebrating Christmas. Bah, humbug!” I said.

With a soft touch, the Ghost shifted me to a home about 30 minutes to the northeast.

Elizabeth’s House

“Daniel, she’s just so torn up about the break up,” Elizabeth told her husband. The kids ran around, laughing and screaming. There were only three of them, but if you squinted, you would swear that there were at least six.

“I can’t believe that Zack broke up with her right before Christmas. What a jerk. He didn’t even try to work things out,” Daniel said.

“He and I became friends first,” I told the Ghost. “We worked together. Then he introduced me to Elizabeth. Now we’re like sisters.”

“A sister that you choose to blow off when it’s convenient for you,” the Ghost said.

“Oh, she won’t miss me. She has Daniel and the kids,” I said.

Elizabeth pulled a mini-cake out of the oven. A little bigger than a cupcake, but smaller than a typical cake, it was the color of brownies. “I made this gluten-free, soy-free cake just for her. I guess one of the kids will eat it,” she said.

“Oh, that’s so sweet!” I said.

“When is Ms. Julie coming over?” the oldest daughter asked. Eight years old, and every inch a lady, she was the mother hen of the group.

“She’s not coming,” Elizabeth said. “She’s not feeling well.”

“She’s sick?” the girl asked, looking serious and concerned. “Should I make her a get well card?”

“Not that kind of sick. She and Mr. Zack broke up, so she’s very sad,” Daniel explained.

“She should come play with me. Then she’d feel better, right, Daddy? She always smiles and has fun when she’s over here,” the girl looked up at her father with big eyes.

I couldn’t stand it. I turned away. “Spirit, take me home!” I commanded.

The Spirit instead took me to my son’s room.

Jack’s Room

Boom! Blam! The computer said, simulating gunfire and crashes. Jack’s fingers moved over the keyboard like a flash, manipulating the controls like a pro.

“I get it, my son’s a video game geek,” I told the Ghost. “Let’s go.”

Jack turned off the game and turned on Skype. His friend Kevin smiled at him. “Yo, dude, I’d like to play some more, but I gotta bounce! Mom is yelling that lunch is ready.”

Jack said, “Sure.”

“Awwww, he’s sad that his friend is leaving,” I said.

“Aren’t you eating lunch with your fam?” Kevin asked.

“Naw, Sister will be here on Sunday. Today Mom is just sitting around feeling sorry for herself. I’m on my own. I’ll probably make a burrito with canned beans.”

“Ok, Ghost, this isn’t funny. Take me back,” I told the Ghost.

“What about that guy that she was dating? Why isn’t he there?” Kevin asked.

“He dumped her. Whatever. She only dated one guy this year, and she picked him?! She should have picked a rich dude, who would’ve taken us to Paris for Christmas. I totally could have wooed a French chick. I’d be all like, Voulez-vous couches avec moi, cette soir? And she’d be all like, Mais, oui oui!

“Dude, I have no idea what you just said, but go with it! Tell your mom that her next guy better be rich! Ok, I really gotta go—later! Merry Christmas!”

I blinked away the tears, suddenly laughing. My son was a Casanova?! I guess if he could learn Romanian for a chick in high school, and read Romeo and Juliet in Romanian, he could learn French, too!

Home Again

I woke up in bed with mixed feelings. I had a right to stay home and be sad if I wanted to. I am an adult and I can do what I want. I’m not responsible for that little girl’s happiness. And Jack was probably just as happy playing video games as hanging out with family. So why did I feel so guilty?

More importantly, what would the Ghost of Christmas Future bring? Would I end up like Scrooge, with only a grave robber in attendance at my funeral? Surely Jack and Sally would be there. Only…would they?

The Ghost popped up and said, “By the way, might wanna wear pajamas tomorrow night. I know that you usually sleep naked, but really, girl! You’re expecting company!”

Cheers!

Last minute gift idea: the gift of laughter!

For more of my wisdom, follow me on Facebook or Instagram @jules_strawberry_rules .

A Bachelorette Christmas Carol: The Ghost of Christmas (and Relationships) Past

“I wish I had put that Taser in my purse, instead of wrapping it and putting it under the tree!” I mumbled to myself.

The Ghost of Christmas Past stood before me. “You will visited by three ghosts! I am the first, the Ghost of Christmas Past!”

“Is this really necessary?” I asked him. “After all, I really value my sleep.”

“You said, No matter how well a relationship starts, it always ends poorly,” The Ghost said.

“Well, yes. What does that have to do with Christmas?” I asked.

“You also said, I wish this year was over all ready. Then it would be a year when I hadn’t dated anyone; a new opportunity. You need to remember where you’ve been.”

Before I could object that I wasn’t wearing any makeup, he whisked me away.

julian1998

Jack, 1998, with pudding cup and time traveling wristband.

julie and emily1998

Sally and Jules, 1998

1998

“Oh, this is my house in Austin!” I said, smiling. “Look how little Sally is! She must be just a year old! And Jack is soooo cute – is he 4 years old?” The smile wavered as I saw my ex-husband, Alan. Well, at least this was back when he was younger and thinner. And we were happy (mostly). “Spirit, why are we here?” I asked.

He just pointed.

I watched as Alan put a wrapped box in front of me—uh, Jules-1998. She (I?) smiled lovingly at him, before ripping off the paper.

“Breadmaker. It’s a breadmaker. A breadmaker?!” she couldn’t believe it. Her face was blank, then confused.

“Yes!” Alan said. “We love bread! Now you can bake it here, and we can have fresh bread!” He positively beamed, as though he had invented the thing.

“Um, you do all the cooking,” Jules-1998 said. “So why would you get this for me?

Alan didn’t hear. He was too busy taking out the appliance and reading the instructions.

“Hey, I thought you were supposed to show me the best of Christmas Past!” I said, surprised.

“No, that isn’t how I work. I show you the worst.”

Before I could object, he whisked me away. Again.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Reindeer Sally, 2009

2009

“What if…when you opened up your gift on Christmas morning, you discovered a vacuum cleaner,” Chris asked. He and I (circa 2009) were in his Nissan Maxima. He was driving us through the suburbs of McKinney, Texas, just north of Dallas.

“No appliances! The Rule is, you cannot buy me appliances for Christmas or Birthdays. We’ve covered this! It’s a Rule!” I—uh, Jules-2009—said.

“Let me finish,” he said, continuing. “After you get good and worked up, like you are now, you open up the box to find…” he paused for dramatic affect. I hyperventilated, still picturing a VACUUM CLEANER under my CHRISTMAS TREE. That’s worse than a BREADMAKER. “An engagement ring.”

I paused. Chris and I had been dating a year, and I had been hinting (ie writing in my blog) that it was time for the next step. (That is, writing in my blog in detail about how he should propose. In a restaurant, on one knee, in a real, traditional, well-planned proposal.)

“It sounds like a lot of fun for everybody except me,” I said. “Engagements should be magical. They should make the bride-to-be feel special. They should not start with a vacuum cleaner and everyone in the room laughing at me. They should not start with me having a heart attack over what a jerk my boyfriend is.” I wanted to be nice. I wanted to be supportive and smile and encourage him to do better. I wanted to be a Better Person and entice him to be romantic.

But really, if he couldn’t follow directions that were spelled out in black and white in a blog, what the hell?!

“You’re kidding, right?” I asked. “You wouldn’t really do that?”

His guilty little glance at me said it all. He wouldn’t do it…now that I told him how awful it sounded.

“Did he ever propose?” The Ghost asked.

“No, I broke up with him before he could,” I said.

“Really dodged a bullet with that one, didn’t you?” the Ghost asked.

I couldn’t tell, but I think within his hood, he was smiling. I blinked, and we were gone again.

2014

I awoke in my bed, sitting bolt upright. I hadn’t gone anywhere at all. The Ghost of Christmas Past had brought me right back to my bedchamber.

And I had two more ghosts to anticipate: The Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Future.

“Bah humbug!” I said, more disgusted with Christmas than ever. “Men suck! I’m glad that I don’t have a boyfriend right now. I don’t want one anyways.” I threw my hands up in the air for emphasis. The romance novel that I had been reading when I feel asleep, slipped off the bed and onto the floor. It hit the laptop, that was open to Match.com.

Cheers!

Last minute gift idea: the gift of laughter!

For more of my wisdom, follow me on Facebook or Instagram @jules_strawberry_rules .

Dear Santa

I’ve been really good this year. Except that one night that I met that guy at the bar…but we don’t have talk about that. And don’t listen to my ex-boyfriend, either, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. If you ask Lilly, Allie, and Gala, I’m sure that they’ll vouch for me.  😉

Here’s my list Santa. Thank you in advance!

  1. Sexy underwear to give me the confidence and go out and find someone new.
  2. A Taser in case he’s naughty, not nice.
  3. Fuzzy socks to keep my feet warm, for those nights I stay home and watch movies.
  4. A bottle of wine, for those nights that I stay home and watch movies.  Then again, I’ve spent a lot of nights at home recently.  Better make it a case.
  5. Spa Day gift certificates for me and Sally to have girl time together.  Oh, and a set for me and Lilly.  Better get a couple for me and Allie, too—don’t want her to feel left out.  And for Gala, though hers need to be redeemable in Denver.
  6. Mani/pedi gift certificates.  See #5—better make it a booklet.
  7. A subscription to eHarmony.  The other dating sites didn’t work in the past; might as well try the most expensive one next.  (Cost is directly related to quality, right?)
  8. All the latest chick lit books.  If #1 and #7 don’t work, I’ll be spending a lot of nights at home, and Netflix only has so many movies.

Merry Christmas everybody! I hope that Santa brings you everything that you want, and some things that you need. Or everything that you need and some things that you want. Hey, Santa, can you deliver a guy for me? The specifications are in the back of my book. Thanks in advance!

Cheers!

Last minute gift idea: the gift of laughter!

For more of my wisdom, follow me on Facebook or Instagram @jules_strawberry_rules .